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Old July 30 2013, 12:58 AM   #17
Lieutenant Commander
Location: USA
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

(16 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG

The scientist could almost sense the internal conflict raging within the artifact. He knew it was sentient, but he did not know if it possessed emotions. He waited for nearly a full minute before it answered his last question. “No. Those futures will not happen. We prevented them. We moved the starship from one timeline to the other, to replace the version that was destroyed.”

He knew it was possible for something, or someone, to move between one reality to another in a parallel universe. He had seen it done and heard the accounts of those it had happened to. For the artifact to wield such ability, such power, was an incredible discovery. “You did this by yourself?”

“We did. My alternate-self and I. Alone, neither of us could have done it. Working in tandem, together we were able to open a portal between the two realities. You may rejoice in the knowledge that the crew shall live out a full and prosperous life, none the wiser of what transpired. Had they stayed in their reality, they would have died in vain during the opening attacks against your enemies.”

The Commander noticed his assistant approaching and signaled for him to wait. A dozen questions ran through his mind, and he suspected he knew the answers to most of them. “Did this prevent the war?”

“In that timeline, yes. They shall know the threat of war, and there will be a grave risk of war some decades in the future, but the civil war that would have led to the destruction of this world will not occur. However, the war could not be stopped in the other timeline, all that I have done is delayed the Federation’s involvement in it. This is enough to ensure my survival.”

He dared to ask the questions he dreaded the answers to, “Which reality are we in here? And what is the name of the starship you refer to?”
Again, the artifact hesitated. But it need not answer, for the assistant approached and reported, “Sir, we just received a communiqué from Star Fleet Headquarters. The survey ship Freemont just monitored a spatial anomaly. They saw your ship vanish into it without a trace, sir. They’re ... gone, sir.”

“Yes, my friend. It was your ship. They are not dead, of course, but you shall never see your colleagues, or close members of your family, ever again. And for that, my friend, I grieve with thee.”

The younger man shifted his weight from one foot to the other nervously. “Sir, shall I send a reply back to Star Fleet?”

“Yes. Tell them ...” he turned slowly away and steeled his face, “tell them that they will find the anomaly was a quantum portal. Tell them that the Guardian was unable to prevent their disappearance into it.” That wasn’t, technically, a lie. His assistant ran back to the encampment. “How many lives shall be saved by their loss? How many deaths have been prevented?”

“Billions. Had either future continued as they were, nearly thirty billion sentient beings would have perished in the war, and over a hundred trillion lesser forms of life. Millions shall die in the coming war in this timeline. This is unfortunate but inevitable.”

“It is logical, then. The good of the many outweighs that of the few.” He turned to face the Guardian. “Still, some would consider your actions selfish. They would ask what right do you have to unilaterally decide which future should exist and which should not? Who are you to play God?”

The artifact remained silent for several moments before responding. “I do not know that I am not a god. I am unsure what I am. Nor do I know what will happen with my ending. My destruction could cause a cataclysmic explosion annihilating all matter for millions of light-years, or perhaps cause time itself to end. Or perhaps nothing shall happen, save for the end of my consciousness. I do not know. I cannot know.”

The scientist nodded gravely. “Those are issues that theologians and philosophers have contemplated for millennia. I am neither. We shall not speak of this again.” He turned and began to walk away, then stopped and said, “In fact, I do not believe I shall return to this place ever again,” without looking back.

Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 03:51 AM.
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