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The Valkyrie Protocol snippet #6

David's and Jacob Holo's newest alternate, cross history novel.
The Valkyrie Protocol snippet #6
Post by runsforcelery   » Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:58 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2409
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

Elzbietá frowned.

Sarah hung her head, tears welling up again, and Elzbietá put her arm over the other woman's shoulders. Those shoulders heaved with long, shuddering sobs for several minutes, and Elzbietá huddled with her, never leaving her side.

"We were playing with fire and didn't even know it," Sarah choked after a while.

"This may be a small comfort, but I don't think that's what happened."

Sarah sniffled. She leaned back and wiped under her nose.

"Why do you say that?"

"It's just a gut feeling right now," Elzbietá admitted, "but we know your time travel tech was in its infancy. If what we've seen elsewhere is any indication, then there's no way your society could have caused this. Something else happened. Something we've never encountered before."

"I see." Sarah rubbed her red eyes. "The organization you work for. What did you call it?"

"The Gordian Division. It's a part of the Consolidated System Police, or SysPol for short."

"'Gordian Division.' It's a good name."

"Thanks. We think so."

Sarah looked up and fixed Elzbietá with an intense, focused gaze.

"Are you hiring?" she asked.

Elzbietá blinked.

"Are we what?"

"I'm being serious here."

"Yeah, I can see that. It's just I didn't expect that question."

"But you must surely see why I ask. Something terrible's happened to my home. But I'm still here, and if there's anything I can do, any way I can help you piece together this mystery and prevent it from happening again, then I have to help you. I need to help you. There's no other option for me if I'm being true to myself."

"Okay," Elzbietá held up her hands. "I see you're serious. You've made your point."

"If it's the resume you're worried about," Sarah smiled without humor, "I happen to have experience with both time machines and working in another universe."

"Just so you know, I don't actually make those sorts of decisions," Elzbietá said. She thought for a moment, then added, "But how about this? When we get back home, I'll introduce you to our boss."

"The one from 1958?"

"That's right. And I'll even put in a good word for you. How's that sound?"

Sarah smiled back at her, and this time it was genuine.

"That sounds like the best news I've had all day."

"Well then!" Elzbietá put her hand on Sarah's shoulder and gave it a quick squeeze. "How about we head down to the cargo bay and give the boys a hand?"

"That sounds great. Lead the way."

"Wonderful!" Elzbietá gave her a firm clap on the shoulder.

Blood spurted from the joint, coating Elzbietá's hand in a hot flood.

Sarah winced and both women froze, neither able to process what had just happened. Elzbietá's mouth hung open as Sarah turned slowly to gaze at her new wound, only to find the innocent pat had imbedded the other woman's fingers deep in the flesh and bone of her shoulder.

Blood wept out around the digits, and Sarah screamed.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Can you read it yet?" Raibert leaned up against the side of the cargo bay and tapped his foot. Two spherical remotes the size of his head held up a floor panel in the time machine's cockpit while a third hovered nearby with a makeshift, microbot-constructed umbilical cable linked to the flight recorder.

"I think Kleio's almost got it," Philo said. "The good thing is the data's meant to be read. It's just a matter of piecing together the interface from nothing."

"I figured she should have had this licked by now. Kleio, what's the hold up?"

"Apologies, Agent Kaminski, but my systems are only operating at fifty-seven percent efficiency."

"Is that with or without the extra twenty-three percent I'm paying a sass-tax for?"

"It is included in my estimate. Repairs to damaged pathways are ongoing. I should be back over ninety percent within the hour."

"Well, it was fun while it lasted," Raibert said with a shrug.

"There," Philo said. "I think we're in."

"All right!" Raibert pushed off the wall and rubbed his hands together.

"Don't get too excited," Benjamin cautioned. "This is a very basic time machine we're dealing with. I doubt its instruments are anywhere near as good as ours."

"Better than nothing, though. Right, Philo?"

"Definitely better than nothing. Looks like the time machine was in a powered state before T4's destruction, so the recorder picked up the whole event. The data is very basic, but it does give us a roadmap to follow. Take a look."

A virtual display opened in front of them in a conical projection of the chronometric activity. The time machine must have had a forward-facing dish, Raibert surmised, rather than an omni-directional array like the Kleio.

"This is the data just before the event," Philo said.

"Hmm." Raibert nodded.

"Help me out here," Benjamin said. "It looks like a big, muddled mess to me."

"The important takeaway is it's normal," Raibert said. "Very normal. See here? Fifty percent of chronotons moving backwards in time and fifty percent pressing forward, building the future. Almost a perfect split. It's your standard True Present view, just really murky compared to what we're used to."

"Right," Philo said. "And now we reach the event."

The chaotic readings in the cone shifted violently in a singular direction.

Raibert's eyes bugged out. "Shiiiiiit."

"What?" Benjamin asked. "What just happened?"

"Look at that!" Raibert pointed to the flow change. He opened one of the mental pathways that connected him to Philo, and the particulars of chronometric physics crystallized in his mind. "See that shift? The change in chronoton direction was so sudden and violent it induced a phase state on regular matter!"

Benjamin frowned at him.

"And look here! You can see a section of matter transitioning into a non-congruent state!"

Benjamin cleared his throat and Raibert glanced his way quickly.

"The quick and dirty summary?"

"That would be nice, yes," Benjamin agreed.

"Well, looks like you were right, Doc. T4's present got sucked into its past."

"Okay," Benjamin nodded, staring at the data alongside Raibert. "Granted, that's what we thought was happening. But that leads to an important question."

"Yeah, I know. What's doing the sucking?"

"I wouldn't have put it quite that way," Benjamin said, "but yeah. Where is all this suck coming from?"

"Wish I knew." Raibert crossed his arms. "Any thoughts, Philo?"

"For starters, this is very different from the Gordian Knot. We're clearly dealing with a second, undiscovered form of universe-killer."

"Agreed," Raibert said.

"Why do you say this can't be a Knot?" Benjamin asked.

"Two reasons, Doctor," Philo said. "First, the one Gordian Knot on record would have taken one thousand three hundred years to destroy the universes it entangled."

"This, however"—Raibert pointed at the data cone—"was almost instantaneous."

"And with no sign of a storm front approaching the True Present. Nor was there an explosive increase in total chronometric energy."

"Ergo, we're dealing with something new. T4 wasn't the source of a Knot, nor was it entangled in one."

"In some ways, this is the opposite of the Knot," Philo added. "It's almost like T4 is imploding, whereas the Knot has an explosive conclusion."

"Hence all this suckage," Raibert said.

"On that point," Philo said, "I might have an idea on where it's coming from."

"Oh?" Raibert's face lit up. "Let's hear it."

"It's not the cleanest math given that I'm dealing with realspace, temporal, and transdimensional coordinate systems all stacked one on top of the other. But, I think I've identified the overall flow vector."

"And?" Raibert asked.

"T4 is being pulled toward T3."

"Oh, no," Benjamin breathed. "You don't mean . . ."

"Shit!" Raibert kicked the side of the time machine.

"But if things are this bad in T4 . . ." Benjamin took in a deep breath. "Then what's it like in T3?"

"However bad it is"—Raibert crossed his arms again—"we need to take a look."

"Absolutely," Benjamin agreed. "First, the Aion could be caught up in this mess and need our help, and second . . ." He eyed the data cone and trailed off.

"Yeah," Raibert said. "I know."

"There's something else I want to bring to everyone's attention," Philo said. "Though I'm not sure what to make of it."

"What's that?"

"There's a weird degree of chronometric resonance enveloping Sarah's time machine."

"Is it dangerous?" Benjamin asked.

"Not right now, but the resonance is increasing, and I don't know why."

"What'll happen if it keeps increasing?" Raibert asked.

"Hard to say. It has a very strange pattern, but I think it'll start shifting out of phase with the rest of the ship."

"Shouldn't Kleio's own field prevent that from happening?"

"Normally, yes, but this time I'm not so sure. Especially as this resonance gains amplitude."

"Are you seeing the same pattern in the debris field?" Benjamin asked.

"Yes, though much more severe," Philo said. "It's possible her time machine's field dampened the phenomenon but didn't prevent it entirely."

"Well, keep an eye on it," Raibert said. "If it gets worse, we just dump this thing out the front. We already got what we need from the—"

"Wait a second," Benjamin interjected. "If the time machine is resonating, what about Sarah?"

Raibert turned to him and the two men looked at each other, eyes dark. If the time machine was —

"Ben! Raibert!" Elzbietá shouted over their virtual hearing. "Get back here!"

"Oh, no!" Benjamin broke into a run.

"What's wrong?!" Raibert shouted, two strides behind Benjamin.

"I don't know! Something's happening to Sarah! Just get over here!"

"We're on our way!"

They took the counter-grav shaft up a level and followed the screaming down the corridor before turning into the medical bay.

Benjamin reached the open doorway and froze.

"Oh God . . ." he breathed.

Sarah let out a blood curdling wail.

"Let me through!" Raibert shoved him aside and slipped in sideways. "Ella, what's—"

He stopped in his tracks.

Sarah had sunk into the floor up to her shins.

"Help me!" she cried, reaching for them. "Help me, please!"

"Raibert, what's happening to her?!" Elzbietá asked urgently.

"I don't know!" he snapped. "Philo, full power to the impeller! Maximize our field strength!"

"Full power engaged!"

Sarah sank into the floor up to her knees, and a chunky red stain spread around her legs. Raibert could see pieces of meat and splinters of bone phasing outward from her legs.

"It's not working!" Elzbietá cried.

"HELP ME!!!"

Raibert grasped her outstretched hand and pulled, but her fingers and palm came apart like jelly. He tore her hand off, leaving only her thumb and a ghastly stump behind.

"YAAAAAH!!!" she shrieked, sinking down to her waist.

"More power!" Raibert shouted, letting go of her mutilated hand. "Get her back in phase!"

"We're maxed out!" Philo said. "There's nothing I can do!"

"HELP ME!!!" Sarah cried out as she slipped away, the edges of her body losing definition. "NOOOOO!!! PLEASE, NO!!!"

She strained to reach them with her good hand, and Raibert started to move toward her.

But he stopped himself, their fingertips almost touching. He closed his fist and lowered his arm. The floor was already up to her stomach, and there was nothing he could do. He'd only succeed in making her last moments even more unbearable.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"HELP ME!!!"

Her head disappeared through the floor as chunks of half-real gore spread out from where she'd been standing.

* * * * * * * * * *

Nothing remained.

Not her flight suit or her time machine. Not even a drop of blood.

Raibert sat on the floor where she'd vanished. He stared at the perfectly clean spot that had consumed her. All the sickening pieces of flesh and bone had melted away like ice under a flame.

Only the cold reality of the ship's deck remained.

Philo materialized next to him.

"There was nothing any of us could have done," the Viking said softly.

"Is that really the truth?"

"It is." Philo sat down next to him. "Kleio and I ran the numbers. That resonance pattern had already reached a critical stage; she was doomed from the moment we picked her up. Our field strength delayed her end a little, but that's about it."

"I see . . ."

"Come on." Philo bobbed his head toward the bridge. "We need to decide our next move."

Philo vanished.

Raibert sat there for another minute staring at the spotless patch of floor, then took a deep breath and rose to his feet. He smoothed his uniform, held his head high, and strode onto the bridge.

Benjamin and Elzieta looked up as he entered, and Philo materialized on the far side of the table.

Raibert walked up to the table and laid his hands flat against its surface. He swept his gaze across the team.

"We press on," he said.

Benjamin nodded and Elzbietá stood a little straighter.

"I know it's risky," he continued, "but we need to figure out what happened here, and more importantly, why it happened. The only way to do that is to head into the heart of this mess."

"Exactly," Benjamin said.

"Just name the heading," Elzbietá said.

Raibert gave them a halfhearted smile. "You two are way too calm about this. It's almost like you've faced universe-ending catastrophes before."

The other two laughed despite themselves.

"All right. If there are no objections?" He paused. No one spoke up. "In that case, let's get to it. Ella, set our course for Universe-T3!"


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: The Valkyrie Protocol snippet #6
Post by Fireflair   » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:06 pm

Fireflair
Captain of the List

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Wow...
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Re: The Valkyrie Protocol snippet #6
Post by Dilandu   » Mon Aug 19, 2019 2:04 pm

Dilandu
Admiral

Posts: 2004
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Location: Russia

I'm... not sure that being "out of phase" with something (which I presume means the reduction of intra-atomic interactions between two chunks of affected matter) would actually be safe for Elzbietá or the ship. Since the interactions were reduced gradually, I'm afraid, the results would be... much more problematic than a single human falling apart. Some Sarah atoms would suddenly find itself pushed into the surrounding atoms with the results that could probably be described as "spontaneous fusion", with all subsequent energy and particles release. Yes, half of this particles would be out of phase and not exactly very active, but other half would be IN phase.

In short, it would probably be explosive.
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- Who would won in battle between strawman Liberal-Democrat and strawman Conservative-Republican?
- Scarecrow from Oz; he was strawman before it became political.

P.S. - And he have Russian twin, to watch his back)
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