The great portal hung in space like a great unseeing eye, slowly spinning on its axis, drifting through the cosmos. It had spun on its unknowable course for centuries, even before the Great Collapse. It had passed through much of the known galaxy and some had said had come from beyond the fringe systems, from another galaxy altogether. Even in the days before the Great Collapse, none could determine its origin or its designed purpose.
It was a ring of metal and stone, inlaid with ornate runes and carvings alongside advanced circuitry that still gleamed as though newly polished. It had been scorched and scored from various contacts with stars and meteor. It still had fragments of a semifluxor imbedded in one of its edges.
Slowly and silently it had drifted for centuries. It had encountered life before but not for a very long time. Until now…
The space manatees had escorted kingmonkey through the uncharted reaches of this sector for many days. They had fought off conflux even this far from known space. A swarm had decimated their numbers and now only 4 manatees remained. They were badly injured, but true to their word, they had enjoyed every minute of the quest.
With the portal now in view, kingmonkey slowed and stopped.
Wow, that’s a big ring!
Legends say that any being who passes through it will be transported anywhere they desire. Some even say it can hurl you back or forward in time.
Really? Who says that?
You know, people…
Are there sentient beings in this sector other than you guys, or have you encountered people from my area of space?
So, who’s legends say that this thing can do all its supposed to?
Well, it’s our legend, really. It’s a tale told among our people
So, your people have encountered this thing in the past. I guess, I’m kinda lucky that it’s back here again.
Luck has very little to do with it, it’s been here ever since we encountered it.
That’s funny, cause it seems to be moving, it can’t have been here more than six weeks in this location.
Yes, it has been here ever since we found it… 5 weeks ago.
Sooo, all these legends about the ring are just… stories that your people have been telling since you found this thing 5 weeks ago?
You know, some people might call that idle speculation, not actually legends. How am I supposed to know if this thing really does what you claim it can; have you tested it?
No, but we’re confident it will do what we’ve decided it does.
You’re scientific logic would give my friend Antikas a headache. I guess I can try out a few things myself.
In a moment of peculiar lucidity, kingmonkey decided to fire a mooring line onto the ring. The line flew forth from his ship and secured itself magnetically to the ring. He then proceeded to link his comm array to the mooring line and use the ring as an antenna of sorts. After jury-rigging his comm system he sat back and appreciated his work for a moment.
Not too bad if I do say so myself. Antikas always made it seem as if this stuff was harder than it really is. Science is easy-peasy! I’m a regular Dr. Vandagriff.
He opened a secure comm channel to the Eternal Legacy station in the Gyre, hoping to contact Antikas or his squad.
After a few minutes of transmitting, and waiting and transmitting some more, and waiting again, monkey began to doubt the “legends” of the space manatees. And how did aquatic mammals ever evolve into space telepaths, anyway?
Finally after an hour or more, a crackling voice came over the comm.
“This is Mordikar, I read you monkey. Over.”
Wahoo, I’m a freakin’ genius!! Is Antikas there with you? I have a bit of a problem.
“Go ahead kingmonkey, I’m here as well.”
kingmonkey related his situation and told all he knew of the events of the last few week. They confirmed the source of his signal and Mordikar began to work out monkey’s co-ordinates, in order to find out the rotacol points to which he should be headed. Antikas on the other hand asked about the portal.
“I’m curious monkey, how did you get the idea to send your comm signal through this artifact, solely on the basis of unsubstantiated rumours of… space… manatees? And how did aquatic mammals ever evolve into space telepaths, anyway?”
Damn weird, ain’t it? Well, I don’t know, I had nothing to lose by trying this out anyway.
“Hey, monkey… what if that thing turned out to be explosive or something. An energy charge like your comm signal might have acted as a detonator.”
“Um, Mordikar, maybe that’s not the most helpful thing you could be telling him right now.”
“Oh yeah, sorry… right. Um, good thinkin’, monkey… I’m glad you didn’t blow up.”
Hey, maybe you could do something constructive, like HELP ME FIND A WAY HOME!!
“Maybe if you stop yelling and ask nice for once!”
You mean stuff I “say” directly affects things I “get”?
“Of course it does.”
I love you Mordi.
“Try to get him to look you in the eyes when he says that.”
. . . the tails continue . . .