In Pierre’s lab, the man himself steps out of a machine, his brother looking at him with expectation, along with Victor, Nikola, Audrey and Scarface.
Deston speaks up.
“Still nothing but fire, I’m afraid.”
“Try a week earlier. We need to know the exact date it all goes to Hell.”
Pierre wordlessly gets back into the machine, and goes back to the future.
Yes, this is the secret of Pierre’s financial success. And his cybernetics. And pretty much everything about him except his brilliant mind.
People have sometimes said that Pierre is a man ahead of his time. They have no idea how right they are.
When Pierre was twenty-five years old, he succeeded in building a rudimentary time machine, after numerous failures. The first one to actually work worked only once, immediately fell apart upon arrival, and glitched out and nearly stranded Pierre in the Jurassic. But, it worked. Pierre was able to get to a point in the future that had sufficiently advanced technology. And there, he built a second time machine. From that day on, all of history was his playground.
So yes, he is, essentially, a time traveling plagiarist.
But then the future changed.
Pierre stepped out of the machine in the year 3525 AD, expecting to see a technological wonderland, but instead, only saw fire and death.
Something has gone wrong.
Now the Fluffy Cabal is trying to figure out exactly when it all goes wrong.
Pierre steps out of the machine, one week earlier than his last trip, and walks into a surprise. He stares into the faces of Death.
YOU NEED TO STOP DOING THIS, PIERRE.
DAT AM WITE. YU NU KNU WUT YU AM DOIN.
“I’m doing this because I have to!”
EVERY TIME YOU STEP INTO THAT MACHINE, YOU ENDANGER THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.
“But I need to know what happens so I can stop it!”
DEATH OF FWUFFIES FINK YU JUS NU CAN STAN NU KNUIN EVEWYFING. DEATH OF FWUFFIES FINK YU NU CAN STAN FAIWUWE. PIEWWE NU KNU WHEN PIEWWE GUT TO FOWD DEM.
I THINK YOU ARE RIGHT, MY DIMINUTIVE COUNTERPART. PIERRE, YOU TRY TO PRETEND THAT YOU ARE PERFECT IN EVERY WAY, THAT YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. BUT ALL THREE OF US KNOW JUST HOW IMPERFECT YOU REALLY ARE.
The Death of Humans smacks Pierre so hard he falls to the ground.
The Death of Humans’ eyes are now burning red.
NO. IT IS MY TURN TO TALK, PIERRE. YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL. YOU WERE NEVER IN CONTROL. AZRAEL HAS TOLERATED YOUR ANTICS BECAUSE, UP UNTIL NOW, YOU HAVE KEPT THE HARM YOU’VE DONE AT A LEVEL THAT CAN STILL BE REPAIRED. YOU RESPECTED THE TERMS WE SET FOR YOU. BUT NOW YOU ARE JUMPING BACK AND FORTH CONSTANTLY, AND EVERY TIME YOU DO, YOU ARE CAUSING IRREPARABLE DAMAGE TO TIME ITSELF. DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE THE HARBINGER OF THE APOCALYPSE?
Pierre, having gotten back up, silently shakes his head, looking into those blazing eyes, which now fade back to blue.
GOOD. NOW GO BACK TO THE PRESENT AND STAY THERE. DESTROY THIS INFERNAL MACHINE YOU HAVE BUILT. IF I CATCH YOU IN ANY OTHER TIME PERIOD, AND YOU DIDN’T GET THERE THE SLOW WAY, WELL…
The Death of Humans lifts up his scythe and swings it through the air a few times.
Pierre jumps when the blade gets awfully close.
YOU GET THE POINT. THAT GOES FOR YOUR COLLEAGUES TOO. EVEN VICTOR AND SCARFACE WON’T ESCAPE MY GRASP FOREVER, PIERRE. NOBODY DOES.
UM. SCAWFACE AM FOW DEATH OF FWUFFIES TU WEAP.
The Death of Humans kneels down, stroking the Death of Fluffies’ nonexistent fluff.
OF COURSE HE IS. WE’LL BE COMING FOR THEM TOGETHER. BUT PIERRE, DO YOU UNDERSTAND? NO MORE TIME TRAVEL. YOU CANNOT KNOW EVERYTHING, PIERRE. LOOK AT CALVIN. LOOK AT HOW LITTLE HE KNOWS. AND YET, HE IS HAPPIER THAN YOU HAVE EVER BEEN, PIERRE. WAS ALL THE KNOWLEDGE AND POWER AND MONEY YOU’VE AMASSED REALLY WORTH IT? BECAUSE, YOU MUST KNOW, YOU WILL NEVER GET THE ONE THING YOU TRULY DESIRE.
“No. It wasn’t worth it.”
BUT YOU DID IT ANYWAY. AND NO, YOU CAN’T GO BACK AND TELL YOURSELF NOT TO DO ANY OF IT. WHAT HAPPENED HAS TO STAY HAPPENED. AZRAEL CAN ONLY PLAY DUMB FOR SO LONG, PIERRE. YOU GET ONE CHANCE. ONE CHANCE TO MAKE SURE THE WORLD DOESN’T END. IF YOU FAIL, YOU WILL SPEND THE REST OF ETERNITY IN HELL. BUT LET’S BE HONEST, YOU WERE PROBABLY GOING THERE ALREADY, SO, IT’S NOT MUCH OF A LOSS.
“I get one chance? And I don’t get to know what will happen?”
YES. JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, PIERRE. THERE’S A WORD FOR IT, YOU KNOW.
“What’s the word?”
LIFE. NOW GO HOME, PIERRE.
BAI BAI, PIEWWE.
And thus, Pierre, tears in his eyes, and four burning lines on his cheek, travels through time, for the final time.
“We can’t do this anymore.”
Pierre, back in the present, dismantles the time machine. He’s going to delete the backups of the schematics too. If the Deaths want it gone, it’s gone.
Victor is burning the original schematics outside.
“So no more trips to the future for inspiration?”
Deston, his eyebrow raised, watches Pierre work.
“No more trips to anywhen, past or future.”
“But what about–”
“I know! Okay, I know! He said that we get one chance to make things right. That that’s what everyone else gets.”
“You know, I could just–”
“No, Brother. He said that the ban applies to all of us. Honestly, I think he’s right. We’re not gods. We’ve been acting like we are for far too long.”
“So we’ve got one chance to save the world.”
“One chance. And if we do save the world, I think it might be time for me to retire afterwards. The companies can handle themselves without me. The world can handle itself without me. I’ll destroy all of my Remote Bodies, disable the cybernetics that halt my aging, and just live as normal a life as I can. No flying cars, no blippers, no superpowered operatives. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be normal, and I need a refresher course.”
“But wut am daddeh gunna du if daddeh wee-tiwe?”
Pierre pauses from destroying his masterpiece, walks over, and strokes Nikola’s silver fluff. Then, he strokes Audrey’s golden fluff as well. The both of them coo.
“I’ve got a nice cabin out in the woods. You’ll both be coming with me, of course. It’s near a herd of very well-behaved fluffies. I’d be happy to introduce you two to them.”
The million dollar fluffies seem excited by the prospect, but then Victor runs in, looking alarmed.
“Guys! You need to see this.”
“What is it, Victor?”
“It’s goddamn Hell on Earth, that’s what it is.”