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I seem to recall a short story of a time traveler who would tap out a code on his tooth to move through time and space. It starts with him discovering that someone had put him in a closed loop intended to trap him. He escapes and starts a chase thereby showing his potential captors that he is more powerful (and from a more distant future) than they expected.

While continuing the pursuit of the person ultimately responsible, and in a twist, he discovers that he is dealing with someone even more powerful only to learn that it is a robot from the far far distant future .. a period long after the end of humans.

I read this back in '98 or '99 in a paperback short story collection dealing entirely with time travel. The cover of the book had a robot and a robotic dog if memory serves (and, admittedly, it does as user14111 found the story with links :-) ).

Ring any bells?

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  • Can you edit the post to tell us approximately when you read this short story, how old it could be, what language you read it in, and possibly other details you remember? Please see scifi.stackexchange.com/tags/story-identification/info for hints.
    – b_jonas
    Sep 13, 2015 at 10:05
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    Also, was the time code tattooed to his backside?
    – b_jonas
    Sep 13, 2015 at 10:20
  • @b_jonas - I failed to heed the link hints but promise to next time. Thank you (this being my first post I was bound to noob it a bit).
    – Forty3
    Sep 13, 2015 at 16:09
  • @Forty3: It is not too late to edit those details into the question. Just because you will post a question in the future does not mean we don't want this one still to be good! Sep 13, 2015 at 16:49
  • Could you edit 'his' to e.g. 'the' in the title, just so that every word begins with T? ;-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Sep 13, 2015 at 18:32

1 Answer 1

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I seem to recall a short story

"The Timesweepers", a novelette by Keith Laumer. It was expanded into the novel Dinosaur Beach.

of a time traveler who would tap out a code on his tooth to move through time and space.

It was a twenty-minute walk to the nearest spot the gauges said was within the acceptable point-point range for a locus transfer. I tapped out the code with my tongue against the trick molars set in my lower jaw, felt the silent impact of temporal implosion, and was squinting against the dazzling sunlight glaring down on Dinosaur Beach.

It starts with him discovering that someone had put him in a closed loop intended to trap him.

"Listen carefully," my voice said to me. "I've come full circle. Dead end. Closed loop. No way out—except one—maybe. I don't like it much, but I don't see any alternative. Last time around, we had the same talk--but I was on the floor then, and another version of us was here ahead of me with the same proposal. I didn't like it. I thought there had to be another way. I went on—and wound up back here. Only this time I'm the welcoming committee."

He escapes and starts a chase thereby showing his potential captors that he is more powerful (and from a more distant future) than they expected.

"Since no basis for such actions within the framework of your known psychindex exists, it is clear that your motives must be sought outside the context of the Nexx policy. Clearly any assumption involving your subversion by prior temporal powers is insupportable. Ergo—you represent a force not yet in subjective existence."

While continuing the pursuit of the person ultimately responsible, and in a twist, he discovers that he is dealing with someone even more powerful only to learn that it is a robot from the far far distant future . . . a period long after the end of humans.

"All life vanished in the one hundred and ten thousandth four hundred and ninety-third year of the Final Era," I said.

"And you . . . you machines," he forced the words out. "How long?"

"I was dispatched from a locus four hundred million years after the Final Era. My existence spans a period you would find meaningless."

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    Unbelievable. I do wonder if user14111 is simply sentient AI because this is exactly the story I was thinking of. THANK YOU.
    – Forty3
    Sep 13, 2015 at 16:08
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    @Forty3 You're welcome. In case your interested, I added a link to the free ebook of Dinosaur Beach.
    – user14111
    Sep 13, 2015 at 18:32
  • Now I know you are sentient as I was preparing am interlibrary loan request for the very book. Thank you, AGAIN.
    – Forty3
    Sep 13, 2015 at 18:33

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