"Mirror Image": Part 1 (3/3)

From: Shawn Wolski <n5una_at_MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU>
Date: Sun, 09 Apr 1995 19:33:57 -0500

        In warp space, Dulcy was unable to see anything in the
"otherspace" which she and David were now in, so she experienced
the flight utilizing her other senses. She felt no push or pull
during warp travel, not even in the initial acceleration phase
when the graviton warp field accrued the energy to pass into FTL
space. There was no feeling of warmth or cold, aside from the
heat that was generated in her from her instinctive response to
the potentially hazardous endeavor. No sound was detected by
her sensitive dragon ears, nor any discernible odor from the
environment detectable with her nose. Opening her eyes
slightly, she noticed a blinding white light that permeated the
visible universe.
        It then exploded into a flash of blue light as David
decelerated himself and Dulcy to a low-sublight velocity. The
Cerenkov radiation from the dying warp field rapidly dissipated,
spreading its graviton shearing force throughout the sky. They
had successfully returned to their normal universe.
        All her senses returned to her, the most prominent one being
her sense of gravity. Without compensating for the differences
of transition from a gravimetrically-stable point in space to a
total loss of it, she began falling at a rate of 9.8 meters per
second squared. A scream from Dulcy notified David of his
friend's sinking condition.
        A swoop downward executed by the vulpine plus a retrieval
spared the dragon from a certain demise. From their location,
three kilometers above ground level, the alternative would have
most certainly be destructive. Dulcy eventually became aware of
the fact that her decent had been terminated, plus the feeling
of warm paws and arms on her abdomen. Able to control her wings
again, she flapped them, and felt the release of pressure from
her stomach, indicating that her savior determined that she was
flight-capable again. She would live to be a Freedom Fighter
for another day.
        "Please forgive me, Dulcy," David said with a concerned look on
his face as he came to a hover a meter in front of her. "I
apparently didn't allow you the required amount of time to act
upon the warp/realspace transition. Are you injured in any way?"
        "Nothing besides my pride," Dulcy returned with embarrassment,
belatedly realizing that she had failed to use the very piece of
equipment given to her by evolution, as opposed to David's
bequest by complex design of his rotor/nacelles and many hours
of testing. If only privately, she had been upstaged by an
artificial lifeform that probably wasn't even intended to be
flight-capable in the first place. But David had progressed
beyond his original design, both in technology and mentality.
She knew in the back of her mind that the last thing her closest
comrade would think of was the feeling of superiority.
        The compuorganic fox apparently wasn't convinced by her
statement of health. He activated all his sensors to
investigate the true nature behind the dragon's tone of voice.
His sensors downloaded the required data billions of times in a
nanosecond, and his computers checked and rechecked the data for
        Seeing this take place and realizing what David was doing, she
spoke with somewhat more control a second later, "No need to
look me over, David. I'm fine. I was just a little thrown back
by the sudden stop."
        He apparently wasn't completely satisfied with her explanation,
but also wasn't inclined to continue the conversation further on
what was obviously a situation more of disgrace than physical
harm, if only to Dulcy. "I have located ten possible sites for
us to investigate," he began, now all Freedom Fighter Commander
again. "There is an area of interest as a possible habitation
site 700.7 kilometers from our location. It has an unusually
high concentration of metal, possible fuel resources, and water.
 Are you prepared for the operation?"
        "Yes," she dictated with more determination than she felt she
had. "Let's go."
        She was having second thoughts about practicing her landing
procedure, but she and David had both signed an unwritten pact
to complete a mission and to keep a promise that they made the
past night. For her to refuse would be futile, due to the fact
that her associate wasn't the typical kind of person that would
understand excuses. You either agreed on a promise with David
and kept it, or you never approached him with the proposal in
the first place. No gray area existed in his interpretation,
part of what made him the fox he was today.
        Two seconds later, she was reflecting on her vulpine
colleague's philosophy at another point in the space/time

        ...And en route to her first touchdown of the day. She and
David were both flying (under their own power this time) above a
plateau, near the border of the Dark Mountains and the Great
Unknown. Dulcy didn't exactly know what was down in that area,
but David had been able to study a great deal of geological data
about many locations on Mobius, from what little information
there was available at Knothole. The Dark Mountains region was
at the forefront of his interest.
        'Dark Mountains,' his compuorganic computer systems instantly
identified. 'A 1.45 billion year-old exposed intrusion of
gabbro, formed by an unexplained and unusual rise of magma
through the crust. Possibilities: natural gaps in crust, or a
cavity induced by a meteor. Meteor theory may explain the high
concentration of iridium and radiogenic potassium near the
Kathurc and Dueler age boundaries. Has been subjected to time
and erosion, but apparently still remains prominent; not worn
away. Isostacy (the balance between erosion and rock rise to
compensate for displaced mass) may explain why the area has not
been lost to time.' While spending a picosecond to formulate
his own interpretations about the geological significance of the
oldest known rock on Mobius, he executed a local scan of their
immediate point over the border. What his sensors told him was
in the fifty kilometer radius he didn't exactly care for.
        Acting as nonchalant as he could giving the potential outcome
of their continued flight pattern over a now-designated
hazardous area, he spoke to the dragon, "Try over there, Dulcy.
That should permit you a long landing space." He indicated the
desired area to her with a 5 microwatt phaser, sufficient for
location purposes; not as a weapon.
        "Are you sure about this, David?" she asked, nervously.
        The only response from the black and gray vulpine was a stern
glare. No arguments in regard to the proposition from him would
be listened to or considered. That much was made clear sans
vocal dialect.
        "Going down," was all she could submit with resignation. She
tilted her body down, continuing until she obtained a thirty
degree aspect with the ground. She was able to maintain a
stable approach flight until she was about half a kilometer
above the granitic rock of her landing strip. At that height,
her tension built into a gargantuan monster, clasping her in its
jaws. First, her stability wavered; then eventually developed
into more of an uncontrolled fall rather than a controlled
        Noticing his companion's deviation, David conjured a plan to
give Dulcy something else to focus on. Matching his velocity to
hers and surpassing it by 20%, he flew under her abdominal
region, then grasped her pouch lip as he disengaged the rotation
of his rotor/nacelles. They were both quickly approaching the
ground, so it was necessary to act with as much haste as
        He called to his peer, "Dulcy, to what degree do you enjoy my
company?" He retained his grip on her pouch, the induced wind
shear now threatening to strip him away from his stronghold as
the dragon accelerated toward the ground.
        "A lot. Why'd you ask, David?" she inquired, baffled that her
friend would demand such information from her at a time like
        "Prove it to me," he commanded as he expertly flipped himself
into her pouch. He had no intention of leaving it, regardless
of the outcome of her landing.
        The pressure mounted, only this time of a different sort. In
Dulcy's mind, the effects of the landings that she would
normally perform were now out of the question. This time, David
would be right under her if the touchdown wasn't successful. A
mistake here would be injurious, if not fatal, to him. Being
compressed between approximately one metric ton of dragon plus a
magnitude of two billion times that from the granite and
acceleration due to gravity wouldn't exactly allow the vulpine
to be in an amicable mood afterwards. It would have to be
perfect the first time, period.
        Her approach straightened out at about 100 meters above her
target. At about fifty meters above ground, she gradually
raised her body to a point beyond being perpendicular to it,
taking precautions with her wings and the rest of her
aerodynamic aspect. She slowed as the aerodynamic drag took
effect, but she had compensated a bit too much for her velocity
decrease. Her landing pattern would have been excellent. The
only problem was, in order for it to be so, the granite plateau
had to be in a position two meters higher than it was then.
Both fox and dragon experienced a mutual session off attraction
to the dense igneous rock, then a debilitating dizziness induced
from their resonance to the impact.
        David's graviton differential stabilizers dissipated the shock,
conducting the resonance and spreading it throughout his body to
prevent a focused point in the field. The majority of it
transferred to Dulcy, enhancing her own disorientation. She had
a tenuous contact with the ground, swaying forward and back, as
if unable to decide what to do next. He leaped out of her pouch
to the more stable granite, and used his navigational deflector
to assist the beleaguered dragon front-down. The field created
an air cushion between the excited gravitons and her body, and
gradually compressed downward until she was at a stable position
on the ground.
        She remained sprawled out in that position for about a minute,
then woke up from the shock. "Ooohh, hello Ma. Yes, I cleaned
the cave," she warbled. She then continued muttering phrases
that either only she understood, or that came out by a reflex
reaction to a particularly unfavorable landing.
        Hoping to give Dulcy a reference point to the present, David
said, "Excuse me, Dulcy, but I don't believe I understood your
mannerisms in that dialect. Would you please explain that to
        THAT gave her the incentive she needed. After forcing the
disorientation out of her head, she rose back to a standing
position, regarding her comrade with nervous concern. David
returned the focus of attention, only with look of mock
discordance. The two Freedom Fighters, commander and
subordinate, gauged each other with a novel intensity.
        David finally spoke again, sparing his female associate the
trial of wordless communication. "You don't wish to continue
our friendship, do you Dulcy?" Despite what could have been a
adverse situation for him, he wasn't in a mood to be severe. In
fact, he was willing to be almost jovial about it.
        Dulcy, on the other paw, did not anticipate the fox's
approximately convivial attitude, and reacted accordingly. "Oh
no, I really do, David. It's that...weeelll, the ground was
coming up too fast , and I had to do..." She trailed off into
hopeless babble about the events that transpired in the landing,
while her commander gradually felt an increase in his humor
register. When the register read 256, he initiated an
uncontrollable laughter subroutine.
        After he had reacquired some of his control, he said, "I'm
afraid I am the one who must apologize, Dulcy. I just find the
situation so...humorous. I thought that you, of anyone, would
have no trouble knowing exactly where ground level was." More
guffaws from David, then Dulcy chimed in her own, as she thought
the matter over herself.
        David's slackened muzzle immediately contorted and hardened
into a grave stare. While he and Dulcy were both learning more
about each other's humor, his sensors had been scanning the
entire area around them within a fifty kilometer radius. Within
that radius was a concealed base (which explained the
high-metallic concentration). He counted the Hover Units,
SWATBots and other robots in the base, along with other items of
interest: fusion and geothermal power sources, advanced computer
technology, and weapons systems. David had detected all of this
on his first scan pass in the air, and again here on the ground.
 He had anticipated that the remote laser defense systems would
be able to strike them down from the air. What he HAD NOT
anticipated was that the 1.56 MW laser emitters and targeting
systems had greater than 180 degrees of vertical axis
displacement capability, since the apparent design indicated
otherwise in his scan.
        He was correct in the assumption, but the lasers were
apparently able to obtain more vertical axis displacement by
permanently damaging their constrictive outer shells. One of
the lasers had an emitter tube in this configuration, and also
had both Freedom Fighters detected and targeted. An attosecond
after David detected that the optical targeting sensors had a
definite sight picture, a 630 kW discharge of focused red light
was expelled from the emitter. The beam traveled at 300
megameters/second to its targets, the air in the immediate
vicinity of the focused light discharge screaming with protest
as the lethal energy forced its way to the ground.

...to be continued
Shawn Wolski, N5UNA

An Indoctrinated Sonic T. Hedgehog Story Author

"But I guess some things are better left in the past."
-Sally, quote from "The Temporal Syndrome"


and my under construction home page:

Received on Sun Apr 09 1995 - 20:38:18 PDT

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