Zgodnie z wcześniejszą obietnicą oraz za zgodą Autorów przedstawiam recenzję powieści. Autorem tej recenzji jest moja córka Joanna, która od wielu lat jest miłośniczką literatury.
Może zacznę od tego, co mi się podobało. Spodobał mi się pomysł science fiction, w którym szeroko pojmowani bogowie są tak naprawdę kosmitami pasożytującymi na ludzkości. Ten pomysł można by rozszerzyć, pokazać całe społeczeństwo Aniołów i stosunki między poszczególnymi Aniołami, zamiast ograniczyć się do tego, że się wymieniały bóstwami... No ale Autorzy poszli w tym kierunku, a nie w innym, a to zresztą tylko I tom. Podoba mi się też to, że mieliśmy wgląd w rzeczywistość Aniołów. Podoba mi się też to, że Yaah, stosujący metody zarządzania zasobami anielskimi Dartha Vadera. Skończył jak skończył.
Nie lubię filozofii Nietzschego ale w świecie przedstawionym, w którym ludzkość sama pozbyła się swoich bogów, zachowania bohaterów które na niej bazują były bardzo na miejscu. Połączenie tych kropek trochę mi zajęło, dłużej, niż byłabym z tego zadowolona. To jest żart łamiący czwartą ścianę, ale nadal uważam, że filozofia Nietzschego bardziej pasuje nastolatkom niż dorosłym.
Określanie dotychczasowej historii ludzkości jako Średniowiecza też wydaje mi się na miejscu. Jest to uzasadnione nie tylko daleką przyszłością, w jakiej żyją bohaterowie, ale również może działać jako określenie ideologiczne w świecie przedstawionym, słowem ma ręce i nogi.
Pomysł na to, że w sytuacji nowego zagrożenia z zewnątrz wrogie sobie rasy muszą współpracować nie jest nowy, ale jest ciekawy, również w tym wypadku, tak jak to, czy właściwie będą w stanie współpracować.
Niektóre zwroty akcji były przewidywalne, jedne mniej (ptakowaty obcy będący rozumną istotą), inne bardziej (zawistny i niekompetentny naukowiec jako szpieg), inne wcale (Mag i Khan będący braćmi), jedne podwójne (Gildia współpracująca z Aniołami - przewidywalne, najwyżsi członkowie Gildii jako podwójni agenci - mniej). Pojawienie się drugiej Arki jest dobrym punktem do rozwinięcia w drugim tomie. Chociaż moment tuż przed spotkaniem na pokładzie statków Aniołów jest dobrym miejscem na zakończenie tomu, to przez nagłe wprowadzenie postaci pani komandor i scenę obiadu nie kończy się z aż tak wielkim napięciem.
Całość nie odbiega za bardzo od standardowego science fiction, łącznie z buntem robotów w przeszłości. Techniczne terminy wymagane w każdym sci-fi są i nie są na pierwszy rzut oka sprzeczne ze sobą (biorąc pod uwagę, że moja wiedza o fizyce kończy się na liceum i innych sci-fi). Przyszłość, w której na Ziemi wszelkie używki są zabronione, jest też dość powszechną wizją, osobiście sądzę że nietrafioną. Uważam też, że społeczeństwo musiałoby przejść b a r d z o głębokie zmiany żeby farbować się na niebiesko zamiast po prostu przestać się zabijać z powodu rasy, ale tu przynajmniej mamy ten oryginalny akcent że piękne niebieskie kobiety są Ziemiankami, nie kosmitkami, jak w Gwiezdnych Wojnach albo Star Treku.
Tempo pasowałoby bardziej do filmu niż do książki, tak samo jak bohaterowie, którzy nie zastanawiają się nad długofalowymi konsekwencjami swoich czynów. Zgoda, w książkach, zwłaszcza przygodowych, wiele postaci się również nad nimi nie zastanawia, ale w książce przykuwa to uwagę o wiele bardziej niż w filmie, bo czytelnik ma czas się nad tym zastanowić, zwłaszcza jeżeli się czepia, tak jak ja.
Co mi się nie podobało, pomijając rzeczy które można wyłapać i poprawić od razu, jak niepotrzebne wielkie litery przy 'pan/pani' i zaimkach albo powtórzenia. Albo sposób mówienia postaci - z jednej strony, wszyscy wyrażają się bardzo podobnie, z drugiej strony wszyscy wydają się być przedstawicielami podobnego środowiska naukowo-militarnego, więc słownictwo ma prawo być podobne. Z innych uwag - niektóre kwestie postaci są długie, dłuższe niż to wychodzi w naturalnej rozmowie, czasem zamiast dialogów jest kilka monologów. Długie są też informacje wtrącane między dialogi i opisy, dotyczące świata przedstawionego i historii postaci - no ale też nie mogę napisać, że sama tego nie robię, bo to najłatwiejszy i najsprawniejszy sposób podania tych informacji. Czasem trudno się zorientować, kto co mówi w dialogu, ponieważ kwestia tej samej postaci jest w nowym akapicie, mimo tego że między jednym a drugim akapitem postać nic nie robiła, więc nie było potrzeby żeby zrobić odstęp akapitu.
To były kwestie techniczne.
Postaci często żartują i się śmieją, i może to ja, ale nie mówili nic szczególnie zabawnego. Nie mogę napisać, że nic nie było zabawne, ale to co było, ograniczało się raczej do kontrastu wypowiedzi postaci z sytuacją albo z ich wewnętrznymi przemyśleniami.
Jeżeli zaś chodzi o samych bohaterów - Mag i Khan nie są bohaterami o których się dobrze czyta. Książka może to ujmować jako 'logikę' i 'chłodną odwagę', ale z zewnątrz wyglądają na aroganckich bufonów, zawsze pewnych władzy i intelektu, jakie posiadają. Oni i ich przyjaciele również sprawiają wrażenie psychopatów, których zupełnie nie rusza zniszczenie miasta albo zabijanie żołnierzy o których wiedzą, że są zmanipulowani, ani nie przychodzi im do głowy żeby poinformować kogokolwiek o swoich planach - a nie wiemy od razu, że Mag jest kimś ważnym, a Khan jest jego bratem. Poza tym, że ich działania są lekkomyślne i brutalne, a wypowiedzi bywają patetyczne - nie wiemy wiele o postaciach.
I ludzie, i Anioły działają bez planu, na hop-siup i hurra. Mag i jego przyjaciele sami z siebie, bez żadnych konsultacji czy autoryzacji wyłapują śpiących szpiegów i wysyłają ich na ziemię do więzienia, i czytelnik może się tylko domyślić, czy Mag raczył wysłać sms-a do brata w tej sprawie i czy nikt na Ziemi, w więzieniu Gildii (zinfiltrowanej przez Aniołów) się nie zdziwił. Ferrus spontanicznie dokonuje zamachu stanu i miał szczęście, że Hera i Aurora w ogóle chciały mu w tym pomóc i że nie musiał przejmować władzy sam. Mag i Ferrus nie są zresztą jedynymi postaciami, które wydają się mieć więcej szczęścia niż planowanego działania.
Nikt też im nie może przeszkodzić. Nawet gdy Mag i jego przyjaciele bawią się w kontrolę tłumów jak w poruszanie wojskiem w grze strategicznej. Można by pomyśleć, że w społeczeństwie w którym telepatia jest faktem, a wrogowie mogą nią dysponować, każdy będzie przynajmniej podważał nagłe uczucia i przeczucia, które pojawili się znikąd albo opierał telepatii w inny sposób - zwłaszcza jeżeli jest szpiegiem albo pracuje w tajnym naukogradzie, albo jedno i drugie.
Jest wiele szczegółów do których mogłabym się przyczepić - do tego że naukowcy pili wodę skażoną minerałem bez przebadania go i jego długofalowych skutków, że Mag i Khan w bazie Gildii zwracali w ogóle uwagę na pułapki i żołnierzy, skoro mieli na sobie powłoki, że każda postaci kobieca musi być opisywana atrakcyjna, nawet jeżeli nie ma takiej potrzeby, albo że ptakopodobny obcy nie ma prawa wiedzieć jak wygląda atrakcyjna ludzka kobieta... Ale to są w sumie drobiazgi.
Ogólnie rzecz biorąc, podoba mi się sam pomysł na fabułę, i nie sądzę, żebym do tej pory spotkała się z konceptem ziemskich bogów jako kosmitów wrogich ludzkości, z którymi ta aktywnie walczy (bogowie jako kosmici z dobrymi intencjami to inna para kaloszy). Fabuła tutaj jest najmocniejszym punktem. Co do postaci - to że mnie nie przypadli do gustu, nie znaczy, że nie przypadną innym, zwłaszcza osobom które wolą akcję od gadania. Wyszło mi że więcej mam uwag krytycznych niż pozytywnych, ale starałam się rzetelnie i szczegółowo podejść do sprawy.
Bardzo ciekawie zapowiada się cała historia. Wątek aniołów to po części nawiązanie do anime Generał Daimos, wyświetanego w PL w pierwaszej połowie lat 90., które wspominam z łezką w oku. Przeczytałem od deski do deski i jestem ciekaw, czy opowiadanie (począwszy od 1. tomu) pojawi się w formie papierowej? Jeśli tak, to proszę o namiary na wydawnictwo/sklep.
As the first part of the book had been published we have decided to let all foreign readers read the sample of the book in english.
However the translation may not be perfect, it may give you an impression on the whole book.
The remaining part of the book has not been translated so far, so if you are interested, you may translate it further for your own use.
Still all copyright restrictions apply despite the language.
Have a good time and enjoy reading.
===== ITERATION - Part 1 - sample =========
Mag was clearly pleased. Deliveries finally arrive on time so he could focus on the right tasks. Recent difficulties with the supply of raw materials have made it very difficult to meet deadlines and there is not much time left. The crews of the ships will have to have time to become familiar with the new equipment and technology. This is not a combine harvester or a phaseracer do not worry about it.
"Ulf," Mag called his adjutant.
- What's the problem? - Giant with Nordic features and fair complexion asked.
- Has Anodium's cargo arrived at Cristal's processing complex yet?
- It is being unloaded. Production should start again in a few hours.
- Why is it all so long? Mag murmured dissatisfied with Ulf's reply. - Usually it goes faster.
- The material was not quite stable due to the increased purity, so it had to undergo an intermediate transformation process before transfer. Otherwise, it would destabilize the transfer tunnel as when we first made contact.
It wasn't much short then that this was the last contact for the whole Continuum. Wormholes are inherently unstable, and if they are causeless, stabilizing them is a real nightmare. There is never enough negative energy to keep them in one place. Initially, the Casimir effect was used to generate negative energy, but after controlling the phase changes, the situation improved. Generators take energy directly from changes in the state of vacuum. Unfortunately, faultless tunnels need a lot of such energy. So far, no one has come up with the idea how to accelerate the "energy reclamation" of the vacuum used. Without the event horizon it takes one hundred years per order of magnitude and only one year with the horizon, but you have to ensure that the horizon does not change its phase, because then the entire area collapses and is forever lost. Gravitational waves accompanying collapse are very dangerous especially if you are closer than a kiloparsec from the collapsing area.
"You did well," Mag admitted after a long moment. "I wouldn't want to be in line with Captain Joseph Hazelwood."
- With who? - The giant made a face like he didn't hear.
- Shit! I know you have many gifts, but I did not know that telepathy is one of them, - Mag was clearly surprised that Ulf could read his mind.
- Telepathy? Ulf was surprised. - What are you talking about, boss? It's hard not to hear how loud you compare yourself to some captain.
"I think Reality and Mentality are confusing me," Mag replied, clearly embarrassed. - C2H5OH clearly does not serve me. I need to drink more milk.
- I only eat meat and drink water and have no problems with my head. What about this captain? Ulf insisted.
- This is an old story from the Middle Ages. Large ships carried huge amounts of fossil fuels across the Earth's oceans and oceans. One of them, - Exxon Valdez, - commanded by Hazelwood ..., Eee, never mind. - Mag cut off the adjutant's inquiry. "Curious Nordic guy, dog's blood," he added under his breath.
Mag finished his already cold coffee and barely rose from his chair, cursing his fate under his breath.
- I'm too old for all this trouble. Time for retirement or another regeneration, - Mag was clearly not in a good mood today. - And to think that people once had a limited life span.
- What can be done for a bare eighty or even a hundred years? I have three hundred myself and hold on well and after regeneration I will be like new again. Now there is no time for this, but once we have stabilized this damn clutter, I will fly for regeneration for the whole year somewhere around the Polar Star, - Mag dreamed about his future. - You just have to live to see these times and the future is not promising.
- Ulf, take supplies for a week. We're going for inspection, - Mag was glad to leave the base because he would have time to visit Samira for a few hours.
He hadn't been to her for a long time. Recently they went hunting for the Great Eastern Waterfall. They spent three days there away from people and civilization, - idyll. Admittedly, the blue sun did not tan as earthly, but it also had its charm. Especially in the evening, the horizon glowed with all shades of navy blue and purple, giving the mysterious appearance of clouds, trees and water. The day here lasts almost seventy standard hours, so evenings are long. This time, unfortunately, he won't have that much time, because there is still a lot to do.
"Everything is ready since yesterday," Ulf replied. - Phaseracer has already been repaired, so we can move on.
He picked up a heavy bag from the ground and walked out of the barrack. Phaseracer floated three feet above the ground. A quiet whistle of air flowing through the zero gravity zone under the vehicle was uncomfortably annoying. Ulf loaded the bag into the payload compartment and hopped into the rear seat. The vehicle was six feet wide and twenty feet long. In the front there were two seats and in the back a swivel armchair with ion cannons. Phaseracer was equipped with a protective field, but during the flight in the atmosphere visibility was very limited by air particles excited in the field, so it was better not to use it without absolute necessity. The tracking systems were still detecting any threat within a half mile of the vehicle, so there was enough time to react. The only problem was Swaytails. They were so fast that even the tracking system barely caught them within a hundred feet of the vehicle. Despite his huge stature, Ulf had an enviable reflex. He saved them more than once from the murderous attacks of Swaytail. If it wasn't for them, life would be almost stress free. Only the availability of Trifortium prevented them from moving bases in areas free of these creatures. Fortunately, the harvesters were insensitive to the attacks of Swaytails. At the snail's pace with which they moved, you could use the protective field with impunity.
Mag finally left the barrack carrying two more bags with equipment. He tossed them carelessly into the baggage hold and pulled a large Cohiba out of his leather jacket pocket. He was crumpling his fingers for a moment to love the aroma of stimulated tobacco.
- It's illegal on Earth. Absurd! Mag spat disapprovingly. - What do they have in life there? He asked contemptuously. - And we are supposed to save their asses?
"Sometimes I wonder about the sense of what we're doing," Ulf continued, unimpressed by the lack of reaction.
He slowly bit off the tip of the cigar and set it on fire with an old-fashioned match also Made in Cuba. Goods of this type were difficult to obtain, especially far from Earth. Mag had to have a good offer to ensure regular deliveries, but in this matter Samira was a real treasure. The product she produced was virtually unattainable on Earth at any price. Once while in Cuba, of course, illegally, he offered two blue Cubans a drink made by Samira. The next day, when they had regained their normal perception, they tried to murder him to get the remains of a drink that remained in the bottle. Fortunately, they were terrible fighters and could not deal with weapons. Mag tied them together like rams and from word to word they made a deal, thanks to which he could now enjoy a Cuban cigar and a few other things that made boring life away from Earth more pleasant. Once Mag tried to ask Samira about the secret of her drink, but apart from the vague description of some exotic animal and its repulsive sweat secretions, which are the most important ingredient, he learned little. The only thing he could count on was a drink box once in a while. Fortunately, he came across Samira, because he liked cool things and women in particular. Samira was about twenty when he smuggled her to Zaxor. On Earth, she was prosecuted for a murder she had committed, but rightly so. If she hadn't stabbed this scab, Mag would have done it himself with pleasure. Nobody decent is chasing a woman around the city who refused him waving a machete and threatening to die. He reached her in front of the pub, from which Mag was just leaving and saw the whole incident. A fat blue or rather dirty-blue guy in a ragged shirt didn't have a chance with a young girl who could use a knife. Within ten seconds, she split his throat and gutted like a hog. Fat-arse fell to the ground and bled to death, kicking the sand. The girl was green with nervousness and very scared. Mag did not wait for the further development of the situation, only grabbed her hand and pulled her into a dark alley fifty paces from the pub. The girl was so shocked by the situation that she did not even object. In the distance, he heard the howling of resuscitation robots booming at the fresh corpse. After a minute, the investigative robots began to methodically comb the area. They detected the girl's signature and followed her now. It was a matter of a minute or two before they got her. Mag liked women who could take care of themselves, so he didn't think long, the more that he liked the girl. He took the Signature deflector from his pocket and hung it around her neck. They moved on hastily. Investigative robots passed three times, but none of them became interested. The girl didn't ask questions. This is good because there was no time for answers. In this way, Samira hit Zaxor under the wings of Mag. He never regretted his decision and Samira did not complain.
When the cigar burned halfway up, Mag decided it was time to move. He hopped into the Phaseracer which rocked sideways. Ulf awoke from a nap he fell into while waiting for his boss. He was in no hurry, because no one is racing against time on Zaxor. Whoever breaks this rule is a fool. There are robots rushing away, which is everywhere and just waiting for some occupation, so as not to hit the milling for tardiness or lack of readiness.
In a situation of permanent lack of staff, robotization was the only option, all the more so because nowadays it was difficult to find anything cheaper than a robot.
The on-board computer purred friendly recognizing the driver's face. Mag switched to manual control and slowly the vehicle gained speed. They passed harvesters laboriously "mowing" Trifortium. Their whole herd was writhing as far as the eye could see. All to hide Zaxor's existence and what is happening here from prying eyes of uninvited signature scanners and phase marks. Three hundred and fifty years ago, when the Wu Shin theory was tested in practice, Zaxor orbiting the blue Magnum star was chosen for terraforming, because the conditions on the planet were almost perfect for colonization and little was needed for the planet to come alive. After a hundred years, when the planet was already suitable for colonization, the War of Breeds erupted on Earth. For a long time after it, noble plans for the conquest of space were forgotten. Besides, the population on Earth was decimated and there was no need to colonize other planets any more. All operations started earlier were closed and plans were lost in the dark. Magnum system and, therefore, Zaxor have been forgotten, and let it remain so forever.
Phaseracer silently scurried along the edge of a dense coniferous forest of oaks, beeches, and hornbeams, or their close genetic modes. The harvesters remained behind continuing their endless harvest. In the distance on the horizon, the three towers of the first center that Mag intended to visit loomed. Since the day was still young, they did not encounter any Swaytails along the way. Creatures prefer to hunt at dusk when visibility is worse.
After another hour of travel, Phaseracer arrived at the industrial complex. The three towers visible from afar looked even more impressive when it stood in their shadow. They were structures made of shiny material connected by a network of trusses and girders carrying huge elements of devices that were produced here. Slightly further unfolded constructions in the shape of domes and silos. Between them were thousands of shiny tubes and wires connecting individual objects like a network of blood vessels distributing life-giving oxygen to all cells of a huge organism. The complex was reminiscent of medieval petrochemical plants, which once produced fuels for the vehicles of the time.
Mag inspected the object with undisguised pride. There was a part of him here, because he supervised every stage of the complex's formation. It was not the only such complex on the planet. The other six were scattered throughout the continent to minimize the time costs associated with logistics and access to resources.
Mag jumped off the vehicle and looked around. Robots carrying various materials flashed quickly between buildings. The blue sun stood high in the sky, illuminating the metallic buildings that cast flickering reflections of the reflected light around. It was near noon and the air temperature had risen to twenty-three degrees. It was warm and pleasant. A weak wind moved grass a few feet high covering the entire area around the complex. The main gate was about a quarter mile away. Mag moved toward it. The sentry post at the gate was empty. There was never a guard here and the booth stood in the event of an unexpected blizzard, so that there was a place to hide from razor-sharp blades of grass thrown at a speed of two hundred knots. Thunderstorms on Zaxor are not fun, that's why satellites orbiting weather forecast orbit based on observations and mathematical weather models. Mag always had the latest weather data when he went out into the field. Without them, the trip could end badly.
A small gate at the guard post opened quietly, allowing Mag to enter the complex. Mag slowly walked through the gate and with the button on the wall of the booth opened the main gate so that Ulf could enter Phaseracer.
Ulf stopped the vehicle next to Mag, who efficiently hopped into the front seat. The vehicle headed for the lowest of the buildings at the distant end of the complex behind large domes and silos. When Phaseracer reached the building, a fragment of the front wall opened and let him inside. It was a dimly lit room in which there were no appliances except the dull gray rectangular platform.
Ulf placed the vehicle directly above the platform. For a moment nothing happened as if everything froze in anticipation. After a while, however, thin, long antennas emerged from all sides glowing with pale flames at their ends. It was almost dark in the room. Suddenly the darkness was lit by the noiseless lightnings leaping between the antennas around the phaseracer. The storm lasted for a few seconds, after which the vehicle and the passengers dispersed in the air. The room assumed the previous decor, i.e. it was completely empty again.
"Ulf," Mag spoke first, rubbing his eyes.
Ulf also rubbed his eyes to regain visual acuity after the lightning show.
"Cool, but I guess I'll never get used to it," Ulf complained quietly.
The vehicle stood on a platform of metal sparkling with a mysterious, pale glow. As if the fires of a radioactive storm were dancing inside. They both left the vehicle and headed for the brightly lit passage. The corridor behind the passage led to a spacious hall, where the control center of the complex was located. They've been here many times so they knew all the devices perfectly. Recently, Mag left a packet of matches on the table by the wall, which was a large spatial screen showing the complex in miniature. The matches were still in the same place. This is not surprising, because the complex was completely autonomous and there was no living spirit here. The matches were therefore safe. There was no need to waste time in this uninhabited place, so Mag and Ulf quickly got connected with the equipment they brought with them.
Finally, Mag was able to connect to the system and make the necessary adjustments and set a schedule for further actions. He put on his helmet and made himself comfortable in the operator's seat. He turned on the circuits of the main track and closed his eyes. Ulf watched on the spatial screen what Mag saw through Mental's links. For some time he monitored the close-ups and cross-sections of various structures and devices, combinations, colored bars, and charts depicting the situation in various zones of the complex. The shots changed with increasing frequency to finally merge into a mass of overlapping pictures so details could no longer be distinguished. Ulf closed his eyes and after a while wearily fell asleep.
Mag at the time checked Planck phase converters processing Anodium at Transmutal. Anodium itself is not unusual from a physical point of view, - Mag consolidated his theoretical knowledge. - It actually contains only transuranium elements known from classic literature, but connected together in the right proportions they create quite interesting crystal structures that make the elements with sub-microsecond half-life decay stable and do not want to reduce to lower energies.
Once this phenomenon astonished physicists on Zaxor, but having learned the theoretical foundations of such a configuration, it had to be said that nothing supernatural was happening here. Earthly science with their ossified personnel structures and formalized knowledge proliferation procedures will not discover the phenomenon of sub-Planck conversions for centuries or even thousands of years. The freedom to exchange ideas and research results is the basis of scientific progress, which is a truism, however, there is no such freedom on Earth. All in all, it's hardly surprising, because having the Fifth Column of Angels at home, they can't afford the free circulation of scientific results. Despite decades of 'witch hunts', they still haven't managed to eliminate all enemy supporters. Angels themselves are not allowed on Earth and are easily identified by the Signature, but the "Servo Servorum" sect is extremely well-hidden, and still holds some important positions in the Guild. It is not surprising that Angels defend their "sources of life" by all means. Cockroaches do the same. Since the discovery and elimination of "breeding" people on Purgatus, Morphs do not have their own source of human DNA, so they use every means to obtain them. Disgusting, but absolutely necessary from the point of view of the parasite.
Thoughtfully he snatched the status of several superconductive toroid sections from the main accelerator ring feeding sub-Planck deflectors. They needed quick repair or even replacement. However, it will not do without delays. Service vending machines will take some time. They will have to redirect the harnesses to the spare track, unseal the defective sections and replace them. Then tests for several hours ... a total of half a day of production downtime. That was most he could agree on. It is good that the ring did not require a complete stop. It would be a disaster. Week of production would be lost. Mag issued appropriate instructions for immediate implementation. Now only checking the status of current production and will be done with inspection. He requested data from the output register. Series of bars and charts swept through his consciousness at a rapid pace. He was not a novice, so a quick glance was enough to estimate the state of implementation of production goals. Fifty-two Jumbo-class units have been produced so far. Three more Alef-class units have just been orbited with phase polarizers, armament and the latest-generation SubZero test drive systems. Ulf and his group will not have much time for testing, because all subsequent Alef class units must pass Continuum approvals. It will be a breakthrough moment. Finally, you'll be able to visit Cristal. Mag had had a "trip" plan to Cristal in his mind for many years, but only now will this plan finally come true. The long years of research and effort of many scientists will be crowned with the first contact with a truly Alien civilization.
If the theory of Iteration is correct - and all this indicates - humanity will be indebted to the Dengue forever. However, if it turns out to be wrong anyway, soon there will be no one else who cares. For the first of these circumstances, Mag had a surprise up his sleeve for the Dengs, but so far only a few scientists working on the "Terminus" project knew about it, including of course Samira. First, however, Alef units must be reclassified to the Continuum class in order to be able to think about implementing the discoveries made under the "Terminus" project. On the other hand, if there are any, no discoveries or surprises will help. However, Mag was convinced that the theory of Iteration was correct, since the recent discoveries of astrophysicists seemed to confirm it quantitatively. One should not count on qualitative confirmation before the moment of Great Stabilization.
Mental's connection seemed to be overheating, because Mag began to hurt his head.
"I'll just check the rest of the data and after work," he thought matter-of-factly.
Of course, as usual, all complexes had the same problem, - Anodium supplies. Unfortunately, Mag had no influence because Cristal had increased deliveries by thirty percent over the past four years.
Mag issued ordinances regarding the collection and processing of Trifortium. It was urgent to look for other fields from which you can draw the mineral when field number three is depleted. The yield has already dropped by ten percent, which means that the deposit will soon be depleted. The reserves accumulated so far were large, but much more will be needed when the war breaks out, so resources were not spared to increase the Trifortium yield. Zaxor is the only place where Trifortium is present in quantities that allow its industrial processing. The mineral has the property that it cannot be detected by any known methods. Neither spectrometry nor subliminal scanning detect it at a greater distance than a stone's throw on astronomical scales. Of all known places, only on Zaxor there are adequate conditions for mineral formation in abundance. In addition to the excellent cosmetic properties that Samira often uses, Trifortium perfectly blurs the signatures of any objects that came into direct contact with it. Thanks to this, Mag could hide Samira's Signature when she was hunted after the murder of this fallen scab. There is one more use of the mineral, but it is an absolute secret and only Mag and one other person know it. One microgram of purified Trifortium neutralizes the effects of Eludium on the human brain.
Mag was already tired of the session.
"All things are going well, so if there is no disaster, we should do everything," Mag thought, and broke the mental channel he was connected to.
He was slowly coming back to reality, which was disturbed by Ulf's loud snoring.
- How does he make himself sleep at will ?! - Mag has always admired him for his excellent self-control and ability to separate work from other matters.
He never even saw a shadow of nervousness at his adjutant. Five years ago, when they tested the new Jumbo units in the Gallus system, Ulf saved them from inevitable death. Everyone on board, including Mag, has lost all hope. Near the second inner planet, zero probes failed, as a result of which the ship lost its phase power source. This should never happen, because the systems have a configuration of multiple-pair clusters, capable of auto-partitioning and dynamic reconfiguration in the event of failure of any element and yet, for no apparent reason, all clusters simultaneously failed. Without the power needed to break free from the iron grip of that Sun - a red supergiant the size of Jupiter's orbit - they were doomed to eternally drift around the star. There was no hope of rescue, because tachyon messengers also did not work without power. In addition, they were approaching the belt of asteroids orbiting at a dizzying speed around their red star. The situation seemed hopeless and after repeated attempts to find the cause of the failure, everyone lost their desire to do anything. After a week, the unregenerated oxygen supply began to run out, the food also began to smelt musty and the water lost its natural, spring taste. Smiling as usual, Ulf was walking on the deck convincing people to make another attempt to break the deadlock. As a result, he heard a few invective people and was sent to hell. This guy has inexhaustible resources of optimism as if the seriousness of the situation did not reach him. Only solar powered devices worked. This amount of energy would not be enough to power on-board computers. Then Ulf came up with an idiotic - as it seemed at the time - and a completely unprecedented idea.
Some part of his brain linked all the facts and came to the conclusion that all other crew members missed. As it turned out from later analysis, it was as clear as the sun, but all you needed was "secret knowledge", which at that time no one except Ulf had. The operation of zero probes could only be disturbed by a very strong source of Theta radiation, which is responsible for Signatures throughout the Universe. Some time before the incident, Ulf worked on configuring the Signature inverter in the third complex laboratory. Ulf was to bombard a purified Trifortium sample with a beam of concentrated Theta radiation to generate the appropriate field. He turned on all the resonance chambers of the acceleration ring and, after stabilizing the waveforms, discharged the entire beam of Theta rays into the mineral sample. At the same time, there was an unexpected spike in power delivered from zero probes, as if they had swallowed a ton of Eludium. For a few seconds, the power delivered by the probes increased by eight orders of magnitude. No one was concerned about the anomaly at the time, considering that it was only a fluctuation in the level of energy of the false vacuum, which theoretically is not excluded, however, Ulf was not convinced and remembered the whole event well. As Ulf explained later, he remembered at the critical moment the whole experiment and assumed that since the excess of Theta radiation affecting Trifortium increases the efficiency of zero probes, the complete lack of residuum of this radiation in the vicinity of the probes can completely block them. A completely different matter was what object could have removed this residuum in the Gallus system. There was a large amount of Trifortium on board, as the scientists were still to conduct some scientific experiments after the unit's efficiency tests were completed. In consultation with the scientific head of the expedition, it was decided to check the validity of Ulf's guesses. If they were confirmed, science would gain more than save only a few hundred people. The scientific value of his observation was invaluable. So everyone started to implement Ulf's idea with great resistance, because the mineral was very valuable, but there was no sensible counterproposition, so Ulf won bye. The experiment was carefully planned and a few hours later manually, through the hatch for shooting kinetic charges began to get rid of Trifortium. The computers did not work, so everything was done manually. The hatch was laboriously depressurized, loaded with portions of mineral, encapsulated, and the cargo flew into a vacuum. In this way they wanted to determine the relationship between radiation and power supplied by the probes as a function of the amount of mineral on board. After two days of hard work for changes, they began to lose hope for success, but it was then that the probes came to life. First the air conditioning and life support systems kicked in. As they got rid of further portions of the mineral, they recovered on-board computers, powering defense systems and finally regained all the power needed to power the ship's main drive. There was no end to joy. The scientific value of the experiment turned out to be a breakthrough indeed, and Ulf, well, remained himself despite all the splendor of the savior who suddenly came upon him. The only thing left to Ulf after this event was the honorary name given to the newly discovered phenomenon. From now on it is known as the "Ulf Effect". Admittedly, only science at Zaxor knows this effect at the moment, but it does not diminish its importance or a little.
- Ulf! "Mag decided that the giant was resting enough."
- Is any Alef ready yet? Ulf effortlessly opened one eye. - Time would be for testing, because we will not be able to convert units.
- You'll have three to check. They are now armed with various gadgets. I envy you fun.
- It will not be so funny if it turns out that our space is not able to support a ship of such parameters, - After opening the other eye, Ulf returned to stereoscopic vision. - I don't quite trust the Dengs' studies. Noncommutative space has completely different laws than classic three-dimensional.
- More trust, Ulf. So far there have been no objections except ..., you know. There is nothing to sow terror. It could also be our fault because we did not comply with the testing procedures and we wanted to save time. Fortunately, we ended up with a solid bath and rejuvenating the cabins. Mag smiled at the mere memory of the event.
- We must move, because dusk will find us in the open.
"Can't we wait here till dawn?" Ulf asked, hoping he would miss the night watch.
- I ordered some minor renovation work on the main accelerator ring, so we'd better not be here if something went wrong. You wouldn't want to get hit by a Transmutal beam. The safe distance is sixty miles, so don't whine because we still have a long way to go.
- I didn't know something was going to be repaired. Let's move, then, - Ulf reluctantly got up from the comfortable seat and began to disconnect the wires and pack the equipment back into the bags.
Mag, meanwhile, made an inspection report and attached the holo record to it. After a quarter of an hour they were both ready. The robots took care of transporting and loading heavy bags to the phaseracer. They came back to the surface in exactly the same way they got here.
They quickly left the complex, as the sun slowly began to lean toward the west. The horizon took on dark shades, which heralded a clear night. There are still six hours to sunset. They should be able to reach the place where they usually camped. Phaseracer silently traversed the plain covered with clumps of trees. The grass swayed calmly under the touch of a light wind blowing from the north. Actually, the north could be from every side, because no one used magnetic methods to determine the directions of the world. It was customary, however, to adopt a system compatible with the Earth, although it was archaic and did not match the fast-changing magnetic field surrounding Zaxor. The planet's core consisted of several counter-rotating layers, which generated a high-frequency magnetic field. As a result, there were no power plants or electricity distribution networks at Zaxor. It was enough to put a simple coil and it was possible to cook something on the electric stove or power the gravitational generators of the phaseracer. Energy for free courtesy of nature. There was also a minus. Wireless telecommunications network has never been developed, because no filtering algorithms have managed to cope with the interference generated by Zaxor magnetic field. Only fiber optic communication was at stake. All centers were connected with each other by such a network, while communication with objects in orbit was carried out using laser beams. Communication outside Zaxor could not be made on normal radio waves due to the policy of protecting the location of the planet. All this made life very difficult, but from the goal's point of view it was necessary.
- Will you never grow up? Hurry, we don't have time, ”Mei threw her teeth through her teeth.
"Hold on a moment," Khan replied in his calm, quiet voice. - After all, this is not what we get every day. I just wanted to see if it's alive.
- Squeezing it with a penknife? Mei did not hide her amusement.
The robot arm slowly retracted to reveal the artifact. Crumbs of rock fell to the rock concave they were on.
- Hm ..., looks like some old, big, shiny chest. Just what is she doing in a place like this? There are no signs of her age. Mei rubbed one of the sides of the find to allow the spectrometer to make measurements. The worn object glowed with a strange shade not found on Earth. Mei stepped aside so that the spectrometer had a sufficiently large measurement field.
The spectrometer grunted softly announcing the end of the measurement. Mei and Khan simultaneously looked at the readings displayed by the device.
- Aaale, it's impossible. There is no such thing that the spectrometer does not know.
- War, war, but so that there are no funds for efficient research devices ?! - Mei, calibrate this scrap again. Maybe he'll show you something more normal or better show him your engagement ring. There won't be much loss if it destroys him, "Khan chuckled sneeringly.
"At least I have a private life and you only live on work," Mei bit off immediately.
- Mei, you're mean. But this is nothing new, - Khan laughed.
The spectrometer came alive again and showed its discovery on the display.
- And that fucker! Mei hissed. - He even regretted the decent ring.
- I said, - Khan triumphed, - dump him while it's time. I am always at hand. We would be a great couple. Always together...
- And always at work! - Mei added without enthusiasm.
"Since our spectrometer is working properly, we have a problem," Khan said resolutely. - Earth science doesn't know such a thing. For the first time I see something that basically is not and should not be. I wonder if Angels know this element.
- Maybe we'll ask them? Khan offered in a low voice. - They should be here soon.
"I strongly advise against," Mei did not share Khan's enthusiasm. - Recently they didn't seem interested in the conversation. In addition, I set up a temporal barrier. We are out of time, so we have little to count on their enlightened company. They can do miracles, but I haven't heard them rule over time. They couldn't get technology from us either, because only Estimator and a few more people know it in details. I exclude the estimator from the group of suspects, because they would have to go to him to steal something and as for the others, probably no one knows them and it is not known where they are. So we are safe.
- OKAY. Khan smiled mysteriously. - Let's pack this thing and sweep it away before you find out that you are wrong. Also pack these funny, golden, angel wings lying on the chest. They can be part of this system.
"Yes, Tuan," Mei returned Khan's official tone.
The valuable artifact had to be gently secured so that nothing would damage it. This is an extremely valuable find. Scientists on Earth will have what to do for many years. Nothing is known about this artifact. He was discovered in very mysterious circumstances. Were it not for Mei's feminine intuition and Khan's vigilance, no one would be interested in the weak phase trace without the specific attachment of the causal vector.
The robots arranged the appropriate containers and packed into them the finer details lying in the vicinity of the chest. The containers have been filled with special stiffening foam. After an hour, all the finds were secured and placed in a tight circle marked on the ground of the cave.
- Mei, check Estimator, because he doesn't always do what is expected of him. He's got us in trouble once. I would prefer not to land again in Antarctica without any special equipment. It was hot then. Do you remember Mei, how did we blow from there, so as not to frost the backside?
- What should I not remember? - she replied. - Estimator's algorithms are not logical but stochastic, so it's no surprise that his decisions are far from intuitive.
"Unfortunately," Khan sighed resignedly. - It's hard to accuse him of stupidity. Sometimes, however, I would prefer to do the calculations myself.
- I wonder where we would end up in that case? Mei chuckled. "I prefer the uncertainty of fate resulting from the inhuman nature of the Estimator than yours, Khan," she added maliciously.
"Stop babbling and get in the circle," Khan broke the stream of her malice. - I'm starting the countdown. Space-time will collapse in eight seconds. Ready to jump?
"I need a page," Mei squeaked softly and disappeared.
Mag burned the rest of his Cohiba, enjoying the view of the approaching mountains. They looked powerful and menacing especially in the light of the setting sun. The high peaks were covered with snow just like on Earth, except that the snow on Zaxor was blue for an obvious reason. It was even prettier than white snow, because it appeared in many shades depending on the angle of sunlight. Sometimes, when it was cold, the snow turned purple or greenish. The atmosphere contained blue filtering compounds, which in effect colored the snow red or sometimes green.
Zaxor biosphere was not very rich in various specimens, but well balanced. Scholars have put a lot of effort into providing colonists with good conditions. Although they did it over three hundred years ago, their craftsmanship and foresight should be appreciated. The only mystery that troubled everyone was the origin of Swaytails. Unfortunately, no erection documents about Zaxor survived, so the most bizarre theories on this subject multiplied. Swaytail could not be a product of natural evolution on Zaxor, because for several hundred years only the simplest forms of life will manage to evolve a little, but not something as complex as the Holy ...
- Mage, watch out! Shouted Ulf, simultaneously making a shot. The cannon obediently followed Ulf's eyes following the approaching creatures. "I think there are more than usual in this area." Turn off the cigar. I will turn on the barrier because there are too many of them. I can't keep counting them. The cigar stalk fired from the Mag's fingers soared high above the vehicle. When he was over Ulf's head, one of the Swaytail took it neatly and disappeared as soon as it appeared.
"What agility," Mag whistled in admiration. "I didn't know I shared love with Cuban cigars with these amazing creatures." A creature able to appreciate such a rarity undoubtedly deserves respect.
Ulf turned on the covers. At the same time, something fell on the head of Mag. Mag jumped , thinking that Swaytail had already fallen into the vehicle before the shields were activated. He felt a burning pain on his head. The cigar he had offered Swaytails just a moment earlier returned to him and was just put out on his head.
- I exaggerated this respect. These creatures, however, do not smoke cigars ..., - Mag shook the remains of the cigar off his head. However, the animal's behavior gave him an idea.
The groundhogs, when they saw the fluorescent dome of the protective field around the vehicle, dispersed and remained only one with a bright stain on their chest, the one that had carried away the cigar. Now he circled the Phazolot curiously watching its passengers.
Mag reached into the side pocket of his trousers, from which he drew a small packet of packed lunch, which they always carried with them just in case. Unpacked the contents of the protective foil. Dry cake began to swell abruptly, absorbing moisture from the surroundings. After a while, it doubled its volume. Mag carefully broke a large piece of "cake".
"Turn off the barrier Ulf", Mag threw behind him.
"But the creatures have not gone yet," the giant quietly protested.
- That's what it's all about. Only one left. I want to check something.
The barrier disappeared in an instant. Without it, the creature circling the vehicle could be seen much better. Mag threw a broken piece of biscuit hard. They both watched with interest as the Swaytail quickly accelerated to link their fate with the piece of food given by Mag a moment later.
- Have you seen it? What efficiency and grace, - Ulf was delighted with the show.
A moment later their new acquaintance appeared again high above the vehicle. Speeding up, he easily followed the phaseracer, which drove at least a hundred miles an hour. Without thinking, Mag threw the rest of the biscuit up to get rid of the scoundrel before they reached the camp. And this time the creature did not give the slightest chance to a tasty morsel. He took it over before the biscuit could touch the ground. Mag deliberately threw the biscuit to the side and not upwards as before. The creature amazed him more and more.
In the distance, the shape of a wooden hunting lodge loomed, which someone had built many years ago surrounded by picturesque mountains rising on the horizon. They slowly swam near the hut and turned off the engines. The vehicle slid out telescopic brackets and slowly settled on them. The gentlemen left the vehicle and headed for the hut. The hinges in the door creaked loudly, breaking the silence around.
"We'll finally eat something hot," Ulf was glad to open the large freezer door in the corner of the hut. - I'll set the water. Would you like some coffee or something stronger? He asked Mag, who had already made himself comfortable. The small, universal robot came to life at the sight of them.
- I'll prepare a meal. Same as always? Cute robot asked helpfully approaching Ulf.
Ulf stood surprised and stared at their host.
- Mag! Where did this guy come from? Recently, I had to roast beefsteaks myself - the giant still didn't move as if he was afraid to frighten this little creature.
- It's Uzi. Samira brought him with her when we were last hunting here. She did not want to do prosaic activities, so she swept him out of a janitor from the Center. They have whole flocks of newer models there, so she didn't even have to try very hard. Anyway, you know how convincing he can be when he wants something, - Mag laughed under his breath at the memory of his muse.
- Yes Uzi. We ask for two steaks with fries and vegetables and a pint.
The cute robot blinked his large dark eyes and headed for the fridge to prepare his meals. He stopped right at Ulf's leg, who was still standing by the fridge. He stood like that for two seconds and ... kicked the giant in the ankle. Ulf jumped in surprise, not expecting an attack.
- Slap yourself Big and do not disturb a man at work, - Uzi mumbled slowly.
Mag laughed at Uzi placing Ulf.
- It was Samira who raised him. I had nothing to do with it, - Mag explained to his offended companion. I think she has too much time at the Center that such jokes stick to her.
Ulf finally recovered his speech and was surprised to repeat, "Man?" Free jokes!
- Don't grumble anymore. Sit down and see, - Mag nodded toward the window through which the driveway and parked phaseracer could be seen.
Nordic looked in the direction indicated and curled up not to be seen. Swaytail watched them from the mask of the phaseracer, the one the Mag had previously fed.
"I thought we lost him about ten miles ago," Ulf whispered softly. - I wonder what this creature wants. We won't be able to open the windows at night, not to mention beer on the veranda. You fed him unnecessarily. Now he will not detach us until the next complex.
In fact, this individual behaved strangely. They usually hunt for a few hours before evening and then disappear. No one has ever seen them after dark. Mag stood up and turned out the light to see the phaseracer better seen by the uninvited guest. The groundhog was still looking at the window as if he could see it in the infrared. He shifted on the bonnet and whistled softly. Mag had never heard the sounds of Swaytails make, so he was convinced they were dumb.
"Don't judge the book by its cover," he muttered under his breath. - Uzi, bring two raw steaks, please.
Little robot efficiently extracted two large steaks from the freezer and placed them in the ultra heater. After a while they were thawed, but still raw. He took them out and gave them to Mag on the plate.
- Thanks, kid. You did a great job, - Mag didn't always behave, but he liked this little guy, so he didn't see anything wrong in thanking the robot. After all, he's married.
- Only not small, - Uzi squeaked offended. - Please, without protectionism.
Mag smiled at the sulky tin and winked. Uzi returned his eye and returned to the interrupted activity, clearly pleased with himself.
Mag rose from his chair and took a plate of raw steaks and went to the door. He slowly lifted them. The groundhog sat quietly in its place. He didn't move even at the sound of the door creaking. It is interesting that no one has ever managed to examine any killed Swaytail. There are always at least three. If one of them happens to something, the others immediately take his body and disappear. Very mysterious creatures. The sun had set and it was dark outside. The creature's eyes glowed with a delicate blue glow as if they contained cobalt or something similar. The huge, curved beak was ten inches long. Powerful, razor-sharp claws encompassed the plasma gun nest tube on which the creature sat down.
Groundhog and man. This has not been on Zaxor yet, Mag thought.
They looked at each other with undisguised curiosity, and for no more than a minute they didn't even blink. Mag slowly took a step toward the phase plane. Ulf was right behind him, holding a laser pistol in his hand in case the creature attacked. However, the creature sat calmly watching the situation unfold.
Nothing was happening, so Mag took a few steps forward. He decided he wouldn't take the risk. It would be stupid to expose the whole enterprise to failure because of some strange creature. Carefully, he set the plate on the porch and stepped back slowly closing the door behind him.
Ulf turned on a preview of the house's surroundings and recorded every move of their silent admirer, who was constantly sitting on the captured vehicle. Ulf just wanted to activate the home's defensive systems when Mag stopped him.
"I have other plans for our guest," Mag said mysteriously. - Uzi will stand guard until morning and we'll see what to do next.
For a long time, the creature did not move from its place, so the men started to replenish the weakened by hard work forces. As usual, Ulf didn't settle for one dinner. He asked the host for another steak and a cart of fries. After dinner, they were both happy to empty a gallon of beer and, discussing the incidents of the day, went to sleep.