Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

“You know, I think Adolph is rightly regarded as inspirational.”
Darius spins round, his expression horrified.
“That’s not how I’d describe Kristallnacht, Mister Lamen!”
Russ Lamen points at the screen.
“Crystal-what? I mean his first exhibition of watercolours at the Neue Galerie in Vienna. 9th of November, 1938. He even broke new ground by having a midweek opening.”
Darius crosses the room as quick as he can.
“What the Holy Fires has gone wrong?”
Russ looks up at him, a look of blank incomprehension on his face.
“We’re overviewing Adolphus Alois Hitler, first master of the post war period. Given that a number of his early works were lost during the American invasion of Europe, Professor Dagenauer got permission for chronoimaging to bring the reference portfolio up to date. I thought the first exhibition was the most likely place to find the missing pieces, and in a setting conducive to high quality image capture.”
“Good thought, Russ.”
Darius steps away and looks about. Nothing untoward. He brings up his Chronopol managerial access and checks Hitler’s timeline. There! A huge swing in chronobalance, affecting the whole of October 1918. But, after that, the problematic ‘assassination attempt’ period that usually caused Chronopol so much grief had dropped to nothing.
He looks up at the ceiling. The Tienard – unseen future dwellers who established the agencies that police the timelines – hadn’t raised an alert, and they’d left his managerial causality buffer in place. This peaceful Hitler wouldn’t be the only Hitler he knew of until he next awoke.
What had happened? Clearly not an assassination, but such a pivotal being and the resilient causality surrounding him cannot have just decided to go a different way. Someone had meddled, and done so extremely well.
Stepping out of the control room, he routes a priority call uptime. This has got to be an enormous gaffe. It needs fixing before causality – which has ruined every attempt at establishing alternate timelines – kicks in and delivers some unexpected cataclysm to achieve the same effect as World War Two and the century of stagnation that followed.
“This is Control. Why the alert, Captain Kane?”
“We’ve got a huge, unrectified anomaly linked to C20 Hitler.”
“One moment. Patching you through to Tienard Ultam.”
Ultam? He’s going to talk with one of the founders of Chronopol?
“Darius Kane. We are aware of the situation. It has taken far longer to reoccur than we expected, but all remains within mandate.”
“Mandate? We’re about to have a cataclysm that could obliterate two centuries of evolution and memory.”
“Captain Kane, what I tell you now will not persist past the chronophasic reset you will experience when you next sleep. As I feel a certain obligation due to knowledge of a service you will render me in a time to come, I am prepared to accept the minimal risk entailed by assuaging your concern.
“The timeline you are now in is the one that leads to us. It is the only one that does so. We have spent longer than you can comprehend trying to restore this chronoinstance while sustaining the paradox we represented until a few minutes ago. The pivotal event in October 1918 must remain a mystery. We have survived too many near-obliterations to say anything else, except to conclude that Causality likes mysteries. The ramifications of that are not open for discussion. Continue with your duties, Captain.”
The line goes dead.
“Causality likes mysteries?” It comes out as a whisper.
Impossible, incomprehensible…
Intolerable. Darius runs toward his quarters. He’ll forget when he sleeps? Then it’s time for a nap.