The Time Saving Agency

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Each day shapes the days that follow…

The Time Saving Agency liked having fresh agents on the job, who had a clear mind and steady hand. After all, time travel wasn’t for the faint of heart. The pay was good enough, but as Johnathan Scrooby decided long ago – even if he didn’t get paid for it, the thrill alone was payment enough! Then again, the TSA realized they couldn’t afford to have disgruntled employees with the power of God at their fingertips, so the pay was very, very good indeed!

Scrooby was extremely tense. His job at the Time Saving Agency was a tough one – gazillions of lives depended on him not screwing up. Once, he’d screwed up in only a small way, and people wore those little yellow smiley faces on t-shirts for decades afterwards… And that was only a small screw up!

Things happened at a certain time in a certain way, which in a sense, is what Life was all about. If they didn’t, then things would be completely different – which was why, a week ago, the American War of Independence was fought in Mexico. Yesterday Napoleon managed to dig a tunnel across the English Channel, invaded London – and everybody at the Agency ended up speaking French for a while. Sorting that out had been… well, challenging… Mon dieu.

Something smelled funny in the Anals of History! Things were not as they were supposed to be. Someone somewhere was tinkering with the works, and it was up to Time Agent Scrooby – with a little help – to go back and fix it, or who knew what might happen next!

The Time Saving Agency” is the second title in the Quantum Series by Christina Engela.

Details:

  • Published: March 04, 2019
  • Words: 53,786
  • Pages: 178 pages (6×9 format paperback)
  • Duration: (to be announced) min (eBook narrated by (to be announced))


Synopis: [Spoiler Alert]

Cindy-Mei Winter, a former C.I.A. (Colonial Intelligence Agency) operative, now resides on the charming Terran colony of Deanna. Mei got kicked out of the service for being transgender, and as a consequence, has lost contact with most of her relations back home on Mars as well.

She’d originally come to Deanna on holiday – her gift to herself after undergoing gender reassignment – and thanks to her former line of work, is reaping the financial rewards of making some shrewd investments. She’s put off her return home to Mars City to see how things turn out here. Deanna is home to a unique blend of often strange characters that evoke the Wild West among other things – as well as local indigenous alien life-forms which include, unfortunately – crabby-grass.

In the chaotic aftermath of the Ruminarii attack on the colony, Mei had got to know a handsome local bounty hunter working under the name Beck the Badfeller. By now their romance has become a fact of life, and the two characters have learned to accept each other’s differences – in the case of Gary, Mei’s transgender status – and in the case of Mei, Beck’s stubborn independence and quirks.

gary-beck

Gary Beck, a.k.a. Beck the Badfeller.

Their time of late has been spent in getting to know each other, going out on dates, and so on. Mei and Gary have both made friends with the Grauffis sisters – a necessity since they are all members of what they refer to as “the Mark Conspiracy”. The individual at the center of said conspiracy is also settling in to his new surroundings at about the same time. While their lives go on rather pleasantly, they are not entirely alone – they’re being watched.

A clandestine inter-dimensional time-policing agency that exists outside of Time – ‘The Time Saving Agency’ – has business in their particular time and place – and being a keen student of history, Agent Johnathan Scrooby is a firm fan of both Cindy-Mei and the legendary Beck the Badfeller.

The TSA’s function is to protect the time-stream from anyone who would try to change it – and apprehends ‘time terrorists’ for well, all time. The TSA drops these unlucky souls into an inter-dimensional prison called ‘the Limbo Practicale’ – a prison which is believed to be escape proof.

Trouble threatens when one of these very dangerous inmates somehow manages to escape this ‘escape proof’ inter-dimensional prison – an inmate who not only knows how to change Time without using technology – but helped establish the Time Saving Agency itself! After an undetermined period inside the Limbo Practicale, Brad Xyl, the villain in this tale, is not only insane – but he’s gone right through insanity and out the other side again! To say the high-ups in the hallowed halls of the Time Saving Agency are shocked and perturbed would be a massive understatement!

Immediately after his stunning jailbreak, Brad Xyl heads to Deanna – and the entire TSA is on the hop working on a way to either recapture or destroy him at any cost. Xyl presents a frightening combination of frustratingly insane and attractive at the same time – and his amusing appearance on Deanna leads to all kinds of trouble for the many secondary characters in Atro City. He arrives on a stage in front of a live audience inside a Reformed Puritan Church – the entire congregation in fact! The service immediately ends when Xyl appears out of thin air – accompanied by a strange sound reminiscent of Mozart being played backwards very quickly – on stage behind the Most Reverend Ramsley Valcovar II, looking most diabolical, out of sorts, and making funny noises. This is a bit of a shock for the Most Reverend Ramsley Valcovar II – who hitches up his vestments and runs out the church screaming. 

A little later, Albrecht (perpetrator proprietor of Albrecht’s Takeaways on Lupini Square) happens to be second on Xyl’s whirlwind tour. After pulling off the greatest escape in all of Time, Xyl needs a bit of a pick-me-up and demands two cups of something called Hot Stuff Blend – which happens to be the most volatile form of coffee in the known universe! A crowd starts to gather, interested in seeing what will happen – and after downing both cups without any apparent ill effects, Xyl lurches away after the weird light-show looking considerably more normal than when he’d arrived – leaving another shocked and traumatized crowd of onlookers behind. The handrail of Albrecht’s little kiosk has completely lost its shine – and Albrecht his accent. At least, temporarily.

In the meantime, while out shopping alone, Mei runs into Fred the Arborian – her friend from the ship that brought her to Deanna several months before – and they reconnect. Fred is working as a security guard at the Plaza – in the undercover division.

Meanwhile, in the city, once a little more cogent after the strong dose of Hot Stuff Blend – and free on Deanna in what’s for him, the distant past, Xyl sets his plan in motion. His plan? To destroy not only Deanna, but the entire universe – with the help of Dr. Gleichstein – a local quantum physicist who has an uncanny knack for blowing things up and losing his eyebrows in the process. Gleichstein of course believes Xyl is helping him to build a prototype for a kind of infinite-potential power generator that will revolutionize – well, everything and doesn’t know what he’s really doing (no surprises there). It’s a perfect match.

Enter Time Agent Johnathan Scrooby – a man on a mission to save the universe! Gary Beck being the resident go-to guy on Deanna, Scrooby enlists his aid using the argument that he could help to save Mei’s life – along with everyone else’s in doing so. Gary being stealthily abducted from Peg’s office at the SOD (Sheriffs Office Deputy) building in central Atro City – to the Time Saving Agency’s base of operations somewhere in interdimensional space, also makes a convincing argument. Over coffee at the office diner, Scrooby does his best to explain the basic mechanics of time-travel, and policing it, to Gary. Fortunately the TSA’s base is protected from any changes in the timeline by a mechanism called the Buffer, so they’re quite safe there. Scrooby’s lecture on the TSA – and the quantum mechanics involved – gives Gary a four alarm headache and he’s still confused, but he agrees to help.

They join forces and work together to foil Xyl’s plan and undo what damage he’s done to the already sufficiently traumatized timeline. Scrooby sends Gary back to Deanna with the task of following  a curious set of black, smoking footprints made and left by Brad Xyl – which is really weird, because the trail winds through the central part of Atro City – and even on the underside of Bottlenose Bridge which spans the Bay – but he sets off on his appointed task regardless, shaking his head. Just as he’s closing in on Brad Xyl… who is presumably at the end of his trail of footprints, Scrooby rendezvous with him outside a house in Placid Waters. The house is a little run-down, and the garage looks like it’s been blown up – and more than once. The strange black footprints lead up to the front door.

While hiding inside the shrubbery in the front garden, Scrooby informs him that the house belongs to a certain Dr. Gleichstein – the scientific genius and unwitting pawn whom Xyl has conned into helping him build his doomsday device. Inside the house, Xyl – who has regained his full mental faculties – has worked out that he no longer needs any of the devices used by the TSA to manipulate Time – he does so at will… emphasizing just how dangerous he truly is, and how difficult Gary and Scrooby’s task will be. Xyl uses his skills to create a time bubble inside the house – allowing Dr. Gleichstein to complete days of work in just minutes.

It is this very danger that Xyl drives home to Gary – but Gary isn’t the sort of person who simply kills anyone. Even as a bounty hunter he does his very best to bring back his bounties alive – and not just because live bodies are easier to bring back than dead ones – but because he has a conscience. Even in his time, Gary insists, they didn’t just kill offenders because they couldn’t effectively keep them incarcerated. Scrooby points out how far beyond that Xyl is now – the Limbo Practicale was supposed to be escape proof, that they had no practical way to imprison him anymore now – and if they didn’t, he’d carry out his plan without a doubt. Scrooby had already seen the future. Apropos of this, Scrooby hands Gary a device from the 32nd century – the far distant future – a Polymetric Life Ender. Based on Scrooby’s argument, Gary agrees that Brad Xyl has got to die.

The confrontation between Scrooby and Gary Beck and their nemesis Brad Xyl does not go well. After being killed by him numerous times – and being retrieved by controllers at the TSA each time, Gary and Scrooby regroup at the TSA diner and discuss options. After getting killed a couple of more times by Xyl, and going back each time, Brad Xyl copies multiple instances of himself to battle them – and after killing Scrooby one more time, begins kicking the crap out of Gary. Back at the TSA, still panting, Scrooby has had enough – and decides that more direct action is required.

He goes over to a specialized Time editing console – and uses it to beam one of the instances of Brad Xyl into Ramalama – Deanna’s sun! Naturally, since all the copies of Brad Xyl are really all just the actual Brad Xyl at slightly different moments in time, Xyl is destroyed – vanishing into thin air with a feint pop and a little puff of smoke! It’s over!

Before they leave, Scrooby has a little unfinished business with Dr. Gleichstein – and sabotages his experimental device slightly. Although it would have worked as a free energy power generator, Xyl’s modifications would have caused it to destroy the entire universe, so Scrooby sabotages that part of the device. Also, since according to history, Dr. Gleichstein was not the inventor of this free energy device, he sabotages the rest of the machine as well – and when the Doktor wakes up from his Mickey-induced nap a little later and tries out his machine, it simply vanishes into another dimension with a sound like a thunderclap – and he’s once again lost his eyebrows!

Scrooby is not oblivious to the fact that he and Gary have developed a great rapport and the beginnings of a friendship, and hints that it’s likely they will meet again. Their task complete, Scrooby no longer has need of Gary, and releases him. He heads back to Mei’s apartment, and relishes their reunion after perhaps the longest day of his entire life. Although for Mei it’s been only a day, for him it’s been much longer than that – and he has died numerous times, and in considerably pain and discomfort from the last shellacking received from Brad Xyl. But he’s happy – Scrooby has kept his word, the danger is past, and Mei is safe.

What Comes Next?

The characters in “Black Sunrise” and “The Time Saving Agency” continue their adventures in the next book in the Quantum Series: “Dead Man’s Hammer”.

The History of “The Time Saving Agency”

When I first started writing Quantum, I wrote the original first three books in the same year! No, it wasn’t deliberate… I mean, what kind of lunatic sits down one bright sunny day and thinks, “Yes, I think I feel like writing three books simultaneously”? It just worked out that way!

To explain it simply, I started out writing “Black Sunrise”, and it just got longer, and longer, and more complex, and midway through I decided to split it down the middle and turn the next part into book 2 “The Time Saving Agency” … and another part, which became “Dead Man’s Hammer”… and then I worked on them all simultaneously! Yes, it was taxing just getting those first three drafts together, but over the years they’ve been refined really well!

Around 2005, I published the first version of “The Time Saving Agency” on Lulu, and updated and refined it and its cover again in 2007.

In 2014, I got picked up by a small press, which contracted me for all my titles, and to comply I took everything down from Lulu and waited for the publisher to hold up its end of the bargain. It was a long wait for a train that never came; and by May 2016 the company essentially frog-marched every one of their authors who weren’t “pure horror writers” out the door of their stable, leaving me back at Square One with my head spinning.

Upon my immediate return to self-publishing in May 2016, I re-released the then complete four titles in Quantum, including “The Time Saving Agency“.  I made good use of the opportunity to edit, format and to create new covers.

In 2019, I revised all the Quantum Series books and redesigned all the covers so they all looked like part of the same series – and unique from Galaxii! At any rate, I feel the current series of covers does the story justice!

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Reviews:

A highly enjoyable time travel caper…

“Only two months previous were the citizens of Deanna dealing with the threat of an alien attack, but now another threat of perhaps greater proportions emerges from the fabric of time, quite literally.

Christina Engela has created a story that follows not only a similar concept of the previous entry in the Quantum series, but one that fuses those ideas with something completely different and original. Written in a way that sometimes tributes Terry Pratchett, yet again readers will find this story quirky and clever with a style that confides in the reader.

Familiar faces Gary Beck the ‘badfeller’ and Cindy Mei Winter return as their story together continues and while that is happening the main story arc begins to unfold from an unexpected place; the fabric of time where there are Time Agents and Time Terrorists. What ensues is a cat and mouse time travel story seeing ‘Agent Scrooby’ trying to track down the evil genius and escaped terrorist known as Brad Xyl, who has dastardly universe destroying aspirations! Scrooby enlists the help of Bounty hunter Gary Beck and together they set out to to put Brad Xyl’s plans to a halt.

Although Cindy-Mei Winter takes more of a cameo role along with ‘Fred the Arborian’, in this story Cindy’s journey and life as a trans-woman is briefly touched upon giving an important and positive modern spotlight on the subject.

Overall ‘The Time Saving Agency’ is a fun read which sees the ‘Quantum Series’ taken on an unexpected journey of time travel while also continuing the journey of the characters seen in the previous book in the series (‘Black Sunrise’). The narrative is delivered with a sophisticated level of humor and sometimes sarcastic wit that never allows for a dull moment.

4 Stars” – Lee Hall, UK author, playwright and reviewer.

An Interesting New Look At The Time-Travel Genre

The Time Saving Agency is an E-book that I downloaded recently and is something of a different read for sci-fi fans as it mixes a lot of interesting themes together to produce something that is actually not bad!

Written by what is commonly called an indie-author, The Time Saving Agency first caught my interest because it was described as having Transgender themes. Not normally my sort of thing but I was interested to see how this was worked into the story as there was no mention of any such thing in the synopsis! It turns out that the author themself is transgender which explains the presence of one female character in the novel who was formerly a man but has had futuristic gender reassignment to make her a woman! Though this character only plays a minor and supporting role, I nonetheless thought this was an interesting angle and actually fitted in quite well into Christina’s version of the future!

The premise is a simple one. Situated outside of Time, The T.S.A controls the status quo and tracks down Time Terrorists determined to cause mayhem and realign the future. When a particularly nasty villain escapes from what they had always considered an inescapable gaol with the intention of causing mayhem, one Agent is sent out to recapture him or remove him from the Time-line permanently. But he soon finds he needs a little help when the villain turns up on a remote human colony on the outskirts of the universe!

Though the end was a bit of an anti-climax, the remainder of this book was certainly a good read! I would say it was slightly above-average in its style and content and the characters instantly believable! There is lots of humour present too and while this never makes the book laugh-out-loud funny, there were plenty of moments where I had a little chuckle!

If you like the sci-fi of Michael Marshall Smith, you may find a few similarities in the humour. The afore-mentioned transgender character is treated, as one might expect, with respect and, as a whole, the whole thing is lots of fun. I am not sure if I would pay for this but as a freebie it was pretty good.

So much so that I have downloaded more of her books in the series for future reading!

Summary: A not bad, very clever slice of free sci-fi.” – Mark Woods.

Christina Engela Builds Her Sci-fi Universe Fast And Well

“Agents from the Time Saving Agency (TSA) has to guard the ‘Anals’ of History from Time Terrorism. Brad Xyl a Time Terrorist has escaped from the Limbo Practicale and now it is up to our Agent Scrooby to take him out or Xyl will blow up the universe.

Christina Engela builds her sci-fi universe fast and well. She does not mess about with boring fluffy descriptions. To do this she utilizes a lot of creative acronyms, concepts and humor. Usually when an author introduces so much with such a lightning speed I would struggle to keep up but here it was definitely not the case. The story just speeds along merrily and I am constantly enjoying being introduced to a cast of new characters.

I really enjoyed Brad Xyl. He was by far my favorite character. As bad guys go he really kicked ass and somewhat came across as a fabulous rock star. The omnivorous Crabby-Grass was intruding and I liked that Christina incorporated a little dog Vluffy that was the cutest little thing ever.

This story includes Cindy-Mei Winter a trans-lady. It is a real pleasure to have such a character in this story. As a gay man, I have experienced how affirming it can be to read stories of other gay men falling in love and living their lives. So it is not that hard to imagine that trans-youth would experience the same reading a novella with a trans-character. An insightful quote from Cindy-Mei Winter in this book, “She judged the tendency to reject people for things which in no way affect them to be at worst some kind of borderline insanity…”

A Science Fiction story filled with wit, humor and sarcasm. This novella includes some very creative characters and concepts. Rating: 4 Stars out of 5″ – Mr. Green.

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If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.

 

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  1. Anything This Pirated HAS To Be Good! | The Crow Bar
    April 26, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

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