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Purify - Chapter 12 Why not?

The next morning, after getting very little sleep, the crew of the Tony Robinson had convened in the mess for breakfast. Lisa as the first to ask something that had been bothering both her and Carrie since shortly after they had jaunted back on board.

“Captain, why is the main viewer deactivated?”

“You mean why the blinds are down on the window? What is it with you people and all these Star Trek references?” Danno asked.

“The blinds are down because we didn’t want to worry you. You see, we’ve got company.”

“And you didn’t tell us?” shrieked Lisa and Carrie together.

“Let’s have a look then,” said Carrie.

“Who are they and what do they want?” asked Lisa.

“They didn’t say,” said Tibor, “They haven’t said anything all the time they have been sitting there silently, purplely, spinning there.”

“So we left them to it,” said Danno, “let sleeping dogs lie is my motto. Where is the dog this morning, anyway?”

“It’s still asleep,” said Lisa who was, by now, transfixed by the weirdly coloured pentagonal bi-frustum that was slowly rotating at them outside the main viewing screen or window as Danno liked to call it. “Is that all it does?” she asked.

“You want maybe it should dance or something?” asked Tibor, “The answer is, ‘yes – that’s all it does.”

“Except its not doing it now!” said Carrie, “Look!”

The bi-frustum had begun to move and was taking up a position ahead of the ship. The two halves began to separate sideways and a purple glowing grew in the space between them. As they separated further, the two halves began to turn away from each other at the top until the purple haze formed an arc between them and then, suddenly, there was a blinding purple flash after which the crew of the Tony Robinson could see there were now four frustae in two pairs. It was when the two halves of each pair re-attached themselves to each other that the crew noticed the other String Slider parked between them.

“Eric!” exclaimed Tony, Danno’s AI.

“Tony!” came the reply over the comm.

“You ships know each other?” asked Danno.

“Sure,” said Tony, “This is Eric Laithwaite, the ship famously stolen by the Time Rebels and missing ever since. What have you been up to old boy?”

“Not at liberty to say, Tony. What about you?”

“I’m sure you two have a lot to talk about but it can wait. Who have you on board, Eric?” asked Danno.

“Kenneth Lay, at your service Captain Danno,” came the reply from the other Slider. “And, with me on board are, first officer Benjamin Potter, and astrophysicist Denise Langley. But you can call us Ken …”

“Ben and Den,” finished Danno. “Where were you and how did you get here because that wasn’t a slide we just witnessed?”

“I know. I hoped you could tell us. Have you made contact with our purple pals out there yet?” Asked Ken.

“Not yet,” said Danno, “Look, why not jaunt aboard, you three, and we can discuss this in person?”

“Bearing in mind our purple kidnappers here, we’ll do this under truce rules. It’s just that, as you know, we stole this ship from your lords and masters and we don’t want to get arrested as soon as we come aboard.”

“Sure, Sure, We all want to get to the bottom of this purpleosity so come aboard and I’ll put the kettle on.”

“We don’t have a kettle; do we?” whispered Lisa to Tibor.

“Of course not!” Tibor replied, “It’s what’s known as a colloquialism. The captain has lots of them.”

Ken, Ben and Den jaunted aboard the Tony Robinson and, over a cup of tea, they pooled what they knew about the Pentagonal bi-frustae; which wasn’t much. However, it was when Den explained what they had done with the Canus Seven signal and how it was the reason for their early arrival that a possible explanation for the presence of the Purple things emerged.

All along they had been saying that something ought to have stopped time travel to the past. They decided that these purple things were there to stop them. These were the cosmic censors that stopped infractions in the timeline. So far, apart from preventing the last slide of Eric and then bringing him to Guger, their censorship had been a very light touch. However they seem to have arrived too late to prevent Tony’s visit to Guger ahead of schedule with all the risk that has of causing a serious time anomaly if they succeeded in preventing Guger’s planecide.

“But, if what you are saying is correct then we can only conclude that we fail to prevent this one,” said Carrie, “or that they will stop us if it looks like we are going to succeed.”

“And because they haven’t done anything yet then you will probably fail,” said Den.

“We weren’t planning on preventing it completely, just interfering enough to save two of the three continents. But that was when we only had Tony. With your Eric we could save all three, said Danno.

“Yes, we didn’t think that trying to dissuade the Gugerians from destroying themselves had much mileage and so we were going to intercept their missiles mid flight,” said Lisa.

“Let’s do just that. Tony,” commanded Danno, “I want you to dedicate processing power and tractor beams to intercepting the missiles from continents, Stratford and Ilford as soon as they are launched.”

“Eric, you shall dedicate processing power and tractor beams to intercepting the missiles from the southern continent, that Tony’s crew have named ‘Romford’, as soon as they are launched and any from Stratford and Ilford that Tony misses. Get the co-ordinates of these from Tony,” commanded Ken.

“So now all we can do is sit back and wait and see if we succeed or if the purple pentagonal bi-frustae intervene and the planet goes boom anyway.

“This is great tea, any chance of another?” enquired Ben.

Just then the two alien protectors of the timeline began to emit their purple haze again and this time they moved so that one sat above the other and slowly they started to move closer together. They spun faster, just a little faster at first but then faster and faster still until it became impossible to make out their pentagonal shape it became one slightly cylindrical purple blur. Then the stars that could be seen behind them seemed to began to swirl and the Tony Robinson blinked out of existence only to re-appear again in a totally different part of the galaxy. “Not again!” moaned Ken, Ben and Den in unison.

“Looks like it,” said Tibor, “where have they taken us now?” he wondered.

Tony chirped up, “looks like the Lyral sector, space-time co-ordinates uncertain but there is a planet over there that may be about to blow.”

“We were headed for the Lyral sector when we were taken to meet you,” said Ken, “but why bring us back?” he pondered aloud.

“Here’s the planet to which we were trying to get Time Control to send another ship early.”

“Well, I suppose that this is one was of ensuring we cannot save Guger – with only the Eric on site there is no chance that the whole planet is saved,” said Carrie. “Now all those people are destined to die. It is not right – how heartless are these purple monsters?”

“We’re not heartless,” the voice boomed but only in the heads of the people on board.

“Did you all hear what I just heard?” asked Danno.

“If it said ‘We’re not heartless’ then yes,” replied Ben.

Tony asked what they were talking about because, not having a brain, he had not heard the voice. This was the first time the purple things had spoken and they did so telepathically directly to the people on board.

“We save lives by preventing time line mistakes.” It said, “What has happened has to happen. You cannot alter the past.”

“Who are you?” asked Ken, “why do you do this?”

“We are the time keepers and we are the guardians of the timelines. We protect them from the sorts of mistakes that you were about to make on Guger. Already, there is a serious danger that we have let you interfere too far. Some planets have to die while others may live but in vastly different forms but your interference could end us all if we let you continue.”

“But what about all those people on Guger who are going to die now because of you?” pleaded Carrie.

“It has already happened and cannot be reversed. The past will always be the past,” said the time keepers, enigmatically.

“Do you mean that the past that we are a part of now is the same as the past that happened before we got here?” asked Den.

“You were part of it then just as you are being now,” replied the time keepers.

“So it was predestined that we would go back to Guger. In other words our future is predetermined too.”

“Such are the laws of causality.” Boomed the time keepers, “we think,” they added.

“You don’t sound too sure,” said Den, “Are you professional time keepers or are you just helping out?”

“Err. What if we are?” answered the time keepers, nervously.

“Well, for a start it means that we CAN mess with the timelines if we want to. Starting with a demand that you take us back to Guger – we have a planet to save,” said Danno.

“If you insist but we were going to show you what happens when you save a doomed planet.”

“OK then ... but be quick,” Said Danno.