Sylvia Pho Destroys the World

Destroying the world is easy, barely even costs $20. Anyone working in Paradox would tell you so, especially Sylvia Pho. When time travel was invented, thousands of think-pieces and conspiracy theories warned about how disastrous time travel would be, but none of them came even close to guessing its true destructive power.

How Sylvia Pho managed to become an agent of Paradox was a mystery to anyone who had worked with her. She was a nice young woman, they supposed, but really, had she even had one successful mission?

The answer to that was yes, she had exactly one success. Her job had been to slap an up-and-coming supervillain when they were turned down by the crush they were stalking. Pho got stellar reviews on that job.

But normally, Pho's jobs went somewhat like this: She arrived in the past, she took two steps, she was called back to the future as Paradox sent a team to reverse the damage that had been done, and the future stopped unraveling.

Rinse, repeat.

Most jobs done by Paradox did not go very well, but Sylvia Pho was astonishingly bad. It might have been smart for Paradox to give up on time travel, but they had already started, and at this point, they were barely holding the threads of their future together.

By these standards, Pho's latest mission was going quite well. Her job this time was to trip a woman who was one straw away from breaking and releasing all her pent-up anger. Seemed quite rude to do to a woman who was barely holding on to control and hadn't done anything wrong yet, but Pho hadn't joined Paradox to debate morals. Pho didn't know why she had joined Paradox, maybe to impress her family?

The market circle Pho was waiting in was crowded, and the already hot day was becoming unbearable in this mass of bodies. Pho sat down on a bench and tried to separate herself from everyone else. The lady who was about to sit there gave her a stink eye Pho didn't notice, then headed into a cafe where she would meet a government agent who would hire her, and boom, there went Pho's mission.

Or at least, it should have.

Surprisingly, though she didn't know it, the future didn't call her back then, even though she'd already caused enough damage to warrant it.

Perhaps they'd finally given up on protecting their linear timeline, finally recognizing how tenuous existence was.

A harried woman who Pho recognized from her very brief briefing hurried across the square. She was clutching her purse tightly and looked like she was about to start sobbing.

And so Pho did her job, and tripped the woman.

If Pho was a good agent, what happened next might have gone exactly as Paradox planned. Pho, having done her job, would have travelled back to the future, and her score of successes would have risen from one to two. Ignoring the fact that Pho had already ruined the mission via the government lady.

Pho however, was so used to being forcefully called back that she forgot on a normal mission, she herself was supposed to press the return button.

The woman Pho had just tripped, the woman with the murder power rising right to the surface, looked up at Pho and they locked eyes.

What was supposed to happen was that the woman, not having a clear target, would direct her rage at the moving mass of people, as history dictated. However, now there was a clear target, Pho.

And so the woman murdered Sylvia Pho.

And so changed the future, Sylvia Pho's world unraveling.

But a new future was born.

In that future, the world might have been destroyed, but it might not have, for it was ever changing and morphing.

When time travel was created, no one recognized that time was an ever changing mass, and that trying to hold it together would never work, and any and every action would change the future. For so long, Paradox tried, with little success, to stabilize the ever-shifting ball of time.

Then Sylvia Pho died, and that future was gone. Sylvia Pho destroyed the world, and maybe that was for the best. It would have happened eventually anyway.