Chris Mathews puts his life on hold in the Eighth millennia and joins Professor Andrew Reichstein and Hailey Missentra on a ride to a slipstream at the edge of a black hole. They plan exiting the stream a few seconds into the future to prove that time ‘emergence’ is theoretically possible. However, they emerge into a time beyond their reckoning and find their worlds changed forever. Chris, in particular, must decide whether to travel even farther into the future, into an infinite future, where man becomes God, and seek the missing information that will bring his loved one back to life. But not all is as it seems and he starts questioning if the futuristic world’s enigmatic Priest stands to benefit more than he will from his efforts. And what does this mean to his friends and their survival?
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.67(d)|
Read an Excerpt
An explosion ripped through the galactic traveler, Dolphin. The D.E. scientist Andrew Reichstein lay flat on his back, ten dark speed days from Lanthanum's Transcender Station and just two dangerous dark speed hours from Messy Tessie, the galaxy's celebrity black hole.
He gathered his senses, tried extricating himself from a bizarre psychological cascade of numerical images, and reasoned that some sort of a surge from Tess had belted the ship.
Two maintenance workers, the pilot and a young odd jobs woman, Hailey Missentra, made up the rest of the crew.
The team had been checking out and repairing Icon, the seven hundred year old beacon that measured Tess' unusual emissions. Until Icon broke down, it had reliably sent the information to Lanthanum, which relayed it to Earth.
The journey was routine for everyone except Andrew, who hadn't any space legs at all. The D.E. energy corporation hired him to assess why surges from the black hole had killed off Icon's propulsion unit, leaving it to orbit Tess' outer Horizon slackly.
What was going on, that for the first time since 7300, the black hole's emissions knocked Icon out for the count, as a prelude to swallowing it in a blink in two years time, when it slipped across the Horizon proper?
As intriguing as the question was, if the corporation hadn't approached Andrew with its anxious request for him to join the space crew, he would have remained at his desk on Earth analyzing these things, not floating around in space craft at dark speed.
Twenty one-year-old Hailey leaned over him, expelling pellets of air, and by the bye spoke with her flat, no nonsense Lanthanum accent. "I didn't see what happened," she said. "I don't know what happened."
She held Andrew from behind like a sack of potatoes and helped him sit up until he steadied himself.
"And yet I sensed that the ship bent from bow to stern, like a lizard chewing its tail." Her voice rose involuntarily with fear. "On the one hand I felt a bump, while on the other a catastrophe. Are you okay?" She didn't wait for his response and pleaded, "Let's find the others."
She wanted the companionship of the rest of the crew, the security, the humanity in galactic space, and dragged the middle-aged scientist to his feet so that he could join her in finding them.
At the time of the explosion, Andrew and Hailey were in the mess hall, located in the middle of the ship. They were playing Leaf-game, Hailey's favorite.
Now, pushing him from behind, she hurried them towards the back of the seventy-meter ship, where Bob and Angie, the two maintenance workers, had been running diagnostics on Icon's navigational equipment before the explosion.
As they ran and hobbled through the brightly illuminated corridor, Andrew looked for signs of damage to the ship, but couldn't find any, even though he looked very hard.
During the explosion, he experienced what Hailey had experienced: the highly rigid ship, coated with Denneron, the substance that mimicked dark matter, bent from tip to toe.
Now he expected to find evidence of serious damage.
Then again, as Hailey suggested, the actual physical sensation during the explosion amounted to a gentle bump.
He kept walking, Hailey pushing him from behind, but lost his thoughts, as a series of psychedelic numbers invaded his thinking space in a way that made him feel like every room in the house lit up.
The workshop was very large, around one hundred and sixty square meters. When they arrived, Hailey's young body lost its confidence, and her no nonsense voice broke with emotion and fear.
They couldn't find Bob and Angie. Yet they found a very fine, thickly deposited dust. It covered almost everything near the inner wall of the stern, over a relatively small area, like shadows or ash forming identifiable patterns.
The force of the explosion seemed to have cast the shadows from equipment and workshop objects.
Now they looked at the remains of the Gabron molder, robotic arms, various wrenches and even screwdrivers.
Then Andrew took his turn to lift Hailey from the floor, where she had collapsed, and he comforted her as he did so. She turned and pressed her face into his chest, wanting that human comfort he instinctively offered.
As he held her, he saw what she had seen.
Tessie's blast threw Bob and Angie, mid conversation, into the inner wall of the ship's stern. Now their remains became part of that same dust splattered pattern.
Bob's shadow smiled while Angie's mocked him with pretence of disbelief. Neither could have known what happened, not to the ship, nor themselves.
No one will ever know the joke each shared.
Andrew looked at the area in which the shadows laid and then where everything remained whole and untouched.
Both Bob and Angie might have lived unscathed if they had stood only a couple meters forward of where they actually were, when everything went up in smoke.
A paper towel unfurled slowly, where it lay scrunched and discarded, no doubt by Bob or Angie minutes ago.
Andrew returned with Hailey to the mess hall and told her to wait until he scouted the cockpit for Bingo the pilot, and promised he would return.
Tough-minded people are really the softest ones. Yet, he thought, putting things in perspective, an incredibly difficult job, given the circumstances, Hailey was half his age, a girl trying to be tough, but actually responding to the world in an adult way for the first time.
Before he left her alone, she made him promise three times and then double promise for good measure that he would return quickly.
He ran anxiously to the cockpit.
Bingo's death saddened Andrew terribly. He liked the guy in that rare, connected way. But also, he expected to find him alive. The cockpit was set back from the bow some seven meters.
However, fate chewed Bingo's bones too, as it had the other two. He was too far forward of the cockpit during the explosion. Perhaps he gazed from the bow window at Tess' emptiness, searching for what the modern world's first scientists believed were her answers to the big questions.
It all began with a bang, they believed; God had acted in pursuance to humanity's capacity for understanding the laws of physics. How convenient!
Andrew couldn't say why Bingo stood so close to the forward window. But he had been standing there, which meant he was in the deadly zone when the ship apparently flicked back straight again.
Now he, Bingo, watched from his lumpy, silky shadow at the unraveling of all the mysteries before him, with Bingo-like-bemusement.
At it all, thought Andrew sadly, as he returned to tell Hailey the bad news.
"How are we getting home?" cried Hailey. "Can you fly?"
She desperately, and very understandably, asked Andrew this important question. His second of silence was enough to answer her in the negative and conversely propel her back from desperation and into action, her highly practical brand of action.
"We gotta learn to fly this thing. It's mostly auto."
"Somebody can come and get us," Andrew suggested.
There were risks with piloting the Dolphin, which would be natural while placing two inexperienced personnel in charge of humanity's newest and best galactic traveling machine.
In addition, even if they safely operated the craft at a very basic level, which their backup training provided for, they didn't know how to transcend.
This meant that they would have to return conventionally and wouldn't arrive back at Lanthanum Station for close to a year, instead of within ten dark speed days, the normal transcension period.
But Andrew had played devil's advocate. Only one transcension cavity existed out here and they filled it. Without an available cavity, rescuers, themselves, would need to fly out conventionally, and could take ten months, not days, to reach them.
Neither of them wanted to hang around.
"I want to get out of here," said Hailey, almost breaking down again, ricocheting from her own hard surface. "It's creepy."
"It is." Andrew agreed.
They made up their minds.
"One thing," said Hailey. "I don't want to go hibo, I don't want to sleep. And I don't want you sleeping. We can play chess for a year; I don't care. But please, don't make us go to sleep."
She asked this like a nine-year-old girl wanting to stay up late to watch a movie.
She was very scared, which Andrew recognized. He was scared too, and said he preferred Leaf-game, an offbeat comment in the circumstances, but one that took their minds off things.
"Whatever," Hailey replied. But she was pleased with his choice, and without suspecting that he made it for her benefit.
They lost no time, and radioed the news to Lanthanum Station, which told them to stay where they were, until rescuers arrived. But they ignored that command and left Icon to oblivion.
Having made the plunge and taken control, they found that, at conventional speed, the Dolphin operated similar to a satellite hopping Bubble.
Soon they settled into the big return home, or at least their return to Lanthanum's Transcender Station.
There Andrew would connect with a commercial Transcender back to Earth, and Hailey would shoot back to the mega mining and manufacturing giant, Lanthanum, where she was born and raised.
During the forty-seven week journey, they played Hailey's beloved Leaf-game, and chess, and talked a lot, like members of a crew, and never like friends. Sometimes they talked about Andrew's wife, Marilyn, and his two-year-old daughter, Julia, but not often.
It prevented the deep and meaningfuls from probing into the disturbing explosion, or event as they now called it.
Consequently, Hailey kept quiet about her disturbing number-dreams during the flight home from Tess, and Andrew kept quiet about his.
They sealed off their inner thoughts from each other in the same way they sealed off the workshop and forward section of the cockpit.
The authorities would investigate the event scene upon their return to the Station, and they, Hailey and Andrew, would investigate and share their thoughts with each other when they were sure they couldn't forget them first.
And only when they were back in the safety and familiarity of their own worlds.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Interesting from the first page. A science fiction ride like none I have been on, and with character detail that makes me feel like I've met real people. Finally we have a new way to travel through space! This is the sort of science fiction that makes you think about new ideas.