I am Alaya. The irony that I’m going to have a lot time to write in this journal does not escape me. I suppose I should be grateful. Our sister Felicity and myself are relatively safe, all things considered, and I still have this psychic paper journal that Mom got me into my first century.
If you can read this journal, our language, and the unseen ink which it’s written, then you are hopefully a fellow Traveller and you will materialize this journal and its contents at Home Vector N-6012. I don’t have to tell you that family is important and I want our Mom to know what happened, and what we have done.
Our original quest from Mom was to help repair the damage done to the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire around Vector N-200,000. It was a worthy goal, but we had to be careful. Navigating the soft, grey areas surrounding the fixed points in time is difficult at best. Perhaps the Predecessors might have had an easier time: with more technological aid at their disposal along with skill and experience.
Mom likes to remind us that we lost much: so much that even she, during The Reconstruction, “a jury-rigging of civilization” she said that Grandfather might have called it, still hasn’t found everything. We even lost our own sense of calendar and chronology if, indeed, they can even be called our own all things considered. But we make do. We have to.
Felicity was particularly adamant about helping the Empire. I understand. It fell victim to the temporal machinations of outside forces. When the Council sent us on this mission, Mom made sure to have Parity, one of our oldest and most honoured vessels, to carry us. She made it a point to warn us against the potential of … puppets or agents left behind even after all this time.
I had my reservations, you understand. We are still finding out more about where we came from and what we are capable of doing. Does it make sense to help others rebuild when we are still in the process of reconstructing ourselves? Still, that drive to help — which came from Mom, and from Grandfather before her — burns through my veins too and my protestations were one-hearted at best.
Again, another unintentional pun about time. It took very little of it, all things considered, to begin the process. Felicity has a knack of seeing the eddies and whirls around particular situations, and specific individuals. But it was me, using Parity’s natural resources, that helped to create the crude prototype tectonic manipulators that would begin to give the humans some idea of what to do. It was perfectly plausible. Frankly, they should have developed this technology ages ago and if they want to take the credit for it, that is perfectly fine with me.
So aside from materializing some supplies and upgrading infospikes into something less intrusive and far more miniaturized, at least by our standards, we were about to leave. But I would be disingenuous if I said that we didn’t notice the anomaly within the area.
There were strong temporal energies situated around an old satellite. We knew enough about this Vector that our Enemies had managed to manifest here. After Mom’s own researches, we also knew that Grandfather had been involved in stopping that threat in this very spot.
All of you know just how much Mom wants to find Grandfather. In all of her travels through finding coral, the Graveyards, the ephemeral remnants of the War, and saving all the lives she could she never found him again. Even as she trained her senses, she couldn’t find his mind. And for all our small number, we are nevertheless more than one and our tenuous collective will still couldn’t find any others.
We still couldn’t find our Grandfather. Perhaps we weren’t at his level: at the place we should be. Or perhaps he is gone.
Whatever the case, Parity needed some time to recharge. Unlike the Great Behemoths we found in the Graveyards, she is still small and sleek. Her circuit hasn’t grown in quite the way our gifted sister The Geneticist planned, yet more things we don’t know — yet more — but she manoeuvres well and, unlike the others of the past, only requires two pilots to assist her. Besides, in case of discovery she makes due with the perception filters for which we’ve all been equipped to utilize.
It was fortuitous for us that the site of Satellite 5 was powerful enough a spacerift to feed Parity. We took the time to examine the station . Other Travellers had come here and taken the Satellite’s logs to Mom already, along with samples of cosmic dust and irradiated bodies. We meditated here to honour the sacrifice of the humans and focus on the hope that we would make their lives better for it. Mom gained so few scraps about Grandfather from this venture, but something was different this time.
Parity had recharged ahead of schedule. The rift was simply that powerful. And it was fluctuating. Something happened. Something changed somewhere. Even after hearing Parity’s quiet, silvery tone, I began to … perceive things. They were almost after-images: blurring, merging, and separating from each other. Sometime in environments like this, we see resonances of the past and future. But this was different.
It’s … imagine possibility. There are an infinite number of different things that can happen. And then somewhere in that something does happen or will happen. But the quantum branches of potential actions and reactions still occur. We see it, sometimes, out of the corners of our eyes but it’s always so far and out of reach. But not that day.
Even as my senses expanded out farther than they’d ever done, Felicity saw the rift open first.
It bloomed like a flower of flux and twilight in the darkness of space. And after a while even I could see the golden energies surrounding it. It reminded me of my Mom’s vessel, of great Unity herself and the times under her control panel when something pulsated and thrummed: a slumbering but active power.
Like a heart.
And I could even see it resonating in sympathy from Parity’s control panel. Something was calling to Parity. We could feel her responding to the call even as this wave of possibility rushed into us. It was impossible, you understand. Mom and the Council only heard rumours that, once, there were Other Ways. We had only just learned to travel through space and time. Most of us still use reverse-engineered and augmented vortex manipulators. That was how Mom began adventuring and rediscovering even a fraction of what we know.
But only the Predecessors knew how to travel to alternate realities. I examined the frequency and programmed it into Parity for future reference. It will be included in this journal’s equation and music section: transmitted through the mind through tactile-mode.
Felicity was excited. We found a gate to an alternate reality near one of the places where Grandfather and his vessel left a definite imprint. And then she perked up at something else. It took me a while to feel it too. It was … for lack of a better word, it was the shadow of a mind. It felt confused somehow. Muddled. Felicity could probably feel more, but from what I understand it is old. It is very old. Sad? Content?
And so familiar, like Mom but … different.
We debated this. Our mission to the Empire had been a success though the seeds of our work, like coral, would take a little more time to go. Parity’s communications weren’t strong enough to pierce the fluctuating veil around us. I wanted to wait and deliver our findings, but there was no guarantee we would get another shot at this.
So we decided to go forward. In one of our best vessels and a copy of the temporal signal to go on, to perhaps replicate for our return and future explorations, we not only decided to investigate a rift to an alternate reality, but also fulfil a lifelong unspoken quest.
To find Grandfather.
It’s funny. In our dealings with Vector N-200,000 and others we had to make everything seem plausible. Felicity is good at finding errors and inconsistencies. I excel at creating possible solutions to those issues. Continuity is the key.
It never occurred to us, as we entered that rift, as it flashed and closed behind us, just how like editing — like writing — our quest had been.
Everything seemed so neat and tidy as the birthright of our wanderlust took us. There was only one other being we knew about who could have possibly had even a shadow of a psychic feeling of that kind.
It’s too bad. Because what we found beyond that rift wasn’t Grandfather.
He wasn’t Grandfather at all.