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2206 : Window Onto A New World Book I in The Threshold

Chapter V – Space Oddity

By

Christopher Stewart ★ Bookcast Edition – March 2012


Copyright © 2012 by Christopher Stewart

★ All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

★ Bookcast Edition - March 2012

★ This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


Chapter V

Space Oddity

 (...) at first I feared the worse, that the mirror had an aberration, or that the telescope had been impacted during the rotation or something... I quickly ran the self-tests and apparently everything was fine... so I immediately checked the archives to see if we had something about that particular region, and indeed we had data... not much, but more than enough... I ran a few queries hoping to correlate the old measurements with the new... I had assumed the telescope had a problem, so I was expecting the old data would prove there was nothing there, and that the new data was indeed incorrect... to my amazement though, there was something there... the background radiation coming from this sliver of space was effectively abnormal, and apparently, nobody had really paid any attention to it before (...)  – Excerpted from a transcript of an interview with Stephanie Howe, Observatory Technician, Veshtar, 54.4.2206


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E

dward Rogers could barely remain concentrated as the consultant proceeded with the

final segment of his presentation. The newly formed Coalition of Progressives, of which the man in his late thirties had more or less willingly been a prominent figure, had invited a renowned expert to comment on the spatial anomaly that had been making the headlines ever since its discovery. And although the party leader would have very much liked to understand the strange phenomenon, his attention seemed mostly interested in the events of the last quarter, surely one of the most difficult of his entire political career. The Liberal mused that the public opinion had been rather cruel towards his troops since the launch of the campaign. The platform of the formation, or obvious lack thereof as its detractors had been saying, was clearly not attracting the sympathy of the voters. The performance of most of his candidates had been such that almost all of his counsellors had advised to accept the proposition of the New Light Party and officialize the projected union, even prior to election day, as it constituted the best hope of accessing power. But the chief had taken the recommendations as a personal insult. In his view, it had been an indication that his direction, and most importantly, his credibility in the ever scrutinizing eyes of the organization's establishment, were being questioned, to say the least. Furthermore, the weekly polls had shown that he had not been the one who had profited the most from the manoeuvre, which had already been difficult enough to swallow as it were. His new allies, the heads of the Greens and the Neolits, had both gained in visibility after the announcement. According to the statistics, people were quickly getting behind the two of them, while he had merely avoided losing even more support. And as if the whole situation hadn't been sufficiently demanding already, he was now learning that the new finding, the discontinuity as the visiting scientist was referring to it, threatened to render their joint program obsolete. The very same program which had been negotiated in haste, and so bitterly, in the weeks that had preceded the creation of the progressive gathering would manifestly have to be reviewed. And given that they had chosen to wait for trends to emerge before deciding who would run for Chancellor, his prospects were growing bleaker by the day. The many recent upheavals had exhausted the slightly overweight, brown haired, green eyed tricenarian, to a uncommon degree. Still, he considered himself bound, by duty to his organization, and by personal honour, to appear not only unaffected, but pleased and in control. His strategists had not only corroborated his stance, but moreover they had also urged him to act as if he had already been acknowledged as de facto leader of the Coalition. After all, their party counted almost twice as much seats as the other two formations put together. And thus, sitting in the conference room of the Liberal Headquarters in Triton Aeolus, his home ground in a sense, he was trying his best to keep his The Threshold

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focus on the voice of the specialist as the lecture was nearing its conclusion, eagerly anticipating his chance to resume conducting the meeting. He had to persist and assert what he felt was his rightful status, despite the numerous disapproving glances his frequent interventions had attracted him so far, from both Jake Harvey and Laura-Sylvia Bauer. –

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« Okay, thank you professor Sturn » Rogers offered loudly, while the other members of the small audience seated around the large circular table, chiefs, advisers, and assistants, also expressed their appreciation to the researcher as he humbly bowed his head, standing between the Greens and the Neolits, « at this point, we would like you to recap the major features of the wormhole, before we take a look at the implications » the self-appointed spokesperson instructed in an authoritative tone. « Sure » tersely acquiesced the physicist as he glanced at the two other leaders, hoping to signify that he didn't much appreciate the way in which the obnoxious host was directing the event, « let me first remark that what we know so far as been gathered either via our remote-controlled space telescope, or via the probe we've sent from it a few days ago » he began, struggling to keep his poise, « the GSA has also sent a preliminary investigation team on board an observation shuttle that should reach the location in – » he paused to check his handheld, « just a few hours from now » the space engineer confirmed with a satisfied smile, « that being said » he went on after a second, « as I've stressed at the start of my presentation » he mentioned, staring accusingly at the Liberal representative, « we don't know for sure at this point what this thing really is » solemnly reiterated the former educator, « and if it's indeed a wormhole, it's radically different from anything our best models predict » he noted with conviction, « basically, our theoretical constructs suggest that we can expect actual wormholes to be very tiny, and very unstable shortcuts through spacetime, and this is definitely not what we have here » he maintained, still amused by the magnitude of the dissimilarities. « But it's a shortcut ? » queried one of the counsellors of the New Light Party. « Obviously » the pundit readily concurred, « but the reports we've received so far tell us that it is planar, practically depthless, frameless – and by that I mean that its borders are undetectable to the naked eye – that it is irregularly shaped, roughly like a pentagon, and that it is nearly twenty kilometers across, at its widest » he explained, emphasizing the scale. « And it is stable ? » the same Neolit adviser wondered. « Very » the persuasive expert confidently assured at once, waiting for a moment to see if there would be more questions, « now, about its location » he then carried on, « we know that it is roughly the same distance from us as Veshtar is, just a little farther in fact as it is situated well above the ecliptic plane – let me show you again with the simulation » he announced as he fingered his uDev and reactivated a digital model of the planetary system on the holoscreen that rose from the top of the table, covering its entire surface, « and I'll once more hide our Sun so that everyone can see » the scholar pointed out, thumbing his

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gadget again to make the big orange orb vanish from the middle of the computerized three dimensional visualization, « there... so, as you can see, all the planets of our system more or less share the same plane as Ovel's orbit, which we call the ecliptic plane » he resumed his exposition, « this is Veshtar, and the discontinuity is about – » he indicated, stopping as he bent forward and tried to extend his arm over the third planet, ultimately having to take a few steps to his side in order to reach the globe, « oh, I'm sorry ! » he exclaimed as his foot brushed against one the Neolits who was seemingly very eager to move her things away from beside her chair to make room for the consultant. « No problem professor Sturn » reacted Janice Gallagher, grinning in embarrassment as she sat back up. « Hmm... okay, so, as I was saying » continued the specialist as he again leaned towards the yellowish brown sphere, finally holding his universal device vertically above it, « the discontinuity is about over here – and its orientation is such that its plane is pretty much perpendicular to that of the ecliptic – » « Like a large plate hovering over Veshtar » interrupted Bauer, using the image the guest speaker had previously employed. « Precisely » cheerfully responded the scientist, smiling at the chief of the Greens, « like a large, transparent, five-sided plate standing upright above it » he once again detailed the analogy, « but remember that it is much smaller than my uDev – if I could make it appear on the model, it would be but a mere dot » he insisted, straightening back up and away from the table, « and while we're on the subject, I don't think I've said this earlier, but the current plan is to install a series of self-positioning beacons to mark both its location and its boundaries » suddenly recalled the doctor of physics, « well, we have no confirmation of this as of yet, but the GSA folks have recommended it, so I guess it's only a matter of time before they're sent up there » he ensured, but the anecdote didn't seem to have much impact on the audience members. « And... why haven't we seen it before ? » Rogers asked hesitantly. « Hmm... as I've mentioned earlier » the researcher replied, again gazing disapprovingly at the chubby party leader, « in part because of its characteristics – when we look through it we can detect its presence » he first stressed, « but this is not something that can be seen per se, except perhaps when there's something else behind it » he then contrasted, « and given its small size, even if it had been located between Veshtar and the Sun for instance, it would never had eclipsed it » the former teacher patiently reasserted for the sake of the inattentive tricenarian, « still, if it had been there, we couldn't have missed it, we would have detected it eventually » he supposed, pausing for a moment to let the information sink in, « but basically, the short answer is that we never really looked in that particular direction before » he justified somewhat apologetically after a short while, « and probably wouldn't have if the space telescope had not been taking measurements as we rotated it to point back towards Veshtar » the space engineer continued, « but I've been told there's ample evidence of it in our archives, it's been there all along, we just never noticed it » he

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remarked with amusement, « that's how we know it's persistent, by the way » he lastly added, turning to the Neolit counsellor who had inquired about its stability. « But shouldn't we have seen it from Veshtar ? » the head of the Liberals went on. « Mister Sturn has just told you we didn't look, Edward » Bauer sharply retorted, visibly irritated, « I believe we're straying from the main point » she immediately suggested. « Yes, indeed we are » the specialist concurred, once more grinning at the woman, « well, okay... so, to sum up the point, I think it's important to remember that the discontinuity remains at a constant distance from the third planet » he carried on in haste, « in other words, it appears to be following Veshtar in its own orbit around our Sun, as if the two of them were linked somehow » he clarified, clearly bothered by the fact, « and ultimately, that means we can get over there via shuttle in a little over four days and a half, when it is at its closest » he finally emphasized. « But... how can such a thing have an orbit ? I mean, how can it move at all ? » chuckled Harvey, manifestly amazed by the thought. « Good question ! » first reacted the expert, « all I can offer at this point is that we simply don't know » he candidly commented, smiling sedately at the chief of the New Light Party and taking an instant to consider the situation, « I wouldn't be surprised if we discovered that this anomaly is an effect of Veshtar's peculiar constitution, and by that I'm referring to its exceptionally high radioactivity » he hazarded pensively, « but please note that I'm speculating here » the renowned guest then insisted, glancing around the table to invite further queries, « now, about what's on the other side » he resumed soon after, « what we know at this point is only fragmentary, and we hope to find out more once the team from the Space Agency gets there » he declared with undeniable anticipation, « but thus far, we can see no nearby stars, or planets, or objects whatsoever in the vicinity » enumerated the scholar, « of course, there are distant stars, but it's way too soon to say whether some of them have planets orbiting them or not » he confidently maintained, « so, in other words, it leads to pretty much the middle of nowhere » he summarized half-jokingly. « And that's a good thing, right ? » verified one of Rogers' advisers, chortling nervously. « Hmm... I guess so » responded the pundit in a humorous manner, « there are no close neighbours, no life forms that we can identify, and thus no foreseeable threats as far as we can tell » he assured right away, « but there's no intelligent life either » he noted, looking somewhat disappointed, stopping for a while to let the idea sink in, « and lastly, and by far the most surprising feature of the whole discovery » the dark haired quadragenarian eventually continued, « is how fast spacetime flows over there, relative to here » he stated solemnly, « for reasons which completely elude us, as I've explained at length earlier – » « This is the heart of the matter » interrupted the Liberal leader, « and so I'd like to make sure everyone understands what it means » he stressed in a commanding tone, « one day here lasts seven days over there, right ? » he submitted tentatively. « That's right ! » confirmed the scientist, « roughly seven point twenty-eight days to be more precise » he indicated dutifully, « but you wouldn't see any difference over there »

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he quickly pointed out, « your seven days over there would feel just like seven days over here » he asserted, examining each attendee to see if he could detect signs of confusion, and seeing mostly contemplative faces. « That's really hard to grasp ! » Bauer reacted, frowning in stupefaction. « It boggles the mind ! » immediately exclaimed Harvey, nodding sympathetically as he turned to the lady whose features lit up at the eye contact. « Hey, it baffles me too ! » Sturn concurred with amusement, provoking some laughter in the small audience, « still, I have to accept the evidence we've gathered » he added once the calm had returned, marking a pause before he concluded, « and that pretty much sums it up for now » he then announced, checking the outline of his lecture on his uDev, « oh, again, I should emphasize that this is what we know at this time, we'll learn more once the observation shuttle reaches the location » he reiterated his earlier remark. « Okay, thank you again professor » politely said the self-appointed spokesperson of the Coalition, « now, with the few minutes that we have left, let's discuss the consequences » he instructed in a less courteous fashion, « what do we have here ? » he asked vaguely. « Can this new space be colonized ? » bluntly inquired Harvey, going straight to the point.

Staying silent as he considered both questions, the famous Veshtari was suddenly reminded of the uniquity of the most invaluable opportunity the Progressive Parties had offered him when they had invited him to present them the once in a lifetime discovery. Over the years, he had learned to appreciate the feeling that currently submerged him, one he perceived as an intense blend of dread, enthusiasm, and inevitability. This experience he could now recognize as a door, opening to expose a particular future, allowing him a glimpse at all he would have to go through should he choose to go down that road, as if he were acutely sensing a condensed version of what awaited him. He knew he had to respond positively. He had to rise to the occasion. He had to seize the precious moment he had been hoping for. And the part he had to play was to ensure that the three chiefs would also choose to go down that same road. Thus, little by little, the rigorous man of science in him receded, along with all his aspirations to neutrality, and the rebellious left-winger took over, as subtly as he could, and started to push forward his own agenda. –

« What we have here » the renowned expert began, staring at Rogers as he echoed him, and then turning towards the Neolits, « is a window onto a vast space that can effectively be colonized » he assured with conviction, stopping briefly for effect, « given all that we know at this point, and unless further observations reveal some unforeseen obstacle » he cautiously stressed, « my personal opinion is that we now have an extraordinary chance of solving some of the most pressing issues the Federation has to deal with » the pundit stated unequivocally, « in fact, the only uncertainty that remains now is whether or not living organisms can cross to the other side unaffected, but there's no reason whatsoever to believe it could be harmful to us » he insisted right away, « for sure, the probe has gone in and out of it a few times already, and it has not been impacted » he finally maintained.

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« So there's no doubt in your mind that Ovel can exploit the situation to its advantage ? » wondered the leader of the New Light Party. « Definitely ! » optimistically answered the specialist, « obviously, there are huge gains to be made from this situation » he fervently went on, « for one, it enables us to eventually increase our growth rate by a factor of seven » he first affirmed, confident that the bold assertion would arouse the interest of the politicians, « without the inconveniences » the scholar quickly pointed out, addressing the Greens, « imagine our factories having their yearly output increased sevenfold » he suggested soon after, glancing at each member of the audience in sequence as he carried on his inspirational speech, « imagine seeing seven years into the future and readily accessing now the technology that will exist then » he submitted, himself transported by the bright vision, « imagine knowing after one year the results of seven years of research, and thus finding cures seven times faster » evoked the tall bespectacled man, « imagine, simply moving a few stations of the Euthenia series over to this new space, and already reaping the harvest » he lastly proposed. « Simply moving ? » abruptly reacted the head of the environmentalists, « let me remind you there are people living aboard these stations, professor » she noted with indignation, « won't they age seven time faster too ? » she ultimately objected. « When seen from here, yes, of course » confirmed the engineer, turning towards Bauer and trying to keep his calm, « but not from their perspective » he immediately contrasted, « and in fact that's the only problem I can see with the whole situation » he commented after a too short pause, changing his focus in mid-sentence to acknowledge the point, and thus confusing the attendees. « I'm not sure I'm following you, professor Sturn » the Liberal representative exclaimed, for once appropriately voicing the doubts of most of the participants. « Sorry » apologized the guest adviser, grinning as he recognized his mistake, « I could have been clearer, let me rephrase that » he admitted without hesitation, « I mean, from a technological standpoint, moving settlements into this new space in order to profit from the relative difference in spatio-temporal flow » he made sure to bring up again, « is very well within the reach of Ovel » the dark haired quadragenarian declared, « in other words, there are no physical obstacles to this colonization » he resolutely ensured, looking at the chief of the Greens who nodded in approval, « I believe it's very important for you all to realize, if you haven't already, that ever since we've installed mining facilities on Veshtar, our understanding of nuclear energy has grown exponentially » he continued, hoping he could further substantiate his ideas before being asked to properly reply to the question the lady had raised, « and the same can be said of the performances of our nuclear power cells » the former educator remarked, « and thus Ovel is now very rich as far as energy is concerned » he explained with evident satisfaction, « and if we also take into account the abundant reserves of radioactive elements we have discovered on the third planet, perhaps what I should say is that energy need not be a concern » he finally stressed. « Nuclear power is not without its problems » Harvey mentioned sedately, peeking at the

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two other leaders to assess their expression. « Obviously, but still, it's abundant » the expert emphasized at once, « and given – please allow me to toot my own horn for just a second » he announced, smiling humbly, « given that we now have at our disposal the very reliable and very efficient space travel engines we've built for the needs of the supply ships that fly from Ovel to Veshtar and back » he stated, referring to his own innovation, the nuclear fusion engines for which he had been widely praised throughout the scientific community and beyond, « what it all boils down to is that despite the enormous energetic requirements that accelerating and decelerating such a huge mass imply, we can seriously consider moving something as large as one of our stations over to the anomaly in a matter of only a few quarters » the pundit solemnly suggested, « about one hundred and eighty days if my estimates are correct, when Veshtar is at its closest » he pointed out, staring briefly at his uDev to ascertain the number, « and once a first industrial station is functional over there, then we can start building new ones, right on location, seven times faster than we do now » he confidently maintained, visibly striking the fancy of many members of the audience.

Sturn was expecting he would soon have to face the troublesome topic of aging, and how the population would react to the prospect. However, he knew that the visions he was now sharing were feeding the imagination of individuals who stood excellent chances of governing the Federation. He was fully aware that the possibilities he was now evoking could very well constitute the foundations of their global development strategy for years to come. He was planting seeds. And while he had the full attention of the potential future deciders of Ovel, he could influence them so the precious seeds would yield the fruits he would be most glad to harvest, fruits which would satisfy his own political and spiritual hungers. So he chose to keep on pushing his views, intentionally ignoring the difficult issue, having no doubt that it would sprout up again before long.

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« Moreover » the renowned speaker carried on, « once a first settlement is operational in our new space, we can move some of our research programs over there » he tentatively submitted, « for instance, we're currently working on a revolutionary procedure that we refer to as molecular assembly, which seems naturally suited to the purpose of building large structures in gravity-free contexts » he revealed hastily, feeling that his pitch was about to be cut short, « and thus would accelerate even more the construction of – » « But how would that address the social obstacle ? » interrupted Bauer, who had not lost track of her earlier objection in the lofty plans of the eloquent physicist. « Hmm... it wouldn't » readily admitted the scholar, gazing at the discerning woman and grinning as he recovered from the sudden disappearance of all he could foresee, abruptly brought back to the actuality of the gathering, « the question of how people would receive the propositions would remain » he confirmed pensively. « Will they accept to leave their lives behind ? » gravely added the Neolit leader. « Precisely » concurred the illustrious scientist, « ultimately, that's what it's about » he

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continued without reservations, « even considering that, for many, the move will translate into improved overall living conditions, and even if monetary incentives are offered, like the Federation was doing at the time when the first stations were being populated » he noted, still attempting to influence opinions, « the pioneers will have to leave their lives, their relatives, their friends, knowing that they probably won't be able to relate to them in the same way ever again » he observed with both conviction and resignation. « I like the idea of incentives » Rogers commented after a while, breaking the thoughtful quietude, « this definitely can be a very profitable enterprise if we manage it responsibly » he asserted with some enthusiasm, « if they can profit from it, I'm sure many will be glad to join in and contribute to the expansion of the Ovelian civilization » he grandiloquently declared. « Some will join in spontaneously even if there's no profit involved » curtly retorted the head of the Greens, throwing an accusative look at her colleague as if to admonish him for his money-tinged perspective. « Of course, entire families will gladly make the move too » placidly responded Harvey, hoping his peaceful attitude will help ease the tension, « clans, tribes, villages, and even whole towns have migrated onto stations in the past » he immediately pointed out. « But that's not quite the same thing » the lady argued amicably, clearly more favourably disposed towards of one her two peers. « Of course » the blond tricenarian agreed right away, « but, what I mean is that moving doesn't necessarily have to mean leaving everything behind » he correctly remarked with insistence. « Good point ! » exclaimed the Liberal. « I believe the crux of the matter is how many would make the move, and would that be enough to make the whole operation viable » the chief of the New Light Party hazarded. « Precisely » corroborated the researcher, « and, at least as far as I can see, that's pretty much the only unknown factor » he submitted, trying to change the focus away from the problematic topic, « but we certainly have the means to do it » he confidently reiterated. « So, basically » the self-appointed spokesperson of the Coalition began, « you're telling us that if we successfully sell the idea to enough people – » « Perhaps we should say, Edward » the Neolit leader cut in with a disapproving glance at the host, expecting that Bauer would again react to his mercantile vocabulary, « if there are enough volunteers – » « We find ourselves at the threshold of a whole new world » Sturn completed in a louder voice, as if transported by the scope of the portentous affirmation, and at once silencing the whole conference room.

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And so, as chiefs, advisers, and assistants were slowly getting ready to leave, the grand concluding statement of the space engineer kept resonating in his mind, as if to assure him that his efforts had not been in vain. He had brilliantly risen to the occasion and obviously impressed the members of the dissolving audience, and without having projected to, he had ultimately stressed the significance of the opportunity offering itself to them. Doubtlessly, he had played his part, and now they had to play theirs. Not only could they call forth a most welcome wind of change to the whole Federation, they were in position to bring about a true revolution. Their decisions could alter the Ovelian way of life forever, and for the better, and usher in a new era of prosperity and improved living conditions for the whole population. Reflecting on his lecture as the Liberals were approaching him, the pundit was delighted at how it had gone surprisingly better than he had imagined. He had effectively put forward most of the ideas he had wanted to, and had met very little opposition, none in fact except for the unavoidable question of the social obstacle, as it had been referred to. And even that hadn't seemed to pose much of a difficulty, at least for two of the three politicians. He had even been able to slip in a mention of molecular assembly technology, which he had noticed had apparently piqued the curiosity of some of the participants, and thus would possibly be taken under consideration too. As Rogers and his team rapidly congratulated and thanked him, it occurred to the physicist that there would probably be similar consultations to come. If the Progressive Parties were put into power, they would have to elaborate their quinquennial programs, and very likely they would seek his counsel. He was very much savouring the prospect of being given additional chances to subtly promote his own agenda, although the emphatic comments his first attempt was attracting suggested that such eventualities could be redundant. Just like her associates before her, even the head of the environmentalists was now manifestly not only receptive to the propositions of the former teacher, but also very enthusiastic about them. –

« Thank you Bernard, we very much appreciate your invaluable perspective » admiringly said Laura-Sylvia Bauer, smiling as the expert and her shook hands, « I hope we can count on you to further enlighten us on the situation as it develops ? » hazarded the dark blue eyed woman who wore her dark brown hair straight and short. « Absolutely ! » cheerfully ensured the gratified researcher, « it's been a real pleasure, and I would certainly be interested in collaborating with the Coalition in the future should you require my services » he continued, grinning and nodding respectfully at the brunette he found particularly magnetic. « My guess is that we'll need your insights very soon » the short lady hinted as she turned around and started to walk towards the door, confirming some of the man's intuitions.

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Neolits, the scholar suddenly found himself alone with Jake Harvey. – – – –

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« Let me personally thank you for a very instructive presentation, Bernard » began the charismatic leader, visibly satisfied. « Thanks Jake ! » responded the guest speaker, « it's been a pleasure » he reiterated in a friendly manner. « I presume you'll be available for us as we develop our colonization strategy ? » squarely inquired the tall blond tricenarian. « Of course, of course » Sturn happily assured following a short, shocked pause, accepting both the offer and the frankness of the revelation as indications of success, « I presume I can trust this too will remain strictly confidential ? » he queried, somewhat apprehensive. « Obviously » the politician guaranteed persuasively, staring directly into the eyes of the famous Veshtari so he wouldn't doubt his word, « Laura – I mean, Miss Bauer may have expressed her reservations » he went on after a few seconds, « but we're definitely very keen to turn some of your visions into realities » he let on, trying to determine if he had a reliable ally in the person of the scientist, « you have validated our original impressions, more than validated, in fact » he immediately insisted. « I'm very glad to hear that » reacted the space engineer, again agreeably surprised by the transparency of his interlocutor, « you have my complete cooperation » he then declared without hesitation. « Excellent ! » promptly replied the chief of the New Light Party, « that's exactly what I wanted to hear » he shared candidly, taking a moment to appreciate the good news, « I believe the next step for us is to announce our intentions to the population and see what happens » he submitted soon after, « assuming the Greens have no further objections » he clarified right away. « And that the observation team doesn't discover anything that rules out colonization » warned the pundit. « Of course » swiftly concurred the candidate, « I'm letting my enthusiasm carry me ! » he chuckled with some embarrassment, « I'm getting ahead of myself, sorry » he added, more sedately, « when do you think the observation team will report ? » he then asked, hoping his haste had not made him appear heedless. « Hard to say » the former teacher answered pensively, « I don't know the details of their plans » he justified at once, « but I've heard they're eager to cross over there as soon as possible to know what it feels like » he pointed out, amused by the thought. « I see they're letting their enthusiasm carry them too ! » Harvey retorted with a grin. « Indeed they are ! » laughed the doctor of physics who enjoyed privileged access to the current affairs of the spatial agency through his functions as project director on Veshtar. « So, as I was saying » the leader of the Neolits continued, « we believe we can beat the Conservatives and be the first to announce our settlement plans » he ventured, obliquely

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seeking to learn if the other knew something about the program of his adversaries. « Okay, first, I must advise you to wait for the go-ahead of the GSA before announcing anything » the researcher dutifully maintained. « Of course » ensured the charismatic tricenarian, « it was never my intention to imply that we would proceed without the blessings of the Agency » he resolutely asserted. « Good » approved the contented science popularizer, « now, as far as the Conservatives are concerned, I wonder if the idea will even occur to them ! » he sarcastically remarked, « they've traditionally been slow to merely acknowledge any space-related developments, even more so to adapt to them » he explained, chortling and shaking his head in disbelief at what seemed to him an inconceivable stance, « in fact, despite our constant pressures, they're basically still following the very same space program the Liberals have outlined over forty years ago » the scholar commented, the politician conveying his astonishment silently, « as far as I know » the consultant went on after a brief pause, « myself excepted, none of our specialists on Veshtar have been invited to counsel the Cabinet regarding the anomaly » he disclosed to substantiate his willingness to collaborate, « and even if I were to tell them precisely what I've told you here today, I would be the first surprised if they seriously considered the possibilities » he concluded to the delight his interlocutor. « That's excellent news for us ! » cheerfully exclaimed the former businessman, remaining quiet for an instant as he smiled in satisfaction, appreciating the cooperative attitude of the space engineer, and trying to figure out a way to strengthen their burgeoning alliance, « I believe we have a good friend in common » he eventually declared. « It's very possible » quizzically replied the guest speaker, his expression inviting further information as he did not want to reveal his cards too quickly, although he knew full well that the man was referring to the famous prophetess. « Mistress Aeira has been mentoring me for... quite a while now » clarified the candidate, obviously proud of his relationship with the wise lady. « Oh ! Of course » feigned the tall Veshtari, « I had a feeling you might be that pupil she sometimes talks about » he deceptively submitted after a second, more or less successfully convincing the chief of the New Light Party that he had been unaware of their association, but Harvey wasn't sure he could trust that the slight visual incoherences he had detected meant that he was being shown a facade. « You can thank her for your presence here » the popular leader mentioned. « Oh... I see » responded the expert, nodding with raised eyebrows, appearing somewhat aghast, { always one step ahead, isn't she ? } he reflected with some amusement, « it makes perfect sense » he noted, inadvertently exposing more than he should have, yet, although he felt the urge to question the statement, the blond tricenarian couldn't quite work out the relevance of the inquiry, not recognizing all that the reaction had communicated. « I'm meeting her later this afternoon » keenly announced the politician after a moment. « You're quite lucky to have a woman of her quality as a teacher » suggested the physicist,

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V. Space Oddity

« she's the best » he affirmed, hoping to subtly direct the conversation towards the other's channelling experiments, « she's been immeasurably invaluable to me » he emphatically asserted. « She's been your mentor too ? » asked the former businessman, amazed that such a world acclaimed scientist could have ever been interested in spiritual matters. « No, not really » answered the researcher, « I've always been more of an autodidact » he observed at once, seizing the occasion to bring up the potentially sensitive subject, « but when I was younger – » he began, stopping immediately, manifestly uneasy, « I used to try to contact Celestials » the pundit admitted, taking a deep breath before resuming his account, « and... I got unlucky » he finally confided, carefully watching the chief of the Neolits for signs of identification.

As he listened to the consultant, Harvey couldn't help but wonder whether the bespectacled quadragenarian was simply recounting his story or if he somehow knew much more than he had let on. { Does he know about my attempts ? } he nervously thought, { « don't let anyone lead you astray » } the strong masculine baritone voice of his supernal adviser resonated in his mind. – –

« What did you contact ? » the charismatic leader queried unflinchingly. « Let's just say the whole thing backfired badly » Sturn bitterly reminisced, « it was not the reliable counsellor I had first supposed it was » he commented, still staring intently at his interlocutor and suddenly seeing what he had been expecting.

A shiver of fright went down the spine of the politician as he realized he could very well be in the same situation that the guest speaker had been. { Is he warning me ? } he apprehensively mused, { « the path you have chosen is the right path » } the guidance of the incorporeal entity echoed again, { « don't let anyone lead you astray » } the instructions resounded once more, { thanks Bhagavaan } the tricenarian quietly replied soon after, pacified by the silent utterances.

« It was very reckless of me » carried on the perceptive scholar following a pensive pause, { he suspects I'm onto him } he noticed, quickly averting the scrutinizing eyes, « the damage could have been irreversible » he explained, aiming to scare the younger man away from the dangerous occult practice, « Aeira's wisdom was a very welcome change once I got out of this whole mess » he ultimately acknowledged, visibly appreciative. « We should be grateful for the presence of such kind advisers in our lives » the candidate proposed in a cold, serious manner that departed from the demeanor he had previously displayed.

Perhaps the former businessman believed he had cleverly put an end to the discussion on the difficult issue, but the intuitive space engineer knew that Harvey's last remark had not been made in reference to the soothsayer, contrary to the appearances. Just like he knew that confronting the pupil The Threshold

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V. Space Oddity

could jeopardize his chances of collaborating again with him in the future. And so he sagely decided to play along. –

« Indeed, it's a great blessing to know her » the famous expert concurred with a friendly grin, { and right again she was } he reflected with pleasure.

Forced to revisit his own unfortunate channelling experiences, the scientist had to admit that he was already more at peace with the deplorable episode. Rehearsing the scene, and then having the actual conversation had brought relief to the painful memories. The white haired seer had once more worked her magic. The prescribed encounter had effectively been an occasion to heal. The leader of the New Light Party was worried that his momentary lack of enthusiasm could arouse suspicion. The warm response of the pundit had contrasted with his own reticence, and made him aware of the stark alteration in his own deportment. He relaxed his gaze, widened his smile, and proceeded to conclude the exchange. –

« Well, thanks again for your insights, Bernard » offered the tall blond tricenarian, « you certainly have dispelled most of our doubts, and confirmed our intentions to go forward with our settlement plans » he ensured, genuinely delighted. « I'm very glad you feel that way ! » cheerfully reacted the physicist, « this opportunity is too good to miss ! » he asserted with sincere exuberance, gratified to receive more proof that his presentation had been successful. « It certainly is ! » agreed the chief of the Neolits as he gestured towards the door to lead Sturn out of the conference room.

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About the Series

A

t the turn of the century, Ovel must face the consequences of its accelerated growth. One

hundred and twenty seven federated countries and eleven sovereign nations, spread across the homeland and in colonies settled onboard orbiting stations and on a nearby planet. Fourteen billion inhabitants struggling to thrive under the rule of a corrupted Global Government, in power for over forty years. Fuelled by a recent scientific finding, the once in a lifetime discovery of a discontinuity in the cosmic fabric of the neighbouring space, a coalition of politicians is willing to stand up for the people and radically change things. Now relegated to the ranks of an obscure sect, the once dominant Community and its disciples must effectively handle the requirements of the Celestials to ensure that the most favourable of all possible destinies comes to pass. Meanwhile, halfway across the world, a young monk must learn to collaborate with the Enlightened Ones in order to successfully discharge the essential task he has accepted to fulfil in behalf of his monastery. Will the crucial 2206 electoral campaign climax on the emergence of a charismatic Progressive leader, or will the decried Chancellor prevail despite the many forces scheming for his downfall ? On a background of environmental and financial crises, and religious influences intertwining with political manoeuvres to determine the fate of the overpopulated orb, The Threshold chronicles the evolution of the Ovelian civilization as it heads towards unprecedented upheaval.

★ Contact Facebook Profile : https://www.facebook.com/the.threshold.2206 Google Plus Profile : https://plus.google.com/u/0/104660427672333556879

★ The Complete Edition of The Threshold - 2206 : Window Onto A New World is available in the following locations Kindle Format on Amazon ePub Format on Lulu


About the Author

C

hristopher Stewart loves to try his hand at various artistic endeavours, but if there's one discipline he's perfecting, it must be the art of blooming late.

He has studied for a long time, played football even longer, spent a significant part of his adult life developing software on a full-time basis and invested what remained in the pursuit of his ideal of creating meaningful music in the context of a rock ensemble. He has founded the prolific yet still album-less Quebec-based progressive rock outfit Poligraf in 1998 and has never been quite the same since. He has been practising Buddhism dead-seriously since the mid 90s, until he finally awakened to the fact that it teaches living happiness. His interests range from psychology, physics, and philosophy, to mysticism, divination, the arts and the creative process, and, obviously, multitasking and clichés. Pick any task, tag it with the word « impossible, » assign it to him, and he’ll be hard at work for years before the first suspicion finally pops in his mind.

★ Contact Email : christopher.stewart@gmail.com Facebook Profile : https://www.facebook.com/christopher.andrew.stewart Google Plus Profile : https://plus.google.com/114005406455037130049 Twitter Profile : https://twitter.com/poligraf

★ Also Available as eBooks On the Meaning of Sin


Credits Chapter Titles The titles are meant as a tribute to the musicians. Special thanks to the members of Yes for their musical genius, and to Jon Anderson in particular for sharing his vision with the world. Fonts Linux Libertine : http://www.linuxlibertine.org/ Vollkorn : http://friedrichalthausen.de/ Philosopher : http://jovanny.ru/ BorisBlackBoxx : http://manfred-klein.ina-mar.com/ Quirkus : http://www.peter-wiegel.de/ Ubuntu : http://font.ubuntu.com/ Liberation : from the Fedora Linux Distribution : http://fedoraproject.org/ Images NASA : Photo-like view of Earth based on observations from MODIS USGS : Mosaic of the Schiaparelli hemisphere of Mars NASA : Global view of the surface of Venus NASA/JPL/Voyager Mission : Image of the planet Uranus taken by the spacecraft Voyager 2 Mariner 10 : Image of Mercury from reprocessed Mariner 10 data NASA/JPL/Galileo mission : Global view of Jupiter's moon, Io Alfred Hutter : Model of the Sun Ignacio González Tapia : Plancha de madera terciada 玄史生 : Linguang Station Concourse James Steakley : Dining room in the Bradley House Jacob Hnri 6 : Gray version of the metal orb Software Open Office : http://www.openoffice.org/ FreeMind : http://freemind.sourceforge.net/ The Timeline Project : http://thetimelineproj.sourceforge.net/ Gimp : http://www.gimp.org/ Blender : http://www.blender.org/ References Most of my book design questions have found an answer on Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer : http://www.thebookdesigner.com/


The Threshold Bookcast : Chapter 5 – Space Oddity