Irina buzzed for her robot, Mr R. All the elite class had robots. Most nowadays were barely distinguishable from humans. However, Irina fancied herself to be someone who did things a bit differently. The design of Mr R was fashioned on the robots from classic twentieth century literature: his “head” a glass bubble sensor unit with moving antennae, his trunk-section a rotating cylinder with controls on the front, extending bellow arms that ended with mechanical claws and bellow legs with tread tractor units. He was able to move with deceptive speed and agility. Personality-wise Mr R was programmed to be the epitome of deference and tact.
“Did you have a pleasant time with Mr Sanso?” inquired Mr R politely. “I believe you have a spot of cucumber on your face. Allow me to remove that for you.” He did this with a deftness belying his dangerous looking extremities. “And how else can I serve you this morning?”
“Thank you, Mr R. Mr Sanso proved to be inscrutable as always. Please provide scanning assistance. Target 2121 Time travel mission 2222.”
“Delighted to oblige, Ma’am!”
Irina scanned the brains of the time travellers. The 3 drag queens were hypnotically sensitive and should be easy enough to manipulate. The girl, Sadie, was more problematic. Her motivation was happiness and her purity of intention meant that she would be difficult to manipulate successfully. Sanso, she knew already, was a law unto himself.
Irina felt a stab of fear as she thought of the 22nd of February 2222. (Fear was an unusual emotion for Irina—in fact all strong emotion was unusual—and it took her a moment to identify it.) All the 2’s in alignment. If the time travellers were successful in retrieving the crystal and decoding the information before that date, what would that fateful morning look like? Would Irina herself even exist? Doubtful.
Life was pretty good for Irina. In 2222 the Elite were free to pursue their goals—without the confines of the ethical and economic considerations of the old days. They were not confined to human bodies either; they could be robotic, animal or some other more exotic design or mythological creature. It really just depended on how the mood took them. Irina, with the expert assistance of Mr R, was planning in meticulous detail a mermaid-like body, complete with gills and a tail, so that she could travel to an underwater location for her next vacation.
It wasn’t like that for everybody though. And this “progress” had not come about without a huge impact on the environment. There were large pockets of people scattered throughout the world who had eschewed the new technology, instead choosing the way of Love.
“Looooooooove!” Irina rolled her eyes and Mr R chuckled politely on cue.
If Irina had her way they would dispose of the time travellers the moment they arrived. Or better yet, send a team back to 2121 and dispose of them there. Management had forbidden this route, not for any ethical reasons—there were few moral guidelines nowadays—but out of caution. The vote had been close. Apparently there were some documents from the early channellers foretelling disastrous consequences if the time travellers were unable to return to their century. Management had decreed instead that the time travellers must be diverted from their goal.
The crystal itself was closely guarded by the whales until the so called Chosen Ones arrived with the key.