A Steampunk/Time Travel/Illuminati setting

by Ralph Young (ralph.young@worldnet.att.net)

In 1893, a sickly young British science teacher named Herbert G. Wells was hit with an inspiration for a device which would allow an individual to travel through time. Wells, who had had literary aspirations to write fiction, abandoned all other pursuits as he became obssessed with actually creating his "Time Machine." After decades of research, study, financing, and engineering, in 1934 an elderly Wells and his small design team actually created a working prototype of his invention, a small open-platform temporal conveyor with a seat for one, a console and spinning disk mounted behind its pilot.

The elderly Wells, determined to be the first man to travel through time (and fully intending to turn a profit from the experience), used the device to travel extensively through time--both the future and the past. He was puzzled to discover on his future sojourns that, for all the miraculous technology he encountered, nobody else had apparently ever discovered the secret of time travel. He himself was absent from the future history books, which disturbed and annoyed him greatly. Wells at all times kept his status as a time traveler secret, but gathered up engineering manuals and scientific manuals from each of the eras he visited, along with a journal of his travels. The navigation system for his time machine, the "chronometric compass" was a detachable device which was the most difficult-to-engineer compnent of the machine. Wells would keep the chronometric compass, which resembled a pocketwatch on a fob, on his person at all times.

On one of his last trips to the future, Wells decided to go into the distant future, further than he had ever attempted before. He was dismayed to find a dying world, eons in the future, populated by cannibalistic troglodyte humanoids he called "Morlocks" and the pretty but simple-minded humans called "Eloi" they raised as cattle. Wells concluded that the monstrous Morlocks had evolved from the working classes and the Eloi from the indolent leisure class.

The Morlocks, who were highly intelligent, found Wells' time machine and figured out its use. They briefly captured Wells and attempted to gain possession of the chronometric compass, but it was destroyed in the attempt. Wells himself escaped with the assistance of several Eloi. Over the next five years he rebuilt his time machine, but was unable to recreate the chronometric compass with available resources. Without the compass, he was limited to travelling only to time frames he had previously visited, following a residual path his device had cut in the timestreams.

Using his limited second time machine, Wells returned to 1893, the time as a young man he first conceived of the idea for the time machine, and provide his younger self with his journals and technical knowledge. In theory, the younger Wells could use the technical knowledge to make himself incredibly rich, and perhaps also arming him with the power and knowledge to avert the social mistakes which would ultimately lead to the evolution of the Morlocks.

It didn't quite work that way. Wells discovered an 1893 very different from the world he remembered from his youth. The nations had the same names, but industrialization had occurred earlier and more extensively. A powerless working class slaved away at vast coal-burning factories under terrible conditions. The social divisions which had created the evolution of the Morlocks were actually exaggerated. And he discovered that in this world Herbert Wells had died of an apparent accident in 1866, as a newborn babe!

Wells discovered that the Morlocks had used his prototype and were re-engineering the past to actually accelerate their own evolution--so that their "civilization" could develop earlier and reach greater heights before the death of the world, perhaps even intending to develop sufficiently to create an interstellar Morlock empire before Earth died.

Human agents of the secret Morlock masters, who had been on the lookout for Wells to return to his own time period, tracked him down, discovered the location of his time machine, and destroyed it. Wells himself escaped again. Stranded in this alternate-1893 with an armful of future-technology manuals and his own journals, Wells began recruiting locals to build a new time machine and oppose the Morlocks.

The Morlocks have been unable to reverse-engineer the time machine protoype and are limited to traveling to eras Wells himself visited. Wells himself had never travelled to a point prior to his own birth (which he had briefly visited for sentimental reasons), as the future was much more interesting to him. The Morlock's time machine can only carry one individual at a time, and the journey from their own far-distant era takes substantial subjective time; they realize that the time it would take to move an army into a single era would probably wear out the conveyor, which appears to be irreplacable!

For this reason, there are only a handful of Morlocks present in the eras Wells previously visited, including the 1893 baseline. They recruit locals to work for them, promising them the wealth and power provided by future technology. Thus, the Morlocks have become, for all intents and purposes, an illuminated conspiracy.

The technology for the 1893 of this world would be TL 5+1, although the Morlocks and their agents *might* have access to much higher levels of secret technology. The world of 1893 Wellsworld is definitely dystopian, as the Morlocks exaggerate the conditions which gave rise to their evolution The Morlocks like dirty, sooty, unhealthy coal-burning industry and are discouraging all other energy sources at this early phase of their social engineering program. Alternate steam-powered technology is developing at a shocking pace.

In all of history, only the elderly H.G. Wells has ever worked out the secret of time travel or the chronometric compass. For this reason, the Morlocks are trying despereately to capture him and obtain the secrets for themselves. Wells himself is seeking to recreate both the time machine and the compass to oppose the Morlocks and undo the damage to the timestream. It will take years for Wells and his new assistants to complete this task, while they must evade the Morlocks and their henchmen and face the perils of this dangerous, dystopian alternate history!

When and if Wells ever completes the Time Machine a third time, he will use it to undo the Morlock interventions and cover over his "tracks" through time. He will then return to the restore 1893 of his youth, advise his younger self to give up on time travel as too dangerous for humans and instead try his hand at writing fiction.