I am really proud and pleased today to be hosting a guest post from David regarding his upcoming novel – Mirror in Time. I would like to thank you David for taking the time out to write such a brilliant and thoughtful post and for allowing me to host it. I wish you lots of luck with compelting your latest piece of work – Mirror in Time.
Today David is sharing Charpter 3 of Mirror in Time. To read the previous chapters check out the posts on the following blogs:
I met Kerry on Twitter shortly after I finished my first sci‑fi novel, Universe: Awakening. She has always been supportive and gracious. To illustrate, this will be my fourth appearance on Like Herding Cats Blog. Oddly enough though, the one that has given me the most satisfaction had nothing to do with my work. It was my review of a romance novel called The One That Got Away. My decision to read the book was based on research. However, Kerry gave me the confidence to take the step to actually attempt a review. You see she had decided to review Universe to step out of her comfort zone. Words can inspire but actions even more so. For me, The One That Got Away was so far out of my comfort zone as to be in the twilight zone, but her example gave me the push to do something outside the box.
Now, like Aaarnold, I’m baaack! This time, it’s an except from my fourth novel, Mirror in Time, a standalone, time‑travel story.
Since this summer, my wife, Natasha, and I have been involved in a non‑literary project that I have described as like walking through Siberia — never ending. Just before Christmas, I emailed Kerry lamenting there were not enough hours in the day to do any writing. I asked her if I could do a post of an ARC echapter of the book so that it would put pressure on me to make time to finish. Again, ever supportive, she agreed. Coincidentally, since then, I have been able to get about ¾’s of the way through a paperback chapter. Also, as I write this, the long walk through Siberia has finally come to and end. I’ll take a bit of a breather then on to complete Mirror.
The Story So Far …..
As night falls, a lone atmospheric vehiclehas come under attack on its final approach to a high‑altitude research facility known as the “Jomo Langma Mountain Observatory”. Stars that should fill the sky have been obscured by a random patchwork of contrails.
In the report of the incident, we learn the flight was designed to draw out subversives. In that respect, the plan has been a resounding success. All six of the attackers have been shot down. However, Prefect Godvina, AV Sundog’s lone passenger, is now recovering in the Observatory’s medical facilities, a result of stress caused by the evasive maneuvers of the episode. Director Jo’el, head of the Observatory, has been keeping vigil at her bedside. His concern for her is personal. Was this the reason for her visit?
Prefect Tarsus, architect of the plan, is pleased on two fronts. About the mission was to be expected. However, as to Godvina’s condition has come as somewhat of a surprise to Agent Thalia, Sundog’s pilot, and Agents Mica’el and Gabri’el, two of her escorts. It spoke to rumors of a prior relationship between the head of Security and the head of Cosmological Data Collection and Compilation. These rumors are seemingly confirmed when an angry Godvina bursts into the secure room to confront Tarsus, and Thalia is later tasked with covert surveillance of the fiery Prefect. Could there be something more than Tarsus’ lingering romantic interest? Read on and see, ARC eChapter 3: “Newbie”.
Mirror in Time – Chapter 3
Early the next morning, Jo’el made his way to the main dining hall in Building A for breakfast. It was here that he was joined by the Observatory’s chief physician, Doctor Kyros, and chief psychology officer, Advisor Auberon. They were the closest of friends. They met during their first year of their first term at the Eden campus. The bonds established during that year endured through the entire 48 years of their basic education and subsequent 44 years of advanced studies. They went their separate ways after graduation, each rising to become department prefects in their respective areas. However, when Jo’el became the director of the Observatory in response to the planetary crisis, he wanted medical and psychological practitioners who were both pre–eminent in their respective fields and trustworthy. Who better to call upon than his friends?
Food delivery and seating were cafeteria style, and there were rows and rows of flat, bench‑seat tables for researchers and support staff. However, there were a small number of four‑top tables off to the side that provided some privacy away from the general population. One of these tables was, by custom and deference, perpetually set aside for the three of them. Although, unsuspecting newbies were said to have their first repast at that location as a rite of initiation.
Today was one of those days.
As the three made their way to be seated, they discovered it was already occupied by a statuesque woman with strawberry‑red hair.
“Good morn, Prefect Godvina,” Jo’el said with a smile. “May we join you?”
“Well…I am not sure,” she replied proudly. “This table has been specially reserved for me.” Then, she noticed the entire hall had become silent with all eyes turned toward her.
“Newbie,” Auberon chuckled as the three sat down.
Jo’el then told her of the initiation.
“That one!” she hissed under her breath, looking malevolently toward a man standing in the food preparation area, arms akimbo. “Does he know I am a prefect?!”
“Look at the smile on his face,” Kyros said cheerfully. “Of course, he knows you are a prefect!”
“Who is he?! I want him terminated!”
“That,” Auberon said, “is the Head Chef and, no, there is no way DJ will terminate him.”
“DJ” was short for “Director Jo’el”.
“Why? Are you afraid?” Godvina said, challenging his manhood.
“Yes, I am,” Jo’el replied unabashedly. “And, if you have any sense, you will fear him too.”
“He and his staff prepare our food,” Kyros explained. “Never, ever, never, never get on the wrong side of people who touch what you eat.”
“Would he dare?”
“He does not have to dare. Think about it,” Auberon replied. “They work in a busy area. Things fall. Things drop. People cough. People sneeze.” He looked directly at her, his eyes widening slightly.
“But if he is gone…”
“He has friends,” Kyros noted, looking at the food servers behind the counter.
“I see,” she said thoughtfully.
“Besides,” Jo’el said with a smile, “it is a rite of initiation. It means you are one of us. Better that than to be excluded, right?”
“Yes, I see your point.”
Auberon stared briefly at Jo’el.
“Interesting. Excuse me for a moment,” Jo’el said as he stood and walked toward the outer edge of the hall.
“What is so interesting?” Godvina asked.
“How are you feeling this morning?” Kyros replied, ignoring her question.
As Jo’el came closer to his point of interest, a woman whose identity was obscured by a hood made a quick exit into the corridor.
“You were right,” Jo’el said to Auberon as he returned to his seat.
“Right about what?” Godvina asked.
“It seems someone has picked up a tail,” Auberon mused. “Agent Thalia, I would assume.”
“That would be my guess,” Jo’el agreed.
“Tail? What Tail?”
“Gentlemen, it seems our meeting later today will no longer be necessary,” Jo’el said.
“I have seen that look before, DJ,” Auberon said. “You are planning something, something you will now do without us.”
“Planning? What planning?”
“It is too dangerous.”
“What is too dangerous?”
“Dangerous?! I love dangerous!” Kyros said under his breath, leaning slightly forward.
“Should that not be our choice?” Auberon asked softly.
Godvina was not used to being ignored and irritation was turning to anger. “You know that I am sitting at this table!”
“Simply telling you puts you in danger.”
“Well, in that case, speak!” Kyros replied.
Auberon nodded his head.
“Very well, we should go now. My office, 15 minutes.”
“Everyone can see, no?! I am sitting right here!”
“Prefect Godvina, please excuse us,” Jo’el said as the three rose to their feet and bowed.
“Yes,” Kyros said with a smile, “enjoy the rest of your initiation.”
She put her hand on Jo’el’s forearm and gave the other two a look. The Director returned to his seat as Auberon and Kyros departed.
“You will tell me what is going on, or you can shower by yourself in future,” she hissed.
“If I tell you, there is no turning back.”
While she knew the ominous tone in Jo’el’s voice was real, she could not bear the thought of any secrets between them.
“I want to know,” she pressed.
“Fifteen minutes. Bring the information you and I were to review.”
* * * * *
It was 15 minutes later. The four had convened around a conference table in Jo’el’s office.
“Will someone please tell me what is going on?” Godvina pleaded.
Jo’el looked at Auberon.
“Agent Thalia is attempting to surveil us,” Auberon replied.
“How do you know?” Godvina asked.
“I have a knack for these kinds of things.”
“Knack? What do you mean by ‘knack’?”
“Auberon is Transcended,” Jo’el said.
Transcended were individuals who had intense, luminous coronas surrounding their entire bodies.
“That is ridiculous!”
“I like this part,” Kyros said with a smile. “Show her, TM.”
“Please shield your eyes, Prefect Godvina. This is pretty bright.” When he released his full radiance, nothing else in the room was visible.
“I…I am convinced,” she said as the ambient light returned to normal. “Why are you not a ministerial aide?”
Transcended individuals were extremely rare and always (with this exception) joined the ministerial staffs of one of the 12 ministries whose ministers comprised the Governing Council.
“I kept it a secret.”
“Why would you do that?”
“As you may or may not know, transcendence generally happens during the second century of life. It happened to me a little later. By that time, I had become accustomed to my lifestyle and did not relish the thought of adjusting to the austere, ascetic ministerial environment.”
“But it is a great honor.”
“Honor is in the eye of the beholder.”
“However, that secret will be discovered very shortly,” Jo’el noted.
“One of his superpowers is he is able to use his shadow to encrypt communication, even from recording devices,” Kyros explained.
“It is not a superpower,” Auberon complained.
“Nonsense, it is one of many. I keep telling you to get a costume with ‘TM’ on your chest.”
“ ‘TM’?” Godvina asked.
“Transcended Man!!” Kyros exclaimed in a sing‑song voice, rising to his feet, arms akimbo, chin and chest thrust out.
“This is not the time, Dr. K,” Jo’el admonished, motioning him to be seated.
“So, given there are a limited number of things that can do that, your transcendence will be discovered,” Godvina reasoned.
“That in itself is not the worst part. Questions will arise concerning what we are trying to hide,” Jo’el continued.
“So, I suppose we better be quick about it,” Auberon suggested.
“Yes, DJ,” Kyros said, “what is this big secret?!”
Jo’el and Godvina spent the next several minutes at the computer console. At length, they were ready to begin.
“We have been collecting data here at the Observatory on the striations that permanently cut across our skies. PG has been doing the same thing at CD3C,” Jo’el said. “The simulations are consistent with my theories on space‑time.”
“And I suppose it shows the end of the world?” Kyros asked jokingly.
“Yes,” Jo’el replied, “I will not bore you with the details, but there is an energy source from outside our universe that is shredding the very fabric of our space‑time.”
“But you have a solution, right?” Auberon asked.
“In a manner of speaking.”
“Well, speak, DJ, speak!” Kyros exclaimed impatiently.
“Computer, retrieve file ‘Volume’,” Jo’el called out.
“Display. Scale to fit standard display parameters.”
A hologram of a large dark‑green sphere appeared before them.
“I have called the sphere the ‘Volume’, and it is mainly comprised of an energy I have called the ‘ether’. One of the things the Volume does is create universes. Computer, run file.”
Small bubbles began appearing within the sphere.
“Each of these bubbles represents the creation of a universe. I have made them visible for illustrative purposes only. In fact, if rendered to scale, the bubbles would be invisible to the naked eye. To give you an idea of scale, our universe compared to the volume is analogous to Arkos compared to our universe.”
“DJ, how would we know if your bubbles are too big or too small? Too much detail. Get to the end,” Kyros complained.
Jo’el’s eyebrows furrowed.
“Please, Jo’el, allow me,” Godvina said gently. “Computer, stop. Zoom in on region in the Volume designated as ‘Zone of Interest’. Expand to standard display parameters.”
Four light‑green spheres appeared. They were randomly distributed and connected to one another by wispy‑yellow lines.
“The modeling indicates that, on very rare occasions, universes can be connected to one another.”
“Are you saying that is the case here?” Auberon asked.
“And these other universes, are they in the same shape as us?” Kyros asked.
“Well, great! How do we get there?”
“Unfortunately, we are unable now”, Jo’el said. “This region of space has been compromised. I suspect by whatever has been responsible for our ribbons.”
“Hooray! We are all saved!” Kyros exclaimed sarcastically. “I am so glad I put my career at risk for this!”
“What do you mean by ‘now’?” Auberon asked.
“My theory shows that space‑time is made up of space‑time as we know it plus a much, much larger component I call ‘subspace’ where the effects of gravity are much more powerful. Powerful enough to permit almost instantaneous travel anywhere in the universe.”
“That does not answer my question.”
“Let me finish. Computer, clear current hologram. Retrieve file ‘Wormhole’ and display. Scale to fit standard display parameters.”
The spheres faded away, and a green square overlaid with gridlines rendered in two‑point perspective, appeared before them.
“This is a rendering of space‑time. We know that gravity can bend it…” He seemed to pull a red ball out of thin air. He threw it, and it landed in the center of the square, making a depression. “Make it ripple…” He pulled another red ball out of the air and threw it into the hologram. He made a spinning motion with his index finger.
The balls began to rotate around an unseen center, and the green square began to slightly deform in a rhythmic pattern.
“I know what happens next! You juggle three balls,” Kyros said.
Jo’el ignored the comment. He held his hand out, and the balls flew into his palm. He closed and opened his hand in a small sweeping motion, and they disappeared.
The space‑time rendering became flat and undisturbed.
“Now, watch what happens when I apply a lot of gravity…” He extended his hands, palm down and turned them toward each other as he brought them slowly together.
The rendering slowly transformed until it resembled an upside‑down U.
“You are describing the conditions for travel through folded space,” Godvina observed.
“Yes, but there is more.” He pointed his index fingers toward one another and pressed inward a couple of times.
A depression developed on each side of the upside‑down U and formed a tunnel. When complete, the hologram looked like two roughly horizonal tornadoes connected to one another.
“But the pathway is unstable and has an overwhelming tendency to close itself,” Godvina noted.
“Unless, there is a permanent tear in space‑time,” Jo’el added.
“Like we have right now,” she said.
“So, we can get from one place to another fast, fast. What good is that?” Kyros asked.
“Are you looking to find the best place in the universe to watch the end?”
“And you still have not answered my question,” Auberon pressed.
“I am getting there.” He pointed his index fingers forward again then moved his left hand away from him and down, his right hand toward him and up. “One of the effects of extreme gravity is its effects on space‑time.”
The tornadoes were now misaligned along the horizontal, the tunnel connecting the two openings curved and slightly distorted.
“Time travel?!” Godvina exclaimed.
“That is ridiculous,” she said.
“Vina, you know how the calculations work as well as I do. You know it is possible.”
While she did not like the result, her predisposition for the truth came first. “I still find the implication unsettling.”
“So do I.”
“Let us say for a moment you are correct,” Auberon mused. “Where does that leave us?”
“You mean when,” Kyros said with a smile.
“It is too late now to do anything more than wait for the end,” Jo’el noted, “but if we had known earlier…”
“Are you suggesting we all go back in time and warn the Council?” Auberon asked.
“No. The leadership of any large organization moves slowly. It resists things that move it away from the status quo. The Governing Council is no different. It is likely they would be slow to accept the threat in a second iteration just as they have done in this one.”
“Just save ourselves by going to another universe? That seems more than a bit selfish,” Kyros said.
“It is also just speculation,” Godvina noted.
“No, I am not suggesting that either,” Jo’el replied, ignoring Godvina.
“So, what else is there?” Kyros pressed.
“There is a window between when the Council accepts that the threat is real and when access to the other universes is no longer possible. The key is us.”
“So, we go back in time and give ourselves a warning. We have the answer ready for the Council when they come around then relocate everyone to one of the other universes,” Auberon added, completing Jo’el’s thought.
“I like it!” Kyros exclaimed. “We will be heroes, all of us. They will name a holiday in our honor, buildings, streets. There will be statues of us.” He rose to his feet and looked upward to a nondescript point in the distance. “I want mine to be looking into the sky contemplating the mysteries of the cosmos.”
“That is impossible. You cannot change the past,” Godvina said to Jo’el. “Are you forgetting the ‘ancestor paradox’?”
“Ancestor paradox?” Kyros asked, returning to his seat.
“Yes, suppose you go back in time and kill one of your ancestors, you would not be here today to have gone back in time to kill him/her.”
“Unless, you split the timeline or the universe exists in a superpositioned state.”
“What in the name of Janus’ corona does that mean?” Kyros asked.
To refer to public officials without their titles was a common expletive: the higher the office, the greater the invective.
“It means that it is possible — theoretically,” Godvina reluctantly agreed. “You are also assuming that the timeline changes so that we exist in a past that is sufficiently before now, so we can do something about it.”
“Sounds like a great plotline for a science‑fiction novel,” Kyros quipped. “Count me in!”
“What is the message?” Auberon asked.
“The location of the gateway to the other universes.”
“Do you know where it is?” Kyros asked.
“As a matter of fact, I do,” Jo’el replied with a smile. “Computer, clear current hologram. Retrieve and display file ‘Gateway’.”
“Retrieved.” A hologram appeared of a nondescript region of outer space.
“Where is it?” Kyros asked.
“There.” Jo’el made a circle with his index finger, and a circle in red appeared.
“Is there anything notable about it?” Godvina asked.
“One thing, there are two antimatter and one matter emissions that occur in a precise sequence.”
“How far away is it?”
“About 1,000 light‑years.”
“Now, we just have to figure out how to go back in time,” Kyros added.
“My research points to the ribbons in the sky,” Jo’el replied.
“They are approximately 25,000 light‑years away,” Godvina said.
“That presents a problem,” Godvina noted. “There is currently no technology that can get us there on a timely basis.”
“That is not quite true,” Jo’el replied with a smile.
“You have a ship?”
“Yes, it is just waiting for some finishing touches.”
“How could you even build an ISV much less do it right under the noses of the Security Forces?” Godvina asked.
“It is being built for me in the one place they would never look — the Westside.”
The Westside was the part of Eden were the vast majority of Gendu in the city lived.
“The Westside, are you crazy?! If you are discovered, it will mean prison for you!”
“Not just him,” Auberon added.
“Me too!” Kyros chimed in cheerfully. “My hope is that we will all be in the same cell.”
“From what I know,” Godvina said glumly, “it will most likely be solitary confinement.”
“But the cells will be close together, right?”
“Sure, Dr. K., of course they will,” Auberon said with a smile.
“In that case, TM, we should be ok.”
“How can you joke about something so serious?!” Godvina exclaimed.
“Because, without it,” Kyros said, looking directly at her, “what would give us the courage to do this thing we have to do?”
“The three of us have been committed to this for some time,” Jo’el said, looking at Auberon and Kyros. “I was hoping to spare you in this matter, but you are now part of our little band.”
“I would not have it any other way. How could I let you go to prison without me?” Godvina replied with a smile.
“There you go! You got the hang of it!” Kyros said.
“So, what now?” she asked Jo’el.
“We have to get off this mountain.”
Commentary by David E. Overttun
You might have noticed a curious exchange between Jo’el and Godvina when she says, “You will tell me what is going on, or you can shower by yourself in future.” Well, there is a romantic “encounter” between the two that I omitted from this post because of its adult content. It’s not pornographic or anything like that, but definitely R‑rated. Natasha and I thought that it would be inconsistent with a family‑friendly blog like Like Herding Cats Blog. While the exclusion doesn’t take anything away from the plot, it is not a frivolous inclusion to the storyline either. It adds to the granularity of the relationship between two of the main characters. As to the details, all I’ll say about it is that it starts with Godvina surreptitiously watching Jo’el in the shower singing a tune that he has obviously learned from the military personnel stationed on the Mountain. For the song, I drew inspiration from high school when I played football. There are only 2 things about it that stand out to me after all these years. One was warming the bench. I wasn’t very big or very fast. So, that was probably the best position for me to occupy during a game. The second was a song we would occasionally sing in the shower after practice, a very different version of Kenny Roger’s “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town”. (Well, actually, I only listened since certain key words in the verses didn’t make their way into my vocabulary until later in life.)
The chapter develops the characters and the relationships between and among them. Jo’el, Kyros and Auberon are lifelong friends. They each have a defining trait that will be explored and developed as the story progresses. The individual that stands out the most is Kyros. He is the wiseass. Auberon is calm and thoughtful. And finally, Jo’el is the leader. Godvina, as we already know, has an almost mercurial personality.
We now learn the reason for her visit. Jo’el has been doing research on time travel, something outside his normal scope of activities. For this part, I have drawn on the creation of a wormhole via an Einstein Rosen bridge. My understanding (as limited as it is) is that time travel is possible if there are differences in gravity at one end compared to the other. You might have also noticed the ancestor paradox is really the grandfather paradox. Why the name change? The only thing I will say is that the word “grandfather” has fallen into disuse among the Celesti.
We also learn the reason for the face‑to‑face meeting. It was a necessary precaution during a time when other forms of communication would most certainly have been monitored. Jo’el had intended for Godvina to confirm his conclusions then depart. The 3 friends would then embark on their mission to save the universe, leaving her none the wiser. His reticence stems from a desire to protect her. She sees it as his inability to share, a recurring theme throughout the story. Tarsus’ curiosity has resulted in a change of plan, drawing her into a journey that will take her across time and space.
My posts always have a visual by Natasha. This one is quite apropos.
Where to find David’s Terra Nova Series:
For a deeper dive:
Through My Wife, Natasha, on Twitter: @neoverttun