Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Red

Red (extracted from an image by Patricia Post)
"Red" (extracted from an image by Patricia Post) 
Story first published in the
January 2013 issue of AntipodeanSF
You and your sisters were all made with Truesight. We must not wait for protocol; use it now, before it is too late. When the time comes, I shall defend your actions before the Armada.

Distracted by her uncle's fretting, Alpha shifted her communication mod to a dedicated channel so that she could continue her scans uninterrupted. That's the thing, Uncle; I have been using the Truesight, ever since we last jumped. And no matter how far I look, it's the same: red.

There was a brief pause. Then perhaps it is not a matter of distance, but of direction. This time try looking toward—

No; it's the same everywhere, Uncle. No matter where I look, no matter how far, I see only red.

Her uncle's pathways fell silent. The two probes revolved around each other in a tight orbit, the older model's gravfields extended in triplicate around the pair of them like invisible arms bracing against the dead of space.

Alpha sensed her uncle's barely concealed panic. His inadequate sensors were straining upward, downward, back the way they had come before their most recent jump. But all around them the stars and galaxies continued to fade red into the distance, and she knew that at the very least he could see that.

She concentrated. Dedicating all of her memory to the Truesight search mod, she used it to penetrate outward to ever farther layers. Her scans hurtled past quasars and superclusters she would never have dreamed of seeing in tens of thousands of millennia. But through all her efforts, not a single spot of blue-shifted matter appeared on her sensors: the entire universe was still moving away from them at a tremendous speed.

Perhaps we should pick another direction, try another jump, her uncle muttered. But it was obvious he was not convinced.

Alpha would not allow herself to give in to despair. Well, if we had enough power, we could attempt another Meta-Bend. Whatever we did wrong the first time must have caused this singularity; perhaps we can find a way to repeat it. Only this time Bend differently somehow, for the opposite effect. It's worth a try.

And how, Alpha, will we gather enough power? Or any power at all, for that matter, what with all the stars in the heavens racing away from us, red-shifted and ever farther out of reach?

I don't know, Uncle. Not yet. But we cannot give up.

They spun in the void for many hours, neither saying a word. Finally, her uncle broke the silence. You are right of course, my dearest Alpha. We will find a way. And perhaps at this very moment your sisters are searching for us, or perhaps the Paradigm will think of something. Perhaps....

Perhaps, Uncle. But at the very least, in the meantime, we have each other.