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I write this now after the span of some centuries, I am an old man now in spirit, and weary beyond all knowing.
I perfected my time machine in the summer of 2006. With the final part, the essential part, given to me by my niece. That's when the trouble started, for once it was invented, it was invented for all time. The percent of mankind that had access to such technology was small. But it was a percent drawn from all mankind throughout all of history.
Everyone wanted to change things, from their own personal lives, to their nation's course, to their race's destiny...
"Temporal Immortals" we called ourselves, for our mastery of time let us leap into fantastic futures of far advanced geriatrics and gene technologies. Centuries have I personally lived through since I left on that fateful trip to learn from my niece where she got that part...and yet my biological age is even now but thirty six.
As it happens, she got the part from my machine...we don't then know how it "first" came into being.
Even as I was first experimenting, I started to sense and observe passing discontinuities, for the experience of travelling through time gives you the ability to remember how things were before they were changed.
I remember wondering how the Illini Province of the British Americas could now be called "the state of Illinois in the U.S.A.". As it happened, a terrorist group called the Daughters of the American Insurrection on my timeline had gone back and given aid and assistance to a little known band of political activists and traitorous plantation owners, in an attempt to disrupt the Global Pax Britannica that I and all sane subjects enjoyed living under.
When it then changed again, but to a barren and blasted wasteland where once had grown the corn of the midwest, I and my niece almost died getting ourselves and our notes and materials out of the region to the nearest settlement of Novy Petrograd, in the Socialist Republic of America, U.S.S.R.
No sooner did we locate a University, where the French Quarter of New Orleans had once been, when we found ourselves being sharply quizzed by professors of her Most Catholic Majesty, Queen Isabella VII, Empress of the Spanish Dominion, protector of Nueva Hispana.
These Jesuit trained professors quickly caught on to our dilemma, and fortunately explained it to us before they themselves realized the full implications. We managed to escape into the past, through my niece's clever idea - we got a message to a guard (who was in the Protestant Liberation Organization) that bade him to preserve the exact location of where we were that day.
His group then feverishly worked on recovering our machine from what was to them but a pleasant expanse of endless plains over which the buffalo and unconverted Native Americans still roamed.
They then set the controls to our prison cell and for the point in time just before when we originally gave the guard the message - allowing us to then not give the guard the message, and escape far down into the past, before they could know of the technology.
edit Temporary Safety
Safe - for a bit - in the days when the Sumerian Empire was but a few scattered tribes that had discovered that grains could be cultivated, we took stock of things. We realized that with the existence of time travel, every interest group was trying to make the world over in their own version of Utopia.
We were safe, but only for being in an era that no one wanted to change, the era when man first left tribal existence and formed the first city states. We knew that all the changes were still continuing uptime, with Nazis fighting Confederates, Dutch Reformists versus Basque Nationalists, Scientologists versus The Holy Mormon Empire of Deseret.
And soon enough, those further uptime - who's existence was as real, and life long as anyone’s, for all that it kept flickering - would think to track us, the original inventors. At that point we flicked backwards, just as a fleet of thousands of ships started flickering into Sumeria, zeroing in our location with their devilishly accurate tracking devices.
A long trip uptime we then took, this time to the year 17,500 A.D., where we were able to outfit ourselves with cloaking devices and other defensive measures - as well as the longevity serum. Though those assisting us kept shifting about in appearance and mannerisms, we were able to leave a request at one point, then flick up fifty years to collect it from the changed personnel who had still carried out the instructions out of curiosity.
Feeling more secure, we reasoned that others would have our own problems with what was happening, and that they'd seek to try to quell these temporal shifts. We reasoned that they'd wish to meet like minded people, and that they'd seek a point far down in time to do so.
43,000 B.C. - nevermind the exact year - we touched down on the plains of East Africa, where the first group of "highbrows" were in flight from the Neanderthals! And got another overwhelming shock to realize that man's history itself was a self-created alternate, for it was only our own assistance that allowed these ancestors of all mankind to regroup, plan, and go back and slaughter their own primitive ancestors, clearing the way for the ascendancy of Homo Sapiens...
At such point - just after their success - was where those who sought to fight against the changes converged. We listened to their lofty ideals, and agreed with them. And formed the Time Patrol, modeled after a science fiction series popular in several timelines, for thousands of alternates were represented on that ancient field.
We didn't tell them of the first change ever. Nor of the Neanderthal machine that had flickered in just before their arrival - blown out of the sky by our own vehicles "defensive" armament. The blood of an entire intelligent species...forever on our hands...
edit Battle for Stability
We journeyed back into the age before the dinosaurs, and planned and thought and researched and planned. And not infrequently fought off random temporal rogues, who sought to stop our efforts before we started our efforts.
Given that we had all came from so many different divergences, though we all opposed the divergences, we finally agreed that it would be best to restore things to how they were in my own timeline, where his Britannic Majesty ruled over all, in a peace and prosperity that was global.
We fought then. A thousand battles, in a thousand locations, on tens of thousands of timelines. Hard enough to damp out the changes from a Carthage not so easily destroyed - at least we knew to look at Carthage in the first place.
But how to find out about, and end, the equally disastrous consequences of a kindly tutor (an enemy temporal agent) who raised a King John to be so benevolent and wise that no band of noblemen ever had cause to waylay him on the road to Runnymede in 1215?
Who could know in advance that if that suspiciously mysterious and rich woman had not run off with that ne'er do well printer in 18th century America, that he'd have wrote a pamphlet that incited the general populace to take up arms against King George III? That this woman turned out to be my niece getting things back on track prompted furious debate as to whether my timeline was really the proper one...and resulted in her own assassination by a Time Patrol turncoat...
After centuries of this - not just battles and assassinations, but the tedious research, the years of living as one of the "timelocked" in various primitive eras gathering intelligence, and the petty intrigues that flourished even within the Patrol...
The answer finally was determined, the final change from which all other changes would be damped out...
At the point in which the latest change had ended in the assassination of my niece before she could seduce this T. Paine away from his future literary endeavors - as I maintain she was supposed to do - it was decided without my knowledge that if only I had never invented the machine, then all would be well.
Betrayed by those I trusted, and captured by my own trusted servant, and still in mourning for my niece's untimely demise....they sentenced me to a temporal revision in which I'd live, but be unable to invent the process.
I pleaded in vain for the last change to be carried out first, for this madman of Boston to be given another woman to lure him away from his seditious activities that would see the overthrow of British authority in North America. But they had had enough, and refused.
They flicked upwards in time, and saw to it that my grandfather did not invest in the Xerox Corporation as he originally had, thus my father had no inheritance, but was a regular corporate executive. Thus I myself was raised in a...public school system! This instead of being sent to the private academy I had originally attended.
I felt for the first time what I imagine those of other timelines had felt at the moment of change - a final shift that would end all other shifts. I passed out, and awoke with a start in what looked like a middle class home. And turned out to be a middle class home, in this new world I find myself timelocked in, a world where I am of the middle classes, and where I was raised in public schools, and can think and reason only with great difficulty.
I dimly recall the ease with which I used to solve problems, the Latin I knew, the equations I could do in my head...all gone. Reasoning is possible, but only with great effort. I have no knowledge of how to construct a temporal device.
I have trouble enough understanding this changed world, for his Majesty here is but the grandson of the Queen, and the British Americas are now some kind of Fascistic Empire intent on global domination. And it seems the Rights of Englishman have been wholly overlooked, and we've no more freedom then is doled out by this nine member judicial group you have.
And however did the Patriarch of the leading crime family of the New London underground gain this Presidency you have? And then gain it again for that backward son of his? Now a seeming quadroon holds sway?
In any case, you are now "up to date" on all that has transpired, and now I must accommodate myself to this new (to me) life of being a slave in this dictatorship, in which my very mind has been stunted by the child indoctrination agents of this brutal nation.
I suppose none of you are aware of any of the changes...or even how it was originally...given that this was such a neatly timed temporal change. The first change to create this Dark Empire, the second to make me helpless in it.
I have puzzled out now why time travel is not possible. For when it is, something like this happens each "time", and the changes continue until the change is made where the machine could not have been invented.
I see the French are still rude. That seems a universal constant!