Click here for Chapter 1
Click here for Chapter 2
“We are doing what every man and woman on this planet wishes was possible,” boomed Alexander dramatically as they entered a very large chamber, “we are righting the wrongs of the past.”
“I hope you do not mean you are using the time machine to change history,” seethed Irene. “Please tell me you are using the time machine to learn from the past, and not trying to smudge over what you call the blemishes of history with your grimy finger. Even you cannot surely be that logically challenged?"
Alexander paused. His mouth moved but no words came out.
“Tell me straight, why are you sending military thugs back in time?” Irene closed her eyes and exhaled.
Alexander forced a smile. “They're highly trained professionals, Irene. Not thugs. In your terms, if a military grunt were someone who has once picked up a book on world history and flipped through the pages, then these boys would be leading archeologists.”
“You can call me Doctor Hadar, Lord Cartwright,” she hissed, “and I believe I will need to report your operation to the authorities, unless you can offer one good reason why I shouldn't.”
“Okay then, Doctor Hadar, if that is what you prefer... You are welcome to do what you feel is right, but do not sit on your high horse and tell me you haven't compromised on ethics or even broken a few 'little' laws for a project you're working on... Because I know you have, I have files. Files I would be happy to pass on the authorities when they begin to investigate my philanthropy,” stammered Alexander. He took a breath and continued with more composure. “This is not as reckless as you think.” Alexander pushed his glasses further up his screwed up nose. “Look above you and have your worries eased, my darling girl. There was one more very important thing that we discovered within the box.”
Spanning the roof of the chamber was a hologram that looked like a highly intricate glowing spiderweb.
The blue light emanating from the hologram danced upon their faces as the web continually changed pattern.
“What is it?” Irene asked.
“It's beautiful, isn't it?” Alexander smiled. “What you are looking at is a graphic representation for the entire planet's history. A multi-dimensional, ever-changing holographic diagram of infinite information that we have access to.
“This information is what psychics have probably been tapping into all these years and calling the 'Akashic Records'. It records everything from when little Johnny doesn't brush his teeth, to the beginning of this universe.”
“That would be incredible,” muttered Irene, her jaw slowly unclenching. “But, even if we accept this is what you say it is, I still don't see how it gives you a license to be a time traveling cowboy and play with the lives of billions of people. No matter how regrettable and misinformed their actions were in hindsight."
“What's more incredible is that the hologram responds to the perceiver,” Alexander called above the humming of the equipment in the observatory. “The data you are looking at right now is responding to thoughts you have in your head, whilst the data I am perceiving is completely different, as I am perceiving data responding to the thoughts in my head. A truly multi-dimensional device.
“Knowing this, my research team developed advanced technology that can harness the hologram's knowledge and focus it upon specific events in history. By doing this, we can see absolutely every possibility that could have eventuated at a point in time, and thereby decide how to change the world for the better by choosing the correct action.
“For example, if we were to kill Hitler at birth, we could prevent World War Two as we know it, and the deaths and torture of countless innocent people. However, using this matrix of possibilities, our analysis showed that it would've probably had even more detrimental effects for the planet as a whole.
“Hitler's atrocities towards certain groups, for example, were likely to be a catalyst for leaps and bounds in the eventual eradication of racism, sexism and homophobia. Following our current trajectory, you can see how these primitive viewpoints diminish over time through various thought revolutions. On a different timeline we would not have been so introspective to make these changes, and a far more brutal future would likely have unfolded.
“Also, the climate in Germany was ripe for a dictator. Despite Hitler's bloody march, he made mistakes that meant he could be defeated. On another timeline there could have been a much more calculated and strategic dictator who would have not made these mistakes.
“This dictator may have been able to take over Europe, and created a three or even four horse Cold War between Russia, the United States, a Japan-ruled Asia and a Nazi-controlled Europe.
“Then this tense situation could have erupted into a nuclear war, and if this possibility eventuated, we estimate 43% of the entire planet would probably have been made inhabitable. This would have been a likely outcome because the U.S. had not dropped atomic bombs on Japan, and the world would not have realised the magnitude of the destruction caused by the weapon. That is why we didn't prevent that either. It highlighted to the world why we should never use atomic bombs.”
Irene shook her head and interrupted Alexander. “That's exactly why you shouldn't use this machine. A misjudgement like that was probably what destroyed the inventors of the machine, and their civilisation, in the first place. On ancient wall engravings in Peru there is a very intriguing...”
“Perhaps it was what wiped them out,” Alexander interrupted. “But I have a team of the best minds today looking at each possibility. We do not make calculated risks. Everything we do has an absolute positive result. The Hitler example was to show you that we don't go all guns blazing, but if you take the most recent mission, as an example...”
“Says who? Who decides what is right and wrong for billions of people? One team of so-called 'best minds',” erupted Irene. “You are playing God.”
“Do you believe in God, Doctor Hadar? Should there be any religious prejudice I should be aware of?”
“Do you mean to ask me whether I believe in an invisible friend with magic powers? I have a fascination with ancient peoples who do, but I was not born before science, Lord Cartwright. So, no, I do not. I think the likelihood of God is slim. I gave up believing in the tooth fairy too you know. But I don't know whether you or anyone else has the right, wisdom or ethics to play God either.”
“That is good. It was difficult to find a top archaeologist-anthropologist working in the Middle East with such an interest in the Abrahamic religions, meets my hiring criteria, including being a hard-lined atheist. Each member of this team is an atheist. Religious people are nutters who believe in and pray to an imaginary friend, as you so aptly put it.” He chuckled to himself. “As the philosopher Nietzsche said, 'God is dead'. And that is what this is all about, taking control of our world because there is no father figure doing it for us. It is about preventing atrocities and improving the world.” He paused. “I am not doing this for any other reason than I want to put my money behind making this world a better place. Think of all the wrongs in the world, and then imagine you had a chance to change some of them. Would you?”
“I am not you, and to be honest, I would much rather trust my judgement of what equates a better world over yours. No offence.” Irene fidgeted with the myriad of silver rings on her right hand. There was a silence between the two of them. "You know, I can think of another man who studied Nietzsche and thought he could make the world a better place. I'll give you a clue. His name starts with 'H' and you mentioned him just a moment ago."
“Have you heard of King William II of England? Son of the famous William the Conquerer,” asked Alexander, raising his eyebrows.
“Sure,” she said, now sounding muted. "You do realise I study history right?"
“King William II of England was the biggest and most ruthless mass murderer in history. He wiped out the entire population of Wales. He took control of most of Europe, and part of North Africa and the Middle East. He tortured and slaughtered entire communities for insolence, or denying his version of Christianity. He also was responsible for developing some nasty torture procedures still used today.”
“No, he didn't. That is the stupidest, most misinformed thing to come out of your mouth so far. I know my history, Lord Cartwright. He was known to be brutal, yes, but he was never successful in taking Wales, he had a terrible relationship with the Church, and he never took over the land mass you are suggesting. In fact, he did nothing like that. If this is an attempt to prove your ability to make judgements for the planet, I strongly suggest it was misguided.”
“No, he didn't do those things. You're right.” Alexander gave her a toothy grin and held up an index finger. “He didn't, because we went back in history and killed him before he could. That was our last mission. The one you witnessed the team coming back from. But unless you were inside the confines of this facility when the team left, the world changed for the better and you didn't even realise. You see, the world has benefited from our activities and no one even realised it.
“Tomorrow morning is the briefing for the next mission. The one we need your expertise for, Irene. I have read your file, I know your disregard for rules and your record of stamping over people to get your job done, and the fire in your heart that can only be ignited by your people's history... and so I know I will see you there.”
Click here for Chapter 4