It's a Man's World

It's a Man's World

But it wouldn't be nothing without a woman

Chapter 1 by caitlynmasked caitlynmasked

When most people met me, they were impressed. I had a doctoral engineering degree with specialties in material science and computer engineering. I’d run my own firm for years while teaching at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. I worked out regularly to keep my 40-year-old body in good shape and had my fair share of lovers. I’d been close to marriage once. After three years of being engaged though, my lovely fiancé passed away. I owned a luxury condo in downtown Los Angeles, a cozy house near campus, and vacation properties in Marseille, Waikiki, and Bangkok.

In short, I was brilliant, wealthy, and good looking. And out of the three of us, I was the idiot. Both Dr. Atticus Moore and Dr. Catalina Rodriguez had more advanced degrees in theory and science than I had years in school. While I was helping design the newest mars orbiter, they were researching time travel.

You heard me right. Time travel.

Independent of each other, they’d likely have failed and would have had no way to prove their theories. Dr. Moore’s theories on the quantum mechanics of launching physical matter through a temporal field were useless without Dr. Rodriguez’s theories on targeting in four dimensions. To put it simply, she couldn’t make it go and he couldn’t make it go somewhere specific. Together though, they found a way.

I literally bumped into them at a conference up in San Francisco where they were trying to get some research grants. Most of the scientific field just laughed at them, but I’d heard of them and was intrigued. That night while we talked over dinner, I was quickly impressed by their intellect. Not only did they know their respective fields of study, they knew engineering, medicine, law, and physics. They even pointed out a problem with my most recent work for NASA and acted like it was nothing. To them, it was just a curiosity that they thought through and figured out at dinner. To me, it was four months of study out the window.

I was nowhere near bright enough to understand what exactly they were doing. But I knew that I wanted to be part of their team. So, while most people are impressed when they meet me for the first time, I’m the equivalent of the mechanic in our three-man research team.

That’s not to say I wasn’t a valued member. I took their theoretical drawings and built their first prototype capsule, combining Dr. Moore’s quantum field technology and Dr. Rodriguez’s targeting technology. I managed to improve upon their design by reducing the insanely high energy requirements. I even successfully sent our first probe into the past after multiple failed attempts. The evidence sits on my desk to this day. A newly minted half dollar coin from the Confederate States of America, and a photograph of a Confederate soldier. It takes a magnifying glass to see it in the photo, but sitting on that soldier’s shoulder is our small cloaked probe.

Knowing we could go to a time and a place was one thing, but repeating it was another. We ended up going back to the Civil War four times. The second time was simply to see if we could repeat the experiment, which we did. The third time was to test our newer, larger, more sensitive probe, and to see if we could find footprints of our own time travel. The probe arrived, but we couldn’t find any evidence we’d ever been there before. And finally, the fourth and final trip to that when was to test traveling with complex organic organisms. While they never left the capsule, we sent back a dish of bacteria, a lab rat, a dog, a chimpanzee… and a human volunteer.

Everything traveled to the past, sat in the capsule for sixty seconds, then traveled back to the present without any problem. Even the volunteer, Chad, said he had no notion of anything happening. According to him “…the door closed and then a minute later you opened it up and were excited to see me.”

After many nights of us discussing, debating, and arguing, we all agreed that travel to the past was just too dangerous. All of our theories said that we couldn’t change our present time even with major manipulations in the past. If we went back to the past and killed Hitler, we wouldn’t return to a present where there wasn’t a Hitler. We’d have just created an alternate path where there wasn’t a Hitler. But we didn’t want to even have the chance of proving our theories wrong.

Once we agreed upon that, all of our attention turned to traveling into the future. We theorized that learning about the future and using that to change our present wouldn’t affect that future. Instead, we could use that knowledge in our present to create an alternate path… and then continue on in that path for, hopefully, a better future of our own.

To this day, I don’t understand the math but the further into the future we travel, the more accurate we can make the time destination. According to Dr. Rodriguez it would be almost impossible to target anything within a decade of our present. Even targeting thirty years out was difficult. So, we initially chose a nice round century. 100 years into the future. That first test going into our future amazingly worked.

And scared the living hell out of us.

The probe made it to the year 2134 but barely made it back. It was so radioactive that we couldn’t even get data out of it. It took us months to make sure, but there was no way the time travel itself could cause the radiation. Neither the mathematics, nor the equipment made any differentiation between traveling forward or backward in time. That left us with two possibilities. One, it ended up in a radioactive environment like a power plant or a navy ship. Or two, Los Angeles in 2134 was a radioactive wasteland.

One of the physical difficulties of time travel is physical location. It’s why Dr. Rodriguez’s targeting was so important. We’re fairly sure the first tests did go over 250 years into the past when we were initially trying to get to the Civil War, but because they only targeted time, the probe didn’t end up in the Virginia of the 1800s. It didn’t even end up on Earth. Earth wasn’t at this place in relation to the sun, the sun wasn’t in this place in relation to the milky way, and the milky way wasn’t in this place in relation to the time space continuum. Dr. Rodriguez instead of simply throwing our probe through time, targeted the earth specifically. She had to develop an entirely new form of ground penetrating radar that could scan down to the mantle. Combined with a precise triangulation of the sun and Polaris, the north star, we were able to target the physical location on earth and make sure that no matter where the planet was in the time space continuum, we’d end up there.

Unfortunately, that meant in order to travel to a future New York, we had to start in New York. So, we had months of traveling experiments, all targeting 2134. The combined results confirmed our worst nightmares. The radiation was what would be expected about seventy years after a nuclear war. It was more heavily concentrated around cities, but it was spread over the entire globe. Our best guess is that sometime near 2050 there was a nuclear war and it destroyed most of humanity. And with our current targeting system, we couldn’t get near that time to see how the war started and if it was something we could prevent.

With that knowledge in mind, we were of different minds. Dr. Moore wanted to drop all research into time travel. Instead, he wanted to focus his and Dr. Rodriguez’s considerable intellect into building a sustainable long term fallout shelter for the coming nuclear war. Dr. Rodriguez wanted to continue working on the time travel experiments and try to find a way to target a closer time. A time before the war in order to possibly prevent it.

It was late one night that I was reading a historical text of the Roman empire written in the early 1700s, while Dr. Moore and Dr. Rodriguez were debating back and forth, that it came to me. The ‘ah-ha’ look on both of their faces confirmed I had a good idea. Instead of giving up or working furiously to enhance the technology or math, why not travel further into the future. Far enough to see if a civilization re-emerged. A civilization that might have a history of the nuclear war.

It only took us a few weeks to set up the experiments. This new probe was looking for our three stages of change. The first was to measure the radioactivity level. Civilization wouldn’t be able to prosper until after the radioactivity of the surface was survivable, and likely not even for decades after that. Second, we wanted to measure the atmosphere for signs of pollution. We theorized that any returning civilization would likely use easy to gain fossil fuels and would start polluting the environment again. This would have to be fine measurements as the pollution wouldn’t be great given our assumption of a small number of survivors. And finally, we’d be measuring for advanced radio and faster than light satellite communications. We didn’t need a civilization near the industrial age, we needed a civilization near our own who had time to devote to scientific and historical inquires.

Given the power requirements of the time travel itself, just over 1.21 gigawatts, we traveled forward in fifty-year increments, starting in 2200. While the directly lethal radiation had cleared out within the first 100 years, the background radiation levels kept the surface impossible to live on for another 100 years. After 2300 the surface radiation returned to pre-war levels, but the nuclear winter was still in effect, making large scale farming impossible. Our first real good sign was 2450 when we saw fossil fuel pollution levels spike. But where it took us over 200 years to start reducing atmospheric pollution, this future society was already dramatically reducing it by 2550.

The strangest thing may be the last step. Reducing pollution would mean an advanced type of power, so it should only be a short 50 or 100 years to advanced telecommunications and therefore signs of advanced civilization. But even in 2700 there were no signs of this happening.

We debated and discussed possible outcomes, but finally agreed there was no way to know what was happening. Instead of a civilization growing naturally and organically, we would be talking about a small group of individuals surviving the two centuries underground, then returning to a world with advanced, if old, cities and technology ready to be picked up and used. Would they try to pick up where we left them off? Would they try to build a better society? Would they even recognize the old society as something they came from?

That’s how we settled on 2700 as our destination. Seven generations after they were reducing their reliance on fossil fuels. If this wasn’t advanced enough to have a history of the nuclear war, then there was likely little hope we’d ever find a future society that could help us.

Once we settled on a time, we sent our standard probe there. We needed to know more about this society before we tried to step into it. We all breathed a big sigh of relief when we didn’t see any sign of them being able to detect our cloaked probe. We breathed a bigger sigh of relief when we recognized English as their spoken language. Their clothing was close enough to ours that we could manufacture something appropriate. The more daunting task was their seeming isolationist nature. We found out this place called themselves the Free Union of Western Nations and the city of Los Angeles was specifically called Angel City. While the specific political structure of the Free Union of Western Nations was a mystery, Angel City seemed to be one of it’s Capital cities.

They seemed very technologically advanced, but not so much that we couldn’t recognize things. Their main form of travel was either walking or using a floating version of buses. They all carried personal information devices instead of phones and most of the PIDs were worn around the ear. We assumed it gave information aurally, but our probe couldn’t hear them.

There was news, there was sports, there were parks, there was work and recreation. There were men, women, and children although there was a lot more males than females regardless of age. After nearly three weeks of fact finding, we came upon the information we were after. Visitors. At what we’d assumed was an underground train station we saw a small family ‘arrive’. We followed as much as we could and found out they were from a place called the Eastern Coalition. They were there seeking the advanced medical technology of the Free Union of Western Nations, specifically fertilization. They were scanned, had to sign an oath of fealty to the Union, and were let out without any more fuss. They didn’t even have to provide identification.

We followed this family and found they were given housing and food, and an appointment at a medical center in three months.

This was perfect for us. We could claim to be from the Eastern Coalition coming for the same treatment. We’d be given room and board and an appointment far enough into the future that we could do our historical research and not be concerned about actually going through a medical procedure.

For the purpose of disguise, we’d go by our same names. We hadn’t heard anybody referred to by titles, so we’d have to drop our ‘Doctor’ titles and go by Mr. and Mrs. To further our disguise and stay in the character of a family seeking medical treatment, we decided Doctor Moore and Doctor Rodriguez would play as a married couple as they knew more intimate details about each other than I did. I’d simply play a cousin traveling with them. We’d use the capsule to travel into this future from near the Griffith Observatory. It was isolated in our now that it wouldn’t cause a fuss and the entire area was still a park in their now so it should remain undisturbed with its cloak. The cloak would last at least six months on battery, and we could even deploy the solar panels to extend that. It should be plenty of time for us to finish our research.

If everything went to plan, we’d leave Los Angeles on June 2nd, 2034 at 2 AM and arrive back on June 2nd, 2034 one minute later. Meanwhile we’d arrive in Angel City on June 2nd 2700 at 2 AM and leave as soon as possible with information we could use to prevent a world ending war.

Are they successful?

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