Man! I had plotbunnies galore before I started reading this thread and just reading some of the posts in here have caused them to breed even faster.
One of mine is the idea of a small group of people who are somehow born with a rather precise set of inate abilities. One ability is to be able to understand any language they hear or read. Another is the ability to fluently speak any language to which they have been properly exposed - if a native speaker of the language is within speaking distance of them and speaks even a few words of the language to them, they instantly gain that native speaker's level of proficiency in the language. They can't just decide "hey, I want to be able to speak Swahili" and do so and it doesn't work with televised or recorded language (they can understand
the language, just not speak it based on the transmission/record).
Their final ability is an inate ability to travel through time and, to a limited extent, space at will. One constraint is that they are pretty much locked onto Earth (something to do with being held by Earth's "dent" in space-time) but that at least means that when they zap backwards or forwards in time, they don't wind up materialising in empty space somewhere in Earth's orbit, the Earth not being there at the time). Another constraint is that while they can go as far into the past as they like, they can't go any further than a day into their own personal future based on "when" they would be under normal circumstances.
Their ability does enable them to effectively teleport anywhere in the world they like (somehow immune to conservation of momentum issues).
They can use their time travel to "replicate" themselves with no ill effect (i.e. help themselves fix the car by looping back in time to when they know they hit a tricky bit and (as they remember) had their future self arrive to lend a hand).
Naturally they use their abilities to live comfortably but tend to be rather cautious about it so as not to attract attention, which limits the number of times they win lotteries or pick the winning horse/team.
One has an antiques store and sells a very nice range of good quality antiques in good condition (almost like they were carefully stored away somewhere safe for a number of years...), another bets on the horses but doesn't always win (though he wins fairly well and loses very little)
They work together to...
Well, that's the problem, actually. I don't know what to do with them.
They could go back to Ancient Rome or Greece or Mesapotamia and instantly be able to understand the natives (and speak with them) but whatever changes they make only create the world they know - they couldn't help Vercingetorix defeat Caesar at Alesia or kill off Hitler before or during WWII, the only possibility is that history-as-we-know-it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for some of their interventions. (e.g. The Axis Forces were going to win WWII due to some ultra-top-secret weapon - which they discover in their "sight-seeing" trips to the past and destroy it and all evidence of it, creating the world in which the Allies win. Someone with an in-depth knowledge of a historical event that could have "gone either way" could probably come up with a plausible story in which these travellers make it go the way we remember it.)
edited 29th Aug '12 12:17:49 AM by Wolf1066