The dimming light outside reflected off of the floor in the waiting room in such a way as to hit Hayt Menalous directly in the eyes. He sat and figited. He had read the briefing a million times. Had gone through the training for years.
“Hey, Hayt, you doing okay?” It was Gale Ylla. One of the few people Hayt had contact with since forever. They were training partners.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He said, the shaky nervousness was apparent in his voice.
“Alrighty then man.” She replied, the slightest hint of frustration in her voice. I understand where he’s coming from, honestly, I ought to be more nervous. The fact that I’m not dying of a nervous breakdown is shocking to me. We’ve got to put an end to whatever's going wrong. She thought.
I just can’t. There's no way they’d call us up for any good news. The Machine won’t work. It’s gonna kill us or something. Maybe it’s a one way trip! The both of them stared out the hexagonal bay window across the wheat field, toward a dying, rusting, ball of plasma out there in space.
It's never that easy, is it? Thought Secretary of the Energy Department Eugene A. Rakis. He was gonna have to break some news. Terrible news. Maybe they won’t be so adverse? Like, they’ll get to see some true beauty. The sliding doors opened. The Dying Sun glared at him right in the eyes. That scene was beautiful, perpetual twilight. Not great for plants though, eh!
“Maybe he’ll have some good news for once!” said Gale.
“Enh, it's never good news.” replied Hayt.
“Yeah, but a woman can dream!” Neither of them really thought it would be good news. They chuckled nonetheless. For the sake of the other.
Swiftly the door shut behind them, and they were trapped in the office of the Secretary. A silence came over the room. No party wanted to start the conversation.
Is he gonna start, or what?
Oh, god, they’re not gonna want to hear what I have to say. No way Jose. What if I just keep my mouth shut? Maybe they’ll leave after a while?
It’s definitely not good news.
“So what’s this urgent news you called us here for?” Gale asked bluntly, ignoring all the sombre respect due for a meeting with the Secretary.
“Well,” Secretary of the Energy Department Eugene A. Rakis paused for a second, attempting vaguely to procrastinate on the work of Becoming the bearer of bad news. I should’ve gotten Jhon to do this. Well, it's no use now, not like I can do anything for them. “I’m sorry.”
Sorry for what? Oh no! Oh no! It's not working properly. No. No! NO! How? Insta-Death? Another Dimension? Are we gonna get Spaghettified? Thought Hayt in the moment between sentences.
“The energy requirements of a two way trip are too great. It's a one way ticket”
“No. How? Why?” It was a shout of pure anger. I was right.
“The energy required for a one way trip is too massive. There’s no way for us to launch that much fuel.”
“Can’t we use batteries, or something?” Hayt was right. It never turns out good for us. It took all of Gale’s self restraint to hold back the slap.
“We thought about that. There is not enough lithium on Earth, Mars, Luna, and Venus combined to store enough for one trip.”
“Please! Anything!” I hate being right.
“You’ll be stuck in the past. We can only pack enough for the capsule to get back. ”
“Can’t we, maybe, hop into the capsule?”
“It's not a volume thing, it's a mass thing. Adding two hundred or so kilos would require eight hundred kilos of fuel. Making that fuel, much less transporting it into the past in the first place, would take forever.”
They left in bad spirits. The disappointment curdled with the addition of that drop of pure, distilled, rage to form a sort of anger depression that took both Gale and Hayt a solid few weeks to climb themselves out of.
The air on the cold morning of October fourth two thousand one-hundred and fifty seven did nothing to soothe the nerves of Gale and Hayt. It was kept cold in the Kazakh Facility. Needed to hold the fuel stable. They awoke at six AM. The day of preparation was ahead of them. Their last day on earth.
Everything was checked, fuel cells, the on board computer, even the moisture of the cheese wheel that they were able to bring after much begging. All of it, perfectly prepared.
At seven twenty five PM, Hayt and Gale stood their last time on their Earth. Three minutes later, a streaking beam of plasma carved an arc into the sky. A pillar of human achievement just five kilometres south of the place our Outer-Space journey started.
It was a brief journey to the nearest Heliosynchronous orbit to the surface of the sun. Only an hour or so.
“You two ready to catch a peak at the Machine?” asked the operator at the other end of the radio, his question was delayed by eight minutes.
“Of Course man! Why wouldn’t we be!” Enthusiastically said Gale. Eight minutes later the response came. But, they would never hear it. It was after their time.
No one would’ve thought that the small orb sat in the middle of the chamber could do something so great. The only conspicuous nook of it was the massive pillar it was fused to, and the twenty tons of antimatter/matter fuel hooked up to the pillar.
“I thought it would be bigger.” said Gale, “is there more of it? Does it expand?”
“Well I say, it’s pretty average.” replied Hayt. I guess this is it. My last time. The sun was dark now. Barely glowing more than a fifteen watt lightbulb.
“I’ll need one second.”
“Yeah, last time seeing our sun.” The two of them turned around.
Far off in the distance the barely visible Earth, a pale blue dot, was illuminated by the Sun. The surface of the Sun was a tapestry of black, obsidian-esk continents, easily the size of a thousand earths. Rivers of bright yellow plasma shone separating the continents. They hit the big red button.
“Okay, so you’ve got to rush, hit the button and cover your eyes, the old sun was about a trillion times brighter..” the radiowaves of the announcer’s voice met empty space.
Time travel was not as bad as they had envisioned.
I kinda expected it to hurt more. Well, you’ll not see me complaining that I felt less pain. The light was blinding until the ship’s dimmers cut it out. In a second or two, they recovered from their temporary blindness.
The continents visible only a moment before, had vanished. In their place sat the glowing ball of light. The two of them sat in awe for awhile.
“It was like this!?” Gale’s question wasn’t much of one. Of course it was, I’m seeing it with my own eyes. We really missed out. It took them several hours of staring at the sun before they were bored.
We’d better get to work. And Hayt marched out of the cockpit, passed the now useless Machine, out to the work area. What are we supposed to do first again? Oh yeah, samples. He prepped the submarine sized sample collector.
Oh, he’s already doing work. I’dve sat in awe for a second. Well, that’s not unlike him. Might as well get to collecting the readings. I wonder what Earth was like four billion years ago. She paused. “Hey Hayt,” she shouted
“Is this four billion years ago, or right now. Like, what should we call this.”
The answer took a second to leave his mouth. “I’m not sure. I’d take a stab at just calling it now, the present. No need to think about it. We’ll have plenty of time to do that once we're done. We’re here for the rest of our lives, anyway.” He tried his best to hide the bitterness in his voice on the last part, it didn’t work. Sending us here, to live around the Sun for the rest of our lives.
Saving the world gave him no solace.
The probe took months to reach anything of note. About three quarters of the way down. A chunk of solid iron struck the probe.
“What was that?” said Gale out loud while looking over the records of the night.
“What was what?” asked Corrrin.
“Some massive clonking force clonked the probe at midnight.”
“What!? Is everything okay?”
“Oh of corse Cor, do you think our scientists would really not shield the important bits?”
He sighed heavily. The probe dived deeper.
Now only a few dozen metres from the core, and under immensely immense pressure, the probe stopped.
“Its not moving.”
“And not for lack of trying. It’s like theres a wall.”
“But, the sun’s plasma, that’s impossible.”
“Well, it happened, so it can't really be that impossible.”
“Isn’t there a camera on that thing?”
“Turn it on!” The screen in front of the both of them flicked on. The glowing plasma was dimmed by computer software.
“It’s like,” He paused
“The surface of Our Sun.”
“I don’t know.”
“We should get a sample.”
“Of course.” The drill bored a hole into the black matter, a cylinder, about a metre by ten centimetres was removed and stored in the capsule.
“Is something in there?” she asked.
“No way!! You’re hallucinating.”
“No, Something in there. I think I’m going to tick the camera down the hole.”
“No, now you’re just recklessly endangering our equipment!” Months of being alone with no one but Gale had started to get to him.
“I’m doing it.” A long protrusion rose from the capsule, and filled the cylinder shaped hole. The image that would’ve been captured by the camera would’ve been beautiful. Another mini universe, living in, and feeding off of our sun. The picture never really captured the beauty of the real thing. The Camera showed the Image, but couldn't take the picture and save it.
The sun outside the bay windows shone like it used to. They sat with their bad coffee in hand, a slice of cheese in front of them. They sat for hours.
Eventually they rose. The capsule never really cooled, even in eighty years, it was still warm to the touch. It was in orbit around earth. The Machine was scrapped, ejected into the sun. For years Hayt and Gale had tried to fix it, make it run on solar, or something, it never worked. He pressed the button, and in an instant, it wasn’t there.
They returned to their post. Watching the full sun. Hand in Hand.