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Category Archives: Mario

Mario will never again be… OUTTA TIME!


Chronastromy tends to give its practitioners a young-yet-ageless look, and Mario certainly has it–he’s a forty-year vet who now resembles himself at twenty. So it’s incongruous, the old man’s desperate fear in his eyes.

“Gaia damn those fools,” he swears to himself, shimmering into the middle of a Pasadena mall. “Eighteen ninety-two. I said eighteen ninety-two, and they’re off by a century!”

He’s been spotted by then; the teens have begun converging from all angles. “Slater!” they are shrieking. “Slater!” It’s not his name.

The jet boots get him through a skylight, but he knows he’s not safe for long.


Barrister only exhales when they rematerialize in the darkened Louvre. “Made it,” he sighs. “And got rid of the Extinctioners at last!”

“They won’t be slipstreaming again,” agrees Verla, checking around for guards. “I just hope we didn’t alter the timeline much.”

Barrister shrugs and sits down to undo the latches on his jet boots. “It wasn’t a designated Flux Period,” he says. “Surely Chronastromy HQ would have informed us–”

“We have to go back,” says Mario hoarsely. “We have to go back now.

“What?” says Verla.

But Mario just points one trembling finger at Mona Lisa’s bloody, sharp-fanged grin.


“Never understood how these work without energy,” says Mario quietly, one hand on the Time Tube.

“It puts you in quantastasis,” says Rasmussen.

Mario nods.

“And then we, ah, wait.”

“Until what?”

“Until it opens, for a forward jump. Backwards–until we train replacements, retire and die, Earth falls into the Sun, the universe goes into blueshift and collapses, explodes again–and this is the tricky quantum bit, so you and the Tube spontaneously reassemble the same way–Earth boils out, life appears, civilization. The Tube opens. You step out.”

Mario stares.

“We have better methods now,” says Rasmussen, slightly embarrassed.


“Rosebud is his dog,” says Mario. “Haley Joel Osment’s dead. Norman Bates is a drag king, and the Village is a reality show. The lawyer made up Keyser Soze. Tyler Durden is Jack’s long-lost brother, the Blair Witch is the girl, and Obi-Wan is Luke’s father.”

Girard checks each of them off on his list. “Right. Thank you.”

Mario waits.

“You can go now,” says Girard. “The evaluation’s done.”

“That’s–I’m right, right?” says Mario. “We didn’t change anything in the past, so the culture matrix matches. Right?”

“Can’t tell you,” says Girard brightly. “Don’t want to spoil anything.”


“HQ’s not just gone, it’s unmade,” mutters Mario as they dodge through the street market. “Scrubbed out of this whole damn line.”

“If we could stop moving,” says Girard, swiping at a chicken, “set up a decent backcast–”

“You don’t think Barrister will be waiting for that?”

“So what!” shouts Girard. “I’m lab, not field, why’d you even bring me!”

Mario hustles him away from the staring stall owners. “I need you, Girard, okay? But we can’t do anything he’ll expect.”

“You want to ask them for help,” says Girard slowly. “The Blue Man Group.”

Mario bites his lip and nods.


Mario is five again, in the Beanbag Corner, where Miss Gladisant is teaching him the phonics of time. She sings three simple syllables at three pitches and they loop, a perfect echo, three times before they fade away.

Mario tries to copy her, but he gets one note exactly wrong. As soon as he finishes he feels himself grabbed by the stomach, yanked, breath forced back into his throat–sings again, can’t help it, grabbed, singing, helpless, again and again.

Miss Gladisant shouts a strong, angry word. The loop shatters. Mario wakes, nauseated, in Mexico, and knows what Barrister has done.


“Any way to break out of it?” frowns Rasmussen.

“It’d take more energy than has ever existed in this universe,” shrugs a Whitecoat. “Nothing new for us, but in this pocket it’s unpredictable. Could go möbius, maybe turn us all into c-squared…”

Rasmussen shakes his head. “Not worth it. Okay, run some edge-case sims and keep trying to drop substream messages to Mario–he’ll know where to look.”

“The sims will take a few hours.”

“Hours we’ve got,” says Rasmussen drily.

The Whitecoat smiles. “Well, we are in a timeloop.”

“Any way to break out of it?” frowns Rasmussen.

Jr. Time Engineer

Date: 2019-09-22, 0839 UST

Chronastromy HQ is hiring! The leading presearch organization in this timestream needs talented, driven individuals to tackle the most exciting problems comprehensible by the mortal mind. Find yourself inventing a new verb tenses? Ever tried to kill a cat by observing it? Chronastromy Engineering is the place for you.


  • BS in Temp Sci, Cosmogony or other related field (MS preferred)
  • 2-4 subjective years TT experience
  • Demonstrated ability to respond quickly to changing situations
  • For example, show up before this posts and you’re hired

Compensation: DOE

yes — It’s OK to repost this message elsewhen

Chronastromy HQ Officer Training: Final Exam

Name Mario L.
Student ID#   1445

Questions will be projected onto your HUD; answer below.

Alternative 1: Arrange war loan forgiveness in the early 1930s and allow Germany to overcome poverty on its own terms

Alternative 2: Deutschland Über Antidepressants

Alternative 3: Fix Mr. H up with some nice young Austrian boy and avoid all that frustration

Alternative 4: Get Princip arrested and avert WWI instead

Alternative 5: Track down the blighted philosophy professor who first came up with this little chestnut and impress upon him in childhood, very strongly, how box-brained the whole idea of time-traveling murder is


Mario shimmers into being, shakes off the chronoference nausea and sticks his hand out, waiting for a newspaper to blow into it.

Eventually he opens his eyes. His hand remains empty.

“Goddamn collapse of print media!” he swears.

One of the guys sitting on a nearby cafe patio raises his eyebrow. “What’s the matter?” he asks. “Lose your job?”

“Not exactly,” mutters Mario. “Um. I don’t suppose you have the date?”

“1-20-2018,” says Mako.

“Wow!” says Mario. “Thanks!”

Mako grins. “Now how about you give me your digits?”

“Sure!” says Mario. “But they won’t work until you invent ansibles.”