here is a concept: time travel cop, fish & wildlife division

most of their job is dealing with the kinds of assholes who think black market tiger cubs are a great idea right up until someone gets mauled, except these are even bigger assholes with black market Smilodon cubs that they are even less equipped to care for

this is the most straightforward and therefore relatively headache-free part of their job, because it’s the same “put that thing back where it came from or so help me” song and dance every time

it’s also significantly less depressing than the trophy hunters who don’t even want an alive extinct animal. those are extra annoying because you have to undo the time travel that let them kill that poor Megatherium or thylacine or anklyosaur or whatever, and it’s always so much extra paperwork.

and those people suck, definitely, and have fully earned a stint in Time Jail. no question. but they still do not create anywhere near as much work as the obsessive hobbyists with their exhaustively careful best practices and worryingly good track-covering. also, weirdly, it’s almost always birds with them?

like. the guys who will flagrantly abuse Time Law to bird-nap breeding pairs just long enough to raise one clutch of eggs apiece, and return them seamlessly to their spots on the timeline. who are so determined to keep their pet (ha) projects going that no one even realizes what they’re doing until they have an entire stable breeding population of passenger pigeons up and running. who are now the reason that reps from six different zoos are about to start throwing hands right in front of you over who gets dibs.

those guys cause the most paperwork. and half the time they’re snapped up by the same zoo or wildlife preserve that gets their colony of ivory-billed woodpeckers or Carolina parakeets or — once, very memorably — giant fucking South Island moa, and they never even spend a day in Time Jail.

Ooh! There have been a few “surprise, not extinct!” events recently, again weirdly almost always birds, though occasionally fish. What if they really did go extinct, but someone from 2459 went back to 1900, built up a minimum breeding population in 2459, and then released them into the wild in 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015? Releasing new groups every five years in our century would avoid a sudden suspicious population surge and no one would think to look for the culprit in their own century because Jerdon’s Babbler (real-world example, rediscovered in 2014) has always been there/then.

You could build a novel around the relationship between the time cop and the rogue bird lover. The time cop caught the bird lover over the passenger pigeons. They went to time jail for 10 years outside the timeline, and then were hired to manage the passenger pigeons by an accredited zoo’s. The time cop suspects they’re still up to something, but other than the passenger pigeons, all they appear to be doing is raising research colonies of perfectly ordinary birds. Except all the species they’re working with were believed to be extinct at one point….

One thing real world zoos do now is…well…something like elven changelings if you think about it. They time the mating of a captive breeding pair to that of an isolated wild breeding pair in places where inbreeding is a serious risk. Then they swap a captive-born offspring for a wild-born–each breeding pair unknowingly raising a foster. Both zoos and the wild population get improved genetic diversity, without the risk inherent in “rewilding” a zoo-born adult. Doing that with birds and time travel would be even easier–grab an egg, take it to the future, raise and breed it, take an egg back to the original nest. The original parents raise their grandchild, not their child.

The hardest part for me would be explaining why the time cop thought this was wrong!

oh I love all of this. i think the time cop would eventually just be like “PLEASE get a license from an accredited zoo already so i can stop having to deal with you” but the accredited zoos aren’t on board with the “release into the wild 200 years ago” part of the scheme

and also our rogue bird enthusiast has a white whale and that white whale is Haast’s eagle

A secondary character could be the person responsible for saving cheetahs from extinction twice, 100,000 years ago and again 12,000 years ago. Alternately the idiot who caused the two near extinctions.

Or no, the cheetahs were an early legal attempt at extinction reversal that spurred the creation of the laws our rogue bird enthusiast is flouting. Cheetahs were hunted to near extinction by time travelers 100,000 years ago. The reestablished breeding population was so low that it led to the second near extinction 12,000 years ago–and the species’s whole precarious existence since. Both hunting safaris and extinction reversal were banned at the same time.

Cheetahs are so inbred that any two unrelated cheetahs have a better chance of matching for a skin graft than two human siblings do. As the saying goes, cheetahs never win.

oh man. so the version of this that’s rapidly coalescing in my head is very Parks & Rec/B99 in tone and style, which is why the department has to have a cartoon mascot that everyone is deeply embarrassed by. I was going to have it be a dodo (“don’t be a dodo, kids! leave the integrity of the timestream intact!”) but now I think it has to be a cheetah

additional worldbuilding:

a good chunk of their job is just accompanying legit researchers on authorized expeditions, which is boring as hell and mostly involves saying “no don’t touch that” every two minutes.

sometimes the authorized expedition is to a place that’s gonna get obliterated by a volcano in 48 hours, and there is at least one member of the department who thinks he should be allowed to bring a dune buggy/parasail/dirt bike/future extreme sport item of choice when this happens. he is not, and he is mad about it.

there is a tropical fish enthusiast working in the department. her home aquarium setup has completely flawless paperwork for every species, and anyone who says any of them were ever extinct is a filthy liar.

one of the sergeants is a Neanderthal. his name is Dave. technically he doesn’t need a job because he could live off the massive lawsuit settlement he won for being abducted from the Upper Paleolithic as a toddler by a well-meaning bioarchaeologist, but he likes to keep busy. he’s not complaining about having indoor plumbing and vaccines and all, but jeez, people, there are limits, y’know? he has a minnesota accent and this is never acknowledged or explained.

the season 1 finale revolves around a tank of extremely poisonous dart frogs that may or may not have gotten loose in the office. or the tank is empty because their removal from the timestream was successfully prevented. it’s definitely one of those.


#story ideas I will never write #time travel #this probably deserves some warning tag but I am not sure what #this post was queued because my to-reblog list is too long and I didn’t want to dump it on you all at once

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