A Matter of Time
BY THE NEXT DAY Creena wasn’t sure whether they’d accomplished anything or not. She sighed, frustrated, and shifted on her stool at her lab workdeck, facts ricocheting inside her head so fast she couldn’t capture a single one. Whatever would make controlled chronoviatic transfer reality was there, but putting the information together was like trying to assemble a starship with a lasoclear bomb.
They certainly hadn’t found anything significant enough to report to Bryl who came by so often that using her for a test subject held more appeal every hour. The fact that roughly five days remained before timeshifting was their only option didn’t help, shoving them forward along a precarious path they’d barely begun to map.
Meanwhile Deven and ‘Merama were busy hauling their cyllmats to Cranium Cavern for the dream experiment. The odd chamber definitely deserved its name, walls bulging and heaving with what looked like boiling stone set in time, the resemblance to a giant brain unmistakable. It was mostly grey, darker in the network of crevices which outlined its bubble-like surface. But it was more than that. It seemed to glow, displaying a subtle iridescence that tickled the back of her mind with similarities to the Think Tank’s unexplained light emissions.
The lab, on the other hand, where she sat alone, possessed walls which were smooth and stratified with shades of brown and black, their overall impression dark but not oppressive. It was definitely austere, offering no distractions to the work at hand, at least not by appearance, any inherent natural beauty disrupted by the miasma of wires and cables cluttering the surface.
Her thoughts wandered back to the dream experiment since it also related to warping of time. Clearly one or perhaps both crystals together facilitated a connection between sleeptime brain activity and some other dimension. How devenite physically transported someone to another point in time, however, was much more complicated; chronoviatic transfer wasn’t simply a vision, it was real.
Cristobalite manifested thoughts into reality; devenite manipulated time, apparently based on emotion.
Any theories that resulted from the dream experiment could expedite progress, especially since it didn’t require any extra time. They had to sleep sometime, whether they wanted to or not. If there was one thing she’d learned back at the Caverns it was that going without sleep didn’t help. Rather it compromised judgment and thinking to the point of being self-defeating.
She forced her thoughts back to the basics, that cristobalite was sensitive to psi generated by a person’s mind and devenite to psi from a person’s heart. She frowned, recognizing they really needed to come up with a term for each to avoid confusion. Something simple. Like c-waves for communication, brain-based psi and e-waves for empathic heart-based psi.
Yeah, that would work. If nothing else it made it easier to visualize the two interacting, especially when she thought of them in different colors.
Obviously, cristoviatic and chronoviatic teleportation were closely related or became such when cristobalite and devenite worked together. So how could she test the concept without jeopardizing someone with an inadvertent time shift?
Unless, of course, Commander Woeyel was willing to volunteer. She sniggered at the thought, indulging in its implications for a few moments before finally refocusing on her work.
Veridical dreams so far involved the future, reaching forward in time to extract information which could be used to avoid an emotionally devastating event. Both emotion and time were involved which further confirmed they were related to devenite.
She pondered everything she knew about time travel, mostly related to space and objects moving near the speed of light or using warp harmonics, technologies that manipulated gravity waves to bend and shorten distances in the spacetime continuum. All such influences resulted in different reference frames, different accelerations, and different clock rates. Her thoughts turned to ‘Merapa who was probably moving close to lightspeed as well as some warp harmonic, each one shrinking space by an order of magnitude like a logarithmic scale. Igni would probably know which one since the prison ship was the same model as the Volition. She’d have to ask him about that.
As she recalled, time onboard a starship moving at warp speed proceeded at a different rate than an inertial reference frame, a fancy term for something that wasn’t moving, like a planet. Of course planets moved, not only by rotation on their axis causing day and night but also along its orbit around its host star. Except for rogue planets which had gotten lost someway or another and just roamed about interstellar space at the mercy of any gravitational fields. Nonetheless, planets weren’t moving even close to the speed of light so relativity didn’t apply, at least in most cases, since the effects were miniscule.
She thought back to when they left Mira III onboard the Aquarius, remembering ‘Merapa explaining how hundreds of years would pass on Mira III while they traveled for what seemed like about a month. Starships adjusted their time backward to the appropriate Galactic Standard Time defined by the Hostii Intergalactic Organization or HIO upon arrival to maintain continuity as well as avoid the misuse of chronoviatic effects. Which definitely indicated that the HIO had the ability to manipulate time; too bad they couldn’t convince them to help. Furthermore, how did they do it? Devenite? Not likely, manipulation of space-time probably achieved through some other means, probably gravitons.
Slowly a subconscious whisper broke the surface of awareness. If time was going that much slower onboard ‘Merapa’s craft, then they should have more than a few days. Could Storm have been mistaken when he made those calculations?
Hardly daring to hope, she sent an urgent message to Igni, asking what the average intragalactic velocity and warp rate was for a spacecraft like Volition. She’d spent enough time on the vessel she should have known but simply hadn’t paid attention, her focus on getting to Mira III, then later to Cyraria. The insectoid responded quickly and she entered the information into the comcon to calculate relative time.
She gasped at the result, realizing Storm had done it backwards. It was approximately a week onboard the prison ship, not Cyraria. They actually had years to work the problem before ‘Merapa would arrive on Bezarna.
Her head and heart raced with hope at the implications, not knowing whom to tell first, Dirck or ‘Merama. But what if she was wrong as well? She needed someone to check and make sure it was correct before revealing something with such emotional impact. That narrowed it down to Win or Igni, the latter the obvious choice given he’d provided the input.
She fired off another urgent message with the results of the calculations and requested verification. This time the response didn’t come as quickly as hoped. As minutes dragged by she finally got down from the stool and paced impatiently. She laughed at herself, recognizing the irony of being in such a hurry to tell everyone they may have all the time in the world, perhaps their entire lifetime, to find a solution. At worst they would all age at the usual on-world rate while ‘Merapa wouldn’t, meaning he could come back younger than she was or even Deven. She smiled at the thought, trying to imagine what that would be like.
Impatience flared again and about the time she was ready to hunt him down she heard the distinctive clickity-click of multiple feet in the stone passageway, coming her way at an accelerated pace. She stepped outside the lab, fidgeting until he came into view. At that point she could tell by the angle of his antennae that the news was positive.
She covered her mouth, stifling laughter punctuated by tears as he closed the space between them and bestowed a congratulatory pat on her back.
“Concede your results. What thought had you to check such things?” he asked.
“I just started thinking about everything I knew about time travel, including how relativity affects a starship. I thought I remembered that lots of time passes on a planet when someone is traveling in space and took it from there.”
“Genius, young one!” Igni said, enthusiasm coming through the translator with a few sounds she’d never heard before. “Have you given news to others?”
“No, I wanted to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes.”
“Calculations correct. Those who travel much in space forget effects as adjusted on arrival by HIO. Remember addition of time assist father only. Still must develop chronoviatic technology before INTEGRATOR.”
“Oh,” she said, somewhat crestfallen. “You’re right. Time is still not on our side.”
“Concede. But can hope similar victories follow.”
“Too bad we can’t find some extra time here as well.”
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