Pushing forward into the face of fear
It's no time, other than local time after Snackler is collected unceremoniously by the pod's beam, just a shimmering zip zip and all aboard. No time registers on the gauges for his secret lunch break in Babylon. Only his own memory and an afternoon's worth of aging recorded the event. One moment he was happily nuzzling Beltis. The following moment not even her bones existed. Beltis was only recorded in his memory. She had returned to the molecular dust from which she had come. Likely her atoms mingled and mixed all over the Earth to a degree that not even the ROM computers could track them.
Certainly, other dogs like her continued on, even some named Beltis, but none were his Beltis. There were no melancholy or remorseful feelings for leaving her in Babylon to become the dust of history. All dogs live a full dog life, and then there's heave to consider. Of course, whenever Snackler thought of her and had a free moment, he could return to Muranu's garden. To that ancient time in Babylon where his bitch waited. Marine would always have a fresh pot of meaty stew bubbling and waiting for him.
The position and place nearly solidified into the structure of the past. Yep, they'd be waiting right there for him. So no worries. There is no need to overthink it. Snackler would return to that special place when he got a round-tuit again.
The mission light was blinking with three rapid pulses. Three new missions to complete before mandatory downtime. Crew rest was important and factored into every member of ROM's crew life.
Even though those afternoon naps beside Beltis, snoring happily like a dumb pup were so important to him, they didn't seem to take up any time whatsoever. Except they did. His body clock still kept time in whatever locality he was in. Four hours with Beltis were still four hours of his life. Even though the clock still said 1200 hours inside of his pod. The time could catch up to you. Exhaustion affects your body and mental functions, even for a superior genetically modified canine. ROM tracked it all, and when it became time for crew rest, the pod crew was notified. When the signal came, it would be time to visit the lunchroom and spend time with Laqueesha. Until then, he wouldn't worry about it. There's no sense worrying about something. That is just wasting time. When the time comes, it will be there. Laqueesha will be there, and he will get all the sumptuous macaroons he needed to sustain himself.
Snackler lazily pawed at the touch screen, bringing up the details of the next mission on his display. Snackler grasped and understood each mission. ROM had never assigned him a mission beyond his capability. He was always assigned missions that suited his personality and makeup. Snackler was bright, no, not bright. He was more like brilliant. He rarely needed to study a mission plan past the initial briefing. He got it. Understanding the concept and breadth of his responsibilities.
Usually, the missions were fairly simple. His telepathic abilities made it simple to influence someone to change their mind. He could make a mental suggestion and cause a leader to make a different decision. Whenever a decision is made, the world splits off into a new direction, and history is changed. ROM tracked these splits. At times the probability caught up with them, and a new change to erase the previous change had to be made. Snackler didn't mind. He had become accustomed to treading through familiar scenery and making different changes. Some of the historical figures he met repeatedly started to feel like his old friends. They became more than just history to him.
"Well, I may as well get to it." Snackler thought, accepting the next mission.
The pod dutifully moved into position parking just outside the 18th century. The Pennsylvania countryside smelled fresh. Woodsmoke in the distance let Snackler know what direction to set off in.
George was a character. Snackler saw through his outer facade and knew what scared the man. This was his third time in Pittsburgh, and this young colonial had no idea of his future. At this time, all he was worried about was staying on his mount and keeping a stoic face. He did not want to die looking like a coward might. His real fear was to appear as a coward. This was a brave man, and he always pushed forward in the face of his fears.
This mission was a happy one for Snackler. Two previous missions had seen George's death. Once, a bullet to his head, straight through his tricorn cap and into his skull. It had been instant and painless, but the intended historical change had taken the world in a far worse direction.
The second mission had killed him again. This time a bullet through his breast had left him agonizing and in pain for days before he had yet again perished.
Today, the Frenchman that had finished him off the previous two times would be distracted. Pierre waited his musket at his shoulder. When the English came down the hill, he would concentrate on the riders. He was disciplined. Snackler knew it. He was a veteran of many skirmishes with the English. He knew that a wasted shot wasted valuable time on the battlefield, unlike some of the younger men who would fire in the general direction just for the opportunity to take a knee and reload. Pierre knew each shot must make a mark, or they would lose this fight.
There was a young Englishman on his horse. Pierre took aim and waited. He didn't notice the dog that had come to sit by his side. Snackler sensed Pierre's timing and knew when he was about to shoot. At that time, he jumped up, startling the young Frenchman, and licked him across his face. Pierre's shot was high, and the English's cap, but not his brains, became the target.
"Sacrebleu! Le Chien!" The damn dog had caused Pierre to miss his shot.
He waived at the dog with his rod, but he had already slipped behind the line of French and Indian men. George had just missed out on being brained by Pierre. This would be enough of a time change to cause the next volley of rounds to miss the young George entirely. His horse and jacket would suffer, but George would survive the day with only a few bruises from falling off his horse. All of them involved that day became the dust of the future, but the memory of George would not. Snackler didn't dwell on it. He liked George, but the pod's beam was already pulling at him. Snackler watched George lose his horse one more time. The beam tugged him, and then he landed on his butt inside the cleansing chamber. The dust and bacteria of the 18th century had to be removed. The dog looked forward to the cleansing. Its stimulation was pleasant. Snackler shook a little and then stepped out into ROM.