(excerpted from Weird Luck, book one in the City of the Watcher trilogy)
…Aleck looked around. Everywhere he saw murder. He heard the motorcycle passing by, at the edge of the arena.
“I’m here,” said Aleck. “It’s happening now. I can’t just do nothing. I won’t. I saw your Cannibal-King, and he looked sane to me. He’s a warrior, but not a mass-murderer.”
“You don’t get it,” said Old Aleck. “If you travel back in time like we did, you’ll be able to make it so that none of this ever happened. There’s no hurry! Write a better Guidebook. Find out what broke the Skull. Summon a peaceful Cannibal-King. Who knows! But jump the gun like this, and he could turn out even worse. He could come here with an H-bomb!”
Aleck crossed his arms and closed his eyes in thought. “But why don’t I just go talk to him now, and if it doesn’t work, try it your way when I grow up?”
“Because what if he shoots you,” said Beth. “If you don’t grow up, you don’t get that second chance.”
“I wouldn’t risk it,” said Old Aleck.
“Well then I guess you’re not me after all,” said Aleck, grabbing the handlebars of the fallen pink bicycle. He swung onto it, jumped down on the far pedal, and sped away. They chased after him, Old Aleck falling behind on foot, Beth on her rickety bicycle.
Akaz kept pace with him. “You’re nuts,” he said to Aleck. “And you’re annoying me. This situation is fucking fine, as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t need those hippies complicating it with their ethical handcuffs. Goromath and Apraxos are doomed. Melkhaios is gonna get burned clean of their lousy influence, and we can turn it into a goddamn eternal party like it was intended to be.”
Aleck ignored him, pedaling as hard as he could, following the sound of the motorcycle. Overhead he saw a richly decorated Herax ship, flying away towards the Herax Zone.
“Damn it, Aleck,” Akaz continued, “You can’t even conceive how much goddamn effort I put into this. I hadn’t crossed the Spiral Mounds in years, till you flew us to the God-Dog from Billycutter’s Tunnel. And I’ve completely restrained myself from attacking Apraxos directly.”
“What about when you jumped into Blood Eagle’s mouth?” asked Aleck. The motorcycle headed into a tunnel out of the Circus, following beneath the fancy Herax ship.
“Possession doesn’t count!” snapped Akaz. “That’s indirect. And I only did it under insane circumstances, in the Well, which created a Haugermath resonance to clean my karma of it. Dammit, I haven’t killed a Herax in a hundred years! I don’t want you wasting all that effort by starting a Train Wreck!”
Aleck rode into a tunnel half-lit by firelight.
“What do you think is gonna happen,” shouted Akaz, “when all you people from parallel realities, all with Weird Luck, are simultaneously trying to alter the course of history?” His voice fell to a whisper. “We’re surrounded by dominoes, Aleck. Everything we do has side effects.”
“And I’m going to prevent some of them,” said Aleck. “Try and stop me, if you want.”
“If I could rip yer fuckin’ throat out right now, I would!” snarled Akaz. “Unfortunately, that would start a Train Wreck for sure at this point!”
They exited the tunnel. Aleck saw the man with the rifle take aim from the back of the moving motorcycle. He fired at the fancy Herax ship; the motorcycle wobbled slightly from the recoil. Lightning flashed up the mainmast. Something resembling mist peeled away from the sail and dispersed into the air. The ship sank quickly and smashed into the ground, breaking open, rolling onto its side, and skidding into a building. The motorcycle rode up close and the man dismounted, hefting his rifle. The woman followed suit, drawing a pistol from her hip. They both wore sleeveless army shirts, ragged blue jeans, and boots.
“Don’t go up there!” snarled Akaz.
Aleck pedaled fast up the street towards the wreck….