Welcome to the second chapter of the interactive story known as Time Crash. The characters introduced in the first episode awaken in a strange, derelict environment. They soon encounter each other and form small groups, but how long can they survive the unstable dimensional rift they have all been sucked into? It's up to you readers to decide.
This time, there are two polls to go along with the story. The first one defines which characters will get to survive through the next episode, and which ones will meet an untimely end. You can choose multiple characters, and the ones with the most votes will have the leading roles in the third episode. On the other hand, at least five characters with the least votes will die in that episode. If votes are tied, then more characters might be killed off as well.
The second poll will decide how the groups will behave in the next episode. There will be more specific options in the future, but since were just at the beginning of the story where anything can still happen, I wanted to keep them quite general. So, will the survivors gather their numbers together, or will the small groups fall apart? Or will everyone just stick to whoever they ended up with in the first place? Again, it's your choice.
If there is something else you want to see in Time Crash in the future episodes, don't be afraid to post about it. I'm more than happy to take "unofficial" suggestions into consideration as well.
But now, onto the story. This time it is told through the perspective of six characters as chosen in the first episode's poll. Hope you enjoy learning more from the survivors!
Bob knew he had seen the boy walk in front of the ambulance he was driving too late. The impact couldn’t be avoided. He just closed his eyes and hoped for a miracle. With a jolt, the ambulance came to a halt, and Bob hit his forehead to the steering wheel.
He blinked his eyes a few times to make the whiteness filling them disperse. Much to his surprise, he first thing he saw was the scared expression of the schoolboy he had nearly hit.
“A-are you alright, sonny?” he asked as he rushed out of the ambulance.
The boy couldn’t answer, but just looked past Bob. The paramedic glanced over his shoulder, and cursed out loud as he saw what had happened to the ambulance: it had gotten stuck into a solid rock. He slowly realized that the entire surrounding had changed from the suburban street he had been speeding on just seconds ago. Everything was distorted and strange, and no other people besides himself and the boy were present.
It all reminded him of the drug-induced trips he had gone off to in his past. After the rehabilitation, he had studied to become a paramedic to give back to the society that had given him another chance in life. Working in an environment filled with drugs was tough, but Bob took it as a test of his strength of will.
After assuring himself that this was no hallucination, Bob remembered the doctor and the patient in the back of the ambulance. He saw that the back doors had sunken into the rock. Bob knocked on the side window.
“Doc?” he called, but there was no answer. Peering inside, he saw that the ambulance was empty.
Suddenly a voice came from behind him. “I beg of you, gentle sire! Please help me!”
Bob turned to see a young woman dressed in a decorative dark blue dress approaching him and the boy with tears running down her face.
Ferid awoke to a horrified scream. His finely honed instincts kicked in, and he quickly examined his surroundings. He was still at the window ledge of the house of the treasurer he had assassinated, but what he saw through the window had changed completely. There was a pool of water right below, and rubble everywhere. And the sky… it was empty.
The aching in his body told Ferid that he was very much alive, but he couldn’t help wondering if this was the afterlife. If it was, it wasn’t anything like the priests had told. He spotted his knife on the floor and tugged it into his sash.
Silently, Ferid jumped down from the window and hid in the shadow of the ruins of the treasurer’s house. It had practically melted with another house, a much larger one with an outlandish architecture.
Peeking around the corner, he saw a woman in a red dress helping up a fair man with gaudy clothing. The couple was staring at a body, which Ferid recognized as the treasurer. They spoke in a strange language. The fiery-haired woman tried to console the shocked man, which was very strange to Ferid.
Suddenly he heard voices from inside the houses, and the remains of a door behind him swung open. A bearded man with a white clothing came out, pulling some sort of sickbed with wheels where an older woman laid. The man noticed Ferid, and asked him something with the same language that the couple had spoken.
Now the couple had spotted all of them as well, and the woman waved at the white-clad man to come to see the body of the treasurer. The man looked at Ferid and pointed at the sickbed with an encouraging smile. Then he made his way through the rubble between them and the road.
Ferid’s instincts urged him to make a swift escape, but somehow he realized that he had better chances of surviving with the people around him. Just as long they didn’t connect him with the dead of the treasurer. Carefully Ferid covered his knife with his dark cloak.
The bright light and the tremors following it took her out of balance, but leaning to her staff Uhla managed to keep herself from falling off the cliff. As the shamaness opened her eyes, she saw that the sea had retracted, revealing a sandy beach below her.
Being friends with the sky and the ocean, she instantly knew that it wasn’t the same sea she had known all her life. And the clear-blue sky she had grown under was gone as well. She knew that the air she breathed wasn’t the same either. She tasted death and turmoil.
The shoreline below her was filled with strange debris and bodies of people. Uhla saw one of the people twitch and get up. Their eyes met.
Quickly the woman Uhla was staring took a long knife from the sand. It was made of the shiniest and sharpest stone the shamaness had ever seen. Uhla sensed danger.
The wild-haired woman shouted something at Uhla angrily, but she didn’t understand it. Suddenly the stranger’s attention turned to another body that was getting up. This man had a similar long knife as well, and he was shouting at the vile woman. But there was a hint of despair in his voice. Uhla reckoned that the two of them had a peculiar relationship.
Suddenly the woman rushed at the man, and the knives clashed. Uhla heard a third body on the beach, one that was entangled to a net, moan. The old man couldn’t get up and was slowly drowning, as shallow as the water was. The others were too caught up in their battle to notice, so Uhla knew she had to get down there and help the poor old man.
Sergei thought he had fainted from blood-loss, but he soon noticed that he had been whisked from a nightmare to another. The snowy battlefield the soldier had been on had changed to a landscape that terrified him even more.
There was snow around him, but the water that had suddenly surrounded it was quickly melting it away. A few empty boats floated in the water. Behind the small mount of snow was a small field of sand with a rundown shack and a skeleton of a horse, and beyond them there was a steep wall of rock with a front of a ship protruding out of it.
Sergei just couldn’t understand any of it. But his soldier’s senses told him to keep hiding behind the snow, for there were three men lying in the sand field – two that reminded him of the pictures he had seen of Americans, and one that looked like an ancient warrior.
Sergei still had his rifle next to him. He loaded it and buried his wounded leg in snow to numb the pain. Then he just observed.
What happened first was that the door of the shack opened slowly. A young man with a black cowboy hat and a revolver peeked out. There was a raven-haired girl behind the youngster.
“Father!” the girl shouted as she saw the bodies on the sand. She pushed the gunman aside and ran to an older man with a large feathered hat. Sergei was now sure of it: these people were Americans. But what had they done to his motherland?
“Cougar Claw, watch out!” the gunman shouted suddenly, and Sergei saw the other man with a cowboy hat getting up and pointing a gun at the girl.
“Move a muscle, Trigger, and the girl is dead”, the grey-clad man said. He had a cunning face crowned by a monocle. Sergei knew that he was looking at another experienced soldier.
“Northfalk, no!” the man called Trigger shouted back. “Look around you! We’re not in the States anymore. I have no idea what happened, but this is not the time and place to play cops and robbers.”
Meanwhile, the girl had lifted her father’s head to her lap and was singing a song in her native language. Sergei could speak several European languages, but this was unlike anything he had ever heard.
Next to come to senses was the warrior. He was a large man with a flame-red bushy beard and a winged helmet. He asked something in a language that sounded Scandinavian, but Sergei couldn’t interpret it.
When the warrior saw the part of the ship hanging above his head, he let out a terrified holler and fell to his knees.
Sergei kept on analyzing the situation. He could smell the tension in the air. The two men in cowboy hats kept aiming their weapons, the girl was still waiting for her father to open his eyes, and the hulking warrior kept on staring the ship he had obviously fallen from with terror in his eyes.
The first thing Vanya thought when she woke up was that it was a pure miracle she was still alive. There weren’t any stories of people surviving a crash-landing spacecraft that she knew of.
The remains of The Starduck were steaming right next to her. Vanya realized she had landed on a bush. Knowing the fickle nature of crashed vehicles, Vanya quickly got up and took a few steps away from the spacecraft.
That’s when the reality hit her. She was standing in a grassy crevice with a few ruined houses around her and the spaceship.
“What the helium is going on in here?” she asked aloud, also applauding herself for the witty punch line in her mind.
Then Vanya saw a man among the stones in front of her. She had mistaken him as a piece of debris first because of the black iron suit he was wearing. As she approached the man, her eyes widened as she realized that the iron suit was actually an authentic armor worn by knights of the legends.
The historian inside of her woke up instantly, graving for more data about the strange man. She sighed in relief when she saw the man opening his eyes.
“Are you alright, mister? I apologize for landing on your house…” Vanya’s sentence was cut short by the sword the man was pointing at her. “Easy now, mister! I said I was sorry…”
“You demon! What have you done to my lady’s manor?” the armored man bellowed. Now that Vanya got a good look of him, she saw the madness in his eyes.
“It is alright, Ghast. I’m quite fine.” Vanya glanced up where the voice had come from. A woman with harsh features, a long conical hat and a ragged dress was staring down at them.
“Lady Morrigan! This bride of the Devil came with her iron chariot and laid your house in ruins!” the knight the woman had called Ghast said, frantically spitting every word out of his mouth. Vanya was taken aback by such barbarism.
“Shouldn’t we rejoice, then? It is a sign from our Dark Lord!” Then the wicked woman turned her eyes on Vanya. “Tell us, succubus, our Master’s message!”
“I’m not a succubus!” Vanya gasped. It was just her typical luck to warp through time into the hands of superstitious barbarians. “I’m a scientist!”
Sensing that these two were not in their right minds, Vanya made for an escape. She jumped back and climbed up the broken wing of The Starduck onto the opposite ledge from the witch. The knight tried to follow, but the heavy armor hindered him considerably.
Vanya dived through the smoke and ran into Captain Dereq, who was just climbing out of the cockpit of his precious vessel.
“Oh crikey, I guess The Starduck did us it’s last favor,” the white-bearded captain said with a wide grin that had a hint of sadness in it.
“No time for grief, Captain. You won’t believe me, but we seem to have jumped through time…” Vanya’s voice thinned as she saw a towering, derelict pagoda right in front of them. “… or two.”
“I’ll be damned! It seems The Starduck wasn't the only thing we trashed”, Dereq quipped.
Through the smoke, Vanya saw two figures at the upper floor of the pagoda: a very young girl and an older man, both obviously of oriental origins. The girl was pointing at the ground in front of the pagoda. Vanya looked down, and saw a deep crater in front of her. Peering inside, she saw a pair of legs pointing up.
At that moment she remembered the dark figure she had seen entering the cockpit before the crash. The figure was familiar, for it was one of the ancient alien artifacts she had picked up from the planet she had explored. Something must’ve brought it to life… And now the same artifact was lying upside down in the crater in front of her.
“Come on, help me pick the poor guy up!” Captain Dereq said next to her, reaching his hands into the crater.
“No, Dereq, I don’t think we should...” Vanya said cautiously.
Suddenly the legs started to writhe. Dereq got a hold of them and pulled. Vanya had no choice but to help him drag the artifact up.
It was roughly the shape and size of a human man, but it was constructed of fine mechanics. Despite being an apparent robotic, there was something awfully lifelike in it. Such as the eyes that were wide open and curiously staring at Vanya and the captain. Vanya couldn’t help but to find the droid endearing.
“Hi there!” she greeted the artifact. “You’re a funny feller.”
It blinked a few times, and then mimicked the explorer’s smile.
“Aw! Heartwarming, ain’t it? Now what should we call you?”
Much to her surprise, the droid answered. “XETA.”
Tears filled the eyes of the old stargazer. His entire life Zhu Que had studied the mysteries of the stars and the constellations they formed. The Azure Dragon, the Vermilion Bird, the White Tiger and the Black Tortoise… Those were the gods he had worshipped for half a century. And now, in a blink of an eye, they were all gone.
“Master, look!” said Huang, his young apprentice. The girl pointed below, where a metallic bird was smoldering, and two fair-skinned people gazed into a crater. The mystic and the girl watched as the strangers pulled an even stranger being out of the hole. None of it made any sense to Zhu Que.
“Master Zhu Que, share me your wisdoms as we face this insanity”, Huang said in despair. But Zhu Que could do nothing but hang his head low. The source of his wisdom had vanished into the brightness.
“I have nothing to say. We are lost”, the old sage whispered. His apprentice gave him a terrified, incredulous look. Zhu Que felt sorry for the young girl. Orphaned and wounded at the war, she had crawled to the old man’s doorstep with the last ounce of her strength. Zhu Que had nurtured her back to health and started to pass down his wisdom to her. But now he couldn’t give the girl even that.
Once more, Zhu Que cast his eyes to the empty skies. Would he ever find wisdom again?