Sylvana goes missing aboard the Demetreus.
|Author's note: I decided that Sylvana should speak good English. She will speak a lot during the story, and her constant mistakes would be frustrating for you guys. :)
Trouble in Time
After six weeks of reconstruction, nothing is sweeter than a whole day of sleep. I woke up without any intention of getting out of bed. It was only eleven o’clock. No one gets out of bed that soon – apart from soldiers, time-travelers, and those who hear a knock on the door.
Sadly, I matched all of the above.
I got out of bed, hoping it was Sylvana. Her reconstruction was due today. I opened the door, Rush stood at the other side. I should have known it was him.
“What’s up, buddy?” I asked, hiding my anger about the explosion.
“I think I might owe you something,” Rush answered. He seemed nervous. Maybe he felt guilty about his actions.
“You don’t have to apologize about what happened,” I told him, although I had to say, I was expecting an apology.
“I know, I just didn’t want to start with the bad stuff,” Rush nodded. I knew he had something else to say. The best course of action was to hear him out, and make a decision about it.
“What happened?” I asked.
“You said I should look after Sylvana while you were asleep. Well... I looked away for a second or two. Maybe three. Four at most.”
“And?” I asked. He wouldn’t confess it unless something happened. Something bad.
“She is not in her tank anymore,” he admitted.
“Where is she?” I cocked an eyebrow.
Wonderful. Rush losing her was one thing, but what about Synthia? She should have been able to find her with the ship’s sensors.
“Okay... Then why don’t we find her?”
“It’s a big ship. I don’t know where to start, man.”
“Synthia?” I asked. Her assistance was the first thing I could think of.
The MI appeared beside us. I wasn’t shocked, I was used it by now. Rush on the other hand needed more time to adjust.
“The Deylonians are able to hide themselves from life sign recognition devices. Sadly, I have to say, Sylvana could be anywhere on the ship,” she confessed. She looked sad, even for a machine.
“What about the cameras?” Rush asked.
“The Demetreus has no such device on board,” Synthia shook her head.
“How come?” he snapped, and even I got curious about it.
“My creators thought them to be obsolete to other, more suitable devices” she answered.
“How does she even hide herself?” Rush frowned his forehead.
“As a result of extensive genetic modification during the Takedan-Deylonian war.”
“She is among the modern Deylonians,” I added. Then it came into my mind. The Demetreus was a time-ship, something she always wanted to see. And we were in the middle of No Man’s Space, which was a phenomenon all science-loving creatures fell in love with. “Where is the nearest observatory from the reincarnation chambers?”
“Alpha Wing, Observation 343,” Synthia answered.
“Then that’s where I’m going.” I nodded, and started to walk towards my new destination.
It took some time to get there, but finally I reached the observatory. Sylvana stood in the middle of the large, dome-like structure, looking at the vivid scenery of the space lost to ordinary people.
“Wonderful, isn’t it?” I asked, as I stepped beside her. She didn’t react at first, just continued to stare at the red and black void, sparking from vivid thunderstorms.
“It’s impossible,” she shook her head.
“Yet, we are here,” I crossed my arms over my chest.
“You don’t understand. This is Rogue Space. We can’t be here,” Sylvana continued. “Even my people couldn’t reach it. Yet we tried for millions of years.”
“I guess Synthia’s people were ahead of you.”
“They weren’t. That’s why they died.”
“Maybe they stole something from the enemy.”
“They didn’t have the technology either,” she told me, shaking her head.
“How do you know?”
“Because we were there,” she explained. “We were more advanced, yet even we couldn’t stop them. They wiped out our colonies one by one. Soon they came for Deylon, but they found nothing in its place. We concealed the planet from their eyes. They couldn’t find it, so they went on with their campaign, massacred Synthia’s people, and went away.”
It was dreadful to hear that; even they lacked the power to stop them. But at least I knew why there were no Deylonian colonies. Our common enemy obliterated them in the past, and her people stopped expanding because of it. Who could blame them?
“If they had time-travel technology, they could go back before the concealment, and kill you off,” I concluded.
“That’s one of the many possibilities, yes,” she answered.
“And who are these invaders?” I asked, maybe she could tell me what Synthia refused to do.
“You will know soon enough,” she answered. “This ship can’t be in Rogue Space. For that purpose it needs to jump in time.”
“It’s a time-ship, it does that sometimes,” I added.
“There is no way they would get us in here. This is Rogue Space, not just separate from reality in space, but in time as well. We are ahead of the Great Explosion, this is a fraction of reality where we are simply not supposed to be,” she continued.
“No one is getting us in here. We are going on our own,” I answered.
“That can’t be,” she shook her head. “What did Synthia say about time-travel? How does the mechanism work?”
“She says it’s the secret of her people.”
“Of course she does,” she sighed.
“What do you mean?”
“Alright, let me explain it to you.” Sylvana crouched on the ground, and placed her hand on the cold floor. “We are three dimensional beings, but let’s say the floor is our three dimensions and Time is upwards.”
“Time is upwards?” I asked.
“The floor has two dimensions, axis X and axis Y, which makes two types of travel possible. The third dimension is axis Z, it connects the floor with the ceiling, which is another two-dimensional layer. Thus Z is the bridge between the two slices. Now time is the fourth dimension, a gap between the moment I open my mouth and moment I close it. They are two different layers present in three dimensions. Without time it would be impossible to connect them, but time bridges the gap. Let’s call it axis X. Can you follow?” she asked, looking up from the ground.
“So this moment is like a slice of bread. And time is the axis that connects the slices into a whole loaf of bread.”
“Exactly. Now let’s say that the floor is a slice, and the ceiling is a different slice. Axis Z connects them, and if I raise my hand from the floor, I can get to the ceiling. This makes me a three-dimensional being, since I can move in axis X, Y and Z,” she said, although she kept her hand on the floor.
“And you want me to assume that the floor is one moment and the ceiling is another. And now time is the axis that connects them,” I nodded, feeling quite intelligent at this point.
“Axis X. As a three-dimensional being, I can’t travel in Axis X. It’s beyond my comprehension. And by its nature, time-travel is impossible.”
“I travel in time. The sun comes up in the morning, then the evening comes. Time passes by,” I answered.
“That’s drifting, not traveling,” she snapped.
“Let’s assume we have a two-dimensional being on my palm.” Sylvana slowly raised her hand from the floor. “Could it move upwards?”
“No, it’s two-dimensional.”
“Does it move?”
“You move it,” I nodded.
“Exactly,” she said smiling. “This is what I call drifting. We don’t move in time at will. Something moves us, and we try to interpret the change. That’s why we use clocks. They measure the distance my palm takes upwards, confirming that we indeed move in a certain direction.”
“But drifting is random. If you stop your hand, it stops, if you move it, it moves. We travel in time in a constant pace,” I tried to explain to her. Although it seemed like she already decided that she was right.
“What about black holes? Or near-light-speed travel? You don’t experience time constantly, not even in your own head. You just feel it passing by in certain paces in certain occasions,” she explained.
“The clock goes at the same pace.”
“The clock measures distance. It’s like measuring the distance a runner takes on the field. When he reaches the one hundred meter mark, it means he ran one hundred meters, and it says nothing about the time it took him to do so. It could be ten seconds or it could have been a hundred years, we wouldn’t know.
“Then how do we know how time passes?” I asked.
“We don’t. We are drifting, we have no control over it, and we can’t understand it. We move, and we are constantly confirming that we are doing so. We don’t see time as a dimension, we see it as a social construct, a process of confirmation that is beyond our control and our comprehension.” Her face seemed excited. She liked to talk about these things.
“Then what is time? The actual time,” I crossed my arms.
“We have no idea. It is beyond our comprehension, thus we can’t find anything solid about it. Scientifically speaking, time doesn’t exist. Yet it does, there is movement, there is axis X, we just can’t explain a damn thing about it.”
“Alright, how does this connect with time-travel?”
“You tell me,” she answered, as she placed her hand back down on the floor. “I’m a two-dimensional being. How do I get my hand up from the ground?”
“You build something that moves it for you. Like an aircraft.”
“Aircraft doesn’t give you that ability. It makes travel easier for those who are capable of moving in axis Z. But I’m stranded. So how do I do it?” she asked again.
“Like you did it previously. When you moved your hand from the floor with that two-dimensional being on it.”
“Exactly. A two-dimensional can’t travel upwards on its own, it drifts. I can enhance that drift, since I’m three-dimensional. And if I want to travel in axis X, if I want to travel in time, I will need the hand of a four-dimensional being to help me,” she explained.
“Wait, there are four-dimensional beings?”
“All dimensions have their own reality, and their own beings,” Sylvana nodded. “We usually don’t care about the others, since their level of existence is incomprehensible to us. But the Ganath species does interfere with others in certain occasions.”
So there is a time-travelling species out there. Wonderful. Although, with all these aliens out there, and time-travel, I shouldn’t have been surprised at all.
“You think they are helping us to travel?”
“I thought so. But they wouldn’t get us in here, it’s like getting a fish from the ocean, and dropping it into space. It’s not the layer of its existence, and the Ganath know this very well.”
“Others travel in time as well. The Time Guard for instance.”
“What? There are other time-travelers?” she snapped.
“Of course there are,” I nodded.
“That’s bad. That’s very very bad. Like Takedan bad,” she grabbed her hair, and started to walk up and down in the room.
“It couldn’t be that bad. It’s been like this for millions of years,” I answered.
“So what?” she said. “You didn’t get it? Time is distance, it confirms movement, not duration. The real duration of time cannot be expressed by distance, it makes the measurement irrelevant. Those millions of years could have happened within a single frame of the real duration, or it could have happened in billions.”
“What do you mean?” I lost track of it.
Synthia grabbed her hand, and started to raise it again from the floor.
“We don’t know how or why my hand moves. But the Ganath do, they understand what for us is incomprehensible. And as we travel at will, we are toying with something that is beyond our comprehension. It’s like a kid playing with fire, but we have no idea about the damage, since it doesn’t exist for us.”
“Do you think we should stop time travel?”
“We have to. Or the movement could stop,” she said, as she stopped her hand.
“But it’s moving... Wait a second. We can’t know that. What if we are already at the verge of stopping it?”
“Or what if the Ganath stop it for us before we do some real damage?” We have to get to the Time Guard, and end this madness. Otherwise existence, as we know it, can end.”
“We can’t just go there. We are barely tolerated by their standards. Besides, we have a mission to do.”
“What mission?” she asked.
“Remember that guy from Deylon?” I reminded her about Mr. Wrong. “We will have to stop him, one way or another. That’s the reason why we travel in time.”
“And could we pay a visit in this Time Guard after that?” She asked, making no indications about the mission.
“Then what are we waiting for?”
“We have to make some preparations.”