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Old July 30 2013, 12:19 AM   #1
Sgt_G
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Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

Over the next nineteen posts, I shall upload a short story I wrote back in 2004 while deployed to a lovely little base in south-central Asia. The story is set in the ST:TOS era, but it makes a little more sense if the reader is familiar with ADB's game Star Fleet Battles and the fictional history they have developed as its backdrop. Every once in a while, people will e-mail they and ask "Why don't you publish a story about the Big-E and the famed crew? Why don't you include races from ST:TNG?" While the official answer is the license agreement doesn't allow that, this story provides for a more elegant explanation.

The title, TIMELINES, was a working title that kind of "stuck" when I couldn't think of a better one once I was done writing it. The story is only 7750 words long, and many of the 19 parts are only a paragraph or two. Comments welcome. Enjoy!

EDIT: Okay, all nineteen parts are posted, and I went back and edited for format as the BBS took out all the blank lines between the paragraphs.

Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 09:02 PM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:24 AM   #2
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(01 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


Its knowledge was vast, but it did not know whether it itself was a living being, or a machine. Nor did it know of its own origins, of how it was created, of its intended purpose or its true nature. It knew of all things that had happened since the beginning of its own existence; its mind reached across the universe, its consciousness spanned time itself. It looked into the future, which it could do only occasionally, and for the first time ever, it knew fear.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:31 AM   #3
Sgt_G
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(02 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


“Captain’s Log: supplemental. Having picked up the last of the diplomatic teams, we are returning to Earth. I fear troubling times ahead, and I can’t but help wonder whether these diplomats will make things better, or make them worse. But as of right now, they’re giving me a headache.” The young starship captain pressed a button on the arm of his chair, then pressed another.

The speaker whistled, then a voice said “Sickbay here.”

“Doctor, I hope you have something good for a headache.”

“Of course, Captain. I have a patient right now, but I can squeeze you into my schedule.”

“Outstanding. I’ll be right down.” He pressed the button again. “Lieutenant, you have the con,” he announced as he stood.

“Sir,” a pleasant female voice behind him interrupted, “I’m picking up a signal ahead ... very faint ... it’s a distress call ... audio only ... the survey ship Freemont has suffered a breakdown in their life-support systems. I’m responding on all hailing frequencies.”

The ship’s commanding officer sat back down, thinking ‘oh, not now; not with all these diplomats onboard.’ He sighed, and turned to the science officer, “Anything, Mister ...?” He stopped himself, for his senior science officer and trusted friend wasn’t there. His mind drew a blank for a moment as he tried to remember the young Ensign’s name.

She peered into the shielded viewer, adjusting the controls on the side, for several moments. She turned and replied, “Indeterminate readings, sir. There’s a possible warp trail in the system ahead -- a Type-G star with three gas giants, but no habitable worlds.”

He considered the possibilities, weighed his options, and made a decision. “Helm, adjust course to rendezvous,” he spun the command chair around, “Any response to our hails?”

The Lieutenant at the communications console frowned, which looked unnatural on her dark complexion, “No, sir. Their signal seems to be on automatic -- it keeps repeating over and over.”

“Course plotted and laid in, sir. Intercept in ten minutes. Transporters and rescue teams standing by.”

The Captain acknowledged this, pleased with the efficiency of his crew. He made a ship-wide announcement of the situation, called Sickbay to inform the Doctor he’d see him later, then sat back to wait. Waiting was always the hardest part. He was a man of action. He wanted to do something, anything, but there was nothing else to do except wait. The great starship entered the outer reaches of the solar system and dropped to sub-light speed. The substitute science officer reported a ship ahead, orbiting the largest moon of one of the gas giants. The deck-plates shuddered beneath their feet briefly. “What was that?” the Captain asked.

“Sir?”

“That ... vibration. I’ve felt that before.”

She turned, consulted her instrument panel, then suggested, “Unknown, sir. A gravitational flux, perhaps.”

“No,” he said slowly, “that was no gravitational flux. It felt more like ...” he paused.

“It felt like,” offered the helmsman, “a ripple in time.”

The Ensign raised a dubious eyebrow, “A ripple in time, sir?” Obviously, the helmsman had done something with the controls. They were putting her on. Of all times to play a practical joke, now, during a rescue operation? She turned back to her scanners. “Picking up life-signs now, sir.”

A ship appeared on the main view screen, a huge cylinder longer than the starship, with “SS FREEMONT” painted along its length. The converted cargo freighter hung in space over the moon like an injured whale trapped in a fishnet. A tingle ran down the Captain’s spine. “Something’s not right.”

They closed on the survey ship. It still did not answer their hails. “Picking up debris of some kind, sir.”

“On screen,” he ordered. The view flickered as it zoomed in on one of the objects. “Minefield! Helm! Get us out ....”

Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 03:34 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:32 AM   #4
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(03 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG

It must act. Out of fear, out of desperation, it must do something. But how? It could allows others to move through time, but it itself could not. It could not affect the past itself, nor could it ask others to do so on its behalf, and therefore it could not change its future. Its fate, its destiny, appeared to be sealed. It examined all that was occurring now and calculated all the countless interactions, all the permutations, all the possibilities. There. That was the key. If it changed that ... perhaps it could change the futures after all. It acted.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:33 AM   #5
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(04 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


The ground was still shaking when he exited the pre-fab shelter, but it wasn’t the earthquake that woke him, nor was it the shouting from outside. He was awakened by a different vibration, one that he had felt once before. A young man ran across the barren, wind-swept landscape, “Commander, something has happened! You must come! Quickly, sir!”

“Calm yourself,” he cautioned his assistant. “Panic and emotional outbursts are counter-productive. Now then, what has happened?”

“I ... I don’t know, sir,” the young man stammered, “There was a strange vibration. Everything got blurry, like I was seeing double. It caused me to get dizzy, and I almost passed out. It felt like ... I’m not sure what it felt like, sir.”

“It felt like,” the Commander said slowly, as he remembered, “a ripple in time. Come. I must talk with it.”


Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 03:34 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:35 AM   #6
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(05 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


It contemplated what it had done and realized it had not fully considered all the consequences before it had acted. It looked into the future again, and examined all the possible outcomes. Its fear was alleviated.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:37 AM   #7
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(06 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


“Captain’s Log: supplemental. Having picked up the last of the diplomatic teams, we are returning to Earth. I fear troubling times ahead, and I can’t but help wonder whether these diplomats will make things better, or make them worse. But as of right now, they’re giving me a headache.” The young starship captain pressed a button on the arm of his chair, then pressed another.

The speaker whistled, then a voice said “Sickbay here.”

“Doctor, I hope you have something good for a headache.”

“Of course, Captain. I have a patient right now, but I can squeeze you into my schedule.”

“Outstanding. I’ll be right down.” He pressed the button again. “Lieutenant, you have the con,” he announced as he stood.

“Sir,” a pleasant female voice behind him interrupted, “I’m picking up a signal ahead ... very faint ... it’s ... it’s gone now, sir.”

He turned to the science officer, “Anything, Mister ...?” He stopped himself, for his senior science officer and trusted friend wasn’t there. His mind drew a blank for a moment as he tried to remember the young Ensign’s name.

She peered into the shielded viewer, adjusting the controls on the side, for several moments. She turned and replied, “Nothing, sir. There’s a system ahead -- a Type-G star with three gas giants, but no habitable worlds.”

He turned his attention back the Lieutenant at the communications console. She frowned, which looked unnatural on her dark complexion, “Nothing more, sir, it’s gone.”

He patted her on the shoulder and quipped, “Well, if it was important, they’ll call back.” He took two strides towards the turbolift then stopped when a sudden thought occurred to him. “Lieutenant, the Orion Syndicate has been pretty active in this region ... keep her to open space and avoid all contacts.” He’d rather not have a repeat of the last time he hosted so many diplomats.

“Aye, sir,” the young oriental helmsman smiled as he took the center seat.

When the Captain walked into the office in Sickbay, he could hear someone talking in the examination room next door. “I am in perfect health, Doctor. This is all a waste of time.”

“So you say,” the ship’s Chief Medical Officer retorted, “but what kind of doctor would I be if I didn’t check up on my former patients?”

“A less busy one,” came a weary answer. “Will this take much longer?”

“No, we’re almost done.” A pause. “Yes, these readings are acceptable. Your health, Ambassador, is excellent, although I would say ‘perfect’ is a bit of an exaggeration. Just one more thing, if I may. Would you step into my office, please?”

The two walked in, and the only hint of surprise on the Ambassador’s face was a slight movement in his left eyebrow. “Captain,” he greeted the Star Fleet officer, “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’ve enlisted the doctor in some subterfuge to bring me here under false pretense.”

The Captain feigned surprise, “Me, sir? No, sir. I came down to seek medical aid. All these diplomats onboard have given me a headache.”

The Doctor walked to a cabinet where he retrieved three glasses and a bottle. “I only use it for medicinal purposes,” he declared with a thick southern drawl. “Care for a sip, Ambassador?”

“Yes, Captain, I suspect you are seeking a private audience with me.” He turned to see what the Doctor offered. “Bourbon? No, Doctor. As you well know, my people do not partake of such spirits.”

Before he could leave, the Doctor countered, “Then perhaps some Niagara Falls ice wine?” as he brought a small bottle out of the cold storage unit. “I understand you developed a taste for it, all those years living on Earth.”

The Ambassador considered the offer, then acquiesced as he took a seat. “I suppose you’d like to know what all the excitement is about. Very well. I tell you this because I believe you may, one day soon, be of assistance. The Kzintis are at war. They were invaded by their neighbors on the other side of their territory from us. Apparently, the Kzintis killed one of the enemy’s royal family in a border skirmish, so the enemy retaliated in force.”

The two Star Fleet officers let the news sink in for a moment. “Are the Klingons involved?”

“Exquisite wine, Doctor, thank you. No, Captain, they are not. At least, not yet. The Federation has recalled representatives from all member planets to discuss what course of action to take. There are some in the Assembly that actually want to ally with the Klingons and attack the Kzinti Hegemony.”

“Good! At least some of them are talking sense.”

“The Kzintis are our allies now, Doctor. We have a treaty with them. We cannot forgo such things easily.”

“I’m a doctor, not a diplomat,” he replied with indignity.

“Yes, so I had surmised,” the Ambassador rejoined dryly. “You would actually side with the Klingons, Doctor? What is that saying -- ‘better the Devil you know’ -- is that your opinion?”

“Oh, I know these Devils, alright,” he retorted hotly, “I did my internship during what you politicians euphemistically called ‘a series of border skirmishes’. Did you know the Kzintis actually eat their prisoners?”

“Really, Doctor, you must learn to control your emotions; they will be your undoing some day,” he admonished. “And you, Captain, do you favor allying with the Klingons as well?”

“No,” the Star Fleet officer said, in a quiet, far-off voice. “I don’t trust the Klingons; I never have, and I never will.” He sat back in his chair and took a sip form his glass. “So, what is your position? Stay neutral, no matter what, I suppose?”

“Actually, no. Should they conquer the Kzintis, the Klingon Empire will only become stronger and will pose an even greater threat to the Federation. Sooner or later, we will be drawn into this war, regardless of what sort of appeasement we offer. Therefore, logic dictates that we must go on the offensive. We must attack the Klingons while their attention is diverted. I shall try to persuade the Assembly and Star Fleet Command that we must invade as soon as the Klingon fleet is fully engaged.”

The Captain deliberated this audacious plan. “A bold initiative, Ambassador, but it would lead to disaster. Due to years of complacency, overly-optimistic pacifism and budget constraints, Star Fleet is not ready for war on that scale. The Klingon fleet outnumbers ours two-to-one, and much of our fleet is in mothballs.”
“But they are surrounded by enemies,” the Ambassador countered, “and many of their ships are small. We believe that they will ‘sue for peace’ after a quick strike. You see, Captain, our ultimate goal is one of peace.”

The starship captain mulled this one over, and his mind’s eye, he simply could not see the Klingons capitulating after a ‘quick strike’; if anything, it would enrage them. Why was it that those with little military experience were so ready and willing to use military force? And usually with such little regard for those whose service they called upon. “A laudable goal, to be sure,” he said, finally, diplomatically. “But we have other enemies as well. What of the Romulans? The Klingons have been supplying them with ships and technology; they won’t like it if we stop that....” Their glasses rattled on the table briefly. “What was that?”

“What was what?”

“That ... vibration. I’ve felt that before.”

A slight frown appeared on the Ambassador’s lips. “A starship traveling at warp speed makes many vibrations, does it not? That was merely something in the engines, perhaps.”

“No,” he said slowly, “I know every vibration a starship can make. It felt more like ...” he paused.

“It felt like,” offered the doctor, “a ripple in time.”

The Ambassador raised a dubious eyebrow, “A ripple in time?” He took another sip of his wine, waiting for the two Star Fleet officers to expound on their theory.

The communications speaker whistled, then a voice said, “Bridge to Captain.”

The Captain pushed a button, and the helmsman’s face appeared on the view screen. “Sir, sensors picked up explosions of some sort in the system we just passed. Shall we investigate?”

“Negative. Continue on course. Contact Star Fleet Command and let them investigate it, if they wish.” He pressed the button again, and the screen went dark.

“There, you see, Captain? That was the cause of the vibrations we felt. The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. I must be getting back to my colleagues now. Good day, gentlemen.”

Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 03:39 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:39 AM   #8
Sgt_G
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(07 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG

It still had concerns. Something still seemed amiss. It sensed one of the scientists approaching, recognizing him as one of the few that truly understood its power. It examined the life ahead for this one, and it knew regret.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:41 AM   #9
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(08 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG

The Commander approached the artifact cautiously, with more care than he had ever used before. He just ... felt ... that something was amiss. He sent the others away, more to eliminate the distraction than for their own safety; if anything serious should happen, the entire planet could be in peril. Tentatively, he activated his tricorder and compared the current readings with those he had on record. The data were consistent ... and yet, not.

He looked up at the three-meter tall object, which appeared to be nothing more than a simple stone arch, like a roughly-carved wheel, and saw nothing remarkable. He walked all the way around it, scanning with his tricorder, and still found nothing to suggest the nature of the vibrations that had awakened him.

He had no other alternative but to ask it. “Guardian,” he addressed it.

“My friend,” a deep, echoing voice responded with a flickering of light.

“Something has happened. I wish to understand it.”

“A great many things have happened,” the voice replied with a tinge of humor.

“A few minutes ago, there was a vibration. It felt like ...”

“A ripple in time,” it finished the thought.

“Yes. Exactly. I would like to know what caused it.”
“I caused it.”

“May I ask why?


Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 03:40 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:43 AM   #10
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(09 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


It had a great many things to ponder. Its actions could not be undone, but that was not to say they would not set in motion a series of events which would change its futures in a way it could not foresee, as they will for this one. How much should it tell this one? Could it trust this one?

Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 01:02 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:44 AM   #11
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(10 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


The Captain sat silently for a moment after the Ambassador departed. He drained his glass and waved off the Doctor’s offer to refill it. “Something’s not right,” he declared.

“Now, Captain,” the Doctor replied slowly, “you know I can’t discuss a patient’s history.”

“No, I mean something doesn’t feel right. Like I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He rolled the glass between his hands; then he realized what his Chief Medical Officer had just said. “Are you saying the Ambassador is ill? Is there something affecting his judgment?”

“I can’t discuss a patient’s history,” he reaffirmed.

“If the fate of the Federation rests on that patient’s influence, you’ll have to discuss it, Doctor.”

“Then I shall discuss it with that patient and his other physicians, Captain.”

“Very well, then. Please do so ... at your earliest convenience.” He reached over and pressed a button, “Bridge; I’ll be in my quarters.” He pressed the button again. “Thank you again for the headache remedy,” he said, trying to smooth ruffled feathers before he left.

He walked into his cabin debating on whether to take a shower or to just lie down for a while. He had much to think about: the squabbling diplomats, an impending war, even the fate of the Federation. And he still had this nagging feeling that something was wrong. His headache was back. The speaker whistled, then the communications officer’s voice said, “Bridge to Captain. Message coming in from Star Fleet Command.”

He sat down with a sigh; “I’ll take it down here, Lieutenant.”

When he activated the view screen, a face appeared. He did not recognize the Commodore, but that wasn’t all that surprising. Even a starship captain could not know all the flag officers in the service. “Thank goodness you’re alright, Captain. We just adverted one crisis and thought we had another on our hands.”

“Why? What happened, sir?”

“Star Fleet Intelligence picked up chatter from a radical group of Orion separatists claiming that they bagged a starship. Yours was the last one we had to account for.”

The captain sat upright. If terrorists could pull off such a feat, it would send shock waves across the Federation. “Bagged a starship? How?”

“They said they lured it into a minefield, then command-detonated it. The President just happened to be in the situation room when the report came in, and he was ready to order the fleet to blockade the Orion Enclave. Calmer heads prevailed, of course, but only to buy time to verify or disprove the claim.”

The implications were mind numbing. Orion was a member planet of the Federation, perhaps not one in good standing but a member nonetheless. Should the Federation take serious action to bring them in line, several other member races -- the Andorians and Tellarites, even the Vulcans -- would likely secede. The United Federation of Planets would fall like a house of cards.

“Well, sir, as you can see, we’re just fine. But our sensors did pick something up a few minutes ago. Shall we turn back and investigate?”

“No. You could be walking into a trap. We’ll dispatched a scout ship backed up by a pair of destroyers.”

“Very well, sir. By the way, what was the other crisis you mentioned?”

A strange look passed over the superior officer’s face. “Why, the Kzintis, of course.”

“The last I heard is they’re at war, and the Klingons may get involved.”

“You have been out of touch, haven’t you, Captain? We brokered a deal several days ago. We just need to finalize the treaties.”

Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 03:44 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:45 AM   #12
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(11 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


It looked into the past and examined this one’s life. It studied his nature, his character. Of all those that came before it, of all those that knew of its existence, this one it could trust.

Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 01:02 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:50 AM   #13
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(12 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG

“I caused it to prevent my destruction,” it informed the scientist.

The Commander waited for it to continue. The artifact seemed to be timeless, endless, indestructible. He could not fathom its demise. Just when he was about to speak, it continued. “You know that seemingly trivial events can alter the course of history. You have seen this for yourself. And I have told you that I can sometimes look into other timelines, provided they run parallel to this one, to view what might have happened had the results of randomness and chance been different. You understand this, do you not?”

“Yes, of course. We refer to it as Chaos Theory which, when taken to its ultimate degree, has also been called the Butterfly Effect,” he acknowledged. Within the scientific community, he was recognized as one of the leading experts on the Chaos Theory and fractal mathematics. “Am I to understand that you did something to protect your alternate-self in another, parallel timeline?”

“No, my friend. To prevent my destruction within this timeline. I looked into the future and saw my own ending.”

“Fascinating,” he murmured, “I was unaware that you had the ability to see into the future.”

“As a matter of routine, I cannot. However, on the occasions when timelines coalesce, events may reveal themselves to me before they unfold.

The scientist contemplated this statement and attempted to reconcile it with all the theories postulated about chaos-time interactions. The most commonly accepted theory held that an infinite number of timelines ran nearly parallel, yet always diverging away from one another, and with every random act of chance or choice, an infinite number of new timelines were created with each passing moment, always on a different path from the one they split off of. The Chaos Theory held that every action, no matter how small, caused a reaction that would in turn affect other actions and reactions. A chain of events that, while appearing totally random, had a predictability about it.

The Chaos Theory was originally discovered by a meteorologist attempting to create the first mathematical model of the atmosphere. He had assumed that minor variations in the data -- a temperature reading rounded down instead of up -- would be smoothed over by other such variations. What he found surprised him: these seemingly insignificant variations would interact and compound upon one another, changing the output of the prediction model in a seemingly random fashion. And yet, not, for he found patterns in the randomness and randomness in the patterns. He dubbed it ‘Chaos’.

Since then, the Chaos Theory had been expounded upon and expanded, and found applications beyond meteorology, in economics and politics, in biology, chemistry and physics, and now in alternative-timeline theory. In every field of study, the Chaos Theory had been proven time and time again.

The Guardian had never misspoken before. It always chose its words with care and precision even though it sometimes seemed to speak in riddles, and yet its last statement was contrary to all known theories. Should timelines coalesce, the laws of probability mathematics and physics would cease to function; all random chances would return the same results, and the uncertainty principle of sub-atomic physics would become meaningless. Unless....

The scientist had an epiphany, “Yes, of course.”

The Chaos Theory held that even a single event so small as to be almost undetectable still had an effect on the overall pattern. Taken to the Nth degree, one could postulate that a butterfly flapping its wings, or not, would move a puff of air, or not, and in turn affect another puff of air, and then another and another. After millions upon millions of such interactions, that one butterfly’s actions could conceivably cause the formation of a synoptic-scale storm, such as a hurricane, weeks or months later. However, he realized, not every butterfly flapping their wings cause hurricanes, quite obviously. Only the tiniest fraction resulted in anything of significance.

Likewise, he realized, most trivial events are just that: trivial. A flip of a coin matters not to the grand scheme of galactic history. No one will take note whether it came up heads or tails, unless something depends on the outcome of that coin-flip, such as which team gets the ball first in a game, which in turn may decide the victor of the game. And yet, even that has little bearing on history as a whole. Sooner or later, that coin-flip and that game, and all the events whose outcome are predicated upon the game’s result, will become nothing more than a fading memory. Ergo, the timelines of “heads” and the timelines of “tails” will run parallel and eventually converge back into a single timeline. History will go on. The stars care little for the deeds of mankind. The implications were staggering: this new concept could rewrite the entire space-time continuum theory. The mathematics involved would be elegant in both simplicity and complexity.

Moreover, the scientist realized, just as once a hurricane has formed all the butterflies in the world flapping their wings in unison would have no appreciable effect on the storm whatsoever, if a timeline event of sufficient magnitude occurred it would overwhelm all other events, at least in the near term. An infinite number of timelines running in parallel would coalesce as the innumerable minor interactions became overwhelmed and masked by a single colossal incident. All the coin-flips in the galaxy mattered not.

“A synoptic-scale event has occurred,” he stated, borrowing the term from meteorology, “macro-scale, even. Something quite devastating -- a natural disaster, perhaps, or some other calamity.” But in his heart, he knew what had happened. “A great war has begun.”

“Yes, my friend,” the Guardian confirmed his conclusion. Your neighboring empires have commenced upon a death struggle in one timeline. Not so in the other timeline, but events were unfolding in such a way that would lead to my destruction in both futures. We, my alternate-self and I, had to prevent that.”

“By stopping the war before it even starts?”

“No. We are unable to effect such a change,” the artifact declared. “We would require the assistance of someone, like yourself, whom we could send back in time to modify past events leading up to the war. The outcome of such an attempt would be uncertain; even through success, we could not ensure our preservation. Nor could we trust another in a matter of such great importance.”

True, the Guardian did have the ability to send a person anywhere in history, to any location in space and to any point in time, but Star Fleet had erected a barricade to prevent anyone or anything from entering its portal. The Commander knew how difficult it would be to remove the barrier to allow someone to pass. He also knew it was impossible for any one person to disable the protective systems, for he himself helped design them. The artifact was a great tool for scholars and historians, but could also be a devastating weapon in the wrong hands, which was why very few were allowed to even know of its existence.

“The ones you call the Kzintis had a battle forty-two rotations of this planet ago. In one timeline, they captured a certain enemy ship.” A mist formed in the Guardian’s opening, and an image appeared of the battle between the two alien fleets, culminating with a swarm of attack shuttlecraft surrounding the badly mauled twin-hulled catamaran flagship. “The enemy used this battle as a reason to invade in force, but full-scale warfare was averted through an exchange of prisoners. In that timeline, one of your starships taking diplomats to formalize the deal was destroyed, sparking a civil war within the Federation of Planets. Your enemies would seize the opportunity to invade and conquer all that they desire. This world would be annihilated in the conflagration.” The image showed Federation starships in a desperate battle against a Klingon / Romulan combined fleet. The scenario ended abruptly as three Romulan plasma torpedoes hit the planet’s surface.

“In the other timeline, however, the Kzintis destroyed their enemy’s ship, killing a royal prince. War could not be averted. Those who would have ambushed your starship were engaged in other nefarious activities associated with perpetuating the hostilities. The diplomats it carried would reach their destination where they would have set your Federation upon a course of action hastening its entanglement in this war, which your Star Fleet is not properly prepared for at this time.”
The mist reformed, and the view shifted to the Strategy Room at Star Fleet Headquarters. The situation map indicated the Klingon Imperial Fleet had advanced to the Federation core worlds. “Your fleet would be defeated and forced to destroy this world to prevent its capture.” Another desperate space battle appeared. This time, it ended with a heavily damaged Federation destroyer flying full-speed through a Klingon squadron to fire all of its photon torpedoes directly at the planet.

As the Commander watched the combat, a piece of his mind analyzed the tactics. Even though he thought of himself as a scientist first and foremost, he was also a Star Fleet officer and therefore had a great deal of military training. In both conflicts, the Star Fleet ships were heavily outnumbered and outclassed, which did not bode well for the survival of the Federation itself.

Another part of his mind calculated the chances of two major events occurring so close together in time, that the fate of the galaxy should rest upon the fate of two ships separated by a great distance. Statistics and probability would suggest the odds against it to be astronomical. And yet, true to Chaos Theory, such events tend to occur in clusters.

And yet another part of his mind considered the Guardian’s choice of words. “You said ‘would be’, not ‘will be’, when you spoke of these future events. Am I to infer that you have, somehow, prevented them? That these futures will not occur as you have shown me?”


Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 03:47 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:51 AM   #14
Sgt_G
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(13 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


Again, it hesitated to answer. How much should it reveal? How much could it risk? The futures it saw were never completely accurate. What if it had made a mistake? True, it had caused no destruction itself, killed no living thing itself. But even it could not foresee all the results of its actions. This one could still be a danger to it.

Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 01:04 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:54 AM   #15
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(14 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


The Captain bid the Commodore farewell and closed the link. He sat there, collecting his thoughts. His superior hinted that his ship would not be going out on another mission after it arrived back to Earth. He had heard rumors of plans to modernize the fleet, but these were put on hold while tensions with the Klingon Empire remained high. Perhaps the diplomats really did find a lasting peace, or at least as much peace as one could hope for with the Klingons. If so, and if the retrofits were to start soon, his ship was a logical choice to begin with.

He suspected they were going to try, again, to pin more rank on his uniform ... which would also mean he’ll end up sitting behind a desk twiddling his thumbs. He’d put them off time and time again, but sooner or later, they’d succeed. That much seemed inevitable. He’d accept it, perhaps, but only if he could do so on his own terms.

And still, something nagged at him. Not all the pieces fit yet. Why did the Ambassador tell him to expect war if peace was in the making? There should have been time before he picked the diplomats up at their respective home world for at least one of them to have heard the news.

Time.

He had that feeling again that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He reached for the comm unit to call up to the bridge but remembered at the last second that his chief science officer was away on a mission. Then he recalled where that mission was to, and everything clicked into place.

“Computer.”

“Working, a pleasant if artificial female voice responded.

Checking his chronograph, he asked, “Have the sensor logs for the past hour been analyzed?”

“Negative.”

“Computer, transfer all sensor logs for the past hour to secure storage.” The computer required his access code, which he provided, to complete the task. He then opened the files and examined the data. He wasn’t a scientist by any stretch of the definition; his training was in military tactics and strategy, but he considered himself to be an explorer above all else and so could hold his own in most scientific endeavors.

First, he examined the data around the time of that strange vibration they felt earlier, not really expecting to find anything of note. There was one slight anomaly, a fluctuation in the ship’s navigational deflector, which seemed somehow familiar. Next, he replayed the long-range sensor logs of the star system that they recorded the explosion in. What he saw was astounding. Star Fleet had accounted for all the ships in the fleet. And yet here was evidence to the contrary. He replayed the logs, this time slowing the images down and enhancing them as much as possible.

He sat for a long while in stunned disbelief.

This just wasn’t possible. Or was it? He replayed the data from the nav-deflector. He was certain he'd seen that before, and was pretty sure of when and where. “Computer, access secure archives, retrieve ship’s logs from ....” he had to stop and recall the stardate. He suppressed the painful memories of that day.

“That information is classified. Access code is required.” He provided it. He scanned through the data and found the nav-deflector readings from that day. He played the logs and noticed the same sort of fluctuations, but longer lasting and quite a bit stronger. That confirmed his suspicions.

He returned his attention to today’s logs. He set a time hack about fifteen seconds before the anomaly and began stepping through the logs one frame at a time. About a tenth of a second before the vibration started, he noticed a visible distortion on the main view screen playback, as if a ragged hole in space opened just ahead of the ship. He checked the aft view and found the same hole closing behind the ship one point six seconds later.

When he checked the long-range sensor logs, he found exactly what he suspected he would. In one frame, a lone survey ship was scouting an asteroid field; in the next, it suddenly jumped to low orbit around a moon, and a second ship was closing on it. That ship appeared to be a twin to his own starship,

That ship was his own starship.

And it was sailing towards its own demise.


Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 03:48 AM.
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