Or how story ideas form here. Brace yourself! Keep arms and legs tucked it and your seat locked in the upright position. If symptoms persist, consult your physician. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
First, the background, just to show how things come together in my head. This past week, I watched Tremors 5: Bloodlines, a fun film that fits in with the other Tremors movies. Michael Gross is back as Burt Gummer, survivalist and the world's foremost Graboid expert. Burt is an interesting character; Gross plays the character as serious but still lets people in with humour. Burt's been through tough times, losing his favourite rifle and his wife, Heather, after she left him. He's sympathetic and is often the only sane man because of his experiences dealing with creatures older than mankind.
For whatever reason, after watching the movie and the special features on the DVD, I flashed on the British series, Primeval and its licensed RPG and began wondering how a Burt Gummer would handle dinosaur incursions. Probably quite well, until someone reminds him that killing time-displaced dinosaurs will mess up history. That's when my thoughts turned into how to let Burt shoot dinosaurs without wrecking the flow of time, leading to the new story concept.
Picture, if you will, invaders from the future, trying to remake Earth into a world they need. To that end, the invaders send megafauna to lay waste and to seed our world for their purposes. On Earth's side, there is a small group who is dedicated to fighting off the invaders, no matter when and where they show up. At this point, I'm filing off serial numbers, so Burt is going to become someone else, inspired by Burt Gummer but going his own way. A survivalist who lives off the grid, he's recruited because he's off the grid. The recruiter has trouble finding him, but that same trouble makes my not-Burt ideal for the team; the invaders won't know enough about him from historical records.
However, one man does not a team make. Someone has to be able to point out to not-Burt who he is allowed to shoot, and that someone is a combat historian. Think someone like Daniel Jackson in the later seasons of Stargate SG-1; experienced and knowledgeable. The Agency* isn't sure how time works and wants to make sure that their agents' actions don't accidentally wipe out the solar system in a paradox-caused singularity. If time is like a river, able to flow around eddies in the timestream, then there is room for error. But if time lines split, then care needs to be taken to avoid too many changes. Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff just causes Agency researchers to drink heavily.
Notice there isn't a plot yet, just character and setting ideas. Just writing this down reminded my of one question I hadn't thought of - can the Agency send people forward? For now, no; there's a temporal barrier or an energy cost that the Agency can't get around. The Agency can send a team back in time, but it's relying on the invaders use of time travel to do the heavy work. It's a kludge, but it's all the Agency has while it tries to work out just how the invaders are travelling.
This idea won't be ready for November this year. For every question answered, I get at least two more questions. Some of it can be handwaved right now; the characters have no idea, so I can let them guess at how things work. At some point, I will need to know just how the invaders are manipulating time and why they're making such an effort, without creating a paradox.
Welcome to my mind.
* Capitalized because agencies that have time travel capability tend to be capitalized even when vaguely named.