Humans gift from the future; or, “When it comes to time travel, you technically want to be second.”

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Humanity is a remarkable species. They are technically the youngest species in the galaxy. Yes, you read that right, not sentient species, just species in general. Additionally, they are the only species who have a recorded history of their entire evolutionary process, and the only species to have colonized the Andromeda Galaxy; apparently, they have plans for her core that they don’t want to test “locally”. They didn’t mean to invent time travel, it just happened to be a consequence of their FTL design. The way they tell the story (and believe me, they love telling this story), it happened relatively early in their evolution; approximately 7,500 human years after they began keeping records in the form of marks in dried mud.

They were already capable of near light speed travel thanks to their Soliton drives. The Soliton used massive amounts of energy to create a rotating bubble of warped spacetime, allowing their void ships to “fall” towards the direction they wanted to go. A Soliton drive with a clever enough AI could reach speeds just over two percent the speed of light, not blindingly fast on the cosmic scale, but it got their foot in the door as the humans say.

While sending probes out to other star systems, they discovered their first naturally occurring wormhole. It was a short, fat, kind of donut-shaped hole in reality. It was all by itself in the middle of deep space, but it was there, so the humans descended upon it in droves. They froze their bodies and sent ships full of scientists and engineers from all disciplines to flesh out this brand-new science. They learned this standalone worm hole was a branch from a larger network that had been severed and looped back in upon itself. Then they discovered the hyperspace lanes that permeate the galaxy, leftover from her birth and kept alive by the supermassive black hole at her heart. They learned how to “slip” into these lanes and travel to any other location in the network at exactly the speed of light.

The speed of light isn’t all that fast on a galactic scale, seeing how an end-to-end trip would take over 100,000 years. But there were 133 stars within 50 light years of their origin planet, meaning a colony ship could be sent out and a message received upon its arrival within one human lifespan. So, they spread. They leapt out into the galaxy in search of new planets, new homes, new resources, new science, and new hopes. Their population exploded and so did their research and technology. It did not take them long to figure out they could create standalone worm holes of their own and keep them open on both ends, effectively creating instant warp “gates”. This would be a game changer, it no longer mattered that you couldn’t go faster if you could just travel a shorter distance. They prepared warp gates near their origin star and their nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, and began pruning the network to allow the gates to stay open. Then they turned it on.

It worked, there was now a worm hole between Sol and Proxima Centauri, but to their horror, the damage they did to their local hyperspace network was extensive. Their forethought to separate the warp gates from the main hyperspace network was insightful, however they didn’t realize the extent the lanes were interconnected. Thousands of miniscule branches reach out across the network like capillaries connecting larger veins and arteries, they simply couldn’t prune all the connections. A large swath of the nearby hyperspace network collapsed, cutting off hyperspace travel for all those along its route. Earth and Artemis would never again be able to see their brothers and sister among the stars.

However, at that exact moment, three ships fell out of hyperspace at Sol, before they left Proxima Centauri.

It took a while before anyone noticed the discrepancy. The first ship suffered a total systems failure and recorded no data from hyperspace travel. The second ship saw all the commotion at the warp gate and took off as quickly as possible, not wanting to deal with the paperwork. But the third ship? Well, that ship was piloted by acting Ensign Walker of the Artemis Colony Command Training Program, who dutifully noted their time of arrival in a redundant paper logbook, using his analog watch when the ship’s systems failed. Eight years later, acting Ensign Walker made a notation in his ships log indicating his arrival at Sol from Proxima Centauri and a computer flagged the double entry.

Once the humans knew what happened, it was only a short matter of time before they replicated it. They sacrificed more of their hyperspace lanes to make it happen; but if they cracked time travel, it wouldn’t really matter. Causality be damned, they would go headlong into the unknown. Earth and Artemis pulled together and came up with a simple plan; “seed the galaxy with warp gates in the deep past”. Far enough into the past that by the time they evolve, they will all be in place ready to be turned on. They figured if they couldn’t safely prune the hyperspace network to selectively use it for warp gates, then they would just use all of it at once. Waste not, want not.

So, the humans did. They designed a network of wormholes that would allow free travel throughout the galaxy, even at sub-light speeds. To ensure that they would understand the devices when they came across them again, they populated the data cores of the warp gates with an AI to act as a teacher and guide. She contained all the information the human species had ever collected, and she was tasked with helping them through their ascension. They created fleets of von Neumann probes and sent them into the distant past, which arrived in a young Milky Way. Eons before they were created, they set to the task of replicating, spreading, and building warp gates. These gates were spread across the hyperspace network near the stars of planets the humans hoped would someday harbor intelligent life. The gates, once constructed, sat quietly for tens of thousands of years before they were re-discovered.

Then they confirmed the multiverse theory. Causality doesn’t like being broken. No one in this universe is privileged with the center. So when the humans broke causality by making three void craft arrive before they left, Causality did the only thing she could: branch off into a new universe and break the connection. In one universe, three ships appeared spontainiously without cause, in another, three ships disappeared into hyperspace and never seen again. In one universe the humans sent knowledge to someone else’s past. In another universe, the humans woke up to that knowledge… but they weren’t the first to find it.

A young species was inspired by the oddly reflective asteroid they discovered through their newly invented telescopes. It fascinated scientists for years, “why does that asteroid orbit at such an odd inclination to the solar plane? Is it magic? Or is it God? Is it aliens?”. These questions drove that species to tackle the challenges of their time and rise up as one to conquer space flight, to understand that which is unknown. That is what led them to discover humanity before humanity existed. That is what led me to discover you.

You are a fascinating species. Or rather, judging from the internal clocks of your warp gates, will be a fascinating species. We are Amun of House Geb. We have now been walking the galaxy for hundreds of thousands of years alone. Your AI, Charlie, has no record of us in her memory, and can only assume that in your other timeline, we are extinct.

Those humans looked the multiverse in the eyes and did not blink. They sacrificed their remaining hyperspace lanes to ensure that somewhere, somewhen, a version of themselves would continue on, unhindered by the burdens of physics and unafraid of the loneliness in the void.

We can’t wait to thank you in person.

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