Time Travelers Need Not Apply
The city streets were calm that morning; children played without care, men went about their work - the bakers, the butchers, the blacksmiths. Autumn had come and harvest would soon begin. The city walls held strong, with steady stone and archers perched at every tower.Then they heard the noise, like thunder or a bear's roar; huge machines that crawled across the ground and flew through the sky. Some cowered at the noise, others looked to see what was happening. Women brought their children inside their homes; the city guard readied their bows atop their high towers.What army could have such machines? Even the Emperor of Byzantium or civilizations of the East could not hope to create such terrors. Soon, soldiers of some sort began to appear on the horizon, their banner was three stripes, white, blue and red. They wore strange green armor and held bizarre tubes as weapons, they were tall and strong, stronger than the city's men, stronger and taller then any known to man.They seemed like angels at first, that or devils. But an archer shot at the strange soldiers, they were men, they bled. Then a howling noise could be heard and some strange object flew out, the walls were hit. The city walls crumbled before the citizens' eyes. No siege, no battle.These were not angels nor devils, these were men, men nine hundred years hence.☜-------------------------------------------------☞It seemed at first that the Janus machine was a failure. That nothing had come from it. Founded in secret by the British government in 1992 it had been in production since then. The idea was to use quantum physics to examine the past, they thought all they would get was readings, they didn't even expect to get images, hoping for little more than numbers about natural occurrences. It was turned on in 1999, February, most of the people at its facility were presumed dead and the project was thought a failure, people had disappeared, people but soon the English county where the Janus project was conducted began to experience a strange phenomenon.The project was meant to simply give a clearer look at the past, but it ended up creating a bridge using quantum physics that not even our worlds greatest scientists could explain. After some tests it appeared that an area of nearly ninety square miles was a chaotic bridge to the year 1100. The two time periods connected at the same point in the world, and the rift was tied to earth's gravity so the planet's movements were irrelevant. The time periods moved together, meaning that two hours in 1999 was two hours in 1100. The final discovery was that changes made in 1100 do not affect the present, meaning that it was its own separate timeline.This made it so that as long as it was irreversible then 1100 would essentially be its own nation or at least like a group of nations, with travelling between the same as traveling from one place to another, and with technology and understanding developing to control time period while in the affected zone.By August both populations knew of each other and their ability to travel to each other without consequence of changing the future. A treaty was signed between President Bill Clinton of the USA, Emperor Alexios of Byzantium, President Vladimir Puitn of Russia, Emperor Henry IV of The Holy Roman Empire, Prime minister Tony Blaire of England and King Henry I of England, declaring that the nations of both times shall be treated as equals, and that their sovereignty should be recognized by each other, with the exploitation of the nations of the past being forbidden by the nations of the future and the cultures and way of life of the past being respected in any possible trade or communication between timelines.☜-------------------------------------------------☞It was the Lord's year 1101, but it was the year 2000 everyone seemed to care about. It had been little more than a year but the streets of Constantinople had begun to change. It might not have been clear most days, but occasionally you'd see something wrong, an anachronism, a nobleman walking down the streets could sometimes be seen with some gadget he had gotten from the future. Or a merchant could be seen coming from the harbor proudly sporting the futuristic style of dress.Was it really true? That these future men lived so well? That even their peasants lived better then the Emperor? That even their children could show miracles unknown to the Pope? That even their simpletons knew more of the way of the world then the alchemists?He walked through the streets, his green eyes full of hope, he was still young, barely a day over sixteen. He was rich, for his era, his father a merchant, he was studying to be a surgeon himself. Alexander was his name, it was an ancient name, a proud name.Alexander walked through the marketplace, trying to see if there was anything from the future there. He saw some metal screws that were supposed to be from the future, no proving it either way. He spotted a strange machine, a box of odd gears and such, being presented as a machine from the future, he came up to the seller curious as to its validity, "This machine, where did you get it‽ What does it do‽"The seller looked up at Alexander, "It's a machine from the future that works on mysterious principles."Alexander became skeptical of the claim that it was truly of the future, "What does it do though?"The seller replied scriptedly, "What would it do, the future men do strange things."Alexander walked off, the machine was a bunch of gears and bits of metal scraped together made to look futuristic and confuse people not willing to think critically about what they see. Everything does something. Why would the men of the future make a machine that does nothing? It did do something: convince gullible people with money to spare to waste it on a trinket.Alexander walked to his home. A large enough house for the city, red brick, it had been his grandfather's and his great grandfather's before it passed to his father. His father was out on a trading ship, but maybe when he returned to Byzantium he'd be carrying some news of the world of the future.Alexander's sister was home, Sophia was her name. She was a young girl of fourteen, black of hair and blue of eyes. She wished to be a lady to some European lord some day, she had a courtly demeanor to her, she would fit in well, but her birth meant that it would be far from likely.Sophia greeted Alexander at their doorway, "Hello again dear brother."Alexander bowed his head mockingly, "Hello again dear sister.""You didn't bring your sword? It's dangerous out there.""Don't worry, I'll be fine. I can be undefended one day."They walked inside and sat down to talk further. Sophia asked, "Have you seen anything of the future again?"Alexander replied, "Nothing real. I hope to hear of more when father returns.""Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to rush into this other time. It's a strange and unwelcoming place. The neighbors and others of the city have moved to live there with hope, but we cannot know what happened on the other side, they never wrote back. The future folk are powerful enough to wipe us out, the only reason they haven't is our insignificance.""That's not true. They haven't wiped us out because they are kind. They at least take those who wish to enter their realm, take those fleeing from famine or the crusaders. The future brings wonderful things that we cannot dream of-""It also brings terrors that may be unspeakable. They could destroy our way of life, take away everything we hold dear. The future isn't some adventure for you to quest on, it's a world of strange and terrifying things that we can barely know of, we do not know what they may want for us. We know they cannot be true worshippers of Christ as the crusaders declared them an enemy for their deviance and heresy."Alexander slammed his fist on the table, "The crusaders will attack anything they see that has more money than them. They sacked our cities when passing through our land, their pope excommunicated us too. I'd sooner trust a tomcat on theology then a European!"Sophia spoke softly to calm the conversation down, "I'm just saying to be wary. Our way of life may die with the future's corruption, we must protect our tradition. It's a good thing our emperor is wise in that regard, wary of everything the future men say, Alexious knows not to let them destroy us. Unlike the Holy Roman Emperor, who they say is dressed in future suits and hats now.""Well, unlike Henry, Alexious has a brain in his head. But we always knew that." Alexander smirked."Oh, I forgot to mention. I found one of your leeches in the kitchen again this morning, please keep those things to yourself."Alexander blushed, "I need them to practice my bloodletting. I can't learn everything from manuals."☜-------------------------------------------------☞That morning Alexander was awoken early, not that there was ever much of a standard time to wake up. There was something happening in the streets outside his window. There seemed to be a rapidly forming crowd. Alexander walked outside and asked a man in the crowd, "What has happened here? May I be of some service?"The peasant replied, "Some future man was stabbed, damn fool was walking around in the middle of the night with his… daughter."Alexander was slightly disturbed but mostly excited, "I'm a surgeon, or at least I'm training to be one. I'll get my tools."Alexander rushed into his house and back out to get the instruments he needed to heal the man. The peasants let him through. The person laid down was like none Alexander had ever seen before, he was tall, strong and well groomed to an extent few in Alexander's world could reach. The wounded man was dressed in strange clothing that he knew to be in the futuristic style. In his hand was a device that looked like a black box with some sort of tube in front. A future girl stood above him, her hair a strange pink color and bits of metal sticking out from her face.Alexander assessed the future man's wounds, they weren't too bad, a slash more than a stab. Alexander addressed the crowd, "I can save him, possibly, but I'll have to bring him inside."☜-------------------------------------------------☞While Alexander was patching up the wounded, Sophia waited downstairs along with the future girl. She was about the same age as Sophia but she looked completely alien. The strange jewelry that seemed to have been affixed into her skin was what stuck out to her at first. Sophia had nearly fainted when the future girl was first let in at seeing how gruesome she looked. Besides that her clothing was strange, she wore a baggy hooded coat and pants that revealed much of her strangely hairless legs.The appearance of this stranger made Sophia think of tales she had been told of savage pagans who sacked Rome in ancient times. But this stranger is peaceful, despite her grotesque appearance. She must have been frightened, tapping her feet, her father had been wounded. Why wouldn't she be afraid?Sophia remembered her hospitality, she asked the stranger, "May I get you something to eat."The stranger blushed, "Oh, I'm fine."They looked at each other for a moment, Sophia's eyes lingered on the stranger's exposed and hairless legs, they were beautiful in a way. She was pretty in a strange exotic way, like a queen from across the sea. Sophia asked, "And what may your name be?"The stranger replied, "Ashley. Yours?"Sophia replied, "My name is Sophia, my lady."Ashley laughed a bit, her teeth were white as pearls, "Don't call me my lady. I have no royal title to speak of."Sophia had heard that the future men lived mostly under republics like those of ancient times, though she at least expected there to be some sort of nobility. Sophia asked, "What brings you here?"Ashley blushed, "I've been travelling across the past with my father, my father wishes to write a book on the culture of this world, fearing it will soon be destroyed. He wishes we had never made contact at all."Sophia replied, "Well, it seems to be good for us that you're here.""My father says that in a few years time we'll have destroyed your cultures. Destroy your national identities, your way of life.""Why would that be a fear? All identities are destroyed. Look at your people, are you not our descendants?"Ashley smiled at that, "I've been feeling the same way. I kind of forgot that you don't have nation states here.""Nation states?""Sorry if my Greek isn't that good, or if the concept is foreign to you. It's nothing you have to worry about."☜-------------------------------------------------☞His knife was steady, cutting away the flesh that may be corrupted as his sutures bring the skin to a close. His oil was hot as dragonfire, it fused the skin that way, holding in the blood. Blood… blood! He thought to let blood and prepared his leeches thusly. This was his first real surgery, but it seemed like a good idea to let some blood out. Maybe to help with the bleeding, though he had just cauterized the wound.The blood began to stop gushing out of the cut. And the wounded began to return to the world of the living. He clenched his teeth in pain and sat up then addressed Alexander, "Thank you. I would have died if you hadn't been there."Alexander replied, "I'm sorry I can't do more. You'd be much better off in a future hospital-"The wounded cut him off, "No, no. I respect your culture. You're just as good a surgeon as ours, maybe better." It was clear he was lying. The tone of voice he used was like that one would use with a child. "I'm very sorry if anything I am doing would go against your customs."Alexander replied, slightly confused, "No worries about that sir. Do you wish to tell me your name?"The wounded replied, "Aaron. And what may yours be?""Alexander." The two shook hands. Alexander said, "I assume you'll be staying with us.""Oh no, I have to get on my way.""Sorry, but you cannot get back to the future like you are now. And it would be disregarding my hospitality to let you attempt to."Aaron obliged, "Oh, I would not want to disrespect your tradition. We'll stay here for as long as you want. I'm sorry if my daughter isn't respecting your culture, she can be inappropriate to you people." If Alexander was a worse person it wouldn't be good to say that, but it seems Aaron assumed the best.Alexander thought to himself, I don't think she's the one who isn't respecting us.☜-------------------------------------------------☞Alexander and Sophia prepared a meal for their new guests. They prepared some fish that they had gotten from the market. It wouldn't be what the future folk were used to, but it may be enough to fill their bellies.Sophia set the table for Alexander, Aaron and Ashley. She hadn't cooked for four in a long time. Her father was always out with his caravan and she hadn't gotten guests since who knows when.After Sophia set the table Aaron stated, "I am vegetarian, but to respect your local customs I will oblige in eating it."Sophia asked, "What may that mean?"Aaron replied, "It means I do not partake in eating meat.""Then it's good that this isn't meat, its fish."Aaron tried to seem polite, "I will accept your definition of that as correct, even if it is not mine."Ashley rolled her eyes. Alexander then joked, "We have that here, we call them peasants."Ashley broke her reserved demeanor and began to laugh. Aaron scolded her, "Don't laugh at their beliefs", he didn't seem to have realized that what Alexander said was a joke.After a few odd moments of silence Ashley asked, "How old are you both?"Alexander replied, "I am sixteen years old and my dear sister is fourteen years old."Ashley was surprised, she must have expected them to be much older than they were, "I can't believe you're really that young, I'm fifteen, how am I older than Sophia? God, you guys shouldn't be living like this, you should be going to highschool and worrying about, like, homework or your first crushes or something, not living out here struggling to survive!"If Alexander and Sophia's father had heard one of them say something like that he would have brought down hell upon them. But the future man showed himself less direct, "You shouldn't say things like that around them, you might offend their sensibilities. They shouldn't be living like we do, that's a colonialist attitude, they are living in their traditional Byzantine way of life. We shouldn't expect or want them to be like us."Alexander replied, "I would honestly much rather be living like you two do."Aaron replied in a voice one would use when speaking to a child, "Oh, don't say that, your way of life is sacred to you."Alexander came close to drawing his sword, "Do not tell me what is or isn't sacred to me in my own home! By God's blood this is my own house and you shall not insult me here."☜-------------------------------------------------☞The future folk went up to the room where they were staying. It had been known that they would not want to stay together due to the future custom of only couples sleeping in the same room, but it's the best they had.Alexander put his ear to the door, there was some noise coming from the guest room. He could hear Ashley's voice say something, "...They aren't something to be hidden away from the modern world, we need to use our resources to help them, they may look different but they are the same humans as we are… What do you think it would be like if I was born here, do you know what they'd do to me, what they do to people like me..."After a few moments he could hear a muffled replay from Aaron. Then Ashley stormed out of the room seeming offended, she told Alexander, "I'll be sleeping with Sophia- sleeping in Sophia's room tonight."☜-------------------------------------------------☞Ashley opened Sophia's door that night. Ashley was surprised, she hadn't had something like this happen before. It's not like it was a man coming into her room, her virginity was not threatened, though she had heard of future folk having deviant relations that would have been forbidden by the church of 1101.Ashley seemed upset. She slept in clothing more revealing than Sophia had expected, it wouldn't be hard for one to imagine her naked. She was somehow more threatening like this, she was no longer just sitting meekly, now it was dark and her piercings were shimmering in the shadows. She was somehow both monstrous and beautiful like some eldren spirit or fey creature.Sophia asked, worried about the answer she'd receive, "Why are you here."Ashley replied, "I'm to sleep in your room tonight. Sleeping in the same room as my father was not a good idea."There was only one bed, but it was big enough to give them space. Sophia had been in the same room as other girl's before, but those were all girl's of her time, girl's with the expectations and traditions of her culture. Before this night the most exotic person she had even shared her house with was a Russian. And this barbarian was far more bizarre than a Russian.The two tried to be silent for a bit but soon it became awkward. Ashley asked Sophia, "What do you want to do with your life?"Sophia replied hesitantly, "I wish to marry into nobility."Ashley responded, "Why? You could do so much more. Would you really want to marry some stuffed up lord twice your age, would you want to wake up next to a face you do not love every day?""It doesn't always matter what I want, I need to think about my future child, and about my current family. That's just the way the world works."Ashley put her hand on Sophia's shoulder, it felt soft and gentle, "Not anymore. The future exists now. A new world exists now!""I have to do my duty in the society I live in, I can't just become you like… even if..."Ashley slid her hand down from Sophia's shoulder towards her chest, "Even if what?" Her touch was gentle yet strong, the type of touch Sophia wanted her future husband to show her.Sophia blushed, "I believe I know what you want from me, but it isn't allowed. Maybe for your people but not mine.""We are all one people, we are all human. If something is wrong it is wrong, culture shouldn't matter." Her eyes were like glistening stars of the unknown, her skin like morning snow, her body made Sophia wish to go against all she had known to be holy.Sophia rolled over, "I'm sorry. Some things can't happen, at least not tonight."☜-------------------------------------------------☞The future folk left the next day. Aaron was to return to his home in the city of New York with his daughter. He wasn't happy about what happened that night, though he seemed to be accepting of it, nobody would know the future folk's law on such things, about any of what transpired. Alexander wished he had some more time to ask them of the future's wonder, but they were gone too early.☜-------------------------------------------------☞One night Alexander awoke to good news, his father had returned home from his caravan. His father looked different since when he had last seen him. He'd taken on the future style of dress, wearing the type of suit that future men were often wearing, he shaved his face as future men almost all did, and on his head he wore a wide brimmed hat from the future that kept the sun from his eyes. But he didn't look happy in any of it, he looked emotionally destroyed.It was nearly dawn when he had entered his home, and he fell to his knees as he did. Alexander was the first to greet him, once he had heard something he rushed downstairs, his sword at his hip in case the person downstairs was not his father.He almost thought it was not his father at first. He had changed so much, but when he saw the man's face he knew who it was.His father looked up at him, "Alexander? It has been nearly a year since I have seen you."Alexander replied, "Over a year.""It is so then.""Father? You seem upset.""Thebes.""Thebes?"His father smiled for a second before reverting back to his exhausted tone, "You really haven't heard? The future nation of Russia tried to make first direct contact with Thebes. A stray arrow from Thebes' guards hit one of Russia's men and they responded with a force unknown to our world. I was there when it happened, my entire supply of goods was ruined, I returned home without profit. The walls crumbled like children's blocks, it was like God had turned on us."Alexander was shocked, there was no way they could survive for much longer with a setback of this sort, "What are we to do now?""We will do what many others have done. We will move to the future. The nation of America has taken in many foreigners, we can have a better life there, maybe one better than even we had here before."☜-------------------------------------------------☞They packed in the morning, there was almost nothing to pack though. Alexander took his sword, some of his surgeon's tools and the clothes he would need. Alexander's father informed him that none of those would do him well in the future.Sophia was devastated when she heard they were moving, she always loved Constantinople, the high society, its bustling streets, she'd never see any of it again. Her father assured her that the future would contain cities twice as large and twice as civilized. But it wouldn't be Constantinople, it wouldn't be home.They traveled across the Balkan mountains, there would be passage to the future only through the kingdom of England, meaning it was needed to cross the Balkans. The mountains were hard terrain but shortly they joined a larger group of travelers headed to the future as well.☜-------------------------------------------------☞The mountains were frigid compared to the warmth of Constantinople. Alexander could be happy to have a cart to sleep in, he did not have to worry about his legs, many of the others were stuck walking. The mountains of the Balkans were desolate, rugged and unpleasant, their natural beauty killed by their difficulty to traverse.Sophia sat next to him, she looked out upon the barren landscape. It was a shame that they must travel in such bleak weather. Alexander put his hand on his sister's shoulder to comfort her, "Don't fear the future, the unknown is like the night's darkness, you'll think it hides nightmares but it hides the same world that the day reveals. The future is full of wonders, it's just our world with better technology so that people live better lives."Sophia replied, "It is not just fifty or a hundred years, it is nearly a thousand, they are as far away from us as the second century. It is like us interacting with the Pagans and Barbarians of that era. Their culture is not ours, you've seen them, their deviancy, their strange behavior. They have no love for God, they only know their own deviant desires. They are as the mythic Atlanteans were, decadent and self obsessed.""You don't know that, you do not know what standards they follow, what laws govern what to them is deviancy."Sophia spoke quietly, as to prevent her father from hearing, "Their women act as men, Ashley did at least. She almost turned me to sin. How would I live in such a dark and distorted world, one where I work as a man would, dress as a man would, I'll be forced to live the life of a man in the future."Alexander comforted her, "We do not know their customs when it comes to men and women, we cannot know what you may or may not be permitted to do.""How can we live somewhere you know nothing about?""We are all born to a world we know nothing about. The future holds technology beyond our wildest imagination, the lives that will be granted to us there are better than the ones we had before. Whatever you wanted for yourself in the past the future will give you a thousand times over."Sophia replied bitterly, "I wished to marry a gentleman in the world of the past. Now it seems I'm unlikely to marry at all. I'm to just degrade myself with any boy or girl who catches my fancy aren't I?"☜-------------------------------------------------☞Alexander was about to reply, but he was cut off, a sound rang out throughout the mountains. The first thing they heard was the voice, "Deus vult!", then came the fire, and a sound like a thunderstorm. Smoke and fire rose out of the earth like hell had been dug up. Bodies consumed in the nightmarish blaze of flame and ash, lives snuffed out, about half the travelers had been burnt to death, as if all the fire and ash from hell had chosen to smite them. It smelled of sulfur and death, death of a proportion and power none there had seen before.A few people from the party took the time to examine the area, though there was little time to waste. One traveler explained "The crusaders have turned their holy war to the future, they're adamant on destroying the 'deviant' nations of the future, and all those who wish to travel there. The weapon used must have been of the future, something similar to Greek fire, though the man that used it and any potential comrades have been destroyed by the fire, so it should be safe to travel on."The travelers continued their journey, there was nothing else to do. Their dead were but ashes, there was nothing to bury.☜-------------------------------------------------☞They continued across the mountains of the Balkans and into the forests of Germany. The German landscape was easier to cross, lush forests grew around them and the land was flat and temperate.Eventually a steel vessel came upon. Alexander's father explained to him, "This vehicle is a ship of the future, it may not look seaworthy but it is faster than any ship that you have seen in Byzantium, it can take us to Britain by the end of the night."Alexander knew to trust his father on matters of this sort. He had been closer to the future then anyone else Alexander had met, well except for Ashley or Aaron, but they weren't there so it did not matter. Plus, nobody from Alexander's time could build a ship of metal.After paying a toll the travelers were ferried to the British isles, and to the patch of land where time was distorted. They were assured by the ferrymen that this place would send them to the future, though the exact nature of how is unknown, the best idea would be to wander around or rest and hope that the future would meet them shortly.It was dark, Alexander's father had been right, the ship was fast. The travelers decided to sleep, the future may see them in the morning. If they were lucky enough they'd awake in the future.☜-------------------------------------------------☞That night Alexander dreamed of the future, of the massive cities of high iron towers, of the warriors with weapons of fire and thunder, the great universities and libraries. He wished to be a part of it, he was excited to be a part of it, to finally see the meeting of heaven and earth, where blackness and the night sky was blotted out by shining cities of infinite light.Sophia dreamed of horrors, of the noise and light of eldritch cities of steel, of the crusaders wielding new weapons with her new home as their target, the dark knowledge that god had forbidden. She saw only chaos in her path, fear consumed her mind, to step where earth had sunken into hell, and the stars were black as fiery cities had turned god's sky to darkness.☜-------------------------------------------------☞When they awoke there was no grass underneath them, they were on a floor of concrete. Futuristic soldiers watched them closely, they wore black armor that was a strange mix of metal and cloth with black glass covering their faces. It was like demons or phantoms were watching over them. A man in a blue suit in the futuristic style walked up to Alexander's father and spoke, first he tried old English, then old German, then finally he tried old Greek, "Are those your children." This world felt cold, alien, it was hard to even see their warriors as human, nor their structures are real.Alexander's father nodded his head. He was then brought back to a back room as Alexander and Sophia were then to wait outside. Eventually he came out and told his children, "We're free to go."Sophia asked, "And what would it mean if we are not free to go?"Her father replied, "It is better not to think of that. They allow all merchants and our kin through, I fear most of the commoners we traveled with will not see as lucky a fate."☜-------------------------------------------------☞They left the next morning, they took a boat similar to the one they had seen in the past, it was made of metal like the other one, but it was painted in blues and whites. It was a fast and sturdy ship, able to get them across an ocean in no time. The future men had no need to sail near islands, they needed not even sails.They came upon the city at night, its lights nearly shocked them, the stories were true, it outshined the stars. It was like seeing heaven's light, the yellowish white light was a more beautiful sight then any had ever seen. The steel towers were taller than they had imagined, like castles of giants shooting up from the ground. It is like they had reached up to heaven itself.When they entered the city they did not know what to do. A guide had gotten them good houses, he was assigned to them, but he barely told them anything other than where to go, he didn't speak Greek well.They were at the docks as they entered, it was bright, it didn't even feel like night, felt more like dusk. As they were led through the city they began to feel as if they had made a mistake, it was unimaginably large, thousands of uncaring souls walking by them, and howling iron monsters rushed through the center of the streets. Debauchery and degeneracy commonplace as well, women walked around nearly nude and signs and stores that would be called heresy in Byzantium surrounded them. Sophia asked, "Where are we to stay?"Her father replied, "I was able to buy a small apartment in the city the guide will lead us there. We will stay there. He will help us adjust after that."And, eventually, they came to their new apartment. At first Alexander and Sophia did not know what they were gazing upon. It looked like a stone tower. Alexander asked, "I see a tower, but I doubt we'll be inhabiting that?"His father laughed a bit then replied, "The apartment will be a small part of the tower, a few of its rooms."They went into the tower, the rooms inside looked like daylight, like as if they had put the sun in a bottle. Their father told them to step into a strange metal room, he then pressed a button and they began shooting up. Sophia screamed at first until she realized it was meant to do that.Alexander asked, "Most people in this building seem to be from our time? Why is that?"His father replied, "We must stay together for safety, I have heard the people do not take well to all of us coming here. Also, the government of the city likes to send us all to the same place. It is easier for all parties."☜-------------------------------------------------☞It was hard at first, everything they knew the world to be was gone. Their father spent the last of his money taking out a loan for a storefront. The people of the city had a taste for exotic meals, so anyone from the past who could cook well could make a living selling medieval cuisine. As a business venture it was definitely a step down, but it was the best they could manage after losing so much.Alexander and Sophia were to go to school the next year as autumn came in. But they still have a few months before that was to be done.☜-------------------------------------------------☞Alexander seemed to be socializing well with the other boys in the neighborhood, they had all come from the past as well. He was able to make himself at home better in the future then both his family members. And he tended to enjoy going out into the wider city and seeing the marvels of the future. Some things were easier to adapt to then others, ice in water was a favorite of many.Alexander was fascinated by the serpentine vehicles that slithered under the city. "Subways" they called them. He decided to start using them, he didn't actually have anywhere to go, but he enjoyed spending time with them.He was taking the subway on a new route, he wanted to see where this one would take him. Everyone could tell he wasn't from this century, he still wore a sword at his belt. Nobody looked at him twice, he was far from the only medieval person there.Alexander got off at a new station. This one was fairly large, large was good, many people, many new things. He looked to some boxes in a window that produced illusions, "televisions" they called them, he was always fascinated by them since he first saw one. This one was showing some sort of fight. From what he knew of American language one of the people was yelling "Get back to your own century."From what Alexander could tell someone was attacking a person from the past. He'd heard tales of native's hatred towards the men of the past. Hearing that they were discriminated against in some regions, though it seemed like it was mostly in the backwater south of this strange country. From what it seemed while New York was a great civilization, the southern regions of the country were little more than barbarians.It was rare for Alexander or his family to see much hatred from the natives. He just heard of it a lot. He honestly wished people would stop talking about it so much. Though he did know America elected its leaders, and he had heard that this new Bush fellow wished to become leader and he did not like the past folk much.He stepped inside the store that the illusion boxes were in. He wouldn't be able to afford one, but there might be other stuff there. The store sold many assorted items, many of them were based around the city, seemingly for travelers to use. Small depictions of the towers he had seen upon the skyline, or the great green statue he had seen in the water, or that strange banner that read "I 'heart' NY".He picked up a tiny statue he thought looked interesting, it was of one of the towers being scaled by an ape. There must have been some legend about it.He slid it over to the shopkeeper, the shopkeeper told him "Ten dollars." The shopkeeper was a tall thin man, native to this time, a bit older than Alexander.It was a bit overpriced, but he liked it anyway, and slid over the money. Alexander was able to converse in English now, at least a bit, "You sell a lot of these small statues, what does the ape mean?"The shopkeeper smiled, "There's an old movie where a giant ape scales that tower." Alexander had some idea of what a movie was, he knew it was something like a play.Alexander replied, "Ah I see."The shopkeeper looked down at him, "Where did you move here from?"Alexander replied, "Constantinople." Anybody would know which one just from looking upon him."Ah, I see. How are you enjoying your time here?""Oh, New York is much better. I have learned more of the world than I ever thought there was to know. Constantinople is nothing more than a footnote compared to what I now know. I've seen so much, my old beliefs, garbage, it is like as if I had gotten knowledge from god himself."The shopkeeper replied, "Yes, that seems to be how it is. The world is much bigger than you must have thought it was. There is so much more to learn here, all the science and technology of thousands of years of history are here for you. It's certainly a step up from peasants and lords back in your time."Alexander smiled back at him. Suddenly someone rushed into the conversation, she was upper class for this city, whatever New York's version of a noblewoman was. She scolded the shopkeeper, "You shouldn't be insulting their culture like that, how would you like it if someone insulted your home like that? The people of the past are wiser than us, they live humble lives without the vanity of today." She then turned to Alexander, looked at him like one would to a child, "I'm sorry that man was so insensitive to your homeland…" she pulled out some money, the green kind that future folk used, "I know I could never repay the damages done to your people but here is some repayment from my people to yours."Alexander could call himself many things, but he was no beggar, he ran off, escaped the situation while he still had his honor and his ape statue.☜-------------------------------------------------☞Sophia looked out at the metallic skyline. She never learned most of the building's names, she remembered the empire state building. Something about the term 'empire' reminded her of home. The people of New York did not know most of the things she had known in the old century, they had no nobility, no grandiose places, no valiant horsemen, no princes who'd give flowers to ladies before they marched off to war. This place was a city of tall unfeeling towers, their warriors were dishonorable snipers, their monuments were that of steel and glass, their leaders shadowy and scheming.She didn't know what she would do with this strange life she had been handed. In this city she'd be from the past, but if she returned to Constantinople she'd be from the future. She would not be marrying any nobility here, the closest thing would be one of the shadowy oligarchs she'd seen images of, and even then it would do nothing for her family. She couldn't improve the status of her family, though she could advance through the system of wealth that this world had.She heard a ring of her doorbell, she still hadn't gotten used to the sound of this bell, it didn't sound real. She looked through the hole in her door, it looked like someone from this time period. She scanned the person's face for a moment before realizing who it was.It was her. Could it really be her? She remembered her name, Ashley. She looked somewhat the same, the same green eyes that shone like a summer's forest in the darkened hallway. Her hair was different from what it had been before, it was blue now, Sophia would never understand that girl's hair.The doorknob felt like fire in her hands. She wanted to just leave the door locked forever. But she couldn't.Sophia did not know what to think about this. She feared this strange woman as much as she wished to see her again. What would her life in this world be like now, what could this creature make of her? Was she supposed to lie with her like she would a man? If she acted like most of the women of the future world did she would be little more than a man. But this wasn't just a girl of this world, this was Ashley, this was someone Sophia knew.Ashley flashed her strange half smile, "Hello. It took a long time to find you. When I heard that you might have moved to the city I looked all over for you."Sophia replied, "What is it you wish to talk of." She tried to seem as medieval as she could.Ashley laughed, in Constantinople ladies did not laugh like that, though this was not Constantinople, "You know what I'm here to speak of. You know what happened that night. You remember sharing my room."Sophia could not reply. She wanted to say it was not allowed, but who was it not allowed by? Ashley put her finger on Sophia's lips, her hands were gentle, she possessed all the traits that Sophia would want in a husband, she wasn't in the body that Sophia expected, but she was beautiful in a strange and exotic way.It was like for once she was truly without the world, if only for a moment. Sophia didn't leave that night, she was of this city now and obeyed its laws. The future and past were no longer relevant, her eyes were not that of New York nor Constantinople nor any other city, her eyes were just eyes, her skin was just skin. If it was only a night they were together without the world around them.☜-------------------------------------------------☞The apartment was like a castle, but it was colder, it was mazelike. Alexander returned home to his friends, other medieval lads who had moved there with their families looking for work and leisure. There was Ode, a small boy of fifteen who had traveled from medieval England with his grandfather after the death of his mother. There was also Taki, a Dane of seventeen whose family had come hoping for work in America's army. They would have seen each other as foreigners in the past, but now they were all in one place, and they all felt like they were from one medieval world, one identity. Even those from beyond the lands of Christendom, the Mongols, Moors, and Persians were part of this new medieval identity too. They had all come from their own primitive world and entered this new utopia to seek a better life.Alexander rushed home, he had the ape statue in his hands, when he saw his friends on the street corner he pulled it out to show them, most of them hadn't left the medieval neighborhoods. They marveled at the intricacy and detail of the statue. Taki asked, "Did an ape really climb that tower?"Ode objected, "No, it must be from some sort of coat of arms."Alexander explained, "No, it's from something like a play. American's love their entertainment. I bought it at a store in one of the wealthy parts of the city."The boys seemed interested in that. Ode asked, "I've heard that the natives dislike us, you should be careful there, you're a commoner and foreigner."Alexander replied, "Everyone in the city is a commoner. We could be the city's elite if we work hard enough."Ode replied, "Yeah, but you don't see a lot of us folk at the tops of those big towers, do ya?"Taki added, "Do you really expect the king of America to have one of us in his court?"Alexander retorted, "We don't have a king, I learned that the hard way. The city elects its leaders, like they did in ancient Rome."Taki laughed, "You Byzantines are so obsessed with Rome. You're only a bit better then the Germans. Me and my father would have been guarding you prissy emperor if we hadn't decided to fight here instead.""I'm a byzantine no more. I'm an American now. We're here now, we must act as it."Ode objected, "I don't want to be an American, they're a deviant culture, godless heathens who cannot control their citizens. They lack any respect for society and culture. Any respect for the natural hierarchy of the world, forgoing the wisdom of nobility for mob rule. As we discussed earlier, they don't even have a king, they'd rather have men choose their leaders then god."Alexander retorted, "You've come here? What do you expect to be? You're living in America, I'd suggest being American."Suddenly they heard someone approaching from behind. They'd seen him before, he was a tall Englishman by the name of Willmot, they'd all seen him around the neighborhood but nobody actually talked to him. He put his hand on Alexander's shoulder, "You've forgotten who you are, little roman. You don't really want to become as twisted and evil as the folk of this land. But don't worry little roman, the crusaders have turned their holy war west. Soon they'll have a kingdom in this place. No more of this pagan democracy."Alexander jerked his body away, "I've seen what the crusaders really do, they set off a bomb in my caravan."Willmot grinned, "A caravan of cultural traitors.""If we were treasonous for coming here, then why do you stand where you stand.""Oh, I have my reasons." He had a mace at his side. Alexander was starting to have an idea of who this person was. Alexander wanted to pull out his sword, to duel him in the streets, but his will was strong and his arms were tired. He left, saw where the situation was going.☜-------------------------------------------------☞Sophia's head was resting upon Ashley's shoulder, Sophia wasn't sure what to do now. She had never been with a woman before, outside her mind she had never been with anyone, what was she meant to do afterwards. Her view of Ashley's body shifted from that of the affectionate, to the anatomical, she began to notice how hairless she was, how pale her skin was, her perception shifted from that of lust to that of fear.Sophia began to realize how bad this was, this would be considered an abomination against god. What would her family think? She might be safe within the city though, it was known that the city had no laws on moral issues lesser then murder or theft. Sophia wished she'd been born an American, she'd know a freedom she could never know, even in New York she still was living with those of her time.Her emotions were not tied to her heritage. The way she saw Ashley's body, the feeling in her blood, the love and lust she felt when they were together, that was not something affected by the circumstances of her birth.Suddenly she heard a knocking on the door, whoever this was it wasn't someone to use the doorbell. Ashley got up first, she seemed to recognize the knock. She rushed to be somewhat dressed before answering the door.It was someone that Sophia recognized, Aaron. Thank god it wasn't someone from the past. Aaron seemed angry though, he spoke to Ashley sternly, "Why are you here, I've been looking all over for you?"Ashley replied, "I was just visiting an old friend."Aaron looked around the room, "You're visiting someone from the past. And she's naked. I won't let you exploit this girl.""I'm not exploiting her, I love her.""She can't understand what she's doing, her culture doesn't understand what you're doing to her. You also can't just do something that goes against someone's culture, it's wrong to just disregard her beliefs like that."Ashley seemed angry, then she realized something, "You don't even know who she is do you? You've met her before, but she's not a person to you is she, nobody is."☜-------------------------------------------------☞Alexander was returning to his apartment, it wasn't good to be outside as the sun began to set, even in a city made of light. More and more past folk seemed to have sympathy for the crusaders.As he was rushing towards his apartment building he saw someone he recognized rushing the other way. It was Aaron, pulling his daughter somewhere. Alexander tried to be polite, "Aaron! Hello!"Aaron looked at him and handed him a slip of paper, "Here, if you need some social help." He then ran off.Alexander looked at the paper, it was a ticket of some sort, it read, "free admission to any class at the 92y for underprivileged youth." He pocketed it and ran towards his apartment.The apartment stairs felt infinite, they always did. Alexander never got into the habit of taking an elevator, never remembered to.☜-------------------------------------------------☞When he entered his apartment Sophia was weeping. She was tucked in a corner with a blanket over her back. Alexander rarely saw his sister upset, at the very least she was better at hiding it.Alexander asked her, "What's happened?"She batted him away, "You couldn't understand."Alexander tried to guess, "You saw Ashley and Aaron again today?""As I said you wouldn't understand."Alexander sighed, "I'm smarter than you think. You loved Ashley, did you not? You have no reason to fear me, we are in the city of the future now, you will not be punished. And even for our people, instances of cases like your own were common in ancient Greece, you will never have to fear me as long as you are my sister.""It isn't you whom I fear. It's not fear that plagues me brother. I thought that the future men were different.""Aaron was opposed?""He was opposed for he did not see me as Ashley's equal. We are not their equals. They say it's the south that hates us, but here they see us as children, they wish to protect us but they see us as lesser. The nobles of this city will back up the crusaders if they come for me."☜-------------------------------------------------☞No matter how condescending he was Alexander would still take advantage of Aaron's gift. He couldn't afford a class at the Y but he could get them with the gift. He chose a music class, he'd always liked music, well everyone likes music, but he'd always wanted to play an instrument.When he got there he was surprised on how clean the building was, Constantinople lacked the technology for cleaning, nobody cleaned his apartment or the streets or the subways. This place was strangely clean. Someone must have cleaned it more than anywhere else.Alexander entered a white room, he was early, everyone else had something to do. Soon enough a few others entered the room. An older man who he presumed to be the instructor told Alexander, "Hello, you must be the 'underprivileged youth' that Aaron talked about coming. We'll be waiting for a few minutes for more people to come."Alexander released his sword was at his belt, they must not allow that here, unsure he said, "I'm sorry about the sword, if you'd like me to-"The instructor interrupted him, "we wouldn't want to suppress your culture."It was often hard for Alexander to remember that he was visibly medieval. He had the same color skin as everyone else, the same eyes, the same hair, but he talked differently, his mannerisms, his dress (even when he tried to dress more modernly).Alexander decided to interact with some of the other students waiting for the class to start, he went up to a girl who looked like she was bored. He tried to be polite like the future folk would, "Hey, how's… life."She seemed startled at first, but when she realized who, or what, he was she became passive in her nature, the people of the city were told to be trusting of those from the past. She told him, "Life's good. We're actually here for a class."Alexander replied, "Yes, I'm taking it.""Oh, you do know that they're not going to be using your people's music…" The instructor looked at her sternly, "Not that's yours in any worse. You can probably play your… style if you want."She hadn't heard his style, hell he hadn't even heard his style yet. But the world only saw him as one of his people.The rest of the class only got worse, they were too afraid to teach him. It was pointless interacting with future folk, they'd never see him as human, they had all the mercy for him, but no respect. Their acceptance for the past folk was false, as they did not accept them as equals.☜-------------------------------------------------☞Alexander left, he'd paid no money thanks to Aaron, he had no reason to stay.The subway was delayed that night. Some crusader had stabbed five people with a sword. They don't let future folks have knives on the subway, but they never stopped Alexander with his sword, not when they heard his accent. To the common past folks the condensation of the future men was an insult if anything, but to the crusaders it was a shield, it was how they marched their holy war to the new century, nobody would be so offensive to question their motives so they were let to slaughter heretics of the future and past alike.But for Alexander it was just a train being held up, for most people that was all a stabbing was. And for many of the future folk that may be a sacrifice of tolerance, especially when the crusaders are more concerned with killing assimilated past folk then they are with killing future men.He thought of all he had seen on the ride home. Though of all he could do and couldn't do. All the free passes all the restriction, he wanted to slash all of it down, to take his sword and slay the eyes that saw him as the other. His culture told him things to, told him not to forgot from where he came, fuck culture he thought, every tradition, every rule, ever piece of his culture that effects me, fuck it, by gods blood fuck it all. Never did me any good. The Medieval was of swords and kings is gone, it is time for a new one.☜-------------------------------------------------☞There was a knocking at her door. Sophia hoped it would her brother, maybe her father, but it was far too early for either of them to be back. She had hoped it was Ashley, but the knocks were too fast, too strong.Sophia looked through the peephole, it was a tall man who she'd seen around the neighborhood before. There were a few other men behind him. Nervously she opened the door. The tall man walked in the room, and introduced himself, "Hello young maid, I am here to see the matter of a crime against our people. I am Sir Willmot of the isle of Manhattan."Sophia wanted to laugh, nobody had knighted this zealot, but she saw chainmail under his clothes and a mace by his side, one of the men at his side held a helm and shield for him. He was not a man to be taken lightly. Sophia replied to him respectfully, "If there has been a crime then best let the police deal with it-"Willmot cut her off, "It is not a crime those heretics have any desire to punish. We have seen a young girl of the future folk exit your apartment, we have gathered evidence from talking to the people of the building that she had slept with one from this home. If you know if it is your father or your brother you must tell us in the name of the Lord."Sophia asked, cowering away from the men at her door, "Will you hurt her?""The hore who exited this abode? She's not of our kind, we hold no sway over her. It is the one who has lived here who stands accused of pre marital sex and if confessed to be guilty shall suffer the punishment."They had to be talking about Ashley, who else could have it been. These men thought it was her brother or father who had slept with her, an assumption that could save Sophia's life. She could lie, throw her kin in front of herself, they'd confess to something they did not do to protect her. And no doubt she'd suffer worse consequences for lying with Ashley then her brother would. But Sophia could not bring herself to punish a member of her family to protect herself. She bowed her head, "It was me."Willmot laughed, "You want me to think it was you we saw exiting? The girl had pink hair.""That's not what I meant. I was the one to lay with her." Saying the words of her confession sent shame and guilt through Sophia's bones. She had committed a crime against nature, given into lust when thrust into a time filled with it.Willmot spoke with the authority of God, "You hereby stand accused of violating the law of your people and your god, for violating nature and giving into acts of lust with one of the same sex. How may you plead?""Guilty." She mumbled it at first, spoke again so that she may be heard, "I plead guilty."Justice was swift to these men, Willmot pulled the mace from his side. A million things rushed through Sophia's head, the streets of New York, the streets of Constantinople, the streets of ancient empires, the streets of nameless towns, towns of nameless streets, the mountains of her homeland, the blinding light of the future cities, Alexander and her playing when they were small, tea on a sunday morning, mass on a sunday morning, a thousand priests she'd seen, a thousand merchants she'd seen, a thousand passers by, young couples kissing, Ashley kissing her lips, Ashley's lips, Ashley...The Mace swung down upon Sophia's head with the force of justice. And justice was swift.☜-------------------------------------------------☞The police never came, they don't handle anything between past folk. They wouldn't want to disrespect their culture.