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Valkyrie protocol final version snippet #4

David's and Jacob Holo's newest alternate, cross history series.
Valkyrie protocol final version snippet #4
Post by GraysonLady   » Thu Aug 06, 2020 2:38 pm

GraysonLady
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Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:34 am

"Hmmm." Teodorà pursed her lips and tapped them with a finger, then quirked a sly grin. "All right, then. We're done with your interviews, really, so there's no harm in it. And I don't have anything else to do today. Let's see how long you last before your head explodes."

"In sooth?" Pepys swallowed, his eyes wide, and she chuckled.

"No, not 'in sooth,' Mister Pepys. It was a joke. I'll be back in a moment."

She stepped into the cottage, ordered a knife and a half meter-long piece of rope from the printer, and returned to the table under the tree.

"Rope?" he asked, raising one eyebrow.

"It's a visual aid." She held out the cord, gripping it between both hands, and stretched it taut. "This represents the timeline."

She gazed at him, her own eyebrow arched, until he nodded in comprehension.

"This is where we are, here — at the end of the rope." She waved one hand and the end of the rope it held. "We call this point the 'Edge of Existence' or the 'True Present.' It doesn't matter which term you use; they're interchangeable. It's called that because this is as far as a time machine can go."

"Indeed? And that limit exists because —?"

"Because there's no future beyond that point. It hasn't happened yet, so we can't go there."

"Ah!" Understanding brightened those intense, dark eyes, and he nodded. "Yet I perceive your length of cord has two ends, not one," he observed in a suggestive tone, and it was her turn to nod.

"Indeed it does. And the other end of the rope — here —" she moved her other hand in a circle, "is the Big Bang."

"I cry pardon. 'Big Bang'?"

"It's what we call an enormous explosion that spawned the multiverse. Don't worry about it for now. Just think of it as the beginning of time. So these are the two endpoints of time as we know it, although this example is horribly out of scale. Now place your finger on the True Present."

He nodded and laid an index finger next to her hand at one end of the rope.

"Your finger now represents a time machine," she told him. "You just boarded it. Take it back in time."

He traced his finger along the rope until he reached the middle.

"Stop," she commanded, and he did. "You're now in the past. Let's do something there. Strum the rope."

He flicked the cord with his finger. It vibrated for a few moments, then settled back into motionlessness.

"That's what time travel is like," she said. "You can go back and interact with the past, but anything you do — any changes you make — don't affect the timeline. The past is immutable. We had empirical proof of that, because we could go back and retrieve an object or a person from the past, but if we returned to that point in time, the object or the person was still there. She or it had never disappeared, never been affected in any way. So, clearly, any 'change' we wrought was purely transitory. Or so we thought."

"Hmm." Pepys nodded slowly. "So, assuming I have followed you aright, whilst I may be here in the 'True Present' . . . I also remain in the past, because that past flowed on unchanging even though I was drawn forth from it?"

"Precisely!" She beamed at him, surprised — and pleased — to see him catch on so quickly.

"Most interesting." He scrunched up his face and stared at the rope. "So if I apprehend correctly, one of your time vessels might return to that same time in my past, or one later still, and fetch a second Pepys hither?"

"Right again. And we've done that a few times, when artifacts were damaged during recovery."

Or when the shock of transplantation cracked an abductee's mind, she added silently.

"And is there any limit to this phenomenon?" Pepys asked.

"Not that we're aware of."

"Then there would be no reason why you might not make that same voyage again and yet again. Travel back into the past however so often it pleased you, and . . . acquire one Samuel Pepys after another?"

"I think one of you is quite enough," she assured him with a laugh.

"Yet 'twould be possible, would it not?"

"Yes. But."

"Ah!" He sat back. "So I perceive that even magic such as yours has limits."

"Indeed it does," she said, her tone much more somber. "We thought nothing was changing when we traveled to the past. But it turned out our understanding of time travel was . . . incomplete. We thought we could jump into our time machines, go back to something like the Great Library of Alexandria, and steal every book and scroll before they burned, all without any consequences."

"What a magnificent mission!" His eyes glowed. "Did you, in very fact, accomplish that? Rescue the Great Library?"

"Oh, yes. That and so many more antiquities. And not just objects, either. We thought we could tranquilize famous figures, drag their limp bodies onto our ships, and set them up here in Guest Retention, all without changing the past at all."

"And you did that, as well?" The glow in his eyes darkened. "Abduct those 'famous figures' without will or let?"

"Yes," she replied unflinchingly, and he swallowed.

"I had not realized," he said after a moment, slowly. "The travelers from your time who brought me hither were far gentler than that. Indeed, their invitation was most polite."

"When it was possible — or seemed practical, at least — ART preferred to ask," Teodorà said. Because, she added silently, subjects who came voluntarily and [i]willingly were less likely to suffer psychotic episodes when they realized what had happened to them.[/i] "But, you see, we thought every wrong we committed didn't count. That nothing we did in the past had any lasting impact. It was only real while we were there in the past, and then it wasn't as soon as we left. As I say, we'd proven that was the case by returning and observing that no change had occurred, despite our meddling. So none of the antiquities we 'rescued' or historic figures we collected were really affected in any way."

"Your tone suggests to me that you have but lately discovered the fashion and degree to which your understanding was less than perfect."

"Oh, yes." Teodorà nodded. "It turns out there's a limit. A threshold where what we do in the past can cause the timeline to branch. Many, many of the things we've done don't rise to that level, and in those instances the results of our actions truly do disappear — dissipate, the way the vibrations did after you plucked the cord — and leave no trace behind. And it's absolutely true that we can't change our own past, which is why we found no lasting change when we revisited it. But our actions can spawn a new timeline."
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