Rad Fredrich was flying the Phoenix through the Time Vortex, taking his draconic acquaintances, Mardi and Jonquil, to the planet of Trikansor. He was standing in front of the captain’s chair plotting an in-flight route on a holographic display that was two metres tall from the floor in front of him (Rad had called it a ‘holoscreen’). On the display, the Vortex was mapped out as a myriad of networks. Even from the Phoenix’s random position in the Vortex, there was a seemingly infinite number of different ‘pathways’ he could choose to follow. Each pathway led to a different area of the universe at a different point in time, and as a result, precise navigation took an extended period of time.
The bridge was laid out in two tiers; the bottom area was where the main ship systems controls were located, and suspended above that area was the main flight control bridge. It had a good view out the forward viewport, which was a seven-metre-high, fifty-centimetre-thick sheet of gold transparanium that allowed one hundred and eighty degrees of vision from anywhere on the flight bridge to outside the ship. The flight bridge had no railing around it to prevent a fall down to the systems bridge; instead it relied on repeller fields to stop anything from passing the edge of the platform. To reach the systems bridge from the flight bridge, there was a flight of stairs that ran between the bridge walls and the outside of the Phoenix itself.
Rad had black hair, black eyes, and black eyebrows; something that was uncommon for someone with white skin, as far as humans were concerned. It was actually fairly common on his home planet of Magoure. He wore a red tie around his neck, a white collared shirt with grey and red patterns, black skinny-jeans, black shoes with light grey rubber toes, and on top of it all, a brown trench coat. Strapped around his left wrist was a screen that was about the width of his lower arm and about one-and-a-half times the length.
The Phoenix was travelling smoothly when suddenly the ship was thrown almost out of the Vortex by an extremely strong force, accompanied by a loud BANG! A few moments later, two beings came in; both had humanoid bodies with draconic heads, tails, and wings. They were wearing suits that were covered in closely-spaced dark navy hexagons, the suits themselves covering every part of the dragons’ bodies, apart from the hands, feet, tails, wings and head. The black-scaled one that came in first had a more feminine look and body shape (albeit breastless) and was about the height of an average human female, and the golden one was a bit taller than the average human male, with a more masculine appearance.
The black dragon locked her violet eyes onto Rad and asked forcibly, “What was that?”
“To be honest Mardi,” Rad replied, opening up a layout of the ship’s systems on the holoscreen. “I have no idea myself.”
The gold dragon donned a half-grin and teased, “You sure you know how to fly this thing?”
Rad turned to give the dragon a look that said ‘does it look like it?’ and retorted, “Maybe you’d like to try, Jonquil?”
“Nah, think I’ll be right,” Jonquil said, flicking his bronze eyes to the holoscreen in front to Rad.
The holoscreen now showed a slowly-expanding red circle on a virtual model of the Phoenix, indicating onboard systems shutting down, which included the all safety procedures and the ship’s crew teleportation devices called ‘Shifters’. The ship was slowly dying, and the only way to fix it was to reach its heart; a condensed blue dwarf star. There was a lift that led straight to the ship’s core, but it was knocked out of commission by the explosion. Rad’s wrist device wouldn’t work either because there were no coordinates that it could safely lock on to in the Vortex. Rad, Mardi and Jonquil would have to climb through the now dangerous interior of the ship.
Rad told this to Mardi and Jonquil, and Jonquil said in return, “I think I speak for both of us when I say ‘let’s do it’!”
Rad was speedily walking through the blue-lit silver corridors of the 900-metre-long ship, closely followed by Mardi and Jonquil. They were just about to enter one of the areas that had been included in the expanding red circle. From there on, the blue lights were replaced with blood-red pulses that raced down the corridors, and there seemed to be a slight breeze blowing through the corridor. The wind alone told Rad that there was something wrong with the Phoenix, as no normally functioning ship should have flowing air blowing through the corridors.
As they progressed further into the ship, Rad heard knocking coming from behind one of the circular doors leading from the hallway. Walking over to the touch-panel beside the door, he brought up a screen that showed the view from the other side of the door. What he saw completely surprised him; an old man with long, white hair and a big, white, bushy moustache. Rad felt like he was looking in an old Earthen history book, then opened the door and the man staggered into the corridor.
“What is happening?” the man asked in a German accent. “Where am I? And who are you?”
“You actually are, aren’t you?” Rad said. “You’re Albert Einstein!”
“Yes, I am,” Albert replied.
“Well what I’m about to tell you may seem impossible, but every word is true.” Rad started. “I am Rad Fredrich. This is Mardi and Jonquil. They come from the planet Dosporus. You are on board the Phoenix, a time-and-space ship from the planet Magoure, which is also where I come from. We are currently in the Time Vortex, and an explosion has erupted on our ship. We were trying to find out what caused it when you showed up. Now I don’t have time to explain any further because we have to find what happened sooner rather than later, so it would be a good idea if you came with us, Mr. Einstein.”
“Call me Albert,” Einstein replied.
What Rad said only seemed to confuse Albert even more. Rad sighed and walked into the room in which Albert had been in, approaching a panel on the far wall. He typed a command into it and almost the entire wall slid back, uncovering a layer of transparent metal and beyond that the swirling greens and blacks of the Vortex itself. Albert slowly and cautiously wandered over to the viewport, and looked out into the Vortex, mesmerised.
“Okay then,” Albert said to Rad. “I think I believe you now.”
“Good,” Rad replied. “We’d better keep going deeper into the ship, then.”
Rad began to walk out of the room before spinning around to face Einstein and pointed at him, saying, “And don’t touch anything!”
As they continued through the Phoenix’s interior, the quartet came across lots of different people and creatures; in one room they found Abraham Lincoln, in another was Ringo Starr, and yet another room was the temporary home of Adolf Hitler. Rad started calling them ‘time entities’. Some of these time entities were completely solid and aware of their surroundings, like Albert, and others were like ghosts; they were walking through walls, they were transparent, and weren’t aware that they were on the ship.
Every time entity the quartet had passed was human, which made Rad suspicious...until they came across a velociraptor standing in the middle of the corridor. It turned towards them, let loose an ear-piercing shriek, and started charging at the group. Rad took out his radon pistol and switched the safety off. Certain parts of the weapon floated away a couple of centimetres, held in place only by a pulsing green energy at the heart of the weapon. Mardi and Jonquil growled and brought their claws to bear. Albert hid behind them all, muttering to himself in fear, saying the word ‘nien’ over and over again.
Rad opened fire, but the oversized lizard didn’t seem to feel any of the supercharged radon energy hitting its body. In fact, the green energy balls seemed to pass through the velociraptor without leaving a mark. When it was close enough, the raptor jumped at them. Mardi and Jonquil lashed out at it, but their claws had about as much effect as the energy balls did. Luckily, the ‘immunity’ was two-way; it couldn’t harm any member of the quartet, and just passed straight through them harmlessly.
“Well that’s new,” Rad said, looking around to see if anyone had been injured by the ghostly velociraptor. “Anyway, we’d best keep pushing forward; we still have a long way to go.”
The red pulses kept pace with Rad, Mardi, Jonquil and Albert as they ran down the corridors of the Phoenix. The wind was beginning to become more noticeable. Pieces of the corridor’s wall and ceiling had fallen away and were now lying on the dark silver floor, only serving to slow the acquaintances’ progress through the ruined ship. As they rounded a corner, the four companions almost ran face-first into a sealed airlock. On the other side was a wall of twisted metal and electronics. There was no way through.
“That’s the only way through...” Rad muttered, looking almost longingly at the door before turning back to the others. “There are some access vents going through the craft that we can use, but it’s not preferable.”
“If that’s the only way through, then why are we wasting time?” Mardi urged.
“Hold on,” Jonquil said, holding his hands up in a ‘stop’ pose. “Why are they dangerous? How are these corridors any safer than the access vents?”
“The corridors still have some protection in place: shields, airlocks, and artificial gravity,” Rad explained, speaking quickly to conserve as much time as possible. “The access vents, however, do not. The best that they have is strengthened walls to prevent structural collapse. They have no gravity, no airlocks or shields, and no way to tell if there’s a breach until you’re right on top of it. Now I don’t know what will happen if you get sucked into the Vortex or even if the Time Energies touch you, but I can’t imagine it would be very good. Theoretically, time travel shouldn’t be possible. It’s only by breaking the laws of the multiverse that we are able to achieve it. I would rather not find out how solid matter would react to the power of the Vortex when we’re the solid matter. Oh, and where did Albert go?”
Mardi and Jonquil looked around. Sure enough, Albert wasn’t with them anymore. He was there one second, and then he wasn’t. Had they left him behind? Had he phased out of the Phoenix?
Then the three heard a single, muttered word: “Fascinating!”
“No, no no no,” Rad said under his breath, walking back around the corner in the corridor. Einstein was standing at an access holopanel, close to which a metal plate from the corridor’s wall had been knocked onto the floor, exposing systems and wires. He was pressing hollons (holographic buttons), occasionally getting down to look into the opening that the metal plate had originally covered up. He rummaged around with the systems before excitedly getting up and tapping at the holopanel.
Rad walked towards Albert, reaching into his trench coat to pull out a left-handed glove. He put it on, strapped up the Velcro, and squeezed the button on the wrist of the glove. The glove began to hum and when Rad held his left hand flat with his palm facing up, a holographic display appeared above his hand. He then pointed his gloved hand at the panel and clenched his hand into a fist, and the panel produced a rotating holographic padlock in front of it. However much Albert tapped the panel, the padlock wouldn’t go away.
“What did I tell you?” Rad scolded Einstein. “Don’t touch anything! This ship has technology that is far more advanced than that of Earth’s at the time period you’re from, and anything you learn about this technology could have disastrous effects on the flow of time. For all we know, you merely being on board the Phoenix could be destroying time. You see, you’re world-renowned. You are in the history books as being a major contributor to Earthen science, therefore people are going to listen to you more that they would the average person off the street. You might even be able to discover the equation of transcendence if you look through these systems, and Earth’s history says that humanity doesn’t discover that equation until the year 15,809! Imagine what that would do to the universe. Like I said before, time travel theoretically shouldn’t be possible, and this is the main reason why; the rewriting of history. So please...don’t touch anything.”
“But this technology...it fascinates me!” Einstein argued as Rad walked away. Rad turned to face Albert and as he continued to walk backwards, simply pointed at Albert. Rad turned back to the direction he was walking in, and Albert reluctantly followed.
When the group joined again, Rad knelt over a section of the floor and pressed his gloved left hand to a circular floorpanel that was near invisible against the rest of the floor. A blue glow was emitted from the edges of the panel and it lowered a couple of centimetres below the level of the rest of the floor. The panel then opened like an aperture and revealed an entrance to the access vents that ran through the ship’s length. The four companions gathered around the edge of the hole, peering down into the darkness.
“Well that’s the way through,” Rad told the others. “Although, it would seem that the illumination system has been knocked out. We’ll have to use some portable illumination devices. There should be some right here...”
He walked over one of the corridor walls and pulled a metal plate off the wall. Behind the plate was a rack that held various types of weapons and other equipment. He pulled out four devices. They were all the same; a circular metal band with two bars that extended away from the band and connected to a pistol grip with two triggers, one each for the index and middle fingers. Rad slipped one of the bands over his right hand and held onto the pistol grip, and gave the other three to Mardi, Jonquil and Einstein.
“Here, put these on. They’re called illumination bands,” Rad explained. “The primary trigger shoots a burst of energy that should stop any opposition you come across, but don’t use it unless it is absolutely necessary; they need to charge before they can be fired, and I would prefer this ship to stay as intact as we can keep it.
“The secondary trigger is the ‘light switch’. It turns on the light, like so.”
Rad pulled the secondary trigger, and the section of the band that faced down his arm lit up and shone a strong beam of light at whatever direction his lower arm was facing.
“Well we’d better get going,” Rad said to the others. He walked over to the round void and lowered himself into it. Then he helped Albert down with Mardi and Jonquil following closely behind. The other three turned their lights on and shone them down the vent. It was a circular tunnel that stretched off into the distance, beyond the reach of the light beams. It had a diameter of one-and-a-half metres, forcing the companions to stoop over to get through. They had a long way to go, and the likelihood of getting to their destination without incident was very slim.
The group hadn’t covered a very big distance before they reached their first obstacle: a seemingly bottomless shaft that had no handholds or ladders to use to traverse its length. There was no obvious way to get down safely. Luckily, the access vent had widened to a three metre diameter. Just then, the companions were feeling the floor pressing against their feet less and less, until soon they were floating above the ground.
“That’s the anti-gravs gone,” Rad muttered, trying to prevent himself from rotating upside-down. Mardi burst out laughing. Rad gave her a questioning look and Jonquil glanced at her before continuing his efforts to keep himself in place. Einstein just tried to push himself towards the other three since he hadn’t been keeping up very well, but instead only managed to flail around helplessly, occasionally touching the side of the vent which slowly propelled him forwards.
“What...what’s so funny?” Jonquil asked Mardi, a slight grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.
“You! Me! All of us!” Mardi managed through bouts of laughter. “You trying to look serious and floating around upside-down don’t go very well! And Einstein back there doesn’t help either.”
“Well we’d better get going down this shaft before the gravity turns back on again,” Rad urged, trying to look and sound as serious as ever while trying to hold in his own laughter. “If the gravity turns back on while we’re halfway down, then you won’t have the room to extend your wings properly. We’ll all fall to our doom. So the sooner we can proceed, the better.”
Rad pushed himself towards the shaft, hoping the others would follow. Jonquil floated back to Einstein and helped him to catch up to the rest of the group. He also gave Mardi a shove to send her down the shaft as she still hadn’t been able to control her laughing.
They floated downwards a good forty metres before the gravity turned back on. Luckily they were almost at the bottom anyway; it was only a drop of five metres and they had covered that distance before the anti-gravs were working at full capacity again. The Wind that was blowing through the corridors was quite strong now, and the end of the tunnel was illuminated with an eerie, flickering green glow. As the companions got closer, they found that the side of the tunnel had been torn away, along with a fifty-metre-deep chunk from the side of the Phoenix itself. The green glow was coming from the Vortex that was flashing past. The metal that was closest to the edge of the crater was constantly rusting, then looking as if it was as good as new, then rusting again, and repeating the cycle until it eventually fell away into the depths of the Vortex. The wind was blowing as if they were in a thunderstorm.
“Hmm...” Rad said to himself in thought. Then he addressed the others. “Looks like I was wrong; the vents do have some shielding. Something’s preventing the Time Energies from getting to us. See those sections of metal that are falling away? They are being ravaged by the Time Winds. They are constantly aging, then growing younger, then aging again, and that keeps happening until the stress is too great on them and they simply disintegrate and fall away, and completely cease to exist through both time and space. That’s what would happen to us if we were touched by the Time Winds.”
Mardi cringed at the thought of dying that sort of a death, while Albert and Jonquil just looked on in horror. Rad stood with them for a while before heading off further down the vent. Mardi tore her eyes away from the sight a while later and, noticing Rad had continued on, grabbed Jonquil and Albert by the arms and pulled them away from their stupor. The three could see Rad faintly off in the distance, and struggled to catch up. Rad had been silhouetted against the rest of the vent by a blue light that was shining at his front. The trio could make out that Rad had reached the end of the vent because he seemed to be climbing down, and soon his form wasn’t obstructing the blue light.
When the trio finally reached the end of the tunnel, they found a discarded wrist-light on the ground and Rad bashing away at a large, semi-circular holopanel. In front of him was a ten-metre-wide floor-to-ceiling sheet of transparanium, through which the three could see a blue ball of fire suspended in a spherical chamber. Without looking up, he began to speak to them.
“This is the heart of the Phoenix, a miniaturised blue dwarf star,” he explained, mainly towards Einstein than to the other two. “It’s the only thing that could be used to supply the Phoenix with the power she needs. It wasn’t very stable to begin with, and the explosion was enough to de-stabilise it. Although I can’t seem to be able to figure out a suitable equation to enter into the computer that will work...argh!”
Rad kicked the underside of the panel out of frustration before looking up to the other three with an expression of absolute annoyance on his face.
“I can’t do anything,” Rad said in defeat. “The ship will disintegrate and we will all die along with it.”
Albert walked over to a vertical glass holoscreen that had handwriting on it, picked up what looked to him enough like a pen, and after testing to see if he could write in the screen, began furiously scribbling down equations. Rad, who had been facing out towards the blue dwarf, turned around at the sound of tapping on the holoscreen. He walked over to what Einstein and looked over his shoulder in interest.
“Ah, genius!” Rad complimented Einstein, who barely noticed Rad was even there. He just continued to mutter to himself in German. When he had finished, Albert stepped back from his work.
“That’s so good, I could kiss you!” Rad exclaimed. “Although I think I’ll just hug you instead.”
He excitedly embraced Albert, who stood in place and muttered a ‘thank you’ when Rad released him. Rad grabbed something from the bottom of the holoscreen and jammed it into the holopanel that overlooked the blue dwarf.
“Now I have a feeling that when I activate this, you will go back to where you were,” Rad told Einstein. “So it looks like we’ll have to say our goodbyes here. So...something I never thought I’d say...goodbye, Albert Einstein!”
“Goodbye, and safe travels,” Einstein replied, and then looked at Mardi and Jonquil. “And goodbye to you, you fascinating creatures!”
“See ya later,” Jonquil said and gave Einstein a pat on the back.
“I hope you do well back on Earth,” Mardi said before kissing Albert of the cheek, making him blush.
“Alright, I’m ready,” Albert told Rad, and Rad tapped a few hollons that caused the computer to read the equation. The blue dwarf started ‘bubbling’ before releasing a sudden wave of blue energy. The four had to shield their eyes from the light caused by the wave, and when they uncovered their eyes, Einstein was gone, and the blue dwarf had turned green.
“He’s done it,” Rad muttered. “It’s stable!”
Sure enough, the readouts were saying that the star had changed to a new, stable form that Rad had decided to call a ‘green dwarf’ and since it was the only one currently in existence, he decided to name it after the man who had made it that way: he called the star ‘Einstein’.
As the three walked back through the corridors that had been repaired by the wave of energy that the star had released, they were talking about the events that had happened, reliving the experiences they had been through. Once they were back at the bridge, Rad plotted a course for Trikansor, and they blasted off down the Vortex, continuing where they had left off.