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Temporal Agents were supposed to keep eyes on timeline. Whenever timeline was altered and Temporal Agents failed to prevent it, it was due to advanced tech of other factions of Temporal Cold War.

Narada was powerful in front of 24th century tech & past, but not in front of 31st century tech. And, it had no Temporal tech (that's why Nero didn't try to return back to 24th century). So, there was no way for them to escape detection etc.

Why didn't Temporal Agents stop Nero?

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The Short Answer

The Temporal Police may make no effort to save the Vulcan of Star Trek (2009) because from their perspective, it has already happened and it did not appreciably change the future in a negative fashion, or forces within the universe, restored other events that may have depended on Vulcan's existence to occur in order for that future to happen as it did. Spock Prime could likely have accounted for this for as long as he lived.

The alternative is too terrible to conceive and that is that the destruction of Vulcan caused a chain reaction through time, obliterating the Temporal Monitoring Agency and making that agency unable to return through time due to the cross-temporal travel of the Romulans and Spock Prime and are thus erased or barred from this part of the time-stream of the Star Trek universe, at least temporarily.

The Longer Answer

Monitoring the time stream is a perilous occupation. It requires you to keep track of multiple quantum realities that eventually converge on your single point of existence that you are supposed to ensure will remain intact in the event that someone from the past or the future goes back in time to alter events in the past that could lead to your future NOT existing. Woah.

The Temporal Policeman from the 31st century must contend with every era that has knowledge of time travel, accidental discoveries in the past as well as incursions from further down his own time stream where time travel is routine. What if, further in the future, the government that controls time travel is corrupted and they decide to alter the past even further.

Space is big, Time is bigger

So the job of a Temporal Policeman is finding and monitoring not the entire time-stream but the critical junctures that could alter the future in a negative or pejorative manner. Those critical junctures become the places you set up agents, or configure technology to ensure those points remain stable and unaltered. Accidents in time could change that event (i.e. City on the Edge of Forever, McCoy and Edith Keeler) or intentional incursion in the time-stream such as the Temporal Cold War in Enterprise.

It becomes perilous to alter events that change history, since you risk changing a branch that could lead to you extinguishing or cutting you off from the ability that allows you to see through time in the first place.

Not to mention, any alteration of the past probably won't destroy YOUR timeline, it will simply make the bulk of the stream of time, move in a direction different from what you intended.

Should we re-alter the now changed past?

Temporal monitoring would be difficult for anyone in general, but moving through time to alter the past without any idea of whether you would erase your present means Temporal Police will only move through time to alter events that could change the future in a catastrophic way and only with the understanding they may erase themselves from existing in the first place. So consider most circumstances from a Temporal Agency's point of view:

  • Is what's happening in the past critical to my current existence?
    • I still exist even after that event occurred, so should I alter it?
  • Will that event significantly alter the balance of power or technology in my current temporal reality?
    • If it does, how do I know? It would require me to have a record of temporal events that does not change in accordance to the time flow, a record of WHAT MUST BE for us to exist.
  • Was that event supposed to happen in that fashion?
    • Hard to be sure if it does not violate the first two priorities.
  • Time is flexible so minor inconsistencies do not alter time significantly. Some alterations may occur due to subspace anomalies or other short term temporal events, but they are inconsequential to the overall flow of time and can be ignored. The trick is knowing which alterations have little effect on time overall.
    • Think Benjamin Sisko going back in time during the early 22nd Bell riots in DS9 (Past Tense). The riots still took place but the person who was supposed to lead them dies, and Sisko takes his place. Federation records now list Sisko's face but the insurgent, Gabriel Bell's name.
    • I am sure someone in the Temporal Police made a record, because the Federation made a notation from Sisko's report, noting the change and only knowing about it because Sisko tells them he changed the past! No one goes back to try to correct it because time is flexible and nothing noteworthy is changed as far as they can tell.
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    from their perspective, it has already happened ~> When you've no meaning of time, you can't think that way. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any point of Temporal Agents because timeline changes propagate to future quickly. All changes would be happened event from their perspective.. – Lobo Jun 26 '12 at 16:32
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    Also, it only "already happened" if they were the temporal agents from the future of that timeline. However, it's been shown numerous times they can detect temporal incursions before their own timeline is erased - and for the temporal agents of the TNG/DS9/VOY timeline, it didn't already happen and wasn't part of their history. – Izkata Jun 26 '12 at 22:51
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    you are forgetting that temporal shielding exists, engineered by Voyagers crew in the Year of Hell, part 2. A base or vessel equipped with temporal shields should be immune to any timeline alterations as long as the shielding is activated – severa Jun 13 '13 at 13:10
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    And Temporal agents are not perfect. They can miss big picture issues, we see in both Enterprise and Voyager temporal agents not noticing, or misinterpreting, temporal events. – Tyson of the Northwest Mar 5 '14 at 23:41
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Completely fair question. I would argue - they did. It's not just not the story we were shown on screen.

The new Trek Universe that follows Narada's time incursion is clearly not just an alternate timeline but an alternate universe (reality). Think of TNG: Parallels where Worf is transported between different universes (while remaining on the Enterprise), not simply different timelines. Some of the Enterprises are in pretty bad shape - the alternate realities of the universe exist.

For a long time, Star Trek stayed with the same universe - the one we knew - right up until the Trek Reboot. Trek didn't deny that there were other universes for different possible choices, simply that the story we saw was the universe we had always been familiar with.

So, I would say in "our universe" (the one prior to the Reboot) they would have intervened. However, we slipped into another universe where they didn't, for whatever variety of reasons that precluded intervention in this new universe.

Put another way - as soon as we slipped lose of the universe we knew, we couldn't rely on the "rules" of that old universe. This is a whole new adventure, whole new set of rules and the continuity of anything past that first split is completely nonexistent as it has yet to happen in this new universe.

Obviously the Temporal Cold Wars took place in Enterprise (pre Kirk-era) so you could argue they had already established the 'Temporal Police' but at that point I'd say this was clearly a different branch of the universe-tree as evidenced by the lack of the Temporal Agent intervention.

So the simplest answer to your question (Why didn't they stop Nero) is that they don't exist in this particular reality of the universe.

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    Alternate realities are out of their jurisdiction. – Omegacron Feb 9 '15 at 15:10
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Temporal Police is not the only organization or species capable of affecting the time stream.

The Q continuum might have allowed this particular alternate reality to exist as part of some weird Q experiment.

  • Haha.. And, why would you think that? – Lobo Jan 8 '15 at 14:09
  • Well there is the TNG episode "parallels" that deals with alternate realities. There is even an Enterprise where Riker says the Borg have beaten the Federation. Maybe the Q changed one of these realities. Maybe Q wants to torment the new Picard in this new reality :) – tls Jan 8 '15 at 14:36
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They did not stop Nero from destroying Vulcan because Nero was sent to alternate reality, rather than alternate timeline. I am assuming that temporal agents only have the ability to watch the prime timeline and do not have the ability to watch a timeline unfold in an alternate reality. I am sure the 31st century would exist in the new reality, but from point of view, this would be apart of their history.

Getting off topic here: if the original timeline was destroyed, it could be repaired by simply saving Romulus in the 24th century when the new timeline reaches that point in time. Assuming they know that Romulus will be in danger this time around. Nero would have no reason or have a way to back and destroy Vulcan.

  • Are you saying there're no temporal agents in the alternate timeline? – Lobo Oct 13 '14 at 3:52
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    I am thinking that there are actually temporal agents in the new timeline, but from their point of view, this history has not changed because this an alternate universe, they would have no way of knowing that Vulcan was suppose to survive. – Thylorion Jul 5 '16 at 1:39
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I disagree that the FTP would not have intervened. Because time travel is dicey at best, anything could change everything.

"It already happened and it resolved itself"

This does not wash with me.

The loss of Vulcan would be intolerable, the devastation to the security of the Federation and the fleet would have been intolerable, as well.

We would certainly intervene if Paris, Tokyo, London, or Washington D.C. were threatened. Ultimately though, I think we will have to "drink the Kool-Aid" and just enjoy the spectacle.

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