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Prompt 005: Time Traveler
5. A time traveler from the future says that he needs your help to right some wrongs in the past. Do you trust this stranger and help him on his mission? Why or why not? After your decision, what happens next?
Synopsis: A spacecraft comes crashing to Earth after a rough landing. I happen to be in the woodlands of Ohio on a camping trip in late Autumn, and witness the crash in the remote farmlands. Upon investigating, I find the pilot still alive: a now-crippled human scientist who announces that he is from the far distant future. He is a time traveler, who traveled back in time to save the Earth from certain environmental collapse and destruction.
I offer to take him to the hospital in (relatively) nearby Columbus for treatment, but he insists that due to the urgency of his mission, he must rely on my assistance to deliver news and scientific equipment stored on his time-traveling spacecraft. He also announces that if I am to assist him, I must subject myself to supposed "neuro-enhancers" that will provide me with the technical knowledge and ability required in a dramatically-reduced period of time. He also warns that law enforcement officers from his own time period will eventually decode his scrambled travel signature, so work must be done quickly. Once he delivers that message, he collapses due to exhaustion and deeply sleeps. I am confused, but see no other way forward than to begin the process.
Making sure he is stable and warm at my campsite, I turn my attention to the contents of his spacecraft. I follow his instructions to uncover the neuro-enhancers: a canister of a gas that is inhaled. I don what looks to be a small gasmask, and open the valves. Trillions of microscopic, mechanical automata are absorbed into my bloodstream. They head straight for the nervous system, augmenting my brain with the knowledge of several hundred years' worth of scientific, engineering, and mechanical knowledge.
Once the augmentation is complete, I set immediately to work. I had since learned that time travel can only occur away from the Earth's surface - in the relative void of outer space - so as to avoid "geologic disturbance" that would sunder the time-traveling spaceship if it remained grounded on the planet. After repairing the ship, I load my sleeping scientist friend in the craft, use his biometric information (ocular scanning and handprint) to activate it. We fly into space, and I activate the time-travel mechanism to move back in time to what would translate to about 200,000 B.C. I expertly land the craft in the vast plains of what is now known as South Africa.
Once landed, I use my newly-acquired scientific knowledge to craft what would be considered a "hydrochloric bomb" that would infuse the affected landscape with a spongy layer of aqua regia: the fabled chemical composed of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid that dissolves gold. Ascending once again into the atmosphere, I launch the bombs in rapid succession, penetrating the deepest recesses of the Earth's crust with the chemical. All gold as deep as a mile into the Earth's crust is instantly obliterated and turned into crystalline matter, while the resulting chlorine gas eventually wafts into the atmosphere, combining with nearly all other present elements in short time.
I repeat the same processes in the northern regions of the North American continent, over what is known as central Canada and the Dakotas, as well as Nevada. My vast scientific knowledge permits me to fashion dynamite to expose the massive gold reserves in China and Russia. I repeat the process, reducing the region's gold reserves into complex crystalline structures, with chlorine gas eventually bonding with the atmosphere and water of the region.
We ascend to the upper atmosphere again, and return to the present time. I land, and almost instantaneously the time-traveling ship begins to disintegrate. I'm still in the fields of Ohio, but the air seems cleaner, the wilderness more vibrant and full of life. The scientist never awakens from his coma. His pursuers never arrive. I return to my campsite, and see that it is not a tent: it is a reed-and-grass shelter. I no longer have a car; instead I have a tricycle with a small trailer attached. I break camp and after nestling the scientist on my cycle's trailer, I head back to the village of Columbia. Only 35 more miles...