Sunday, 4 December 2011

Unexpected Voyage

   Hello, loyal followers! I am so sorry for my absence. Some of you might have enjoyed this hiatus in hilarity, and to you I graciously demure, expressing my wish that you enjoyed the respite. To those who found it in their hearts to miss me, I offer my sincerest apologies! It appears that my hyperwave transmissions did not reach my home network, and so you have been subjected to several months of silence.

   Now, bear with me please because this is a rather long story! When I last posted, I was trying to solve the riddle of the stag beetle bug and the door in the tree. The day after posting that story, I locked myself in my lab for a few hours and ended up with a pretty good spatial stability meter. Shinning up the tree again, I positioned it carefully on a branch not far from where the doorway was outlined. After a couple of days I had some very interesting readings! There was clearly an intermittent controlled standing wave being generated at that precise location from somewhere above me - probably from a geostationary orbit.

   OK, so the next decision wasn't an easy one! I had no way of penetrating whatever cloaking device was in use: I had already tried that. My only option was to try to slip through the anomaly when it was open. That night I loaded up with some useful gear, backed up my self-pattern via hyperwave just in case, and climbed the tree to wait.

   As soon as the readouts on my detector began to flicker, I got ready. A faint glowing outline grew brighter over a few seconds, and suddenly the door vanished and the beetle-bug flew out. Without hesitation, I dived through.

   Wormhole travel becomes boring when you've done it a few times. The only really exciting part is the discontinuity between the origin and destination - and once you begin to expect that, it's no surprise. Unfortunately, the rather pretty tunnel of special effects used in so many science fiction films is just a dream: the journey is effectively instantaneous and so is never experienced, as such.
   In the case of this particular discontinuity I was expecting almost anything. For all I knew, I could have ended up in space without protection. However, my hunch turned out to be right. The bright flash of my passage through the door changed abruptly to the familiar orange walls of a Local Federation Police vessel. I was in a locked antechamber with plastic walls (metal probably interferes with the equilibrium of the instability when the generator is running, I surmised).

   Shortly afterwards, a Vice-Prefect uniform appeared on the door monitor and the face perched on the top of it, a Polavvian one, grinned at me awkwardly. "Welcome! How clever of you to join us." it said with smooth confidence. The awkwardness had been merely an unfamiliarity with the way grins work, I suppose.

   Hmm, I've just realised that this story could go on for an entire book, so I'm going to have to summarise...

   The Feds explained to me that they were chasing the Utnepi'i responsible for the spatial anomaly prank that I found in the Cotswolds back in May (and foolishly drove into without checking my calculations). The reason they had been watching me was that they thought I might be an accessory because I had used it for transport.
   I asked how they had known about my journey through the anomaly, and they told me that the 16-year-old gang boss in Indonesia (who was not from the Epsilon nebula as I had thought, but actually much further away, somewhere in Andromeda) bore me a grudge and had reported my presence to them in return for an amnesty on his petty crimes.

   In order to convince the Feds of my innocence I have been assisting them with their enquiries ever since. This has involved no small amount of travel, as we tracked the Utnepi blighters through almost every sector in spiral arm B: they were making for the galactic core, where they were probably hoping to evade capture due to the star density. Eventually we ran them to ground in what's commonly called a "dark rock" (a planet orbiting a neutron star), where they were hiding underground until the heat was off - which, given the legendary determination of a Polavvian Fed, and the time it would have taken to search, would have been a good few centuries (Earth reckoning), making this an extremely dull way for anybody to lay low. However, since unauthorised spatial engineering is punishable by anything ranging from two thousand years' imprisonment for a first offence all the way up to (for repeated and unrepentant crimes) enforced stasis for countless millennia, emerging only after the stars of the cosmos have all been extinguished... well, one could scarcely blame them.

   The arrest itself was a somewhat cumbersome affair, because the Utenpi'i had surrounded their hiding place with a dual-polarity labyrinth of space-time, cunningly ensuring that in order for us to catch them, they had to be arrested before we arrived. This led to a number of startling encounters with our future selves along the journey, which we only understood once we had been through the process and ended up backtracking through time roughly a dozen times, sometimes in the same sector, in order to find the rather ingenious pranksters at the centre of their little relativistic nest. My head is still reeling somewhat from solving the puzzles thereby presented, but I was rewarded with the gratitude of the Feds, who aren't used to dealing with this kind of cerebral crime, and I am now on their list of honoured consultants, giving me various useful privileges throughout the galaxy - of which I fully intend to take advantage when possible!

   The whole adventure took a good many years: although the hyperwaves didn't get home and get published here, I of course kept the messages, and I may write the story in a separate volume at some point. I discovered the hyperwave routing errors before returning home, and of course I realised that I needed to get back in time to the moment after I departed, in order to continue the blog consistently. However, those Knucklefeds made an error when calculating my exit point from their wormhole, and returned me several months later than intended, which is why you missed out on a few months of my babbling.

   I need to deal with a few awkward pieces of admin, largely relating to tax and rent payments, but in a little while I'll be settled again and able to start writing more of these posts. Thank you for your patience!

   The thing that I find most irritating is that due to my absence, I missed the award ceremony for my invention of "Cockpoppies", and much to my chagrin, the journal of botanical engineering now lists my honour as "posthumous". I shall have to correct this in Huckleberry Finnly fashion in due course - but I haven't the time at the moment.