Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Bold Experiment

43:60, Year 8572, LV-Timeline:

I hate politics. It's like putting on a circus show for an audience of baboons. At this rate I'll have spent as much time as I spent growing the Mk IV getting permission to use it. I know it's a bold proposal, but since I wasn't laughed out of the council chamber, they're bound to approve it sooner or later.

If it was anyone else standing at that podium, they probably would have been laughed out of the chamber. I'm sure they're repeating that very sentence to each other right now. I'm sure that fool Tiresias is also going on about the redundancy of the whole proposal, given the accuracy of his simulations. He has no respect for real science - if he did he would be advocating for this stronger than anyone, for someone to prove his evolutionary simulations.

Why don't they see what I see - not just a model, but a complete history of an entire planet! I can trace the longterm effects of controlled environmental pressures, watch whole species emerge, adapt, and die off. What greater work of art could there be than an entire world presented in 4 dimensions? Besides, it would give us some solid data on the effects of exposing primitive creatures to LV-radiation.

And at the end of the experiment, the cultures are to be wiped - it's in the proposal! I don't see how there's any risk of timeline contamination. I suppose I simply need to be patient, but patience was never a strong suit of mine.

45:30, Year 8572, LV-Timeline:

Dear diary, this is an auspicious day. The final bit of bureaucratic nonsense has been dealth with, and I now am officially approved to carry out the most ambitious ecological experiment in history. I've picked out a planet in the Syrma system which was life-sustaining in the very recent past (astronomically speaking), but is not currently known to bear life.

The plan is to create a vast time-warping field to touchdown on the planet as it was approximately 65 million years ago, bury the Mk IV some miles below the surface, and have it collect data constantly while I remain in suspension. I'll be pre-programming a series of environmental stimuli, including an influx of LV-radiation in the final 3 million years of the experiment. I don't know if that will be enough time to observe its full effects, but I'd rather play safe in this case and wake myself up before it produces an army of intelligent spiders with gatline guns. Not that gatling guns would do much good against the Mk IV. Just to play things safe, I'm equipping it with a kill-switch that will plasmatize the entire biomass of the planet's surface. Even better, I'll be able to reabsorb the plasma and may have a net energy gain through this process. I'm so brilliant.

In any case, I should be ready to begin the experiment in a few weeks. Then it'll be a quick nap for me and a return trip with 65 million years of data!

45:47, Year 8572, LV-Timeline:

Dear diary, I AM PSYCHED.

0:0, Year 0, LV'-Timeline:

This marks the start time of the experiment. I have arrived in the Syrma system and will be touching down in approximately 3 hours. Unfortunately, the time warp used even more energy than I'd expected (and I'm working on the budget of a small nation here). It's possible that the inefficiency points to a flaw in the temporal drive, but I should still have enough reserve energy for a return trip (at least, after plasmatization), and since there's no chance of field interference from other time machines on the planet, the field should be stable enough.

---

Wow, I don't think I'm ever going to get sick of freefall touchdowns. That impact was incredible (and yet my Mk IV is unscathed!). I'm sure there are animals on the surface that didn't fair quite so well, but sacrifices do need to be made in the name of science. I'm just glad those sacrifices don't include me, HA. Since everything seems to be in order, I'm going to set my first anchor point now, run one more system check, and activate suspension for the initial time frame. See you on the flip side!

Yours truly,
Greatest Scientist Ever

0:0, Year 50,000, LV'-Timeline:

I have strange dreams in suspension. There was this guy on my street trying to sell pretzels to people, and then when I tried to buy one he told me he only accepted payment in moons. What a fucker.

Anyway, aside from that, everything is going great! The first checkpoint has gone perfectly, although it's interesting to note that just in the first 50,000 year period, I've seen one of the planets dominant species go extinct. It seems likely that the impact of my landing was involved, since no other clear extinction events have been picked up in the history. I'll probably have to exclude this period for most of my analysis, but the surface seems to have already returned to a fairly normal state, and I think it's time for a real data-gathering session.

0:0, Year 30M, LV'-Timeline:

This is incredible! We're just under halfway through the experiment timeline and already I have enough data to spend a lifetime analyzing. And in case anyone thought it was all redundant, I have already found three genus-level inconsistencies with Tiresias' simulation. They're going to be rewriting ALL the textbooks.

0:0, Year 62M, LV'-Timeline:

It's time for the final phase of the experiment to begin, which involves the effects of LV-radiation. I'll be a litte disappointed if nothing interesting happens, but that seems unlikely. When I next wake up it should be time to clear the cultures and prepare for the return trip.

37:36, Year Y-14,142, LV'-Timeline:

I never would have believed it, but LV-radiation has even more dramatic effects than anyone predicted. I wasn't planning on waking up for another 14,000 years, but the system is on alert because of a power drain, of all things. It seems that a relatively unremarkable species that came in contact with the stimulus probe has become sentient and developed civilization in just the last 3 million years. They've even managed to build a device that can draw power from the Mk IV - I wonder if they even realize where they're getting this energy from.

Even more surprisingly, there are faint readings of temporal fluctuations in what appears to be the capital building of this civilization. Is it really possible that they've managed to develop timewarping technology in this time? It seems more likely that an accidental technology of theirs is causing some kind of resonance with the Mk IV's temporal drive. In any case, this represents a nontrivial threat (much worse that spiders with gatling guns, which was my previous worst-case scenario).

I really don't want to have to engage a planet-wide culture wipe without the last 14,000 years of data (and I can only imagine how interesting this data will be). I suppose some of my colleagues would also take issue on "moral grounds" with wiping a culture of sentient creatures, but the potential threat of timeline contamination is a much worse outcome.

Nonetheless, I will need to make another anchor point here, regardless of what I decide to do.

22:04, Year Y-14,134, LV'-Timeline:

The audacity of these creatures! They actually built an underwater facility to get more direct access to their energy source - ME. I can't afford to allow my energy reserves to fall below the point needed for a surface culture wipe, so I had no choice but to destroy the facility, and all of the technology that was used to develop it. I discovered the source of the temporal fluctuations - it was coming from a piece of jewelry worn by a female of the species, which seems to be linked to the device that was draining power from the Mk IV. When it came into immediate contact with the Mk IV, it caused a series of significant temporal rifts. I destroyed the facility as quickly as possible in order to minimize potential timeline contamination. I never thought this expedition was going to prove so dangerous.

Fortunately, there are no lingering fluctuation signatures, and I'm disseminating an airborne agent that should deactivate some of the more dangerous genes in the present population. I'll have to keep an eye on the development of the situation, but hopefully the experiment can continue - and I suppose it will have to, as my energy reserves are running dangerously low. I'm going to switch into geothermal mode for the remainder of the experiment timeline and I should be able to build up enough energy for a culture wipe at the anticipated end date of the experiment.

12:53, Year Y-1,399, LV'-Timeline:

This is perhaps more bizarre than my last entry - I think I was intentionally brought out of suspension by a creature on the surface. What I don't understand is how an LV-irradiated creature with fairly sophisticated technology survived the last 12,000 years. The other members of the species seem to be working at a much lower technology level. Is it possible that he was moved to this time period by one of the temporal rifts I observed? I can only hope this process does not repeat itself. In any case, he's been dealt with, and I've set another anchor point. Maybe later I can examine this period more carefully and try to figure out where that guy came from.

39:20, Year Y-999, LV'-Timeline:

The system picked up another temporal fluctuation. It seems to have been located at some kind of celebration or carnival, but there's no remaining signatures. I'm going to be scanning for tech, but if nothing comes up I'll ignore it.

0:0, Year Y-0, LV'-Timeline:

At long last, the final day of the experiment has arrived. I've regained enough power to plasmatize the surface biomass, but after the unexpected strain the Mk IV's been put through, I'm beginning to think that it'd be safer to grow a fresh vessel for my return trip, which I should be able to do with the energy boost from plasmatization. After 65M years in suspension, what's another 300-400 years?

Anyway, I have to admit that I've come to kind of admire the tenacity of the creatures that have evolved on this planet, and it's a shame to wipe them all, but I have to return with my findings.

0:0, Year Y-0, LV''-Timeline:

The readings on my instruments suggest that an additional timeline has formed somehow! This should be impossible! Clearly this experiment has proven much more dangerous than I expected, and I need to proceed with an immediate culture wipe.

---

What. The. Fuck. A temporal rift has opened up and a miniature horde of LV-irradiated creatures has poured out of it. These are pretty much the mutant spiders with gatling guns I was afraid of, except one of them is wielding a sword. A SWORD. And he's actually damaging the hull of the Mk IV with it! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SWORD MADE OUT OF?! If they penetrate the hull, I'll have to activate emergency security measures. It better not come to worst case scenarios, but if it does, the Mk IV's core module has my entire genetic code and memory bank backed up, so it can recreate me at will. These punks clearly don't know who they're messing with. In case you weren't sure, I'll remind you:

THE GREATEST SCIENTIST OF ALL TIME.


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This was the last journal entry of Professor Icarius Lavos. Following are some discussion questions about the reading:

1) Professor Lavos brought up the concept of "timeline contamination" several times in his journal? Why is it that time travel, especially to the distant past, might be considered dangerous?

2) Professor Lavos' experiment is often blamed for rise of humans as a competitive time-traveling species. What are some steps he could have taken to insure this hadn't happened?

3) The sword Professor Lavos refers to in his last entry was made of Dreamstone, a previously unknown material which is now in wide use. What properties of Dreamstone might have made it particularly effective when used against the Mk IV?

4) If you could do any kind of time-travel enabled experiment, what would you do?

2 comments:

spontaneous generation said...

Wow. It took me a bit over half the entry to figure out what this was, and I'm impressed by your ambition. This is a whole new level of sympathizing with the villain. Quite simply, amazing.

I have to say, though, if your ambition extends to making sense of Chrono Cross, you may be doomed.

Ellipsis said...

I was tempted to put spoiler warnings on it, but the spoiler warning would have kind of given it away, I think.

And actually, I was tempted to include something at the end that references the events of Chrono Cross, and I decided against it. Admittedly, though, there are people who think they understand its plot, and they've written long essays about the nature of Lavos (which I was reading to make sure events of The Rise of Magus were consistent with the established canon of the hyper-fans, who I suppose are part of my target audience). The decided lack of "Lavos is a scientist" theories inspired me to write this.