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Purify - Chapter 2 - String Theory

The next morning the crew that had managed to sleep woke up with more questions than ever. The captain was wondering if he could get some help from Earth base.

“Tony, tell me again why we cannot use Strings to communicate.”

“Danno, it’s like this,” Tony answered, “first you have to find a string that is already connecting the two points you want to jump between. Then you have to use some tachyons from the particle batteries to unfurl the string at the source end. Next the ship has to enter the string and have it close up behind it. As the string re-curls, the ship starts to slide along the strings long dimension in zero time until it reaches the opposite end.”

“Enough! Tony – this much I know already – ‘If a string has one end then it has another end’, the Zen master saying that we were all taught at astro-school but why does that mean that no-one has ever been able to send a message through one?”

“Because String Sliding is psyonic, you need a conscious mind to ensure the string unfurls at the other end. All attempts to send unmanned objects through a string slide failed – the string simply never unfurled at the destination end. We still have no idea where the enclosed matter has ended-up from those earlier experiments. However …”

“Yes, Tony. What is it?”

“Well, technically, we are now at a point in space-time of Earth’s distant past and, although any message to Earth through normal space will take an age to reach it, you have to remember that we have all that time to play with.”

“So, we can get a message to Earth but they cannot get a reply back to us without sending someone along too. Tony, call the crew together we need to work out what we are going to tell Earth.”

Over breakfast the crew assembled in the mess. By the time the captain joined them it seemed that the doc and Carrie were in the middle of a row and Lisa was only just managing to keep the peace.

“We have got to try!” “No point!” “Wait for Danno!” “But six point eight billion people!”

“Might die,” said Danno as he entered. “I’ve been speaking to Tony and he thinks that we could get a message to Earth.”

“What will we tell them?” asked Carrie.

“That’s it,” said Danno, “we can only tell them. There’s no easy way for them to reply.”

“And any message that we send them will arrive before we set off because we’re early, remember?” pointed out Lisa.

“And I don’t remember any talk, on Earth, about having received a message, either from us or from anybody, before the signal of the planecide that selected this system for a mission.” added Tibor.

Danno explained what Tony had said about the possible acceleration of the planecide signal. “There’s no reason to believe that our signal would get accelerated and so it might arrive after we set off, like it should.”

“That’s a big might.” said Carrie, “and, anyway let’s say we do send a message – what would we say and what would the point be?” she added.

“The point would be that it might stop them sending other String Sliders to arrive early and spare their crews the dilemma that we are facing for a start. It could help them investigate why we have achieved the impossible and arrived early and it could help them understand why we decided to go against the Prime Directive and attempt to save these … Tony, what is this system called?”

“The nearest sound we could make to their planet name is ‘Guger’, Captain.”

“… These Gugerians” the captain finished.

There was a silence as his words sunk into the crew. Carrie was the first to speak.

“What … how are we going to stop it though?”

“As I see it we have three options.” Danno said, “We could try to talk to them and persuade them that they are about to annihilate themselves, we could take away their capability or we could try to scare them into thinking that we would destroy them ourselves unless they pulled together. Have any of you got any better ideas?”

Lisa said, “Why not let them think that they have had their pathetic war but we take the warheads while they are mid-trajectory. That way we are only interfering as little as possible. They’ll be a little puzzled but probably grateful.”

“Tony is that possible?” asked Danno.

“’fraid not, Danno. The ship’s systems are capable of only eighty seven percent warhead capture,” replied Tony, cheerfully.

“I want to go down there.” Said Carrie, “I want to get a feel for these Gugerians and what makes them want to mutually assuredly destruct. This is a unique opportunity to observe before Armageddon instead of after it.”

“I’d like to go down too,” added Lisa, “I am sick of only seeing dead planets.”

“So, that’s both chameleon suits taken,” said Tibor, “Looks like you and me on observation duty, captain.”

“No problem with that, I’ve seen the weather reports. It seems these two moons wreak havoc with the planet’s tides causing wild seasonal shift at this time of the planet’s orbit.”

The chameleon suits were another spin-off of the same theories that opened-up the far reaches of the galaxy. Super small strings were woven into a one-piece jump suit and they communicated the full light pattern from one side of the suit to the other. Using a combination of blue screen special effects and ray-tracing computer graphics technology coupled with superstring theory made the ultimate invisibility cloak. They are thirsty for power but work pretty well.

“We still haven’t decided on the wording of the message to Earth,” pointed out the captain.

“How about – ‘arrived early, no isotopes to collect as planet war not happened, going to make sure it doesn’t.’ Short but to the point, I think,” said Tibor, “That should stir things up if they get the message in time.”

While Lisa and Carrie got ready for the jaunt to the surface of Guger, the captain read over the intelligence from the observation drones. They had gathered enough for the universal translator to decipher their languages and determine that tensions were indeed on the rise. The data pointed to an unusual three-way friction between the main continents. Geographically the planet was split in to three with the largest continent occupying the position of what we would call the South Pole. The people down there were poor and uneducated and their religious leaders were stirring up paranoia about the other continent’s intentions. Meanwhile the other two continents were suspicious of each other’s economic goals. Both of these continents had rich regions and poor ones with trade from one’s poor area to the other’s rich one and vice-versa. Neither continent was currently buying from their own poor regions, believing that to be an admission of economic failure. However one, of them had started to buck this tradition and the other felt that this was an even greater slur on its country’s produce. Threats and counter threats had been batted backwards and forwards and there had even been some minor skirmishes at the points where the continents were closest to each other. Curiously, the Gugerians had not developed aeroplanes. Since most of the occupied land was in three great continents, they had developed trains to a very high level of sophistication. Ships were used between the continents mostly to transport goods and only occasionally people since most Gugerians were very insular. In fact, Insular didn’t cover it. Due to the isolation, it had been possible to manipulate the masses into a great racial hatred. Despite not developing planes nor needing them – all three continents had developed missile technology to a fine art. This was demonstrated recently by the ‘sabre rattling’ tests that each continent had recently held.

Danno had decided that they would try plan A and try and persuade them that getting along with each other was by far more favourable than the death of ninety four percent of their populations. To do this Carrie and Lisa would have to go down and find-out who the major trouble makers were and attempt to bring them together somehow. They have the technology to get the recalcitrant leaders together in one place, once they had been identified, but if they had to use it then it would mean blowing their cover and violating the Secondary Directive (the one about staying hidden). If possible, they were to subtly manipulate the leaders so that it appeared that they wanted to meet.

It was a long shot given this planet’s recent history but worth a try in the first instance.

“Tony, can you tell me the exact whereabouts of Carrie and Lisa?”

“They’re right in front of you captain,” replied Tony.

“Dam, those chameleon suits are good!” remarked Danno, at which point the girls started to giggle.

“OK ladies, fun’s over. Remember – emergency jaunt return if there is the slightest risk of you getting hurt. Gugerians are almost humanoid but don’t let that deceive you. They are pretty nasty pieces of work by all accounts and they don’t take very well to strangers in their midst from their own bloody planet let alone off-world aliens.”

Carrie and Lisa jaunted to the planet’s surface. They decided to start with the southern continent first. Analysis showed that it had most free land and so the chance of anyone seeing their jaunt trails was lowest. The chameleon suits also contained mini life support modifiers that could take the Gugerian atmosphere and make it breathable and they also did a reasonable job of sorting out the temperature for the wearer too. However, the temperature on the southern continent of Guger was beyond the suit’s capabilities and immediately the girls began to shiver.

“We need to get indoors quickly,” shouted Carrie. “You don’t need to tell me that,” replied Lisa and the two headed north which isn’t hard when you have been jaunted to the South Pole. Over the very first ridge the girls spotted a small village. Quickly they headed for the warmth of what looked like an inn.

Slipping indoors behind a large man with (at least hey believed him to be male) a big furry hat they immediately found the source of the warmth and sat by an open grate fire.