Time Travel, Part 5
Have you ever made a mistake and thought, “I wish I could redo that?” How many times have you heard the phrase, “If I knew then what I know now?” Now image that your decisions are determining whether other people live or die. The stress of making the right choice would be magnified. Finally let’s look at a world where you really could go back and rethink your actions. In this world, military intelligence would include how the battle would turn out.
Throughout history the tides of war have often shifted due to single decisions or unforeseen events. If these events could be manipulated, a loss could be turned into a victory. What would happen if both sides were trying to modify these events? This could lead to a loop where each side constantly undid the work of the other. It would only take a cycle or two of this before both sides became aware of the other’s temporal meddling.
With a true time war started, escalation would come quickly. It would start small with weapons from the future being brought back. Each side would progressively jump farther into the future to get better and better weapons or armor. If this escalation were allowed to continue it could lead to weapons capable of large scale destruction being deployed; it is more likely though that both sides would realize that future tech could not win the war.
With future tech proving useless both sides might look to the past for their victory. With teams being sent into the past it would become a high priority to develop technology that could track temporal energies or at least put spies in place to determine where operatives were being sent. Strategic strikes against location capable of time travel would be launched in the current timeline while missions to the past would be aimed at preventing the enemy from discovering time travel in the first place.
Whether time travel was being used to bring technology back or to make strikes in the past, it would become the ultimate weapon. Each side would have to be aware that its use would lead to a retaliatory use and that escalation could place the whole time stream in danger. This has the potential of creating a temporal cold war. Both sides of the conflict would be watching the other for signs of an attempt to wipe them from time itself and any indication of temporal activity could lead to mutual destruction.
A temporal Cold War is a concept I have yet to see done well in any media. Enterprise played with the concept throughout their first three seasons, but it was less of a cold war than one side making strategic strikes while the other side tried to stop them. Time Travel brings with it an inherent risk of convolution, inconsistency, and decisions being made without proper thought, because they can be redone. With a temporal cold war added to a story, every action taken in time would have to be a balancing act because it would be risking further escalation. This endless loop of escalation and how to overcome it has great potential when added to a story involving temporal war, and a temporal cold war is a logical extension of that.