Authors: Ian Miller
Tags: #General Fiction
Book 1 of the
Gaius Claudius Scaevola
Ian J Miller
© Copyright, 2013. Ian Miller
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author, except for fair use, such as the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
This is a work of fiction, although I have made an interpretation of the nature of certain historical characters. I have tried to make the background accurate, but there will be inevitable errors, and of course the characters who are not historically known are quite fictional and bear no relationship to anyone.
Greetings, O ugliest one of all! You are no doubt aware of how you got to this point, you have a vague idea how Gaius and Lucilla got here, but you do not know why you got here. Gaius promised to explain everything, but I have written this for him, and, for that matter, I have written it for other reasons that will become clear. This is the first of three such volumes; the others will follow shortly.
I have had to draw on memories and accounts that may or may not be distorted, and I confess to having filtered these a little, removing much that had little bearing on what happened. I have used English for simplicity, and I have anglicized Timothy's name. In fact, Gaius still does not know his original name. Obviously, Gaius had no word for certain scientific concepts, but we can leave out the complications that follow from the introduction of words that you have never heard before nor will hear again. I have also reported distances in kilometres for you. Oh yes, before you start thinking Chapter 1 is logically inconsistent, I obtained the details through a computer linkage with the temporal satellite's logs, with some dramatizing from me.
Pallas Athene was in disgrace, but she felt that it was worth every gram of it for she had immortalized herself, starting over three thousand years before she was born. Yes, she knew that her career as a serious classical historian was over, and being consigned to this miserable cell was not exactly a career highlight, but on the bright side the cell did not have a means of evacuation. If it had, and if there were even a remote possibility that such an evacuation could have been reported as accidental, she was quite certain she would have been consigned to the depths of space. Instead, all they could do was to put her in a shuttle and return her to Earth tomorrow. They would also make certain that she would never be given permission to use the temporal viewer again.
The temporal viewer was one of the great triumphs of twenty-fourth century science, although it depended on theory established by Lansfeld in the late twenty-third century. Prior to Lansfeld, time had a rather peculiar status in physics: it was considered a coordinate, just like distance, which meant you could travel either way on it. The trouble was, you couldn't. One explanation for this problem was that going forwards was simply growing old or being in suspended animation, but going backwards defied conservation laws and the second law of thermodynamics.
The conservation laws arose because one piece of otherwise empty space was as good as another, and one piece of time was as good as another. If you were a footballer trying to kick a goal, if you gave exactly the same kick under exactly the same conditions, the ball would go on exactly the same trajectory whether you were playing at home or away, whether you were kicking towards north or south, or whether you did it today or tomorrow. If energy were not conserved, it could come and go as it pleased and the ball could dribble away for a few meters or go completely out of the field on the same kick. Sport would be impossible, as, for that matter, would be life for there would be no planets and no molecules. Travelling back in time implied that energy and matter were suddenly destroyed in the present and created in the past, in direct violation of conservation laws.
The second law of thermodynamics was an even worse problem. That law said that entropy must always increase with time, which, loosely speaking, meant that things always became more disordered as time increased. Since heat was random motion, ordered energy eventually turned to heat. Molecules never aligned their motion; your dinner never became slightly colder and left your plate to smear itself over the ceiling; a bag of footballs spilled over the field never rolled back together and piled themselves in a nice heap. It was impossible to send an object into the past because it contained heat, and by so sending it, entropy would be transferred from the present to the past, in direct violation of the law.
What Lansfeld's work had shown was that passive observation of the future was relatively easy, although there was a catch. Following the multiverse interpretation of quantum mechanics, every time a decision was made, a time-line followed for each choice. For most choices, this made little difference to the future, and instead of a narrow line, a band was seen that broadened into the future, however some decisions were critical, and the future forked. The net result was the future was so difficult to interpret.
The past, however, was different. While quantum mechanics allowed an enormous range of possibilities for any given action, once it influenced something those possibilities collapsed into one singular event, at least on that timeline. On our timeline, Napoleon always invaded Russia, and this always led to his demise. It may be different in other Universes, but we have no mans of knowing. Where Lansfeld's work was so important was that he showed that provided past energy transmission vectors remained unchanged and all energy consumption was realized in the present, passive observation of the past was possible.
Needless to say, the ability to see and record what actually happened had totally changed the study of history. There was still the problem of interpreting why it happened but at least the facts were right, which pleased those crusty old farts that saw themselves as the gatekeepers of the true knowledge.
What was known only to a handful of classical scholars was that there was an obscure tale of the Trojan War and somebody called Achilles, apparently told by, of all things, a blind poet of no significance. This was followed by what could be called a sequel, and this was a miserable tale of a drunkard who spent ten years fornicating around Greece before he returned home. When he did return, he thought his wife was taking lovers, so, after getting suitably drunk and unsuitably angry, in a quite messy and deplorable scene he bludgeoned the unfortunate wooers to death. This was followed by a sequence of squalid revenge bludgeonings. The original splatter tale!
She, Pallas Athene, had realized that information had neither inertial mass nor entropy, and accordingly, under certain conditions it was possible to be more active. The key was, a human's brain was always active, even when it was not doing anything significant, hence information could be transmitted there, redirecting electrical activity that was happening anyway without violating the laws of physics. If an historical person happened to be inside a certain configuration of stones or partially surrounded by another material of sufficiently high impedance, she could generate a direct communication with the subject's brain, particularly if the person was asleep or deeply relaxed. She could give seers prophecies, which were harmless because nobody believed them until they came true. She had ruined Kassandra's life, but later efforts were more fruitful. The Delphic Oracle was in an ideal site, and one particularly fruitful effort had been to give the oracle Galba's age, which greatly enhanced the mystique of the prophecy relating to Nero. She had drafted a short paper outlining how to do it, and she had intended to send this out for peer review shortly. She would be famous!
However, the highlight occurred in the temple in which the blind poet spent a lot of time. She, Pallas Athene, gave him visions that would improve the stories, and at the same time she inserted her name, as a Goddess.
Once Homer realized he could get visions in the temple, he came often. For a blind man, vision was a gift from the Gods. She had shown him what Ithaca, Troy, and the Plains of Illios actually looked like, she could show him the battles, and more to the point, she greatly improved the second story. A squalid drunken hypocrite who killed to escape the consequences of his fornicating was not the stuff of legends; make him truly a man of wrath. With the aid of special graphics she could show him monsters and places he could never imagine to better account for why the hero was away so long, and she could show the bloody ending that a true man of wrath would impose.
There had been a problem: the Gods had only one name. Why had she called herself Pallas Athene? Yes, it was her name but that was insufficient so she had to concoct this story about her having devoured Pallas, which made her a twin Goddess, but of what? The ferocity made warfare obvious, but the second? When the image of an irate Dr Chu came to mind, she had said science, then added wisdom as an explanation. The blind poet was impressed and made her part of the tale. Then, to make certain of her immortality, she had recorded the colour of her eyes. Who had ever heard of a grey-eyed Greek of that period? Athene had thought that this was truly safe because the change was noticeable only to those in the temporal satellite at the time and who had heard of the original versions; she was currently the only classical scholar on board.
The effect was startling. With such inspiration Homer completely changed his stories, and where before they had been eminently forgettable, and only recorded much later by sheer accident and then largely ignored except by half a dozen scholars, suddenly history had two pieces of truly great literature. The problem was, those within the temporal satellite retained their old memories but could view the changed scenario, and because of the greatness of the stories her prank had been uncovered. The sudden change in the name of the capital of Greece was also a bit of a give-away. Nevertheless, it was worth the consequences. She could live with her name recorded in two of the most famous pieces of literature ever written, and having a major city named after her was an added bonus.
The lights dimmed, so much so that she could barely see. Pathetic! They thought they were punishing her! Now, she thought as she lay down on the bunk, with fame achieved and the dim light she would get a good night's sleep.
In that she was wrong. She heard footsteps, then the door opened. An android stood there and beckoned. "Collect your belongings and come with me. It will be easier if you comply."
Yes, it would be, she thought. If the android grasped her, it could quite easily break her arm. "I promise not to run," she said, as she collected her reading material and her electronic notebook. "After all, there's nowhere to run to on a satellite." A thought occurred to her and she added, "I also promise not to try to steal the shuttle."
"You couldn't, anyway, because there is no shuttle outside," the android replied as she entered the barely lit passageway. Behind her, another android dragged a screaming shape and flung it into the cell and shut the door.
"You mean it's gone without me?"
"It no longer exists," came the unemotional response. "Everything will be explained in the conference room."
With no reason not to, Athene strode towards the conference room. She might be in trouble, but she was not going to let them see any sign of concern. However, when she opened the door she found that easier said than done. In what little light there was she could see three ashen-faced people: Dr Chu, the physicist responsible for the temporal viewer, Professor Ralph Grenfell, the specialist in alien history, and Rodney Black, the satellite commander who seemed to be so dazed he was barely functional. She could also smell fear. Dr Chu nodded to her and pointed to a chair.