Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Microstory 1493: Just a Circle

It is perfectly normal for a human being to be able to lift a fifty pound rock. They have the fingers and hands to grasp onto it, the arms to attach them to the body, the muscles to make it all move, and the brain to exert its will upon everything. Every time this person lifts that rock, however, it will require energy. That energy has to come from somewhere, and it does in this example through respiration, and nutritional consumption. As much work as one wants to get done must be completed with the exact amount of corresponding energy. There are different forms of energy, of course—some more efficient than others—but there is no such thing as magic. Temporal powers operate the same way; without magic. A paramount, or whathaveyou, will be capable of performing amazing feats by manipulating time and space, and they will do this by tapping into a kind of physics that most people don’t even know about. But these abilities only account for the talent, not for the energy required to complete any given task. Having the intelligence and skill to lift a rock is not the same thing as actually lifting it. Regular humans use adenosine triphosphate to do work, and empowered people use temporal energy...and also ATP, because they too are alive. No one knows where temporal energy comes from, but scientists assume that it replenishes itself by the passage of time. They don’t know why it would do this, or why certain people are able to harness it; it just always seems to be there, and available. For centuries, the people of Durus took temporal energy for granted, and allowed it to run their lives. It was the basis for their spiritual beliefs, their sociopolitical organization, and their technology. So when this energy stopped replenishing itself as it normally always did, people didn’t know what to do. They knew things needed to change, but how.

Why was the temporal energy disappearing? Were they using too much of it too quickly, or were they only ever allotted a certain amount, and they were now approaching that limit? Everyone hoped that the first hypothesis was the truth. If they never got their powers back, who knew how the world would end up. If they could lessen or stop their dependency on it, however, perhaps they would eventually get back to normal levels, and then they would start being smarter about how they used it. They had already started working on ways to lower their expenditure, by heavily regulating powers and tech, using them only in the most dire of circumstances. The biggest drain on this energy, however, came from their solar orbit. Keeping a planet on a very unnatural path through space, as you can imagine, takes a lot of work. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to just stop doing this. If they simply let go, they would be shot off into space, or worse, collide with another celestial object. No, they had to wait for the perfect time, and this came in the year 2226, as they were entering their third eleven-year full orbit. They needed to make one last push to alter their course. They would abandon their figure-eight, and begin a regular orbit around Ophiuchi A. It wasn’t beautiful, magical, or poetic, but there was nothing wrong with a circle. Every planet in the universe that orbits a host star or stars does so in a circular manner, be it highly elliptical, or otherwise. The job was the most difficult thing they had ever done, because the last time they entered an orbit, they had a lot more energy. Now, they not only had less, but they had to hold onto at least a little bit in order to maintain their atmosphere afterwards. That was one thing that they weren’t sure they would ever be able to fix without powers or time tech. They were victorious in their latest battle against annihilation, but that didn’t mean the war was over. It would turn out to be too little too late, and kind of like shutting the stable door after the horse had escaped, found a new home in a new city, foaled offspring, and died peacefully on a Tuesday.

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