MISSION WITH THE PAST
“Dookkun-1, this is Penchi9, over? I've arrived in Yavadviva—when am I?” He slapped his ankle and saw a dot of blood flooded a pair of wings.
He wiped his hand and pressed his lips into a frown.“You got my first samples?”
“Yes, the lab has started on caching it.”
“Dookkun-1 my—” he shook and smacked his device. “Positioning isn’t working. I could not locate the hermitage, or my target.”
“Have you received the age-progressed picture of target.”
He flicked his wrist and scanned the projection. After sliding several options aside, he saw the picture and responded, “affirmative.”
“The system is doing a backup.”
He leaned her head back in exasperation. “That time again?”
“This is our most vital mission up to date, Penchi9. Frequent backup is needed.”
Rubbing her temple, he snapped, “fine. Is that why this darn positioning not working?” He slapped it once again.
“No, it comes with the time skipping, we are upgrading—soon.”
He snorted. “Sure you do.”
“Anything else Penchi9?”
“I’m transferring you back to your agent. Standby.”
He nodded by habit even when nobody was there to see him.
“How are you doing Kamaish?”
He gasped and closed his eyes. “Çri? Oh Çri, it is so good to hear you.”
“Miss you too, darl.”
“Really?” He could felt his cheek was warming up.
He hung his head but couldn’t stop feeling giddy. He missed her voice. 56 hours in this period without it felt like eternity, but with all the time skipping he’s been doing, maybe it was an eternity already. Tracking the path to his target was as easy as breathing for somebody with similar amount of battle wounds, so that wasn’t his worry. Time travelling also was not his concern, it was semi-linear at the very least, but time skipping? Now that was a whole other monster that could wreck not just travelers’ physique, it put a strain on their mental, especially brainwave. He was never in one period of time for more than half a day and so far his body hadn’t seen the night for 3 cumulative days. Really no wonder that his last training was not about skill at all, only endurance.
“You heard about your samples?” Çri asked.
“They’re caching it.”
“Guess not.” Her bitterness almost made him lost track.
“What?” Nervousness creeping into him.
“They contaminated 50% of it.”
“Say what now?” he growled low.
Heated by her own frustration she continued with a thick voice, “more people are getting quarantined, especially the lab, saniters was not very prepared.”
“Saniters? Sorry, I’m lost and I’m a fieldman not labs like you. I rather fight with real people I can grapple and slam than small microscopic—”
“Hey! You said microscopic instead of tiny.”
He could hear her smile. “Yea, you’re rubbing off on me. Who contaminated my samples again?”
“Newbies, the saniters. They had always handle the dirty work, sanitation mostly. But more senior worker are being quarantined even for the slightest symptoms, so they’re all we got.”
“Damn!” he ground his teeth then shook his head. “But can’t blame them then. Can’t believe that something so microscopic could—”
“They might be microscopic but—”
He looked up to the cavern and sighed with a crooked smile. He found the hermitage. “Exactly what I said. I can’t hurt them but they were more lethal than a person with napalm bomb and sniper rifle.”
“You sounded excited. The prince?”
“No. The hermitage.” He shook his head and breathe in. “It was magnificent yet hidden.”
She sighed. “I wasn’t always. I wanted to be a historian, literary to be exact. But after that team project, I found an alarming occurrence with this type of disease.”
“Oh Çri, nobilities were like that. They’re to noble to mingle with the common people. Also political marriage were rampant. For preservation of the blue blood you know.” He began to climb the mountain to reach the cavern.
“You know that’s why they named the disease hypercyanemic.”
He wrinkled his nose and silently repeated the disease’s name. “Extreme blue bloodness.”
She paused before giggling. “Yes, I guess you can define it that.”
“So what does it do exactly?” He knew it should be something to do with weakening the body but he wanted her to science-splaining to him. It distracted him from his own mental exhaustion.
She took a deep breath and started to chatter, “it increase higher possibility of recessive genes. These genes became recessive through evolution because it doesn’t benefit survival. Think about survival of the fittest. Stronger or smarter usually live longer.”
“So these recessive genes makes you more susceptible to diseases?”
She paused then continued with a slower pace, “interesting comment, but not particularly true.”
“It doesn’t weakened your immune system per se, but with inbreeding, the occurrence of recessive genes are higher. See it like a class. When you take general education class, people from different career path came together.
“Ah like if I take latin for my anthrop and you take it for your biology thingy.”
“Like mathematics. We all need that. You—need that.”
He snorted. “Pfft.”
“Yeah, so these career branches are represented by different number in a dice and these numbers in turn represent genetic code which included diseases. If there’s 6 branches in a class and they play dice rolling 6 times, they each have at least 1 possibility to get their number so 1 possibility for the diseases to show up.”
“That’s nice, 1 in 6, auction it off, nobody will offer anything,” he commented.
“You still need me to—” her voice went an octave lower
“Yes, of course.”
“That’s without inbreeding.”
“Let me guess. Inbreeding is like you lots needing a Latin class.”
“Our lots?” She became defensive.
“Yeah, the lab people, biology career.”
“Our lots?” she reiterated with a quiet hiss.
“Ok that’s it. I’m done.” She grumbled.
“Oh come oooon. But I got it though. Like you said the previous one was different career. If all represented by more similar numbers like—”
She ended up joining in again. “Like smaller number in dice but they still play the same amount, the possibility increase such as for the diseases.”
He chuckled. “So you’re saying if I put a bet in the inbreeding class, I will have more chances to win.” He could imagine her rubbing her temple.
“As diseases playing dice gambling? Sure, Kamaish.” She mocked him.
“Looks like I’m winning.”
“Not something you want to celebrate.”
“Well, point of view right?”
She refused to respond, instead she said, “have you enter the hermitage?”
“Humbling experience. Magnificent view. I would bring you here.” He perched on the mouth of the cave and finally took refuge from natives, swarm of blood hunting insects.
“Not qualified.” A tinge of bitterness reentered her voice.
“Don’t worry, you won’t like the flying natives here. My device’s warding feature is useless.” He took a banana peel that he found and rubbed it on the red bumps that just itching him to death. “Aah, sweet relief.”
“Careful, those mosquitoes might carry something else.”
“Oh I got that covered. But I prefer prevention. Ooh…” He pulled his legs into a squat and grabbed his ocular. “Prince charming is here.” He could hear her gagged, it made him smile.
“Need me to go?”
He weighed his option and refused to lose contact with her again. “Nope.”
“Kay. I’ll silent my side.”
Chuckling, he knew she might gagged again and jeopardized his facade in the most important time. “Or you could feed me my line? You’re better at it.”
He didn’t hear anything for several second before she hissed, “just do your job.” And went silent.
Almost snorting, he gave his crooked smile and nodded. After returning to his main focus of the hour, he trekked to the cavern’s main entrance while changing his appearance. “Nope, nope,no—” His device gave a faint pulse to recommend the period appropriate style. “Yeah, sure.” He stepped back and let it did the work. He looked down at the dyed fabric and nodded again, “good selection. Not too regal, not too common. Nice batik.”
He approached the entrance and listened.
“Yes, Sage. I have the list and will be back by sundown tomorrow.” His target bowed deep and left the cavern.
“Great timing.” He checked the his target’s documented track and reemerged by the market. He approached several of the kiosks and began to sample different delicacies for his own benefit before finally stumbled upon the target. Peeking at the list, he purposely began to mutter, “wonder where to find a good parchment around here?”
His target couldn’t stop but overhear. “You’re not from around here, brother?”
He feigned embarrassment. “It shows huh? My accent?”
“True, yes to that but also for looking at the parchment. There are several by the other end, everyone around here know about it.” His target pointed away from them.
“Thank you, hopefully I could get a good one to bring back to my future teacher.” He nodded and turned around.
“Wait, brother. I could come with you. I am somewhat of a parchment savant.” His target gave a familiar crooked smile and walked along with him.
During the first few moments he was with his target, he began to relax and observed the young target’s interactions. “You know people around here.”
“I’ve been here a lot of times. My teachers live about that mountain region behind us and the people around here never bother them and since I am the youngest one, they send me around. Where are you come from?”
“About two weeks hike from here, going northwest.” He pictured the map of the island in his head and pinpoint a place further away from the palace.
“Ah! I heard some whisperings about a hermitage there. I would like to visit.”
“Sure! That sounds wonderful.” He couldn’t believe how fast the young target took his bait.
“What is your name, brother?”
“Ah, sounds almost like mine. Panji. Nice to meet you Penchi—”
“Just call me Nayen.” He shook his head.
“Nice to meet you, Nayen.”
“Pleasure is mine, brother.”
He was pleasantly surprised on the young prince’s warm welcome. The young prince was well known for his charismatic personality, but he thought that Panji’s noble, responsible, brave, and loyal reputation was only thick slathering of icing on the history cake. Didn’t always taste good but definitely looked good from the painfully perfect depiction of yester-century’s main characters.
After gathering some not so needed, but needed for his own collection supplies, he couldn’t help but feeling boastful to Çri. Knowing she wouldn’t be able to banter back, he muttered, “magnificent. I’ll take some of this home for myself.”
“Exactly, brother. That’s why I got you more. A good quality parchment is hard to come by. I know they made it from the best quality trees around here.” Panji tapped his shoulder.
“Yes.” He nodded and snickered. He could see Çri cracking her neck in frustration. She would have coerced him to give some to her for her lab work.
“So, where are you staying, brother?” Panji steered them to the nearest lunch. The aroma was so intoxicating, he almost ready to tease Çri with his words.
“Ermm, don’t know yet, but this smells wonderful.”
“Yes, this place could keep me away from the hermitage. And for today, it would.”
“Your taste in fine items are undoubtable, brother.” He shook his head in amazement.
“Not to mention, it won’t empty your money bag.”
“Speak like a true wanderer, brother.”
That day went by much than better. Splitting up after scoring the same place to stay with his target, he gave an excuse to catch their dinner as his way to repay the prince. He chewed a wild sugarcane piece and threw a bait at the river, knowing exactly where to from his device. “Çri, hello? Oh come on stop ignoring me.”
“What?” She barked.
“Hey I got the relic by myself fair and square—”
Spitting her word, she replied, “Panji got it for you.”
“Help—ing. So when is my dateline?” his fishing line shook and he saw the big fish. Excited he pulled it out and began to gut it before he heard her faint snicker. “What?”
“It’s down. Since they haven’t reboot and change parts, they see this as a chance to finish it too.”
“WHAT?” He stabbed the fish and it stopped flailing.
“About a week or two, maybe more.”
“Stop shouting,” she snapped.
“Sorry, not your fault.” He hopped into the water and began to throw handmade spears at the fishes. Catching more than enough, he gutted them all and slung it over his shoulder. He did it all to pipe out his anger.
“I’m out then. Ping me when you feel better,” she spoke with a calmer voice.
“Just don’t hurt anyone.”
She clicked her tongue and left him alone. Kamaish stomped away from the water and thinking about selling some of his catch.
“Çri, hello! Kamaish to Çri,” he called her with an urgent voice. “Penchi9 to agent, over!” He waited and fidgeted. “Çri, please tell me the time locater still down? Çri?” he tried to whisper but frustration upped his voice. “Çri, I need at least three weeks of this time frame. Çri please.”
“Possible two weeks for your time frame.” Çri growled. “I cannot believe what you did when we’re disconnected. Congratz for disrupting the time sequence, jeopardize all of our work, not to mention possibly alter the disease, all in span of less than two weeks.” Her voice devoid emotion, made him realize how angry she was.
“You received it?” he forced his chuckle despite the relief that flooded him.
“Your logs? You have to ask? Why don’t I replay how bad you messes up.”
Entry day 7 post locating target.
Staying with target. Time locater still down for unforeseeable future. Samples was as easy as catching a mosquito. Got backup fresh sample regardless. Target named Panji. Blending into the hermitage and learning some ancient psychological skills. There are more sages and some exchange discipleship into the hermitage. The area had become prime spot for higher awareness. According to Panji, this had become more common lately. Possibility of strong spiritual energy might originated from time disruption that provide hole or caused by time locater. More investigation is needed. Penchi9 logging out.
Entry day 11 post.
Following target. Samples has been sent, still no report on receiver end. Also, time locater still down, and comm ceased to work. Observation of daily ancient culture : behavior-wise similar; in future, people are more enter solitary through their devices; in these days some habitually go to official and unofficial hermitage to find solitude. Panji decided to leave hermitage for home. The possibility of unsuccessful samples transferring lead to my decision to travel with target.
On the ongoing research for time bridge, there are possibility of strong time ripples from within the time disruption. Does the bridge initiated by us traveling here or there are always a bridge between us and the past? More investigation is needed. Penchi9 logging out.
Entry day 14 post.
Arrived in the target’s home, the palace. Similar to anthropology prediction, it is a great estate. Time locater down, comm not working, devices has been putting on error sign, and possibly battery draining. Panji has revealed himself as the young prince, heir of the kingdom. Unlike my last finding regarding the ancient culture, there are more obvious variety of behavior in higher classes within ancient patriarchal society. The treatment of different genders could be observe i.e. as a possible sole heir to the throne, Panji, was free to do undercover mission by himself despite possible danger and threat for his life. Compared to the princesses who had to stay within the estate perimeters as they reached certain age.
On the ongoing research, I found the positive correlation between old and newly discovered hermitage with time disruption hot spots. Evidences starts to present itself to support the time bridge theory. However, on how strong and how long had it been there, more investigation is needed, unfortunately the tools that I have been relying on continue to deteriorate. Penchi9 logging out.
Entry day 17 post.
Traveling and arriving at the border of neighboring kingdom with target. It has been more than a week within this time frame that I have been disconnected to the Origin Time. There are only minuscule evidence that it might improve. Device has not overheat anymore, however still allow significant battery draining. In my research on the ancient culture—the traditional formal clothing is fascinating yet uncomfortable to be worn. It is not practical as it’s only for showmanship. The semi-formal one is much more practical as it is could also be used as undergarment for battle armor. There’s not much differences of neighboring kingdom’s attire but there are distinct pattern, especially on their traditional batik and embroidery.
We met the counselor and his envoy. Peaceful talk was done with quite significant “small talk”, very different from the culture in Origin Time. Also found several cross-dressers in this era. The community are more accepting with gender fluidity. I found some effeminate male and masculine female, however there are no negative respond to their way of life. In conclusion, the community are more open in this time period.
On the ongoing research, there are significant discovery to be revealed. Concrete evidences of positive correlation between larger time disruption hot spots and stronger spiritual energy center. The ripple theory stand firm, with more information. I found that the strongest hot spots/energy center are the one that furthest from this period’s active volcanoes. Is it possible that the volcanoes were the natural barriers between hot spots? Or the volcanoes managed to grow in places where the hot spots/energy center weakened? More investigation needed. Penchi9 logging out.
Entry day 19 post.
Staying with target. Still no conn with Origin Time. More improvement on the device, able to show map of surrounding area. We acquired more people within the group. They are the cross-dressers from bordering village of neighbor kingdom. Possibility scenario is to avoid the case of gender based treatment (refer to entry day 14). One of them in particular garnered Panji’s interest. She seemed to connect more with Panji compared to the other member of the group. She also seemed to have a significant knowledge in governing, which does not match with her background story. Otherwise non-concerning.
On the ongoing research, there are new findings. The emerging hermitages started to grow as the nearby active volcanoes aged and slowing down. This confirm the previous conclusion of natural barriers vs the volcanoes replacing weakening hot spots/energy center. More investigation needed. Penchi9 logging out.
Entry day 20 post.
Target had deviated from the time sequence. Emergency respond is needed. Against my strong recommendation and my discouragement, target had let his feeling lead him to develop a strong connection with a common born female. It was one of the cross-dressers that we have met. From my investigation, although she is a common born, her father held a position of power. Despite her initial introduction of being one of the border village’s relative, she is proven to be the daughter of the neighboring kingdom’s counselor. This however does not prevent Panji from pursuing her. Request immediate emergency comm link with Penchi9’s agent for further instruction. I repeat, urgency is at the Z level.
Request short comm link. Request bypass regular. Request pagering comm. Request in motion. Request in motion. Unable to complete request. Request in motion. Comm link down. Short comm link down. Bypass regular down. Pagering comm….pagering comm…pagering comm…battery low…battery low.
“YOU—” she sucked a breath and continued, “kidding me?
“Whoops.” He grimaced.
She growled, “whoops? You are risking our link. Ever heard about reassignment?”
“I won’t let that happen.” His promise wasn’t for her. He knew, she could be great with almost anyone. Him on the other hand, wouldn’t survive anyone else or wouldn’t want to. “I can fix this.”
“Can you? What is your new bff doing now?”
He grit his teeth. “Planning a…proposal.”
“WHA—t.” Her voice went quieter. He assumed to avoid suspicion in Origin Time. She snarled, “what are you doing? Stop him.”
He grimaced again. “I can’t change his mind.”
“Doesn’t matter, you have to do the impossible.”
“I can’t Çri.” He heard her audible breath, as if she’s panting her anger out.”But what I can is to inform and persuade his father’s counselor table to vote down this marriage.”
She sucked her breath and responded, “you want to infiltrate? How fast?”
“Even when the main time locater is down, does the local one here down too?”
He listened as Çri went quiet for a second. “Yup.”
“But I have an alternative solution.”
Although he thought of hearing a faint snicker from her, he sighed in relief. “How?”
“I can stop the past from progressing and since you are from the future…” she paused.
“Yes?” his impatience bugged him.
“You’re mobile while everyone’s static.”
“WHAT? You expect me to walk on foot to the palace?” he flabbergasted.
“You won’t get lost, device is active now.” She couldn’t hold her laugh anymore.
“Come on Çri, there no—”
“Nope, no other way. Alright, standby—”
“Wait!” He said.
“What now?” her patience was decreasing by the minute.
“Give me a couple minute. I need to prepare myself.”
“Oh no you do not. Hurry, the comm link still unstable.” She pestered him.
“Fine!” he barked and balked.
Kamaish looked down at the young counselor’s son and bowed his apology. He put the sleeping adolescent into a roomy chest and once again bowed before scanning the awkward positioned body. “I hope I don’t break any of your bone, kid.” He then put the lid down and rested the device on the lid. In turn, the device expelled the scanned physique and enveloped him in a convincing hologram. His adrenaline had drained since he enter the estate. Smacking his mouth, his eyes was glaring from corner to corner. Then he pounced on what ever leftover was there. Glass was empty and plate was cleaned. He licked every single drop of crumb until the plate glistened. Once his blood went back to his brain, he could finally think. From what he gathered, the son was the counselor’s apprentice and today was the perfect time; it was for the son to report to his father in audience of the king, Panji’s father.
He walked out of his part of the estate and nodded to several of the aids. Convinced that he able to fool everyone, he approached the main house. Within a couple hours he was traveling to the palace with his ‘father’. His ‘father’ tried to make a conversation with him but he politely refused. He blamed the nervousness and promised his ‘father’ he would make him proud with his report of the year. Although curious, his father gave in to his excuse of practicing for his presentation.
Walking toward the small hall, he rehearsed the situation in his head. He didn’t have to pretend his expression of guilt. He knew this would crushed his ‘brother’ but when the fate of humankind rested on his shoulder, he could not choose his heart over his head. With a pretense of nervous stutter, he delivered the report with a regret-laden voice.
“Her name is Anggraini or Anggreini, Your Majesty.” He stole glances to his father just to put a hint of realism. Her father looked down, sighed, and gave a nod full of sadness. Nothing prepared him for what came next.
“We have to make her disappear.”
“Come again, Your Majesty?” He stuttered for real. His ‘father’ shook his head and looked at him.
The regret was overwhelming, the guilt was burdensome, and Panji’s voice echoed inside his mind. “I knew she’s the one. No other will do.”
“Can we talk to her father instead?” He braved himself to speak.
The King looked at him and smiled with a pity. “We can and we will, but in meantime we must prepare. My son was already promised to another, to keep the peace his wedding must go through and this one must never came to light.” The King looked at his ‘father’ and patted his ‘father’ in the back. “You should be proud.” His ‘father’ gave a slow nod, then the King looked at him and said, “prepare, go to the Panjaluhan and find Kunadawarsa, he should know this girl you are talking about. Bring my edict.”
He turned to his ‘father’, who nodded with a solemn look. Then he replied with a deep bow, “yes, Your Majesty.”
His ‘father’ ushered him outside and into their cart. “Let’s go home first.”
Although he stole glances at his ‘father’, within the cart he fell silent again.
“Talk to me, son.”
He shook his head and said, “she doesn’t have to disappear. It is just a young love affair.”
“It is. But then we are talking about the crown prince. He’s softhearted and hardheaded.” His ‘father’ still look away from him.
“Crown prince…” he tapped his chin. “Crown prince…”
“What are you thinking, son?”
“He’s the crown prince. What if he is not the crown prince?” He made his ‘father’ turned to him.
“What do you mean? He is the chosen heir.” His ‘father’ narrowed his eyes.
He shrugged, “exactly, he is used to be the heir. What if we threaten him?”
His ‘father’ leaned back and smiled so slightly. “We could do that. Threaten him to take his rights.”
“He might fall for it. Exiled prince is not such a great future.” His smile grew.
“And if not, son?”
He looked at his ‘father’ and went silent. “I heard Anggraeni is a smart girl. Just laid it out to her. If she is a kind of person Panji falls for, she will back off and let the peacekeeping continue.”
“Brilliant. Avoid bloodshed, appeal to their desire.” His ‘father’ didn’t smile, instead he leaned toward him and narrowed his eyes. “Who are you?”
“What?” His heart skipped a beat. “What kind of question is that?”
His ‘father’ roared with laughter then continued, “a kind of question a father could ask his son. Answer me, who are you?”
He stared at the older man and acknowledged his wisdom. “Even if I told you, you won’t believe me.”
“What spirit are you?”
He was taken aback as his brain gave him a new idea. “I don’t have to tell you. Do I, human?”
“Why do you want the peace to be hold? As far as I know, your kind does not care about us. At least not that much.” The old man relaxed his shoulder but tensed his hand over his hips where the dagger usually hid.
Kamaish smiled. “Because we do not live in the present, human.”
The older man sat taller. “Present?”
“Your time does not apply to us. So when we see the future of this planet—”
He sighed. He chided himself in his mind wondering about his carelessness. “The soil you live on, the air you breathe, the water you consume, the living being around you.”
“Ah…please continue, forgive my ignorance.” The older man nodded.
“The future is dim, if Panji become one with that girl.” He patted himself in the back for turning the future fact into oracle-like premonition. He just wished Çri would hear him. “There will be an unimaginable plague.”
“Very well. I will help you, but I ask you to be gone from my son.” The older man begged.
“You son is very much well. He’s in his own house. I was simply putting him to sleep and mimic his form.” He was trying hard not to laugh from the embarrassment of his act.
“Thank you, oh spirit. Will you be taking his form to see the counselor?” the older man asked.
He waved his hand. “No, I will choose some other medium. So do we have a deal with this problematic situation?”
“You have my full cooperation. Since we all want the same thing, at least in the short run, peacekeeping.” The older man nodded.
“Good. So I have your word.”
The old man gave a faint bow. “Yes. What should I call you, oh spirit?”
He mind was blank so he answered, “I don’t need name.”
“What should I address you then, when we meet the envoy?”
He gave his crooked smile. “Your apprentice. Son will be fine.”
“I am to call you my son?” the older man’s eyes widened.
“No—” the older man smiled with a tinge of pride. “Not at all.”
To be continued...