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Purify - Chapter 17 Needed

Tibor woke with a start. “Oh no!” he exclaimed aloud to no one in particular as he was alone in bed at the time. It was six in the morning. Hurriedly he got dressed and headed out from his New London hotel room. Tibor was from Canada and there was no time on this stop-over to get back there so he had been put up in the Brannigan for the duration. It was a good hotel though not one he would have chosen himself due to the high cost. A Slider crewman’s wage did not reflect the importance of the work they were doing for mankind nor the dangers.

Tibor got a taxi and headed straight for Time Control. On the way he rang Captain Danno to make sure that he was also heading there. He was, and Commander Stakus would already be in his office, he was an early starter. Danno wanted to know what demanded such urgency but Tibor said that he could only explain this matter in person but that it was personal and urgent and he would understand.

Their taxis arrived at Time Control together and they headed up to Stakus’ office.

“Come in you two,” said Stakus, “and tell me what it is that drags you both from your slumbers to join me at this, the best time of the day.”

“Don’t ask me;” said Danno, “this is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. Tibor is the reason for getting me up but, to be honest, I wasn’t sleeping much anyway.”

“Sit down please,” said Tibor, “Commander, is that coffee?”

“Yes, help yourself” and Tibor did, using the cup to swig down two pills. “Do you know what a b-Link is?” he asked.

Stakus knew but Danno said he hadn’t heard of it and so Stakus explained.

“A b-Link is one of the spin-offs from our research. You know that we have always said that there is no way to transmit any data through string-space without sending a person along with it? Well, that’s not strictly true. A b-Link is one way to transmit basic information instantaneously over infinite distance between two specific individuals. They have to be matched and both have to agree to have the b-Link devices implanted in their skulls. They are a way to transmit a distress signal. I take it yours has been activated, Tibor?”

“Yes, this morning,” Tibor confessed, “Danno, my wife is in trouble. We have to find her and help her.”

“Its true, Danno,” added Stakus, “when we invented the b-Link we promised that all who had one fitted would be insured with the full resources of Time Control. If Tibor says his is activated then we must try and save … Catherine, isn’t it?”

“Damm, you’re good Stakus,” said Tibor, “yes, My Cathy is in trouble and I would like permission to save her with you as the captain, Danno, if that is OK?”

“Of course, absolutely OK,” said Danno, “Who would you like to come along? There is no pilot like Lisa but there is that other matter to think about with her. I’d still like her along if you agree.”

“Wait a minute. What other matter?” asked Stakus.

“That can wait,” said Danno, “it’s not as important as helping Tibor right now.” Stakus trusted Danno completely and so let the matter go for now whilst making a mental note to ask Uli for a fully detailed mission report de-brief after the Tony Robinson had slid away.

“Tell me more about this blink thing then,” asked Danno as he and Tibor headed out to the space elevator to get the next shuttle to the slide portal. They had already contacted Lisa and Carrie. They asked Carrie to stay behind to be on hand if the Eric Laithwaite returned. Lisa was already making her way to the elevator nearest her in Scotland.

“I suppose a b-Link is like the ultimate wedding ring. Cathy and I had ours fitted in a ceremony the week before we actually got married. It’s a small device about the size of a pea which has to be fitted near the hypothalamus of the brain. It’s the centre of the limbic system which governs our emotions. It needs to be there because it is psyonic in nature. They make them in pairs using entangled matter produced in Cern2. They were invented before String theory was fully understood. In fact b-Links helped them unravel the intricacies of String theory. The entangled matter in one has spooky action at a distance effects on its counterpart in the other one. It immediately and irrevocably links the emotions of one person with those of another. It is a one way trip to have one of these fitted because, once installed, it becomes intricately linked to the cells of the brain. You can never be divorced from a b-Link because you can not have one removed without killing the other partner.”

“That is all very interesting, Tibor,” said Danno, “but why, apart from a weird psychopathic desire to become really, really married to each other, would anyone have one of these fitted?”

“What is your greatest fear as a Slider pilot, Danno?” asked Tibor.

“Getting stuck, of course,” said Danno suddenly realising when a b-Link would come in handy.

‘Getting stuck’ was every space traveller’s nightmare. To become stranded on a planet that had not developed sufficient technology to be able to get off world again. Either because they hadn’t developed their own space transport or, in some cases, any form of technology at all, so that even hijacking their technology and using it to signal for help was impossible. Jaunt belts only worked over a certain range and chameleon suits also needed to be kept charged. If they were to get damaged or if the Slider ship was to leave without you then you would be stuck and, if you couldn’t signal for help you would be stranded for the rest of your life. Space is big and the chances of being visited by another space faring civilisation were remote. Distress signals also had a limited range and could only work in normal space-time. But the b-Link could signal your distress instantly over infinite distance and time to immediately inform your partner that you needed help.

This was how Tibor knew that his beloved Cathy was stranded. To distinguish between routine distresses of, say, desperately needing to go to the loo and the despair of being stuck, the b-Links were tuned only to respond to extreme depths of despondancy. For Tibor this meant the added worry that Cathy must be feeling very desperate but to begin to let these feelings cause him to feel down would only make Cathy feel worse because the b-Links were two way, of course. Tibor was trained to use the positive imagery of gallant knights in shining armour riding to the rescue of the damsel in distress in order to overcome these dark thoughts.

“Where is she and what is she doing getting stranded?” asked Danno somewhat redundantly since, if Tibor knew the answers to that he could simply have arranged a rescue mission be sent for her. That was the other advantage of having a b-Link; it acted as a form of homing beacon.

“If I knew that,” said Tibor, “I could just arrange for a rescue mission to be sent for her. But we have the advantage that the b-Link is a homing beacon. I can ‘guide the Slide’ with Lisa’s help and we’ll at least emerge within radio distance from her.

Lisa was already onboard the space shuttle that collected Tibor and Danno from the top of their elevator before it shot out to the Slide zone where the Tony Robinson awaited their return after being fully replenished. She already knew what a b-Link was and had a pair stashed-away from one of her earlier tomb-raids which she had brought along to show Danno. They were a wonder to behold. They had to be kept in the separate boxes that Lisa had had made for them. The boxes were interlinked so that if a b-Link was removed from one, the other would close immediately. Since they contained matter – anti-matter pairs, to allow them to touch would liberate enormously large amounts of energy causing the percussive disassembly of both of them and everything in a three hundred meter spherical radius. They would explode.

Danno took one out (and nearly lost his finger as the other box snapped shut) to examine it more closely. It sparkled with an inner fire more scintillating than any diamond he had seen, including the ones in the crown jewels of Guger. He could see that it was layered. The inner sphere contained the entangled matter whose counterparts were in the other b-Link. Around that was an intricate web of fine black filaments which Lisa told him were made from magnetic monopole wire that was woven to contain the contents securely. Around that was the connection shell of finest filigreed gold. Each layer had gaps that allowed him to see right into the core of the device and also to allow the quantum emotion effects of the human brain to interact with the entangled matter and vice-versa. Danno didn’t want to ask Lisa where she had managed to acquire this pair but his curiosity overcame him.

“It was quite tragic,” said Lisa, “the owners were dead, of course; I’m not that callous. The chances against it were amazing. It appeared that they were both on the same planet and they never knew it. They might have felt some twinges from their b-Links because that it the way they work, especially when close together but they probably just thought that their other half was thinking of them and missing them. There have been reports from other b-Linked people that such things are possible. Anyway, they were both on this planet, investigating its imminent planecide when it would appear that one of them was uncovered. Could have been him, could have been her, no one knows because the host ship panicked and fled without her or him. Let’s say it was her; it usually is. The inhabitants of the planet apparently took her presence to be part of their enemy’s plotting against them and launched a unilateral attack. But before that, news of them capturing an ‘alien’ had spread to that part of their globe where her partner was researching. And that, together with the b-Link activation from the distress of being held prisoner on a planet that is on the brink of all out nuclear war must have told him that she was the one who had been captured. Some time in between her being captured and the planet going up he must have trekked across the globe and found her. They were in the jail underground when it all blew and they survived the initial blasts. Did you know that the most common survivors found after a planecide were prisoners? Anyway, when my Purify ship arrived we found their skeletons intertwined. I could see the scars on their skulls from having the b-Links fitted and thought ‘they won’t be needing them now’ so I took them. Had to smash their heads in to do it but they didn’t mind at the time. They were dead and had been for some years. I know it was a pretty callous thing to do but I had never seen a b-Link before, let alone a real pair so I did what I had to, to get them. The purify mission was going to be a washout anyway because we had arrived so late so I simply thought that this way it wouldn’t be a wasted trip.”

Danno and Tibor were shocked into speechlessness at the coldness of Lisa’s story.

“Or I could just happen to have this pair because one day I hope to meet ‘Mr. Right’ and my mum bought them for me.” She laughed, “Your faces! You didn’t believe that story did you? Men! Honestly!”

“That wasn’t funny, Lisa,” said Danno at last.

“Especially the bit about smashing their skulls to get them out,” added Tibor, disgustedly, “but it does remind me of one of the rules about b-Link rescues. I won’t be allowed onto the surface with you when you go looking for her.”

“No problem, Tibor. We’ll do it,” said Danno, “won’t we, Lisa?”

“Sure,” said Lisa, “I only hope that I will one day find the right guy to share these beauties with, that will come Sliding to rescue me if I ever get Stuck”

On board the Tony Robinson Lisa settled Tibor into the Slide Guide chair and strapped him in. Danno manoeuvred the ship into the slide zone and Lisa initiated the slide. Using Tibor’s psyonic feelings as he repeated the mantra that Lisa told him to think, the ship slid towards the source of Cathy’s signalling.

“I’m coming for you!” thought Tibor as every atom in his, the ship’s, Lisa’s and Danno’s existence turned through ninety degrees and they slid towards who knew where.