Most of Westward’s story takes place in an alternate history’s 1999-2001, but many of the events happen in other time periods, and the narrative is not strictly sequential. This basic timeline helps to clarify the sequence of events that make up Westward’s central plot. Needless to say, there are spoilers. Also, several important story threads are excluded from this page for the sake of clarity.
Production of this timeline would have been impossible without the time and dedication of our friend who goes by the monicker Blissex. His methodical and insightful notes form the backbone of this article. Many thanks, comrade. -e
About 4 Billion Years Ago
A human girl, Alice Donovan, appears suddenly on the surface of Mars, which is inhabited by an advanced and utopian society. The typically introspective Martians form an expedition to take Alice back to her home, but it is not the Earth she knew; it is a primordial and volcanic world built over giant machines that are both strange and hauntingly familiar to the Martians.
While on Earth, Alice makes a connection with a non-corporeal life form deep within its core. The contact paralyzes her into a suspended animation in which she remains for billions of years. Meanwhile, a golden age of space exploration begins for the newly-curious Martians.
Over the course of time, the life-forms deep within Earth are roused by the Martian’s activity. A seed pod is launched from Earth and attacks Mars. In the subsequent battle, the seed pod is banished into deep space using a dimensional interpolation weapon that has the catastrophic side-effect of ripping the atmosphere away from Mars. Martian civilization retreats beneath the planet’s surface, where Alice Donovan remains suspended in time.
In space, the non-corporeal life forms of Earth are drawn into a black hole and are forced to unite themselves with the physical slaves that they had created to take them to Mars. Over time, they become trapped in the dead and frozen flesh of the creatures.
One of the entities is finally freed by Westward crew member Stan Isaac in 1999, after Westward is pulled out of Escherspace by the seed pod’s gravity well.
About 100-200 Million Years Ago
Martian machines build tremendous conduits within Mars to carry heat from Mars’ cooling core. Since moving inside the planet, the Martians’ technology has become less biological and more mechanical in nature.
Two young scientists, biologist Milo Faust and anthropologist Viktor Grafeneck, meet at a university in Berlin and find that they have a common interest in human immortality. Later, Grafeneck joins the National Socialist Workers Party.
Together, the scientists embark on a search for the early roots of humanity, inspired by ancient accounts of extremely long human lifespans. Their findings disturb Grafeneck, who is looking for proof of an early race of genetic supermen, but instead finds evidence that early man was subservient to a race that wasn’t human at all.
Unhinged by the findings, Grafeneck turns to Adolph Hitler for help in creating a new, unconquerable form of mankind.
Adolph Hitler is assassinated. Viktor Grafeneck disappears, taking with him the plans for a nuclear fusion device that could be used to power his dimensional interpolation engine.
Three special agents from the Gestapo track rogue Nazi scientist Viktor Grafeneck to a Swiss castle that lies in ruins after a terrible explosion.
In the castle’s cellars, the agents find embryonic chambers containing human beings. The chambers are damaged and their occupants dead–all save for one, a female who attacks the agent named Rosmarin and assumes her identity.
Posing as Rosmarin, the survivor searches for clues to her identity. In November of 1948, she tracks Milo Faust to his retreat in Northern England. Milo and Rosmarin decide to work together to find Grafeneck before he succeeds in completing a project he calls Bifröst.
On January 6, Grafeneck succeeds in launching a rocket that contains the seeds of his genetic master race.
The rocket initiates an Escherspace jump while still in earth’s atmosphere, triggering what is known as the Epiphany Event: An unthinkable explosion that plunges the earth into decades of darkness, eliminating or mutating much of the life on its surface.
As the survivors of Epiphany struggle to rebuild civilization, a Martian calling himself the First Scientist founds the Scientific Society, a secret organization dedicated to preserving civilization against the forces of entropy. Working in secret with the help of ancient Martian technology and Scientific Society citizens, the First Scientist manipulates earth into a division between East and West; two hemispheres locked in a cold war in which both sides are puppets of the Scientific Society.
In the West, Viktor Grafeneck’s son adopts the Jewish surname of Schultz to hide his identity and uses his family’s resources to found a city called Tomorrow.
Frederick Schultz, grandson of Viktor Grafeneck and chairman of Schultzcorp, launches a fleet of space planes to repair the darkened atmosphere and return sunlight to Earth’s surface. This marks the first birthday of his son, Benjamin, and also the founding of the United Space Group company.
USG astronaut Francis Carter makes his first trip to Mars. The Red Planet seems to be waiting for him; he is led deep into its interior, where his genetic information is gathered to help in the creation of a new Martian.
On an alternate version of Earth, Francis Carter, a university professor, meets a mysterious 16-year old student named Mary. A year later, she gives birth to a boy named Rex and Carter takes responsibility for him.
In Westward’s universe, Rex is born at the same time but without obvious connection to Francis Carter. The exact circumstances of his birth in this universe have not been narrated.
In the alternate version of Earth, a girl named Alice is born to Mary Donovan, who is now attached to a man named Jeremy Donovan.
Alice is also born in Westward’s universe, except that her adoptive father is an entirely different man named Robert Donovan.
In both universes, Rex is not present for Alice’s birth.
Western astronaut Francis Carter makes his second visit to Mars. This time, he brings back a Martian who goes by the name of Phobos.
Phobos reintroduces Escherspace technology, demonstrating that the same forces that nearly destroyed humankind could be used to preserve it against future catastrophe. The United Space Group begins making plans for interstellar colonization.
Lamont Townsend, a young newspaperman, takes his wife Elizabeth to the London Free World’s Fair before leaving on a dangerous assignment to communist-menaced Tibet.
In the alternate universe, James Donovan moves his family from Arizona to Utah. Near the town of Purgatory, he drives off a cliff and Mary is killed in the accident. Alice discovers that she has the mysterious ability to stop time.
In the alternate universe, 10-year-old Alice uses her ability for the second time when she falls into an abandoned mine shaft. In the underground caverns, she discovers strange machinery and encounters the Martian Phobos. He remarks that she seems to be suspended between two quantum probabilities and warns her that the world is coming to an end.
In Westward’s universe, Phobos’ encounter with Alice prompts Carter, for reasons not fully explained, to recruit Rex onto the crew of Westward.
USG launches the United Space Ship Westward, captained by Francis Carter. Using the Escherspace engine designed by Phobos, Westward is tasked with finding a planet suitable for the families of colonists living on board. The mission is portrayed as a publicity stunt to show off USG’s progress, but in fact it is one prong in Frederick Schultz’s strategy to preserve humanity in the face of a looming catastrophe.
On the 50th anniversary of the Epiphany event, Westward’s crew sets foot on its first extraterrestrial world. The mission is disastrous; junior crew member Rex Donovan is killed by the planet’s weird inhabitants, who carry Rosemary Wells (a miraculously un-aged Rosmarin) into the planet’s interior.
Meanwhile, Lamont Townsend discovers a mysterious object while exploring ancient ruins on the planet’s surface: A gold coin emblazoned with Futhark runes and a Nazi swastika.
The scientists aboard Westward determine that the planet was rendered nearly uninhabitable some 2,000 years prior due to multiple Epiphany event-type explosions.
Rosemary is rescued by Captain Carter who, in his grief, develops an infatuation with her.
Westward is wrenched unexpectedly out of its second Escherspace jump by a gravity anomaly.
The source of the gravity pocket is a massive artificial object only visible in the ultraviolet spectrum. Unbeknownst to the Westward crew, this object is the epochs-old seed pod launched from pre-Archean earth and responsible for rendering Mars uninhabitable.
A team of crew members boards the alien vessel, where Rosemary encounters the ghost of Rex Donovan, who mentions Purgatory in the midst of several other cryptically ominous statements before disappearing.
Afterward, Doctor Stan Isaac discovers the frozen bodies of the slave creatures created by the non-corporeal inhabitants of prehistoric Earth. A ghost entity influences Stan into cutting his hand, then travels through his bloodstream to possess him.
Under the influence of the ghost entity, Stan Isaac seizes control of Westward’s engine room, reconfiguring its systems to turn the ship into a gigantic nuclear bomb. Phobos suggests that the energy from the resulting explosion might provide the alien vessel with enough power to become active again.
The ghost is thwarted by engineer Wesley Armand, who overpowers the radiation-bombarded Stan Isaac and flips Westward’s Master Switch, diverting the energy buildup away from the engines and into the Escherspace drive.
Having sustained damage after the encounter with the seed pod, Westward deposits the colonists on the twilight zone of a tidally locked planet before attempting to limp home to Earth with its remaining fuel.
From orbit, Westward detects a foreign radio signal from the planet’s surface. The crew traces the signal to a location 100 miles north of the new colony. Its source is the portable radio of a colonist named Jack, whose body they find hanging from a tree, his body horribly fused with a collection of machinery from Westward. Meanwhile, the space lift is attacked and its tether connection to Westward is severed by a giant mechanical beast.
While picking up the pieces, chief technician Ed Sprat reveals that he is actually Ben Schultz, son of USG Chairman Fred Schultz. *He also reveals that Westward slipped back in time about 260 years during its previous jump, so these events are actually taking place around the year 1739 relative to Earth.
Later, the foreign radio signal is narrowed down to a location where Rosemary and Francis uncover the ancient remains of a crashed spaceship decorated with Nordic and Nazi symbols. The interior contains human cadavers that have been grotesquely mingled with technology. When the mechanical monster senses their presence and returns to the buried vessel, Rosemary discovers that it has a human corpse inside of it.
The monster is later destroyed by the half-mechanical Jack, who then destroys himself.
When the crew returns to Westward, the people of Colony Alpha (or Providence, as they call it) are told to dismantle their technology and never to use radio signals for fear of attracting more of the Nazi revenant.
Westward succeeds in using its remaining fuel to make an Escherspace jump that returns it to the Solar system and to the year 1999.
July 3, 1999
Westward nears earth, but is met by an unsettling discovery: Through the viewports, the crew sees a chaotically shifting miasma of countless alternate realities shifting across earth’s surface.
Phobos explains that the phenomenon is a side-effect of dimensional interpolation that he had expected. By traveling through Escherspace, Westward and its crew was knocked out of sync with the quantum vibrations of their own Earth reality–or any other. He begins to explain that he did not expect the phenomenon to matter if Westward had returned to earth at the expected time, but as he is about to explain why, he succumbs to wounds sustained on Colony Alpha and collapses.
July 4-9, 1999
While still in orbit around Earth(s), the Westward crew analyzes a single radio signal that is being transmitted from the planet. It seems to be a countdown, with a little less than a year remaining.
Unwilling to risk an expedition to Earth(s), Westward changes its destination to Mars. The Red Planet is now the home of Alice Donovan, who hears Westward’s transmission over the radio in her bedroom.
Alice sneaks into the Hellas Colony’s sublevels where she uses a transceiver to contact Westward. She is devastated to hear from the crew that her brother Rex is dead. She explains that on the day of his death, his memory began to slip away from reality, and now she is the only person she knows who remembers him.
Not long after this, Alice disappears from Mars, traveling billions of years into its past and setting in sequence the series of events that will lead up to this point.
July 10, 1999
July 20, 1999
Francis, Rosemary and Amila are taken into the ancient depths of Mars, where they return Phobos’ severed head to the womb from which he came. Amila follows him, staying inside the organic machinery of Mars for a time, though she is able to communicate with the outside world as a hologram.
Fred Schultz secretly sends hundreds of saucer-shaped colonist ships into space from Mars; they are occupied by humans in suspended animation. Unknown to Fred Schultz, Benjamin and the First Scientist are aware of his plan and have meddled with it.
January 6, 2000
Some of the colonist saucers arrive on the outskirts of the Solar system and jump toward their destinations using dimensional interpolation. Thanks to Benjamin, the Escherspace engines on the saucers are not normalized for time decay–they will travel as far back into time as they travel into space. The resulting Escherspace tunnel provides the ancient seed pod an avenue into local space.
Around the same time, Rosemary and Francis emerge from the bowels of Mars with Alice, who has been in time-stasis there for billions of years, though she has only been missing from home for six months.
Meanwhile, in the alternate Purgatory universe, disgraced professor and conspiracy theorist Francis Carter visits his former colleague, Howard. Howard shows him a blurry snapshot of Westward, taken by the Hubble telescope. What Francis has come to discuss, however, is the gravitational anomaly caused by the sudden arrival of the still invisible seed pod.
January 7, 2000
In the alternate universe, Francis Carter arrives home to find a stranger sleeping on his sofa. This is Rex, who immediately introduces himself as Carter’s long-lost son.
January 9, 2000
In the alternate universe, Rex reveals that the gravity anomaly is caused by a solid object. He is able to describe the seed pod in some detail because he’s been dreaming about being inside it.
Despite all efforts to stop it, the ancient seed pod hurls itself into the earth, embedding itself deep beneath the ocean. The exact outcome has not been explored, though it is hinted that the shifting miasma of alternate realities suddenly solidifies and shatters like glass.
The Alice of the alternate reality (who now calls herself Arizona) weathers the event in the abandoned mine and prepares to fight for her survival after a final conversation with Phobos, who is now in fact Francis Carter in disguise.
After the End of the World…
From Mars orbit, Westward relaunches with a crew of cadets from the Scientific Society and a new, secret mission to learn what has become of the colonist saucers.