In search of a world

The fast-fast running, from all available powers. He must escape – he can do no other. Info-scanner supplied him with solid data about the area surrounding him for thousands of meters around, but it still had a great shortcoming – it couldn’t provide the location of living beings. Only the information of the area – any tilt angle of any hillock and a tree, types of growing plants, land’s relief – shortly saying, lots of useless stuff. But it didn’t show the most important thing, and this became obvious only recently. Certainly, he still had a thermal sensor – a faithful companion of any dimension traveler – but it was useless almost the same way! After all, who could have possibly imagined that he will be thrown here and in that time period!

The only thing that could possibly rescue him were his own feet and capabilities of own “jet satchel”, working on liquid hydrogen. The last invention of physical science! Unsurpassed movement possibilities! Travel in a flash of time! Blah-blah-blah… Don’t know what, but modesty definitely wasn’t in the list of other numerous dignities of physicists of the Central Institute of Learning. Everything that this satchel was capable of is a half an hour flight above the ground at twenty-thirty meters altitude, and afterward, it could be safely sent to rest in peace in a warehouse for a new recharge. Actually, the root of the problem was that it had enough charge only for two-three minutes of travel…

Ten thousand meters… nine and a half… five hundred… four… They are getting close. He won’t escape that way. That’s it, the last chance of survival… He activated his “unsurpassed movement possibility”. The last chance of rescue… Stars in the eyes… dizziness… smack of blood in the mouth… He has to pay for this possibility. Whistle and roar behind his back, a throw up and forward through space, whistling of air in the ears…

Ten meters… twenty… twenty-five… enough. He turned info-scanner on once again. Now you will be of great help to me, buddy! Now we shall quickly locate disposition of our “Wild Boar”. Ten kilometers for a scanner is a pure trifle. And for him, ten thousand meters is really not a joke if they must be passed in two-three minutes term… Only to get to it, only to be able to escape, and his beloved “Wild Boar” will welcome him again. He will leave from here – it’s not his place. In this world and at this time.

Oh, what funny creatures he has met! He didn’t recognize them at first – was idly standing, silly staring, lost lots of precious seconds… It’s strange, but he has recognized the one whom he has met in this time only already being pursued in a run. Yes, he remembered them. Once in childhood in the computer base of his father’s spaceship, he came across a new fragment of still unfamiliar to him text:

“Information code: 1231256451.
Information type code: 534543254.
Section code: 534535.
Information type: general usage.
Access: public.
Cryptography method: none.
Enciphering: not applied.
Source: information banks of the Central Institute Of Learning.
Title: “Prehistoric inhabitants of the planet Earth, Milky Way Galaxy. Fauna. Dinosaurs.”

Everything was clear for him by that time except the last three sentences.

Dinosaurs… Here’s one of them before his eyes – behind his back, to be exact. Two hundred kilometers per hour, a wild roar of air in the ears… At least his space suit protects him from such “unsurpassed moving”. He was escaping. Tyrannosaur (for some reason he was confident that it was exactly him) could not run with such speed no matter what. They were divided by several millions of years yesterday, and today – only by distance. An extremely short distance.

Forward, forward, forward. He has no time for hesitation. Maximum possible acceleration, one-two minutes before the ending of air travel… A sharp peep of a sensor. Ten seconds before the ending of flight… Nine… eight… seven… Not it’s time for landing. Turning off engines. Turned-in feet. Sharp push and collision with the ground.

And then he cried from a sharp outbreak of pain in feat and mentally cursed himself with last imaginable words for own nonsense – he still hasn’t learned to land down normally for the last year, even though he was so proud of earned rank “Space pioneer. Class: veteran”. At least he operated his “Wild Boar” much better. Not every rookie could be proud of the received on a year-term basis skill class “veteran”, after all!

So, nine kilometers are already behind – somewhat about five hundred meters still remained. Yes, here it is – accurate and reliable radio signal of the beacon of his vessel visible on the info-scanner. Five hundred twenty-four meters on a straight line. Yes, exactly that way he was going to run. Only his right foot somewhat badly obeys him… No matter, forward! Periodic short-term jumps on one foot. He was reaching for his spaceship…

Battened-down locks. Emergency activation of engines. Dark enormous silhouette which has appeared on the horizon. Quicker, quicker, quicker! Now he is already under the defense of “Wild Boar”, but for this patrol starfighter, the beastie that has appeared on sight and was now quickly closing the distance could be a serious opponent. Therefore, he has to leave this planet, to go to another world – and another time.

Quicker, quicker, quicker! His hands operated automatically, needing no additional brain control – more than once or twice performed work of the traveler of dimensions, space pioneer. So, the analysis of galactic location… star system Miracle, planet Stigs. So, vessel’s planetary coordinates… I know it already! Now, further… Calculation of the trajectory and take-off parameters from the planet… Faster, faster, computer, – time presses on, time does not wait.

All done. Preparation of weapons system… No way! Not these pity guns will not help him while several minutes are required for their activation, a luxury which he does not possess. Next, next, next! Flight point – planet’s orbit. Yes, let’s get out into orbit, and then decide what to do next. Finally, the calculation of parameters is completed. Permission for launch? Yes, yes – I give that permission! Launch, launch, launch! Faster! Five hundred meters to the menace… Do it!

Push. Shake-up. Push again. Once more shake-up. Hitting with a head. Pain. Oblivion…

***

Slowly opened eyes. A terrible headache… Where is he? What’s with him? He looked around. Habitual terminals, control panels… “Wild Boar” – painfully familiar word came from the depth of his consciousness. His vessel, his loyal friend, time and again helping him in cosmic spaces. Him, bearing a proud name of the pioneer…

It turns out that he is alive then. He is alive? Alive! Have been rescued?

It’s necessary to understand where he is now along with a ship. A lonely though – “alive” at the tip of the tongue, steps towards the navigational terminal, a shaking here and there head, a stream of blood coming from the nose… He quickly inputs the query. Five, ten seconds…

“Inquiry number 1432435623.
Onboard computer of a space star probe vehicle “Wild Boar” class patrol fighter.
Location: star system Miracle, the orbit of planet Stigs.
Code of orbit’s coordinates: 65466456”.

Finally, he got it. Planet’s orbit. Before making such an unsuccessful landing with a head into a wall, he has managed to set a ship’s course and the vessel has safely orbited. For how much he has been moving in orbit? He has darted a fleeting glance at the time sensors. Second, two, three… His jaw started dropping slowly.

What?! He wiped his eyes. No, gears cannot mislead him – the universal decoder of time streams, invented by experts, could accurately and reliably detect a time interval in which he was present, and therefore his owner as well. But… but this? Plain letters and symbols, which have now gathered into totally senseless lines…

“Time streams counting type: zero years from our era on the planet Earth, Milky Way galaxy. Year: 3056”

Three thousand fifty-sixth year of our era in the earthly chronology! He departed from Earth into this system and it was two thousand two hundred seventy-fifth year, and now… three thousand? It’s impossible! Or… the collapser of time has been activated?

Collapser of time – the distorter of time streams, which allowed to make jumps into the past. The latest top invention. He was one of the few others who has received a right to mount this device into his vessel. He deserved it – but the task, given to him and other similar freelancing space rangers by the United Galactic Council for tasks of colonization of outer worlds and resource supply of distant systems, was uneasy. Yet the reward was also great – the war cruiser under own command and such an amount of credits that would suffice for ten normal lives.

Time jump, exploration of worlds in the past, accumulation, and storage of information into data banks of the vessel… Scientists hoped to solve problems of resources exhaustion in various star systems by transportation of cargoes in time – a grandiose and unpredictable idea at the same time. He was granted only a patrol vessel – fast and maneuverable, yet totally improper for any other purposes except for research of cosmic spaces. His goal was only to collect information – which is exactly what he has been doing until recent events.

So, the collapser of time was activated without precalculations. But it was designed only for travels into the past, but now… into the future, through several hundreds of years… how? But devices couldn’t lie… It turns out that he was carried away forward in time by eight hundreds of years? He must return back! No one has ever tried to use time collapser to make jumps hundreds of years forward… this device was simply not designed for this purpose. It’s necessary to test the generator.

He sat down near the control panel. The first inquiry, second, third – the machine still served him well. What?! D…destroyed? How? He felt a knot in his gut.

Launching up from the planet, he has forgotten in a hurry to activate atmospheric, dust and asteroid shields, serving as reliable protection to ship’s hull during its space travels. He has forgotten even to be fastened, that’s why he has hit his head during the take-off. A huge dent on the right side of a ship – just where the collapser is mounted… There was a collision? But the vessel didn’t descend from its course… probably, the onboard computer still guided a ship into orbit even after the crash… Asteroid? Possibly.

But what difference does it make now?! Now, when his unique possibility to come back home has been literally pulled out of his hands? When he was separated from the home by a timeframe of eight hundreds of years, alone before the unknown. He hardly managed to safely escape one danger – and here before him lies another one, even more serious, terrifying with its unpredictability… No, no, no! This is a delusion, unreality, dream! Then, weakened and exhausted by recent shocks, he has fallen on a floor of the ship and lost his consciousness…

***

A quiet and rhythmical beating of the heart. Deep calm breathing. Inhale. Exhale. And once again – inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. Calm down, be quiet. Everything is all right, everything is fine. There are no desperate situations – and he will find a solution for this as well. No matter how ridiculous and hopeless it might seem. Maybe –  yes, probably it does seem hopeless at first sight, but only as far as that. The second sight will be wiser, it will become the search for a way out instead of lamentation, the search for a solution. Now he was looking with the second sight.

The time collapser is destroyed. He cannot return to the past, unable to travel in time at all. He got stuck in this time and the most reasonable thing for him now is to keep living in it. Keep living here and now until he finds a mean of returning. Whether he can do that at all? Silly question, pointless. He doesn’t know the answer to it. Maybe yes, or maybe no. But the most reasonable thing he can do for now is to start mastering that time. Not for nothing, not in vain he proudly bears the name of space pioneer – and he shall become that pioneer in three thousand and God knows what year.

So, it is decided. Bridges are burned. There is no way to return back – that’s why we shall move forward. And who knows – what awaits him behind the horizon?

***

Turned off engines of the space vessel. Already painfully familiar landscape. Same planetary coordinates, the same planet in the same solar system. Here such a strange way has begun – and here it will continue.

He checked himself. Everything seems to be in place. A space suit is on him. All other electronic tinsel as well. A stock of liquefied food for a month. Weapons? Yes, here it’s hanging on his belt – a faithful laser semi-automatic gun LZ-195. Heart? There is courage, unshakable determination and awakened passionate thirst of adventures.

The sun in the blue-green sky of the Stigs planet. Miles and miles to go. Where? To a civilization. He truly hoped that such one does exist here. It’s unlikely that this planet with so picturesque inundated woods and plains has not been populated and colonized and hasn’t become a home for other inhabitants of this universe in three thousand and God knows what year. He believed in that and went forward, walked through plains of the planet.

***

Shot. Somersaults. Shooting again. He didn’t assume at all that such a beautifully looking from afar flora of this planet’s jungles can be so dangerous in a short distance. Lianas-predators, twisting around his feet and hands, blocking any access and possibility to get the weapon. Enormous plants like increased in twenty times sundews, that unmistakably guessed his location and greedily opened wide their “mouths” with full sets of sharp as needle leaves. Roots of trees, as though purposely clinging to his feet, blocking the passage… These jungles disliked strangers – but that became obvious not at once.

Breakthrough. Once again lianas braid him from feet to the head, trying to pull out a lethal weapon. Nay, you won’t get me so simply! Somersaults. Turning. Shot. The next liana flows down to the ground in the liquefied form. Here comes the next one… Shot. His face was struck by lumps of meanly smelling green substance… Whistle from above… Down! Something flies over his head. Will see later… Or better not to see at all?

To escape? And will he? Anyway, he has to try. So… the only fraction of a second to make a decision… it’s decided – we’ll break through! Somersaults on the ground far away from the spot where he sprawled on the ground so untimely… Here he jumps on his feet… again comes the noise of dissected air… a turn towards new danger… too late! He wasn’t on time. Extremely strained in turning of the body muscles… wild pain in joints… greet scale-like mass flowing near his face… something painfully seized his hand, trying to break a space suit… turning… his weapon drops out from his hands…

“This is the end,” a thought flashed in mind. Without a weapon, he is not much of a fighter…

Biting blow on a helmet. Stars in the eyes – but his helmet sustained a strike. Last, desperate breakthrough, an attempt to escape from the web which has braided him… No way! He was being held with a death grip. That way he may become that very dead one very soon… Something extremely heavy, which has fallen from above. Bloody haze which has laid eyes. No escape, no escape, no escape… No way out… This is the end…

No, no, no! I will not surrender! I am a warrior, and warriors don’t give up – they either prevail over the enemy or die on the battlefield. I have to prevail! I must… but how?! He couldn’t even move – carnivorous inhabitants of this planet were holding him as strongly as possible. How? How? How?! His mind was rushing here and there in search of a solution…

Fool! And how couldn’t I remember it earlier?! The invention that has already saved him once –  maybe it will help this time as well? It has to! Jet satchel, completely charged with liquid hydrogen, this “unsurpassed movement possibility” is not a joke at all. And only slightest efforts are required for its activation – a brain signal, sent to an armored neuro-pulse helmet of his space suit…

Already familiar roar behind his back… breakthrough… crunch and gnash… Here the branches which have braided him are being torn apart, some sort of creature flies up from his helmet and is carried away by a wild stream of air… Freedom! Ten, twenty meters… Freedom!

Oh, how great is that, when nobody is flattening and pressing you down, so you can breathe quietly and freely! Blue-green sky. Dozens of kilometers of planet’s jungles. Where should he go?

“Home,” came the uninvited thought.

No! He cannot return back home… not yet. His way lies here – under the sun of this world, in this world in search of a better one. He is eternal space wanderer, roaming through boundless spaces of the universe. He is a soldier, he is a researcher, he is a fighter. And his path lies here for now. Here.

***

Boundless kilometers lying ahead… Far away, as far as his gaze allowed to see, the same endless sea of jungles was stretching. Well, no… Here some sort of gleam appeared in the distance. His eyes were blinded for a moment. Some kind of enormous plateau, mountains… Closer, even closer, approximately five dozens of kilometers…

His breath caught in his chest. City! My God, a city! The planet is manned, it's habitable! “Brothers by reason, whoever you are, I have found you!” he thirsted to shout. This was an incredible feeling – to see and to know that you are not lonely in this world in three thousand fifty-sixth year…

Forward, move one! He must meet with the inhabitants of this planet! Yes, and now he has got a chance to return back to his time… It’s small, but nevertheless, but still… His heart painfully skipped a beat.

Thirty kilometers, twenty-five… Once again a flash before his eyes. Consciousness… As if someone’s mind was trying to get into his consciousness – quiet insinuating voice and silent contemplation. Eight, ten, twelve seconds… He has taken a breath. A strange feeling passed, but some remnants of this sensation were left inside him nevertheless.

He was being checked… Yes, they tested him. What for? There is no response. Did he pass a trial? Silence. Anyway, inhabitants of this planet still have not shown themselves and so he quietly continued his flight. Well, once we fly there – we shall know.

Here he is very close, only five kilometers remained. Only now he has seen that what was considered by him as a city didn’t resemble it at all in the true sense of the word. At least it didn’t resemble the city typical for the Earth in the third century.

Sparkling domes of buildings. There are no signs of either highways or roads – nothing which could remind him of the Earth city. Gardens, huge areas of gardens. Neither plants nor mechanized complexes or skyscrapers – nothing like that by which Earth of his time was characterized.

Gardens and parks. Sparkling domes, covering construction of wondrous forms – no sort of parallelepipeds or cylinders of Earth constructions, no. Here each and every building was special, original as if created in beauty from its core. It seemed as if times of wooden and stone architecture of his ancestors returned to this planet – only in an even more enriched form. Windings, curves, transforms… Buildings-phoenixes. Buildings – spirals, sparkling with all colors of rainbows. Buildings – opening buds of flowers. Buildings – giant trees. Nowhere to be seen there were rough geometrical forms, but the beauty of natural forms, decorated with human imagination.

Whether it’s human? Whether they live on this planet? Uncertainty. He still didn’t see any inhabitant of this planet but has been already noticed by many of them. Now many of their mental sights were attentively focused on him – dozens, maybe even hundreds. Attentive watching and goodwill. Here it is raising and extending, spreading around… Where are the inhabitants of this world who possess such unusual abilities? Scientists of his age have already invented devices, allowing to detect mental vibrations, but they worked totally unstable and often glitched – there was no talk of reading one’s thoughts. It turns out that local inhabitants did not use such things?

Ten kilometers… eight… seven… Here they are! Humans? Yes, they are very similar to humans, yet not humans of the third millennium – but to much higher and perfect people as if emanating light. Surprisingly, but he has already been starting to feel these rays, of which science of their age just started guessing and was constructing shy assumptions – vibrations of human essence, as he would call them. What sort of transformation has occurred to him that he has begun feeling them without all unnecessary mechanics, but with all his being instead? Probably, he may learn this in due time…

His last doubts dissipated – they have been washed away as useless ashes when he was beholding this “city” and its inhabitants. This was the world of enlightened race. Yes, they were humans – he had no more doubts about that. A lot of them were now standing on the flower square, awaiting his arrival. There were smiles playing on their faces and eyes were shining with the light. “Eyes are a window to the soul,” came out the words somewhere from the depth of consciousness. Apparently, there is so much more hidden in these words than he suspected at first… All right, it’s time to land. Ten… five meters to the ground.

“We welcome you, brother by reason,” the strong, ringing and courageous voice sounded in his mind. It seemed that common human language was not necessary to these people at all. Here someone from their ranks stepped forward – probably, the leader. Turned to nearby fellow citizens, rose his hand higher, probably calling for silence, and then again turned to face him.

“Once again greetings to you, space wanderer,” this time it was a common human language. Not a mental addressing – but a living word from lips! And once again words came out, powerful and brave words, full of unshakable confidence and force – the speaking one was an inborn leader, “From where have you arrived, traveler?”

He answered. People briskly started to exchange words from behind, talking in their native language, however, he couldn’t understand even a single phrase from their speech. The leader rose his hand once more, asking for silence, and everything went silent.

“My colleagues are both surprised and pleased. Your equipment looks rather… strange. I cannot remember that somewhere in the worlds of the Great Unity of Planets it’s being either created or used. Especially on… the Earth. Therefore, we desire to ask you a question, traveler – who are you truly? I have no desire to interfere in your thoughts and memory, even though I could do that. Answer truthfully. We will not cause you any harm – last millennia of the wars of our ancestors have taught us much. Answer truthfully – who are you and from where have you arrived at our world?”

Intrigued and full of interest looks of people standing in front of him. Should he tell them? That way he’ll get a chance to come back home… With possibilities in possession of these people, they for certain should have means of travel through epochs! But, of course, at first, he will still linger here and try to learn more about those who live in this wonderful world.

“Year two thousand two hundred seventy-fifth. Traveled in time by the order of the United Galactic Council. Collapsers of time. Carried out a mission of resource and information gathering in distant worlds.”

Accurately, like on a military report, sounded words – he had nothing to hide. His words abated in the instantly reigned silence. Second, two, three… painful silence was becoming longer and longer. Even the leader, it seemed, was surprised by such a turn of events. But – only for an instant. He was certainly getting used to the most unexpected circumstances and turnarounds.

“Now everything is clear, Robert. You have answered fully truthfully. Indeed, our far ancestors were once engaged in similar experiments with time waves, but they missed the main point – the possibilities of the human spirit, inborn in his very nature. Earth scientists of the third millennium tried to replace the higher human nature with some pity mechanics… certainly, it was almost fruitless.

Yes, you are still unaware of this, but I will tell you nevertheless: those collapsers of which you were talking – they didn’t work the way it was supposed to during their creation. Journey into the past with fidelity of seconds, huh? So they have praised you this invention in the Intergalactic Council? Well – there were no talks of seconds, minutes, hours or even years. Hundreds, maybe thousands of years – such was the accuracy of these “devices”. Plus operational instability – time jumps into the future were not designed and jumps from the past into the “now” time should have occurred without hassles in a theory.

Both the first and the second turned out to be a myth in reality. Hundreds and thousands of travelers who have “got stuck” in the past. Several hundred more who have gone into the future for an uncertain number of centuries. Yes, yes, be not surprised – you were not the only such one, there were other colleagues by “misfortune”. One such as you arrived in our world about three hundred Earth years ago. Some of my brothers have not met him when he arrived and left our world – our planetary life is still limited to a certain timeframe – that’s why they have been so amazed, having seen you. Now they know the truth.

How have I already told them this information and where have I learned your name? Wait, wait, oh curious one! You will know everything in due time. You will have plenty of it – enough of it. Who are these enemies that have assaulted you in the jungles? Genetic weapon of our ancestors, created for waging of wars. We are clearing the planet, but it’s a lengthy process. We cannot simply destroy life – we have to transform it. For now, follow me – I invite you to our world in a myriad of others in the universe. Follow me. You will be our guest here, Robert.”

***

He learned everything. No, not everything – facts that his mind was willing to accept.

Fourth millennium. Colonized and transformed worlds of the universe that have united into the Alliance of Planets. Peace and prosperity, reduced to the necessary minimum industry, underground production, perfect technologies of recycling, human creativity, yielding fruits of beauty. But all this was on the surface, and deep inside there were people who have reached the highest heights of spirit. Ones not requiring ridiculous mechanical devices, ones who have developed their inborn, their higher potential – capable to heal spiritually and clearly see the essence of each man, to read minds and predict the future. Brothers and sisters of the uniform world, united with it. For several hundreds of years, there was not a single war conflict in any of the star systems controlled by the Alliance of Planets – they were simply unnecessary. They have died out like a remnant of a decay, egoism, and callousness, like a remnant of animalistic rage. Wars were no more, violence was no more – there was one united prospering universe, the Great Alliance of Planets.

He learned all of this not at once. He has spent many days on this planet… many years. He didn’t throw aside his dream of returning back home – sometimes in the evenings his heart was washed by light grief and memories of his homeworld chafed his mind. However, this world became a new home for him as well, like each and every planet in the universe. He will be able to return back home once he finishes his spiritual growth here. Will be able to travel in time without mechanics, but through the power of spirit instead. But he has to pass a long way for that, lots of steps. He believed that this day would come once. And thus he worked.

25.12.2004