Why The ‘Ikdid’ Works
“I did not see that coming.” said Traveler.
“Shame, that.” grumbled his friend.
Rædis and his friend Traveler were racing towards doom uncertain at a six hundred miles per hour in a machine they put together themselves the previous day.
Rædis was driving and Traveler was looking out of the windshield at the approaching doom. He marveled at its size and complexity. It was a city sized machine for creating other cities. An entire industrial facility that could roll along, devouring the land and leave in its path waterways, roads, power grids, etc. The infrastructure of an entire city could be laid down blocks at a time.
The problem was that they were racing in a canyon only slightly larger than the width of the machine. As they wound their way through it under Rædis’ excellent pilotage they had no way of knowing that after a certain bend in the canyon they would run right smack into the thing.
“You know, as the co-driver and therefore navigator, I blame you for this.” Rædis said unhelpfully. They were traveling way too fast to turn around as such a maneuver would drive them into the narrow canyon walls nor could they stop because the craft they were in possessed no starter and this would only delay their demise as the juggernaut that was the infrastructure machine would eventually plow them over.
The choice to not include a starter was both a weight saving decision as well as a time saving one since, as noted, they only knocked this vehicle together the day before.
Traveler was undaunted by his friend’s pessimism. It was at times like this that despite his aloofness, unsentimental detachment, copious drug use and quixotic tendencies, he was astoundingly capable. His four dimensional thought had been so honed over time that, in situations of extreme stress, his ability to see the most favorable outcome of numerous possibilities and act on them without hesitation had become instinctual. He lived for times like this.
This was not to say he was reckless or precipitous in his passion for thrill seeking. He would not be a successful time traveler were those among his dominant characteristics. He would very probably just be dead. But he did enjoy pressing his skills and luck to the limit every now and again. He would not be a successful racing driver if he didn’t.
Fortunately for the two friends, although they didn’t know it just yet, as well as not including a starter, they did include the ‘Ikdid’. This was an inscrutable piece of apparently obsolete racing equipment Rædis had purchased far in the future on a whim during one of their temporal excursions. His rationale was, if it was obsolete so far ahead in time then back in their own era, it may prove to be useful. Or, at the very least, amusing. However, despite numerous experiments in a variety of vehicles it had failed to produce any effect what so ever.
The component itself was rectangular, about the size of a match box. Within it, Traveler once observed as Rædis was working on it, were more moving parts than he had ever seen in such a small package. It also contained a single, very friendly looking, circular button that when powered, lit up the most reassuring shade of green Traveler had ever seen.
Rædis slowed the vehicle as much as possible without causing it to stall. This bought them the few precious seconds Traveler needed to decide what to do.
“I’m gonna try the Ikdid.” he announced.
“Please do.” Rædis said as there was no other option. He need not have Traveler’s unique perception to realize this. Traveler reached out and flipped up the clear cover Rædis had installed over the button and mashed it with a gloved finger. The thing then did something that, in all of their previous attempts to activate it, it had never done before. It began to blink rapidly. They both looked at each other, astonished then back at the button. It then did a second amazing thing. It changed color. The button changed from its happy green hue to an alarming and rather frightening bright red. It also emitted a sound that no one would mistake for anything but an alarm.
Next, a symbol appeared on the button. It was a black, wicked looking, angular trefoil under pointy lines extending outwards from the center and did not look very reassuring at all.
Because Rædis and Traveler were so absorbed by the button actually activating, they failed to notice what the Ikdid was doing to their racing vehicle. Upon springing to life, the strange component had assessed the perilous situation they were in and in little more than a unit of Plank Time, dispatched countermeasures that began to change the vehicle around them on a subatomic level. It rearranged the shape of it, reconfigured its power source, modified its internal structure, increased its safety and life support mechanisms then discarded what it no longer needed.
Essentially, it repurposed the racing machine into an escape pod and jettisoned Rædis and Traveler out of the canyon and harm’s way. It did all of this in less time than it took either of them to fully understand what was going on. They arced through the air until they were only a mere two meters above the ground at the top of the canyon, well away from its edge. They plunked unceremoniously to the ground. Their seats absorbing what little of the impact the newly formed pod did not.
Rædis pulled off his helmet and looked at the Ikdid. Its button had returned to its friendly green color, stopped blinking and in the center of it appeared a bright yellow thumbs up symbol. Traveler yanked his own helmet off and looked around at what they were now sitting in.
“Well I’ll be damned. It’s a safety device. An absolutely last resort rescue button.” he said with a tone of surprise, a smile of delight and sigh relief. Behind him he could hear the infrastructure machine rumbling past them. It shook the canyon walls as it worked. The two could feel it through their seats. Rædis’ ever expressive face also reflected his joy and relief.
“What an incredibly useful component. Shit, if this thing was obsolete in its time I can’t imagine what could have replaced it.”
“Right!?” Traveler exclaimed. He began to undo his harness as the electronic safety webs that held them in place shut down. He and Rædis climbed from the escape pod and studied it. Very few components resembled what the machine was mere minutes ago. A few bits of the electric motor, the battery and some of the framework but other than that, it was a completely different object.
Traveler surveyed their surroundings. They were pretty bleak. As the pair were now out of the canyon, they had an uninterrupted view of the grey, rocky wilderness around them. Far off in the distance on the very edge of the horizon was the city from which they came.
“Well...now all we need to do is get picked up.” said Traveler as he slid a pack of hydrating gum from the arm pocket of his racing suit. “Gum?” he offered a piece to Rædis.
“I wonder how the crew will find us? I mean, technically we didn’t crash.” he said and declined the gum. His friend would need it much more than he should their rescue take a while.
“They’ll know something’s amiss when we fail to check in.”
As soon as he said this, the Ikdid popped off a series of bright red flares high into the air leaving white trails of luminescent smoke that lingered in the still atmosphere above their position then switched itself off.
“Or, y’know...they can just follow the flares.” Traveler said, putting on his sunglasses and fixing his helmet hair.
“It is going to be so fun figuring out how this thing works.” said Rædis happily.
“Yeah, just don’t experiment on any of our cool cars.” said his friend.
“Of course not. I’ll start with the old Dodge Diplomat.” Rædis chuckled.
“Hell, I’ll even help ya crash that piece. Why do we even have one?” Traveler asked.
“Meh...I liked the color.” Rædis shrugged.
He tore the seats from the pod and faced them towards the city. They sat down to await retrieval, passing the time by pitching stones into their helmets which they set near the edge of the canyon.