All characters belong to their respective creators / film companies / etc. and are used without permission. This story may only be distributed on a non-profit-making basis.
Epilogue and Afrerword. If you like this story, check out my other stories on the Fanfiction Net, Twisting the Hellmouth, and Fonts of Wisdom websites.
I'm British, so's my spelling. Live with it.
By Marcus L. Rowland
"...so these are the choices, your Highness," said Dawn. "I can leave things as they are, erase this world completely, or start over and build this universe properly, so that it ends up pretty much the same except that the stars in the sky will be real."
"What a horrible choice," said Glinda. "Obviously there's only one answer, to leave things as they are. Because for everyone here the third choice is the same as the second. We cease to exist."
"I know," Dawn said sadly. "It doesn't really matter here anyway, it's not gonna change much if the stars are just lights in the sky. You don't have starships."
"What about Sky Island?"
"Oh, it exists already. It isn't that far from the world."
"That's settled then. Now tell me something, child, why are you so unhappy?"
"The other world I made, the space station.... they made the third choice."
"Why would anyone..." There was a look of horror on Glinda's face. "Did you explain it to them properly?"
"I thought I did, but maybe I was wrong. You see, in the stories that gave me the idea for that world they were always messing around with time, they thought that if someone made changes it was okay, provided that the same people existed in the new world."
"And that isn't true?"
"It isn't that simple, but the short answer is no. If you change the past you change the present. Say I went back ten minutes and interrupted this meeting; the Glinda that exists now would just cease to exist. There'd be another Glinda in the new world, of course, but it wouldn't be you. She'd have the same memories, up to ten minutes ago, but she'd be a different person.
"But you said it was more complicated than that."
"Sometimes changes can split time in two, making two dimensions. Say there's one world where I interrupted the meeting, another where I didn't. The Glinda in each world would be a different person. Or if there's a really minor change it can cause a temporary split, with the timelines merging back together. When that happens there's only one person, with a feeling that something's a little off."
"I think I understand," said Glinda, "but you didn't just make a change to their world."
"No. That was much more drastic. You see, that world was going to suffer without starships. They didn't have the reseources they needed to keep their civilisation going and the nearest world with technology was Cardassia. They would have been wide open for invasion by the time Cardassia became real, then the Cardassians could have just kept on expanding their empire. It would have been a nightmare for everyone there. But I was so desperate to fix the problem that I didn't make sure they'd really thought it through. I didn't just change the past, I cancelled their universe completely and made another."
"Oh my goodness.... Were there many people there?"
"A couple of billion before, countless trillions after I made the change. Most of the people that were in the bubble I made ended up pretty much the same in the new universe."
"But you killed them."
"They never existed... the small version of that universe never existed... but yes, effectively I killed them. I checked up on my friends afterwards, they were all there but they didn't know me. How could they? They weren't the same people. Looked like them, mostly, spoke like them, but they weren't the same."
Glinda's face was a frozen mask of horror. "I think that you had better leave now. My guards will escort you to whichever portal you feel will lead to your home."
"Good afternoon, Miss Summers. You are no longer welcome in Oz."
"Okay. I get that. I'm sorry, I guess I shouldn't have come here with their blood on my hands." She turned to leave.
Dawn was nearly at the door when Glinda said "One moment."
"One last question. Did you know in your heart what you were doing?"
"I guess so. Well, kinda."
"As I thought. You shared their odd view of time?"
"I had nineteen years of memories of being human, all of that time Star Trek was on TV, and I was kinda rusty on being the Key. Nineteen years human, before that hundreds of years in a monastery without using my powers. I think... I think it wasn't until I'd re-started creation that I had time to consider things, and what I'd done didn't really sink in until I realised that nobody knew me."
"Intentions count for much, Miss Summers. You may stay, and visit this world again if you wish. I make only one stipulation, that you visit as Miss Summers, not as the Key."
"No. Thanks, but no. You don't need me around rocking the boat, and I can tell that what I did is still upsetting you. I think it's better if I don't come back."
"As you wish. Bon voyage then."
"Thanks, your highness. And thanks for helping me think it through."
I thought I'd finished this story, but several comments made it obvious that I hadn't made the full ramifications of Sisko's choice clear enough. Even "ordinary" time travel must effectively create a new universe whenever someone changes the past; in this story Dawn really is destroying the universe and putting another in its place. It looks like the same universe, and has what appear to be the same people in it, but they are not the same. My apologies that this wasn't clearer in the previous chapter.
Thanks to Don Sample for an excellent review (on fanfiction.net) which helped to persuade me that this chapter needed to be written, and to others who have commented on this aspect of the story.