Which Earth was right? Was there a God? Was religion valid or just superstition or hope in the face of helplessness? Livia would know soon. Then, she could decide on her course of action. She only hoped Simon would understand….
Livia and Simon both grew up learning about the parallel Earth, or Earthβ in school. There were many scholars of Earthβ and Livia became one of them, as did Simon and his twin sister, Ruth. But there were not many who could go there. Livia joined the project six years earlier, right out of graduate school. She had to undergo the kind of training that Earthβ’s astronauts underwent. Livia’s Earth also explored Space, but used android piloted spacecraft and A.I. probes. Livia’s Earth was in the Universe–a parallel Universe to that of Earthβ, whose population had no idea that there was actually another Earth with another history whose operatives had been visiting it for centuries. And they had to keep it that way, otherwise, Earthβ could be the site of planet-wide pandemonium. The belief system on the planet was fragile. The entire fabric of Earthβ’s civilization could be shredded, leaving only the opportunists, religious and fanatical Right, to turn Earthβ into a cesspool of bigotry and racism–waging wars of ethnic cleansing–leading inevitably to nuclear annihilation.
Earthβ was home to multiple religions and beliefs. The greatest percentage of the population belonged to Christianity and Islam, with Christianity having the most adherents. The Nonreligious percentage of EarthB’s population was third and Hinduism followed closely in fourth place. What concerned the social scientists of Livia’s Earth was Christianity and Islam. For centuries, the two religions were at odds with each other. Wars were fought and still grudges, intolerance and hatred existed. The social scientists had toyed with the notion of changing Earthβ’s history so that they might also enjoy peace and affluence. They recognized that religion was the key to the problems plaguing Earthβ, and Christianity boasted the largest percentage of the planet’s population. But, to eliminate or hinder the growth of Christianity could produce more negative than positive change. And, what about the other religions, particularly Islam and Hinduism? How would they be affected?
Livia had not told Simon what she was deliberating, and she doubted it ever crossed his mind that she would consider such a thing. She could change the horrible history of their sister planet. She had devised a number of scenarios, and ran them through comp simulations. She agreed with her colleagues. The reason for everything going terribly wrong with the planet was religion and she believed that Christianity was the key. She could prevent Christianity from ever taking hold. There were a number of trigger points but only one could be pulled–one that would tear the fabric of Earthβ’s violent history. And all she had to do was prevent one man from dying an untimely death. However, two other individuals might have to be eliminated in order to accomplish it. Yet, in doing so, she could open another “can of worms”. The simulations were unable to give her any clear outcome. There were many permutations–too many for Livia to justify any action on her part. There was only one other option: she had to speak with the man known as Jesus.
Time flowed like a great river with tributaries feeding it and forks dividing it, becoming a system of increasing and ebbing currents. There were overflows, backflows, waves and trickling streams. Some branches were dead ends and others reappeared downstream to join the main body. No one knew the river’s source was another river of time–a river that fed another that fed another and another….The greatest minds on Livia’s planet had detected the time continuum, marveling at its complexity yet governed by simple logic.
Three centuries earlier, while the Crimean War was being fought on Earthβ, androids traveled back in time on their peaceful Earth, until finally, it was decided to explore the history of Earthβ–humans from a parallel Universe, braved the rivers of time. The violence inherent in Earthβ’s history was more interesting than its peaceful sister planet. Livia and Simon had no idea that with each sortie to Earthβ, operatives were unknowingly affecting its history. When Livia applied to the governors to go back to the time of Jesus, those very same scientists who detected the changes in Earthβ’s history, saw in Livia, the opportunity to possibly profoundly change the history of Earthβ–a planet that would be a threat to them if their scientists stumbled upon the parallel Universe.
Ruth spoke to Livia and Simon through their implanted communication devices. They were both in the sing chamber ready for insertion. One last time Ruth checked their implants. It was her responsibility to prep them, send them, monitor them, and bring them back alive. Getting the ready sign, Ruth touched the comp screen and the heads-up display showed before her. She summoned the small sing or singularity that would open within the chamber and take Livia and her brother to the time of the man who called himself Jesus, speaking to a small group of men, of whom only two would become apostles.
Ruth flashed the chamber and Livia and Simon instantly disappeared from her display. She softly whispered “good luck” and Livia responded:
“We’re in. We’re across from the dwelling. It is so frigging hot!”
Then Ruth heard Simon: “Yeah, but it’s a dry heat.”