Flight of the Oracle

Chapter 3 - The Chronos Vault

”What about a temporal jump? We could do a backward jump into the Chronos Vault. By sacrificing some of our own personal timelines it would be possible to briefly displace ourselves into an alternate reality and then jump from there. ” With a great heave, the door inched aside. First Haka and then Marcus squeezed through the opening sideways rather than trying to fight the warped door frame.

”I can do that! ” The exhilaration that they had possibly found a way to safety caused the exclamation to come out as a shout. The capsule for emergency transport was small. Designed to be large enough for four people and a pilot, they fit without difficulty. There wasn time to program the coordinates. It wouldn have worked even if there had been time. Programming required two separate jumps.

For their plan to work, Haka would have to catapult them backward in time and then ricochet off of an interdimensional barrier completely out of the known universe and into a pocket universe created from a portion of a previous existence. But she wasn going to just be moving them back in time. This single jump would be powered with a portion of her timeline, her personal existence. She had one shot at this. And if she screwed it up then she would have never existed.

Taking the pilots position Haka shucked off the protective jacket shed been wearing. Beneath was the skintight bodysuit characteristic of high-level telepaths, empaths, and the psionically gifted. It was a garment designed from a fabric meant to interfere with stray thoughts and focus their powers. All it did was accentuate the fact that she was burned, exhausted, and disheveled; but she was surviving. The semi-sentient micro veil-ship sensed her presence.

As Haka tuned her mind to the same frequency as the organic computer which lived within their lifeboat, the various connection points along her suit began to glow. A blue-white light suffused the cabin and telepathic umbilical snaked out from the navigation console before her. Quickly, too quickly for comfort, the cords shot into her open channels, orifices, along Hakas nervous system.

Ship and pilot were linked now. Two bodies one mind. Being a ship was one of the hardest things a person could ever do. It was easy to lose ones self and become overwhelmed in the emotions and sensations of a living ship. There was all of Space and time flowing around her, and Haka could fly. The most perfect form of flight; immersed in everything. Sure, there was a crazy tyrannical brother super-deity after her. But she could run, skipping over the surface of time forever. Okay. Not forever. But far enough for it to count.

An unpleasant sound kept annoying her and interrupting her concentration as she plotted out all the fantastical things she could do. It was insistent. Perpetual. Suddenly memory and reality came crashing back into Hakas senses. The annoying sound was Marcus calling her name, urging her to go. Forcing her to remember what was happening around her and what she needed to do to survive.

The flight was brief, instantaneous. Most of the exhilaration was subdued because of the brevity of their travel. Then Marcus was pulling her out of the pilots position. Yanking organic wires out of her flesh viciously when they would come and splitting them with an electromagnetic knife when necessary.

Moving was terrible. Every movement burned; and her muscles screamed in agony. Fire raced through neurons. ”Sabotaged! ” Sounds came out in a weak croak. ”Made it? ” The Oracle had no idea if she had made it to her destination.

”No. ” Her friend grunted as he carried her limp body through the open hatch and into a nightmare. Fires burned insolently on fetid lakes. At first, Haka thought that she had sustained a head injury then realized that the red, desolate, landscape really was red. Hot blasts of air caught her in the throat. Had they landed on the surface of the burning planet they were trying to escape? ”Im not sure where we are. But there is a door here. I think its an entrance to the Vault. ”

”What makes you think….? ” Marcus turned around so that she could see over his shoulder the massive door he was carrying her toward, it stretched tall and wide enough to accommodate an Ark class battlecruiser, one of the largest ships of the original Alluran fleet. ”Oh! You
e right! ” Markings on the door were of the same ancient text that marked all the entrances to the Chronos Vault. If shed been able to read it, it would have told her the door number and the location of the entrance.

Marcus carried the limp figure in his arms carefully. The effects of the journey hadn stopped yet. Years seemed to melt off her body as the minutes went by. By the time he reached the door with his cargo, she had gone from full-grown woman to teen.

A scanning device flew out of the door and zipped around them. ”Authorized DNA recognized. ” At the foot of the giant door, a smaller people-sized door opened for them. It slammed shut as soon as they were through. Marcus kept walking with his load getting lighter and lighter ever so imperceptibly.

The corridor was huge and angled down into the core of the planet. As he walked, he realized that he was traveling faster than could be accounted for by his movements past smooth bright walls lit by some indeterminate source. Countless doors opened for their passage and clanged shut after the pair had passed through. Finally, they reached the core. The Chronos Vault.

”Welcome back to the Chronos Vault authorized DNA carrier! ” The artificial intelligence which lived within the Chronos Vault greeted.

”Haka, ” Nudging his living load Marcus tried to stir her to speak. ”What does that mean; authorized DNA carrier? ” She only moaned, and Marcus realized that Hakas already slight frame had become even slimmer, shorter, and lighter in the timeless interval it had taken to reach the core from the exterior door.

Swinging Haka from his shoulder, Marcus carefully lowered her body to the floor. ”Haka? ” Gently he cupped her face, feeling her pulse, the physical and metaphysical ones. The mature and beautiful woman he had fallen in love with had physically regressed. She seemed to be about fourteen now. ”Oh, darling what did you do? ” His woman was now a child…however, that had happened.

Stirring slowly Hakas groan of protest at waking was a mark of normalcy in an otherwise very unnatural situation. ”Just wait for it. ” The young girl smirked before she opened her eyes. It was then that Marcus realized his own hands had lost some of their definition. Less, wrinkled, less gnarled; even old scars had begun healing.

”If you didn want to be with me you could have just told me. ” His laugh was more sob-inspired than humor-filled. ”You didn have to go and make yourself too young to date. ” A thin giggle warmed his heart. If she could still laugh, then she must not have been that far gone.

”Well be the same age when the transformation is complete. ” When she finally opened her eyes to look at him, they blinked up out of a childs face that the universe hadn seen for over three thousand years. ”It was necessary. The power I possess on my own wasn enough to accomplish what we needed with the unit sabotaged. ” Tears leaked out of her eyes. ”Angel could have done it. But I just didn have the strength on my own. Forgive me for borrowing some of yours. ”

”Of course, I forgive you. ” When Marcus voice broke, he realized he was now a teenager. ”Haka, I would have given you all of my power if it would have protected you from this. ” The girl smiled sleepily at her rescuer.

”It wouldn have been enough. All your life wouldn have been enough. But my life, my life has been so long… ” The two youths were mesmerized by each other as the transformation making them younger continued. ”I wanted to give you some of what I have had. When the transformation is complete your new life will last just as long as mine. ”

Something about her voice, unfamiliar as it was made him wonder if there was something wrong. ”What is the catch? ”

”So, perceptive. ” Her childs voice soothed. ”Its going to take a very long time for the transformation to be complete. ”

”How long? ” The girl bit her lip tentatively at her lovers question.

”Long enough that you might not still love me by the time we
e old enough to date again. ” Realizing that Hakas regression had finally ceased, Marcus hesitantly offered her a hand up. Gratefully the girl took it. The hair which had been a pale blue-white before her regression was now mostly a fine downy blonde. Only an inch and a half swath of the familiar color remained streaked down the side of her face.

This was the face that Marcus had fallen in love with as a child, the face that had stared out at him from his primary school history books. The first time Marcus had seen this young girls face was a picture of her with her mother and sister. All three had the same streak in their hair, a symbol of their true nature before the evolution of their abilities had converted their humanity into something else.

The first stirrings of longing had taken root at that age. His course had been set. A schoolboy crush had led the young Marcus on a twenty-five-year journey of discovery through the Alluran armed forces hierarchy that landed him on the personal guard roster of the girl hed fallen in love with all those years ago. A girl who had been a woman long before Marcus was ever born.

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