Unfinished History

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Part Twelve

Remarkably, given the increasingly extreme polarisation of the colonists, the evacuation of Dira Tulag was completed with considerable speed. Some of the colonists, it is recorded with regret, refused to leave. Koro Tilin recorded in his journal that some twenty-six of the original colonists refused to believe what Arkyna had told them, despite the evidence of the storms and the corroborating testimony of the entire search party. The bias of the searchers was, of course, firmly towards the Psidars' story and to this historian it seems surprising that Koro was so surprised by the refusal of some of the Psidar-hostile colonists to believe it. No sympathiser himself, Koro appears to have been an intelligent man able to assess the evidence and
conclude that the threat was indeed a genuine one, yet he remained unable to understand how anybody else could not come to the same conclusion as he.

Again surprisingly to this historian, Delar Kross - the colony doctor and rumoured would-be murderer of Arkyna - elected to join the evacuation and depart the colony. A pragmatic researcher would conclude that even if he did not believe or trust Arkyna's story, the two storms they had already seen were quite enough to make any reasonably sane person wish to move elsewhere. Since his wife Sirenya had begun to prepare for departure without hesitation, it is also possible that he chose to go in order to remain with her. Some researchers have suggested that he had a plan which he wished to exercise upon their return to Alledora and their explanations fill in some long-standing
gaps in the early part of the Psidar War, but no conclusive evidence either way has ever come to light. Since his last known location during the war was hit by a thermonuclear strike some three months before the final ceasefire, it is likely that such evidence will never be obtained.

— Extract from Causes of the Psidar War by Psidar Ishin Ti Mon, writing after the Cholprya War

Wormhole Generator — early version of Jump technology. A pair of wormhole generators suitably attuned to each other are capable of generating a shortcut in space and time between two distant points. While the first prototype wormhole generators were constructed and demonstrated in 1289 PE, they were capable only of transferring small objects at a relatively low speed, but with a successful demonstration many intelligent minds turned to the problem, and in 1294 PE the first generators large enough for spacecraft to use were tested.

The design of the prototype generators was only slightly improved upon before the generators to be used for the links to the Dira Tulag and Irsatis colonies were constructed. They were not particularly fast, reducing journey times over the faster-than-light engines of the era by anything between ten and thirty times, depending upon the exact conditions at each end. The generators in the Alle system were destroyed by an unknown group during the Psidar War. At the time of writing, the original generator is known to still be present near Dira Tulag, but the Republic interdiction order on the star system prevents close study.

After the Psidar War and with the development of Slide technology in 1312 PE, wormhole technology was largely ignored for several decades. It took until 1346 PE for generators capable of creating wormholes through which ships could travel more quickly than they could using Slide engines to be constructed and they quickly proved able to halve journey times to the colonies. The link to Irsatis was rebuilt using the new generators, and a new link to Sirtol was built.

The next several centuries saw alternating improvements in Slide engines and wormhole technology. First contact with the Do eventually resulted in their knowledge of faster-than-light travel being shared, which proved the catalyst toward developing the wormhole generators still in use today, capable of reducing the time required to travel between the furthest parts of the Republic to a mere handful of days.

After the first war with the Xathras, first contact with the Braask and the brief war with the Naltri, new scientific viewpoints led researchers on several worlds to make the initial moves towards ship-mounted wormhole generators entirely independently of each other. The formation of the Republic and its associated multi-racial Universities allowed these researchers to pool their efforts with the backing of their governments and, in 5073, PE the first ship with Jump engines was successfully tested.

— Entry on wormhole generators from the concise edition of the Alledari Encyclopaedia

The wormhole generator looked unchanged. Quiet and still, it floated in the interplanetary void just as it had when they had finished constructing it and left it to charge. After the subsequent three days of frenzied activity on Dira Tulag, preparing the supplies for the journey, flying them up to the Tireless and trying to keep a lid on the ever-present tension had left Arkyna sure that the generator must have changed as well. Yet it had not.

It shone in the sunlight and in the ship's location spotlights. The Tireless' bridge was subdued and quiet despite the historic event they were about to participate in. The ship was full; they were running at the limits of the life support systems, nobody had enough space to sleep or relax or do anything very much, but they wouldn't have been able to leave at all if over one hundred colonists hadn't stayed behind.

Nobody wanted to think about leaving that many people behind to die.

'Is it ready?' Koro asked. Iyshe had been studying a screen filled with telemetry from the generator. The Psidar nodded.

'It is,' he said.

'Then by all means, switch it on.'

'The word,' Iyshe said as he entered a command sequence and transmitted it, 'is "activate".'

Arkyna couldn't resist. 'Why?'


Any further discussion on that topic was halted by the sight of the wormhole generator activating. After a few seconds of contemplation, Arkyna decided that the sight of a vaguely-defined grey tunnel apparently penetrating into absolutely nothing at all was rather disturbing. Iyshe studied the telemetry.

'The wormhole is active and stable,' he said. 'The readings indicate that the time to reach the other end will be just under twenty Alledari days.'

'Didn't you say that you were expecting the journey to take upwards of three weeks?' Koro asked.

'I was. Evidently there are some local conditions we were not fully aware of when computing that estimate.'

'We are fortunate that the estimate did not turn out to be optimistic. Twenty days will be hard enough in these conditions. Ashlar, take us into the wormhole.'

Arkyna's father, seated at the helm controls, nodded and fired the thrusters, pushing the big colony ship into the wormhole generator's event horizon. Just as they touched it, Arkyna found herself once more in the wood-panelled room. She looked around, but it was empty as it had been every time she had appeared in it.

'You bring me here when I am awake. You have not done this before.'

If we wait until you sleep, you will be too far from our reach for us to do this.

'I will very soon be beyond your reach.'

Not all of your kind travel with you. Some remain. They cause us hurt.

'It is their choice.'

As it is our choice to remove them by our own means.

'As it is.'

There was a pause in the words without sound.

Do you grant us leave to kill your own kind? The words carried bafflement with them, a failure to understand Arkyna's apparent indifference to the murder of her own species.

'Such an action cannot be condoned,' Arkyna said. 'But they were made aware of their options. They chose to remain and take their chances.'

But you do not understand why.

Visions of the overfull Tireless flashed through Arkyna's mind, then a single image of the view as her shuttle had lifted off for the last time, looking out of the window and seeing the faces looking back up at her. People who would shortly be dead, but people who would have endangered the entire colony if they had not remained.

'No. I do not.'

Go well, then. You of all your kind are welcome to join us here, when you have learned more of who you are. Go well, Arkyna of Alledora. Go well.

Arkyna's awareness returned to her body, to the bridge of the Tireless. She felt the curious throbbing sensation Iyshe had warned everyone about as they passed the event horizon.

And then, impossibly distant, she felt the fire and pain and death, and cried out and fell weeping into blackness.

Ever afterwards, she remembered the last image the Tireless had taken of Dira Tulag before it was made invisible by the wormhole's structure. It was an image which would become famous on Alledora, on Irsatis, on all the worlds of the Republic which wouldn't be formed for thousands of years. Dira Tulag, a verdant planet wreathed in white cloud, with a pillar of bluewhite flame burning high into orbit.

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