They spent four more days of increasingly strong earthquakes placing gates, then gated back to the barren world they were using as a staging ground.
Another month and we'll know if it worked.
Xen closed his eyes, and pulled back to look at the Miniverse. Those planets around the Alpha Centauri stars. I wonder if gates between them and their targets would have an effect . . . and whether I could test that, without telling Q and risking her neck as well as mine.
As spaceships went, it was pretty basic. A sphere of metal and glass, a long cable and a big chunk of rock. The amenities consisted of a net of food and drink and a gadget that used the heat of the air to turn carbon dioxide into solid Carbon powder and gaseous Oxygen. The carbon went into a jar, the oxygen was released into the sphere.
He had some meters that claimed to measure air pressure and CO2 levels.
He looked around at the lake, the pine forest slowly recovering from a forest fire. One of his favorite worlds in the maze, before the fire.“What was that I was saying about what could possibly go wrong?”
Xen popped the bubble he’d used to carry the sphere-and-rock here, climbed in and dogged the hatch. As far as he knew, no one had any satellites up around this world, so he didn’t have to worry about messing up their orbits as he carefully bent the local gravity field and . . . fell upward.
The pressure gauge held steady. The CO2 was climbing a bit. He pulled power from the sunlight coming through a section of glass and heated the air around his gizmo. Loose powder floated into the jar beneath, and the CO2 meter reversed course.
“Right. So, Xen, let’s see if you can manage something . . . interesting.” His voice echoed around the sphere and he bumped his head on bare mental. “And pad this thing next time.”
He closed his eyes and sank into the fizzing blue. The hundreds of gates between the Paleogene World and Helios were immediately obvious.
But he didn’t want that world . . . he wanted that smaller planet around Alpha Centauri A. In the Paleogene World’s membrane. So . . . just how far away from “here” could he make a gate over “there.”
“Q can do thousands of miles, surely I can do four and a half lightyears.”
He looked through the inbetween at the Paleogene’s Alpha Centauri system. Spotted the smaller planet and zoomed in , chased it, trying to keep his attention on it . . . it has a very different velocity than anything in the Solar System . . . can I place a gate from there, to the Helios equivalent? Can I put a bit more spin on the Miniverse? Get it past that frightening matchup before it gets close to the One World?
He grabbed a cone, chased down the little planet, and stuck it down blindly as it whizzed by.
“I dub thee Planet Xen!”
He snatched the tail and held on as it streaked away. He crashed into the wall of his sphere, was pressed hard up against it as the tail pulled . . .
Quick, Helios! Where the heck is that planet? Not that it matters . . . I can stick it on anything right? He spotted gas giant, grabbed a cone and threw it at it, twisted the tails and let go.
The pressure snapped and he floated away from the wall, gasping from breath. “Well, that was an interesting effect! Whew!” He checked the CO2 meter, collected sunshine and heated it up again. Heated the hull around it.
Floated over to the net of consumables . . . First, the other experiment.
He reached out mentally and released the magical attraction that was holding the rock to the sphere. Or perhaps, since the rock is both larger and heavier, the sphere is attached to it . . . I think I need some boost, I’m a little unfocused here . . .
The sphere moved beneath him, and he floated to the side . . . gently this time . . . and carefully edged down to the bottom of the sphere. As artificial gravity went, it was quite . . . minimal.
The rock’s at the end of the cable, and the little bit of spin we had is now swinging us around it. I think. I’ll speed it all up in a minute. He wormed a bottle of boost out of the net and cracked the lid. Good stuff, even if it is messy.
He got good at throwing cones. Gas giant to gas giant worked well. He space sphere was awesome.
He did not burn up on reentry.
Q punched him.
“You idiot! I could see the gates going up but I couldn’t find you! Are you trying to make me explain to Mom and Dad how you managed to kill yourself! And you’d better write up a report about it, so I can do better!” Glare. “So what idiocy are you going to do now?”
Xen climbed back to his feet. “Umm . . . I’ll take a few day off and . . . work on my landscaping.”
Rael finally escaped from her office.
Two weeks straight of writing and reading reports and attending meetings! I need my two days off!
Her little red car started up like a champ, never mind three weeks of dust from sitting in the parking lot at Versalle.
She stopped for gas and a car wash, and relaxed as she turn onto her street . . .
There was a tree in her yard.