So we finally finished the most boring tour in the history of the universe, and ended up on the Bridge. The only respite during the Captains monologue was when we were in Engineering, and got to see where the mainframe was. ” Hey” I said to Alice “Thats you!”
” Tell me truthfully,” Alice said in my ear ” does that new console make my ass look big?”
I snorted in laughter and everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at me.
“Something funny, Mr McDougall?” the Captain asked, eyebrow raised.
“Sorry Sir” I said standing at attention,” Seasonal allergies”
He continued with his dry dissertation on the ships capabilities while continuing to give me the stink eye.
So we’re on the bridge and it’s now Dallas’s turn to explain whats going on.
“Okay, so the Library is the first stop for any race that finds the gate. The Library contains the “Road Map” of the Universes, and you really need that to get anywhere else but back to your own time and place.”
“Time and place?” Homer, the Chief Engineer asked
“Yes, the gate moves you in time as well as space. It’s actually a safety feature. Say you guys are observing a system 20 light years away, and you want to go there using the gate. The gate will get you across the 20 light years but it puts you 20 years in the past when you get there. Nothing ruins a good vacation like finding out you just popped out of the gate into the middle of a supernova whose light hasn’t reached earth yet.”
Homer had hand to chin, nodding as he pondered this.
“And another upside is the gate keeps track of where you came from and how much time has elapsed since you left, so that it pops you back to your time and space with the same elapsed time. So if you take off for say, a week, when you get back a week of local time has elapsed.”
Alice buzzed in my ear telling me to ask a question. I held up my hand like some high school putz.
” Dude?” Dallas pointed at me
“Are the Gate and the Library built by the same beings?”
” Good question, Dude! The answer is no. The Library is several billion years old, but the gates were here before that. The beings that built the Library managed to find a way for the Library and Gate to communicate. Together they reigned in the chaos of random gate jumpers smashing into each other. Now everyone reports here on first jump.”
Various other technical questions came up and were answered to everyone satisfaction.
“Any more questions?” Dallas scanned the room.
“Okay” he said ” in order for your ship to keep jumping, we have to make some modifications.”
“Modifications?’ The Captain was obviously not to keen on that.
“We need to increase your drive efficiency. The Spoop drive is a good system but we can make it way more efficient with just a few tweaks. We also have to attach the ship I came over on to your ship.”
“Why do we need to do that?” Homer asked
“I assume you experienced some crazy gastric-intestinal distress when you first came through?” We all nodded enthusiastically “The ship I came over on is made to attach to your ship and create a dampening field that counter acts that effect. It is also kind of a tug boat. The Library doesn’t allow active drives anywhere near it. So the ship acts as a drive while you are near the library. As you saw, it is inertialess, and that will extend to your whole ship while in this system. It also kind of acts like a panic button. No matter where you are in the universe, if activated it will get you to the nearest gate, and jump you back here.”
“Where are you planning to attach it?” the Captain asked
“Do you have a 3D schematic?”
Homer made a hand gesture and a hologram of the Spengler popped into existence. Dallas walked around looking at it. “Can you blow it up a bit?” homer did so. “I think right about there” he said pointing.
“Sly dog” Alice said in my ear ” thats the outer hull of the Greatest Pub on the ship”
The Captain thought about this for a few seconds.” Okay, ” He looked at Homer, “Mr Rufier, make sure he has everything he needs.”
” My ship will attach itself, so nothing needed there, but Ted here has to interface with your ships AI for the tweaks.”
” Oh sweet!” Alice said out loud “I’ve always wanted a puppy! Who’s a good boy?”
Ted floated up and turned toward Dallas
“GOUDAGOUDAGOUDAGOUDA” Ted complained.
“It’s a joke, you duffus!” Dallas said ” Now follow the nice man down to engineering.”
Ted followed homer out of the room.
“Hard to find good minions these days” Dallas sighed, “Can you bring up my ship on the view finder?” Alice brought up a view of the ship.
“What do you call your ship?” The Captain asked
” Umm…The ugly green rectangle?” he said and fished in his pocket pulling out a small box. He pressed a button and on the screen the ship began to change. different parts spun and moved inward like locking some kind of puzzle box. By the time it finished it was half the size it was before, it then floated slowly forward and attached to the blank hull outside of the pub. “Done” he said “Shall we get under way?”
He was right about his ship. just two speeds. When he activated it we were looking at the gate, and suddenly the gate peeled away to a dot, then it was lost in the stars. I went back to work, after work at the pub I noticed a new door in the wall. “Dallas’ room”, Juliette said as she wiped down the bar.
We got a visual of the library on the second day of the journey, which meant it was really, really big. We sat in the pub the following day and watched the final approach. It was just as hair raising. The library got bigger and bigger until it filled the panoramic ports and yet we still sped towards it. “We are all going to die!” Kirby cried.
And then we stopped. None of us felt a thing, not even a tremor.
And there we were, floating over the biggest non natural construct ever seen by humans.
The door to “Dallas’ room opened and he strode out. “Ready to meet the Library dude?”
“Um shouldn’t the captain be the first one?”
“Normally yup, but for some reason the library wants to meet you first” He pointed towards the door to his ship “Don’t worry, the Library is pretty benign. I don’t think it’s killed anyone in years. C’mon you can help me pilot us in”
“I’ve been drinking…Probably shouldn’t drive.” but I followed anyway.