There are over one hundred quintillion (that’s 1020, or 100,000,000,000,000,000,000) distinct timelines in the segments of the plenum accessible by Agency hypertemporal technology. The greater portion of these have not and will never be entered by any hypertemporal travelers, remote probes or even hypertemporal scans, though in theory any of them could be or have been entered at some point along their duration. Agency hypertemporal technology of any kind cannot access any segment of the plenum that exists at a mean entropic gradient (timehack) earlier than about 760 million years BPE (Before Present Era), nor those segments after about 150 million years PPE (Post Present Era). Even reaching that far up- and down-time is problematical for the Agency, and given mean entropic effects around 80 million years BPE uptime or 15 million years PPE downtime is about as far as manned probes and spacecraft can safely venture without special efforts. The Agency Portal Network cannot access points farther than 2-5 million years B/PPE (taking into consideration Agency Central’s location about 20 million years BPE) without special compensating hardware, while the portal generation systems of most other hypertemporal organizations are quite a bit less capable than this. Herculean efforts have placed Human HSA explorers on the icebound shores of Rodinia in Earth’s Sturtian Period (615 Mya), albeit on a timeline that never gave rise to Terran life as is found in the Present Era. Similar efforts have placed Khaid Agency researchers on a version of their homeworld at a similar remove in time, naturally on a branch timeline that never gave rise to their particular ancestral life-forms.
The Agency deals with several million timelines at any given timehack. Since it would be very tedious to refer to each of them by their exact hypertemporal coordinates in all six relevant axes (and the five supplementary vectors), a system of shorthand has been developed for referring to them in the vernacular while still preserving a concise relation of what they are as well as where they are in the plenum. This system is referred to as the Agency Standard Hypertemporal Nomenclature or ASHN for short.
The Agency Standard Hypertemporal Nomenclature (ASHN)
The ASHN breaks up the relationship between groups of timelines co-located in the three temporal axes into a series of nested classifications, each encompassing a smaller and more specific grouping of co-located timelines than the category above it. To denote a particular segment of time on a timeline, it adds a time-frame (‘timehack’) to specify the relative position along the mean entropic curve (duration) of the particular segment of the specified timeline. Spatial referents may or may not be added, depending upon the level of clarity required. Usually the name of the planet or stellar system is sufficient to place a spatial location for the purposes of conversation or a region/nation if the planet/system is understood. ASHN is not meant to replace exact hypertemporal coordinates, and for precise work the full coordinates will always be specified (usually by compsystem file download).
Hypertemporally, the ASHN breaks the entire accessible continuum into Quadrants. Quadrants cover arbitrarily huge segments of the plenum, generally covering tens or hundreds of millions of divergence-years across the probability axis ‘p’ as well as a commensurate amount of distance as measured along the entropy curve (time, axis t) though only a single point or at most a narrow spread of values on the ‘β’ axis. Quadrants are broken down into Horizons, used to specify large portions of a Quadrant containing timelines generally related by particular major divergence points, and in turn Horizons are split into Sectors containing timelines more specifically related by specific divergence points. Sectors are in the same fashion further subdivided into Clusters, Clusters into Lines, and Lines into individual timelines.
All Quadrants and Horizons have proper names, usually arbitrary and providing some mnemonic function (e.g., the ‘Prime Quadrant’, the ‘Human Horizon’). Sectors and lesser divisions are numbered in rough chronological order, beginning with the first to diverge from the arbitrary Main timeline within the division that contains them. Thus, ‘Sector 00’ is the first to diverge from the arbitrary originating timeline in a particular named Horizon, ‘Cluster One’ is the first to diverge from Sector 00’s ‘Base’ Cluster (the Cluster containing the Sector’s Zero, Base or Main Line), ‘Line One’ the first to diverge from the ‘Base’ timeline of Cluster One, and ‘Timeline 001’ the first timeline to diverge from the Base timeline of Line One.
The ASHN system adds a level of complexity with individual timelines. They are given first a numerical designator that refers to the order in which their particular divergence point split them off of their Line and then a letter designator, known as an extension, to define their position within the stochastic probability spread from the particular divergence point as measured across the hypertemporal probability (p) axis. When transliterated into English, the timeline falling closest to the mean probability axis of a divergence point is given an extension represented by the Greek letter ‘alpha’, the next closest is known as ‘beta’, etc., although in pure Language this extension is always one of its named 57 syllabic phonemes in particular order. For complex divergence points, where many timelines radiate out from one divergence point or series of points diverge inside of the span of one Terran year (~31.77Ms), each individual timeline may end up with a designator consisting of two or three digits along with an extension of two or even three letters.
Points as measured along the entropic gradient (t) are handled in a straightforward fashion. ‘Time’ as duration is a single scalar dimension, merely the measure of a distance along the entropy gradient from a given point specified upon it. The Agency most commonly denotes these entropic ‘distances’ in seconds and decimal multiples of seconds such as kiloseconds (Ks), megaseconds (Ms), gigaseconds (Gs), teraseconds (Ts), and petaseconds (Ps) in English. In reality the Agency, utilizing the official Standard base-12 numbering system of the Association Language, actually uses multiples of 12 times a Standard Second-the Standard Second being equal to about 0.89 Terran Second-in terms of ‘multiples of 12 to the x power’ Standard seconds. However, most Terran Human Agents are more comfortable with base-10 multiples and the Terran Second, so they generally use that convention in conversation. All Agents will use both systems as needed, and Agency compsystems automatically convert between them. The base-10 Terran Human conventions will be used in this document for the sake of simplicity and ease for the intended readers unless otherwise specified.
Unless exact timehacks are required, larger segments of duration along axis ‘t’ are referred to in terms of Eras, which are one Gs (a gigasecond, being one billion Terran Seconds) long, about 31.6 Terran years or 2 and 7/12ths x 128 Standard Seconds, and Segments, which are equal to 4 x 127 Standard Seconds and thus also almost exactly 5 (5.09) Terran years. Timehacks can be counted from a specified divergence point but more often are based on a fixed and arbitrary timehack defined locally to each Horizon, Sector or Cluster as needed. Unless otherwise specified, ASHN temporal designations in this document will use 1AD as the arbitrary ‘Zero Timehack’ in the Human Horizon, counting time in decimal multiples of seconds or in specific Eras and Segments plus or minus from that point along the given timeline where applicable. All figures in Mya (millions of Terran years ago) and Kya (thousands of Terran years ago) in this document will also be figured from the ‘Zero Timehack’ of 1 AD for the sake of maintaining a common perspective.
For an example the ASHN designation for the timeline, date and place at which this document is being written would be fully stated as ‘Prime Quadrant, Human Horizon, Sector 72, Cluster 14, Line Seven, timeline 365-Lambda/Era 63, Segment 4 (2008AD)-Terra’. Handily abbreviated in the vernacular it would be written as ‘(PQ//HH)S72:C14:L7/365-λ//E63:4-Terra’. That seems complex until one considers that the fully expressed hypertemporal coordinates would fill many pages of hardcopy text; the mnemonic concepts incorporated within the ASHN format allow the trained Agent to easily locate, interpret and relate it to others without resorting to long strings of coordinates.
Those trained in the esoterica of ASHN-to wit any Agent who has passed Divisional Orientation after completing the Agent’s Basic Course (i.e., having any level of Area Knowledge/Hypertemporal Continuum Skill) -realize that there is indeed a system behind the seemingly arbitrary divisions of Quadrant, Horizon, Sector, Cluster, and Line. Most Agency operations are conducted in the (aptly named) Prime Quadrant, and many of those transpire in the Prime Quadrant’s Human Horizon. The ASHN is an artifact of the Association’s own system of hypertemporal nomenclature, modified after the Timewars for the needs of the other eleven Member Nations that signed the Treaty of Ghazantine.
The Prime Quadrant is defined as the segment of the hypertemporal continuum that includes all timelines which diverge at or after the K-T Extinction Event on Terra. This puts the divergence point of its Base line at ~66Mya, a point arbitrarily selected by the creators of the ASHN, who based the system on that used by the Khaid/Machinemind hypertemporal explorers prior to the First Timewar. Besides the Human Horizon, the Prime Quadrant contains many other Horizons (all existing at the same value of β) where the Khaid later exterminated themselves (in variant outcomes of the Shape Wars, see) or were later exterminated by external influences, Horizons where any one of the other races of the Member Nations later became extinct through external means or otherwise exterminated themselves prior to 3Mya, and those Horizons where the Human line of hominid ancestors were exterminated outright through external action such as the settlement of Terra 3Mya by Archaic Galactic Khaid and the subsequent extinction of the various Terran hominid species at that point.
The Human Horizon is defined as that segment of the Prime Quadrant where hominids were not exterminated by the primary Khaid settlement of Terra some 3Mya. That other segment is known as the Khaid Horizon, and no culture on any of its timelines seems to have developed hypertemporal technology. The reason for this is not openly known in the Agency or the Member Nations of the Treaty of Ghazantine, but is opined to be an effect of the Timewars on the regions of the continuum occupied by the Human Horizon. The Khaid of the Association timelines located on the Human Horizon were banned by a primary proviso of the Treaty of Ghazantine from ever giving hypertemporal technology to their brothers on the Khaid Horizon or permitting them discover or utilize it ‘after the fact’.
The Human Horizon is broken into 144 Sectors (designated ‘00’ through ‘143’), with the Khaid Association’s Home Line Seven defining the center of the Horizon’s mean probability axis along ‘p’ at Sector 72/Era 64. As the Khaid of the Association are painfully aware and loathe to admit, humans of one stripe or another are implicated in almost all of the places along their Home Line at which the 144 Sectors of the Human Horizon diverge. The divergence points that separate them exist as fixtures of the plenum, though their particular designations and significance as assigned in the ASHN are purely arbitrary.