The next day – a special Thursday – all of the Survivors – both the Tools and the Synergists – gathered on a single beach to express their thanks that they had not been eliminated. As they stood there a brief flash of green lit up the sky. It was gone in a second, and, wafting down from where it had been, was a single sheet of paper. It landed at the feet of Sir Assheton Pownall.

“Attention, all who are gathered hereupon,” said Assheton. “We have received a communique.”
“Hey everyone! We got a letter! Love ya!” rocked Glitter.
“Mysterious!” said Norway.
“That’s pretty frightening” said A Really Scary Mummy.
“Maybe it’s a recipe!” said Pie and Humberto at exactly the same time.
“Maybe it’s a word problem, gang!” roared Mathasauraus!
“I’ll investigate what it is!” said Gidget.
“I’d suggest a comprehensive analysis of the matter it presents on, but what do I know, I’m only working on my third Ph.D.” opined Gloria.
“Won’t that involve cuttin’ it up? Pew pew pew!” said Cutty.
“Well then, we should make a copy!” suggested Mitosis.
“One of you plebes can handle that menial task,” said Gaspar Fopsworth von Belsig.
“Them’s fighting words!” said Emile.
“Peace, my friends. There are some blank pages in my book of scripture we can use.” The thought, from Jesus H. Buddha, was somehow placed in the head of all those gathered.
“Uhh… oops. Dern it.” said Eddie.
“Don’t be troubled, my friends! Copying is out of the question, but we can still figure it out with the power of focus. If we focus on reading the words, we, too, can learn what this document is all about!” encouraged Mitch.

And with that, the Survivors took a close look at what was written on the page:


OCTOBER 29 1:15 PM
I’ve just discovered that this can be used to record what’s happening to me. When I have more time I’ll set down a full account, in the hopes that if the scientists find this they can piece together what may have gone wrong. The short version is that I am trapped on an island with a quacking plethora of weird characters, and I don’t know how to be released. I can still travel through time, but eventually I always end up back here. The island (actually islands) is controlled by a shadowy figure known only as Noe Vakh. We get strange instructions, and I believe he intends to kill us one by one. I have to go now. We’ve been summoned to the minefields, which are every bit as terrifying as they seem.

OCTOBER 30 12:59 PM
By some miracle nobody has died in the minefields yet. It seems that we are just laying traps for the other team. I assume they must be doing the same for us. Noe Vakh is diabolical. Have I mentioned the other team yet? There used to be three teams, and three islands. They seem to float, rather than stay fixed. I have to assume that Noe Vakh can control them. My team was quiet, but I was attempting to foment rebellion, when the islands all came together, and we could talk freely. We set up a trading market between us, but I did not trade well. What do I know, I’m a duck, not a shopkeeper. The market was abruptly destroyed before I could truly understand it, and each team was forced to eliminate one player. I can only assume that “eliminate” is code for kill. Poor Chet was destroyed, and for nothing. Chet just loved loud things, and dirt. He was not the first to go, either. We had to eliminate the giant as well. I never had the chance to get to know him, but I think I would have liked him. After the destruction of the market, Noe Vakh forcibly deported and rearranged us. Some of my former team is on the other island. I try to fly over but they wave me away. I can see the fear in their eyes. I know we must move against Noe Vakh, but how? How do you fight what you cannot see? And who can I trust? I hope the next few days will give me the answers… Of course, I keep up my training. One must continue to use the time portals in order for them to remain effective. I can keep up my practice in the arts, but I always end up back on this island, and I cannot make my way to the scientists. That path remains closed. I wonder if they know I am here, or if this was part of their plan. For all of the genetic engineering, I remain a humble duck. The aims of the scientists remain a mystery to me. For now, I worry about the aims of Noe Vakh.

OCTOBER 31 1:30 PM
Noe Vakh has issued a directive. Rather than traverse the minefield, we have to tell him the path we WOULD take to traverse the minefield. Then he tells us where we would have died, if he had made us walk it. This sort of mental torture is becoming common. He behaves as if there is a correct path, but I suspect there is not. Sometimes there is more than one mine in a single spot! Eventually he will get bored, and then I am sure he will start making us try our paths for real… perhaps if I flap quickly he won’t notice that I’m not actually touching the ground? Of course that’s ridiculous. No duck can do that. I had a dream last night that all of my teammates were wearing masks, but the masks were just their regular faces. When they removed them, they had different faces underneath, all human faces! Seeing a human face on Mathasaurus! was one of the most horrifying things that I can recall. I still shudder.

Somehow we lost the challenge. Noe Vakh forced us to choose someone to walk across the minefield that we hadn’t solved yet. Ambidextrous Jon drew the short straw, and we were all forced to watch as he attempted his best guess at the safe path through. It was not correct. I don’t think there was an atom of him left. It’s every bit as horrific as I had feared. After I flew away as fast as I could, entered the time portal and flew back in time as far as my wings would go. When I couldn’t beat them anymore I stopped, exhausted, and collapsed on the ground. I was too tired to cry. There was no sound. I sat for a long time in a meadow, listening, but there was no sound at all. Suddenly a great beast, perhaps a relative of Mathasaurus!, came charging out of the nearby forest. He moved quickly, and I had to take to the air fast to avoid being his dinner. Once he realized that I was out of reach, he slithered back to the forest, and entered it via a path that only he could see. And then I got an idea. Perhaps there is a way to stop Noe Vakh. Perhaps he can be brought down by his own game. But do I dare to put my plan into action? Do I dare rock the universe? Can I?

It’s been a busy flying week for me, but no less busy on the island. Fortunately, in Noe Vakh’s new challenge, I was not required to do much. I simply had to hold the end of a Red Rover line, and wait. And so wait I did. The other island took the worst of the game, as Mathasaurus! and The Mysterious Norway had us drilling like generals. I fear that they don’t see me as useful. They haven’t realized that my ability to fly is a strength, and can be used. Perhaps they see me as a coward, but I feel they are going about this war all wrong. The other island is not our enemy. But none will join me in standing against Noe Vakh, and so it may be that we are all lost. There is not a Spartaduck amongst them, I am afraid. The other island abandoned Lieutenant Borf to his fate, and we will not likely see his equal again. Perhaps a bit more time spent cultivating the connections that I have already made will serve me better. We can do more, they must be made to see this! Were the lead scientist here he would remind me that Noe Vakh’s “position of strength is his true weakness.” I will meditate on this, and see if it makes any more sense now than it used to.

NOVEMBERr 15 7:20 PM
I am running out of time. Ironic, as the scientists told me that time was mine to command. There is much that they don’t yet understand about time travel. But I cannot digress now, time truly runs short. Winnie is dead. The poor Screw Bear was a friend, but he’s dead. We happened upon his body dangling from a tree. Noe Vakh claimed that it was suicide, but the pieces don’t fit. Of course, none of us can prove anything, and even if we could, what can be done? He holds all the cards, and we do his bidding. But if I can get the time portals open, perhaps I can get all of us out of here! It’s never been tried before, but can it be done? I must try.

I have been trying to untangle the time streams. I think that’s what has occurred; the streams have been knotted together. I do not think this can happen accidentally. But who possesses the power to do such a thing. The scientists never mentioned anything of the sort, or indicated that it was a danger. But I do know of someone who possesses the power to cause earthquakes. Is it possible that Noe Vakh also possesses quantum powers? Can it be he that has trapped me here? Whatever the answer, I do not believe he has noticed my activities in the time portals. Perhaps he is not watching me. I suppose he is unaware of my training, I am not a mere soldier, I am a trained duck in my own right. But perhaps I shouldn’t say more, in case he has found a way to monitor my diary…

NOVEMBER 20 12:30 PM
I am sure I am near success with the time streams. I can see through some that were blocked before, but have not yet found my way to the lab in Constantinople. It’s only a matter of time. I had to help my team answer trivia questions. Noe Vakh claimed it was a test of wits. It was, I confess, the least stressful of our challenges yet. I nearly enjoyed myself. I was almost able to forget the horrors that came before today. At the end of the challenge, though, I heard a scream from the other island. The Captain was found floating in the bay this morning. I didn’t know him well, but I shudder to think that a single wrong question from one of us, and it would have been one of us. I will redouble my efforts today.

NOVEMBER 22 3:15 AM Damn and quack it all! There is a squalling duckling somewhere! I cannot sleep, and I cannot focus on the time portals. I do not understand what is happening.

NOVEMBER 23 3:30 PM I habe veen dringkin teqwuila all day. It is mu bithhhhheday. Go duck it’s a birthsday.

NOVEMBER 25 12:30 PM
My hangover from my birthday has finally receded. I am nearly through the time portal. I have isolated the lab stream, and I see that it was especially targeted in the stream knotting. I believe I will soon have it free. I stopped for a bit and found there was another challenge ongoing. My team needed me, and I very nearly let them down. I successfully completed my assigned challenge, but it will not do to put them in danger before I have found a way out.
3:17 PM
Lab portal is free! I can’t wait to go back. I’ve been thinking about the raven-haired scientist a lot recently. When I get back, I’ll tell her how I feel. Life is too short, and you never know how long you have with a person. I know I’m a duck and she’s a human, but why would I let that stop me now? We’ll find a way to make it work.

NOVEMBER 26 11:30 AM
We lost the most recent challenge. What’s more, the stream is too unstable to be sure of anything more than one crossing. I cannot take anyone with me. But at least none of my teammates has to die. I will offer myself as a sacrifice. Before Noe Vakh can get me, I’ll fly through the portal. It should work. I’ll come back to save them if I can. The raven-haired scientist may be able to help, since portal stability is her area of expertise. This will also give me an excuse to be alone with her. Ah, I can’t wait to get back!

“Hmm,” said Dave, expressing what everyone else was thinking, “If only we had recieved it sometime around two days ago, then we could have had some warning.”