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Accidental Timewarp: an introduction to a possible 21st Century Babbage.

((I’ve been musing on what New Babbage would be like in the 21st century. What differences would the city have from a modern rl city with the advent of Steampunk instead of actual Victorian history. This story is an attempt to illustrate my ideas under the context of a story. Please feel free to give any suggestions for your own ideas. Future stories in this series will involve more history then this introduction.))


The Railway stretched far into the night, heading for the mountains in the distance. Although it was an hour’s train trip to head back into the city this little spot was surprisingly busy.

Most of the population would never know why this was the case, Nor would they know why there seemed to sometimes have a village of uninhabited shacks and shed there. The tiny village was known as Chronoton and it’s streets appeared on no survey or maps. In fact the only trace of it officially was on the railway’s lists of stopping places ad stations where Chronoton was listed as a “Signal box and crossing loop” although a crossing loop wouldn’t be needed on a double track main line.

Chronoton existed for one reason and one reason alone. It marked the edge of an invisible barrier known as the “Time Lock” Beyond that point no time machine could travel backwards or forwards through time except through the usual way of traveling 1 second every second.

Thus Chronoton was the meeting place for the people known as “Time Lords,” individuals who travel aboard alien spacetime vessels known as “TARDISes.” Here at Chronoton, these Time Lords would park their ships, disguised as the houses, sheds, trees and outhouses of the village, boarded a train at the railway station, the only real building in the town, and took a  train to New Babbage, 1 hour away.

One such machine was landing at this very moment. It made a load wheezing sound as it appeared slowly out of mid air. It took the appearance of a child’s playhouse, made of stiff card and drawn on in crayon. Unbeknownst to it’s driver it was materializing off course, landing on the railway tracks just beyond the station. The signalman, high in his box by the tracks spotted the appearing time machine and leaped from his chair. He ran outside to the thin wooden plank that circled around the  front three walls of his signalbox and called out to the machine. “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” he called. “THERE’S A TRAIN COMING!”

The time travelers inside their machine never heard him, a speeding goods train struck the box just as it became solid enough to be affected by it’s surroundings and was knocked into the air, the box’s cardboard crumpling as it struck. The box was flattened and caught on the buffer beam of the locomotive and it was dragged along with it.

A second impact hit the box as the train hit the invisible barrier of the Time Lock. Normally trains would pass through the bubble with no effect on them but carrying a TARDIS with it caused the train to pierce the bubble with a loud sharp crack like a sonic boom. The train rattled slightly but didn’t stop. The box however had disappeared completely.


The Time machine was bounced into the Time Stream when it hit the bubble, spiraling out of control, it’s pilot, a small girl was thrown back, hitting her head on the deck and knocking herself unconsious. Sparks flew from the central console, a hexagonal wooden control frame, as it flew at breakneck speeds. The machine itself, a living sentient creature was panicked and frightened; only a baby of it’s kind, the little tardis was stuck and unable to rematerialise. It circled the bubble in both time and space looking for an opening where it could reappear with no luck. It tried to leave but found it could no do that either. The pilot began to come around.

Clara Tryggvassen, the pilot of the time machine ran for the controls, dodging the sparks and flames coming from the console. She tried to find a hole in the bubble, a way either in or out. She did some math and rerouted power to the time engine. She watched the power level decrease quickly, the Tardis’s life draining from it. Suddenly Clara found an opening and threw the emergency landing switch.

The emergency “landing” was more of a crash then a landing. The Rotor, the device in the centre of the console slid up higher then it ever had before and the glass tube it rested in  shattered, covering Clara in tiny beads of glass. Emergency oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling, dangling from cords. The lights went out, plunging her in darkness until the backup lighting went on. She went to the console and checked everything she could. She was relieved to find that the Eye of Harmony was still active. The downside was that the “transpower” core, The massive generators which powered the non-time travel systems, controls, air, lighting, heating, were out. These systems normally ran on a massive steam power plant and without it the Eye of Harmony had diverted itself to maintaining those to keep Clara alive.

“No biggie!” Clara said to herself. “Ah made those systems myself out of scraps Ah found in Babbage. If Ah’m still here then it should be easy to rebuild!”

She opened the doors to the outside and was hit, not by the smell of sewage and burning coal but by a faint scent of petroleum. She stepped outside to be met with a shock. “Oh dear! She said. “Ah’m not in Babbage at all!”

She closed the doors of her TARDIS which was pretending to be a closed newspaper stand, and walked down the street curious to find out where she was. The street seemed vaguely familiar despite being cleaner and filled with more cars then she was used to, although she noticed there was still a trolley line in this time. She passed by a very familiar building building in a mock-tudor style… a hotel of some sort. She reached the front entrance and froze. There was a banner hanging over the door.

“Brunel Hall wishes you all a Happy New Year for 2013!”

“Epp!” Clara squeaked in unhappy surprise. “I’m in Babbage…. But it’s the 21st century!”

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  1. Mack Blackwell Mack Blackwell January 17, 2013

    Actually, seeing as how I’ve never heard any other description supposing a *route* to the steamlands I like this one:

    “Thus Chronoton was the meeting place for the people known as “Time Lords,” individuals who travel aboard alien spacetime vessels known as “TARDISes.” Here at Chronoton, these Time Lords would park their ships, disguised as the houses, sheds, trees and outhouses of the village, boarded a train at the railway station, the only real building in the town, and took a train to New Babbage, 1 hour away.”

    My only question is why only Babbage? Why not “and took trains (plural) to those lands with equals in another reality” or something. Then you could say “The city of Babbage was one of these”. And the only reason I think of that is it does account for the entirety of the steamlands, including places like Bump etc that you might want to mention or have your characters display some knowledge of, and it seems like it takes the opportunity for personal knowledge of this secret goings on with the trains away from a *particular* conductor or whoever. You could easily say the influence of the timelords prevents rail employees from ever discerning the reality of the equal but other destinations. -Takes “mere mortals” out of a position of knowledge.

    Course that was just my thinking. Either way I liked the story.

    • Clara Corryong Clara Corryong January 17, 2013

      Other places in the Steamlands are established as locations accessable by convetional means, both by train of by tardis. One can board a boat from New Babbage to Caledon, Steelhead or other locations in Second Life’s 19th century if they so desire. However New Babbage has a time lock over it because various townspeople don’t like Time Lords. As this restriction is only over the city itself and not over other steamlands it’s safe to assume that the lock is directly geographically over the city itself.

      If a Time Lord wants to visit Caledon for example a landing place like Chronoton wouldn’t be needed. Caledon isn’t time locked, nor is Steelhead. Thus a Time Lord can land in this town directly. Chronton is a way to cheat the system.

      • Lottie Lottie January 17, 2013

        The time lock has nothing to do with the local sentiments about time travelers. The individualized dislike of “timelords” has more to do with those who come into town and proclaim that they are a Doctor and muck about in a loud and obnoxious manner, or generally use the excuse of a transdimensional time machine to otherwise disrupt the town.

        • Mack Blackwell Mack Blackwell January 17, 2013

          Too much Dr Who-ery and not enough Babbage? I can see where that would be unpleasant. Of course I also had to google “timelock”, thus the extent of my knowledge on the good doctor.

        • DoctorDinosaur Runner DoctorDinosaur Runner January 18, 2013

          but I am a doctor!  I HAVE A FRAMED PIECE OF PAPER THAT SAYS SO!!!


          unless you mean the doctor’s in blue suits or the one’s in bowties, those are generally lunch, though the bowtie ones are a little too stringy  no matter how it’s prepared

      • Mack Blackwell Mack Blackwell January 17, 2013

        I didn’t know that :-) I knew there were folks not crazy about the timelord thing (read that someplace…can’t remember where) but didn’t know that the other lands could be reached by conventional means. Good work then.

        Now I just have to learn about portals….

  2. Garnet Psaltery Garnet Psaltery January 17, 2013

    Who says Time Lords can’t access New Babbage?  Just because you don’t hear them talking about themselves doesn’t mean they aren’t here.

  3. Victor1st Mornington Victor1st Mornington January 17, 2013

    Technically all of the steamlands has a timelock on them.  

    • Clara Corryong Clara Corryong January 18, 2013

      I didn’t know that it extended that far. The steamlands is kinda sorta needed for time travel folks because it’s the least disruptive way they can go back in time.

      Also, The rest of this series will focus more on the aim of my story series, to illustrate how I would imagine babbage to be in a century.

  4. Nathan Adored Nathan Adored January 18, 2013

    Actually, the DrWho RP have come up with a way of dealing with that fact that periodically some new user shows up wanting to RP as The Doctor (because he’s not really being all that… well… *original* with his RP).  They came up with a back story that, when last great time war happened, and Gallifrey was destroyed… there was some sort of temporal anomoly or something of the sort, and a good bunch of the Time Lords got shunted over into this place called SL Space (giggles! :D ), but…. somehowanother, this same anomaly or whatever it was… caused there to be a gazillion copies of The Doctor split off from the original one (who’s still back in the original Whoniverse, untouched by this) that also arrived in SL Space, but that also these duplications of The Doctor are sort of empty, deminished, incomplete copies of the original… kind of a sad, tragic thing that THINKS its The Doctor but is only an echo of him.

    Kinda clever, really.

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