The South Seas
Back to Hreme
Exploring The Pantope
Back to Middle Earth
New York City
On the Dance of Hours
Back to the Pantope
Back to the Dinosaurs
Dumping the Diadem
Cross Time Logs:
Back to Jack
Saving the Hierowesch
Off to See the Wizard
Search for Holmes
We left the group scattering all over the Jack after having been attacked in the pizza parlor downstairs from their new quarters. After a couple moments of flying, both Cantrel and Chris get a bad feeling about this, and the entire group decides to meet back together with the new people. Cantrel's not sure what's up, but he has the impression that this is all a diversion for something. What, we don't know.
Chris has Bambi call KaiSen to give KaiSen the lowdown on what's happening here. Being attacked cross-temporally after having had a temporal embargo put on us looks rather fishy, and since KaiSen is technically our ally, we want it to know that we're not terribly pleased with Allied Epochs just now.
Commander Chen calls us up to find out what's going on. He's under attack, and finally wants to know how we are. He thinks his group is doing well, but he's not quite up on temporal security, yet.
After a lot of confusion over the attack, we finally get our inkling of what's really going on when Jock radios us. He says that he's discovered sabotage on the factory and it's thrown itself into a full acceleration collision course with the Jack. Great. The collision will be in about eight hours.
We talk with him some and find out that whatever's gone wrong is an active sabotage of the cybernetics in the factory. As Jock tries to steer away from the Jack, the guidance systems keep steering back. We decide that we should go out there to help for a variety of reasons, including our having the most easily acquired ship that is speedy enough in interplanetary space to make a rendezvous.
We head out, taking with us a handful of gravitics experts, themselves mostly robots.
It's a several hour flight out to the factory, with which we get to spend a lot of time thinking of ideas and discussing them, and realizing how securely we're all tied up.
Once the disturbance on the Jack was cleaned up, we found that there were two more hit squads like the one that met us roaming our pod. They've all been captured by the Jack Patrol, although they had to stun whole city blocks to do it.
- The Jack's communications links were the primary targets of the temporal invaders, and they have managed to isolate the Jack from the rest of the galaxy. This means that we can't get any messages to anyone who might time-travel to help with the factory. We've thought of all kinds of ways to get a message out, and have been stymied at every turn.
- We have no time-travel equipment with us at all, including any interstellar ships, save for Ashleigh's untested time machine.
- Whoever (we're assuming Rashid's people) sabotaged the factory, got the JAZZ (or JAS or whatever they're called) security robots. When Jock sent them out to try to disable the factory, they started hunting him. Fortunately though, he has managed to mostly blind the factory by turning off its telemetry. Unfortunately, with those things crawling around, our boarding is now extremely risky. To give you an idea of how risky, one of the things that Jock was worrying about when he sent out the JAS robots was that the concentrated firepower of a dozen of them might melt through the factory walls, which are several feet of stone.
We have spent a long time considering various options and marveling at how well we've been tied up. After a good deal of thought, we've arrived at the meta-plan that comes from the notion that whoever set the trap for us has already thought of all the obvious solutions and prevented them from being viable. So we need to think of something not obvious.
Just in case you're wondering here are some of the plans we've considered and discarded for one reason or another:
Okay, so where does that leave us? Why, in a serious pickle, of course. One of the bright sides of it is that we're outside the Jack, and as long as Cantrel can be talked out of suicidal missions, then we'll live. Yeah, that's not very very bright as bright spots go, is it? But remember it is frequently a good idea to count your blessings, and not being among the tens of thousands who are at serious risk is better than nothing.
- We've considered ramming the factory at high speed with our ship in hopes of deflecting it. We've even considered our options of escape.
- We have also thought of a rendezvous with the nose of the factory and thrusting against it to deflect it. Our thoughts are that we're likely outmatched in engine power.
- We have abandoned all plans involving our boarding the factory on the grounds that anyone with any sense has a significant fraction of the security robots awaiting our arrival.
- We have discarded all sub-plans of the above that involved cutting our way in. It just won't be sneaky enough.
- We have discarded all plans involving time travel on the grounds that we're really not equipped for it, and our opponents probably considered that option most heavily when they plotted against us.
- We have discarded all plans involving Jock's gaining control of the factory.
- First of all, he's a caretaker, not a commando, and the amount of thought that he went through before the security robots were loosed rates him for a Medal of Honor already. We can't rely on his coming up with more good ideas.
- Second, he's being hunted.
- Third, whoever suborned the security robots might have gotten into his backup storage. He really shouldn't risk it.
Looking at our resources, and seeing what's open to us that is unexpected (again, going with the theory that the obvious solutions won't work), we come across Ashleigh's time machine. Ashleigh got the bright idea that the time machine can probably be tinkered to generate the field it generates to be much larger, but with smaller effect. Like what went on in Braithewaite's house in London, perhaps? Anyway, the idea is that if we generate a field that alters the flow of time near the telemetry devices of the factory, then it will inadvertently steer itself away from the Jack, simply because it will think the Jack is in the wrong place. Like it? We do, it's simple, elegant, and unexpected. Let's just hope Ashleigh and Jeremy will get the thing built in the time, and let's just hope it works.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.