Time Zone Tango

“Ladies and gentleman welcome to the Chrono Control Centre, I’m Theo, your guide for today, to the wonders of this place.” The impossibly handsome Theo paused for a few seconds. “And this, gentles all -” he paused again and opened his arms wide, the wall behind him faded into transparency. “And this is the beating heart of the CCC. The Time Zone Monitoring and Control Centre!”

Enthusiastic applause erupted from the assembled visitors punctuated by gasps of astonishment, one plump woman even fainted. She was quickly revived and led off by medical personnel. “Nothing to worry about ladies and gentlemen this happens quite often.” Theo reassured us. “The lady will be back with us as soon as she has fully recovered.”

Even I had to admit it was a spectacular sight, despite the fact that I was here to destroy it. The vast cavern, behind the transparent wall stretched away in a horseshoe shape curving round the viewing platform and we were standing right at the epicentre looking down at the operators.  Half way up the wall, at our eye level, in front of the numerous operators the worlds time line ran all the way round the cavern. It was a fat red rope of twisted strands; above and below the rope were thin threadlike tendrils some short and fading into nothing, others looping back to wrap themselves around the main rope. And above this, the CCC’s mantra in bright red letters, it read “To get the best of all possible worlds, things must happen for the best.”

“Now ladies and gentlemen if you look closely at the timeline you will see thin vertical blue lines moving slowly along the main thread. These delineate the time zones that each of the groups of operators are responsible for.” He gave the audience a few moments to focus. “Now if a thread breaks free from the central timeline then the operators have to assess the impact and decide what to do. In most cases, we leave well alone, especially if the projections suggest the thread is non-viable in the medium term.”

“Look there’s one!” The thin elderly man pointed at the wall. “Right there! A thin one breaking away!” The could all see it now round a little to the left, a red thread breaking free of the main bundle. It didn’t seem to make any difference to the main line.  Underneath the technicians were also aware, a few clustered around a smaller group of monitors. They seemed calm, the technician’s hands flashed across his keyboard and after a minute or two the thread ceased to grow and began to fade.

“There you have it ladies and gentlemen another fault rectified in just a few moments. That’s what we are here for, that’s what these dedicated men and women do every day. Helping to ensure the best of all possible worlds for all of us.”

I wondered if he could be any more smug, it didn’t appear likely.

Theo pushed a comms button on his pad, “Team leader could you explain what just happened for our guests?”

So, it was a set up.

The man at the desk stood and turned to look up, “Of course Theo. Fairly routine, an accidental discovery in the late dark ages of an improved treatment for bacterial diseases. We had to make sure the knowledge didn’t spread.”

“Why not? Surely this is a good thing? Perhaps thousands of people didn’t have to die.” Asked one of the tourists, she wasn’t outraged, merely curious.

The chrono technician shook his head. “Sorry Ma’am it was too early. If we had let it go then the consequences would have been huge. The long-term impact on the best possible timeline would have been catastrophic.”

I ground my teeth while continuing to smile. This is an exact example of what the CCC do. Cut off timelines that don’t suit them and their so called best possible timeline. The line they maintain and fatten to make sure they stay in charge. They cut off each possibility, each new thread of life, each possibility of a different future in the multiverse, to bolster their control, their mastery of the human race. These poor drones visiting today have no idea what the real past looks like and have no future unless it is programmed by the CCC.

I wanted her to ask, how do you know, but Theo moved us on too quickly. “Now if you’ll just follow me we will see the main training and development facility and have a chance to speak with some of our choronauts in person.”

“Oh, look it’s another one, much bigger this time. When is that?” It was the same elderly man his hand shaking as he pointed at the wall.

Theo was beginning to look less sure of himself, he wiped beads of sweat from his upper lip, but his smile remained fixed. “Well ladies and gentlemen you are doubly privileged today. You will get the chance to see some real chrononauts in action. That time zone is what was known as World War Two and there is obviously a major split developing.”

On the floor of the control centre a large team was gathering around the desks below the anomaly. As well as the technicians, a group of strangely dressed men and women were gathering round the monitors. The lead technician was briefing the chrononauts, he was gesticulating at the board and down at the monitors.

“Can we hear them?”

“No, I’m sorry sir, this is obviously a major incident and we are sending some operatives to the rupture. I wouldn’t want to disturb their concentration.”

I recognised the Second World War uniforms the operatives were wearing and I understood what they were doing. They were going back to August 1940 to thwart the Allied removal of the heavy water from Norway and divert it to Nazi Germany. The impact, if they were successful, would bring into being the development of Hitler’s nuclear weapon, the destruction of London in 1943, and the timeline as we know it today. The Fourth Reich and it was my fault.

I built the first chrono visualiser in the middle of the 21st century but it was just a research tool. A way of looking into the past to see our ancestors without the veil of time obscuring our view. Oh, it was wonderful. I could watch and learn; see the reality of existence unfold as it was not how we wanted to see it. My research partner, Boltzmann however, saw things differently, she was the first to spot the timelines breaking off and the glorious multiverse opened out in front of her.  The multitudinous variety of possibility, but the glorious march of possibilities was as nothing to her. She saw the possibility for control, a way of limiting the branching of realities to one vision; hers and hers alone.

She found a way of physically transporting herself back into the timeline and making small changes she began to warp the branches to her our own will. I was so intent on studying the distance past that I didn’t notice until it was too late that the 20th century timelines were changing and merging into something altogether different. I tried to stop her there and then but I failed and she founded the CCC in secret to create her singular vision of humanity’s future.

So, here I am with one last desperate opportunity the right her wrongs and free the multiverse to pursue its own multifarious destinies. I just need to get to the right time zone.

“Look their coming back!” The chrononauts had only been away for a few seconds in real time but on their return, they had obviously been in a fire fight. One was dead and another injured. “Oh, the poor man.” Above the returnees, the fat branch gradually faded and disappeared. I took my chance.

While they were distracted I crept off and worked my way to the crew quarters where the chrononauts relaxed and enjoyed themselves. I managed to steal an early 21st century suit of clothes and a weapon. I had to get back to the time just before Boltzmann was born, I believed that was a blind spot in the timeline and I could stop her then.

The training complex had a portal and I intended to use that to go back and complete my mission. I knew there would be contradictions and I had to be careful, I couldn’t afford to create a closed time loop separate from the main line. It would be too obvious and I would find myself trapped with no exit, but I had to be sure that there was sufficient time for my intervention to work its way through the timeline. This meant I would have to stay in the time zone for at least an hour.  All being well I would then be snapped back into my proper time zone and location.

The journey through the portal was very painful, I had not expected that and arrived where and when I wanted to be panting and in pain, it was raining.

A young lady stopped beside me. “Are you all right sir? You’re as white as a sheet. Has something happened?”

I closed my eyes and leant against the wall, “No, I’m fine thank you. Just a dizzy turn. I’ll be fine.”

I took several deep breaths and opened my eyes, “See better already.”

She looked sceptical, “Well if you’re sure.” She took a pace away and raised her umbrella and I could see her properly for the first time. She was heavily pregnant, it was Boltzmann’s mother. She was the woman I had come to kill. I fumbled in my coat pocket for the weapon.

A strong hand clamped on my forearm and Boltzmann’s voice whispered in my ear.

“You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you Otto?”

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