|See, I told you that would attract ants!|
Why "c"? These things aren't arbitrary. Large corporations like SATI have rules that govern everything internal. So the Gre-Vakian c trials that brought our PC's ancestors to the cretaceous era were almost certain preceeded by Gre-Vakian a and b trials. But what about those trials? Very little is even implied, let alone said, of them, and their existence isn't confirmed, just conjecture based on a logical presumption.
Gre-Vakian a Trial
The "a" trial was probably the prototype phase, or the phase immediately after that. The commuters from the "a" trial clearly either failed in whatever mission SATI set forth (very possibly the same mission as the "c" trial) or had another mission entirely. I'm going to choose to think that they probably had a different mission, as SATI sending two groups of commuters back in time and then opting for "third time's a charm" seems a bit forced. So what was the intent of the "a" trial? Infrastructure.
Consider that the Last Commute has been described as a failure of the machinery in the cretaceous. This seems reasonable at face value, but give it some thought and you realize that there must be more to the story. I got into that last week, but suffice to say I think that the Last Commute was the result of Paradox biting SATI square in the butt. I think that SATI's time travel was one way; you can send but but your cannot retrieve. Trial "a" was very likely concerned with getting equipment in place in the past to verify that return trips were even possible. Imagine being part of the "a" trials and knowing that if the tech didn't work you were dino chow!
My guess is also that the "a" trial was very small scale. A small group of experts and technicians and the mechanism to send them home. A proof of concept that only barely counted as being a trial at all.
... but if that's true, then what about "b"?
Gre-Vakian b Trial
What exactly is SATI up to in the past? We may never know, unless we are the GM, or the GM chooses to reveal that to us in the game we play in. Or is Shanna writes a Predation novel. A novel with awesome dinosaurs ... I'll try and suggest that at Gen Con this year. I digress, while we may not know the point of SATI's expeditions we can make certain assumptions.
Assumption: The "b" trial was either a failure, or had a different goal from the "c" trial.
This seems pretty reasonable. SATI must have a reason to be sending thousands of its employees back in time. So either "b" failed but a "c" trial was still positive on the old risk vs reward analysis or "b" was doing something different from "c".
Assumption: The "b" trial was located elsewhere (or elsewhen) such that the "c" trial would not find evidence of the prior trial, or run into and interfere with the prior trial.
Yes, I'm implying that the "b" trial could be/have been concurrent with the "c" trial. I don't think this is too far fetched to assume that these could be concurrent in different locations, or that the "b" trial was taking place in a different time period. This feeds directly into ...
Assumption: The commuters of "c" trial were not in any danger from "b" trial, nor were they required for "b" trial as such.
Basically if SATI was putting this kind of investment into these trials they wouldn't sabotage themselves, and they probably wouldn't have the left hand unaware of the part they had to play in the right hand's projects.
So with all that what was trial "b" up to? I obviously cannot say for certain but I have a couple of ideas.
- The Gre-Vakian b trial had the same/similar goal as the c trial but elsewhere/elsewhen. Possibly at the end of a prior era like the Jurassic or the late Paleogene. In this case I think they were essentially "mining" genetic information. Ancient DNA could give insight into the evolutionary process, provide treatments for diseases, and even yield means to improve crops by adding prehistoric DNA.
- The Gre-Vakian b trial isn't even on Earth! SATI is and INTER-global corporation. I don't think that this is a mistake and there are references to other planets. I think SATI could have sent a trial back in time to study Mars when it was livable. It's even possible that they had reach beyond our solar system, and if so there are any number of places they may have wanted to use time travel to exploit.
- The Gre-Vakian b trial "failed" and the "c" trial was initiated to pick up the pieces. The reason there seem to be a lot of "lost" SATI facilities in just the 100-ish years since the last commute is because they are facilities that were part of trial "b". Perhaps the commuters of "b" are dead and gone, or maybe they were recalled
- Could it be that "c" is just a ruse and the "b" project continues on even now?
Regardless of my thoughts there's plenty of room for your own interpretations, assumptions, and conclusions. Do you think the commuters of Gre-Vakian c trial are the first? If not, what do you think happened to "a" and "b"?