A temporal switch-box is a complicated device, to put it mildly. It made an 18th century Swiss timepiece look like a mud pie by comparison. So Will was understandably upset when Kai blew theirs to smithereens with a shift grenade. It was Thursday, October 10th, 2307—78 years in the past, to them, and three days before the Collapse.
“Have you lost your fucking mind?” Will hurled his fist into Kai’s jaw and then followed him to the ground, pinning his abdomen down with a knee and holding him by his vest straps.
“It’s already done.”
“That doesn’t answer my question. Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”
“Can’t change the past, Will.” Kai smiled cheekily, a thin film of fresh blood on his teeth.
Will lifted Kai by the vest with one hand and cocked the other back for a knockout blow, but in Kai’s face he read the truth of the situation. He dropped Kai back to the ground, got up, and started pacing, hands on his hips. “This is a death sentence, you know that? You’re such an arrogant prick. Three days, Kai. What do you expect us to do?”
Kai got himself to his feet. He dusted off the front of his pants, and then stood stooped, hands above his knees, and let a thick red loogie drop from between his lips. “I was hoping your survival instinct would force you to come up with something desperate. And I can already tell it worked. I can see the steam coming out of your ears while those gears are turning.”
“I’m not coming up with solutions; I’m trying to decide how I should kill you.”
“This is our chance, Will. This is everyone’s chance. We can stop the Collapse.”
“Can’t change the past, Kai.”
“But it’s not the past anymore. Not for us. Not now. And we have foreknowledge.” Kai straightened his back, rubbed his jaw. “Gonna swell up like a chipmunk smuggling acorns.”
“Good,” said Will. “I hope it hurts.” He turned and looked his partner in the eyes. “If by some miracle of miracles we don’t die in the Collapse, I am going to kill you on the other side.”
Kai’s eyes lit up and he grinned, his cheek already puffy. “Yes! That’s the spirit! What do you have in mind?”