There are four individuals that the Arisa refer to as the pillars of Arisa. First, there is Avid Aronson who invented time travel. Second, there is Vladimir Rulatz who is credited with the creation of a unified theory of time travel. Third, there is Rulon Akola who discovered time threads. Fourth and finally, there is Simone who formulated the rules and regulations for how time travel was to be used. Every Arisan can recite the four names and offer a brief summary of their accomplishments, but oddly enough almost no one knows the details of their lives. They are statues in the park and plaques on the walls rather than real people. The story that I heard over and over again was that these four people had created the world in which I had come to live. And as soon as that fact was imparted, the conversation got a little vague. To be fair, the history of these four people spanned 900 years and the last of them had been dead for half a millennia. For the typical Arisan, this was simply part of the cultural environment. For me, a stranger in a very strange land, this was new and interesting. I set out to understand these four people.
Journal: The Bastard Avid Aronson
Avid Aronson had come from modest means. We know very little of his early life. He had become wealthy by being a brilliant inventor and maker of things. He had married late in middle-age to a beautiful young woman, Eva, who had given him a daughter, Anna, who was the love of his life. The winter of 2661 to 2662 had been warm but very wet and rainy. Anna, who would be 9 in a month, had been cooped up in the Aronson mansion for most of the winter. It was a big house filled with many things to distract a young girl, but on April 11 of that year the rain stopped and the sun came out. It was time to go out and explore.
The grounds of the estate were safe. There were fences to shield the estate. There were surveillance cameras and sensors to watch over Anna as she explored. She moved through the gardens taking an informal inventory of the budding plants. But for Anna the most exciting thing was to watch the river, swollen with melting snow, as it cut through the estate. There were barriers along the banks to keep her from falling in. There were several picturesque bridges that crossed the river. These too had their barriers to protect an adventurous young girl.
The detailed records from this time are fragmentary. This is well before The Insane War that destroyed the majority of recorded information. There is a fragment of a video that purports to show Anna on one of the bridges, leaning on the railing, facing away from the camera and watching the water of the river tumble down over rapids. For almost 10 minutes she watches, fascinated by the chaotic beauty of the water. Then without warning, the western bank of the river gives way. Later analysis would show that the ground had become supersaturated with water. Over the next 77 seconds, the river eats away at the western foundation of the bridge. With hideous grace, the bridge twists and buckles and falls into the river, carrying Anna to her death. Anna had instinctively grabbed hold of the railing. Had she turned and immediately run toward the eastern bank, she might well have lived. Had she spent more time watching a butterfly in the garden, she might well have lived. Had she done a thousand other things, she might well have lived. She did not and thus she died.
Aronson was devastated by the loss, all the more so by the fact that he could watch the detailed surveillance over and over. His marriage to Eva fell apart. He became obsessed with the notion that if he could just reach back in time and change things, all the bad things in his life would never have happened. For almost anybody else, this would have been the end of it: a man broken by events, fantasizing about “if only.”
But Aronson was not any ordinary man. He was wealthy. More importantly he was brilliant and driven. He assembled teams of brilliant men and women, gave them lavish resources, and drove them relentlessly. The goal was to find a way to travel back in time and change the events that had nearly destroyed him. Time and time again he came to the point of near bankruptcy, only to be saved by some technology spun off of the time-travel research efforts. Researchers and engineers came, attracted by the problem and the money, only to be driven away in a few years by the behavior of the “bastard Aronson.” In the end, Aronson got what he wanted, a working time travel machine. It had only taken 44 years and used up a dozen fortunes.
The plan was to insert a simple device into the timeline positioned at the eastern end of the bridge that had failed. This device would emit an ultra-low-frequency sound that would create a feeling of dread in anyone who came close. The theory was that Anna would find this very disquieting and would go someplace else or, at the very least, delay going onto the bridge. The device would be inserted into the timeline just before dawn on April 11, 2662 and be retrieved just after dusk that same day. It would record in excruciating detail everything that happened.
In the months leading up to the planned intervention in the timeline, there were heated discussions about the paradoxes of time travel. If the intervention was successful, the motivation for creating time travel would not exist. Without time travel, there would be no way to intervene in the past. But then Anna will die, and there would be a motivation. Around and around the argument went. And then there were the discussions of the impacts everywhere else in the world. The efforts to invent time travel had spun off multiple new technologies that had profound effects on how the world worked. Assuming that they could save Anna, was her life so valuable that they were willing to disrupt an entire civilization?
In the end, Aronson prevailed. Aronson had money. There were people who wanted that money and had the skills Aronson needed. They did not believe that it was possible to change the timeline. They were quite happy to take the money and build something which they thought could never work. In a way they were right. The device was sent back and then retrieved. The record showed that Anna approached the bridge and then turned away. The bridge failed but Anna survived. But nothing changed in the present. There was one school of thought that said that it would take “a while” for changes in the past to ripple forward into the future. They waited for months for “something” to happen. Then they sent back a device to plant a bracelet to distract Anna. Again the record showed Anna being saved and again nothing happened in the present. Over the course of the next fifty years, they tried nineteen different times to save Anna. Each time the record showed that they were successful and each time nothing happened in the present.
There were people who theorized that time branches existed and that the act of saving Anna would create a new time branch but there was no technology at the time to detect these time branches. Aronson thought they were fools and dismissed their theories. The thought that there was an alternate timeline in which a different Avid Aronson watched his daughter grow up into a beautiful young woman enraged him.
In the end, his rage and bitterness reduced him to a bed-ridden old man. Medical science, even as advanced as it was, could only do so much. As one of his final acts, he established the Aronson Institute for Time Travel Research and left all of his vast fortune to fund it. It took decades and the work of tens of thousands of engineers and scientists to establish that Aronson could never have had what he wanted. The failure of the bridge and the possible death of Anna Aronson was a “trigger event” that created multiple time branches. The Avid Aronson in the “mother” time branch could never save Anna; he could only fail. And yet his failure led to his achieving greatness. A millennia and a half later, the only thing that really mattered was that he was the father of time travel.
Journal: The Womanizer Vladimir Rulatz
If we can credit Aronson with building the infrastructure that made time travel possible, we must credit Vladimir Rulatz with explaining how that infrastructure works. The Rulatz equations are studied by anyone who wants to understand the theoretical foundations of time travel. Variations on the Rulatz equations are built into every machine that has anything to do with time travel.
Again we are talking about a time before The Insane War and so the records are somewhat fragmentary. The more-or-less official story is that Rulatz studied everything that Aronson and his successors did, withdrew from the world for three years, and only emerged after he had a unified theory of time travel. There’s nothing in the story that is untrue, but it does not even begin to explain the real story of Vladimir the womanizer.
The more-or-less official story is that almost all of the records about Rulatz were destroyed during The Insane War. It is only a cache of his papers that were discovered after the war that allowed what was to become the Arisa to understand his theories. There was a cache of papers that did indeed include enormous detail about his theories. What the Arisa don’t talk about is the fact that there was so much more in that cache.
Vladimir was born April 17, 2764. His mother and father were both lifelong members of the Aronson Institute for Time Travel Research. His two older sisters also worked for the Institute. There was every expectation that Vladimir would also work for the Institute. By this point, nearly 40 years after the death of Aronson, the Institute had become akin to a religious organization. People were born, lived, and died within the environment of the Institute. Everything was focused on the mission to find a way to travel back in time. There was discipline and duty and dedication. This is the world that Vladimir grew up in, that he was educated in, and that he eventually went to work in. He had a brilliant mind, good looks and a charismatic personality; great things were expected of him.
The problem was that Vladimir liked women. He liked them young and not so young. He didn’t seem to mind if they were married or single. If they were the least bit good-looking and willing to have sex with him, he declared them eligible. There were a lot of women, in turn, willing to have sex with him. Seemingly, Vladimir kept records of each and every sexual encounter that he had had. He also kept records of when those sexual encounters got him into trouble. All of these records were in the cache of documents,
The first problems were at the Institute. At first the Institute tolerated his behavior even though it went against the code of conduct that they imposed on everyone associated with the Institute. Eventually even his family stopped defending him and he was exiled under the condition that he could work on anything he wanted to, as long as it was not related to time travel. He drifted from one university to another. By his records he was thrown out of four different universities for bedding female students in violation of the policies of those universities. In spite of this, other universities keep on hiring him; there was no question that he was one of the most brilliant men of his time.
Now we come to the three-year sojourn in the wilderness. There is a fair amount of evidence that this actually happened. Vladimir’s own records show an almost 3½ year gap in his sexual adventures. The National University of Solenberg where he was working at the time records him as being on an extended leave of absence. But the truth is that Vladimir did not withdraw from the world, but rather that the world chased Vladimir out.
From his records and a few other bits of information that are still available, the full and complete story is that Vladimir tried to seduce Nora, the young wife of Argus Wittenstein, a very powerful man in Solenberg. Wittenstein was rich enough to have a total surveillance system surrounding his wife and her activities. Nora loved her husband and was faithful to him. She resisted the advances of Vladimir over several months. After the first couple of encounters with Vladimir, she made sure that her husband and her protective detail were aware of what Vladimir was attempting to do. Wittenstein found such men as Vladimir amusing. Wittenstein had married a very beautiful woman and the attention of these men simply validated his good judgment. Flirting was acceptable as long as no one “crossed the line”.
The records do not show what Vladimir did to “cross the line”, but it is apparent that he angered Wittenstein and a great number of other people. There is no record of anyone defending his actions. Vladimir’s journal only shows an entry that says he totally misjudged the situation and had to leave, quickly. He was forced to flee “into the wilderness” half way around the world to avoid physical harm. In this wilderness, there were no parties and no women. Vladimir wrote in his journal that his life had been reduced to hiking in the woods and thinking about time travel. Out of that experience came the book A Unified Theory of Time Travel. It is a monumental work that is still in use today, over a millennia after its completion. It has been translated into modern language but the core of the book is unchanged. The Rulatz equations are the basis for everything that involves time travel.
It was only after Nora had had her second son that Vladimir felt safe in leaving his sanctuary even for a short while. The Aronson Institute was one of the few organizations that could protect him. He shared enough of the book to be able to negotiate a deal with the Institute. Even then he kept a low profile until the publication of the book guaranteed his reputation and to some extent his safety. Perhaps he had gotten wiser but I think it more likely he had simply gotten older.
Vladimir Rulatz is another giant of time travel. It would seem that every giant has warts, but the Arisa are tactful. After all, it was such a long time ago.
Journal: The Mystic, Rulon Akola
The surviving records do not show exactly when or where Rulon Akola was born. It is clear that he was one of the first people to die in The Insane War, some 120 years after the publication of The Unified Theory of Time Travel. He was born into the Aronson Institute and lived his whole life there. For the first 36 years of his career, he probably was a very competent but perhaps not brilliant engineer. There is a surviving index of his work that lists several dozen papers from this period that capture the work of a practical engineer, but none of the contents of those papers have survived to the present day. At the end of this time period, there is a cryptic note in one of the journals that have survived that talks about a project that went wrong. The subjects of the papers for the next dozen years become increasingly more theoretical. Only the last paper from this period has survived, “A Pragmatic Interpretation of the Rulatz Time Scale Equations.”
In this paper, Akola presents the first known description of the time threads. The first half of the paper is filled with mathematics based upon the Rulatz Time Scale equations. The exposition is clearly that of an engineer rather than a mathematician: overly detailed, plodding, and solid. Most of the second half of the paper is filled with detailed descriptions of experiments that validated the mathematics presented in the first half and demonstrated the existence of at least one time thread. All of this, on the surface, should have been non-controversial. It is the final four pages of the paper that triggered a firestorm of comment spanning nearly half a century. The compendium of documents of which this paper is a part is clearly an academic effort done years later to capture all the dimensions of the controversy. The original paper by Akola is included as well as over 3000 other papers on the same topic. There are comments that appear to have been collected from a period of over some 40 years. What was it that Akola said that engendered such an energetic conversation?
First, he said that the time threads existed and that they could be used to travel in time in a way that was significantly different from the time portals then in use. The initial reaction to this was disbelief and ridicule, but experiments over the years after the publication clearly verified that Akola was right.
Second, he said that for a time thread there was no past and no future; inside of the time thread there was no flow of time as humans perceived it. The conclusion that he drew was that from the perspective of the time thread, the time thread must instantaneously know everything that it was ever going to know. There are several hundred papers in the compendium that contain all sorts of analysis to show that this could not be the case. There would be insurmountable paradoxes generated. There are also well over a 1000 papers in the compendium that document experiments that confirm the expected behavior based on Akola’s paper. Then there were nearly 600 papers trying to explain away this behavior using some other kind of theory. Finally, there were a set of papers to deal with protocols to prevent the paradoxes that could occur from the use of the time threads.
Third, he speculated that the time threads were “alive and intelligent.” He pointed out that time threads could not be created, they could only be discovered. He pointed out, albeit much later in the discussion about his work, that every effort to alter or destroy a time thread failed, typically in an “unusual” fashion. He used the phrase “duck the blow”, which infuriated his critics. He argued that the only way that this could be true was if the time threads could have anticipated the actions of human beings and thwarted them.
By the time Akola completed his 80th year at the Institute, the existence of the time threads and the fact that they behaved as if there was no flow of time within them were well-established and accepted. There were those of course who were bothered by the possibility of paradoxes but the practical realities mattered the most. If you played by the rules, you could travel in time using the time threads without any apparent paradoxes. There also was a substantial amount of evidence, at least to some observers, that the “alive and intelligent” nature of the time threads could be true. But for the majority of the Arisa, the existence of the time threads as intelligent beings that they could not control was profoundly disturbing. Rulon Akola may have been his own worst enemy in this area. In his 90th year at the Institute, he gave a series of lectures that emphasized the mystical quality of the time threads, setting most people’s teeth on edge. These lectures are also preserved in the collection of documents.
Three years later he was dead along with billions of other people in The Insane War. From all accounts he was a polite, mild-mannered man who had no particular vices and who apparently never married. He is one of the giants of the Arisa but no one brings up the fact that he also was profoundly a Mystic.
Journal: A World Gone Insane
No history of the Arisa would be complete without at least touching on The Insane War. The problem is we don’t really know a great deal about what happened. It is estimated that 99% of the records in place when The Insane War started have been lost.
Here is what I was able to find out from my research:
First, it is not entirely clear that there was in fact a war. No nation or other organization has ever been identified as the enemy. There are a couple of nations and one organization that could have been candidates, but there is no concrete evidence and the war affected them as adversely as any other nation or organization. There are also some wild speculations that I have included at the end of this list.
Second, it is not even clear that there were weapons used against the Arisa. What we know is that there were a series of viral epidemics that swept around the world. These viruses affected mammals in general and human beings in particular. Within a space of three years, 95% of the human population of the planet died. Many of the larger mammals such as pigs and cows and horses went completely extinct. Nine different viruses have been identified. Each one of them show signs of having been engineered for particular purposes. All of the viruses had a long gestation period. An individual might be infected as many as two months before that individual started showing any signs of infection or became contagious.
Third, the official date for the start of the insane war is May 14, 2951. That date is largely arbitrary. It is simply the date that the planetary health organizations declared a medical emergency to cover the entire globe. It is very likely that several of these viruses had been out in the wild at least a month before this date. Within the span of 24 hours, infections were detected in virtually every major population center in the world. The initial reaction was that someone had launched a biological attack, but subsequent analysis demonstrated that the same results could’ve been achieved by a containment protocol breach at one or more laboratories. The long gestation period allowed individuals who contracted the virus to travel around the world and infect large numbers of people without realizing they were doing so.
Fourth, there is substantial evidence that there were at least three waves of exposure to viruses. There were two distinct viruses in the first wave. Both of these viruses shared a large number of common factors, but were subtly different in their effect on individuals. Within the first month of the medical emergency, some 800 million people died. Within the second month of the medical emergency an additional 1.8 billion people died. The second wave appears to have started in the third month of the medical emergency. This wave contain two very different viruses that were very deadly. By the end of the sixth month of the medical emergency, over 5 billion people had died. Virtually every aspect of civilization had ceased to function. By the end of the first year of the medical emergency, the death toll was around 8 ½ billion. That last number is a wild estimate; there simply are no reliable numbers available. There was a third wave that occurred some two and half years into the medical emergency and which appears to have contained a single virus. At this point, the records are so fragmentary that the only thing we can say is that people died.
Fifth, the impact of these viruses was focused upon the biological population. The physical infrastructure of machines continued to work, supplying the essentials of life. That is, they continued to work until mobs of desperate people, driven by fear and rage, smashed the infrastructure. There is a particularly vivid record of one such attack that has survived. There is video from a series of surveillance cameras in a medical facility that show a mob breaking in and destroying the facility. The recorded sound is filled with men and women screaming and grunting. There is a voice-over commentary by some un-identified man who may have been a reporter or an administrator. He starts out trying to describe what is happening but quickly breaks down in sobs, saying only that “they have all gone insane, the whole world has gone insane.” There is no evidence of who he was or whether he survived the attack. His only distinction in history is that he named The Insane War.
Sixth, there were hundreds of pockets of civilization that survived by sealing themselves off from the world. Most of these were in facilities controlled by the Arisa. The history books show that the war ended in January of 2955 but that date is as arbitrary as the starting date. Over the next 50 years, three or four of these facilities would die each year as the machinery to filter the air and water and grow food wore out faster than the members of the facility could learn to build replacements. There are some particularly ugly stories about how some of these facilities died. There are almost certainly many more such stories that have been lost. But there were facilities that survived. There were nine Arisan facilities, spread across the globe, that were large enough and strong enough to do more than simply survive. They analyzed the viruses, seeking ways to vaccinate their populations against the destruction that swirled in the air around those facilities. Over the next several decades they figured out way to communicate with each other and became united in common cause to save the human race. Everything that the Arisa is and has derives from the efforts of these nine enclaves.
Seventh, the next centuries are known as The Darkness. It is the time where the nine enclaves try to rebuild civilization. There are three instances where the viruses mutated and undid years of progress. It is a time of armies and intrigue. The history presented by the Arisa would have you believe that this was a slow and steady march out of darkness into the light. It was anything but. It was an ugly time.
Eighth, during almost all of this time, time travel is a fable. At the time that The Insane War started, time travel was a fairly closely-held secret. There were only three working time machines in existence at the start of The Insane War: two prototypes and a larger production version. As the nine enclaves emerged from the darkness, they began to discover records that confirmed that time travel was possible. Still there was skepticism that continued until one of the prototype time-travel machines was found. It was in a facility that survived the initial destruction, but was purged of all living biological organisms as biological filters failed some 19 months after the start of The Insane War. The machine was still there, waiting for orders. Over the next several years there is a concerted effort to locate anything that has to do with time travel. There is this belief that spreads throughout the inner circle of the Arisa that they can go back in time and prevent The Insane War. On July 7, 3337, some 386 years after the official end of The Insane War, they send the first probe back in time with the goal of discovering how The Insane War started. Over the next several decades they discover that “what”, “where” and “when” but not the “who” or the “how” of the war. An enormous amount of energy and time are spent analyzing the data that is collected. Simulations are constructed and analyzed. It becomes apparent to everyone that this is not a simple problem. They will very likely only have one shot at fixing the problem. And almost everything that they have thought of has the potential to make things even worse. The Arisa have fought their way out of The Darkness and do not wish to go back. In the end, they hesitate. There are few individuals who wish to make the attempt, but they are a very small minority. In resigned fatalism, the Arisa do nothing. What has happened, has happened. The irony of the situation is that all of the probing saturated the time branch to the point that no significant trip to “correct things” was possible with the available technology.
Ninth, the argument changes from how do we go back to change the past to how do we make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. Over the course of a couple centuries, the Arisa become very conservative and careful. Everything must be checked and double checked and then reviewed and approved before anything is done in the area of time travel. This conservatism spreads throughout the society. The Arisa become tame and docile. There are a few people who realize that, even though time travel is exercised infrequently and with reluctance, there are times that it is necessary. They also realize that, after a number of bad experiences, that the typical Arisan is not at all well-equipped to be a time traveler. And thus, the need for the Shepherds arises.
Tenth, there is growing speculation that The Insane War was not an accident, as the official Arisan story would have one believe, but was a concerted attack by time travelers from “someplace else.” There is no evidence that this actually happened but then again there is no evidence that it didn’t happen. There are very few people in Arisan society that will espouse this theory out loud, but as an outsider, I could see that this belief permeated much of what the Arisans did.
There are some surviving images of The Insane War, taken several decades afterwards. There is one image that is familiar to almost everyone: In the foreground is a bleached skull, picked clean of flesh, hair, and humanity. In the background, stretching out into the distance are thousands of skeletons in various poses of death. There are no names or histories for any of the remains. The exact location where the image was captured is unknown. All that remains is the essential truth of death.
Journal: Simone, the Teacher
Simone is the closest thing to a religious figure that the Arisa have. She was born October 3, 3379. She is known only as Simone. By this time everybody had implants that provided the details of identity; if there was a need to identify someone, the implants would handle that. Simone was born into the world of the Aronson Institute. Her mother and father were both distinguished time travel engineers. One of her older brothers was a well-regarded theoretician. At this point in time travel, to be involved with time travel required very advanced skills in mathematics. This was hard for Simone because she was not mathematically inclined and, as a result, was neither an engineer nor a time-travel theoretician. She started out as being somewhat of a disappointment to her family.
Simone wanted to be a part of the Aronson Institute and make her family proud of her. She was intelligent, if not brilliant, and hard-working. She got a job compiling the postmortem reports for each visit to the past. Over the course of several years she created fairly elaborate procedures for capturing all the details of a visit that are largely still in use today. Of course, during my time as a Shepherd it is the machines that collect and report the data; all the Shepherd has to do is to read and sign off on the report.
While it might take several weeks to produce a report of individual visit, there were not enough visits to keep her busy full time. Her desire to be of use caused her to go back and reread the reports that she had written and redo reports using the data from past visits that had occurred before she began collecting the data. She began to see patterns emerging from the data. There were practices and behaviors that lead to successful visits and there were other practices and behaviors that led to failed visits. She began compiling statistics, simple at first and then more complicated, in an attempt to understand and document what she thought of as “proper time-travel protocols.”
She showed these protocols to various people and got what can only be described as a tepid reaction. The people involved in time travel were so excited about what they were doing and what they were discovering that they didn’t quite have time to slow down and be careful. It was only after three successive visits failed in spectacular fashion that there was an impetus to worry about safety and process. Enough people knew about her protocols to make it impossible to exclude her from the commission that was established to review safety.
The attitude of most members of the commission during the first couple of weeks that the commission met was, “What could Simone, neither an engineer nor a scientist, possibly know about time travel?” By the third week it was clear that Simone knew more about the experience of time travel than all the rest the commission members combined. Again and again she would bring out charts, graphs, and tables of statistics about what had actually happened in visits to the past spanning over a century of time travel. The attitude of the members of the commission over the next couple weeks could be characterized as, “Well, Simone does know about time travel, at a comprehensive but superficial level, but her proposals are a little extreme.” During this time she had presented the initial draft of the protocols of time travel that she had prepared.
There were actually full video recordings of the proceedings of the commission in the Archives. I sat through several weeks of the recordings. There was nothing charismatic about Simone. She was an ordinary-looking woman, plump, graying, and indifferent to fashion. The kindest thing I think I can say about watching Simone in those recordings was that she was a relentless and extraordinarily thorough plodder. Someone on the commission would object to a particular procedure in the protocol as being too cumbersome. She would respond that 72% of the visits that did not follow that particular procedure failed in some significant way. She would continue that she was open to other procedures that would address that particular failure mode. She would pose the question to the objector, “If you don’t like this particular procedure, what would you propose in its place?” A conversation about alternatives would ensue. When it wandered off course, as it often did, Simone would go back to the failure percentage and keep posing the central question, if you don’t like what I have proposed, what do you propose in its stead?
By the third month of the commission’s work, Simone was clearly the center pole holding up the tent and the rest of the members of the commission were dancing around her, some pleased to be dancing and others not so much but dancing nonetheless. Just over half of the protocols that she proposed were accepted by the commission, some with relatively minor modifications. She was listed as the principal author of the report that was produced by the commission. Quite a number of people refer to the commission as “The Simone Commission” and to the “Protocols for Time Travel” as “Simone’s Protocols”.
Three years later, Simone, working with a number of people in time travel, proposed a second edition of the protocols. Some of the existing procedures in what became known as the first edition of the Protocols of Time Travel were modified based upon experience. Several new procedures were added to the protocol. None of the protocols listed in the first edition were removed entirely. There was no mandate to adopt the second edition of the Protocols of Time Travel, but quite a number of the teams that were involved in time travel did so anyway.
There is another video of Simone recorded just after the fourth edition of the protocols of time travel was published. She was leading a seminar about the protocols. The key part of the recording is when she turns and she says the phrase that has become so deeply associated with her, “This is the path that we follow. This is the way that we behave.” This phrase can be found everywhere throughout Arisa.
Over the next century, Simone published the first nine editions of the protocols. The seventh edition of the protocols is of great interest to me. It is the first edition that introduces the basis for the Shepherds. The seventh edition of the document does not reference Shepherds by name. The word Shepherd is not used until well over two decades later; the first reference that can be directly attributed to Simone occurs well over four decades after the seventh edition was published. What is important is the research data that is presented in association with the publication of the seventh edition of the protocols of time travel. By this point, a lot of the kinks associated with time travel had been ironed out. The data clearly shows that the last bit of variability affecting the success or failure of a visit to the past was directly tied to the quality of the people making the visit. Specifically, the person in charge of the visit needed to be quick-thinking, resourceful, and willing to make hard decisions. A footnote to this particular section of the research indicated that the overwhelming majority of Arisans simply did not and could not satisfy this criteria. The four lines of this footnote caused over a decade’s worth of controversy and conversation. It was not until the then relatively new technology of full-immersion simulations demonstrated again and again that almost no Arisan, even with extensive training, was suitable for handling the situations of a visit to the past, that Arisa began looking outside of Arisa.
The first attempt was to bring in people from outside of Arisa from the parts the world not controlled by the Arisa. There were a lot of problems with this approach. The existence of time travel was still a very closely held secret. From an ethical point of view, you could not complete the recruitment of a potential candidate until you told him or her what exactly you were recruiting them for. But you could not tell them about time travel until they were fully committed. There were many voices raised, including Simone’s, saying that there was no ethical way to bring somebody from outside of Arisa to serve in the role that would become known as a Shepherd. Simone argued that the Arisa should be transparent about the fact that it possessed the capacity to travel in time, but in a very unusual denial of support for her points of view, almost no one else thought that was a good idea.
The only other alternative was to pull people who were about to die in the past into the present time and make them an offer that would be very hard to refuse: work for us or die. There were a lot of conversations about the ethics of this approach but in the end no one came up with an alternative that seemed to be better. And since I was one of the beneficiaries of this approach, I was very much in favor of the approach.
The ninth edition of the Protocols of time travel listed Simone as the principal author but it was largely an honorary title. She was old and frail and was largely an interested observer of a vibrant community that subscribed to her notion of safety protocols and that worked hard to translate lessons learned into well-defined procedures. When she died on August 8, 3251, everyone understood that a great woman had died. There were observances throughout Arisa.
As I write this journal entry, some 550 years after her death, the 23rd edition of the protocols of time travel has just been released. I am part of the community that she created and can claim that perhaps 20 words of that edition “belong” to me.
Journal: The Origin of Arisa
One hundred years after the death of Simone, a documentary was made to celebrate the four pillars that supported time travel. I have viewed this documentary and it is competent but otherwise not very exciting. It is very much a documentary created by committee: safe and noncontroversial. In and of itself, it would not be the least bit memorable. The language is pompous, the music and visuals insipid, and the presentation is uninspired: a chronological recitation of facts about Aronson, Rulatz, Akola, the Insane War, and Simone.
The reason for bringing up this documentary is that it was accompanied by a series of posters. There was a contest for artists to enter with the general community voting on the best posters in various categories. The poster that won the overall prize was particularly striking. It was laid out in landscape mode. Across the top was the title in ornate script: Our Heritage of Time Travel. In the middle section were a series of portraits of Aronson, Rulatz, Simone and Akola. In an interview, the artist, a young woman who was a descendant of Simone, said that she thought that Simone was more important than Akola. In between the portraits of Rulatz and Simone was a stylized skull echoing back to that iconic image of death that represented the effects of The Insane War. Below each of the portraits was the name of the individual with the initial capital letter of the last name highlighted by making it bolder and larger than the other characters in the name. Across the bottom of the poster were the details of the documentary; there were a lot of people and organizations that needed to be credited and the size of the text had to be reduced significantly in order to fit it all in. From a distance, what one could see was the title, the portraits, and the initials of the names that spelled out “ARISA”. It became “the Arisa poster” and was reproduced in multiple media formats extensively. There was no going back after that.
After I reviewed all of this material, I was struck by the irony that there was no record that any of these “pillars” had ever personally traveled in time.
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