DTI: Shield of the Gods Annotations

This document explains the continuity references, allusions, in-jokes, and scientific concepts contained in Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Shield of the Gods (DTI:SOTG).   I assume that the reader is familiar with the basic characters and background of the Trek universe.  Readers seeking further information on references to past Trek episodes or movies are advised to consult the Memory Alpha Star Trek wiki.  Information about Star Trek novels can be found at the Memory Beta wiki.

In particular, this novella is a sequel to DTI: The Collectors (TC) and Time Lock (TL), and builds on numerous concepts and story threads from those novellas as well as from the preceding DTI novels Watching the Clock (WTC) and Forgotten History (FH),.  Further information on the characters and scientific concepts herein can be found in my WTC annotations, FH annotations, TC annotations, and TL annotations.

Be aware that this document contains spoilers for the whole of SOTG and for numerous episodes, films, and novels from all Trek series, particularly the original and animated series.  I would strongly recommend not reading it until one has completed the novella, since many of the notes contain spoilers for things not revealed until later scenes or chapters.

Episode and short-story titles are in quotes, while film and book titles are italicized. Page numbers are based on the manuscript galleys and may not correspond to individual e-reader settings.


ENT — Enterprise TOS — The Original Series TAS — The Animated Series
TNG — Next Generation DS9 — Deep Space Nine VGR — Voyager
DTI — Department of Temporal Investigations WTC — Watching the Clock FH – Forgotten History
TC — The Collectors TL — Time Lock

Chapter Annotations

Epigraph The saying “The arc of the universe bends toward justice” is generally attributed to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but he apparently was referencing a pre-existing saying. According to Quote Investigator (http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/15/arc-of-universe/), the Theodore Parker quote used here is the earliest confirmed use of the phrase.
Chapter I
5 I introduced the Qhembembem Outpost in Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures. Its location suited my purposes here, plus I just wanted to write “Qhembembem” some more.
  The word “indescribabilia” is borrowed from Travels in West Africa by Mary Kingsley, my favorite Victorian naturalist, on whom I wrote my senior thesis in college.
  Phasing cloaks (more properly called interphasic cloaking devices, which can make starships intangible as well as invisible) were established in TNG: “The Pegasus” as a banned technology. They were also featured in Typhon Pact: Plagues of Night and Raise the Dawn by David R. George III.
  Thought makers were introduced in TNG: “The Battle” as Ferengi-made devices which could remotely manipulate minds or induce delusions, and which were illegal even within the Ferengi Alliance.
  “Multiphasic isotope” is a term used in ENT: “The Shipment” to describe kemocite, a key substance used in the creation of the Xindi planet-killer weapon. DS9: “Little Green Men” had previously established kemocite as a highly regulated, frequently-smuggled substance; it also had the ability to create time warps in the right circumstances, which would put it on the DTI’s radar. As for what “multiphasic” would actually mean in this context, I haven’t a clue.
  Consciousness-transfer devices might be something like the technology Rao Vantika used to “possess” others’ bodies in DS9: “The Passenger,” or perhaps something more like the Camus II device used in TOS: “Turnabout Intruder.” Either way, a very invasive, violating tech that would probably be highly illegal.
  Isolytic subspace charges, aka isolytic bursts, are a type of subspace torpedo which TNG: Insurrection established as a banned weapon under the Second Khitomer Accords. They’re capable of creating tears in subspace, making them extremely dangerous. As for what “isolytic” is supposed to mean, see my p. 22 notes for ENT: Uncertain Logic.
6 I’m afraid I don’t have any really good scientific rationalization for the term “constructive path integrator.” It’s mainly a reference to the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, which is more or less about computing the probability amplitude of a quantum particle by considering all its possible paths. That is, there are a number of different paths it could take, and its total quantum wave function is the combination of all of them, with some more probable than others, so the amplitude gives their overall range and probabilities. My rough thinking was that the time drive would employ quantum time travel and would use path integration to construct the desired quantum equation for its path through spacetime, or something like that. I’m afraid that I wrote this novella under a very tight deadline due to contract delays, and thus I didn’t have the time to work out something more careful. So I fell back on something I prefer to avoid, the use of technobabble — slamming a bunch of vaguely sciencey words together to give the impression they mean something when they really don’t. At least I tried to ground the terminology in relevant scientific fields.
  Going by the maps in Star Trek Star Charts, which David Mack used to plot the events of the Destiny trilogy, the approximate location I had in mind for Qhembembem (not far from Tandar/39 Tauri) would be more or less on the edge of the roughly spherical dead zone the Borg armada would’ve carved out as it expanded from the Azure Nebula in all directions, reaching nearly as far as Earth.
7 Vendorians are nonhumanoid shapeshifters from TAS: “The Survivor.” They’ve been oddly overlooked by tie-in literature.
8 Benamite crystals are used in quantum slipstream drives, as established in VGR: “Timeless.” Various books such as the VGR novels of Kirsten Beyer establish their rarity, which is why Starfleet has relatively few slipstream ships in the novelverse. I figure the time drive might be based on some of the same quantum principles as slipstream drive.
  As I mentioned on the intro page, I wanted this story to work as a self-contained narrative, a distinct story with its own beginning, even though it picks up the pursuit of Daiyar from TL. That’s not too hard, though; a lot of stories begin in mid-chase, like TOS: “Mudd’s Women,” which opens with the Enterprise “in pursuit of an unidentified vessel,” or TNG: “The Last Outpost,” which begins with a later Enterprise chasing a Ferengi vessel after a theft.
9 I can rarely resist the opportunity to make up a new Ferengi Rule of Acquisition. Rule #248 is a play on the saying “The definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting different results,” which is often misattributed to Einstein or Ben Franklin (I actually thought it was Santayana), but whose origin is apparently unknown. A lot of the Rules of Acquisition are plays on Earth sayings — I figure either the Universal Translators are searching for suitable analogs, or the Ferengi actually swiped the sayings for their own use. I gave this rule a high number to suggest it was formulated late enough for the Ferengi to have picked up human concepts. (The two civilizations didn’t come into direct formal contact until TNG: “The Last Outpost,” but they were clearly aware of each other before then, no doubt from indirect transfer of information through other societies that had encountered both, or from isolated, undocumented encounters like the one in ENT: “Acquisition.”)
11 The second scene carries more of the burden of filling in backstory from Time Lock, but again, I tried to approach it as if it were setting up a standalone story. To that end, I kept the discussion of the events of TL to a minimum (they’re so complicated that any attempt at a detailed recap would’ve been too great a distraction anyway) and focused more on new information relevant to SOTG, namely Daiyar’s Aegis background and her impending plans.
12 The Gororm were introduced as a member species of the Carnelian Regnancy in TNG: The Buried Age. I identified them with the unnamed “aliens with long faces” seen in DS9 crowd scenes. The Gororm agent here is probably Mogon of the Regnancy’s Temporal Oversight Administration, who was glimpsed in the epilogue of Watching the Clock. I admit I’d forgotten I’d already created that character, so it’s a lucky accident that I went with the same species for the Carnelians’ temporal agent here.
13 My first draft posited Earth’s first contact with Vulcan in 2063 as the cutoff point for Aegis monitoring of humanity, but Dayton Ward asked me to make it more vague so as not to conflict with his own Aegis-related storytelling in TNG: Hearts and Minds.


The first release of this e-novella erroneously referred to the Typhon Pact’s temporal agent as Ronarek. It should be Revad. This should be corrected in later releases and updates (the wonders of e-books), but I apologize for letting the initial error through. Thanks to “Enterprise1701” on The TrekBBS for catching the error.

Chapter II
26 As mentioned in the Acknowledgments, this novella draws heavily on Howard Weinstein’s “The Peacekeeper” story arc from DC’s Star Trek Vol. 2, where the term “Aegis” was first introduced. That storyline feature Gary Seven recruiting the help of the Enterprise crew against a rogue Aegis team acting against the organization. Other instances of Seven soliciting Kirk’s help include Greg Cox’s TOS: Assignment: Eternity.
27 The Aegis transporter alcove here is implicitly the “raw” form of Gary’s transporter “vault” from TOS: “Assignment: Earth.” The computer tech depicted in the outpost is based on Gary’s Beta-5 computer and other equipment from the episode.
29 My inspiration for the architecture of Tanka Misata is the Western Air Temple from Avatar: The Last Airbender. The translation “The Dream of Yesterday” is a personal in-joke — I literally got the name from a dream I had the night before I wrote this scene. In the dream, the phrase “Tanka Misata” was being chanted repeatedly and menacingly by some guy on a street corner near the house where I grew up, and I ended up trying to run away from him, and then I woke up. The only dreams I ever remember are the ones I have just before awakening, so it’s pretty rare for anything I write to be based on a dream, even in such a superficial way as this (though I gather it’s more common for some writers).
  According to the in-universe “nonfiction” book Star Trek: New Worlds and New Civilizations by Michael Jan Friedman, the Hebitian Age began 10,000 years ago and lasted for 4,000 years. However, DS9: A Stitch in Time by Andrew J. Robinson says that the collapse of the Hebitian civilization led to the rise of the modern militaristic Cardassian state, which seems unlikely to be 6,000 years old. So it’s ambiguous just how long ago the Hebitian Age was, but it could’ve been long enough to fit the Aegis recruiting scheme indicated by “Assignment: Earth.”
30 “Varley extraction” is an allusion to John Varley’s short story “Air Raid” and its novel version Millennium (adapted as a film in 1989), in which time travelers from a post-apocalyptic future tried to repopulate their society by rescuing the victims of plane crashes and other disasters just moments before they happened, replacing them with duplicate corpses so that history would not be altered.
  Rodal’s explanation that the Aegis selects the ethnic group that will be most influential at the time of the planet’s future crisis is meant to explain why Gary Seven is white/European, an ethnicity that would’ve been pretty insignificant globally when his ancestors were taken 6000 years ago. However, Dayton Ward’s Aegis novels (From History’s Shadow, Elusive Salvation, and Hearts and Minds) do depict human Aegis agents of other ethnicities.
31 The Ottoman practice of devshirme was also an inspiration for my original SF story “Twilight’s Captives,” published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact in January/February 2017. See my Original Short Fiction page.
  There are some real-life fans or other observers of Star Trek who interpret the Federation as a military dictatorship, failing to realize that what they see is selection bias arising from the Starfleet-exclusive focus of the Trek screen franchise. The counterargument I usually offer is that if your only information about the United States came from shows like M*A*S*H, Gomer Pyle USMC, and JAG, you might come away thinking the US was a military dictatorship. We’re only seeing one facet of the overall culture, so it shouldn’t be presumed to represent the whole. One thing I try to do in my DTI tales is to offer a look at the civilian side of the Federation for a change.
  For discussion of retrocausal (or advanced) waves, see p. 392 note in the Watching the Clock annotations, p. 2.
Chapter III
34 The geography of the river valley on Lakina II is inspired by the Ohio River Valley where my hometown of Cincinnati is located — and specifically by the view from an overlook park I often visit, where I once overheard a tour guide explaining the glacier-carved geology of the area.
39 I had no master plan behind the fact that Jena Noi and Ranjea never met; it simply happened to work out that way, since Noi’s appearances in WTC and TC were exclusively in interaction with Lucsly, Dulmur, and Andos. It was convenient, though.
Chapter IV
46 The Aegis renegades in DC’s “The Peacekeeper” included a Klingon, so I presume the Aegis shepherded them. I established Cardassian Aegis agents in WTC, including Rodal. It’s my own conjecture that the Aegis shepherded the Vulcans and Deltans, but Gary Seven is familiar with Vulcans when he first meets Kirk and Spock in A:E. It seems plausible to me that some Vulcan Aegis operatives might have been acting behind the scenes to keep Surak alive and make sure his message got out.
51 Lucsly’s description of the servo’s power paraphrases a line from the December 5, 1967 series prospectus written by Gene Roddenberry and Art Wallace, their pitch document for the Assignment: Earth series they hoped to spin off from the TOS episode. It described the servo as “an item… which looks like a ball point pen. It isn’t. It’s a fantastically useful and power [sic] SERVO which can open a locked door, stun an opponent, or cut through a foot of titanium-steel as if it were butter. And more.”
  By the way, let me take the opportunity to debunk the myth that Gary’s servo was a knockoff of Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver. Yes, the screwdriver made its TV debut in “Fury from the Deep, Part 1” on March 16, 1968, while “Assignment: Earth” premiered just 13 days later. But Roddenberry originally conceived of A:E two years earlier, as a half-hour series unconnected to Star Trek. His first-draft pilot script, dated November 14, 1966, features the servo. And of course, nobody in the US even saw Doctor Who until the 1970s. Besides, when the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver was introduced in 1968, it was literally just that, a device that drove screws via sound waves. It was years before it began to accumulate other functions of the sort that Gary’s servo had from the beginning. Which should hopefully make it clear that the sonic screwdriver wasn’t based on the servo either; Star Trek didn’t come to the UK until 1969 (where it aired in Doctor Who’s time slot during the gap between the end of Patrick Troughton’s tenure as the Doctor and the beginning of Jon Pertwee’s). Most likely, both A:E and 1970s Doctor Who were independently emulating the gadget-heavy spy-fi trend of the era.
53 The very first thing Gary Seven did with his servo in “Assignment: Earth” was to deactivate the brig force field.
54 Realistically, a shapeshifter should have a constant mass (and therefore weight, within a constant gravity field) no matter how large or small a form they take, but DS9 routinely ignored this with Odo; notably, in “Vortex,” Odo impersonated a drinking glass carried on a tray at the beginning, yet later in the episode, while being dragged in humanoid form, he was told “You’re heavier than you look.” DS9 producer Robert Hewitt Wolfe had a behind-the-scenes notion that Odo shunted his mass into a pocket dimension when he shapeshifted.
55 Omega molecules were introduced in VGR: “The Omega Directive” as highly powerful (and highly classified) molecules which could destroy subspace if they exploded.
  Earth’s orbital velocity is 29.78 kilometers per second, which works out to 1786.8 km per minute. Since Lakina II is a Class M planet, we can assume roughly Earthlike orbital parameters. A lot of fiction treats planets as if they stand still (for instance, any time-travel story where the travelers stay in the same spot on Earth’s surface when they move through time), but they don’t. Note that Lucsly says Daiyar would have to install the time drive on her target planet in order to ensure that it remained within the field indefinitely.
56 The “Matheson-Solomon retroanticipation loop” is an homage to the “Let’s remember to go back and put it here later” temporal trick used in both Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. “Whoa! It worked!” is what Bill exclaimed upon finding that the trick actually worked, and “Most excellent” is a more general homage to Bill and Ted-speak.
Chapter V
57 The cover image of this novella is pretty much a depiction of the start of this chapter. It may seem like a generic image, but the arrival at Feth-Keekuwa is a pretty crucial moment in the story. What happened in this place and time is the root cause of everything that happens in both TL and SOTG, and what happens to Daiyar and Ranjea from here on will shape the rest of their lives.
58 The stripes on Rikeen skin are meant to follow the pattern of Blaschko’s lines, which are lines demarcating the patterns of cell development on human skin, visible under ultraviolet light as a series of stripe-like mottlings all over the body.
59 As I explained in my Orion’s Hounds notes, I created the Fethetrit decades ago for a planned original trilogy about an interstellar war against an enemy so intractable that even brutal predators like the Fethetrit would be acceptable allies in comparison. (I gave up on it when I realized I didn’t want to tell a war story.) The backstory of twin planets with a warrior race stealing technology from their more peaceful neighbors was from that same project, but it was to be the origin of the primary enemy of the trilogy, rather than the Fethetrit. The inventive neighbors were a species that I later used as the Escherites in TOS: Ex Machina. The main enemy race is one I’m still holding onto in case I find the right project for them.
64 “The drill” of explaining the Aegis’s mission to the Beta computer was seen in “Assignment: Earth,” where it was a kind of cumbersome way of giving exposition to the audience, but arguably made sense as a protocol to confirm that unexpected arrivals are who they claim to be.
  Vanthralak’s actions to create a system driven by loyalty to the state over old tribal allegiances are much like those undertaken by Genghis Khan in unifying the Mongols. My research source for this was Thomas J. Barfield, The Nomadic Alternative (1993) pp. 131-179 (one of my source texts in my Frontiers in World History course in college, taught by Dr. Willard Sunderland).
66 While I’m largely drawing on nomadic cultures from history as models for the Fethetrit, there is a Mad Max influence in there as well. It’s kind of what you’d logically get when you update the horse-nomad lifestyle to the age of motor vehicles (which makes sense, since the Mad Max films are essentially Westerns).
  In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t given the Fethetrit and Rikeen similar anatomical features, since the similarity doesn’t really make sense even with companion planets. Panspermia would probably only transfer single-celled organisms between planets in anything like a viable state, so it’s unlikely there’d be any significant evolutionary kinship between higher mammals.
68-9 It’s a bit of a cheat to say that Aegis transporters can still work on the surface without needing to access subspace. If subspace comms can’t work from the surface, as we saw on Lakina II, then transporters shouldn’t either. But maybe the transporters are powerful enough to overcome the subspace interference over a short distance.
Chapter VI
74 Time-travel fiction tends to treat timeline changes or splits as something that happens to the entire universe simultaneously, but in real quantum physics, “parallel timelines” are mutually correlated states of interacting ensembles of quantum particles, along the line of the principles discussed in my blog articles “Quantum Darwinism!” and “Musings on quantum gravity.” The interactions that correlate particles’ states occur no faster than the speed of light, so if a new parallel timeline were created, it wouldn’t instantly overtake the whole universe, but would only propagate outward at lightspeed. However, Star Trek does often portray phenomena propagating faster than light (including supernova and lunar-explosion “shock waves” in The Undiscovered Country, Generations, and the 2009 Star Trek film), presumably through subspace effects, tachyon fields, and the like. This would allow temporal changes to propagate far faster than light, which is consistent with how they tend to be depicted (e.g. in VGR: “Year of Hell,” where the Krenim’s timeline alterations almost instantly affect Voyager even many parsecs away).
76 The arthropod species described here is one of the Aegis member species depicted in “The Peacekeepers,” presumably designed by that story’s penciller Rod Whigham.
77 It feels a bit clumsy to reveal in advance that the dilemma was resolved and only later depict how it was done, but it felt necessary in this case. I’m hoping that the suspense on the personal level about Ranjea’s fate is more important to the reader than the plot-level suspense about the timeline change.
78 The practice of a royal court migrating from town to town was fairly common in medieval times; I’ve read about it in connection to the possible historical bases for Arthurian legend (I believe it was in Rodney Castleden, King Arthur: The Truth Behind the Legend, 2003). The royal court would tend to consume so heavily that it would soon exhaust the resources of a given area, so it would have to move on to somewhere else and give that area time to recover.
89 I didn’t conceive this story with the intention of writing out Ranjea. It just turned out to be the necessary way to resolve the situation as it developed. Also, since I approached this as the climax of a trilogy, I wanted its resolution to be significant. Both The Collectors and Time Lock were pretty big, epic tales on a plot and action level, so to avoid anticlimax, I needed this concluding installment to have some major impact on a more personal scale.
93 I approached this trilogy with the idea that it might have the blanket title Tales from the Vault. I wanted the Eridian Vault and its artifacts to be the driving force of all three tales, but although SOTG centered around the time drive, its main story took place far from the Vault. So I decided to bring the epilogue back to Eris to give the trilogy unity and closure.


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