Chapter 11: Dangerous Dimensions
Copyright© 2017 by Hunter Johnson
“It seems that I’ve plenty of time to get a crystal. Eight days gives me ample time to both get a crystal and then adapt to it. I’m going to contact Lucia now.
“That was a very interesting briefing, thank you very much Connie. I expect I’ll see all of you in a day at the most.”
Jason contacted Lucia.
“Lucia when you’ve some time I’d like to meet with you to get your help to get a crystal. We have a window of opportunity where we have eight days’ travel before we face our next set of enemies. Is that enough time to get a crystal and adapt for a primitive savage?”
“Go and have some lunch as soon you can, so you can eat and digest it, as you will become nauseous in the trans-dimensional room. I’ll come to your canteen at two thirty. I’ve a few things that I need to do first and then I’ll help you with this, with the greatest of pleasure. Eight days is tons of time, even in the worst possible case.
“My crystal helps me recover more quickly after injuries, and yours may do the same if you are lucky. I was able to use my crystal after less than one day. The longest I’ve ever heard of is a week, and that’s only a rumor. In our group of two hundred everyone was functioning in two days. Few people are in the trans-dimensional room for longer than a day. The longest I’ve ever heard of someone being there was for two and a half days. There’s much that I can say to prepare you, but I shall do my best.”
Lucia ordered a small meal when she arrived at the canteen.
“The computer spans eleven different trans-dimensional rooms. They are clustered around the computer which has different parts of itself in different dimensions to take advantage of the different characteristics of each dimension or universe. We only find crystals in one of the rooms. I’ve used the room I’m sending you into on the ship for marines, previously. They went to get their crystals, when we have done training on the ship.
“I’ll take you to the room where you will find crystals. The beasties that live in that dimension attack people but they don’t meddle with the computer.
“The first thing that I need to make you aware of, is that the ship was correct, in warning you, about the dangers of the trans-dimensional room. The room connects to a much bigger space. It’s simply one room as part of a much larger whole. When you go into the room the denizens of that dimension slowly become aware of your presence and the longer you are there the more likely someone or something will attack you. I don’t know how you can defend yourself. I don’t know anyone who can tell you. I do know that weapons are ineffective. No one I know has ever fought them, but certainly people have not emerged. It’s usually one in three hundred who don’t get out of there alive.
“Some physicists refuse to talk about them as trans-dimensional facilities. They say that they are entry points to different universes where different rules of physics apply. They don’t know the physics of those universes fully, but do know enough to construct the electronics and programs that use the unique properties of the universe or dimension appropriately. I still call them dimensions as do most people.
“When you go into the room everything looks very strange. You feel strange as well. You will feel as if you are standing on an irregularly moving surface. Look down and make sure that you walk on a firm surface. The firm surface looks like planks. Things look strange and fractured. You will feel unbalanced and nauseated. Look for a table and move to it as quickly as you can while balancing carefully. I only had one crystal on the table. I managed to fit my crystal quickly into the slot. Pick up the crystal and look at the base and it’ll give you an idea what to look for as a slot. For most people the slot is on the table. It’s pretty weird that something that’s part of you is out of you.
“Some people have a bigger selection of crystals and battle to find the one that fits into their slot. The longer you are there the more likely you will hear sounds of the beasties approaching.
“These beasties or entities could be very dangerous or they could be helpful,” she explained. “Some people describe a beastie that has helped them.
“Everyone I know experiences motion sickness developing after a few minutes. That makes you vulnerable to attack. Remember You must concentrate and walk on moving planks and walk quickly to a table on which you will find your crystal or a selection of crystals. If you fall you will be krevil meat and dinner for a beastie.
“You need to select an appropriate crystal for you. Your instincts will guide you. You will see what looks like a board on the table with a pair of holes. You will only be able to slot one crystal into the holes. There are apparently rare people who can slot more than one crystal into place and there are rumors that the royals can do many more. I don’t know how they survive the process. The more slots the harder it is to find and fit crystals. It’s not a good idea to come back to fit extra crystals so the rumor says. Every time one goes back to a trans-dimensional room the beasties are aware more quickly. That’s why no one accompanies you. There are lots of boring hypotheses as to why this may be the case, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re idle speculation.
“Each crystal has two prongs which fit into your slot. You can clearly see these prongs, and as they have slightly different spacing, only one crystal will fit into its unique slot. Each crystal has prongs that fit into a unique pair of holes. Most people appear to know their unique crystal instantly. Occasionally people have had to try more than one crystal to fit their slot. Jason, go about it calmly and systematically, but quickly. The first time you go in you’ve the longest time before you are detected. Only one, in three hundred, don’t return. One in three hundred isn’t insignificant, as it represents the biggest cause of loss of Marines in training.”
“Generally, black crystals are more for administrative types. They were appropriate for military generals and for admirals and increase skills in strategy. The best crystals for most marines were red. Crystals are far more versatile than people realize. Most computing people use blue crystals. Most of the crystals are an inch in size and are rarely larger. No one knows how the table gets stocked. Each individual has an entirely different group of choices if they have any choices at all. No more than one person can be in the room at time. More than one person leads to overwhelming attacks, as we have heard from a few people who have escaped.”
Jason knew he would understand when he was there. He had no further questions. They walked over to a room adjacent to the computer. Lucia said that she would leave a few sentries outside of the room to wait for him and help him walk back to meet her. She said that people were often quite weak when leaving the room.
Jason apprehensively opened the door. He felt air rushing past him, and into the room. He looked down carefully and walked onto the plank in front of him. The door slammed behind him. His ears felt as if they were blocked. He looked around. The room looked like he was in a Salvador Dali painting. Nothing seemed continuous. The planks looked distorted. The room was dim; below the planks he could see blackness. The room seemed to move irregularly. He walked quickly to the table that he clearly saw in front of him, before nausea overtook him. There was a very wide plank to stand on in front of the table.
Despite his recently improved balance, he felt as if he was going to fall due to movement that felt like a boat on a choppy irregular unpredictable sea. He understood he could die but didn’t have a fear of falling. He felt confident.
The table was replete with huge crystals. He didn’t want to waste time counting them but there were more than hundred and could have been as many as a hundred and fifty. Most of them were bigger than four inches. There were red ones, blue ones, one gorgeous 7-inch green one looking like a sparkling emerald, a few clear ones, a massive black one the same size as the Emerald and a number of smaller ones of miscellaneous colors. The Emerald attracted him the most. He picked it up and clearly knew what to look for in his slot. His heart sank when he saw a board on the table with hundreds of slots. It pleased him as he felt this was confirmation of his royal background, but it scared him when he realized the daunting task in front of him. He began to feel increasing nausea. The plank beneath him rose and fell convulsively and irregularly. He heard disembodied voices calling in the distance.
As quickly as he could, aware of the urgency of the situation, he grabbed the green crystal and quickly went systematically through each slot to try and fit it in. His nausea grew and he felt himself slipping from the board. The disembodied voices were coming closer and were sounding increasingly threatening.
He nearly had a heart attack when he felt a tugging at his leg and saw a small distorted gnome like Dali-esque creature tugging at his trousers. It was a small creature with a strange green top hat and an impeccable suit in red and yellow with brown shoes.
The creature spoke gibberish. Jason was quite impatient due to his level of nausea and said, “For heaven’s sake! Speak in a language that I can understand or I’ll kick you off the plank.”
The creature began to speak like he was making an announcement from Buckingham Palace. Jason realized it was telepathic but he couldn’t believe that a telepathic accent could exist.
“I do believe that I can be of help to you in view of who you are. I can put the crystals into the slots and I’ve a whole lot more for you in my attaché case. I shouldn’t be in this unfortunate place and would like you to take me with you when you leave here.”
Jason was aware of the clock ticking. He looked at the table and at the crystals and the task overwhelmed him.
Jason thought that he was a good judge of character. To judge someone took time and time was moving on and his threat was growing. How could he judge this little person? Seeing a little person was not something that Jason would have expected and his paranoia which was high at best since he was headed for the Empire ascended into the stratosphere. Jason imagined himself possessed by demons and spirits. He saw himself under the control of evil wizard who would convert him into a mindless zombie serving him for an eternity.
He decided despite the limited time to continue to try and slot in the Emerald while he spoke and miracle of miracles it slid into position. It had an unfortunate immediate effect. He saw spots in front of his eyes and felt odd. It was like the aura before he got a migraine. On the positive side his environment stabilized. Jason felt much less nauseous. The floor stopped lurching and the environment straightened out. The price he paid was his headache getting worse. The little man looked less bizarre and was standing there patiently. The little man said insistently, “We must hurry, time is passing, they’re coming we need to get out of here. I can push all the crystals into place and I’ve a whole lot more in this case. But I want to come with you and create my place.”
Jason knew that he didn’t have time to try and laboriously fit the crystals into the slots and decided that he was going to take a risk.
“If I agree in principle to take you what is this place that you will create and what are the implications for me?” Jason asked.
“I can’t for reasons too complex to explain simply how I accompany you out of this place. I’ll create a trans-dimensional space for myself that will occupy space that you don’t use within yourself. I’ll be able to be an adviser to you. I have no doubt that I can be very valuable to you.” He looked at Jason quizzically tilting his head to the side.
Jason’s head started to thump and he could feel pain growing on the left side of his head and his left eye was very painful. He could barely think.
For some reason, the creature appealed to him.
“Very well then, let’s get this done and get out of this place as soon as we can,” said Jason hurriedly. He heard sounds from beneath him getting louder. They were coming closer. The little person who reminded him of a miniature Winston Churchill moved to the table. He turned to Jason. “My name is...”
His name sounded bizarrely, considering his recent thoughts, remotely like Winston to Jason. Jason similarly introduced himself. His headache was getting worse. Winston continued to chatter as he rapidly slotted the large crystals on the table into the board and added many seven to ten inch crystals from his case to fill further slots. Jason watched one dull very large multicolored crystal bounced from the case and despite Winston grabbing for it, it slotted itself into a slot and disappeared. He heard Winston muttering to himself in frustration.
“Your lordship that’s about as much as we can fit on your system today. I’ve used all the crystals including one that I didn’t intend for you to have which somehow found its way to you. You’ve many more slots left.
“The creatures are close and you need to push to keep them at bay. I can’t do it for you.”
Winston closed his case and disappeared. Jason’s headache worsened exponentially. He had experienced migraines before but this was the worst that he could recall. He heard disembodied voices coming closer. He looked back and saw with horror that plank to the door he had entered the room had disappeared. He forced himself to walk along much thinner planks trying to angle himself towards the same side of the room that he had entered.
Jason heard gibberish in his head. It first sounded just as Winston had sounded when he introduced himself. Winston’s voice soon became clearer.
“Jason just concentrate on one step at a time. You are heading in the correct direction for the other door.”
The migraine became even worse. Jason dry retched as he felt waves of nausea from the migraine. He could see flashes of light and then as if from a distance, he heard the voice of Winston, encouraging him to move forward. He blindly stumbled forward feeling his foot leave the plank. He felt himself tilting to the side. He felt himself falling. He grabbed the side of the plank and heaved himself up again. A monumental pain shot through his head as if he had been stabbed through the eye with a dagger. He decided that no matter what pain he felt he would move forward. He heard Winston say one of them is coming be prepared to push!
An enormous white apparition appeared next to him. He saw hands extend towards him and a wide gaping maw open with foot long teeth. A long tongue snaked through the mouth curling towards him.
In an instant, he felt rage. This creature wouldn’t obstruct him and his purpose. Without thinking he shot his right arm out and screamed, “Die, you bastard!”
He pictured the flames of hell in his mind. To his surprise a blue flame shot out of his hand and incinerated the creature.
He heard screams from below and voices talking what sounded like a nonsensical language to each other, that seconds later resolved into language that he understood.
“He’s come, he has come.”
He heard it repeated by many different voices.
“Indeed, he has come,” he heard himself say, “be gone, or I’ll destroy every one of you! You will feel my wrath! I no longer wish to hear your puny voices.”
He wondered where that came from. He pointed his hand down and willed several powerful pulses of air. He heard screams from below. He shot blue fire into the darkness and briefly saw white forms below moving in circles. He heard screams.
Jason forced himself to continue walking. He could see ahead of him what looked like a bulkhead, but heard the voices getting closer, “Get him while you can, strike now.”
He reached the bulkhead and saw the door. He felt as if they were pulling him. The anger returned and he looked behind seeing huge apparitions moving towards him. He turned and pushed at them imagining that he was pushing them with a massive force, “Push off!” he shouted recalling again that Winston had said something about pushing. He opened the door walked through and looked back to see broken and shattered white figures tumbling downwards into the abyss. He slammed the door shut.
“Jason, you are safe!” Jason heard Winston say.
He was safe! He was in the ship corridor.
He could no longer tolerate the headache and collapsed. He heard footsteps running towards him, but didn’t have the energy to move. Someone shouted to get a stretcher. He heard someone say that he was not surprised that he had collapsed as he had been in there for three days.
“Jason, you’ve so many crystals that it’s going to take some time to integrate them all. I’ll have a lot of work to do to help. I don’t know exactly how long it’ll take it could be up to a week. I also don’t know the influence of that other crystal and how it may integrate with all the rest of them. It’s a very powerful but very dangerous crystal,” he heard Winston’s soothing voice saying before he lost consciousness.
He awoke to the voice of the no longer quite so arrogant medical AI. “I’m dealing with the support of your vital functions.”
The AI was not talking to him any longer as if he was a three-year-old idiot child, there was now a tone of respect.
He noted that his headache had moderated. It was now more pounding than stabbing, but it was tolerable.
“My role was to ensure that your life functions were maintained without waking you. I can’t moderate your pain very much more as it’ll interfere with the process,” she said in a very much more kindly voice that he had heard before. “You are at day eight and the process is well advanced.
“Body changes have been initiated but at this stage it’s largely further loss of fat, and commencement of some muscle reorganization as part of what looks like a major rebuild. The integration of the crystals into your brain continues; the crystals will complete their integration within twelve to fourteen hours at most, and you will be able to leave the pod. Your headache is likely to diminish of its own accord within that period. The integration of one hundred and forty-six crystals is unprecedented in my experience, and has occurred very much more rapidly than expected. Never have I heard of more than forty-five crystals, and that was in the emperor.
“I’ve kept your visitors informed of your state. Had you not been in the pod you would have experienced a severe migraine for eight days and someone would have needed to wake you to use the toilet and to eat and drink. The process of crystal integration requires considerable energy and you would have lost considerable weight. You will need to eat twenty percent more than usual for the next few months, perhaps longer. The first crystal to integrate, the Emerald has hastened your rehabilitation. You will be back to reasonable function in three days physically, but will be weak when you leave the pod. You can return to your full exercise as soon as you feel able to do so. I suggest you return for rehabilitation daily for the next three days.
“You can open your eyes now,” said the pod gently and compassionately.
Jason slowly opened his eyes. The light was dim. Jason could see out of the viewport in front of him. There was nothing to see. He wondered where Winston was as he had not heard from him for the eight days. He wondered if Winston was still with him. Somehow, he knew he was. Perhaps he didn’t want to alert the medical AI to his presence.
Jason again woke five hours later feeling invigorated. The Pod opened. The stairs folded out as he climbed from the pod. He was not as stiff as he expected. He stretched and climbed out as naked as the day he was born. He saw that he had an audience of all the senior military people and even Stan was there to greet him.
“Jason, I see that you don’t do things by halves,” laughed Malone as the others repressed giggles behind her. Jason walked to the medical dresser and dressed in casual clothes.
“Yes, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “it was a bigger business than I expected, but here I am; and surprise, surprise, I’m rather hungry!” He smiled and added, “I’m really pleased to see all of you here and hope you can accompany me for whatever meal of the day is appropriate and update me as to what has been happening.”
Jason ate a huge breakfast with Marie in close attendance, clucking over him and bringing him food. He was given bacon, pancakes, hash browns, eggs, and then a large steak. The others had already eaten. The conference table was replete with pastries. The women drank a gentle black tea much like Oolong tea from Earth.
How to ambush the ambushers
“We delayed a day before leaving our last location as the asteroid field was so rich and we could recover very useful materials and minerals. We increased the manufacture of missiles and stored energy and charge for the weapons. We have enough ammunition for a sustained battle and enough material to rapidly replenish the supply three times over. As time was still of the essence we decided to proceed to our destination. We feared that you had died. No one had previously emerged from a hyperspace room after thirty-one hours, but we kept the sentries at the door and you really surprised them when you opened a different door.
“While you were unconscious, the guards who found you, said you were talking to a Winston. It was a great relief to us that you had emerged.
“The medical AI wouldn’t tell us anything other than you had problems reintegrating your brain after the time you spent in the trans-dimensional room. She thought you would be in that state for two weeks,” said Phoebe.