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His eyes went a bit wide when she mentioned the possibility of Afareen missing out on her grandchild's entry to the world.  "Oof, I can only imagine -- and dread to think what she'd say to me!"  He let out a nervous laugh, "so I wasn't planning on it being anywhere near as long as Daedalus & Pseudo's trip -- that was eighteen years!  My original plan was for something like on that show, a five year journey."  Memories of them watching and laughing at old sci fi shows from the 1960s, and the 1990s sequels, flashed in his mind.  "But I've been leaning more towards an idea you'd suggested, a series of month-long trips rather than one multi-year journey.  It would slow exploration down, yes, but it would be safer.  And the regular check-ins may put certain people more at ease with the idea of us being out there."

 

Left unsaid was his hope that such an arrangement could mean fewer commutes for her, and more time together.

 

He chuckled at her assessment of him, "well, I have had a lot of time to think about this particular existential horror, so I guess familiarity breeds... tedium?  But, yes, that is my understanding, as Phantom explained it to me -- I was both mother and midwife to a spawn of a Nameless One!"  He chuckled again, weaker this time.

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Her response was a snicker. "Don't let her fool you. She loves you like a son. Even if she is too proud to admit it until you put a ring on a my finger."

 

"Quite a few people would be happier if we checked in occasionally. For both of us." Fulcrum looked into her tea cup, swirled it, and took a sip. "Do you need a five year journey? Because if you do, we can make this work. I just have obligations here I can't leave that long. Commitments I can't or won't walk away from. Maybe I shouldn't have even suggested going with you. You could go out there and really find yourself."

 

Crossing her legs, she reclined in the chair, still holding his hand. A sheepish look crossed her face. "Regardless I wanted to bring up what I meant by commute. You mentioned a shuttle, or perhaps picking up a pod at CoVic. After all of that, I started wondering how fast I could fly in space. No air resistance, microgravity, etc. Sooo I may have done a few short trips off world. How fast is the Weltraumwohnmobil?"

 

At his weaker chuckle, she didn't say a thing. She simply freed her hand and began running her fingers through his hair again. That techorganic hairdo she seemed to like.

Edited by Dariusprime

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Another thought crossed his mind.  Inwardly, he smiled.

 

He shrugged slightly, "I can't say how long I'd need.  Nor, really, how long the journey will be, given all the things that could happen out there.  We could get sucked through a wormhole and spat out into another galaxy, kidnapped and enslaved -- I'd really rather not go through that again -- or the ship could suffer some damage and we'd be stranded on another planet -- another thing I'd rather not go through again."  He chuckled again, bittersweet, remembering their time off-world during the Incursion.  Then he looked at her, and his heart melted again, "no, no, I'm glad you volunteered; I was going to ask you anyway, I was just having a difficult time figuring out how.  Solitude is good, but too much can be harmful.  Besides," he reached up to caress her cheek, "I can't think of anyone else I'd rather share the wonders of space with than you."

 

As she sat back, Penny made her mild irritation known.  Viktor slid his hand down her arm and across her hand, squeezed it, then withdrew so he could give the Lady of the Apartment another round of two-handed deep tissue massage.  He smirked at her admission, "sneaking off on your own, eh?"  He laughed, this time fully joyful, "how wonderful!  How far did you get?  Oh, ah, it can go about as fast as the Pegasus-class spaceplanes Daedalus built for the League.  A cruising speed of near-light speed, so it can reach Pluto in about, oh, six hours.  At maximum, it can reach Pluto in a few seconds, and about twelve hours to reach Alpha Centauri.  To reach the Andromeda Galaxy would take... about seven centuries.  But!," he quickly added, "I've a few ideas on some improvements.  So, how's that compare to your speeds?"

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"A wonderful bonding experience comparably, but I'd rather not go through the latter either." A wry smile at the memory turned to a tender one at his caress. "You old smoothie you. I will be right there beside you."

 

The beast, sated, reverted to fluid state. Thankfully, Penny was used to the kinetic side of this particular person. Why? Because the rewards were so worth the patience. The volume of her purring slowly crept upward. Any louder and she'd be rattling the furniture.

 

To Viktor's gentle teasing, Fulcrum did something rather out of the ordinary. She turned her face away, looking rather bashful. His laugh, however, elicited a chuckle of her own as she turned back. Her face scrunched up in thought, and the wheels in her mind could be seen whirring. Maybe the cliche that couples became more alike had a grain of truth. Her pride at her accomplishment just needed the right phrasing. She spoke up a few seconds later.

 

"Well, let's see. I started out for Mars and eventually Pluto. Alpha Centauri, being our nearest neighbor, was my first interstellar target and took about 0.5 seconds. I arrived at Polaris from Earth in less than a minute. If my math is correct, I should be able to reach Coalition Victory Station in about 45 minutes."

 

She continued stroking his hair.
 

 

 

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Penny's relaxed purr reverberated through Archeville, a pleasant sensation he'd become accustomed to, but now was able to better study thanks to his new form.  Interesting, 30 Hz.  On the low end for a housecat, but still within standard parameters.  Could that be tied to some of the unusual effects we've seen from you lately?  Setting your purrs to match dimensional frequencies...  it could happen, theoretically.  He looked the cat in the eyes, would you let me study you, little one?  I promise it would be completely non-invasive, and would come with many treats.

 

So focused was he on Mona's cat that he almost missed when she'd started talking.  But his eyes and ears recorded everything now, so a quick playback of the part he hadn't consciously listened to, played in his mind as she continued, let him easily catch up.  And then he played the entire pronouncement over again, to make sure he hadn't missed anything.  And then a third time, to make sure he was hearing her right.

 

"What?!"  His exclamation, plus his abrupt ceasation of massaging, drew an annoyed glare from his lapmate.  "You must have been going... and your energy levels..."  He turned to face her, his own face practically glowing with joy, "liebchen, that is amazing!  What was it like?  How did you navigate out there?  What did you see?"

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Fulcrum waited patiently and with great amusement. After all Viktor and Penny were having a bonding moment. Which recalled a few memories of early relationship days. Particularly how Penny only really started liking Viktor after the whole Incident. After the cat accepted him, Mona knew the relationship was solid. She never mentioned that Penelope Archimedes Teymourian was a non-negotiable part of the deal. Or that she was a he until 2013.

 

Whether that memory or Viktor's reaction contributed more to her Cheshire Cat grin was left to the ages. "Thank you. Thank you! The experience was... unique. The first time I just kept picking up speed until I felt like I hit some sort of barrier. Like g-forces, but I still felt like I was accelerating.  Until, well, I was just floating along while the stars were swirling around me. That was the odd part. The stars didn't pass by me. They dimmed, and seemed to spiral together in these odd patterns. But somehow I still knew where I was going. That may answer the navigation question. For a moment orbiting Alpha Centauri A, I was terrified I'd be lost out there. Then I just thought about where I wanted to go, and next thing I knew I was home. Intuition I suppose."

 

Tapping her fingers on the arm of her chair, she continued, "The pattern reminded me of the spirals I saw when I looked through the window of your house from the outside. I can only conclude I wasn't so much traveling faster than light than folding space-time around me. Which makes sense in light of your hypothesis that my superhuman strength may be partially based on warping space. You remember: helps explain why I don't pulverize the surface I'm touching or the collapsing the object under the strain."

 

"But as for what it was like," she nodded, still grinning, "It was joyous, beautiful, transcendent. The world just faded away into a void, yet there was this vibration like I was connected to the universe. Eternity. Infinity. Next thing I knew my vision was engulfed by this yellow light: Polaris. I was giddy. I watched an alien star burn and churn and eject glowing matter into space. I orbited a giant and its neighbors and saw new constellations. I'll be frank, I felt like a goddess. I want to do that again. And share that with you."

 

 

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He hung on her every word.  He loved seeing any metahuman explore and experiment with their powers, but he was especially fond of when Mona did it.  And not just because her powers had such physics-defying potential!

 

"That 'barrier' you felt may well have been some sort of dimensional breach.  Not a full breach -- you were still in this universe -- more like a stone skipping on the surface of a lake, in contact with another dimension just long enough to take advantage of its different natural laws."  His grin was starting to match hers, "I've done some theorizing on something similar, a 'skip drive,' but the power requirements were too prohibitive for the effects I was getting.  That's why I just kept Daedalus' own stardrive design for my craft.  Well, mostly, I did manage a few tweaks.  But this!," he moved one hand from a protesting Penny, who was swatting at his other hand in an attempt to get it to restart the massaging, and placed it on Mona's, "if we can figure out how you did that, and I can apply that to the Synthia Bower -- I mean, unless you'd want to get out and push -- then the possibilities would be endless!"

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Mona watched with growing concern at Penny's irritation. So much so that her first response was, "Please massage the cat before she slices your arm off." She was completely serious, if still grinning.

 

Once that was settled, Mona pondered the idea of pushing the ship, her face looked pinched up, if her eyes sparkled with whimsy. "Well...I suppose I could push. But I'd rather you run some tests while we race instead. That way I can spend some time inside the ship, and you can do what you do best. And perfect your skip drive too."

 

"I wonder which dimension. Perhaps the Zero Zone? Since it came up and all, and does sort of fit the bill. Sometimes I wish I had majored in the physical sciences or engineering like Mom wanted. Maybe I'd have a better background for this information. But that's not the way my brain is wired." She laughed lightly, still sporting the big grin. "Regardless, I'm glad the 'barrier' is supposed to happen. I don't want to rip another hole in reality. I worry about that sometimes."

 

She cocked her head to the side, "'Endless possibilities' is right, buster. Please elaborate! Tangentially, you don't suppose I could, you know, travel between dimensions?"

 

Mona had a long-standing pattern of enjoying Viktor's science talks. Gentle steering occasionally needed. Especially now, as a free man, she appreciated how patient, enthusiastic, and humble he was concerning his knowledge. Appreciation that showed on her face. No wonder he taught a little on the side. He'd be an excellent teacher as well as father. She made a mental note to mention that.

Edited by Dariusprime

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Viktor almost made a very lewd remark, but left it unsaid.  He did smirk and wink, though, before returning both hands to Penny and resuming his massage.

 

"Possibly the Zero Zone, but, given the energies involved in your powers, I'd wager it was the Terminus.  Which," he quickly added, "is not necessarily a bad thing!"  He knew she could be touchy about that subject, and had more than enough reason to be.  He slowly turned so he could get a better view of her while still seeing to Penny's demands.  "We know the Terminus surrounds all parallel dimensions, like the waters around a chain of islands.  And so any trip to a parallel universe -- such as Anti-Earth, or Earth-Ape, or Erde -- would require going through the Terminus, even if only for a few yoctoseconds.  Which also means, yes, theoretically, you could travel to other parallel earths!  You said that when you'd reached Polaris, you'd felt a vibration, like you were connected to the universe, yes?  That may well have been how you were perceiving the vibrational frequency of this universe.  If you could 'tune' yourself to another dimension's frequency, you might be able to travel there!"

 

He suddenly glanced down at Penny, and her claws, and remembered the slight spatial distortion he saw there earlier.  "Um, Mona, dearest, has Penny ever... disappeared for a time, even when you know she should not have been able to get out?  Or appeared suddenly in a place that you know she should not have been able to access?"

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Mona just winked back and listened.

 

To her credit, Mona only looked amused at Viktor's quick recovery at the mention of the Terminus. She nodded to his question and tapped her chin in thought at the idea of dimensional frequencies. The concept wasn't completely foreign to her, but not something that exactly came up when she was studying ultra-black pigments. Maybe she could... "Hmm..."

 

The grin faded slowly, replaced with a mix of consternation and puzzlement. Her eyes locked onto the cat. "That darn cat! I've given up trying to keep her inside. Last week she was gone all day, and I've yet to discover how she's getting out. I initially thought she was large enough to operate the door. But I blocked the doors and windows from the outside. Did I tell you about the liquor cabinet incident? Last month in Berlin, I found her sleeping inside the locked cabinet in my apartment. Now that we're home, I wonder how long it will take for her to escape again. I mean it's not like she can tele...port?"

 

She just stared at Penny. Penny 'Haters Gonna Hate' Teymourian sat there purring, her eyes closed.

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With his left hand, Viktor continued giving Penny a serious back massage, and he began to coo a bit to her in German.  He slowly moved his right hand down the cat's side, nuzzled her cheeks, then up her front legs and towards her paws.  He held one up a bit, gently pressing on the pad to make her claws extend.

 

"I've a feeling the question we should be concerned with," he whispered, "is not 'can she teleport?,' but more 'is her teleporting limited to movement through this spacetime, or can she breach dimensions?'"

 

Mona definitely heard a whirring and buzzing coming from Archeville's head this time.  The technorganic flesh around his right eye was shifting, first forming a monocle around the eye, dividing into three smaller rotating lenses, then telescoping outwards a few inches.  "There's no need to worry, kätzchen, I'm just trying to take a better look at you."

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