Blinking. It took a while for their eyes to adjust but it was all the more confusing when they did. Stood before them, themselves. They were wearing a slightly more armoured version of their current attire with their staff affixed to their back.
“Welcome to the context cube. If I’m seeing this then I have probably forgotten something important and thought this was the answer to my lapse in memory. Or I tried to integrate my consciousness onto a younger version of myself and failed spectacularly.” They spoke confidently but never met Lore’s gaze despite them being a recording.
“Going by your age and attire, you’re twenty so here’s a glimpse of a couple of years into your future.” The future Lore smiled. “Welcome to the three year month.”
“The United Earth Protectorate was desperate for a new source of Tempora, the mineral that powers Breachers, and had found it. Around us is the planet of Quatarr. Quatarr is rich in Tempora and will be more than willing to share but a civil war that has been sweeping the Quatarrian Empire will set Earth’s mining plans back significantly. That’s where we came in. We were one of the greatest inquisitors of our generation, trained for temporal combat from birth, and as such, we were sent to resolve the war.
The world around them sped past. Verdant hills and clear skies fled as they neared the city ahead of them. Walls of gold surrounded a towering citadel. Light emanated from every pore of the central tower and the streets were near atom perfect, level and flat. Within the city the architecture shone, flowing curves and bronzed highlights adorned every building contrasted by natural white stones.
“You must be new in town. Or else you’d know about the curfew.” A voice erupted.
“Commander, I just got in but I have a way of finding what I need.” The future Lore smiled. “Name’s Lore. I’m the assistance your government requested.” The Commander was wounded by Future Lore’s words.
“One soldier. One.”
“Trust me, I’m all you’ll need.”
Time bled away at this point and the city once again became a field. Tents surrounded the two Lores.
“This was to be the staging point for the final battle of the civil war. The two factions were to meet here and destroy each other. I was originally sent to make sure this happened. Spoilers, I didn’t.” Future Lore shrugged. “The battle had two foreseeable outcomes, mutually assured destruction or victory for the East. If they destroyed each other or the East won, the Quatarrian Empire would fall into chaos and billions would die. So I made a decision. I fought for the best possible outcome.”
The pair moved towards a tent’s work station.
“I took the Tempora crystal from my Breacher and did a little jiggery pokery. Useful bit of knowledge but if you ever need a little more time, a Breacher and a transmitter can be rigged to create a temporal looper. And that’s what I did, I trapped us in a time loop. By my own calculations we could win the war in thirty perfect days. A month to end a centuries long conflict. But we could lose any day so the time loop became vital. Lose too many men, reset. Enemy destroys a crucial bit of kit, reset. We relived the first day nearly fifty times, each time fewer and fewer of our men died. Silus their commanding officer was the only other person aware of the time loop and together we planned the next twenty nine days.” Future Lore sighed to catch their breath. “It was hard on everyone but he had to live with watching his men die over and over again.”
“Why a time loop? What could possibly ever warrant a time loop?” Lore was confused and astonished by their future actions.
“Our enemy, the Eastern Quatarrii as they liked to call themselves were a traditionalist group who believed the empire’s move away from corporal punishment was a sign of weakness. The Quatarian’s always approached things with an open hand but had the ability to make a fist when needed. The East’s belief in their traditional values made them dangerously inventive. Most causes throughout history have had individuals willing to die for their ideals but few have the ability to die multiple times.” Lore looked at their future self, confused.
“Quatarrians can’t die. Ever. They’re constantly rejuvenating, brimming with regenerative energy. When they ‘die’ that energy is released like fire from a phoenix and then, they’re fine.” Future Lore continued. “The East developed a weapon that harnessed that energy. Their soldiers became ammunition to weapons with the ability to carve swaths through our men and topple our tanks like dominos. That’s why we needed the time loop.” Future Lore caressed the bridge of their nose. “We won. Compared to the alternative, my actions saved at least a hundred thousand men. The Quatarrians commended me and made me an honorary commander but the UEP condemned me for stabilising their society.”
The scene shifted once more. Their surroundings had become dark. A single light source illuminated Lore’s future self.
“You are hereby found guilty of the following: Unauthorised modification of Protectorate technology, Multiple breaches of our Non-interference pact, Dereliction of duty, Defection to a hostile military force and Mass temporal manipulation.” A voice boomed in the darkness. “This court sentences you to exile. Your actions and participation will be undone, history will take its course. Starting now, from the Earth’s creation to the end of time itself, you are henceforth prohibited to access the Earth’s solar system and its associated planets. Furthermore, such all properties and equipment loaned to you by the United Earth Protectorate will be removed from your possession. Do you have anything to say before your sentence is commenced?”
“BYE! That’s all I said. I Breached out of there as fast as I could and made sure they couldn’t trace me.” They smiled. “End of cube one. CUBE TWO.”