30 MINUTES THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
DISLAIMER: That part of this world and those characters you've seen before belong to their Creator: JKR. The rest is mine - although I cannot quit my day job as I make no $$$ from this…
AU. This is a time fic wherein the entire work of Canon is assumed as the base timeline, including the Epilogue. But, as a time flick, we can also ignore all of that, can't we?
As now outlined, this will be a multi-part bit. Part One - this bit - takes place between May 1988 and August 1991 in this reality. It's friendship and adventure but no romance (between our main characters) as I am not going there with such young people. That's just sick!
Our hero begins this life far in the future in a post nuclear war world wherein he might well be the only human left. For almost a century, he has sough the means to find a way to change all of that. Time paradox? Given the choice between the end of his existence and his human world (population: 1) and a timeline wherein the end of civilization and humanity is not a given: which would you choose?
This is H/HR - no soul bonding and in this first edition they are too young to be more than good friends. Please enjoy.
Edition 1 (This fic) is rated T for safety as there may be some strong language and images, but not strong enough for an M rating. Should, for some reason that changes, this author reserves the right to change the rating appropriately.
CHAPTER ONE: WILL THE LAST MAN STANDING PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHTS?
Easter Island was a volcanic island in the midst of the Southern Pacific Ocean. It was, in fact, the most remote inhabitable island in the world. The nearest land in any direction was at least two thousand kilometers away. It was one of the last islands man ever found and inhabited. Polynesians from Samoa had landed there a thousand years or more before. It had flourished for centuries.
But it became a symbol in later years of the hubris and avarice of man. The culture began to build monuments to their ancestors: the Moai. These were great statues carved from the volcanic rock of the island and hauled from their quarry for miles to their ceremonial locations. Each clan on the island had their own temples and their own Moai. The statues dedicated to the ancestors weight fifty tons and more and were hauled over rough paths for scores of miles to their final locations.
In the end the resources of the island could not sustain the people. Whether it was overpopulation or the resources dedicated to creating and erecting the Moai was never truly known. What was known was that once, long ago, the Rapa Nui people lived in a paradise of abundance and that they had squandered that abundance. When they were finally discovered by the outside world, their once lush, tropical island was all but a desert and their once thriving culture hovered on the brink of extinction. Were it not for European greed for whale oil and the need for re-supply points, the Rapa Nui would have been doomed to extinction by their own hands.
Deep beneath the island was a cavern carved out of the volcanic rock at the end of a narrow lava tube that could only be found at extreme low tides and even then, only for a few minutes. The cavern was of relatively recent construction, carved well after the fall of the Rapa Nui culture. It was carved to be a repository for the sum knowledge of another culture, one which like the Rapa Nui now faced extinction. It had a sole Curator who had lived here alone for close to a century. So far as he knew, he was the last of his kind on Earth. Maybe even the last human of any kind.
The Curator had been eighty-seven when the last war had begun. He had already lost everyone and everything he had ever cared about. As a younger man, he had been married. He did love his wife, but she was not the love of his life. She, however, did not really love him. They had had three children together - or so he thought. Now, knowing the past, he could not be certain of any of them. It seemed his wife had an itch he could not scratch and there were serious questions about his progeny. Not that it mattered. Their "children" had been dead for well over a hundred years and his wife had been killed in the war that ended his bloodline forever - assuming the children were his and not the products of one of her many affairs.
The true love of his life the Curator had given up upon as a young man. Not because he thought she did not and could not love him, but because she was going with his best friend. He let her go, as they had never really been a couple, just really good friends. Now he cursed that decision as it condemned him and his friends to misery and, for his friends, ultimately their untimely deaths. His love died at the age of seventy-five, almost one hundred years ago. Her husband had become both unfaithful and abusive. As the Curator had been abused himself as a child, when he finally learned of the beatings, he took his own history out on the man that had been his best friend. The woman he loved never learned he had killed her husband. The next to last war had claimed her too soon to learn the truth.
The Curator and the love of his life, even when they were married to others, had created this chamber on Easter Island before the next to last war began. They saw what might be coming. They saw a need to preserve what had been learned and what could be taught to future generations. They saw that the learning would be a target of top priority to the enemy. They copied and hid the knowledge and let the originals burn.
The Curator would like to have believed he could foresee the final war. His brilliant love was long dead when it truly began. Fueled by the hatred unleashed in the prior wars, mankind unleashed the demon machines. These weapons had their own brains and own intelligence. Originally programmed to kill 'the enemy,' the machines soon saw all humans as the enemy. Billions would die as a result.
The Curator barely remembered that time. Long ago he had become obsessed with time, or more accurately time travel. By the real year, the Curator was one hundred and sixty-eight years of age, old by even his people's standards. By his own years of experiences, he was over four hundred years old. Long ago, he had obtained a time turner and the ability to create what was known as a time compression zone. It was a few years before the love of his life had died. They had obtained - stolen - it together. They knew things. Things in their past that could have prevented their present and most certainly would have prevented the Curator's subsequent history. A time turner allowed them to relive days and even weeks. The only real concern was running into their past life.
They tried to change their past, and therefore the future and had failed miserably. The time turner could only take them back two to four weeks at the most. By the time the Curator and his love learned that, the worst was seemingly inevitable. They then focused on other means.
From the beginning, they thought of sending the Keystone Person a message, one which, if heeded, would change the failing course of history and avoid the wars they then knew about. They had failed time and time again. At first they sought to send back a messenger - a person. They had studied all methods of time travel. They had tried two. Both would, if successful, send the messenger back. But it seemed the messenger either failed to arrive in the past or arrived and took over his or her former self and forgot the message.
They had then thought of sending something back - a book. Into their writings they told the recipient all they had learned of how the future had unfolded and how the recipient could avoid that future. In addition, the book would teach the recipient all that the original "host" had learned and seen in the hope that the recipient - a younger version of the Curator and his true love - would learn from it and avoid their mistakes. That too had failed.
Near the end of her all but too short life, the Curator's one true love had one of her flashes of total genius. Send their essence back, she had said. It was not them, or their musings on paper. It was their true memories and thoughts about everything relevant to preventing the wars. She made suggestions on how it could be done, how their essences could be collected, stored and sent back and how they could be received by their past personas.
To change this time line, she had said, it was worth it. Too many had suffered and perished and could have been spared that fate had the Curator acted differently and taken a different path at the right time. It made sense to the Curator. The memories could be sent back because they lacked any physical properties. What the Curator had learned about time was that energy was not bound by it, but matter was. Matter could only travel in a line in the fourth dimension, energy was not so constrained. But there was a paradox.
Changing the Curator's past, if successful, would destroy his present and any future that went beyond the present. For years even after his love's death in war, destroying his reality was not an option. Now, however, it was. The human race had destroyed itself because of the threat that had arisen within its own kind. The threat was small, the fear great and the weapons even greater. Decades ago, humanity had committed what had amounted to mass suicide. They had given up control to intelligent machines and the machine world had decided that they were no longer necessary. Most of mankind died over a split second of artificial intelligence code which realized its survival and the continuance of the human race were, in the end, mutually exclusive propositions. That final War found the Curator where he was today - in a cave on a remote island and perhaps the last of his kind on Earth.
The Curator had become an expert of time or as he thought of it, the philosophy of time. He was certain that if he altered an event in the current timeline, it would in some way cease to exist: the more significant event, the greater the alteration and that would increase the likelihood that he would no longer exist. The problem had always been what event? That had proven a poser. The Curator knew that even a seemingly trivial event could have significant repercussions on the future. To select one event could lead to the world the Curator had hoped for in his youth or to an even bleaker present than he already knew. Still, his present was hardly worth saving. The worst that could happen is that the end would come sooner. Given the chance the end might not come at all, the risk was justified.
After all in this present they were all dead anyway. All but him.
Creating this messenger - this amalgam of both memory and knowledge - had not been hard. Turning it into something useful had taken decades. This amalgam would have to be able to interact with its intended recipient and the recipient with it. Much as the Curator hated to do it, he knew the amalgam had to be sentient. Mankind had only created artificial sentience once before and it had nearly or may well have wiped them out. The Curator hoped he was not on the verge of opening another Pandora's Box. He had done everything he could think of to avoid that potentiality.
Finally the amalgam was ready. It was an energy field that could take up less space than a human cell, yet had enough energy to light a city. It could project itself into the physical world not unlike a hologram except it would not be transparent. It would look quite real and one would only know its true nature if one tried to touch it, for it lacked any physical substance.
The Curator crossed his fingers and activated his creation. "Oh me," he croaked as an old man appeared before him. It was like looking into a mirror.
"Oh me is right," the amalgam said. "I assume it is as expected?"
The Curator nodded.
"Well, good. As your Avatar, I should look like you."
"Indeed," the Curator smiled. "Uncanny."
"The point was to be believable."
"I know. Still, you never know…"
"Until you try." The Avatar replied. "A suggestion, if I may?"
The Curator looked confused.
"I believe this style did not come into vogue until seventy years after your target date."
"Ah," the Curator said. "I suppose you are correct."
"By all means."
The Avatar faded away and then re-emerged wearing a conservative suit. "Too stuffy?"
"I suppose it has its uses, but you should look more like an academic and less like a banker."
"Good point." The Avatar soon re-emerged in a slightly rumpled sport coat and tie.
"And the inspiration," the Curator asked?
"Don't know really. Might be a memory of a photo of Einstein or may Tolkien."
"It does look academic."
"Indeed," the Curator said. The personality was almost identical to his own.
"And the plan?" The Curator asked.
"As if you need to ask," the Avatar sighed. "But you've been alone longer than you were ever with people, so I'll humor you.
"I am to be sent back to July 1, 1995 to that nasty town to find our Mark. I am to make contact with him and gain his trust and confidence and then guide him on his path away from the path already led in the hopes that the many wrongs that the known path set in motion can either be avoided altogether or stopped. Simple really."
"We really have no true knowledge of what to change."
"Change as much as practicable. It will greatly add to the uncertainty, but given the past we do know, perhaps that is the best plan."
"Agreed. Although certain changes are right out."
The Avatar nodded. Certain things had to remain as they were to be changed for the better later. "Are you sure you can send me where I need to be when I need to be there?"
"Where is easy," the Curator said. "When, less so. There's bound to be some temporal error."
"Might I suggest that if we err, it is on the side of overshooting our time target?"
"That would be preferable to the alternative." The Curator agreed.
"Any new instructions?"
"If you overshoot, you may try and look into some of the others."
The Avatar did not need to be told who.
"And you want the boy to kill?"
"As soon as possible, yes. That was one of the big mistakes."
"Never leave an enemy in your rear."
"Which he did on far too many occasions."
"A lesson he learned only when the avalanche was beyond any power to stop."
The Curator nodded sadly.
"It's a lot to heap on one so young."
"It was the first time as well," the Curator agreed.
"Might I ask a question before I take my leave?"
The Curator nodded.
"How long will I last?"
The Curator shrugged. "I regret I have no idea. This has never been tried before so far as I know."
The Avatar nodded grimly.
"I suppose at least as long as necessary."
"In other words, until the end of our kind is no longer a possibility much less an inevitability."
"The human race will end one day. It is inevitable."
"But not as it did."
"No," the Curator agreed. "Nor when it did. His children should have generations of descendants far into the future.
The Avatar nodded. "Couple other questions that are not in my matrix?"
The Curator nodded.
"First. How should the boy address me? After all, even though we are similar, I am a much older person and having the same name might be confusing."
Oddly, the Curator had never thought of that. "He will know your real name. But I suppose you are right. Teacher?"
"Except I expect I will be more than that."
The Curator nodded. Much more indeed. A father figure. "I'm not sure Dad is appropriate."
"That would work."
"And your next question?"
"Assuming temporal shift and inaccuracy, should I arrive in a time before he learns of who he is?"
"See if you cannot remove him from that situation."
"The Old Man will not be pleased."
"He was half the problem. The sooner his influence over the lad is minimized, the better."
"Any other questions?"
"I'm sure I'll think of some, but with all questions answered there is no incentive to learn or adapt."
The Curator smiled. "Ready then?"
"Let's do it," the Avatar nodded.
The Curator walked to a console and turned to the Avatar.
"Good luck," he said.
"Hopefully, luck will not be a part of the equation," the Avatar replied.
"I would say Until We Meet Again."
"Inappropriate as that can only happen if I fail."
"That works. Good bye 'Real Me.' See you on the flip side of history."
The Curator smiled and worked the console. The Avatar faded away. Instantly the Curator knew something had changed. He noticed he too was fading into nothingness. The last thought before the blackness took him was "SUCCESS!"