Friday, October 23, 2020

Microstory 1480: The Serpent and the Bear

Ever since Durus avoided a collision with Earth by a hair, scientists had been trying to figure out where they were going. There wasn’t any particular reason for this. They could alter their speed using time powers, but altering direction was an entirely different matter, and could lead to disastrous results. Calculating the exact vector of the planet’s journey through interstellar space was quite difficult, what with its random accelerations and decelerations, and the lack of proper equipment. It wasn’t until 2183 when they were sure they knew where they were headed. If they continued on their present course—which they expected to—they would eventually encounter a binary star system that the Earthans called 70 Ophiuchi. While the speed they were traveling was constantly going up and down, the average was pretty steady, so barring any dramatic change, it would take them over a hundred years to arrive. Now, there was nothing wrong with waiting this long. Not only did they still have the connection with Earth that kept them alive, but the close encounter seemed to have made it stronger. The borrowed sun was shining, there was now more than one source of water, plantlife was spreading at an alarming rate. Perhaps all of this was exactly what drove the people of Durus to want to break free from their mother world’s protection and support. They wanted to go off on their own, orbit their own sun, and provide for themselves. It was what they were supposed to do. This was going to be the largest endeavor they had ever tried, and if they wanted to do it faster, it was going to be even more difficult. Not only did it give them far less time to prepare, but they were going to push the speed of the planet faster than it had ever gone before. They were already traveling at relativistic speeds, so time was passing faster for anyone outside of the planet, but the disparity was going to grow so large. If they went through with this, they would reach their destination by 2200.

Of course, the first thing they needed to do was to make sure the majority of Durus was on board with this. There was no election coming up, but they wanted to decide on it quickly, because the longer they waited, the faster they would have to accelerate the planet in order to make their timetable. Well, things didn’t go according to plan. People were not happy about being forced to respond to the question quickly, without any real discussion, or time to gather all of the evidence. Plenty of people were against the idea, and if the proponents wanted to convince them, it was going to take time. They still had two years left until the next election, so they were just going to have to be patient with this, and get it right. Like always, the people weren’t going to simply say yes, and leave it at that. There were questions about how they were going to accomplish their goals, and whether they needed to rethink those goals in the first place. After careful consideration, they realized that the 2200 deadline was not a viable option. As powerful as the paramounts were, and as durable as the rogue world had proven itself to be, they just could not handle such high speeds. The speed itself wasn’t a problem, but acceleration was a tricky thing. Any change in velocity would seriously throw off any normal planet’s stability. If the Earth were to start spinning or revolving just a tiny bit faster, or slower, it would cause mass destruction all over the world. It’s not the speed that kills you, but the changes in speed. The only thing allowing Durus to fluctuate this much was its unique relationship with time. Still, there were limits for how far this time magic could go, and by the time the vote went through, if it passed, and everything was set up, 2204 was a far more realistic goal. They did vote, and it did pass—with the necessary conditions and precautions—and Durus did reach 70 Ophiuchi in 2204.

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