DTI: Time Lock Annotations

This document explains the continuity references, allusions, in-jokes, and scientific concepts contained in Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Time Lock (DTI:TL).   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 builds on numerous concepts and story threads from that novella 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, and TC annotations.

Be aware that this document contains spoilers for the whole of TC 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.


ENT — Enterprise TOS — The Original Series TAS — The Animated Series
TNG — Next Generation DS9 — Deep Space Nine VGR — Voyager
VNG — Vanguard SCE — Starfleet Corps of Engineers DTI — Department of Temporal Investigations
WTC — Watching the Clock FH – Forgotten History TC — The Collectors
TTN — Titan OH — Orion’s Hounds

Chapter Annotations

Dedication The dedication here is a paraphrase of the dedication that appeared at the end of every episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the ‘60s, thanking the fictional United Network Command for Law and Enforcement for their “assistance.” The disclaimer was more than just a joke; it was inserted as a facetious response to the United Nations’ insistence on making it clear that U.N.C.L.E. was not affiliated with them.
Epigraph Though this “definition” of relativity has long been attributed to Einstein, I was unable to find confirmation that he ever said it. The 1929 New York Times piece was the earliest attribution I could find. See more at: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/11/24/hot-stove/
Chapter I
6 The Eridian Vault’s inventory is full of in-jokes to other time-travel fiction. These gray wedges are pieces of the time travel device from the Canadian TV series Continuum — or, as I liked to call it, the Time Tangerine. Bay J77 is a nod to 2077, the year in which Continuum’s time travelers originated. I was tempted to add that the fragments had been discovered in Vancouver, but that would’ve been a bit overindulgent.
7 The golden ratio or golden mean is a ratio between two numbers in which the ratio of the sum to the larger number equals the ratio of the larger number to the smaller number—which happens when the ratio is about 1.618. It’s a number that’s long been important in art and architecture, and that also shows up in nature.
8 In Orion’s Hounds, I thought of the Vomnin civilization as being called the Vomnin Consortium, but I never overtly used that full name in the text. So when I realized I’d mistakenly changed it to the Vomnin Confederacy in Watching the Clock, I was able to fix it here by renaming the other civilization the Colonial Consortium, in keeping with what OH had established about its inclusion of multiple Vomnin colony worlds.
10 As my use of the word “dwarfed” suggests, the time drive was originally meant as just another in-joke, a nod to the device of the same name from the British SF sitcom Red Dwarf, set three million years in the future. Once I decided that the time drive should actually be a key item in the story, I changed it to “over a million years” and added the “warp-capable” caveat to make it a bit more distinct. (The Red Dwarf time drive, in its original iteration, was depicted as useless if not employed aboard a starship capable of FTL travel, but that limitation was subsequently abandoned, as was the need to mount it aboard a ship at all.)
12 Warain’s nineteenth scenario is a nod to one of the newest Red Dwarf episodes, “Lemons” from 2012’s Season X. You guessed it, I’d done a Red Dwarf rewatch shortly before writing this. (This is also where I got “Vinduri’dom,” by messing around with the names of Dave Lister’s beloved Indian foodstuffs like curry vindaloo and poppadoms, whatever those are.) Honestly, I wish I’d come up with something more original than a pop-culture reference, but I didn’t have the time (ironically).
  The Golana time portals are from DS9: “Time’s Orphan.”
13 Do I really need to explain that “Bigger on the inside” is a Doctor Who reference?
14 To invent Daiyar’s appearance, I drew on what I could see around me in the university study lounge where I wrote the scene. Her skin texture and color scheme came from the upholstery of the furniture, and the intricate pattern of her armor was influenced by the dress of a woman sitting nearby. I imagined her voice as that of actress Tamlyn Tomita, which is why her species is named Tomika.
15 At this point, of course, we are far from being able to distinguish or name surface features on the dwarf planet Eris, so I had to make one up. Amphipolis Planum is named for the home town of Xena, Warrior Princess. Astronomy buffs may recall that “Xena” was the provisional name given to Eris before it was officially named, and that its moon Dysnomia, while technically named for Eris’s daughter, is also a nod to Xena’s portrayer Lucy Lawless (since Dysnomia is Greek for lawlessness). So it’s quite possible that future astronomers might actually name Eris’s geographical features after places or characters from the show.
  The scattered disk is a group of trans-Neptunian objects in wide, eccentric orbits, believed to have been formed nearer to the Sun and flung out to the fringes of the system (scattered) by the gravity of the giant planets.
16 Hopefully I explained the time lock’s mathematics sufficiently in the Acknowledgments at the end of the novella.
  I imagine Andos has rehearsed and memorized her speech about the time lock, though it’s possible she could be calculating the ratios on the fly.
18 Fethetrit were a particularly savage member species of the cosmozoan-fighting coalition in Orion’s Hounds.
22 Although the temporal reflection effect is from VGR: “Parallax,” the term “future echo” is another Red Dwarf nod, this time to the second episode of the series way back in 1988.
Chapter II
24 Since I wrote this shortly after writing Rise of the Federation: Live by the Code, I was able to get double use out of the Denobulan worldbuilding I did for that book. Although I think it was by coincidence rather than foresight that I chose Denobula as the site of the new branch office in The Collectors.
25-6 The raid on the Vault by the Bozeman crew members was depicted in WTC and took place shortly after TNG: “Cause and Effect.” The later incident where Dulmur passed up an assistant directorship was shortly after Star Trek: First Contact.
27 For Live by the Code, I determined that the Denobulan was 190.86 Earth days long and that its day was 1.4844 Earth days, for a total of 128.577 days per year. As it happens, 128 is 8x8x2, so it made sense that the Denobulans would subdivide their year in units of 8 — say, 8 months of 16 days each, with a leap day in 4 out of every 7 years.
34 The temporal accelerator field has a blue tinge because the light coming out of it would be increased in frequency, i.e. blueshifted. The speed of light is an absolute constant to all observers, so light from inside the accelerator field wouldn’t be measured as moving faster; but the rate at which the light waves oscillate, i.e. their frequency, would be measured as increasing. In fact, there would also probably be a change in the perceived distance traveled by the light, in order to cancel out any speed increase, so a spatial distortion would be observed within. Also, the acceleration factor is on the order of millions, so the light would be shifted not only into the blue, but probably into x-rays or gamma rays, which would be pretty nasty to be exposed to. So I’m fudging here.
35 This sequence is my reaction to a fictional trope that’s bothered me for a long time. The example that first crystallized it for me was in the 1994 Babylon 5 episode “Babylon Squared,” which opened with a fighter pilot going to investigate a temporal anomaly and being found dead of old age when the fighter returned on autopilot, proving that he’d been accelerated in time and aged subjective decades in a few hours. It struck me that, as T’Viss explains here, the pilot would’ve died of thirst or starvation long before he ever had the chance to show signs of old age. Although I’d seen this trope used in other examples before then, for instance, in Doctor Who: “City of Death” and “The Leisure Hive,” and no doubt plenty of others. But ever since the flaw in the idea occurred to me, that trope has bugged me every time I’ve seen it, and this is my chance to voice my complaint.
36 However, I was reluctant to sacrifice a character’s life just to exorcise a pet peeve, so I chose to have it happen to Felbog, the one character who had a legitimate chance of surviving the event.
Chapter III
38 Kalandans are from TOS: “That Which Survives.” Zalkatians are from the multi-series duology The Brave and the Bold by Keith R.A. DeCandido. B’nurlac are from my own TNG: The Buried Age, and the Caeliar are from David Mack’s Destiny trilogy.
  Sikran and the Axis of Time affair are from WTC.
41 At this point, the time differential is so great that I can no longer specify the external time to the exact minute, since even a single minute inside equals hours outside. Even the specified times refer only to the beginning of the scenes.
42 The prism stone was indeed placed in the Vault by the Q, according to VGR: The Eternal Tide by Kirsten Beyer. But the DTI isn’t supposed to know that, so I had to be circumspect in how I reminded the reader of the prism’s Q connection. I would assume the Q who consulted the prism caused Warain’s bout of unconsciousness, perhaps even during the events of The Eternal Tide.
50 The Khatami is named for Atish Khatami, captain of the 23rd-century U.S.S. Endeavour in the Vanguard and Seekers series.
  The Kyushu incident at Vemlar IV was something I established in The Buried Age as a line item in a tactical update Captain Picard read during his stint on starbase administrative duty before TNG. I wrote that, following the Kyushu crew’s near-disastrous encounter with the Vemlar artifact, it “had now been secured by Temporal Investigations and was being shipped to the maximum-security vault where such devices were kept on ice.” This was my first inkling of the concept that later became the Eridian Vault, although at the time I had no idea that “kept on ice” would prove to be so literal. I intended the incident to sound like a summary of an unseen Trek episode, just to make the point that the starships we don’t see are having adventures of their own. Here, I got to flesh that “episode” out a bit more along the same lines.
Chapter IV
61 “The Time Rings of Vork” is one of my most obscure in-jokes yet. In Felicia Day’s web series The Guild, the character who roleplays under the name Vork is a fan of an old sci-fi show called Time Rings.
Chapter V
67 I had to compromise here. On the one hand, the longer Lucsly and Andos waited before acting, the faster they’d be relative to the raiders. On the other hand, time outside was passing so quickly at this point that I needed to wrap up events within the Vault as soon as possible. Even one minute’s delay would make an enormous difference, and I didn’t want to jump too far forward. I justified this with the explanation about how their movements would become too difficult if the time differential increased too far.
  The kinetic energy of an object equals 1/2 its mass times the square of its velocity. 1.78 squared is 3.1684.
  In reality (insofar as that term applies here), moving at a temporally accelerated pace would be far more difficult than it’s generally portrayed in fiction like TNG: “Timescape” or TOS: “Wink of an Eye.” You’d exert force as the square of your acceleration and would thus probably smash anything you touched and go flying when you took a step. However, the air around you would resist your motion with comparably augmented force, so it might feel like pushing through treacle. Good luck trying to suck those resisting air molecules into your lungs with anywhere near the speed you’d need to stay alive. Sounds would take forever to reach your ears and be slowed down to inaudibility, and light wavelengths would similarly be redshifted to the point that you probably couldn’t see anything (except whatever ultraviolet light or x-rays might be in the environment, depending on how severe the acceleration was). And the relativistic distortion I mentioned above might apply too — you might see the environment compressed inward around you, all distances contracted.
72 Canon has been inconsistent about the hazards of tetryon radiation, but it was shown to be dangerous to organic life forms in DS9: “The Begotten” and VGR: “Workforce.” I originally planned to use chroniton radiation, but canon does not portray that as a hazard to living beings. (Its disorienting effect shown earlier and in WTC is my own extrapolation.)
75 “You told us not to ask you that” is a nod toward a recurring gag on the ‘60s spy sitcom Get Smart where Maxwell Smart would say “Don’t tell me X,” another character would reply “X,” and Max would say, “I asked you not to tell me that.” I always wanted a chance to invert it, and here it is.
Chapter VI
76 The bit about the dimensionality of the subspace domain is fairly arbitrary to serve the story needs (again, I needed a way to keep events moving as quickly as possible), but it’s inspired by Greg Egan’s discussion of higher-dimensional physics in his novel Diaspora, as explained at: http://www.gregegan.net/DIASPORA/DIASPORA.html
86 In “Assignment: Earth,” Gary Seven’s transporter was shown to operate mainly in his office vault, or in doorways at his destinations. The depiction of the effect as a freestanding sphere comes from “The Peacekeeper” in DC Comics’s Star Trek Vol. 2, the same story that coined the term “Aegis.”
87 Lucsly sat on Dulmur’s right in their sole onscreen appearance, DS9’s “Trials and Tribble-ations.”


Eridian Vault inventory (as of 2384—updated partial list)


Here are the artifacts currently known to be in the Eridian Vault, as established in Watching the Clock, The Buried Age, The Eternal Tide, The Collectors, and Time Lock.


Aisle C:

Antique time carriage, origin unknown

Blue boxlike artifact, properties unknown


Aisle D:

Bay D4: Temporal transporter platform, square

Bay D5: 25th-century hovercar with prototype temporal deflector

Bay D7: Large spherical time capsule

Bay D9: Worldline destabilizer: Glossy black slab causing “continuity errors,” altering persons/events in proximity

Bay D11: Large black android, inactive, probably of uptime origin


Aisle F:

Bay F6: Remains of stasis field generator and Mro corpse from c. 212,000 BCE

Various large anachronistic artworks and artifacts


Aisle G:

Golana time portals (multiple)

Vinduri’dom time portal


Aisle H:

Bay H14: Temporal reflection generator

Bay H20: Psionic temporal communicator: Allows telepaths to connect with minds in the past or future

Bay H22: Vemlar IV artifact: Allows communication with self in near future (secured by U.S.S. Kyushu in 2363)

Bay H26: Portable time drive originating from over 1 million years in future

Bay H30: Temporal accelerator weapon


Aisle J:

Bay J14: Mervynian chroniton polarizers (multiple)

Bay J18: Mervynian Feynman curve tracer: Allows tracking paths through time

Bay J32: Unidentified small black stone, massive chroniton emitter

Bay J77: Two wedges of spherical time travel device

Mervynian ansible beacons (multiple)

Unidentified Mervynian artifact


Aisle K:

Bay K42: Power packs for Ky’rha Artifacts

Bay K44: Ky’rha Artifacts (personal time-displacement units): 2 functional, c. 10 nonfunctional

Ancient vortex manipulator (discovered by Redheri, acquired and traded to DTI by Nagus Rom)

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