The Dark Empire, Page 160-170 by Wolfenshire ()
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The Dark Empire, Page 160-170
The Governor tapped at the thick glass of the side window with his fingers. “I can’t even tell if we’re moving.”
Jasai twisted around in her seat until she was facing the three Aiden rulers. “That’s because we’re not moving, if we were moving at the speed needed to travel four billion lights years in four hours, you would have been crushed in the first millisecond.”
“If we’re not moving, how are we going to get there?” asked Santi.
Jasai’s face lit up and she pulled her knees up on the seat and took a deep breath. Rotathian turned his head toward the small window that let him watch the nothingness outside. He only vaguely heard her start into an explanation of something about folding time and space to allow travel over such vast distances. Santi’s expression was a blank slate of confusion. Rotathian suppressed a grin. Santi had asked the question; let him swirl around in the dark for a while until he learned not to get her started. They had no frame of reference to truly understand a word she was saying. He had already sat patiently listening once to her explanation that Crystal Bridges used worm holes for shorter distances, where in contrast, the Gate folded space for long distance. Neither made any sense and only made Rotathian think of giant worms crawling around the heavens making holes.
No, he didn’t need to know the level of magic the Raven Jinn used, he needed universities built that would start his people at the beginning and build their knowledge in layers. He had found a book with a picture of a colorful chart. Jasai said it was called the Periodic Chart of Elements and was the foundation of every substance used to create the vast magic of his ancestors – that was the kind of thing he wanted to know.
King Madious was sitting next to him amusing himself by pushing buttons on his armrest and searching for what it had just done. Madious pushed a button and a light breeze blew down on both of them. Another button and a light above Madious came on, and yet another and Jasai had to turn around and press a button to turn off a beeping sound.
“I’m not serving refreshments,” Jasai declared when she turned back around. Rotathian and Madious only shrugged, not understanding the reference.
Jasai had just started into an explanation of Flight Stewards and the services they provided on long distance flights when the silver chariot shuddered and Rotathian felt the distinct sensation that they were turning. Jasai flipped around in her seat and inspected the controls in front of her.
Rotathian leaned forward in his seat to see the console. “Is there a problem?”
Madious pushed another button on his arm rest. “Maybe that will help.”
Rotathian glanced sideways at the man. “Yes, I think it would, if I wanted to read a book and get some fresh air.”
“Kick it,” offered Santi. “That’s what I always do if a Crawler isn’t working right.”
“By all means,” said Rotathian. “Do step outside and kick the tires, it might help.”
“Well, you’re in a snippy mood,” replied Santi.
The ship shuddered again and began tipping on its side. Rotathian slid into Santi, and Madious slid into Rotathian. Jasai spun around in her seat and pulled her harness on. A screeching sound from outside rose as the colossal forces of folded space threatened to crush the ship.
“Get off me,” shouted Santi. “What in the blazes did you wear armor for anyway?”
“We’re rolling,” shouted Jasai. “I’m assuming command.” Zil lifted his hands from the yoke and switched to navigation and engine controls. The ship began to straighten as Jasai fought the force of acceleration that was now pushing everyone back in their seats. “We’re in the trough, I’m going to drop us into real space before the following wave catches up and crushes us,” shouted Jasai. “Zil, help me hold it steady.”
Zil put his hands back on the yoke just as the ship crashed through the darkness and tumbled into the light of day. Jasai fought with the controls as a planet appeared in front of them. Santi made the mistake of looking out the front window to see the planet come into view, then spin away, then come back into view, and spin away again. The orientation, or lack of it, caused him immediate vertigo and he threw up on Rotathian.
“I’m going to bounce us off the atmosphere to get us righted,” shouted Jasai. “Hold on.”
“She didn’t mean hold on to me,” Rotathian shouted at Madious as the large knight pushed the man away.
The ship hit the edge of the planet’s atmosphere with enough force to send the three Aiden rulers careening off the ceiling of the ship and into the back section. A plume of flame trailed the ship so brightly that anyone in the northern hemisphere of the planet would see the spectacular display.
Zil let go of the yoke and fired the engine’s thrusters while Jasai struggled to get the ship into an orbit around the planet. “We’re going too fast, we can’t make an orbit,” shouted Jasai. “Oh crap, we’re going to punch out of this Crystal Bubble. Zil do something, the time dilation is going to hit us.”
The ship hit the edge of the Crystal Bubble that contained the planet just as Zil raised his hands and a bluish light enveloped the ship. The backdrop of stars disappeared and they were outside in the dreary light of the Paths of the Dead.
“What the heck?” shouted Jasai. “Where’s the ground?” Jasai leaned over to look out the side window; they were at least ten thousand feet above the ground. She could see the billions of Crystal Bubbles below her. “Why is that Crystal Bubble so high in the air? Crystal Bubbles are always at ground level.”
“I can’t hold this long,” Zil grunted through clenched teeth.
Rotathian crawled to the front next to Jasai’s seat. “What’s going on?”
“We were going too fast to stop, we’ve exited the Crystal Bubble,” said Jasai. “This is really bad. Zil is holding back the time dilation effect. If he can’t hold it before I can get back to the planet, hundreds of years will pass for everyone you know, but only minutes for us.”
“Then turn around,” said Rotathian.
“I can’t, we’re going over four million miles per hour,” explained Jasai. “I’ve got the thrusters on full braking, but it will take hours for us to slow down enough to turn. It’s just a good thing this is a Creator built Splinter ship. A Darai Splinter ship would have disintegrated when we hit the atmosphere and bounced off.”
“I’ll build a Temple in thanks to my ancestors if we survive,” said Rotathian.
“Ship to starboard,” Madious called out from the rear side window.
Jasai craned her head around to see outside. “What? Where? Oh my gosh, I know what that is.” A large shiny black ship with clawed tentacles came alongside the Splinter ship and rolled over, then began to maneuver over the out-of-control Splinter ship. The tentacles reached around the Splinter ship and they felt the tremor through the hull as the black ship grabbed on. “Oh no, no,” shouted Jasai as she turned to the control panel and frantically searched for the button.
“What’s wrong?” asked Rotathian.
“That’s a Dragon Seed Ship Teraformer, it’s going to brake us, but if it brakes too fast the inertia will turn us to jelly. Where is it? I can’t find it; this ship is laid out differently than a Darai Splinter ship?”
“Center panel,” grunted Zil, beads of sweat pouring down his face as he tried to maintain the time-dilation field around the ship. Jasai found the button under a protective cover and pressed it. She felt the stasis field activate inside the ship. She had experienced a stasis field once before when she had won an elementary school contest in science and got to spend three months aboard the Jackdaw Communications Flagship. They had used the stasis field during a slingshot maneuver around the sun to pick-up enough speed to escape the solar system and engage the I.D. drive.
She pushed down the familiar panicked drowning feeling as the stasis field surrounded her. She still felt the deceleration pulling at her and could only wonder at the force the ship was enduring. The feeling increased as the ship began to swing around and go back the direction they had come. The ship automatically released the stasis field as the inertia returned to a survivable level.
“What in the name of Poseidon was that?” gasped Madious.
“Stasis field,” said Jasai. “Take a deep breath, it helps. We’re going to have to do it again to slow down and re-enter the Crystal Bubble. I’ve set it to automatic when the ship feels the first sign…”
Jasai’s words were cut off as the stasis field activated. She mentally kicked herself for mistiming it and not having a lung-full of air; it made the drowning feeling worse. They were going too fast for her to see the Crystal Bubble, but the sudden flash of light and falling feeling alerted her that they were safely back inside the Quantum Crystal Universe. She saw the planet and felt the inertia draining away as the Teraformer rescue ship slowed them down for landing.
The stasis field deactivated as they neared the ground. “Stop doing that,” shouted Madious. “My insides feel like they’ve been run over by one of Santi’s Crawlers.”
Zil had released the time-dilation field and was now slumped down in his seat exhausted.
“What in the blazes is that?” asked Santi.
Jasai turned her head and looked outside. They were still high enough to see the city below them.
“It’s an entire city of Crystal Palaces,” said Rotathian.
The sun glinted off spiraled buildings of pure crystal that stretched for miles. In the distance Jasai could make out hundreds of round objects in various states of construction. “Oh wow, I think those are Dragon Seed Ship cores being built. They must build the core here on the ground, then launch them to complete the outer shell in orbit.”
“I think it’s the Creator’s world,” whispered Zil.
“I thought our world was the Creator world,” said Santi.
Zil shook his head. “That was a science station where the Crystal Generator was, I think this was the world the Creators were building to bring all their people.”
“How much other stuff aren’t you telling us?” asked Madious, the accusation clear in his voice.
Jasai spun around in her seat and glared at the Medo King. “Stop it, he doesn’t know anything.”
“It would appear he knows a great deal,” said Rotathian.
“You don’t understand how reptilian species memory works,” said Jasai. “Zil hasn’t even started school yet, he doesn’t know anything. Reptilians have genetic memories but they’re not complete memories, and something has to trigger the memory for them to access it, and they might not always be correct. If Zil had an ancestor that knew something, but it was not correct, then Zil’s genetic memory of that is not correct and he’ll have to relearn the subject.”
Rotathian raised his hands in surrender, it wouldn’t do any good to argue. “Okay, so how much do you know?”
Zil shrugged. “Nothing, I told you what I know.”
“How can you know and not know?” asked Santi.
Jasai frowned. “Look, if Zil’s great-grandfather heard someone once say they heard of a world high in the sky that was a Creator world, that’s all Zil would know. That’s how he’s able to fly this ship. All of Zil’s ancestors were Body Protectors, some even for Master Aestar, but only the really strong memories get passed along, like flying was something all his ancestors really liked to do, so Zil has those memories.”
“So, what you’re saying is he has the memory of how to fly, but not the experience or skill?” asked Rotathian.
“Exactly,” said Jasai. “He couldn’t fly right away, he had to watch me fly so he could put the memories to the correct skills needed to do it.”
Rotathian held up a finger and smiled. “Ah, now the pieces fit. You said all of Zil’s ancestors were Body Protectors. I would make a guess that all Mathors remain in the same career as their family. That way each generation doesn’t start from scratch, they only have to learn the context for what they already know.”
Jasai nodded and shrugged. “I guess that makes sense.”
“I just had a thought,” said Santi. “Did Emperor Aestar know of this world?”
Zil shook his head.
“Ah, now it makes sense why the Mathors adopted Aestar,” said Rotathian.
Jasai’s lips tighten in annoyance. “I hate when you guys do that, you say something like it explains everything, but it doesn’t explain anything.”
Rotathian smiled kindly, another patronizing thing he did, meant to calm her down. “We all have gifts, ours is to see many unrelated facts and weave them into the truth. Emperor Aestar arrived as a boy after what was believed at the time to be the annihilation of his entire species. It would have been cruel of the Mathors to bring the boy here to the dead city of his people, so they adopted him and raised him up to have purpose.”
The ship clunked down on the ground with a thump. The Teraformer ship above them unwound its clamps and flew off towards where they had seen the construction sites of the Dragon Ships.
“This just keeps getting better,” said Madious looking out the side window. “Something is coming to greet us, or eat us, or something.”
Jasai turned around and looked out the window in the direction the Medo King was looking. A man made entirely of a shiny silver substance was walking towards them. “Oh Goddess, that's a dragon. I saw two of them after the Kesune war when a Dragon Seed Ship came to Darai to help us.”
“Not entirely how we envisioned a dragon would look,” said Santi.
“We were surprised also when the two Wyvern Dragons stepped out of their shuttle when they came to Darai,” said Jasai. “Some people think they might have been named after a flying lizard from the Creator’s home world, the Dragon Seed Ships have a giant dragon painted on the side of them.”
Zil shook his head.
Jasai tipped her head to the side. “What? You know about dragons?”
Zil nodded and replied. “At first when the Aiden scientists were programing the A.I. for the first Seed Ship, it wasn’t named a Dragon Ship yet. The first book the A.I. was given to read and test its consciousness was a children’s book about mythical dragons. When they poured the living metal to form the body for the A.I., it shaped itself into a dragon, and that’s how they got the name.”
Rotathian raised a brow. “That was over three and a half billion years ago. Do your genetic memories go back that far?”
Zil shook his tail. “No, Master Aestar told me the story. The Dragons implant the image of mythical dragons into the DNA of every species they seed.”
“Seriously? Why?” asked Jasai.
“Dragons are their first memory, it’s precious to them and they want the entire universe to share in their love of that first book they read.”
“Did it work?” asked Rotathian.
Zil nodded. “My people collect every book from every world, and every world has thousands of books about dragons. I think it worked.”
Rotathian sat back in his seat and was silent for a moment before speaking. “Thank you for telling me that story. I was beginning to think all my ancestors did was create horrible weapons and destruction, but we did create something good.”
Zil smiled broadly, glad to be helping.
Rotathian gestured with his hands as he spoke. “This means that every species has a common bond in their love for a children’s book and the imagination that can grow and create worlds. I’m humbled by the thought. My Lord Madious, if you would be so kind as to open that hatch, I would very much like to meet a Dragon.”