Space Fall – Part Five

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Missed part four?  Click here.

When the Kirons opened the spatial rift they chose to open it six kilometres above the surface of Proxima Minor.  They were fearful of it being too close to any place inhabited, but also they wanted to flood a specific area with water for the test.  The Oblique Plateau was a vast shallow depression on the surface of Proxima Minor with no settlements on it as yet, and thus it was perfect for creating a new sea using the water from Proxima Major. That was the plan at least.  When the spatial rift generator was activated a perfect circle with a diameter of several hundred metres across appeared in the sky and immediately the largest waterfall in history started to gush forth from seemingly nowhere.  The water fell six kilometres in a straight, almost clear, tube  downwards and pummelled the Proximian ground with seismic force.

Since the spatial rift was a tear in the fabric of space, it had no substance.  Looking at it sideways it was so perfectly flat that it simply could not be seen.  It was not like looking at a piece of paper from the side at eye level, one can still see the paper no matter how thin: One could not see the spatial rift looking at it side one, it was perfectly two dimensional.  There was merely a solid pillar of water pouring down below, and above a clear yellow Proximian sky.  The other side of the rift was a perfectly reflective surface, like a mirror.  However, while a mirror reflects visible light, this surface reflected all wavelengths of light, and with perfect efficiency.  With an ordinary mirror one can fire a laser at it and melt a hole through it.  With the upper surface of the spatial rift one could fire a laser at it and the laser would bounce off without any loss of heat in the process.  In fact, one could drop a bouncing ball and, if it were not for the atmosphere, the ball would never stop bouncing on the surface of the rift as there was no matter there for the energy of the ball to transfer to each time it bounced.

Far below the rift, on the planet’s surface, was the Kiron Experimental Physics Laboratory where the spatial rift was being generated.  The Kirons behind this audacious project were thrilled.  The Oblique Plateau was rapidly filling up with water and in a matter of weeks could be considered something between a giant freshwater lake or a small freshwater sea.  In either case, the value of the real estate the along the edges of the Oblique Plateau had increased significantly and the Kiron investors for the project were celebrating the likely pay out for their substantial investments.  The celebration was short lived after the decision was made to shut down the spatial rift generator.  The generator powered down normally, and at first the rift appeared to start shrinking, however, a few minutes later the spatial rift opened up wider again and then stabilised remaining stable once more and ever since.  The temporary rift had become a permanent fixture in the Proximian sky.

Attempts were made to seal it, but nothing worked.  The Kirons were puzzled; maintaining a spatial rift required enormous amounts of energy, or so they had thought.  The idea that a spatial rift once opened could never be resealed had never come up in any of their equations or simulations.  Panic set in quickly and a global warning of planetary wide flooding was issued.  Here the five different guilds planned their own strategies for how to deal with this approaching calamity.  The Aerons had always claimed the air to be their domain, so they quickly focussed their efforts on shifting their entire population off the surface of the planet and into the skies.  The first gloftoons started taking off within weeks of the announced impending catastrophe.

Harold and Alfred had learned all about this during their time with the Aerons on Vanuel’s gloftoon.  This news had impressed them greatly, that whole communities could work together so passionately and efficiently to build themselves a village that floats in the air and supplies all their basic needs.  Soon hundreds and then thousands of these gloftoons were taking to the skies.  The Aerons were the first group to realise their goal of insuring their guild’s survival in the new reality facing their world.  Being speedy was after all part of their guild motto.  However, the solution the Aerons had pursued had a significant draw back that the solutions the other guilds pursued did not necessarily have.  Eventually the ocean would rise so high that the atmosphere of Proxima Minor would be too thin for their gloftoons to rise above the surface.  They were being slowly squeezed by the oceans against the roof of their world.  What the Aerons decided to do next was what astonished and impressed Harold and Alfred the most.

Daring Aeron explorers landed their gloftoons on top of the spatial rift.  The mirrored surface was as they predicted it would be: unbreakably hard.  It technically wasn’t a surface as there was no substance to it, just a fold in space that matter could not interact with.  The Aerons decided to start building on top of it.  Construction was tricky because they couldn’t lay any foundations down, so all the buildings had to rely on gravity alone to keep them in place.  The buildings were built round, broad, and heavy so as to reduce the chances of a strong wind blowing them off.  In the early days sails, air jets, and balloons had to be use creatively to keep the buildings fixed to the surface of the spatial rift.  Eventually a long term solution was found: stretch a vast layer of fabric over the surface of the spatial rift and have it weighed down over the edges.  Then to reinforce it build giant C clamps, like those found on a work bench, and clamp them over the edge and into the water stream.  Each clamp was tied by a cable to another clamp on the opposite side of the rift and lowered at the same time.  The resulting counter pressure of the water pouring out of the rift stabilised the clamps and provided the anchorage the Aerons needed to start building their new city in earnest.

Soon more clamps were added, and they became bigger and more elaborate.  As the city grew, the clamps grew until they were actually starting to seal off the rift partially.  The Aerons realised that their plan had a good chance of success because if they could succeed in building enough infrastructure on top of the rift they could eventually get enough leveraged to cap the water spout flooding their world.  The end result would be not just sparing the rest of their world, but also giving themselves a permanent city hovering in the Proximian sky. Surely, one of the greatest wonders in the universe? In light of this achievement, the Aeron guild masters decided to name this city Pearl.

Of course while their plan was simple, and in theory sound, how does one create a cap that can hold the weight of an ocean several kilometres deep above it?  The city kept growing and expanding on and around the rift.  Giant tennis racket like structures began to protrude from all around the circumference of the city, these were used as landing pads for aircraft and gloftoons, but also for building more industry and residential space.  Kiron engineers and scientists moved into the city and worked with the Aerons to attempt to build a cap so strong that it could at last completely seal the flood gate.  Plans were under way but it was still going to take many years to complete.

Looking out from over the bow of their gloftoon; Alfred, Harold, and Kimberley drew in the wonder of a city suspended now 2 kilometres above the surface of an ocean and providing shelter to no less than one hundred thousand people.  There were runways radiating from it now, but they had been constructed of wood and covered over so that more buildings could be build on top of them.  Pilots would launch themselves from out of these tubes and directly into the sky.  Dozens of biplanes and triplanes darted around the city in amongst a sky full of so many different varieties of hot air balloon or zeppelin one could see that they looked like snow flakes suspected in a summer sky at sunset.  All the stories Alfred and Harold had heard about Pearl hadn’t prepared them and when the gloftoon finally landed on a pad and the travellers were allowed to disembark they could not wait to go exploring.

Alfred and Harold readied their few belongings they had taken with them from the Icarus and were surprised that Kimberley was making plans to set off without them.

“I thought that we were travelling together,” said Harold.

Kimberley blinked at them cryptically, “No… you guys were just my ticket for getting back onto this planet, I don’t actually need you from here.  I was actually thinking maybe you should ask Vanuel if you could stay with him and his group.”

Alfred frowned, “actually the old man has already made us that offer, but we would much rather stay with you because we’re curious to know what’s going to happen to this planet.  It seems to us that this crisis it still getting worse and we thought maybe we might be able to help you with your mission.”

Kimberley laughed, again one of her haughty laughs, “I’m a Kiron scientist, and you’re just a couple of farm boys from an asteroid belt settlement whose idea of exploration is playing virtual reality computer games for half your days.  I don’t think I will be needing your help any time soon, but thanks for offering.”

With that Kimberley threw her rucksack over her shoulder and walked off the gloftoon and towards the centre of Pearl.  Harold looked fierce as though he was about to say some words to her when Alfred grabbed his shoulder and urged him to just pick up his rucksack and join Alfred in following her.

Pearl as a city is effectively a complex balancing act of distributing weight evenly across it’s entire overhang region.  Literally thousands of cables crisscross the city like a spider’s web.  Buildings and streets sometimes had to be built around these cables leading to a labyrinthine complexity.  Most of the buildings were made from a very thick canvas material similar to the tents on the gloftoons.  However, they clearly had some kind of solid infrastructure as almost all the buildings had a series of garden beds on top with a variety of herbs and edible shrugs.  However, it was clear the city could not possibly provide enough food for all the inhabitants.  Apparently, trading with the Vegani guild was important for them to be able to get enough food to feed their population.  The two farm boys had asked how the Vegoni lived if not in balloons and they were told simply they lived on the surface of the waters.  As they struggled through the claustrophobic streets and walkways of the Aeron city they started to regret leaving the gloftoon, perhaps a life permanently in flight was preferable to living in the place the Aerons called the last city of Proxima Minor?

Despite the arduous journey the pair managed to keep track of Kimberley as she made her way deeper into the city.  There was a giant building in the middle of Pearl that was shaped like a wedding cake with each succeeding level being a smaller circumference than the level preceding it.  This building was presumably the parliament building of the Aerons.  The guards at the entrance spoke to Kimberley for a few moments before giving her entry.  Harold and Alfred waited a minute and then walked up to the guards.

“We’re companions of the Kiron named Kimberley who is expecting us at her presentation to the guild masters,” said Alfred in his most confident voice.

The head guard stared at him unflinchingly.  Alfred couldn’t help but noticed just how muscled and toned this man was, presumably from many voyages on a gloftoon.  Although Alfred and Harold had been putting on a lot more muscle over the past two weeks, they were still far from catching up with the typical Aeron man who was built like a 17th century sailor.

“C’mon man, can’t you see we’re not from your planet!  We’re part of a delegation of settlers from the Icarus, we are expected here,” demanded Harold with authority.

This time the guard looked less certain, evidently there was some kind of meeting with the survivors of the Icarus planned soon.  Harold was about to speak again and press this opportunity when an elderly woman in a long black cape appeared from inside the building.  She tapped the guard on the shoulder and spoke in a sharp and measured tone, “At ease sergeant, these men are expected, they will come  with me inside the parliament tent.”

The guard nodded and allowed them through.  Once inside the building the old woman beckoned them to follow her into a small waiting room.  Once inside she closed the door flap and spoke to them again in her sharp and measured voice, “Harold and Alfred, it is good that you have followed Kimberley and I am delighted to make your acquaintance. Despite what Kimberley currently believes, she will have great need of your help soon, and I would like to offer you some financial compensation for it in advance.”

Harold and Alfred were shocked at the cavalier way this old woman just presumed she could buy their services in protecting Kimberley.  While they were processing what they had just heard the old woman produced two pouches each one heavy with coins.  Handing a pouch to each of them she said, “Here is enough coin to cover any expenses you might have for the next few weeks, I trust I can rely on you to watch over her and protect her?”

“Excuse me!” cried Alfred, “How do you even know our names?”

“I know your names because I have read the transcripts from the radio messages Kimberley has sent since she returned back from her mission in orbit. I also know what she is going to say to the council tonight and how they will react. Kimberley has a brilliant mind for science, but she lacks political foresight. I tried warning her, but she did not take me seriously. Arrogance is her weakness. After the meeting here she will need to leave Pearl quickly, there is a small gloftoon parked in the upper gallery on the north west quarter on pad number 24. I trust you have learned enough about how to pilot such a craft from your time with Vanuel.”

“Well, yes, we have, but why should we agree to this?  I mean, why not ask a couple of these big burly Aeron fellows to help you instead?” asked Alfred.

“Because after Kimberley has explained what she is planning to do no Aeron will want to help her.  I can’t ask any Kiron to do what I am asking you either.  No, the only people I can ask to do this for me are you two.  I can’t offer you much now, but if you help Kimberley to succeed I can help you get off this planet and return home, and if I fail in that, I can at least make sure that the two of you live out of the rest of your lives on this planet in comfort and affluence.”

Alfred and Harold exchanged glances with each other and realised they were in agreement, this woman’s offer was definitely worth taking up.

“Ok, we accept your terms,” said Alfred.

“Excellent, I knew you two would agree, you have good hearts; I can tell.  But one more thing, do not under any circumstance tell Kimberley that I, Kiron Guild Master Sybil, have given you this mission.  If she knew she would reject your aid without recourse and our agreement would be forfeit. Do you understand?”

They nodded in agreement and stowed the coins in their rucksacks.  Sybil lead them quietly to the parliament chamber and instructed them to sit quietly up the back.  She quickly moved away to the other side of the chamber and sat down with another group of black robed figures.  Alfred noticed that the Kirons appeared to wear black robes, while the Aerons wore robes that were brown like leather.

Kimberley was already well into her presentation to the guild masters of Aeron when they entered.  She was describing how the physics behind the spatial rift, in a rather overly complicated way that neither Alfred and Harold, nor the guild masters of Aeron could fully comprehend.  While she was rambling on about the nature of the spatial rift and why it needed a constant supply of energy.  The outlanders considered how the majority of the parliament members wore the brown leathery robes of the Aerons, but there were a significant number of Kirons too; the Kirons must live amonst the other guilds as they have no domain of their own.

Kimberly finally got to the climax of her presentation.

“So the question remains, where is the power coming from that maintains the spatial rift?  Well after two years of study I have been able to pinpoint what appears to be a natural focused high energy source emanating from the core of this planet.  It appears to be directly underneath the rift and has been there all this time,” at this pronouncement there was a lot of excited murmuring from the crowd.

“Yes, yes!  I know,” continued Kimberley, “it is a spectacular coincidence that we placed the spatial rift  directly over the site where a rare geo magnetic phenomenon capable of powering a spatial rift indefinitely existed.  However, the facts are the facts, I have done the calculations and the phenomenon is there originating from deep underneath the surface of Proxima Minor.”

She waited for the guild masters to finish discussing this news among themselves.  Finally the chief guild master, distinguished by a golden pair of wings on this shoulder pads, spoke up.

“Now that you have discovered the reason for the rift remaining open, what do you want to do next?”

“Well drill down there underneath the surface and redirect or block the effect, and thus seal the rift over forever!”

Alfred and Harold flinched as she said this for they anticipated the electricity that ran through the group of guild masters. They stood up and started shouting at her claiming she was mad, mistaken, or lying to them. Meanwhile the guild masters from the Kiron side looked at each other in fright and nervousness. The chief guild master of the Aerons came forward after the tumult had finally passed somewhat.

“I, as chief of the guild masters of Aeron forbid you to do this!  Furthermore we forbid you to leave this city or to discuss what you have just told us with anyone else.  Do you understand?”

Kimberley clearly did not for she looked completely shaken by the angry response to her last statement. “I don’t understand, I thought you wanted to seal the rift?”

“No.  We do not want you to seal the rift. Is that clear?”

Kimberley just stood there in the middle of the room looking lightning struck. The guild master continued.

“The people of Aeron have built a great city on the back of this rift, over one hundred thousand people live here now.  We are in the process of sealing the rift ourselves by our own methods and on our own terms.  The current situation suits our interests best.”

Kimberley just stammered overwhelmed by what she just heard, “but what about the rest of the people?  The Vegani, the Comptoni, and the Ferrens?  Won’t they get an opportunity to live on dry land again?”

Her voice sounded feeble and some of the Aerons actually laughed at her.  The chief guild master ordered her to be silent and called the guards to arrest her at once stating that she needed to be thrown into solitary confinement. Harold and Alfred felt their hearts racing, they were getting ready to leap out and grab Kimberley, despite the guards clearly being far stronger than they were.

However, just as the guards were nearing her one of the Kiron guild masters stood up and demanded that the guards stop. The guards looked confused, but did indeed stop for the voice was commanding. The Kiron guild master was none other than the lady Sybil!

“Have the Aeron guild masters grown ambitious in the dark times of our world?  You want to seal the rift yourself so that you can have a monopoly on the only dry land on this world. But perhaps you also want the power to open the flood gates of the rift at will?  The power to threaten anyone who opposes you?”

The chief guild master turned red in the face, “Silence Kiron witch! This is our city, our domain, we will do what we please here so long as it suits the interests of the Aerons.”

Sybil smiled slyly and Alfred thought that she might have actually glanced at him as she did. “Guild master of the Aerons, I wish to inform you that the Kiron hereby renounce our agreements with you and demand to leave Pearl so we can pursue the only right and just course of action for all of Proxima Minor.  We will close down this rift!”

All Hell broke loose in the next few seconds, first the Aeron chief guild master ordered the guards to arrest all of the Kiron guild masters at once and to throw them into prison, then guards burst into the room from all directions, the Kiron guild masters panicked and starting shouting and struggling, the two guards next to Kimberley ran to try to restrain them, and Alfred and Harold leaped forward from their seats and grabbed Kimberly.

Within seconds they were pulling the startled Kiron scientist out of the parliament chamber.  The guards were so confused with the struggling Kiron guild masters to notice they were gone at first.  The Aeron guild masters shouted after them as they ran out of the room and from the parliament building.  The trio quickly vanished into the throng of people bustling around the city of Pearl.

Out in the city streets they were still not safe, a public address system soon starting to announce that a rogue Kiron scientist was trying to sabotage the city and urged all citizens to assist in her capture.  Suddenly the crowds were no longer keeping them safe, but were starting to turn on them.  First with suspicious looks and then with outreached hands to grasp them.  A group of teenage Aeron boys tried to stop them, but to the astonishment of Kimberley; Alfred and Harold managed to over power and drive the boys off easily with some kind of mixed martial arts she had never seen before. Clearly the Aeron teens hadn’t seen it either for when they realised they were outmatched they quickly ran back and called for more help.

Harold gasped, “We can’t possible get to the gloftoon waiting for us, they’re too many of them!”

Kimberley had an idea and quickly called for her protectors to follow her. She lead them down a small alleyway and onto a spiral staircase. At the top of the stair case was a long wooden structure that lead all the way to the edge of the city. She opened a big wooden door and lead them inside. Once inside they barricaded the door behind them.

“Wow, I didn’t think they had any wooden structures in this city! It looked like it was all metal and canvas,” exclaimed Harold.

Kimberley was panting, but regained her breath enough to explain, “This is an air force hanger, fixed wing aircraft are launched from here so it has to be made of something sturdy.  All the wood is specially reserved for these buildings.”

Alfred looked around and noticed there were half a dozen aeroplanes. Mostly biplanes with room for two passengers, but there was one very long triplane which stood out with three passenger seats.  Alfred motioned to Harold, “help with me with this!”

Harold immediately understood was Alfred wanted, they quickly pushed and pulled the triplane onto the runway tunnel.  In the distance they could see the yellow sky out the opening at the other end of the tunnel.

“Are you think what I’m thinking?” said Harold gleefully.

“I certainly am!” said Alfred with a wink.

“Quickly Kimberly, get into the plane, we’re getting out of here.”

“But you don’t know how to fly an aeroplane!”

“Oh really?  Don’t I?” laughed Alfred and jumped into the pilot’s seat, his hands immediately starting to manipulate the controls with a surprising degree of confidence.

Harold grabbed their bags and through them inside the plane and then helped Kimberly into one of the seats.  Harold then ran out to the front of the plane and grabbed the propeller with both hands and on Alfred’s signal pulled down hard.  The engine sputtered into life instantly and the propeller vanished into a blur.  Harold ran around to his seat and hopped in.

“Alright everyone,” Alfred cried out triumphantly, “hold on tight, we’re about to take to the skies!”

To be continued!

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Author: philosophicaltherapist

I am philosophical therapist based in Australia. However, I offer Skype services for people who live in regional districts, or internationally providing the time zones do not clash. In my practice I emphasise honesty, self-knowledge, curiosity, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, compassion, empathy, respect for emotions, and understanding how key relationships work.

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