Chapter 14 - March 19th, 87 TTE
March 19th, 87 TTE: that was the day that Matthew and I were sent on that tragic assignment.
Four years had passed since I proposed to Judy. Eight years since Matthew and I had first faced the Titans of Time. Throughout these long eight years, Agent Lam and I continued coordinating missions to stop the Titans of Time from enacting their plans. We were able to discover that this terrorist group was planning on large scale changes to the timeline so that they could shape the world into the one that they wanted. In one of their bases, we even found a timeline 'map' of all the changes that they wanted to make and how that would get them what they wanted.
As for their personnel, Cronus was their leader. He was a wealthy megalomaniac who wanted to conquer time itself. Somehow, he was able to hide his money from us through various means such as laundering, false names, and bribes. Every time we thought we confiscated all of his money, he had another stash ready.
Metis was a high-ranking member of the Titans of Time. In fact, she was the second-in-command and Cronus' lover. She was also a highly respected (and highly feared) chronodynamicist.
There were also others like Hyperion, their weapons dealer; Oceanus, their transportation specialist; and Themis, their financial specialist.
We, the Time Patrol Agency, were eventually able to drive them into a corner. Their numbers had dwindled down to twenty or so, with most of their timetanium caches confiscated. The only two generals that were left in the Titans of Time were Cronus and Metis.
On that day, Matthew and I had just received intel on where a shipment of timetanium that was stolen two days ago went: to a warehouse that the Titans of Time were using as their base. This was bad news: with that much timetanium on her hands, Metis could create enough time travel devices for the Titans to wreak havoc on the timeline.
"Looks like it's going to be another late night," Matthew said as we prepared to confront the terrorists. We were loading up our weapons and putting on our bullet proof vests in the locker room at the Time Patrol Agency Headquarters.
"Yeah," I responded, "Hey, I'm going to give Judy a call first."
"Alright, I'll meet you in the car."
I called home and Judy picked up, "Hey James."
"Hi, honey," I said to my wife, "I'm going to be late tonight."
"Well, at least say good night to Stephanie first."
In the background, I could hear Judy calling our four year old daughter over to her and handing her the phone.
Stephanie's voice came through my phone, "When are you coming home, daddy?"
"Soon, I just have to finish up some work. So you be good, don't cause any trouble for mommy while I'm away."
Stephanie handed the phone back to Judy.
"Be careful, James," said Judy.
"Of course, see you tonight."
I disconnected the phone and walked out to the car where Matthew was waiting.
Alongside Matthew was a Special Strike Unit team. The SSU was a paramilitary organization. They were pretty much this era's equivalent to the USA's SWAT or Hong Kong's SDU. They would be helping Matthew and I infiltrate the warehouse that we had tracked the timetanium to.
We got into our vehicles and made our way over to the warehouse. On the way, we discussed the operation and fine-tuned the plan of attack.
We arrived at the warehouse and got the team into position.
"Alright everyone, this is going to be a quick takeover, so set your guns to normal mode," Matthew said over the comms.
We all took a moment to acknowledge the order. Then, we charged in.
We gave anyone inside the customary chance to surrender. Some did, dropping to the floor with their hands on their head. However, some didn't, and they pulled out their firearms, resulting in a gunfight. We managed to quickly and efficiently take out most of the hostiles. Some of the SSU members stayed back to subdue anyone that was still alive, while the rest of us carefully made our way towards the central office of the warehouse.
An SSU member kicked down the door to the office.
As soon as it went down, we saw someone jump into a time portal. The others left in the room opened fire on us.
We took cover, but time was running out and the portal was closing. Without another viable choice, I yelled out to the SSU team, "Cover us, we need to get to that portal before it closes!"
They sprung into action, providing suppressing fire as Matthew and I ran towards the portal.
The hostiles hid behind their cover as we ran. Along the way, we passed by two hostiles behind their covers. Matthew and I managed to take out one each, right before we jumped into the portal.
We emerged on the other side in some sort of living room, and the portal closed behind us.
In front of us, was a bespectacled woman holding a gun to a girl's head, "Well, hello, Agent Lam, Agent Lawson."
It was Metis.
I kept my gun pointed at her. "Well, I see that you've busy with the timetanium. We would like that back now."
Metis smirked and pressed her gun against the girl's head, "I don't think so. Surely, I don't have to explain to you who this is, Agent Lam?"
Matthew's face had gone pale. "James, that's... that's my mother... from when she was a child."
That threw me off a little bit, but I remained calm and kept my gun aimed at Metis. "You're not getting away, Metis. So why don't you just let the girl go, and maybe the judge will go easier on you."
Upon hearing my calmness, Matthew regained a bit of his composure and aimed his gun at Metis. "That's right, let her go, Metis."
However, Metis just stood there and somehow managed to get an even smugger smirk on her face.
Attempting to get her to surrender again, I said, "Let the girl go, Metis. Maybe you'll even get to start over fresh, in the witness protection program."
Metis laughed at us, mockingly. "I don't think you understand, Agent Lawson. If I kill this girl, then Agent Lam over there would have never existed; and without his existence, you wouldn't be here. The both of you will disappear from here, leaving me free to go wherever and whenever I want."
As soon as Metis was done gloating about her ingeniously fiendish plan, she pulled the trigger, killing Matthew's mother.
"No!" yelled Matthew.
Matthew pulled the trigger, but his finger went right through the gun.
In front of our very eyes, Matthew's gun faded from existence.
Matthew stepped back in shock. He stared at the spot where his gun had been.
Then, Matthew himself started becoming translucent.
"Matthew!" Helplessly, I watched as Matthew disappeared, fading into nothingness.
Metis broke out into a maddening laugh, "Now, it's time for you to disappear as well, Lawson!"
I fired a bullet into her leg.
Metis yelped and fell down, clenching her leg.
By all logic, I shouldn't have been able to stop Metis. Without Matthew's existence, the events leading to me facing Metis wouldn't have happened. But, like Dr. Potter had mentioned all those years ago, I was somehow able to remain mostly unaffected by the change in time.
It was a paradox. An anomaly.
Quickly, I moved in and pulled Metis' hands behind her back. I placed handcuff on her wrists and removed her time travel device.
She screamed, "Why didn't you disappear too?!"
I glared at her, fighting back my tears. Angrily, I said, "I don't know, and I don't care. I'm taking you back, and if you resist, the next bullet will go into your head."
She quieted down and I picked her up onto her feet. I opened a time portal to the holding cells in the TPA headquarters in 87 TTE, and I pushed her through it.
I went through the portal as well.
On the other side, I saw that my push had caused Metis to trip and fall onto the ground.
I ordered one of the guards to open a cell for her.
I walked over to Metis.
Silently, I picked her up again, and dragged her into a cell. I made her suffer the pain of having to walk with a bullet hole in her leg.
But it wasn't enough, it would never be enough.
The guards called a doctor to treat Metis' bullet wound.
I left them to their work, and went to report what happened to Captain Mortimer. I knocked on his door, then, after he had given his permission, I entered his office.
He stood up and smiled, "Agent Lawson. I hear that you caught Metis. Good job."
"Thank you, sir. But... she got Matthew."
My eyes widened in shock. "You know, Agent Lam, my partner."
Captain Mortimer stared back at me with a puzzled look on his face. Then, his face fell, and with a heavy sigh, he asked, "How did he die?"
"Metis killed his mother in the past, then he just... disappeared."
Captain Mortimer waited for me to come out of my shock and realize what was going on.
"Damn it..." I whispered. "Not again..."
To Captain Mortimer, and to who knows how many of Matthew's friends and family, Matthew had never existed.
My best friend was gone, and he would never be mourned properly.
Captain Mortimer placed a hand on my shoulder, "Listen, James. I know you're upset about your partner. Please, go home and get some rest. Take a few days off."
"Ye- Yes sir." I turned to walk out the door.
"Remember to leave your badge and equipment with the guard in the armoury."
I turned around, still stunned at the events. "What?"
"I'm sorry, James, but you know that's procedure. You have to leave your badge and equipment locked up during this... period. Surely, you understand the temptation of using your equipment right now, don't you?"
Still in a daze, I nodded and headed out of the captain's office. After I left my badge and equipment in the armoury, I headed back home.
As soon as I closed the door, Judy called out my name, "James? Is that you?"
"Yeah..." I replied, weakly.
Judy came out of the kitchen and gave me a hug. She could sense that something was wrong, "What's going on, honey?"
"Judy, do you remember Matthew?"
Judy looked at me with a confused look, "Of course I do."
Upon hearing that, I hugged her back, and tears streamed down from my eyes.
Not knowing what had happened, Judy asked me, "James, are you crying? What's going on?"
"Matthew... Matthew's dead."
My wife's body went limp when she heard those words. She held on to me tightly and cried, "No..., no..., not Matt."
Not knowing what to do, we stood there in each other's embrace, crying for our non-existent friend, who had just became another footnote in one of my reports.