Thursday, 11 December 2014

Project: Superluminal 015

         An hour later Pentyl had floated over to the Sentinel Fortress insisting that it could not be worse than going faster than light. I found my self alone in the bridge going over my navigational charts concentrating on them trying to ignore that the spaces that Pentyl had left open were being slowly filled by the absence of Kira. It was not the time to be overcome by those shadows. They would only drag me down leaving me unable to move. And then? How would I ever find out what had happened to Kira? So I focused on the course ahead slowly fading out the burning pain inside of me.
    I was going to go first and once I had arrived in the One Hundred and Eight Auspicious Gates system I would use a special signalling beacon the Fortress had twisted into my ship to contact it and they would twist after me. The beacon was a black strange looking cylinder that was uncomfortable to look at. Something about the way it looked was wrong but my mind was not able to put a finger on it. It was not that it was slowly expanding and contracting in a steady rhythm. It was that when ever my eyes moved a bit or I blinked somehow the form of it had shifted. It was very hard to see where the surface of it started, where it ended or how large it actually was. This was made worse by the constant drift of colour. It rippled in variations of black ranging from something that looked like glossy varnish to a matte black so dark that it appeared to simply be an opening into an endless space within the device.
    The Sentinel Fortress had told me to touch it to build a connection between us. I stepped forward one tiny step after another trying to get in range of the cylinder without running into it. I had to close my eyes after short time as moving towards it while looking at it caused a deep feeling of nausea and revulsion in me. When I opened my eyes again the device was suddenly much closer to me than expected. Its black shape for a moment reminded me of the contracting black pupil of an enormous eye that was suddenly focusing its attention on me. The hair on the back on my neck stood up my body flooding with  a feeling of mortal fear. I suppressed crying out producing a tortured squeal forcing me with all might to stretch my hand towards the artefact.

    I couldn't do it. Everything in me screamed to run away. It took all my will power to not scramble away screaming.
    The cylinder expanded.
    It touched my hand.
    It felt warm and... hungry?
    I was still inhaling to let out my most primal scream that would warn all Terranoids within hearing range of the mortal danger I had encountered when suddenly the feeling of terror ebbed away.
    The voice of the Sentinel fortress flowed into my mind. "James. Do not fear. Everything is OK. Sorry about that. My technology has that effect on most sentient species. Now that we are connected the beacon knows you and you mind knows it, there will be no fear any more."
    There was still a good amount of fear left. Run of the mill base line fear of the mind numbing other. It was far better than the spiritual level of terror that it had replaced.

    "You could have warned me." I said watching my hand touching, hovering over, vanishing inside the cylinder at the same time.
    "That would have made it worse." said the Fortress. No idea why but once a sentient knows about such an artefact they will feel its presence and will try to avoid it at all costs.
    "Do I even want to know why this effect is hard-coded into so many species?" I asked, not able to turn away my eyes from the point where my hand and the device intersected.
    "Even if you did, I haven't got the slightest clue. I do have various hypotheses but that has discussion has to wait I think." while the Fortress talked I could start to feel the fundamental reality of the cylinder seep into my arm, growing through my body entwining itself within me like a fungal growth.
    "What is happening?" I asked forcing myself to breath while at the same time fighting very hard not to hyperventilate.
    "I am establishing long range contact with you. This way I we will be able to interact with each other even when we are not in range of conventional communication."
    "And we could not have simply used the communication relay of the Void Dancer?" I asked already knowing the answer. The feeling of the foreign thing inside my body slowly subsiding.
    "If you know how to interface my technology with yours sure..." said the Fortress with a tiny hint of sarcasm in its voice. "Almost done. All you have to do now is to invite me into your ship."
    "I beg your pardon?"
    "You need to invite me into your ship for the link to become fully operational."
    "Do I look like an engineer to you? I have not the slightest idea. I do know however that I won't be able to interact with you once you move out of range if you don't and if that happens we will have to go through the procedure all over again." the Fortress said.
    I decided to go for the deeply unsettling option instead of the world-view shatteringly terrifying one. "Come on in then?" I said.
    "It has to be a bit more formal than that. You need to state your name, the name of your ship and my name." said the Fortress.
    "What is you name anyway?" I asked.
    "Sentinel Fortress will do. That's what everyone calls me these says."
    "Right." I cleared my throat. "Well then. I Captain James Steiner Gutierrez invite you Sentinel Fortress aboard my ship the Void Dancer, I welcome you as a friend and guest," after I short pause I added, "in this realm of mine." Might as well be a bit melodramatic.
    "I the Sentinel Fortress accept your invitation aboard your ship Void Dancer, captain James Steiner Gutierrez and accept your generous offer of hospitality."
    The cylinder in front of me expanded for the fraction of a second so far that it filled out the entire room, then collapsed into a point where it had become practically invisible before returning to its original size range again. Slowly expanding and contracting as if nothing had happened. I felt most of my fear fall away replaced by the feeling of the presence of a friend nearby.
    "Very good." said the Fortress with something very close to enthusiasm in its voice. "We are ready to go now I would say. You just go ahead. Pentyl and I will wait here for your signal and will then follow you to back you up."
    "Right." I said wondering about the situation I was getting myself into.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Project: Superluminal 014

"Are you sure that's going to work...?" I said after having said what the Fortress had in mind.
    "I think it should work." said Pentyl. "It twist into a place on the outer reaches of the solar system and hides among all the other crap floating around there. On the periphery no one will notice us appearing."
    "I'm still not sure." I said scratching the back of my head. "Sure it would be hard for them to detect us if they were just looking for us. But we are talking about a high security system here,they will notice the sudden change in gravity once a small planet appears out of no where."
    "Bah." said Pentyl. "In the outer solar debris cloud really?"
    "Besides," I added, "21 of the one hundred and eight open gates are out there."
    "We will be arriving in a place that is as remote as possible from the gates." said the Sentinel Fortress. "Like most star systems this one has most of its planetary mass in a disk shape. We will twist into a point above one of the stars pole far away from pretty much everything. From there I will be able to scan the system and give you at least back-up intelligence and I will be able to twist in for the rescue in the worst case scenario."
    "If you say so..." my feeling of foreboding decided to make itself at home in mind.
    "What's the worst that could happen?" asked Pentyl.
    "Is that a trick question?" I said.
    "Not really?" said Pentyl.
    "Well in that case I'd say that you will be discovered seen as a threat and the Black Aep'ar 557th Deep-Shock fleet will attack you."

    "I can take them." the Sentinel Fortress said.
    "That's not the point!" my sense of foreboding shifted a bit to make place for my sense of exasperation passing over the popcorn. "Even if you could, which by the way is a rather bold claim, you'd still be murdering a lot of innocents in cold blood."
    "It's not murder if the attack me first."
    "It is when you provoke them!" foreboding and exasperation decided that this one was going to be one of the all time greats. "Pleas tell me that you aren't being serious?"
    "I would not shoot first and try to be reasonable." the Fortress protested.
    "Besides," Pentyl chimed in. "The pilots are only organoid copies of the originals. When they die they get replaced by a new copy. Right? So that's more like losing some periphery matter right?"
    "Not you too." I groaned. "No. No it is not the same as losing some periphery matter. The 'copies' are fully alive and sentient terranoids like you and me... well like me at any rate. Best case scenario it would be more akin to that what I saw beyond the light barrier. You remember the being burned piece by piece?"
    "That's not something you should joke about." Pentyl said her face becoming sharper, clouded by anger.
    "I am not joking Pentyl. This are fully sentient beings and they are real-time connected to the originals so that they can gain their experiences. Death is not funny and I am not joking."
    "How about this then:" the Sentinel Fortress said braking the awkward silence that was slowly welling up in the room. "If we get discovered and the Black Constables get nervous I'll just twist away. They'll have a very hard time finding out where I went, should they even be capable of following me I'll be long gone by the time they arrive. No one gets hurt. Everybody wins. Right?"
    "It would still put the entire 4-LUMIA security cluster in the system on high alert though." I said.
    "Yes it would", agreed the Fortress, "and they concentrate all their efforts on space leaving the planetary base wide open for you and Pentyl to explore. See? However it goes we'll be fine. Trust me I have been around for billions of years I know my way around."
    "Fine." I said relaxing a bit. "How many infiltrations like these have you participated in anyway?" maybe the Fortress was up to something and I had never considered how much we could profit from its vast amount of knowledge and practical experience.
    "Countless." it said.
    What was countless for something that was billions of years old? "More than a million?" I ventured.
    "No. It is actually without count. So zero."
    "But I always wanted to do one." the Fortress added with almost child like enthusiasm.
    "Oh." my my feeling of foreboding and exasperation toasted each other knowing that this might be the last time they ever met again but they agreed that it had been totally worth it.