I have a character that has the ability to slap people into next week (give or take a few days). The character has two people with them trying not to get caught by the government. Assume they are both trained in the killing and maiming arts (shooting, punching, stabbing, etc). This character can also kind of control how far in the future they slap people. A tap could be a few hours, and a big WHAP could be two weeks.

So now you know the time traveling team, let's talk about the government. Assume they have at their disposal; local PDs, HPs, state BIs, SWAT teams, plus agents from the FBI, CIA, HS, and other stuff. So, any government agency.

This might seem a bit one sided, BUT the time traveling team has a hacker friend who was able to erase them off the grid and get them randomizing IDs/credit cards/whatever (they can't be tracked via credit cards, cars, phones, whatever) AND they get early warnings of whenever the government finds them (a few hours to two days) AND facial recognition doesn't work on them (but if some random FBI agent was watching the Walmart checkout, they would see them). Basically, the government has to see you physically to be able to know where you are.

Some other details:

  • the slapper can't slap themselves forward in time
  • whenever slapped forward in time, the slapped don't feel anything, the scene just changes to whatever it is when they come back from no-time
  • the slapped reappear within 10 feet of the slapper after getting slapped in time, with all clothes, guns, stuff they were holding, etc
  • the government is trying to keep the public from finding out, but can do shootouts in the middle of the streets if they come up with a good cover story
  • assume modern day technology, cultures, buildings, whatever

So what tracking methods or whatever would the government use to find and capture these three on the time travel team?

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Sep 1, 2020 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ How close to my skin/body does the slap have to be? Also, how skilled/trained a fighter is this person (the Slapper)? $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2020 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ Does the slapped reappear within 10 feet of the slappening, or the slapper whereever they happen to be? $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2020 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ @VaradMahashabde, wherever they happen to be $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2020 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ "Facial recognition does not work on them" is almost as scifi as slapping people into next week. $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2020 at 23:29

4 Answers 4


Before facial recognition, the CIA/FBI and other ops departments compiled teams of analysts who would hunt through all sorts of data tracking past and present information from phone records to shopping habits to street cameras to personnel reports, to create a profile of their target and anticipate movement, then engage field teams to cover anticipated intersections.

If you want to provide tension for your team, think of the vulnerabilities they most fear and assume the government has thought of it and will exploit it. Also assume the govt. will eventually catch on to hacker activity/inside info and will employ red herrings to pressure the team into acting in predictable ways.

Since the goal would be to prevent slapping, multiple snipers at range with a ground team ready to collect the bodies, or a ground team designed to force them into a killbox where a sniper or team of snipers can get a clear shot. If capturing is the goal, then tranquilizers would be used ahead of bullets.

The exact power almost doesn't matter since any physical contact can potentially cause a time shift, BUT since the slapper can't slap themselves forward and the slapped will reappear within 10 feet and the authorities know this, they might elect to swarm the slapper using basic crowd control methods to restrict movement. Even if a few get bopped into the future, they'll show up again within striking distance, fully armed, or at the very least they could appear with tracking devices, giving the feds a solid lead on the slapper's location.

There's a lot of ambiguity in this scenario and a lot of opportunity to create tension, but hopefully this gives you a few ideas.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is the right answer and I think it's notable that when you look at it closely, these are the same tactics FBI etc. would use against any armed and dangerous individual. The super power doesn't actually end up mattering all that much--it's actually the hacker friend that is the star of the show (and, by the way, that sort of complete invisibility against motivated federal surveillance is itself also at the level of magical super power). $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2020 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ I agree that the slapping powers wouldn't matter. I'd even argue that as long as he is really just using his slapping against people, that's way less dangerous than anyone using a gun. Not only is it a melee 'weapon' that is not lethal (it doesn't even hurt more than their feelings), it also gives anyone he hits a second chance to catch him off-guard. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Sep 2, 2020 at 14:01

The slapper can only send his friends to the future, and cannot slap himself. Plus, the slapped people will appear next to the slapper.

Thus, the government only needs to capture the slapper, put him somewhere safe in the middle of nowhere (Siberia? A jail surrounded by a desert?) and wait up for to weeks for his friends to appear.

The catch here is that you better do that before their friends magically appear near your handcuffed slapper shooting the near officers. And the fact that the government probably don't really know how it works (although they try to keep it secret while assuming they know everything on how it works).

One approach would be to slap his friends so they appear in the middle of the night, when the capturers don't expect them to materialize. However, that might happend to be at a cell, so even those highly trained assassins could end up trapped. Slapping them shortly after would find the police less prepared (e.g. while transporting him in a police car), but it can also be less "discreet" (e.g. two guys with riffles appeared from nowhere in the middle of the highway and started shooting a police car that was driving away).

Now, if the slapper could forward himself, of if he could slap people to the past, it would be a much harder challenge.


Give the police something better to do than chase you.

The best capture strategy for you is to make them not care about you. Your strategy is to make them stop having a strategy for you

Walk into a crowded nightclub, start dancing, and in the middle of the dance floor, when it's dark and the music is loud, nobodies paying attention and everyone has their hands up to the groove, discreetly slap some random very attractive person. Someone whod look real nice on a "missing persons" poster. Keep dancing.

Leave the venue later, very clearly by yourself, so nobody reports you as suspicious. Good thing you dont get identified on CCTV so facial recognition cant spot any frequent dancers.

Then exactly a week later (also at night), take a tiny single seater ultralight aircraft out for a flight over open water. Fly just below where you need supplemental oxygen, above clouds if possible. Do your take offs on camera so if anyone gets suspicious they can see your tiny plane wont hold a body.

They respawn into existence 3 meters away from you, and fall to their deaths. Through the clouds.

Bodies wont be found immediately, most never will. The police will be questioning their family / lovers/ friends using most of their resources. The few that do rock up will be mutilated by the fall, and most bodies who fall this far into ocean are found naked, police will assume water has washed away DNA evidence. Flail injuries from the fall will look like evidence of a beating. Police will be so busy trying to find the serial "rapist" who abducted some of these missing people out the back door of a crowded nightclub without hundreds of witnesses seeing, killed them, and covered his tracks by dumping the bodies off a cliff (to explain the impact injuries found at autopsy, if they identify them as that) into the ocean that they'll forget about the myth of the face slapping trio.

And if they do figure out they were dropped from a plane, they won't figure out timeline cause inexact estimates of time in water, but even if they do, you have video showing your plane was too small to hold more than one person. Maybe even video yourself the whole flight just for the ultimate alibi.

Can also fly over a volcano, a desert, dense bushland, shark infested waters, etc. Or even just different police jurisdictions.

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    $\begingroup$ Look, those are some great ideas, but... how does this help the government find you? Seems like the opposite of what the OP is asking. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Sep 1, 2020 at 11:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark. It forces the government to discount you as a suspect and waste lots of resources on finding someone that doesn't exist $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2020 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist well yeah that's sort of my point. The OP is asking for the opposite of that ;) It's like answering 'How to distinguish between apples and pears?' by saying 'You can paint them the same color and force them into the same shape so nobody can tell them apart anymore' $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Sep 1, 2020 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah. You're absolutely right. I upvoted because the other answers make it clear that you will get captured no matter what. This answer is not an answer, but interesting nevertheless. $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2020 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ In all fairness, once you start murdering random attractive people, I am pretty sure I'm rooting for the government ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Sep 1, 2020 at 14:09

Assuming the Slapper would slap his teammates to a safer time and escape as a single person and that he might be able to control his ability to the point of millisecond slapping people 10ft away, He would be nigh impossible for less than 3 people to corral. If he had his friends you would need 3 people for each.

Scenario 1 less than 3 people per person: Our resident slapper slaps the first person he comes across that's hostile and is now in a 1v1 scenario which is ideal for him.

Scenario 2 at least 3 people per person: Slapper is up against 3 agents. He slaps one and then they know which target has the ability and can safely detain the other 2 easily. The slapper is then surrounded and without support. Assuming he only fights the 3 he is up against, slaps the first and is still up against 2 who can keep their distance and train weapons on him. You have one backup who can keep him covered while his partner restrains the slapper.

In conclusion, you would need at least a team of 9 to contain the slapper and his comrades.

Tracking would be much easier. Simply giving out the pictures to the wanted list would yield more than enough info to keep him tracked. At that point, its the usual waiting game and is no different from our world. The true difference is the capture methods needed.


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