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Old July 30 2013, 12:55 AM   #16
Sgt_G
Lieutenant Commander
 
Location: USA
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(15 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG

It knew it must explain its actions to this one. It must make this one understand its reasons and its rationale. This one would see the logic of it all; others might not understand and would seek to destroy it as a dangerous hazard. This one would prevent them from doing so.

Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 01:05 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 12:58 AM   #17
Sgt_G
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(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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Old July 30 2013, 12:59 AM   #18
Sgt_G
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Location: USA
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(17 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG

It sensed the one’s departure, and was saddened to know it would never speak with him again. His future, it foresaw, would be a lonely one of years spent seeking emotional and spiritual cleansing. It would never have the opportunity to teach and learn from this enlightened one ever again. For its entire existence, it had never known loss before. The others came before it and asked questions. It remained silent.
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Old July 30 2013, 01:08 AM   #19
Sgt_G
Lieutenant Commander
 
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(18 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


The starship captain knew what had happened, and was pretty sure he knew how it happened, but just not why. He weighed his options -- should he notify Star Fleet Command, or attempt to contact his trusted science officer? Or should he seek to return to his own reality now, before it was too late to try? Was it even possible to get back to the correct reality? And who was to say this reality was any different?

He remembered how different mirror universes could be. And dangerous. “Computer. Establish a link with the nearest Star Base. Compare data banks and note any discrepancies in recent history.”

“Working. Link established to Star Fleet Command. Estimated time of completion: ten minutes for initial scan, seven hours for detailed analysis.”

He used the time to take a quick shower. Rejuvenated, he dressed in his favorite casual uniform with the wrap-around shirt. He had just ordered a cup of coffee when the computer announced, “Initial scan complete. One discrepancy noted.” It displayed the orders for this mission. An amendment had been added at their last pickup point to lower the classification level and now specified the purpose of the meeting the diplomats were to attend.

He knew what he must do. He must talk with the Ambassador. But first, he So, there it was then. This reality and his own had split off on different paths only recently. The bifurcation resulted from a battle on the far side of Kzinti space: whether they killed or only captured one of their enemy’s royalty changed the course of history in the making. There were other minor differences between the timelines since then, surely. He looked at the frozen image of ‘his’ ship flying headlong into a minefield.

That was one major difference there. Why had his ship been plucked from its reality and dropped into this one? Obviously, they were to replace their alternate-selves. But why? Would it not have been easier to just prevent their deaths? And what of his reality? He should be there to face the impending war. Then he remembered the Ambassador’s plan and the repercussions it implied. Perhaps it was better this way. Perhaps he should be content to stay in this reality, a reality that offered peace and hope. But he needed to know for sure. He would need his chief science officer’s help to find out what was to become of his own reality.

He knew what he must do. If Star Fleet Command should find out the truth of the matter, they would put him and his entire crew in quarantine to prevent ‘contamination’ of the dual universes. They would probably attempt to send him back, to undo the damage, regardless of the consequences. That wasn’t a decision he wanted to leave to chair-bound bureaucrats who knew nothing beyond their little world of petty rules and regulations. They would also find out what really happened to his alternate-self’s ship. He could not allow that. Whether he belonged here or not, he wouldn’t risk a civil war within the Federation.

He sat down and edited the logs, making a copy of them first. For the better part of an hour, he painstakingly removed all trace of the mirror-image ship from the long-range sensor log. Then he moved the survey ship from the asteroid field to its final orbit around the moon. He attempted to modify the nav-deflector readings but decided it was too much effort.

When he copied the edited versions back into the main data banks, the computer responded, “The data has been altered. Access code required to continue.” He provided it. “Warning. Falsification of official records is a criminal act, punishable by General Court Marshal.”

He knew that. He helped get that law on the books. “Command override.” He gave his access code yet again.

“Override accepted. Another officer’s command override is required to modify ship’s official logs.” He sighed. He expected this, but he had learned a few tricks in his time. He opened a drawer and retrieved a data card from a hidden compartment. When he inserted it into his tricorder, his second-in-command’s voice was heard providing his access code.

“Access code accepted. Data transfer complete.”

He deleted the transfer logs, erasing superficial evidence of tampering. He knew a computer expert would have no trouble tracing his activities, of course. The original unedited logs were still there, in the secure memory banks. However, no one should go looking for them without cause. And he would not give them that cause. He activated the comm link.

“Bridge. Do you have an analysis on that explosion back a couple hours ago?”

The substitute science officer responded, “Not yet, sir. I was having difficulty accessing the computer files. Someone in stellar-cartography had them open, sir. I’m working on it now, sir.”

“Very well.” He made a mental note to have a private word with her. He didn’t like excuses or pointing blame at others. It wasn’t fair because he had set her up, but he didn’t want her to develop any bad habits either. “Please notify the ambassadors that I would like to meet with them in the conference room before dinner.” He needed to brief them on the change in their mission. It simply wouldn’t do for them to show up and advocate war during peace talks.

“Aye aye, sir.” There was a pause. “Sir, I have an initial report on that explosion. It appears a survey ship suffered an anti-matter containment failure.”

“Any chance of survivors?” he asked. But of course, he already knew the answer.

“None, sir; the wreckage has fallen into the planet’s atmosphere.”

“Very well. Notify Star Fleet Command. Tell them they can cancel the scouting mission.”

“Aye aye, sir.”

He closed the link. That should tie up the last of the loose ends. And buy him time to plan what, if anything, to do next.


Last edited by Sgt_G; July 30 2013 at 03:54 AM.
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Old July 30 2013, 01:09 AM   #20
Sgt_G
Lieutenant Commander
 
Location: USA
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

TIMLINES
(19 of 19)
(c) 2004 GLG


It reflected upon the day’s events, and made a silent vow that it would never take such action again. Not that it could. Or could it? After examining the nature of the portal it had opened, it determined that it could, indeed, open such an anomaly again, not into another timeline but into the future, provided there was a sufficient energy source nearby. It considered the future war in the other timeline, decades ahead, and wondered if its alternate-self had come to the same realization. It would never know for sure.


~~~ END ~~~
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Old July 31 2013, 02:25 AM   #21
LilyThompson
Lieutenant Junior Grade
 
Location: Tennessee, U.S.A.
Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

Oh. my. GOSH! You wrote this while you were DEPLOYED?! This is GREAT! It left me sitting back BREATHLESS. You have a real talent. It was cool how you crafted the story so that those who know TOS would get it, but those who don't would as well. I'm considering asking you for help on MY fanfic. Wow. Good story arc, great theme, AND you stayed true to the characters. Well done!
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Old July 31 2013, 03:56 AM   #22
Sgt_G
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

Thank you. To be honest, the story was stuck in my head for six months, but I just couldn't figure out the opening lines. So, when I deployed over there, I had little to do in my down time (couldn't leave the base, no TV in my tent, limited internet access, etc.), and one day I sat down and started typing. After five or six false starts, it finally got going and almost wrote itself. It took me about a week to write. Three days for paragraph 12 and three days for everything else, and then another day to re-write paragraph 18 after a friend reviewed it and said the captain's actions were "out of character". He was right, of course, so I changed it.

You may have noticed that I put a ton of "Easter Eggs" in it. Most of them were from memory, which tells me I've watch more Trek that any sane person should, but also I drove my wife nuts e-mailing home and asking her to look things up for me. I haven't ever sat down to count them all.

Last edited by Sgt_G; August 1 2013 at 01:20 AM.
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Old August 4 2013, 05:41 AM   #23
Sgt_G
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Location: USA
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Re: Short story set in ST:TOS-era: TIMELINES

Well, crud. I just noticed something got munged up. Thanks to Word wanting to re-insert changes when copy/paste to the board, there's part of the old text still in there. In part 18, fifth paragraph, everything in that line before "So, there it was then" should be deleted. I can't do it because this board as a time limit for edits. (There were other such Word gotchas, but I caught them before posting.) I don't know if a moderator can edit it, but I'd appeaciate it if one can and does so. Thanks.
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