It may be considered hypocritical to outlaw forward "time travel" as well as
the more traditional backwards case that most are referring to when they
consider the possibilities. After all, everyone outside of the Corps
does nothing but forward travel throughout their lives. Who is anyone to call
an adjustment of the rate at which that travel occurs anything different from
natural life extension?
Unfortunately "it doesn't work like that", and travelling forward, except in
rare cases, is treated as just as much the crime that travelling backward would
be. In some cases, it's even more so. A person being alive when they shouldn't
be is the often the clearest sign of an external event, no matter the complete
causal chain. While historians are immediately dispatched to track down the
beginning of the chain as it happens, another job is a bit more direct, a bit
less precise, and a lot less effective. "Morally Questionable" it was not, so
upheld the Supreme Court retroactively in some year nobody's supposed to know
about, but when a memo is leaked in the Time Corps it travels far'n.
Live long enough, and you'll eventually kill somebody. Reapers get that
distinction earlier than most, though. Every time it feels like the first time,
because it very often is. If the historians do their jobs, if the movers do
theirs. Knowing the intricacies of causal chains doesn't help quash hopes that
they'll work it all out prefore it's necessary. Everyone, at least everyone in
the Corps, knows the event remains even if its chain is broken. Nothing can
ever undo what will happen, even if nothing ever leads to it happening.
Thoughts dwell on how nothing through the cross-hairs should exist, how if
anyone else did their jobs it probably already never happened. Sometimes they
catch it without a reaper. Sometimes the historians can figure things out from
one direction. It's more difficult, much more difficult, but not impossible.
The reaper exists, really, to make someone else's job slightly easier.
None of this is happening. None of this will happen. Life goes on, and nobody
ever did this.
And they're still all dead. That's where the "morality" part kicks in.
Fat men and trains. None of these people get killed today, none of them are alive to
begin with. Reapers were started to end those eventual-returners: those who would
become movers themselves. It became apparent that the math worked better
without extra variables. All those Ediths. Everyone who'd never
be given a second thought by now if they'd stayed dead.
It's hard to work through all the permutations. It's really probably better not
to think about it. For this one, it wasn't a technical "first kill". If the
historians would do their jobs, but you can't catch 'em all. Somebody says he's
not supposed to be alive. The kids aren't adopted, one is carrying a shopping
bag with a microscope in it. It's not any fun to imagine what changes they made
which were large enough to divert from the baseline.
Police move in even before it begins. Not to stop anyone, just to look
official and pretend to explain what's going on. Every time feels like the
They don't catch the guy. Historians never do their jobs. Some have theories
that a broken chain never stops, isn't just the ideal mathematical view of a
disconnected immutable event, but the start of a whole chain in itself, never
ending. A variation on the "many worlds" theory that causal chains were
supposed to invalidate.
That ideal, though: One event, disconnected and immutable, existing on its own
forever, not leading to any future chains. That seems to fit.
for SciFiQuest 3008