Temporal Lobotomy

Haven't we done this before?

Haven’t we done this before?

Module BI-32V: If You Find Yourself In A Temporal Anomaly

I hate temporal mechanics. Hmmm. How do I explain to you, who are primed to go merrily hop-scotching through space, that you may encounter time distortions that could quite possibly erase your very existence? Wait! I know that on the surface, this possibility sounds a little frightening and may present the greatest impediment to space travel that you’ve ever encountered. In fact, statistics show that about half of potential travelers drop out of training after this instruction and those who remain wobble in their determination. But I sincerely expect better of you. You’ll be stronger, right? Right. Here goes.

First of all, temporal mechanics is a complicated mess of convoluted terms meant to astound and confuse you, so you’ll never be foolish enough to mess around with it. Of course, if you already have several degrees in Theoretical Temporality, this may not deter you.

For now, get familiar with these terms: temporal flux, temporal shift, temporal inversion, temporal reversion-what? Too much? Okay, let’s keep it simple. The temporal anomaly that seems to be encountered by most ordinary folk is called a temporal causality loop. These pesky bits of timeless bubbles are the reasons why some travelers are never heard from again. Steady! There’s good news. Believe it or not, this is one of the rarest time irritants that you, as a civilian, can possibly, maybe, perhaps, deal with yourself, if you are fortunate enough.

Now that you’ve stopped shaking, commit to memory these four things you need to do when caught in a temporal causality loop. One, identify it. Are you really in a loop or are you just sea-sick, haven’t got your space legs, yet? Two, if you believe you are in a loop, find out what caused it. Don’t let this frighten you, you don’t need to know much, just investigate unusual occurrences in your vicinity. These events can occur on space stations but, usually, happen on starships, so the chief engineer would be more than happy to help you in order to keep his job, because he’s probably the idiot who caused it in the first place. Three: once identified and analyzed, enlist allies to help you return to normal space-time. And, lastly, four: Work the problem and find your solution. Simple, right? Here’s how it works.

Hey, did I just lose again and again and again?

Hey, did I just lose again and again and again?

Identify. How do you know if you’re in a causality loop? Most people describe it as a feeling of déjà vu. Do you feel like you’ve done this before? Things in your timeline keep repeating. For instance, do you remember playing Dabo again and again and, hopefully, losing. Losing is key because it imprints excruciatingly painful memories deeply into your psyche, causing you to think, “Hey, wait just a gosh-damn minute here!” Passengers who have disappeared during a Dabo board winning-streak are usually never heard from again. That’s why experienced travelers lose intentionally in order to protect themselves.

Next, analysis. What caused the fool thing in the first place? Go to Engineering. Try to convince the Chief Engineer (not some lowly technician with no power) that you’re in a causality loop with a few salient examples. If you’re lucky enough to have a detailed one about your significant other, the chief will believe you. If not, ask if any unusual occurrences have happened, strange mind-altering phenomenon he should have picked up on if he were doing his job. Take these for example.

The pesky time-travel pod.

The pesky time-travel pod.

Strange Mind-Altering Temporal Phenomenon

In one of the earliest accounts on record, a damaged time pod brought aboard the Enterprise NX-01, caught Commander Charles Tucker III along with Armory Officer, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, in a causality loop fragment which left the rest of the crew mercifully unaffected. When they found themselves having the same lame conversation over and over again, Tucker exclaimed, “Enough already with the Stegosauruses!” Since Commander Tucker was the Chief Engineer, he believed himself and fixed the time pod’s beacon emitter. When it was detected by the people from the future, they retrieved the damaged pod and solved Tucker’s problem for him.

In another example, the entire crew of the Enterprise-D were caught up in a causality loop, along with those of the time-displaced USS Bozeman, when the two ships kept colliding and exploding after entering the Typhon Expanse. After seventeen grueling days of dying, finally, the Enterprise’s crew (but not the Bozeman’s?) began to catch on and detected the loop. Then the Chief Engineer, Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, frantic to keep his job, sprang into action and was able to get a dekyon emission transmission dancing and modulating enough to seep through the temporal distortion to a subsequent version of the synthetic, Lt. Commander Data. The problem was solved when Data steered the starship clear of its next stardate with ensuing death.

17 grueling days of temporal dying.

17 grueling days of dying.

Having these instances firmly implanted in your mind, you will be able to convince the Chief Engineer of your ship to believe you, then after a few checks for the usual culprits, like colliding ships, the loop will be easier to deal with if the crew members of the other ship are too dense to detect it. Also, as you may have observed from the accounts given above, if you’ve succeeded in getting the help of the Chief Engineer, you’re well on your way to step three: enlisting other allies, like Data, to develop and, perhaps, even implement a plan.

Once enough people on board are aware of the fact that a temporal anomaly is occurring, it’ll be like trying to stop a herd if elephants from going over a cliff. They’ll all want to help, because, most likely, they, too, are caught up in the same temporal distortion. Unless, unfortunately, your loop exists outside “their” space-time continuum in some kind of naturally-occurring subspace bubble. This would effectively protect the other ship passengers and crew from the changes taking place in your timeline. Allies, besides the Chief, are more difficult to enlist in this case because of their lack of enlightened self-interest.

There is only one thing you can do in that case, hopefully, with the help of the Chief, who still might be willing to help you even though his job is unaffected. You have to fracture time itself. Only temporarily, of course, in order to burst that time pimple. But don’t try this on your own, you may end up erasing your own existence. Wait! Wait! Be strong, and try to stick it out with those who are left. Also, I suggest, you take an additional course in Advanced Temporal Trans-Dimensional Alternate Time-Line Defense Strategies to strengthen your determination to travel into space despite the possibility of this rare, probably, maybe, most unlikely, temporal event.

References:

Strong, Phillis. Sussman, Mike. “Future Tense.” Star Trek: Enterprise. Paramount Pictures. 19 February 2003. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Future_Tense_(episode)

Braga, Brannon. “Cause and Effect.” Star Trek: The Next Generation. Paramount Pictures. 23 March 1992. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Cause_and_Effect_(episode)