by Clint Wilson
Page 11 of 20The vehicles turned together. The larger one pointed out over
the blackness; the smaller one attached by the sturdy docking tube followed.
Then, with a quick thrust, they were gone. The humans finally began their
crossing of The Deadheart Sea.
They would travel for nearly twenty sleeps straight into the
nothingness before completely losing site of the wall they had left behind.
"Is it a pillar?" asked Tik.
"I would have to guess yes," replied Oranesh.
They were now near the middle of the Deadheart. They had been
enveloped in the blackness for many sleeps; and had of course, encountered
nothing but more blackness. The void seemed absolute, and made them feel
tiny and vulnerable. Now however, the warp drive scanner had picked up a
possible obstacle ahead.
"At either rate," continued the woman, "I'm going to slow down
so we can have a look." With that, she shut down the warp engines on both
vehicles and began reducing their speed. Flying at full warp required room;
room to travel in, because you were exceeding the speed of light and would
obviously move great distances; but also it required room for slowing down.
There were not many places in the enclosed labyrinth, where one could fly at
full warp for very long. Tunnels in the maze always- eventually turned.
There were many great long travel-ways though. The Bimini Road in the
Kalduch Bohagas sector for example, had been over a light-year in length,
and was as wide as a small community in several sections where life-forms
had carved out space over the eons.
They waited, and then eventually the obstacle came into view.
"There," he said pointing out the cockpit windows.
It started out thin. It was like a silver thread in the
distance, running up and down with both ends disappearing from sight. They
could make out no bottom or top. Something was not right.
Their sensors showed that the thing was still a long way away.
Their small flood-lights could not possibly be illuminating the object. It
would still take almost two minutes for any light from them to even reach
As they drew closer, the thread turned into a piece of rope.
Eventually, it grew into the shining metallic pillar.
"It's absolutely massive," said Oranesh. "Sensors say it's
over a million and a half klicks long. But the strange thing is its
luminescence. I've never seen anything like it."
Challyobite pillars were known to emit some light, and it was
known that the larger the pillar, the brighter the light would be. This was
something they had never seen before. It was as big around as the planet
that had once spawned their race. They did not know of the planet's
existence, or even what a planet was for that matter. They only knew that
the pillar was unimaginably huge.
As they slowly drifted past the behemoth strand in the middle
of the sea, the extreme brightness of the brilliant object caused them to
turn their windows to dark tint. It shone liquid silver. The two small
vessels were merely a dot on the glowing face of the presence that lit up
their entire sky. A sky was something else that they knew nothing of. They
continued to study the pillar; their jaws hanging agape in wonderment.
It was staggering to think of how many infinite trillions of
microscopic Challyobites were writhing around in the mass.
Together the humans ate a meal, looking out the starboard and
aft windows as they passed the pillar by.
As time went on, they slowly built up to warp drive speed
again. Still, they watched for a very long while as the pillar faded from a
silver rope, to a piece of thread, to a wisp of almost nothing, and then
disappeared entirely. The darkness ahead loomed through the cockpit windows.
The red numbers on the orientametre showed the same coordinate that they
almost always showed- Thirty-two.
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001 Clint Wilson, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author. The author has submitted the work in accordance with and in agreement with the following Submission Guidelines.