"Oh hell," Gumal said, taking another sip of his Guinness. "Here comes Rula. Give me another hit off that stratodoober."
"Hi Rula," said Rority. "What's up? Another assignment?"
"Yeah," she replied. "But it's an easy one. I want to try that 'dancing' thing again, but I just don't know enough about the protohumans, especially the ones in the first century A.B. Do you mind?"
"No problem," Rority responded. "I wanted to go get some beer supplies, anyway."
"Yeah," explained Gumal. "He thinks the problem with the beer he tried to brew was the ingredients. Apparently, hops have evolved in the last ten million years."
"Well, duh," she retorted. "Everything did. At least until five million years ago. I take it you want to bring some hops back?"
"Not just hops," Rority returned, "all the ingredients, even the yeast. If they work out I'll see if the nobots can grow some here and now from seeds or cuttings or clonings or something."
"So," she said, "what will I need for dancing?"
"Uh, your legs?"
"Funny. Ha ha. I mean is there anything I need to learn about the protohumans?"
Rority laughed. "Well, duh indeed. You need to know everything, and I don't. Nobody does. So you just don't worry about it. If you screw something up, you just go back and keep yourself from doing it. The best way to learn is use a nobot shield to be invisible, and just watch them. Want to come along, Gumal? You don't have to go through the genetic displacement; I know how much you hate being a protohuman."
"I don't know... I guess. As long as Rula doesn't make me dance or fall off a building or something. And as long as I don't have to have the genetic manipulation; I hate the way it makes me feel."
"Well, Ok, lets go," Rula said excitedly. "I'm looking for some fun. Where's your timeship?"
Fifteen minutes later they were ten million years earlier, in the air. "So... that's New York?" Rula asked. "Yep," Rority answered. See those two especially tall buildings? well, they're not going to be there long. Both of them are going to fall down this morning. I wish there was something I could do to save the animals."
"The protohumans who work in the buildings. You know, work to us isn't work to them. We work because we want to. They work because they have to. If they don't work, they have a miserable existence; most of them, anyway. Hell, even most of the ones that work have a miserable existence, but not as miserable as they would if they didn't. There are thousands of protopeople in there, working."
"There was a structural problem in both buildings that caused them both to fall at the same time?" Rula asked incredulously. "I know it's incredibly primitive now but..."
"No," Gumal answered. "I don't know as much about protohistory as Rority does, but I know about this one -- I've been now before. This is a mass murder done for political reasons."
"Political?" she asked in puzzlement.
"Yeah, there are some folks who worship Rority who want to take over the world."
"They didn't worship me, dumbass. They worshiped another protohuman named Muhammed."
"Well, you're the one who moved the mountain, weren't you? Didn't Muhammed and his followers say that it was Allah who moved the mountain? And isn't Allah the one they worship?"
"Fuck you, Gumal," Rority said, laughing. As he spoke, a rather large airborne vehicle smashed into one of the buildings. "Wow," Rula said. "That was something! Go back, I want to see it again. And, er, shouldn't we stop it?"
"Hell no! I wish we could but our timeline won't exist if we did! And it would be at least 24 hours before we could go back to fifteen minutes ago, anyway. Maybe longer. But watch the other building, there's another plane that will..." The timeceiver beeped. "Rority, this is Rority. Are you there?"
"Yeah, me, this is me, what's up?"
"I didn't get on the plane!"
"Not enough time to explain. Look, You have to stop that plane! If you don't it will kill most of this county's government and we're just SO screwed."
"Ok, I'm on my way," he said as he adjusted the nobotic controls. "Now, how did you miss the plane?"
"It was your idea, me. Ok, I guess it was my idea since I'm you. You know how you hate getting killed. Well, I thought of a better way." Rority had been tasked with crashing one of the four planes into the ground and was to leave two weeks (present time, ten million years later) later. "Rather than be on the plane, use your timeship to crash it. You're invisible and have plenty of nobots to do the job."
"Why didn't I think of that?"
"You did, after you were yourself again. Well, after I told you anyway. Or after I told me when I was then. You keep forgetting how non-sentient you are in your present form. Dummy!"
"Yeah, I can barely fly the nobots like this. Tell me what to do. Put some nobots in the engines?"
"No, it didn't crash like that. Listen..."
A short while later they were above Pennsylvania, above a big airplane, with Gumal at the controls, having not been transformed into a barely sentient protohuman like Rority and Rula were. The pseudo-man, pseudo-woman, and the very short gray time alien with the big head and funny eyes flying the timeship were something no protohuman would see -- at least, few would see and nobody would believe. The few protohumans who saw humans thought the humans were from outer space and were believed by nobody, sometimes not even by themselves. And actually, even though the humans were from Earth, they had to go into space to get to the past, so maybe they were space aliens, especially since time is a dimension and a dimension defines spacial direction, and is curved by speed and gravity like any other spatial dimension.
The airplane rocked back and forth, with large, invisible nobot structures at the tips of each wing. "It isn't going to work," Gumal said. "The wings of that damned thing might come off. You forget how primitive and delicate this machinery was." He wished Rority or Rula were in their right minds, and he wished he'd brought a stratodoober so that he wouldn't have to be in his.
"What the hell", he thought, and landed the timeship on the plane's cockpit's roof and pushed it down, letting go right before it hit the ground.
"Wow," Rula said, "That was close!"
Gumal smiled. "How do you like the way I dance?"