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Thevshi

Cape No More!

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Ardor asteroid belt just a few light years inside Lor Space

Along the inner edge of the Perseus Arm

Lor time mark 1801.4 [February 6, 2018 (Terran Calendar)]

 

The Ardor asteroid belt lay beyond any of the systems with Lor Republic, but still within the borders claimed by the Republic.  It was a collection of various sized asteroids that stretched nearly half a light year, but was well enough out of the way of any systems that it did not normally interfere with regular trade lanes.  But several cycles ago, some unknown force had begun shifting the belts location, threatening to move it to where it would be a hazard to regular space traffic.  As such, a Lor science team had been deployed to the asteroid belt to investigate and see what might possibly be done to halt the process. 

 

The team had included an unusual consultant, Quentin Quill of Earth, also known as Supercape.  Working with the Lor scientists, Quill had identified an usual singularity that was causing the asteroid belt’s migration, a Quantum Dark Zone within one edge of the belt.  During one of Quill's trips into the void to investigate the singularity, he had inadvertently been pulled into it, finding himself trapped within it.

 

Unbeknownst to him, that was a little over three Earth years ago.

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Flux

 

Quentin was getting ragged, and getting crazed. He had lost sense of time, if time existed at all in the Quantum Dark Zone. Events here seemed to both happen and not happen. Dimensions seemed to bubble and mutate. 

 

Something was sustaining him. 

 

He could only imagine it was his will. 

 

He had the vague sense of doing the same thing over and over again, except each precisely similar action was different. That made no sense, but nothing here did. 

 

Then, somehow, just as he thought his mind would snap, he was free. 

 

Perhaps he was free because his mind would snap. 

 

He was floating in space, his costume ragged, the asteroids all there. Stopped, it seemed. Whatever he had been trying to do, it looked like he had done. He was not pleased with the cost. 

 

The Quantum Dark Zone....

 

He shuddered. 

 

Spying the Lor Research Laboratory on the largest asteroid, he concentrated a moment. He felt a dread of this going wrong, of propelling him back through the event loop into the Quantum Dark Zone. But he steeled his nerves. 

 

And space distorted. 

 

And he now floated outside the Laboratory. 

 

Hello? Hello? This is Quill....I think i stopped the field....he blathered over the radiowaves. 

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GM

 

Quill's transmission was met with silence. 

 

As he floated there in the void, his senses starting to return to normal after the….nothing of the Quantum Dark Zone.  Now that he was closer to the laboratory and able to study it, he realized it looked very different than when he had ventured out on this latest foray. 

 

While he could still sense the reactor of the station operating, it was at a very low level.  The rest of the station seemed almost to be completely shut down, only the barest minimum of systems operating.  From the exterior, the station looked dark and cold.  But it was possible that the systems could be restarted and it might hold some answers.

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Flux

 

This looks....

 

...bad!

 

A hundred possibilities went through his mind, and he could not choose one from another. A common theme, however, was that this was bad. 

 

He shifted through the spectrum of energies mundane and exotic, trying to piece together clues. The reactor was but a trickle of power, surely not enough to maintain basic functions like life support. What had happened? Was anyone still alive?

 

He pondered these horrors whilst floating in space, and then determined that he would not solve this puzzle by contemplation of inadequate evidence. he had to investigate. 

 

Another distortion of space and he had teleported inside the main airlock. He kept a shimmering field of force around him, just in case. One of the many bad possibilities was an assault. And whilst there did not appear to be any life inside the station, he would not risk it. 

 

Floating in the station itself, his mind alive with fuzzy memories of the place, he flew towards the reactor. If he could restart that, the situation might be clearer...

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GM

 

From the outside of the small station, there was no sign of damage that one might expect from any sort of attack. 

When he appeared inside the main airlock, Quill found that it was as orderly as it had been when he had departed.  A faint glow emanated from one of the control panels, and while there seemed to be little in the way of atmosphere at the moment, there at least appeared to be a some level of heating still taking place, as the controls and surfaces were still free of any freeze that might have occurred if conditions had been allowed to return to those like the void outside.

 

Flying through the station, it was eerily empty.  There were still no signs of any violence, no bodies.

 

When he finally reached the reactor, he found the main terminal still fully operational, the controls reveling that the station had been powered down to bare essentials only.

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Flux

 

Emergency power only...a little trickle...just to keep it alive....

 

Whatever had happened, he needed to know. And that meant consulting the computers, the records. Maybe the infirmary or laboratories. He had been dealing with something powerful and peculiar here. All sorts of strange interdimensional phenomena could have occurred. 

 

He needed data....

 

And for that, he needed power. 

 

Life support and heating would be nice too. Even some hot food. He vaguely recalled having brought some Early Grey Tea to the station when he arrived. Direct from earth. Hiding away in the canteen. 

 

With dimensional hyperlensing and Earl Grey tea on his mind, he tapped the main console and tried to bring power back online...

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GM

 

Thankfully the Lor made durable technology.  So taking his time, Quill was soon able to get the reactor powering back up to full capacity.  More of the lighting in the reactor room activated as the more power became available.  Once the available power levels increased sufficiently, Quill was able to restart key systems, starting with life support and artificial gravity.

 

All told it took about thirty minutes for him to get enough systems operating on the station for him to be comfortable and to try to access the data that might give him answers to what had might have happened to lead to the station being deserted.

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Flux

 

Time for a cup of tea!

 

How long had it been since he had tea?

 

Too long!

 

It had not been that hard a job, really. Not for a man of his skill and smarts. But somewhere inside he felt a kind of existential fatigue. A sense of missing something. It was as if he craved some sensation, some life. 

 

In other words, he needed tea. 

 

He went to the laboratory kitchens, now powered up, and did so walking there. He powered down his shimmering forcefield. He wasn't feeling threatened and with his uncanny exotic senses, little could creep up on him anyway. 

 

He started rummaging around for food and tea, hoping against hope that his Early Grey was still there. The state of rations might give some clue as to what had happened. And when. 

 

Once refreshed - if possible - he would look at the operation centre's logs. And then check out the laboratory. 

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GM

 

Quill found the galley of the station to be partially cleaned out, but the Earl Grey was still there, as were some other rations.  The cleaning out of much of the supplies had been done in an orderly fashion, not as if someone had ransacked the place. 

 

After he had heated up some of the tea and one of the ration packs, Quill sat down at one of the tables with a computer interface and pulled up the station system.  By this point the main system had rebooted, and Quill was able to get into the main station log.  He quickly noted that there were entries around the Lor time mark that he recalled as when he had last gone to investigate the Quantum Dark Zone, but then there were several dozen other entries afterward, covering time marks equaling at least a month on Earth.

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Flux

 

How long have I been gone? It felt like a second. It felt like forever. It felt like everything in between...

 

There was a gnawing sensation in his gut that it had been years. That was something serious for his life. He felt a coldness. A graveyard sensation that he was going to need to reboot his life. 

 

He side tracked from the logs to the internal sensors. Was there any life on board? Artificial or Biological? He doubted it. The station looked abandoned. But why was it abandoned? Was there danger? Had the Quantum Dark Zone bled out into this region of space?

 

This would need some study. He started poring over the laboratory and sensor readings...seeing if there was any clue as to the astrophysics of the region, Perhaps it was, at some fundamental level, unstable, and everyone had fled the region...

 

Maybe he should too!

 

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GM

 

Scanning the station, it was just as Quill had suspected it was deserted except for himself.  Looking through the sensor readings, the most recent were time marked from the time he had last left the station though the same time mark as the last main station log.  Looking through those sensor readings, he saw that the Quantum Dark Zone had begun emitting increased radiation and other emissions for about the first day or two after he had entered it.  Then it began to die down.  Finally after about two weeks, it had gone largely dormant, and the drift it had been causing to the asteroid belt had been halted.  The remaining readings had held steady at those levels and continued to show the belt was stable once more.

 

As he looked through the laboratory logs, he found video log entries by Chief Scientist Solak, the head of the Lor expedition.  Again the last such entry had the same time mark as the other final log entries in the system.

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Flux

 

Well, at least we stabilised the asteroid belt. 

 

It was a bittersweet compensation. But he took it, all the same. The Earl Grey helped, too. 

 

He mulled over the events. He would deeply love to understand the Quantum Dark Zone, but he had a strong suspicion that it was by its very nature un-understandable. Like a vexatious itch. 

 

He put those irritations to one side, and started going through the logs of Solak. There might be some clue lurking in there. He took his time, patient and attentive. If there was thing he could do, it was concentrate. And he had plenty of time to concentrate, even if the rations felt somewhat bland...

 

 

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GM

 

Quill pulled up the first of Solak's log entries that followed closely after he had inadvertently been pulled into the Quantum Dark Zone.

 

The image of Solak appeared on the screen and began to speak.  "It was only a few microcycles ago that the Terran, Quentin Quill was lost into the event horizon of the Quantum Dark Zone we have determined is the cause of the locational shift of the Ardor Belt.  Immediately after the emissions from the singularity spiked dangerously, but have since dropped to higher but not hazardous levels.  We do not know if Quill can survive being pulled into the Quantum Dark Zone, but are closely monitoring the situation and trying to determine if there is anything we can do to try to free him from it."

 

The next several logs from Solak continued to discuss that they were still monitoring for any sign of Quill, eventually noting that emissions had dropped too much lower levels and it appeared that the asteroid belt had stabilized.  The Lor scientists apparently had tried a number of different things to try to cause some sort of disruption with the Quantum Dark Zone in the hopes of possible freeing Quill, but nothing appeared to work, at least from their perspective.

 

The last log entry was time marked 1312.4.  "There still has been no sign that the Terran Quentin Quill survived being pulled into the Quantum Dark Zone.  All options we have been able to come up with to date have failed to cause any noticeable change with the singularity.  The Ardor Belt has stabilized and we have been recalled to Lor-Van."  Solak replied.  "There is so much we do not know about the Quantum Dark Zone, nor Quill’s considerable abilities.  There is a remote possibility that he might still be alive within the singularity and may possibly even find his way out at some point."

 

"With this in mind I have arranged to leave some rations on the station and keep it running in low power mode so that if he is alive and does manage to free himself he can have a place to recover.  Quill, if you are seeing this, we are so sorry we were unable to help.  Chief Scientist Solak, signing off."

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Flux

 

Credit where it was due. They did not abandon me. Even at the end, they kept the tea. 

 

He put said tea down and punched up the galactic map. He should make contact with Solak. There was no way of knowing exactly where he was, put he presumed it was in Lor space. Perhaps the Lor Institute of Complex Hyperdimensional Physics, where the Oort cloud Antivelocity collider ran. 

 

Perhaps the logs held some clue. 

 

In any case, he owed it to the scientist. To at least thank him. Perhaps they could even try to understand what happened. After all, he still wanted to make sure the regions was safe. 

 

Studying the map and the logs, he picked what he thought was the best guess. 

 

And space once against distorted, jumping Flux to...

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GM

 

Quill had been to Lor-Van prior to joining the mission in the Ardor Belt and it certainly had been a sight to see, covered with vast cities and possessing immense science facilities.  So when he decided to go where he had last known Solak to be, Lor-Van was the intended destination.

 

As space unfolded back around him, Quill had a brief moment of panic that he had somehow been pulled back into the Quantum Dark Zone's event horizon.  Instead of appearing near the Institute of Complex Hyperdimensional Physics, Quill had appeared in deep space, looking directly at a slowly spinning vortex of cosmic flotsam and light bending at unnatural angles.

 

But as the initial panic faded and he backed away briefly, he realized he was looking at a wormhole.

 

Even as that realization had come and he began to taken in more of his surrounding, Quill realized the space around the wormhole was anything but empty.

 

Large space craft, many looking like some sort of large transport craft, were moving into and out of the wormhole in what appeared to be almost controlled like traffic patterns.  A number of large Lor naval vessels were nearby, seemingly watching over the flow of space traffic.  A bit further out from the wormhole, were a number of large artificial satellites, which also appeared to be of Lor manufacture. 

 

Just as he was focusing on those, Quill realized a trio of small Lor starfighters had pulled up near him, forming a small ring around him and with one hovering directly in front of him.

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Flux

 

A wormhole. No wonder he had been pulled off course. His quantum tunnelling was usually pretty precise. But the presence of such a massive time/space anomaly was sure to cause disruption. 

 

As for the Lor fighter craft...

 

True, he could try a spatial bridge to escape. That would be prudent. 

 

But he had no reason to fight the Lor, and, he reasoned, they had no reason to fight him. 

 

Instead, he opened up a radio channel to them. A simple matter of sub-atomic wavefunction manipulation in local spacetime. 

 

This is Doctor Quill. Quentin Quill. Special science adviser to the Lor. I am seeking Chief Scientist Solak...

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GM


"Transmission received Doctor Quill.  Stand by."  Came reply from the fighter in front of Quill.  Several long minutes seemed to pass before the pilot contacted Quill again.  "Doctor Quill, you are requested to accompany us back to central command for additional debriefing."

 

Once Quill had acknowledge his agreement to the request, the lead fighter used its maneuvering thrusters to spin back around a hundred and eighty degrees and started flying towards the largest of the space stations positions near the wormhole.  The other two fighters flew into positions generally on either side of Quill.

 

As they went, the space traffic nearby continued on what appeared to be business as usually, ships moving into and out of the wormhole, with those arriving being passing near Lor vehicles and some appearing to be boarded, possibly for inspection.  As they drew near the largest of the space stations, Quill could more clearly see that it was heavily armed.

 

The fighters took him to a landing bay along the outer ring of the station, after passing through the forcefield keeping out the vacuum beyond.  Waiting inside the large landing bay was a small group of Lor.  Quill recognized that the one standing in front of the others was a higher ranking officer, while the others appeared to be security troops.  They were armed, but their weapons were holstered.

 

"Greetings, I am Commander E'tten of the Lor Star Navy."  The lead figure stated as Quill landed nearby.  "I wanted to confirm that you identified yourself as Doctor Quentin Quill?  As record fragments indicate that Doctor Quill disappeared while investigating a Quantum Dark Zone singularity three cycles ago."

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Flux

 

Quill felt reasonably calm. These were Lor, right? No reason for a fight. Twitchy bunch, at worst...but just doing there job...

 

"That's right, I am..."

 

Three cycles...

 

"I was lost in the Quantum Dark Zone. Miracle I got, out, really..."

 

How exactly did i get out...it seems so fuzzy....can't recall....

 

"I mean, I do identify as him. And I am him, too. Same man. You have records, right? I know it may sound hard to believe, but I am back..."

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GM 

Commander E'tten regarded Quill with a steady gaze, his expression giving away little of what he might be thinking.  "I am afraid our records from just before three cycles ago are not as complete as would be desirable.  During the Communion Incursion, a number of inadequately backed up records were lost, in particular with Lor-Van." 

"But," he then continued, "while normally it might seem incredulous that you were able to escape from the Quantum Dark Zone, given much of what has happened over the last three cycles, I would be foolish not to accept it as a possibility." 

"So, I may not have a ready means of proving you are Doctor Quill, I am willing to accept that as true.  So, is there something that the Republic can assist you with?  Why did you come to the Lor-Van gateway?"

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Flux

 

"The Communion Incursion? What the blazes was that?" asked Quill. It didn't sound good, that was for sure. 

 

The Commander was being entirely reasonably, given the situation. Russel's Teapot, and all that. 

 

"I am trying to find Chief Scientist Solak. Incidentally, whilst I appreciate your good faith, I am fairly certain Solak can put your mind at ease and confirm my identity" he explained. "For me, I would like to ask him about what happened by the asteroid field and if he has any explanation for the quantum dark zone. Fascinating...."

 

He tapped his chin in thought. 

 

"Oh! And I need to put his mind at ease, too. From the sounds of it, he was most worried about me. And thank him! He made every effort to save me..."

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GM

 

Commander E'tten seemed rather surprised that Quill had not heard about the Communion or the Incursion, but when the scientist turned superhero again mentioned Chief Scientist Solak and confirming his identity the Lor officer's face saddened slightly.  "I am afraid that Chief Scientist Solak was among those lost with Lor-Van when the Communion attacked."

 

He pointed toward the forcefield that was holding back the void, toward the wormhole that was visible beyond, the steady flow of space ships continuing to come and go.  "That is where Lor-Van once was, the Communion destroyed it with a weapon that created that wormhole in its place, after nearly five hundred Star Knights gave their lives to allow us to evacuate millions more off the planet before that happened.  But even with their valiant sacrifice, we were unable to completely evacuate the planet."

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Flux

 

"I am sorry to hear of that. He was a good man" replied Quill, sadly. "So many lives, lost. Like tears in rain". 

 

The enormity of the event hit him and he sat down, head in hand. 

 

"I wish I had been here. Perhaps I could have helped, in some way" he groaned. "Tell me then, what is the situation know? Is the Lor republic still at war, or under siege? Ah...I would like to be of use, if I can" he explained. 

 

"Although I had no knowledge of what was occurring, and trapped beyond my will to escape, I must say these tragic events weigh most heavily on my heart. You will appreciate it is a lot to take in..."

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GM

 

"Indeed there were."  Commander E'tten replied in agreement when Quill mentioned the number of lives lost.  As Quill sat down on the deck of the hanger, the commander signaled to the security personnel that were behind him, indicating they could go back to their normal duties.  He then turned his attention back to Quill.

 

"No, the war is over, the Communion were defeated, but it was not an easy victory and took the combined forces of most of the quadrant.  There are several other wormholes like the one out there, where worlds once existed.  All of these wormholes connect together, which is the reason for the security here, although they can sometimes be unstable.  There is even one in your home system, Sol."

 

"Your system was much luckier than most, heroes from your world stopped the Communion’s weapon at the edge of the solar system and the wormhole was created when it destroyed itself."  He quickly added.

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Flux

 

"Sol?"

 

Sol. His home. I would like to go back. I will go back. But..three years? much has changed, I am sure. My life will need reconstructing. 

 

And I have to understand the galaxy. 

 

It was, of course, procrastination. He knew this, but did not think on it. For all the tragedy here, the vast realms of the galaxy and space were simpler, more peaceful, than having to thread through his life on Earth, and construct a narrative for his three years absence. 

 

One more day after three years will not matter. 

 

"Wormholes laced through the galaxy, then. Useful, but dangerous. I can understand the need for security now. Has everyone been charted or are their mysteries still?"

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GM

 

"Yes, very dangerous."  Commander E’tten agreed.  "An easy pathway into the heart of Lor Space, connected to numerous other regions.  And just one of a few in Lor Space.  Naturally we have taken that very seriously as you can see, while still accommodating the increased efficiency created for intergalactic trade."

 

He then looked back up toward the wormhole.  "I am not sure anyone has been able to confirm whether all the possible destinations of the network are known or not.  There have been studies of the network, and likely will be more, so I imagine there is much about it that is unknown.  Among the most important things that I have had to know about it is that in addition to allowing far quicker travel between various points, its occasional instability has resulted in ships being lost completely, or ending up at the wrong destinations.  More than a few transport pilots tell stories of encountering strange creatures within the wormholes."

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