Lyfrassir Edda, former inspector turned wayward traveler, was having a nice day. They'd needed to stop for supplies and had chosen an outpost town, spread between a couple of meteors. Apparently the inhabitants, upon wanting to expand, had constructed large metal structures to tie another meteor to it and then repeated that process two more times. They acted as walkways and service lines. It was rather quite interesting, and after they'd gotten what they'd needed, they ended up buying a hotel room for the week. Lyf figured they could take a little break here easily enough. It'd been a while since they stayed somewhere longer than a day or two.
They continue their walk through one of the long metal tubes connecting the outpost, and Lyfrassir's thoughts turn to their current situation. It's been… at least 100 years since they were forced to flee their home. Maybe. That's the time frame they've settled on, but really, for a good while they weren't paying any attention to time, just running and running and running, and then the on-ship clock broke, which, sure, they got another clock from somewhere else but. With different solar cycles and the warping that traveling through space can cause without a specially built device, reliable timekeeping gets hard. And once you reach a certain point, once you've seen so much and have done so much, time starts to slip a little. So they just say it's been at least 100 years.
In that time, they've been moving. Constantly moving onwards, at first just away, always away, running from the nightmare that consumed their home. It became less frantic, less single-minded, less "away", eventually, but they never really stopped moving. The closest thing they had to home was the ship they rode in. At first, they just decided that they'd keep moving until they died, out in space where no one would find them, but then they realized they'd stopped aging. And then they did die, shot up on a random planet in a fit of bad luck, and found themself getting back up.
Lyf comes back to themself somewhere in a shopping district, it looks like, having made it to the other side of the walkway earlier. There's a moderate amount of people bustling around, and the atmosphere of the place feels welcoming. They smile a little.
And then the storage warehouse further down the street explodes, and suddenly there's running and fire and screaming as pedestrians flee the scene. Lyfrassir starts speed walking towards the destruction, hoping to catch the culprit before anyone else gets hurt. The biggest benefit of eldritch abilities is being able to save people.
As they near the location of the explosion, they witness two figures pulling a limp (unconscious? Dead? They’re too far away to tell-) body out of some wreckage. Either these are survivors, and they can help, or it’s the perpetrators and they didn’t plan this adventure too well and got their buddy hurt. Approaching is the best option either way.
Upon getting closer, they nearly turn right back around. Before them, for the first time in (probably more than) 100 years, are 2 of the prisoners they were forced into overseeing back on Midgard, and they’d bet anything the figure being dragged across the ground at this moment was the 3rd.
They’re just about to turn and start walking away again because honestly, they served way past their time with this trio and were just fine abandoning this place and never coming back to get away, but their conscience stops them. They could at least make some attempt to ask them to stop before running, surely. What was the worst that could happen?
“Hey! Could you stop blowing things up?” They call out as they approach. They’re rewarded with a bullet to the face, surprisingly. They weren’t entirely unprepared for it, but they weren’t actually expecting that.
They get up, grumbling “great, lovely to see you again too,” under their breath as they stand. The two, La Cognizi and Alexandria are staring at them, while Von Raum seems to be getting his wits about him as well in the background.
La Cognizi speaks first, stating matter of factly, “We haven’t met before,” and yeah, now they’re properly thrown off.
They cross their arms as they say, “Is this some sort of joke? I mean, I’d be plenty fine with you three forgetting me, but honestly, I expected the exact opposite of this reaction.” And maybe that was their play, to which they have to give a point.
The previously unconscious(?) bandit finally speaks, sounding confused, “Mmguh- Whu- Hey, who’s that? Did you two miss someone while I was dead?” Oh, that confirmed that bit at least.
Alexandria speaks up now, sounding calm as always, “No, Raphaella definitely got them,” she stated, without explaining, which earned her a more pointedly confused look from Von Raum as she continued, this time addressed in their direction, “There is a 71% chance you have encountered our future selves at some point, assuming your assumption we would recall is reasonable.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Lyf prompts, pretty sure she just suggested their little group were time travelers, which had them skeptical.
Von Raum jumps in again, explaining, “Oh, we hop around here and there. Time is weird and we don’t vibe,” which wasn’t actually very revealing other than, yeah, that sounded like time travel. They scrub at their face in resigned frustration.
“Of course, one more thing for the pile,” they mutter, mostly to themself. Looking up from their hand again, they address Alexandria, because as infuriating as they all were (are going to be?), she was at least the easiest to talk to plainly. “So none of you have recently been in prison for a long time, then?” They say, keeping it vague to avoid too much, what, future knowledge? In the case that they were being sincere about this.
The two women shake their heads no, while Von Raum gives a cheery “Nope!” as he does the same.
Lyfrassir sighs and adjusts their pose again, feeling antsy. “Alright. I mean, you could just be lying, but. Who cares, I guess. Please do try to avoid killing more people here, at least? I was having an okay time here. Not that you've ever listened to me, and I doubt you will apparently seconds after meeting me, but I would appreciate some restraint. I'm," they sigh again, very sure their words are having little to no effect, and mentally start a checklist of everything they need to do before leaving the outpost as they finish, "I'm just going to go now. Bye."
As they trudge through the wreck, they catch a fading conversation between the three.
"So- wait, so Raph did shoot them?"
"Yeah, I did, though I guess not as well as I thought."
"No, Raphaella, you killed them. They just seem to share something in common with us. Perhaps that's…"
And they're turning the corner, out of range and out of fucks. They sigh once more, take a moment to let their head rest in their hands, then continue on their way to the space walkway.
Baron Doctor Marius Von Raum sits atop the still smouldering piece of wall he woke up on after getting crushed by an unfortunately timed piece of collapsing ceiling. Raphaella has already fanned out to shoot any possible survivors for fun, and Ivy seems to be investigating the wares of the nearby deserted stores. Marius, however, has elected not to move.
The encounter with the strange rainbow-haired individual stuck out to him still, an hour later. It was just that, most people they encounter don't live long enough to have a second one, and if they do, people tend to avoid repeating an encounter. Sure, they hadn't looked particularly happy to see the 3 of them, but the way he understood it they had elected to approach the group, so.
Another reason they didn't tend to cross paths with people they'd met before is, well, mortals didn't really live that long, and the Mechanisms didn't really come back to locations they’d been for quite a long time (depending on the area, of course). But then again, they hadn't seemed exactly mortal. Ivy was sure that they'd died and gotten up again, and well. Ivy was Ivy, so that was as good as confirmation got.
So the stranger- and he'd never gotten a name, had he? That was annoying- the stranger was sticking out in his head still. And maybe not entirely for the reasons presented, but Marius wasn't going to admit anything to anyone, so it didn't matter.
Raphaella returned eventually, causing Ivy to follow. The 3 of them went back to their stolen ship and left the outpost, all silently agreeing not to talk about the reason they were leaving without even exploding another building.
And so they went on, all of them keeping an eye out whenever a venture happened to be just the 3 of them.
It was centuries and centuries later that the 3 found themselves in a jail cell on a planet called Midgard, but it was only 10 years into their using the prison as a glorified hotel room that one of them mentioned the circumstances, even if it was clear they'd all thought about it at one point. They were waiting for an event about 50 years from then and had ended up making the prison their home base while they waited for the story to be laid out.
Raphaella had been the one to remark that, while maybe it didn't seem that long for them, perhaps mortals might call 60 years a long time in prison? And nobody said anything else, but now Marius was even more down to stay in their cell house, as if it being hilarious wasn't motivation enough.
Decades later, after making their current assigned officer (for questioning related to their own crimes, and to interrogate them on other investigations as some sort of weird information source) quit the force, they were informed they would be having yet another change in officer. Supposedly this one was to be temporary while they looked for one better equipped, so management had just grabbed a random officer from the transport office. Marius couldn't have cared less. But when he heard the conversation between management and the temp getting steadily louder outside the door, something about their voices gave him vague deja vu.
The door opened, and a tired-looking desk jockey was ushered inside. Marius saw his companions begin to pay closer attention as they noticed the same thing he did- this was a familiar face. Their hair was a much more natural brown, along with their eyes, and they seemed overall more normal and a lot less rainbowy, but it seemed to be the same stranger from the meteor outpost.
Holy shit, they were a cop.
They showed no signs of nerves as they cleared their throat in preparation. They spoke clearly as they greeted the group with, "Hello. My name is Lyfrassir Edda, Inspector Second Class, and today I will be going over a list of questions that you 3 will be answering to the best of your abilities."
Marius brightened as soon as they said their name, and was standing up from his relaxed position by the time they finished talking. He bent over in an exaggerated bow as he declared, "Wonderful to meet you, Inspector!" He straightened and looked them in the eyes as he continued, "now tell me, would you consider, what is it, 52 years? In prison a 'long time'?"
The inspector, clearly taken off balance by this display, splutters for a second before scowling hard at him. "Well- I- Well yes! It is a rather long time! But," they take a breath, seeming to calm down a little (still glaring at him, though), "But none of you will be asking any more questions. This is an interrogation."
The questions were just like always, but Lyfrassir was incredibly easy to bother, which made it much more fun than normal. They had left after the time allotted for the meeting ended with very little answers from all of them, which also seemed to annoy them.
The next interrogation, they sent the new 'official' officer. None of them spoke for the entire 3 hours. When one of the higher-ups came knocking for answers as to why they weren't complying, Raphaella had the brilliant idea to tell him they wouldn't speak to anyone except Lyfrassir from then on for interrogations.
And so began the better portion of their years in jail.
As Lyfrassir was packing their ship up that night in preparation to leave, their thoughts drifted to the prisoners. As they thought of certain interactions, and the weird request to have themself as the 3's officer out of nowhere, a realization came slowly to them.
They stopped working and sat down on the floor, hands pressed firmly to their face, as was a regular occurrence when it came to The Mechanisms.
They might have just set up some weird self-fulfilling prophecy time loop thing.
"Gods fucking damnit," they said aloud to the empty cabin.