INTO THE SANGAMON Tom Mazanec Humanity first became aware of the Assiti on April 15, 2000. A small town in West Virginia was switched with a small piece of Thuringia. Thuringia as it was on May 4, 1631. As the years went by and Assiti performed other demonstrations of their strange art, humanity tried to understand. Some blamed the transpositions on a swarm of black holes or superstrings. Others blamed terrorists. Some, close to the truth, blamed alien space bats. Soon millions of alternate time lines sprouted off the original timeline like bristles on a bottle brush. And in the fullness of time, after 85,000,000 years, after numerous attemps to persuade them to stop, the Fta Tei, a descendant branch of Homo sapiens, reluctantly exterminated the Assiti. Some of the transpositions spanned millions of centuries. Most consisted of multiple pieces taken from multiple eras. And one in particular placed in the North America of 120,663 BC a slab of 1862, a pinch of 1970, and just a grain of 2107... Outside Las Vegas, Nevada Tuesday, October 4, 2107 John Masterson and Rikki were preparing for Mass, as this was the feast day of Saint Francis, the patron of hybrids. The five foot bipedal mongoose was dressed and walking into the living room with his crutches as John finished tying his tie, when suddenly the windows all lit up as if a biggest flash of lightning ever seen had occurred, and then the windows went completely dark. "Was that a nuke, John?" asked the mongoose hybrid in the slightly buzzy voice of his artificial larynx. "No, we would be dead by now if it were." replied John. "And it is dark outside night. I'm afraid we have been caught by an Assiti Shard." Assiti shards were a fear of the past 107 years, since a small town in West Virginia had vanished, replaced by woodland. Every imaginable and unimaginable explanation for the event was postulated. In 2008 a prison was replaced by extinct animals and plants, including a tyranosaur, and the realization was made that these events exchanged pieces of territory in one year with pieces of territory in another year, just "as it was" at the time. Shards could be detected during the few seconds before impact, but no one knew where they came from. Since they started appearing only in Y2K and were slowly becoming more frequent, the common assumption was that they were some artifact of a Sufficiently Advanced Technology of some ET species...but nobody knew for sure. Even in 2107, however, getting hit by an Assiti Shard was as likely as getting hit by lightning. "I'll go and start the scanner to see if I can pick up any radio, and since it is night I will set the telescope to scan the sky. Maybe we can find out when we are. I'll also put the house's outdoor utilty fog on full defense." Rikki sat down on a couch while John went about his tasks. "It's lucky that radio and astronomy are two of your hobbies, John." "It's damn unlucky that we got caught by a Shard. Ninety percent of them are to the past, and if we go back farther than 2080...well I'm sorry. I should have gotten the pattern for Vitamin X on the nanofab, but I'm just too law abiding." "That's OK. It was too big a chance of you getting caught, for the unlikelyhood of us not being able to get me Vitamin X. I would have been too worried about it, you know how nervous I am." A moment later the scanner started up. "-curred during totality, but could not have been lightning, as the sky was quite clear for the eclipse. There was no thunder or noise so it could not have been a nuke either, yet the power went out at the exact same moment as the flash. We have enough fuel in the generator to keep broadcasting for twelve hours and will continue to do so for at least an hour straight. During the song, however, I looked out the window and saw the quarter moon in the sky. It is impossible for a quater moon to appear in the sky during a total solar eclipse. This is WOWE radio, Wow-eee music, Hamptonport, North Carolina and it at least was Saturday, March 7, 1970." "THat means we won't get vitamin X here." said Rikki. "I don't know about that." said John. "Assiti Shards sometimes mix several eras together. That station was on 1560 kilohertz. In 1970, we should have hit half a dozen AM stations before hitting that one." John started scanning onward, but nothing came up. "I'll check the scope's brain." continued John after awhile. "It should be through scanning now. cannot assign the planets to any particular date. But the star positions give a best fit match to the 121st Millennium BC. That is the time we are actually in, as far as the universe is concerned. We seem to be a little to the south of where we were. I never thought we would use that Assiti app on the scope. I'm sorry, Rikki. I was going to get you more vitamin X in a few days, but, well..." "Maybe it's better this way. I'll only have a week or two to worry. said Rikki. He had just received a death sentence. The next morning, John used his aircar to head in the direction of the radio station he had heard. The part of the world that had come from the 22nd Century was obviously rather small...he could see where the sand and rocks stopped and the forest began. He saw some buildings which looked a little old-fashioned for 1970, and not an automobile was in sight. Indeed, he soon saw men in horseback with 19th Century style clothing, and a few horse drawn carriages. The area from 1970 soon came up. It was several square miles, and a battle seemed to be raging on the other side of it. Gunsmoke filled the air and several cannon were visible. Men in gray uniforms were shooting rifles at the town, and the townspeople were shooting back. John sped over to the battlefield and put down between the two opponents and released a cloud of utilty fog. Many of the townsmen, and most of the soldiers, fled at the sight of his aircar. But one of the soldiers came up to the aircar's cloud of utility fog and nearly fell over when he bounced off it. He staggered back, and then reached his hand into the fog's surface. He pressed his hand and slid it against the fog like a man pressing a high force waterjet. John dilated the door and came out. "What year do you think this is?" he asked the soldier. "Who are you? What is going on here? How did this town get here? What Yankee trick is this?" " this is the 1860's, right?" "It's 1862, you damn Yankee. You are now a prisoner, in the name of the Confederacy!" "I don't think so." "Come with me or I'll shoot!" John made sure to stay at least a meter from the edge of the cloud and folded his arms across his chest. "I mean it, surrender or be shot!" John just shook his head no. The soldier tried to aim his rifle at John, but kept bumping into the utility fog. After a moment, he stepped back and raised the rifle and shot it. The bullet penetrated the fog by half a meter and stopped. The soldier stared a moment at John, then dropped the rifle, took a revolver out of a holster and emptied the revolver at John. The bullets went a little short of the rifle bullet, and stopped. John just watched. Then he reached out, picked the bullets out of the fog, reached just out of the fog with his hand and dropped the bullets on the ground. "There's your ammunition back." he said. The soldier looked down at the bullets a moment. Then he looked at John, looked back at the bullets and then looked back at John. "Wha-huh-you-I-" "Let me try to make this quick. I am from the year 2107. This town behind me, I believe, is from 1970. You and a fair amount of territory around here are from, I think you said, 1862. However, we are all actually somewhere around 120,000 BC". "You crazy, mister? "Maybe, but I am quite confident of the facts I have just stated." "That can't be!" "Then what happened to your bullets?" "I must be the one crazy" muttered the soldier and he turned and went back to the small army behind him. John turned around and walked back to the town. people were aiming rifles and guns at him. He reached the crowd. "You the leader of those Ruskies or what?" "Ruskies? Who are they?" "You attacked America! You're enemy troops. You can't defeat America. You've killed several of us here and God knows how many more when you nuked us, but we will kill you to the last Commie!" "I am not the enem-" A shot rang out, followed by several others. The bullets stopped in the utility fog. John lifted his wrist to his mouth and shouted into the watch-like artifact "Utilty fog maximum levitation!" and proceeded to rise two meters into the air. The shots stopped. John just hovered in air. "Finished yet?" The man stared for a moment, then asked "Are you a Martian? Is that a flying saucer?" "I am an involuntary time traveler. I am from the year 2107. An...event occurred which jumbled several places from different times together. Those soldiers were from the American Civil War, not Russia. You, I believe, are from 1970. But we are actually over a thousand centuries in the past." "Are you going to put us back?" "I can't. The Assiti shards, as we call these things, may be from a natural disaster or an alien race, but they are beyond even our technology to repair. I'm sorry" "What are we supposed to do? My mother is a diabetic, her insulin is spoiling in a dead refrigerator, and" "I have a device at my home that can create insulin. It can create a huge variety of things...except what is prohibited by 2107 law. I can save your life. I just wish I could save Rikki." "Who is Rikki?" "He friend. He is a hybrid...a person grown in an artificial womb and concieved by picking and choosing genes from two species and putting them his case, a human and a mongoose. I am - was - legally his owner. He was legally a pet but is as smart as me, and will die in a couple weeks. His body needs a chemical called Vitamin is a way of controlling hybrids. My nanofac can't make is illegal and can only be obtained by prescription. We are the only two I know of from our time, and I can't save him. But I will try to save you and those soldiers, and anyone else caught in this mess." John asked the townmen gathered around him if they would accept a meeting between themselves, him, and the troops. The people were upset about the several who had been killed, but they agreed. He would bring hypodermics of insulin made by his nanofab, and any other emergency medication the town needed. He scheduled the meeting for sunrise the next day, at the town hall. Next, he walked over to the troops and stood there waiting. Several men rode horses over to John. John recognized one as the man who had shot at him. "This the guy, soldier?" asked the lead man. "Yes, Captain, the bullets just stopped in mid-air, then he gave them to me." "I'll see about that!" replied the Captain as he pulled out a revolver and shot several shots at John. John just stood there. The Captain got off the horse and walked up to the utility fog. He stopped and fell back half a step, then reached out with his hand and tried to grab the bullets. He simply pressed his hand into the utility fog, but could not reach the bullets. "Thunderation. Are you an angel?" "No. Just a normal human being from the year 2107. I was transprted to here and now by...what we call an Assiti shard. You were transported from your time by it, and s was this town from it's own time, which was 1970. So please stop shooting, they have nothing to do with your war." "You can't come from the future, the future doesn't exist yet." "I'm afraid I do come from 2107, just as you come from 1862 and that town comes from 1970." "I don't come from 1862, this IS 1862." "I am afraid you are off by over twelve hundred centuris. It is about the year 120,000 BC." "The world wasn't here then! It was created 4004 years before Christ!" John sighed. "Look, I don't know how good a look you got at the town, but it is not anything like anything from 1862. I am trying to arrange a meeting between you and the town. Can you come here tomorrow at sunrise?" The Captain looked at John a long moment. "Very well." Hamptonport Town Hall Day 2 John sat at a table on the stage. Most of the people in the audience were dressed in 1970 clothing, but a few wore Confederate uniforms. John wore a T-shirt with a multicolored mandelbrot on it and jeans.The people were not looking at John. They were staring at Rikki (who wore short pants, and a long T-shirt with the legend 'I HATE COBRAS - Sunil Nevla' and a blue cartoon mongoose). "My name is John Masterson, and me and Rikki here were transported to this world from the year 2107 by what we call an Assiti shard, which we can detect with instruments, but cannot control. This town was transported from 1970, and a large area was taken from 1862. I have been surveying this area with drones, as far as they could reach, and -" "Drones?" asked the Confederate Captain on the end of the table. "Drones are flying machines that can record information. As far as I could tell, the 1862 region consists roughly of the eastern three-quarters of the old Confederate States of America. We are located in central Mississippi. There is a small sliver of Union territory on the northern edge of the zone, but the war is pretty much over. In this case, the South has won." "Of course. It is the will of God that the Right prevail." "Well, in the history I experienced, the South lost. But history is changed when parts of the future are thrust into the past. And we are very far in the past. We once had an Assiti shard move a neighborhood from 2049 to 2030, and were able to save lives that had been lost in several earthquakes in the meantime." "So anything could happen." replied the man at the other end of the table. "Yes, Mayor, anything can happen. And I must point out, we have a lot of time in which it could happen. As far as my observations of the sky can tell, we are in the 121st Millennium BC." "Are there other areas from other times here?" asked the Mayor. "I do not know. I know that your town's radio station is the only one I can pick up. My drones have surveyed about a quarter of the North American continent, and a bit of South America and the Caribbean, and I see no other transported area.. Shortwave radio can be detected worldwide, so nowhere is likely to have technology beyond about 1920. But there is a chance some areas are from a future that lost that technology. We once had an Assiti Shard with a clan of people of no familiar race. They had long, straight white hair, near black skin, long narrow noses and slit eyes. They spoke a language as different from English as English is from Anglo-Saxon. When we taught them English, they said that many generations ago men lived in an age of magic, but used their magic to make a god who took all the magic away. There were traces of long lived fallout isotopes in their soil, indicating a time of about 1000 years after World War Three." "Fallout what?" "In the early 21st century, there was a war of Western civilization against China and the Muslims. Half the world's population was killed in a few years. It used weapons that could crush or incinerate a city at a blow. The weapons also create a poison, which slowly decays. Because of this all thinking machines are built on the moon and strictly controlled." "The moon. Thinking machines" muttered the Captain and slowly shook his head. "I still don't believe this!" shouted a man with a priest's collar from the front row. "This has to be some sort of crazy hoax!" "Could you come up here, Father?" The man walked up the stage and came to the table. "Rikki, can you show him your flexpad?" Rikki took out what looked like a wallet from his pocket. He unfolded it and bent over it, touching his nose to it. The sheet lit up with a full color video which looked almost 3D. Rikki manipulated the screen, showing various other videos. Some of them had sound. Then he folded the flexpad back up and returned it to his pocket. "Can your 1970 technology do that? I know the 1862 technology can't. I would show you my computer, but it is implanted under my brain. Hybrids are forbidden to have cerebral implants, so Rikki has to make do with an old flexpad." "And's not a costume?" asked the priest. "Look into my mouth." said Rikki, then he opened it and waggled his long, thin tongue. "No human could fit into a suit with this anatomy" Rikki added. "Where did that thing come from? Mars?" ""He is a half-human, half -mongoose hybrid, He was born in 2087, one of the early hybrids and only the tenth non-primate one. He was owned by a show in Las Vegas, Nevada. He would fight king cobras for an audience. One day he got bit in the leg. Hybrid nerves work slightly differently from human nerves...they use a substance called vitamin X. Hybrids have to take it daily, and it is very strictly we can control them, of course. The cobra neurotoxin damaged the nerves in his leg. We use medical microbots for treatment...but we did not have ones for damages hybrid nerves. It is very expensive, and dangerous, to design a medical microbot. They have bugs the first couple times, and if Rikki had been given prototype microbots, he would likely have died. Besides, his owners did not want to spend the money. They put him up for auction. I attended those auctions to protest them...I am a Catholic, and the Church has taught that owning hybrids is slavery, owning a person with a spiritual soul, since 2089. But the only one who was bidding for him was a brothel, which are legal in Nevada, and I knew what they would use him for. So I bid for him, and won. Besides, I love mongooses. I would free him if I could, but that was against the law. I did everything I could for him, letting him act freely at home and as much as I could outside, and never used the shock collar he was required to wear." "And did I have a good time smashing and burning that collar!" piped up Rikki. "A Catholic! No Catholic would buy a abomination like that!" "Rikki's life would have been ruined in a brothel. They buy hybrids as living sex toys. And allow, even encourage, sadism in their use. Rikki would have been dead in a few months. I had seen what happened to others. I know it's because mongooses are my favorite critter, that I finally bought him to save him, but I had to do something. The Church is conflicted by this, since hybrids must have an owner in those countries that do not outlaw them altogether, and is working to emancipate them." "Emancipate! They should exterminate such a blasphemy!" said the priest "That would be murder." replied John "I should never have come to see the eclipse..." muttered the priest. "Father, I am a Catholic myself now -" began Rikki. "Christ did not die for no animal." "Father, we are almost out of Vitamin X. Then in a few days, I will lose control of my muscles, grow delirious, and finally suffocate. Can't I have a priest to -" "No!" The priest walked back to his chair. "I have a house with enough solar cells on the roof to power the house if I am careful, and to manufacture insulin for the diabetics in the town. I will try to help the people here, and start reproducing the nanofab to help people here. But Rikki is my closest friend. I would like to spend as much time with him as I can. Unlike 2107, homes and even cities of 1970 were not independant. But I will try to uplift this world to my technology as soon as I can." said John. "You say the Confederacy lost? Do you intend to try to use your city destroying weapons to harm my nation?" asked the Captain. "I do not have those weapons...they are illegal for personal possession. But I have defensive protection that should keep even the Confederate Army from taking me, Rikki or my home if I do not wish it. And I can nanofab personal weapons which could kill quite a few people if I so desire. I expect slavery will die out when I make machines to take over their work. But that is for the future, and it will not be overnight. Meanwhile, I cannot take over the Confederacy all by myself, so that is not a threat to you, Captain." "Can you develop the whole world?" asked the Mayor. "My nanofab can reproduce almost any item of 22nd century culture, or parts of it that can be easily assembled. After World War Three, and the collapse that followed, hundreds of millions died from being cut off from the infrastructure of society. That is why we make our homes so independant...we do not forget. Not that I remember, I was born in 2038, after the war and most of the recovery." "That would make you...69 years old." mused the Captain. "That's not right! You can't be over 30!" "I have been injected with medical microbots to erase the physical damage of aging. They were developed for old, rich people who were dying of old age anyway. The first few were killed by the treatment, but after several trials we worked out how to make them. I come from a world where once fatal diseases like cancer and old age have been cured, but things like acne and the common cold remain because no one wants to pay the money and risk death from failure of a microbot. If I am careful and lucky, though, I might beat Methuselah." "So what are you going to do now?" asked the Mayor. "Go home with Rikki, enjoy the remaining time I have with him, and start working on bringing advanced technology to this place." replied John. Day 5 Hamptonport John and Rikki arrived with the days supply of insulin needles in the town square, along with a replicated nanofab and some solar sheets. Mayor Denton was waiting, with several doctors and a number of diabetics. "I will show you how to operate a nanofab, Mr. Mayor. You will be able to make the components for another nanofab in another five days, and the solar sheets to power them up. They have a catalog of items you can fab up, but I would recommend that first you concentrate on making the insulin for your people, and making new nanofab systems. In ten days you can have four systems, in 15 days you can have eight, and so on." explained John. "How long will it take to expand the system to the whole town?" "A couple months should do it. In 2031 the 49ers gave almost everyone in the world a nanofab in about six months." answered Rikki. "And what about these medical microbots you were telling us about?" inquired one of the doctors. "There is a text on my flexpad describing how to make one, given a person's DNA scan. You can make a DNA scanner with the nanofab." Rikki said. "It is actually better I did not use Google-glasses for my data processing and would not be able to wear them with your human-shaped head." "Hybrids wearing Google-glasses, or for that matter using a flexpad, are frowned on, but Rikki could stick the flexpad in his pocket if someone came by. Ironically I have to use his flexpad for my own data use now, since there is no cloud here for me to download data with my implant." added John. "I took my last vitamin X pill today. I have nine or ten days left to live. Is there a priest I can talk to before then, either 1970 or 1862?" Rikki asked. "Fr. O'Brian, the visiting priest, is still angry and depressed about what has happened. I don't know if he really believes in it, but he has joined a council of pasors of the town we have set up...all twelve. The priests and pastors of the Confederacy, from what I hear, are calling the Event an Act of God to save the Noble Cause of slavery. They say it is the Lord enforcing the Curse of Ham. If they will not recognize Negroes as equals, I doubt that they will treat you any better." said Mayor Denton. "If I understand correctly, though, you are property yourself." "He was legally property back in 2107, but as far as I am concerned, that was a legal fiction. Catholics are not supposed to buy hybrids, since it financially supports hybridization, which is a sin, but hybrids must be owned by a human, and it was me or a brothel. If I could have, I would have emancipated him, and his chattelship was ended by the Assiti Shard." explained John. "Don't you wish you were human?" asked a man who had just got his insulin shot. "I once did. But John asked me if I wanted to be a human, or to be treated like a human. I decided I wanted to be treated like a human, but I am a mongoose hybrid and I feel right about it now. I would have probably died of old age in another five or ten years, though I am only 20, but that is not fundamentally a part of what I am. In a few years John and me would have tried to develop medical nanobats for a new species, it would be risky but, hey it might have worked!" Then Rikki looked down at the ground. "Of course, now I'll be dead in only days. But Vitamin X is what John calls extrinsic to being a hybrid, not intrinsic. I am glad I got to live a couple years with him. I'm even glad I got to fight those cobras in the show for five years. Snakes always creeped me out and made me want to kill them anyway. I did pretty was only when they started sending two at once to me that I got bit." "Governor Pettus will be visiting Hamptonport tomorrow to see the town and tell us, I expect, how we are going to be integrated into the Confederacy. Maybe you will have some things to say to him?" "I don't intend to refight the Civil War, I will say, however, that the nanofab can manufacture a number of models of "idiot-savant" robots which will be able to take over the work of the slaves and possibly bring an end to actual slavery...though I don't expect equal rights for a long time. But I could be wrong." said John. Day 6 Hamptonport John and Rikki stood before Gov. Pettus with something that looked like a large, bare bush, jet black in color, with a few odd growths on its branches. Each branch tip split into finer branches, ending in what looked like fuzz. "This is a bush robot, Gov. Pettus. Bushbot, go over to that rock by the tallest tree and bring it here." The bush robot followed the command silently, returning with the rock in only a few moments. "See, Governor, the robot will follow any verbal command given in the voice of its registered owner. Each human voice is distinct and unique, so only a person authorized to command the robot can give it orders. The robot can carry large stones and logs, or manipulate tiny grains of sand, with equal dexterity. It does not get sick, and if damaged can be repaired. It has no will of its own, so it does not have to be broken or disciplined. It needs no food, and can get energy from the sunlight, or from a connection to the sun powered sheets I showed you. They are far better than human slaves." "And you can make more of these?" "They are made from common elements in the soil, the air and the water. My nanofab can make one in about three days. But first, I will make more nanofabs, which I can do almost as quickly. One becomes two, which beome four, then eight, sixteen, a few months I can make a nanofab for every family in the Confederacy. Then everybody can make anything they require." "And what will the slaves do?" "I'll have to leave that up to you. This seems to be an empty hemisphere, as far as I can tell. Eurasia and Africa should be inhabited by tribes more primitive than any from the world you know, if they are synchronized with the time of this planet. Maybe you can send them back there. Or keep them as slaves. Whatever. I am just one man, and cannot force an entire nation." "You have the ability to force us?" "No. Even with my technology, I could not force you against your will. I would if I could, I admit...I consider your system of slavery to be an abomination, and there are many other things of my culture that arose over a quarter of a millennium, that I would bring here if only I could. But I can only try to bring back what parts of my world I can." "You call our institution an abomination, yet you have a miscegenation of man and beast as your own slave." "I am in a peculiar relationship with my Church over it...that is, I was back in 2107. The problem is that hybrids cannot be manumitted. I was actually protesting at his sale, and only purchased him because the alternative was worse. He is free for whatever bit of life he has left here, though." "Will you and these townfolk be citizens of the free state of Mississippi?" "I will obay your laws. I have no money that would be accepted here, so I will not be able to purchase anyone else, even if I were so inclined. I will simply live in my home and use my nanofab and other technology to make food, clothing and other such necessities. I will try to offer you my technology, but cannot make you accept it. The townspeople will have to do what they can to get along here." "They say you can talk, beast. Is this so?" "Yes, with this device in my throat I can talk. I would once have attacked you for calling me a beast, but my life is at an end now anyway. Call me what you wish, I wish only to die in peace." "And I hope you do it soon, beast." Day 13 Rikki was not walking with crutches anymore. He was losing control of his muscles, his herpestine agility and reflexes decaying without vitamin X. Now he used the exosuit he hated, but it was the only way he could get around. He walked to the door from the aircar, and rang the bell. "Is Fr. O'Brian in?" he asked when the door opened. "Yes, come in." answered the lady. She led Rikki into the office and went to get the priest. "I don't think he will be eager to see you." Rikki just stood and waited, twitching occasionally. Fr. O'Brian came out and stared at the mongoose. "I am here as a favor to Mr.Masterson for the help he is giving the town. I don't see what I can do for you." "I want an Anointing of the Sick...Extreme Unction. I am dy-rrgh-dying." "You are not human. I cannot give you a do not have a soul" "The Church teaches that I have a soul, and has done so since 2089." "That is what you say. I have no proof of that." "Doe-klllth-doesn't the fact that I am talking to you prove I have a soul?" "Parrots can talk!" "Please, I am already sick! I just wa-thsssp-want Absolution -" "Leave! Just leave." "Yes Father. I forgive you." Rikki walked jerkily away in his exosuit. Day 16 Fr. O'Brian came after a long walk to the house. He stood at the edge of the fog and fired the gun three times into the soil. A few moments later, John came out the door and walked out to just before the priest. "Yes, Father?" "I would like to see here." "Rikki died yesterday. I had the bush robot bury him this morning." "Oh. I am...sorry." Fr. O'Brian turned and walked away.