This story is in response to the Daily Prompt for August 4th, 2013

If only I could go back in time…

How many of us have ever uttered those self same words, and wished for the chance, to undo what in hindsight seems to be a chapter of our lives worth forgetting? Few have gotten the chance, until now, to re-order destiny. For a millennium we completely lacked the technology, but gaining technology, as advantageous as it was also caused us to lose something of our humanity along the way.

The changes that took place in the past of our ancestors were slow, and subtle enough that they seemed not to notice all the knowledge that they were losing. We now dwell in cities, because we have forgotten how to live in nature. Our food supplies are now automated and strictly controlled. Human beings rarely converse in person, but do so mostly from the comfort of their com screens. Families are no longer encouraged to live communally, and children are cared for by the department of education from birth onward. Once they are old enough to be tested, and sorted by skills and abilities, they are placed within the occupational community to begin their schooling. The entirety  of their education is tailored to their assigned career path, and does not deviate from it.

For over a century now this has continued without question. The resources we wanted were taken, the soldier caste ensuring our victory in obtaining valuable assets from other peoples when our own supplies dwindled. Unfortunately, we have reached a time when those resources are finally running out. The Earth itself is polluted beyond our domed cities, most of what what was once a great civilization lies in ruins, destroyed not only by wars, but from the misuse of our ancestors. Vast swathes of cropland are now barren, the water runs almost dry, and the sky is choked with dust and smoke, enveloping everything in an almost unbreathable fog.

Those in power do so by holding most in thrall, and under the ignorant impression that everything is as it should be. Most are not permitted to venture beyond the domed city unless they are of the soldier class, which is not permitted within the central dome, where the majority are housed. This keeps most citizens blissfully unaware of just how dire the situation is becoming. Our leaders have already been constructing a newer dome for themselves, and diverting much of what remains of precious resources there for their own use, once the situation reaches a critical point. The common citizens will then be left to fend for themselves.

I myself am of the most dangerous class of all in this present world. As scientists, we are both feared and needed. Our ability  to think and to reason unbridled makes us both an asset, and a liability to those in power. They fear the knowledge we possess, but all the same time, crave the technology only we are capable of creating, and maintaining. Only we, besides those in power, understand the exact gravity of the situation, and just how close to out of time we are to find a solution.

A decision was made a few years ago to look, in secret, for our own solution. Most of the known world beyond repair, we were forced to turn to manipulating time itself in a quest for definitive answers. Could this have been prevented, if so in what manner and by whom? How subtle or how big of a change would it take to send our ancestors down a different path?

We spent years pouring over what remained of the histories that had not been sanitized and rewritten to suit the elite agenda. It proved more difficult than even we had feared, and we ran into many dead ends along the way, but eventually there was progress.

At the root of the issue, there seemed to be the the matter of people giving up their liberty for safety. The technology they were sold  as a means of keeping them safe from enemies was instead used to keep tabs on citizens and to stifle descent and unpopular opinions. It was all begun so subtly that most were caught unaware, the programming having been begun from early childhood onward to simply accept what had been given them by the media. True creativity was stifled and eventually all but eliminated but for a chosen few permitted to indulge in it.

Tonight the portal lies before us, that we have fought for so long to keep in secret. It will spirit us away back to the time when the world seemed to be slipping toward this horrible destiny. I am not sure if we will be able to sway them from this path, but we feel a duty and obligation to try. Once through the portal, this lab, and all within it will destroy itself, and with it all record of what we have done here, in case we do not succeed.

Will we help them build a better world? Only time will tell…