Part 39: Dark Reflections Prologue
In the dark future of the 43rd millennium, there is only war.
War, yes. Peace, as well, and any variation between the two. In the future there will be things great and small, insignificant and galaxy-turning; there will be everything under the sun, this sun, those suns, every sun imaginable. In the future, there will be everything. Right now, there is already everything.
Zakharov. I had some difficulty finding you all the way out here. How long has it been?
Three years and seven months, plus or minus two weeks. I have been getting some neural upgrades. Still a senator?
Indeed. And I still have my chairmanship, too. It's not unlike wrestling with the old board of directors. But I suppose politics never agreed with you.
I did some good while I was there, but the idea of campaigning leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
How come you never joined my company-former company? I thought I made you a good offer.
Please. None of your departments is the least interested in warp theory. I may be more of a generalist than I was, but this, this has always been my passion.
So is that what you're working on now? I thought the Carrington Institute had the contract to develop the new warp drive.
It's "hyperwarp" these days. And yes, they do. Right now I am looking at alternative applications for warping technology. This is an orbital teleporter.
Ah, so like the Star Trek, then?
Do not make me start. Disassembling someone to the subatomic particles in order to reassemble him elsewhere is extraordinarily dangerous, stupidly inefficient, and worst of all, unnecessarily complicated. And all that is before one delves into the headache of subatomic particle physics. No, as I said before, this device uses warp technology. Warping occupied space has always been considered a hazard given its potential effects on both the warped mass and the warping device, so I have been working on a way of creating a small "corridor" of warped space which also empties itself of unwanted mass, mostly air. The teleported object then falls into the corridor with some applied antigravity and, with hardly a moment to build momentum, it finds itself on the other side. In one moment, Earth; in the next, Heaven.
Interesting. So what makes this better than a normal space elevator?
Lower materials cost. Much higher energy cost, but we stopped worrying about that problem since I was twelve. Any disaster will be localized, rather than extending halfway across the planet's surface as the transport ribbon falls. Operations can move larger masses at once, and any location on the planet's surface can be used, since the device can be calibrated for surface levels.
Very nice. I can tell you've worked for corporations before.
Technically speaking, I am still working for corporations, even if they are supposedly "goodwill donations." At least out here I do not have to file endless paperwork every time I change the experimental parameters. Did you want to try it?
The teleporter? Is it safe?
Of course it is safe, I am going with you. And I have lived far too long to risk my life for nothing but a simple experiment. So will you join me? It is really quite exhilarating.
When you put it like that, how can I resist?
Excellent. Just give me a moment to change the capacitor charge; I have not had the chance to move this much mass before now. Also, the transfer has to be from the station's surface, so put on one of the suits in the lockers there.
*SOME TIME LATER*
You know, no matter how many planets I travel to, I don't think I've ever lost the wonder I feel at seeing them from above like this.
It is hard to believe our ancient ancestors were content with never seeing lands farther apart than the width of my thumb. Mr. Morgan, if you would please step onto the antigravity pad? Very good, now we only need to wait for the warp engine to warm up.
May I ask where we are going?
We have a number of facilities set up on various points of the planet; I believe we are aimed at Facility 004 presently. Now please relax, Mr. Morgan, and let the pad take care of the rest.
Hmm, now that is odd.
What? What's o-
Just an unusual reaction in the core to the power spike. Regardless, we have made the trip, safe…and…huh.
What? This isn't Facility 004?
No, Mr. Morgan, this appears to be a slave camp.
If you would step over here, your Highness, the inspection can-who the hell are you two?! Help! Assassins! Assassins!
Shut the fuck up, Domai. I know these two.
Zak, you old goat. I thought I killed you. How's it going? No, before you tell me, we should go to the foreman's office. Fewer people to hear us there. Domai, you're not invited. Go find some slackers to whip or something.
Yes, of course, your Highness.
You know what? Better idea. Go whip yourself, instead. This facility isn't operating at near its capacity.
…Yes, your Highness.
So, Zak, last time I saw you, you were melting into your component atoms thanks to my death ray. How did you survive? Clone? Special hologram?
I, um, while I am not completely certain, I believe that myself and Mr. Morgan have managed to breach the barrier between alternate realities.
No kidding? Ha! Well, you sure seem a lot like my Zak, so I guess you haven't gotten too far off. Tell me, in your universe, what's happened since humanity invented the hyperdrive?
Weren't you in the middle of something?
What, the inspection? This pit is a wash anyways. Probably have to bomb the site from orbit. This should prove much more interesting.
Well, the first notable event was the Gibons Betrayal, of course…
…And let's not forget that our Svensgaard uses an artificial eye, rather than that eyepatch.
What, this old thing? I rather like it better than the cybereye. It has so many more uses. Well, since you've been so kind in providing a history lesson, I suppose it's my turn to repay the favor. While a number of the people you mention seem to behave differently than in my experience, the primary divergence point was likely when the Ethics vote came up…