Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Again and Again

This was a decidedly challenging set, primarily because it was a sentence rather than a group of words:

The Devil went down to Georgia ...again

A couple of these are easy (Devil and Georgia). A couple are really hard (I still don't like what I had to do to make "went" and "down" work). But once I saw "...again" I knew I had to pull out the time travel trope. Especially as we've been watching Timeless and Time After Time recently.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the WENT Foundation. You have all passed the initial screening, so it's time for you to learn what this is all about. The short answers are: time travel, fixing history, and saving reality itself from imminent destruction.

The long answers require a lot of background. We'll start with a history lesson. In 1967 a group of researchers from the University of Georgia were working on a DARPA project. This project was intended to recreate key results of the Philadelphia Experiment which had been generated by accident. The leads of the project were Willis, Ennesby, Norton, and Taliaferro, after whom the WENT Foundation is named. They were having very little success, and would have been willing to do anything to prove themselves.

That, of course, was the cue for The Devil to appear.

Later research has revealed that the entity known to us only as The Devil is one of seven known survivors of Atlantis. Yes, that Atlantis. Apparently, Atlantis did not sink in any kind of normal cataclysm. Rather, they discovered time travel, used it unwisely, and in the process edited themselves out of history entirely. At the time that Atlantis collapsed, these seven time travelers were beyond the Temporal Horizon Event, and so survived.

For reasons that we are still exploring, The Devil chose this moment and these men in 1967 to pass on the secret of time travel. He included not only details on the technologies required to safely travel, but advice on how to avoid the worst basic mistakes. Rather than hand this information over to the military, the four founders chose to travel back, invest enough funds in the stock market to ensure endless wealth, and use that wealth to start the Foundation. They took the entire operation private.

We rapidly learned that The Devil was not the generous benefactor he seemed, but a cruel manipulator. He wanted us to change a number of significant events in the past to enact some mysterious agenda. When we recognized what was happening and confronted him, he literally cackled and walked out. Now we have to figure out what the hell he was doing, and set things back right. And, of course, try to head off damage he is continuing to do.

We do know that he is attempting to create another Temporal Horizon Event (THE). This is accomplished by putting enough stress on a given point in time that time itself collapses. He also gave time travel capability to the Nazis. In the process of taking it away from them, we rendered the entire WWII era both highly improbable and highly unstable. The entire period from 1935 to 1945 is off limits. Similarly, the period from 44BC to 79AD is off limits. Don't screw with this period. On only our third trip to this century, our sensors already indicated that the stress on the time period was near critical. Don't go see the Caesars, don't go see Pompeii, and for the love of everything don't go see Jesus! Enough of you yahoos are going to ignore me that we've already almost destroyed the universe.

Now, a lot of you are already wondering about causality loops. I can tell you that the universe doesn't believe in them. Time has one central thread of events, and whatever you change, it only changes minor details. You can go back and kill George Washington all you want. The American Revolution will still be successful. At most, you get someone else in as the first President. But when other teams make other changes further back in history, those ripples will erode your changes, and good ol' George will eventually be the Father of our Country again. But those changes don't disappear entirely, or instantly. If we make enough changes to enough time periods simultaneously, we might be able to permanently rewrite history. Actually, we're pretty sure we've done that at least twice already, and probably a lot more often. That's what The Devil needed us for, because he can't make changes fast enough by himself to change whatever destiny he needs to change.

However, there are two rules: You can't travel to any point within your own lifetime, and you can't meet yourself. If you spot yourself walking down the street, get away fast. It seems that our subconscious experiences the timestream very differently from our conscious. If you exist in two places at the same time, your subs merge into one. This really screws with you fast, because your memories suddenly don't line up. You end up with a condition we call the Again, because you start seeing everything in your life again and again. For a short while, you can handle it. But stay in the Again too long, and you lose any ability to tell what's real.

There's another rule, but its about a different threat. Having too many copies of a person making changes at the same time seems to really stress out the timeline. As such, we have a hard and fast rule: four downs and you punt. That is, you get four chances to succeed at each mission. If you can't pull it off with four of you running around, you get benched and another team inserted. What we're dealing with is weird enough and subtle enough that we don't expect you to get it on your first down. We do expect you to figure it out by your fourth, though.

Most of you look pretty eager to get started. A few of you are already looking for the eject button. If you want to eject, go through the red door behind you, and we wish you well. If you want to save all of time and space, follow me to Terminal Operations, which we call TO, and meet your football. This is your chance to go down in history.

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