“That box of kibble is starting to look pretty good to me,” Cadmus said to whomever might be listening.
“Sorry,” Galen said, “I’ve been remiss. Just be patient a moment longer and I’ll fix something for us to eat and drink after I get us going. Besides, it’ll be better for you if your stomach is empty during the leap.”
“What should I do? Where should I be?”
“Just put your hand over Lonesome’s goggles and close your eyes.”
Cadmus did as he was told. At first nothing out of the ordinary happened. Then there was a crescendo of rumbling. He felt a vibration in the chair. Then he felt it in his skin, his muscles, his stomach, and his bones. It was as though somebody had reached inside him and pulled his internal organs down, up, or sideways – he couldn’t tell which direction. He opened his right eye, just a squint, and saw only whiteness out the window.
The pull on his innards diminished somewhat. The vibration lessened and the rumbling turned to silence. He opened his left eye and saw Galen puttering around in what looked like a kitchenette against one of the walls. He looked down at Lonesome who was panting and smiling, seemingly ready for anything. He removed his hand from the dagu’s goggles.
“What’s going on now?” Cadmus asked.
“I’m making us something to eat.”
“No, I meant what’s going on with the ship?”
“Oh. We’ve leapt off your moon, left 763, left Draco, and are traveling on a vector toward the center of the universe.”
“Didn’t you say the Frats might be in the opposite direction if there was a big bang?”
“Firstly, the big bang is not very likely because it’s a singleton. Secondly, if the Frats are not at the center of the universe then we’ll travel to the edge and try to find them there. Thirdly, it doesn’t matter where we think they are because they will find us by our intention.”
“So why didn’t we just stay put in my cabin in the middle of a rather picturesque lake or your cave?”
“Because that would not have broadcast our intention. Besides, we are only going where we went in our future, at least until we reach the event horizon.”
“So everything is determined in advance?”
“That’s the only rational conclusion.”
“Well, I don’t think that.”
“That’s why you and Lonesome are onboard.”
“And that’s why you don’t know what I’m going to think before I think it. So how do you know what I’m going to do in the future?”
“Do you think you can come to the table without any help?” Galen asked Cadmus.
“I’ll try.” Cadmus got up from the reclining chair tentatively and tried to think himself over to the table near the kitchenette. He walked unsteadily at first until he got the hang of it. He pulled out the chair and sat down.
Galen brought over a kettle of tea and bowl of fruit, laying it on the table. He put out plates, cups, and a loaf of bread. He sat down and poured tea for Cadmus and himself. “Consciousness and thought are not the same as action and physical being,” he answered. “Consciousness and thought are totipotent. They contain all possible states. Anything non-physical can develop from them. They are only limited by the structures through which they pass, structures which they create for themselves. Action and physical being are only multipotent at most and monopotent at least. They are limited by the structures of physicality, what you might call reality, at least the part of it you are aware of.”
“Don’t I have to think of doing something before I do it?” Cadmus asked through a mouth full of bread.
“Most of what you do, you do without thinking about it,” Galen answered. “You do it automatically, predictably.”
“But sometimes I think and then I act on that thought.”
“That’s what I’m banking on.”
After they finished eating Galen took Cadmus and Lonesome on a tour around the ship.
They walked up one hallway and passed the sleeping quarters. There were two hammocks suspended between walls in opposite corners of the room. There were a shower room and a personal service room for evacuating waste products. Up the hall was a simulation room and, beside that, an audio-visual communications room.
“After I give you the tour I promised Remi I’d give her a call.”
“Can you only call her from here?”
“No, I can call her from anywhere in the ship but the visuals are better in this room.”
“What is the simulation room for?”
“For exploring possibilities.”
They walked past an exercise room, a library, a music room, a storage room, and finally they came back to the main control bridge.
“Is that it?” Cadmus asked.
“No, there’s more downstairs.”
They walked down another hall past a huge engine room, a telecomm room, and a situation room. A little further down the hall they passed a closed door.
“What’s that room?” Cadmus asked.
“The war room,” Galen answered without embellishment.
Finally, they came back to the control bridge.
Cadmus tried to stifle a yawn. “What time is it?” he asked. He hadn’t seen a clock since he passed through the portal into the ship. He remembered he hadn’t seen a clock in Remi’s and Galen’s cave either.
“Time for you to get some sleep,” Galen smiled. “Besides, where we are, your question doesn’t make much sense.”
Galen walked Cadmus back to their sleeping quarters.
Lonesome was lying in his usual heap underneath one of the hammocks fast asleep.
“Should I take off my suit and goggles before I go to sleep?”
“No, leave them on in case you have to get up to go to the personal service room. You can take the suit and goggles off before you shower. Put them in the recycle bin before you step into the shower and they’ll be refreshed by the time you’re out. The molecules maintain their programming throughout the recycling.”
“Good night Galen.”
“Yes, I suppose.”
Cadmus lay down carefully in the hammock and turned off the bright lights, leaving only the soft ambient lights in the base boards. Soon they were snoring a soft duet.
The ship accelerated two orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light, leaving behind the local cluster of galaxies, known as the Draconian super cluster, and the largest artificial structure in this part of the universe.
If anyone had been watching this pin-point speck of a ship from afar, he would have surmised that its intention was lonely but brave.
from Out of Time