Chapter 41 - Blast from the Past
Jeff set the wayback machine up and loaded in his custom chip. From here, he thought, things should be pretty easy. All I have to do is go back to Winter Camp XX and tell myself not to do it, that the effect will be far too great and that Iíll have to live with not having done it.
His job was forfeit of course, since control would be aware of his unauthorized displacements and the fact that he had created the paradox. That didnít bother him nearly as much as his failure. He had really thought he could leave the pictures and get away with it. Something must have gone horribly wrong, something beyond his control.
He triggered the displacement and soon found himself back at Winter Camp XX. He looked around and quickly realized that either his calculations or his program were incorrect. He had arrived too late; the campers had already been to the site and departed. As he stood pondering his next move, he saw two of them return to the site. He recognized Nick right off, although the other camper was less familiar to him. They picked up the shovels and a pick axe, then started to leave when an odd sound drew their attention. They crept down the side of the memorial to look into the cave, then ran away seemingly panicked.
Jeff decided it was just a typical "scared of the dark" reaction and tried to determine his next step. His departure calculations assumed he would be at Winter Camp XX until morning of the following day. Deciding there was little he could do at present, he returned to the capsule to catch a quick nap and rethink his options.
He awoke several hours later feeling very stiff. He stood up and banged his head on the ceiling of the capsule. That had never happened before, the cabin was actually rather spacious inside since it was designed to serve as a home for as many as three observers. He reached up to rub his head and was surprised to find a large knot there.
Even more surprising, the knot was actually a knot, a gnarled finger of wood. He looked at himself for a moment and realized that he was no longer Jeff Rand; instead, he had become some sort of tree-man. He slowly emerged from the capsule into the light of day. Almost immediately, he sprouted a new branch on his right side, providing him with two arms. He practiced with it for a few minutes and decided he rather liked this new form.
He heard the whispers of a thousand angry voices around him and it took him a few minutes to realize he was actually hearing the trees whispering to each other and their message was not one of peace. They were angry and they wanted to pay back the humans and orks who had killed so many of their brothers. As he watched, he saw a line of orks move out from the tunnel and begin to march forward. He could hear their gruff voices and they were talking about killing some humans and elves who had raided their lands.
Jeff didnít care much about the humans, but he saw this as his golden opportunity to kill a few orks. He began to move forward, taking long slow steps toward the orks as they marched. Behind him, he could hear the rustle of the trees and when he looked back, he was shocked to discover that the trees were following him. He moved forward, deciding that he would first see what these humans could do and perhaps he and the trees would just kill everyone when they got the chance.
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