For us, time does not exist …. All Earth history has been changed.
-Captain James Kirk
Module BI-11T: Past Is Present
Do you think about the past? Not much? Well, you should. Knowledge of earth history is part of your training for good reason. It’s not just to make you cranky and ill-tempered but also to school you in the excruciatingly dull concepts of human-centric antiquity. Not only will you definitely encounter aliens in your travels, but they will most likely know more about earth history than you do. Somehow, western history in particular, routinely finds its way into other planetary cultures. Even in their past. Fascinating, right? But that’s not the only reason to bone up. When time travel is involved, the past is almost certainly the destination of design.
Why? We had no idea until we made the acquaintance of a few ill-tempered temporal agents. Though they never explicitly said it, we’re fairly certain they had a hand in managing this conspiratorial backward-stream. Probably for good reason. To keep their own existence in the future confidential so they can correct any serious historical aberrations. But, unfortunately, the depressing dystopias we will cheerfully examine here are the norm in their time-lines and are unavailable for helpful correction.
Let’s start with a witch hunt. A truly unusual peril. How could a man from the future (James T. Kirk) who spoke openly to spirits (Spock and Bones behind a brick wall) not be accused of being a witch? A truly logical deduction on the part of the inhabitants of the time. Though he vehemently tried, Kirk could not convince anyone that he wasn’t some soulless sorcerer in a land where bad witches abounded. Not even clicking his heels could save him. But, he still managed to hold out until he found his way home and even saved his grievously maligned friends.
It started when the Enterprise played Good Samaritan to the planet Sarpeidon. The planet’s sun was in the final throes of going super nova, thereby granting the crew a convenient excuse to invite themselves to the surface to warn and help the inhabitants. How? Not certain how they were going to help a whole planet of humanoids that looked so much like humans it was freaky. Evacuate them where? With what? Anyway …
Even more freaky was the fact that all the planet’s inhabitants had already escaped into an Earth-like past, England’s Inquisition and all. Suddenly, Kirk heard a screaming woman and, hoping for another romantic encounter, ran to the rescue through a time portal. What he found was a female not even remotely a prospect for romantic venture, but he was imprisoned as a heretic before he could escape her.
Only a Sarpeidon time traveler, who preceded him, could help Kirk find his ruby slippers and return him to his own space-time continuum. After much effort and Kirk’s menacing glares, the overweight alien finally agreed to help him. And just in time, too. (Pun intended.)
Meanwhile, Spock was rocking the place 5000 years in the past, by doing what he’d always wanted to do. Get the girl and kick some smart aleck arse. But, Dr. McCoy, the object of his affection, who got to do neither, grew tired of being the third wheel between Spock and Zarabeth, and wanted out of there. However, Spock’s girlfriend gripped him tighter than a Klingon clinches his bat’leth.
Bones managed to pry her prickly fingers off, though, and convinced Spock to help him find a way back through the time portal. Even still Spock attempted to stay behind, flinging McCoy into a stony wall, only half expecting him to float through. Yet, gratified that he was beaten and bruised for Zarabeth’s sake, he very reluctantly left her behind. Couldn’t enjoy himself anyway with McCoy constantly wining.
McCoy, again, experienced much pain whilst tremendously aggravating the rest of the crew. By foolishly injecting himself with cordrazine and going stark raving mad. Then doing something even more foolish. Screaming, “Killers! Assassins!” his insanity led him to beam down to a planet so unexplored it hadn’t even been named yet. And, of course, Kirk and the entire bridge crew had to beam down to find him.
On the planet, they discovered The Guardian of Forever. Yes, it’s as ominous as it sounds. Part machine, part being, yet neither? A cyborg lacking identity?! Even the Borgs knew who they were. But they were bipedal. Maybe that helped.
McCoy, unaware of the Guardian’s identity crisis, hurled himself through the time machine’s portal. This is the ominous part. All communications from the Enterprise stopped. Nothing. The Guardian informed them, “Your vessel, your beginning, all that you knew is gone.” Kirk surmised that Bonehead changed the past in some way, and that’s why they were stuck on that desolate planet with no future.
After a few nerve-wracking moments, Kirk decided to find that temporal-terminator to restore that which was. Finally finding him outside the 21st Street Mission in the 1930’s was briefly joyful. But Edith Keeler, the woman Kirk foolishly fell for, stepped from the curb on her way to death’s door. This was the event of McCoy’s interference, so poor Kirk had to watch his woman die in order to save his world.
Once they returned through the portal, the Enterprise and everything else was restored. “Time has resumed its shape. All is as it was before. Many such journeys are possible. Let me be your gateway.” I do believe it was one of the few times in Kirk’s storied career that he cussed. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Never mind that the Guardian offered to take them places they’d never been, to see things they’ve never seen. To boldly go where no sane person had gone before. I guess the heartache was too great for them to study the greatest technological feat of their time. Oh, well.
This next example will lighten the mood. On this present-to-past occasion, Deep Space 9’s personnel were unsuspectingly finagled into traveling to the past by that 22nd century cretin, the Klingon Darvin, using a Bajoran time orb. He still agonized over all that trouble with Tribbles business. Don’t know about that yet? Keep training, you will.
Captain Benjamin Sisko’s posse arrived just in time (pun intended) to keep Darvin from killing Sisko’s much-adored superhero, Captain Kirk. Thus, ensuring Kirk would experience all the emotional trauma his historic and eventful career could muster.
The Department of Temporal Investigations agents were not very happy that Darvin took the crew over the temporal rainbow, but considered their inability to fracture the timeline a success. The temporal investigator’s inability to see the multitudinous pile of Tribbles littering the station, Sisko also considered a success. Which happily brings us to our conclusion.
Time travel, accidental or not, has been reported numerous times since the Enterprise NX-01 warped into space. Little did we know that with warp capability the likelihood of temporal travel increases. The slingshot effect notwithstanding, some alien species had also long ago perfected the art, leaving their leftover tech behind to create mayhem.
So, if you ever find yourself in the past, refrain from significantly interacting with the natives. If you can’t find your way home, live meekly and quietly, leaving as a little a temporal footprint as possible. Don’t find anyone to love. Don’t be a smarty pants or seek revenge. And don’t go insanely stomping through the land, saving people unless you know emphatically from your required history lessons, they’re supposed to live. If you don’t know your past, don’t change anyone’s future. Our existence as a species depends on it.
Aroeste, Jean Lisette. “All Our Yesterdays.” Star Trek. National Broadcasting Station. 14 March 1969. Television. Retrieved: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Our_Yesterdays_%28Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series%29
Ellison, Harlan. “The City on the Edge of Forever” Star Trek. National Broadcasting Station. 6 April 1967. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/The_City_on_the_Edge_of_Forever_(episode)
Behr, Ira Steven. Beimler, Hans. Echevarria, Rene. Moore, Ronald D. Wolfe, Robert Hewitt. “Trials and Tribble-ations.” Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Paramount Domestic Television. 4 November 1996. Television. Retrieved http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0708655/