Act 1: Rebooting the System. What if?
New Home System, Orbit of Terra III
Alex watched as Cygna, Amy and Talia’s ship flew away from the small station they had helped to construct. The triangular shaped scout Anderson had built for them was identical to the Federation Scouts in every conceivable way.
Turning as Anderson stepped up to the view plate beside him on their ship’s small lounge, he turned back to watch their girl’s skip into hyper space.
“So, any regrets?” Anderson asked, sipping at a mixed drink. Alex was about to answer, when he stopped to actually think about it. After a few long seconds, he did.
“Oh? I was expecting you to say no. What regrets do you have?”
“Honestly, all of this. I regret ever going to see Martin Shaw.”
“Sorry, don’t know the name.”
“He was the attorney who told me about Barnard’s will and his ship, that Commercant.”
“Ok, so why do you regret going to see him?”
“I regret going because of everything that came after it. Meeting Cygna, her people, and then the rest you know.”
“So, you regret meeting Cygna? I thought she was the center of your world?”
“She is, NOW. But I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like had we never met.”
“Well, I doubt we’d be standing here. Hell, I think we’d all be dead, considering.”
“Why? You forget, that Garshan ship we killed in 2415, would have never been attacked if I hadn’t gotten involved with Cygna’s people, hell, there wouldn’t have been any Marrokian life signs aboard that liner if I hadn’t advanced them beyond their sword and sandal level of tech.” Alex said, his voice rising only slightly.
Unbeknownst to them both, Loci and Ashia had entered the lounge just prior to his response to Anderson’s last question, and as such, were now hearing how Alex REALLY felt...
“So, if you hadn’t advanced the Marrokians, we’d be where exactly?” Anderson asked, trying to see where this would math out.
“Ok, say I never met Cygna, never went to Marrok. In 2415, when the Garshans started mapping this area, or our home area, they wouldn’t have found out about the Marrokians, they would have seen how low tech we were, tagged us as a race to study and conquer later, and continued on their way. Eventually, they would have found Marrok, pounded Primus and his people flat, and left ‘A’ Galaxy forever. They would have returned to Galhadia the conquering heroes, and left the rest of us alone. At least that was what I gleaned from Mannis’ prediction theories.”
“Hmm, you may be on to something there old friend. We may or may not have met. You might have even found the ‘Stu’, and then come upon the Marrokian’s later?”
“If I found the ‘Stu’ before meeting the Marrokians, I would have used it to find the Galhadians, not the Marrokians. Ya see, all roads seem to want me to go to Marrok. Honestly though, what good did it do? There’s less then 500 Marrokians left anywhere, and for what? Humanity, OUR race, is in worse shape. Hell man, I’m mostly to blame for that, and for what? To save Marrok!” He shouted, turning back to the view screen, and looking out into space. Anderson pondered this for a good while, waiting for Alex to reign in his temper. He shook once, then continued.
“Honestly Dave, I wish I could go back in time, or have Mannis turn back time. I know, I really know now what I would have done that day. I almost told Shaw to scrap that ship. I was so sick of Commercant’s because of their uses to the Outer Colonies. But I let natural curiosity, and my other head, get the better of me. And now, here we are.” He finished, turning at the sound of someone softly crying behind them. Turning, they both saw Ashia, crying in Loci’s arms, her casting a hurtful gaze at Alex. He only frowned at her.
“Yeah Loci, this IS how I really feel on this subject. She had no right meddling in my life, NONE! Damn you both!” He shouted, drawing both of his hand cannons in a move so fast, Anderson could have sworn he heard a small sonic boom...
Watching from their lab...
Her hands flying to her mouth, Iris gasped as Mannis smiled.
“I see now. Yes, I warned Barnard this may not be a wise decision. I’m glad to see I was vindicated, even if a thousand years had to pass to prove it.”
“Prove that Ashia meddled where she shouldn’t have? She used the son of Barnard and Claudia to bring about a change in their pre-ordained history?”
“Yes. The Marrokians were supposed to be annihilated by the Garshans. But no, little Ashia there couldn’t live with that. And here we are. I wonder...”
“I wonder, if given that choice again, if the hands of time were reversed, would Alex Carslon, unknowing of the future, change his mind? Would he listen to his sister’s objections about slavery and with his hatred of the Outer Colonies, lead him to actually scrap the ‘Barnard’s Star’?”
“But professor, we were there. We saw him. He didn’t even stop to think with his head, but with his loins. Cygna was but another trophy to him.”
“Yes, this is true, but what if Mattie were with him? The REAL Mattie. Do you suppose he would have strayed so easily?”
“Were it possible for us to communicate with those of us hidden throughout Humanity’s history, we would have centuries before, you surely know that.” Iris finished, turning back to the viewer. As Alex stood over the bodies of Ashia and Loci, Anderson trying to calm him down.
“At least their deaths are only temporary. What set you off, if I may ask without getting shot myself.” He asked, tentatively placing his hand on Alex’s shoulder, he calming at the reassuring touch.
“Her. I hate her and yet I love her. She meddled in my life to such an extent, I don’t know where my decisions end and her’s begin. Watching Cygna leave again, even though I sent her away, it just brought a flood of old memories to the fore, memories I swore I thought I buried. And it all started that day in Martin Shaw’s office. If only I had listened to my gut and Karen.” He finished, holstering his guns, as Loci stirred, her wounds healed. Alex turned away and moved back to the view plate. The stars seemed to shift and spin, his head dizzy from some outside source, as though someone had just thrown his entire universe into a blender, and switched it to puree`...
“Professor, I know we have the technology, heck, I helped build that device, but surely, meddling with time never goes as planned. Galhadian society has seen this already.”
“Meddling for personal gain, never goes well. It was determined that the meddler eventually sees that he or she can’t change their future simply because their past is what caused their future to be thus, so to change it would require changing their past as well. No, I understand your concern. Remember Iris, we sit outside the normal constraints imposed by Temporal Physics. Our curse really. We sit outside because of that device, which gives us a unique view on the consequences of other people’s choices.” He explained, as he set controls and adjustments on the machine, a form of temporal correction device.
“I understand that sir, I really do. I was at the top of my class in Temporal Physics if you recall.”
“Yes, it was why I selected you. That and your backside.” He finished with a grin as she gasped in shock. Rolling her eyes, she sighed with a giddy smile.
“I always looked at you as a father figure, never as someone who I would take as a mate. Should I change that view, professor?” She asked with a seductive smile. He pulled her closer, breathing in her scent, that of honey and rosemary, and lifted her chin. She stood on tiptoes to be able to kiss him, as he flipped a switch on the device, it humming in a higher pitch then just a moment ago.
Ripped from this fragment of reality, they were hurtled backwards through time, stopping at 11:45am, 24-March-2323, Iris returning his loving kiss, then looking at the monitor, showing Earth. Stepping back from his kiss and embrace, she pointed at the screen. Smiling, he looked at the device. It was again humming at a lower rate, all as it should be.
“You do realize, if he does change his decision, everything he did from this point forward will be changed forever, correct?”
“And the only ones that will have any recollection of what could have been, will be those in this very room.” Mannis corrected, as Iris blanched.
“That surely is a great deal to live with, isn’t it sir?”
“It can be, but, let’s sit down and see what course of action he takes. Who knows, maybe all will be the same, hmm?”
“Oh, I doubt that sir. Should we give him a correction nudge, to counter all of the nudging Ashia has given him? To get his life back under his control?”
“Why Iris, whatsoever do you mean?” Mannis asked, feigning surprise. She giggled.
“By our own laws, we’re about to break several key Temporal ones just being here, considering our advanced knowledge of future, or possible future events.” She said with a smile. He nodded.
“So, any ideas on how to nudge him?” He asked with a smile. Her eyes lit up suddenly at a thought.
“Well, it’ll change one operative’s future, but one for the better. Let me compose the message. I think it’s time he met the real Mattie.” She said with a grin. Mannis nearly fell over, for he was laughing harder then he had in centuries...