Of course, conquering space was not everything for the Federation. The target remote galaxies, distant or look out to the edges of the LU (Local Universe) hypercumulus, amounted only to look at a moment in cosmic history. Federation fleets could go anywhere, study and classify life forms or various physical phenomena, but such data had only temporary validity. At the cosmic level, the state of a civilization, of a race, of a culture, observed at any given moment, meant nothing. They were just sparks in the middle of infinity. So Federation leaders understood that to exercise a true power that was almost eternal, it was also necessary to explore time. So is. The same planet, a planetary system, a sun or even a galaxy, were not at all the same ones contemplated over long periods of time.
There were cases where a few centuries were enough to see the rise and fall of imposing galactic civilizations. Even certain life forms did not leave even the slightest drag, after a few million years. In reality, the Universe was undergoing constant changes that could only be appreciated by moving in time, and not necessarily in space. Of course, time travel was, at the same time, space travel, for the simple reason that the same world or planetary system did not always occupy the same cosmic place. Everything was in motion. There was, by itself, the flight movement of the galaxies and then there were the countless rotary movements that all the stars, galaxies and clusters performed, like a gigantic cosmic dance, which depended on a set of forces, according to the matter accumulated in one or the other direction.
There is no doubt, then, that time travel represented a much greater challenge than simple space travel. It was, perhaps, the great tool that put man above the natural order, allowing him to see both the past and the future. However; to the Federation, the first thing he wanted was to see how things happened without any changes in the original program. Then they would have to consider whether modifications should be made to the original program or not. Furthermore, for that it was necessary to know well what kind of consequences would bring about any change. Points to study or solve there were many. One was to learn more about the emergence of the HE (Human Environment) in Altair and its intervention in the terrestrial human past. Some also wanted to better study Earth’s remote past, to give a final word on whether this world was not capable, by itself, of producing man.
As for the future, the doubts were still many. With the fragmentation of the UL into bubbles, it was suspected that each one would follow a different evolution, so what could come out of it was unimaginable. For others, the great question was whether man subsisted on his own in the remote future, or if he obtained it simply by the dominance of time. In other words: was the future suitable for the HE? And, outside these topics, there was an enormous interest in knowing more about what was and what would be of certain particularly interesting races, of the thousands discovered in the UL. In this area, for example, the apkon, the tempos and many solitary creatures that inhabited different places were inscribed.
Logically, to oversee such a task, an Ecumenical Assembly was ordained by the Supreme Starmack Midas, a man who had been familiar with time travel since the solar man began doing it. He would be at head of a General Staff (GS) with different hierarchical levels for different ages of the Cosmos, while the explorer fleet itself would be called the Time Patrol, and would be led by a commander. This position was equivalent to that of admiral in the Space Fleet. In reality, the Federation structured a system in this way, where the Time Patrol was equivalent to something like an Army, while the Space Fleet was equivalent to the old Navy.
Needless to say, Midas surrounded himself with the best men in the area of temporal exploration. Along with the main officers, he appointed Vega’s man, Alsa-Inti, as general director of the scientific area. We recall that this had been none other than Thorklind’s second, in the epic voyages made by this commander. Alsa-Inti was even one of the greatest specialists in the study of what used to be called, “competing” races of solar man. As for the Cosmic Ages, it was decided to establish three large headquarters in the Past. Present and Future, from which countless other adjacent times would be supervised. These three barracks were located within the Milky Way, while for the other galaxies of the LG (Local Group), there were something like delegations or detachments of lesser hierarchy. Beyond the LG, other detachments would be located in key places of the main Hyperclusters, and thus, almost to the limits of the known Universe.
By belonging to the same organization, the Federation, the Temporary General Staff (TGS) and the space fleets would work together. Each station of one of them would be parked in very distant places, while in densely populated regions they would complement each other. The great difference was, evidently, that the expansion of the Federation was due to a natural process of exploration of the Cosmos. The TGS, on the other hand, was going to be located in hundreds of well-known places. For those who would simply limit themselves to supervisory work, their lives would not be much different from that of so many Fleet officers, who spent countless years on remote worlds. In contrast, the true TGS scouting force would be the Time Patrol. Like the fleet led by Admiral Maximus, this would be in charge of venturing, for the first time, into regions that were epochs in this case, where no one had reached. In a truly imposing ceremony, Midas initially consecrated Leopold Garyker, a descendant of Tau Whale settlers, as the general commander of this patrol, made up of 5 ships with the highest technology. They were capable of moving several billion years in one direction or another.
All this deployment took, by the way, a long time. Garyker and his officers were tasked with selecting the various commanders who would control each region. As for the three main large barracks, the present one was installed in the same sector that the Federation occupied, in the galactic nucleus. For this, several more worlds were adapted to house each of the dependencies. The Past headquarters was located in one of the spiral arms, in the direction of Canopus, and the Future headquarters was located at the other end of the Galaxy, in another spiral arm, near Albina. As for the buildings themselves, they were imposing architectural jewels, buildings that were true cities that covered much of the surface of each planet. Absolutely everything they needed worked there, from space ports and resting places, to huge rooms full of screens, labyrinthine corridors, laboratories and thousands of rooms for everything.
The commanders who led these places depended directly on Midas, but actively collaborated with Garyker. The commander in charge of the present barracks was Malcolm Goviner, one of the great admirals of the Fleet who, almost, was not a Maximus; at the time he was displaced by Thorklind in that position, but no one doubted his enormous ability. Explorer of hundreds of worlds, he knew perfectly the general state of the Galaxy. The commander of the Barracks of the Past was Archis Elyssius, a man from the Cepheus colonists, that civilization discovered by the Supreme Solar Gedeon, who was programming his own history. As for the barracks of the Future, the commander was Dongede Mister, a former admiral with experience in Andromeda and the Magellanic Clouds, a specialist in civilizations that in some areas seemed somewhat more advanced than solar man.
As it used to be for the main meetings of the Federation, a great Assembly also took place here to determine the objectives to be followed and the role that each one should fulfill. It was also clear that the TGS reported directly to the Federation Grand Council, and that this was the only body above it. The TGS was simply an arm of the Federation to control time travel. An important point was, that only the Patrol could make any change in the natural evolution of events. The other commanders had to request express permission from the TGS to modify events. Of course, each case would be studied exhaustively before giving approval, but it can be said that changes were planned when the situation warranted it.
Each commander of each Cosmic Age would be at the head of a small army of other commanders, who would explore a multitude of worlds of their respective times, in order to settle in the most interesting ones, or to make contact with various forms of life. Your Time would be exclusively yours, even if it were places that, in other Ages, were reached by the Federation. Each one owned a Time as if they were floors in a building. The floors are the Ages and the building is the Universe. This would allow the Earth, the Solar System and surroundings to have TGS positions in each of the Ages, although those explorers would have almost no contact with each other. The idea was to study each Age independently and only afterwards to join the results. Furthermore, since the physical space to be covered was immense, this meant that the actual time of stay in each place was relatively short. In exchange for that, each world would be visited on different occasions since, within a particular Age, there were millions of years for successive returns and to better understand the cosmic evolution.
Of course, the Patrol was something else. This would be in charge of more delicate or complex missions, generally, to obtain more concrete results. From the beginning, Garyker and his officers led the same lives as the crew of the space fleets: every day a different planetary system loomed on their screens, vast spaces that seemed endless. If the journey was directed to the past, the Universe was comparatively smaller and brighter and hotter. If the journey was to the future, the matter was more and more scattered and everything was colder and darker. Instead, going in that direction, it was clear that the Bubbles were giving way to new cosmic structures. However: at first, the time he spent in each was relatively short. Enough to do a complete survey of the area and store the data that was later studied in detail. It was not for them to fulfill the role of conquerors. That was what the Space Fleet was for with all its personnel and its formidable resources, although these were directed only to the Present Age. The Fleet did not deal with, for example, races that had not yet appeared or had already disappeared.
The first major trip made by the Patrol was made to various points in the Future. It is that men were interested in knowing the future, than the cosmic past. Of this one, more or less traces are everywhere. Of the future, however, nothing was known with precision. The key point of that exploration was, precisely, the nature of the Bubbles and their evolution over time. Here Garyker caught a glimpse of what Thorklind had already verified regarding the process of creating Bubbles, through the action of the Hyper-Attractors. It was not necessary to make any long journey, but to go to successive points of time, more and more in the future, to fully certify that in this incredible way, true mini-universes were forming in front of them. They would have the possibility to investigate what arose from such mini-universes. By making successive trajectory corrections and leaping in stretches of 500 million years at a time, Garyker could see that the mini-cosmos seemed to evolve into, apparently, an organic being of some nature.
So is. Incredible as it may seem, the mini-cosmos were self-conscious, just like many intelligent beings. Only they did not live on a planet, but in the cosmic void, and their size was practically equivalent to that of an entire galaxy. With the help of the best instruments, on the flagship’s command bridge, they manage to detect its movements and even some kind of ultraviolet modulation. Perhaps the mini-cosmos were trying to communicate with them. After a time of study, Garyker decides to go even further into the future, finding, this time, that the mini-cosmos have multiplied and that their area of action is much larger than before. Garyker hesitates before making new decisions. No one has ever ventured this far in the future and they don’t even have the assurance of ever being able to return. Finally, it is decided, and the next step leads to an Age is away from humanity, no less than 50.000 million years.
The orb that opens before them is the strangest thing ever seen. A first impression makes it similar to seeing microscopic creatures through a microscope. The place is crossed by some kind of phosphorescent light, but it is no longer possible to know if that region really occupy the place of the ancient Universe or not. Here, the mini-cosmos denote an incomprehensible activity, but not for that reason less real. Fartel Solrak, Garyker’s scientific officer, attempted to define it as “the culture of the Archetypes”. It is that the mini-cosmos were giving rise to into the future. Garyker was interested, but Solrak made him see that they were taking a great risk.
For some inexplicable cause, in this Age, time did not pass the same as in others. It could be said that it was “slowed down”, as if it was slowing down. Solrak also certified that there was a substantial time difference between the orb of the Archetypes and theirs; that the Patrol was in a kind of “bubble” of time, which was moving more and more slowly. Not only that. A quick check of the instruments made it clear what they already suspected: If they took much longer, surely they could never return, Once again Garyker hesitated. Could it be that man could not go back in time to the remote future to observe the end of the Universe? It seemed that using exclusively the time factor, no. For something like this, much greater technology would be necessary. With resignation, he gave the order to go back. He knew that their names would be inextricably linked as the discoverers of the Archetypes, that is, what the cosmic bubbles would become, with the passage of time. Making a promise to himself to return to this same point sometime, he turned and said to his officers:
- This mission is over. Let’s go back to Base.
Slowly, the fleet began to undo the path of time it had come from.