Note: for a helpful summary of what this A To Z is about, please see my sidebar (or check under the Comments section if your device doesn’t display a sidebar). The explanation is right under my 2018 A To Z Challenge Badge.
Ethelbertha Littledove, Missions Coordinator
Questions I Now Expect Not To Hear Again
First, there are several questions I know you’ll want answers to, so here they are, with answers.
1) Does it hurt?
No. Time Travel does not hurt. You will not feel as if you are being ripped apart and re-assembled. You will not feel anything. You will step through a door, and you will then be standing in the past.
2) What if there’s a very attractive person in the past that I fancy? Can I…
3) If I die, am I dead, or what?
Yes. For the moment. And if you are going to die and saving you is reckoned to be worthwhile, you will be warned by another Agent not to do the thing that kills you. Of course, that creates certain problems for you. I mean, in one sense, you’ve died, and in another sense, you haven’t. We have observed that Agents who are repeatedly saved by timely hints in this way tend to go strange.
4) Um. You might decide that saving me isn’t worthwhile?
Correct. This isn’t tiddlywinks.
5) What if I catch something?
Return to The Lighthouse and report to Medical immediately. And if you’ve caught, say, Syphilis, you are going to have to answer a lot of questions. See Question 2.
6) Can I take things? I mean, I have this collection, and there’s this perfectly charming thing in The Past that would just fill a void in my…
Right. I think that covers most of the idiot questions that you Agents tend to plague me with. On to the next thing.
Most of the work of a new Agent is to monitor and data-mine The Past. In other words, you wander around in some part of The Past, looking at things. Your iDictaBrain should be turned on for the whole of this process, recording what you see, hear, etc. That is really all you need to do, for a Monitor job. In fact, if we could just send iDictaDrones back into The Past, to whiz about scanning things, we’d do that instead of sending you. Alas, that hasn’t worked out so far. For most of The Past, iDictaDrones flying around and peeking at things tend to surprise and alarm Residents. And if you are about to suggest disguising them as birds, we’ve tried it, and there’s always some smart-ass Resident bird-watcher who spots the thing, and writes in to, for example, Bird Fanciers Monthly, to report that he observed a Big Ugly Tit or whatever, totally out of season. This causes a Sensation in the bird-viewing public, and that is the opposite of what we want.
When (if) you return to The Lighthouse, your iDictaBrain will be linked to the Core Computer, and your sensory impressions will be uploaded and analyzed. By the way, that process does hurt. Quite a lot, actually. And you can’t be sedated, as it messes up the upload. We don’t know why the upload hurts, and we also don’t know why sedation messes up the upload. Anyway, you’ll suffer.
You will also be asked to report your impressions. To do this, you will stand alone in a small room and talk. Sometimes, we’ll remember to put the Nodding Face Puppet in there for you to talk to, but usually we forget. In theory, this report is Very Important. In practice, it is almost always ignored, and sometimes isn’t even recorded. Your iDictaBrain is way better at gathering impressions than you are.
Structure of Basic Missions
- Step through the door. You are now in The Past.
- Notice your location. This place is your way home.
- Scan for Agent Death Messages (see fig. 1 for an example). Consult your iDicta manual for instructions about the proper iMudra command for this vital part of your mission.
- Tag (if era-appropriate) your Individual Agent Device somewhere near your gate, in a discreet location (see fig. 2).
- Begin your wanderings. Interact only if necessary (advice about this will presumably be written up later in this volume). Flip through books. Remember, the Core Computer only needs a split second of visual of each page. Stare at all publicly-posted material. Have a good look at all technology. Don’t, however, have such a good look at it that someone takes you for some sort of spy. Really, a casual glance at the worky bits will probably do. If you are in an era with newspapers, get as many as you can, and look at each page. Remember, you don’t need that day’s paper. Check in the dustbins for yesterday’s. This is free, and you probably don’t have much Resident money in your pocket (in fact, you probably don’t have any).
- When your iDictaBrain indicates that it is low on memory (by a persistent throbbing of the temples, if you have a newer model; older models will just flash a boring old message at you), go back to your Door and step through. You should now be back at The Lighthouse.
- Report for upload.