Metastasis, Part 7: Kilogold

2년 전

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Part 1: Quarantine
Part 2: Odd Jobs
Part 3: Shuck
Part 4: The Old North
Part 5: Dirty Dave
Part 6: Multipliers

Shuck was having none of the sheriff’s excuses. “No, absolutely not… we aren’t going to settle for anything less than the advertised reward.”

The sheriff chewed on his cigar, feet propped up on a desk as he puffed a small smoke circle before responding. The one-way summoning card sat on the desk, the nature of which having already been an explained to a surprisingly accepting sheriff. Apparently, he had seen such cards before. “Look, I ain’t payin’ full price to someone who goes around using a Meta to abduct people. I’ll start getting questions on why I ain’t doin’ the same thing to catch all the other no-good slime balls in these parts.”

“What does it matter to you what methods I use? Caught is caught, why complicate things?”

“’Cause Metas are expensive. I can’t use them. I don’t want other people using em, since that makes me look useless in comparison. I have no idea how you convinced a Meta to do this card-trick thingy, and I don’t care. I know I can’t afford it, which means you can’t either. The reward isn’t the problem, it’s the precedent of the thing.”

Shuck crossed his arms, frowning as he thought silently for a moment. “How about this? A hundred ten.”

The sheriff chuckled. “Pardner, I don’t think you understand how to haggle…”

“The extra ten means you take credit for the capture, and we won’t breath a word about the real story. I’ll even get some light casters to fake your capturing of Dirty Dave, completely complimentary.”

The sheriff considered it. “Hmm… not sure about that. The light casters, I mean. People around here ain’t what I would call bright, but they ain’t stupid either. They’ll be asking questions if we make a spectacle out of it, they are more likely to just believe the official story if we keep things hush hush… But getting to take the credit for catching Dirty Dave… hmm…”

The sheriff extended a hand towards Shuck, a sly grin on his face. “Ya got yourself a deal.”

Shuck shook firmly, after which the man got up to get his money from a vault in another room. While he did so, Victor pulled Shuck close to him to speak at a whisper. “Did you seriously just up-sell a guy who moments ago didn’t even want to pay us the full amount? You know full well we don’t care about getting the credit! In fact, I was going to suggest he take the credit so we don’t leave as much of a trace on history!”

Shuck chuckled. “I know. Like I said, Meta practices are something I’m familiar with. I just thought I would use that detail to get a little extra…”

Victor was quiet again as the sheriff returned. He realized he was ever so slightly gaining a respect for Shuck. The man was a shrewd negotiator, and quite a lot sharper than he let on. The sheriff dropped the bag of coins on the desk. “Now, I’m not really authorized to pay you more… I have the money, just some pesky laws in the way plus the whole official account about who actually caught the fugitive. So, officially speaking, this isn’t payment for anything. Consider it a gift.”

Victor used a quick gravity field to grab the bag from across the room, pulling it into his hand as he inspected it. “Understood, but… this is quite a lot less than what I was expecting.”

As Victor took out a single coin to inspect, Shuck explained. “I’m certain he isn’t giving us single count coins. The bag is probably filled with a hundred and ten kilogold coin. Much easier to carry than that many gold coins.”

Victor looked at Shuck in horror. “Oh no… no, that’s not acceptable. Can I get this exchanged to actual gold?”

The sheriff crossed his arms, giving Victor a slightly offended look. “Why the rift would you want thousands of physical gold coins? Transporting that would be a foldin’ nightmare. I doubt that many coins even exist within town. Not even the banks are willing to hand over that much raw gold! We use mostly fractional kilogold for smaller bills, as the minted coins are lighter than gold…”

Victor was trying to keep his cool, but he was growing more frantic by the minute. “This stuff is almost valueless to me! The value I can actually use is within the raw material, not the local time period’s economy! This stuff can’t possibly be worth what I was promised!”

Before the sheriff could say he was never going to give a hundred and ten thousand individual gold coins for any sort of job, Shuck stepped in. “This payment is acceptable, I will discuss details with my associate. Pleasure doing business with you, and good day.”

Victor protested as Shuck shuffled both of them out of the stuffy sheriff’s office and into the dusty open air. “No! Shuck, what have you done? I can’t use this money!”

Shuck held up one of the coins. “Do you have even the slightest idea what this is?”

“You said it’s a kilogold, but I know what that actually means! It’s an inflation of currency, it only has value based on time period!”

Shuck laughed as he shook his head. “Yeah, I suppose you could say that… it’s worth the amount advertised within this period. But it’s worth almost double in my own time period. I know plenty of collectors who will pay handsomely for these.”

Victor stared Shuck down as he responded. “I’m not allowed to do that… we’ve bent some rules already, but there’s no way I won’t get sanctioned for trafficking gold through time.”

Shuck crossed his arms. “Really? Because I’m fairly certain I don’t have that restriction, given I was not the one initiating the time jumps… it’s perfectly legal for me to do such a thing if I just happen to acquire it legally within it’s original time period. Does that sound correct to you?”

Victor grew more angry, hands changing to tightly held fists. “You knew. This was your plan all along. To cut me out entirely.”

Shuck raised his hands in a gesture of feign ignorance. “Whoa, that’s quite an accusation, and one without a shred of solid evidence. But since you seem very bothered by this turn of events, I’ll tell you what… let me keep all of the money, and I can manage your portion of the finances under your advisement. You can keep and spend it in all but name, which gives you a legal out. I guess some would call this a loophole, and it frankly does give me quite a bit of leverage over you… but I don’t see another option for you at this point.”

Victor was wondering how quickly he could kill Shuck. A gravity spike might break bones, but he had no idea what level of energy shielding Shuck could muster. He had shown time and again that he was highly manipulative. No matter how confident Victor was in his own abilities, he was also aware Shuck could potentially be stronger than him. As if Shuck had guessed his train of thought, the con artist raised on eyebrow and put his hands on his hips. “Oh, what’s this? You wouldn’t be considering violence, now, would you? Why, that’s against a whole bunch of rules you are bound by! Just think of the scandal; Meta abducts and murders someone from their timeline! I would wager that you would be on the run for the rest of your natural life!”

As much as he hated for Shuck to be right, Victor knew it was a bad idea to resort to violence. But he was starting to feel desperate. It took all of his self control to refrain from strangling the man in front of him. “My family is in danger, and you are playing games with me. This is not a joke, there are lives at stake. If something happens to them, I’ll…”

Shuck raised a hand. “Now, let me stop you right there. Lives at stake, you said? That’s an odd thing to say, considering what we were just involved in. You didn’t seem to care that much about the people Dirty Dave killed. Do you not remember? While you were doing your little self-imposed time shield to save yourself, he was slaughtering people. Did that fact not cross your mind?”

“Those people were already dead! I can still save my family!”

“Already dead? You let them die. Do you even hear yourself? How is your family in any better state?”

Victor was silent for a moment before responding. “We heard a firsthand account of their deaths from the bartender. You should know this, since it is the fundamental principle behind time toggles; if you know the past for certain, it can’t be changed. Period. Doing so intentionally will create a feedback loop for the offending Meta, and they will die without even successfully accomplishing the alteration to the timeline. That is the very definition of a time toggle; two timelines toggling back and forth until the strain becomes too much for the Meta. So, all we can do is try to predict issues ahead of time as best we can, and act appropriately in the moment. My family… I desperately want to see them again. But the moment I do, I only get one chance. If I mess up, I might lose them forever. I’m… not the most powerful warrior, to be completely honest, and I don’t even know who I’m up against.”

Shuck stood throughout the rant without showing a trace of emotion. It was hard for Victor to decide whether he was holding a poker face as part of another manipulation tactic, or because he simply didn’t care about Victor’s plight. Eventually, he released a sigh. “Okay… I know you don’t like me. The feelings mutual. But we have the money, so now we just need an avenue through which to spend it. You want to save your family? Bring me up to speed, I’ll help you figure it out.”

Victor was torn. Shuck was capable, but clearly untrustworthy. “No. You’ve swindled and manipulated me constantly, I’m not going to have you further victimize me by letting you use my family like a bargaining chip.”

Shuck let out short, mockingly offended chuckle. “Really? Because last I checked, I have the money meant to pay for their daring rescue. Just trust me, Vic. I might be willing to do many things, but one thing I don’t do is screw around with the lives of women and children.”

Victor was unconvinced, but understanding he had no choice, he silently made the jump back to Pause.


Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying the story, you might also enjoy some of my other published work on Amazon! It’s set in the same fictional universe, but follows different characters.

Gatekeepers, Book One: Unquestionable Truth
Gatekeepers, Book Two: Order of Gravitas

The Agency
A Dapper Deathwish

Same post on Minds

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Now I remember the first part that I read! After that I didn't get a chance to read the rest so I'm not really up to date. Would you maybe consider to write a short summary of what happened in your future parts so that people don't have to read everything to get up to speed? That would be appreciated by many I guess..

I feel sorry for Victor being in such difficult position. He can't do anything as otherwise he would lose his family and Shuck is clearly using and manipulating him. I wonder how this will continue as they don't like each other and I believe they know each other very well so I assume there will be another 'games' played around.

Thank you for sharing!

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A summary? Yeah, I guess I can do that.

Victor was eating dinner with his family, when Legion troops attacked. In a panic, he jumped to a different time, and had that particular moment in time quarantined, meaning other time travelers couldn't go there to affect the events. He looked for a high paying job to make enough money to hire mercenaries to help save his family, but the best he could find through a middle man was a Gatekeeper named Shuck. Shuck helped set up a job to catch a criminal for the reward, and they were successful in completing the job. That is about where this story picks up.

I'm not sure if I will start doing this each new chapter, though. It feels a tad excessive when each chapter is only about a ten minute read anyways, and I can't condense all the relevant information to enjoy the story into such summaries.

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Thank you! I appreciate that you've done this for me. I've read the one about his family being attacked :)

I leave that up to you :) It was just a suggestion so no hard feelings :)

Have a lovely weekend!

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Yes, thanks for the suggestion. I always appreciate it, and have a good weekend as well! :)

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