Authors: Pam Uphoff
Copyright © 2012 Pamela Uphoff
All Rights Reserved
Cover by P.A. McWhorter
Image Credit: NASA
This is a work of fiction.
All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
1367 Summer Solstice
Rustle Neverdaut dropped her binoculars and resorted to magic.
Uncle Lefty leaned over the side. "What is it?"
white thing up on the mountain. I think it's man made." Rustle ignored the indulgent look he gave her. She'd been exploring since she was three, and at fourteen she could tell snow from whatever that was up there. Over there.
The airship, while hard to steer and infuriatingly subject to the whims of the winds was a great way to travel.
Persistent winds from the south had taken them a good ways north of their desired path this trip, but hopefully they would be able to head south soon to one of their corridor points.
Her father, brother
and Aunt Question stepped over to see what they were staring at. Never stepped back to compensate and checked that the little kids weren't going to get tipped over the edge. Rustle backed over to her and the floor's tilt decreased further.
It's a dome. I'll bet it's been there all along, but we've missed it in the snow cover." Lefty lowered his binoculars. "No doubt the Earthers. Let's get down and out of their sight and check them out."
She'd been around them briefly when she was a little kid. This could finally be her opportunity to examine the cross-dimensional travelers as an adult. Near adult. Her expression must have given her away.
"No, Rustle, you are not going." Her father frowned at her. "You kids will stay here."
Still a child, in everyone's eyes.
And it didn't help that she was a logical thinker, either. Jek and Obsidian were six years old, and Topaz two. They couldn't be left alone, and if there was trouble up there, the strongest four magicians should be the ones to face it. Not the solo Crescent Moon.
weights out of nowhere—actually a transdimensional bubble—and peddled madly to spin the 'propellers.' The airship slowly sank and landed on a flat spot lower than the dome and out of sight behind a shoulder of stone. They set the anchors and Rustle took over the cooking—over a magically heated rock, not a fire that might give them away—so the others could leave right away.
"This isn't fair." Havi grumbled.
"When we're a bit older we can go out on our own."
Dad is so over-protective, he'll be treating us like kids when we're twenty." Havi grumbled and wandered out to look wistfully upwards.
wagon base of the airship was a bit small for all of them for a long season. Rustle sighed. It was great to have all of both families together but goodness three babies had made a big difference. Of course when they'd explored in an ordinary wagon, half of them would have been out on horseback most of the time, and they'd slept out whenever the weather permitted. She missed that too, even though the airship was so much faster.
and brought out her own maps.
She'd traced out the outlines of the continents in one of the Auld Wulf's books. The continents as they were on the World where he'd been born.
Her World showed the results of a different history of plate tectonics. The largest difference was what had once been the continent of Australia. On this World it had been split into three pieces, one part had moved north to become part of an upraised Indonesian continent. She'd heard that the western third was shifted toward Africa, and the other was a small continent or large island in the extreme south Cific. The Auld Wulf's World had a long sea between Africa and Europe. She'd personally seen the chain of fresh water lakes that were all that remained of it here. The mountains of her Europe were taller, as well, and extended further west.
the differences were probably driven by impacts with comets.
ourteen hundred years ago one of the millions of multiple Earths had discovered multidimensional travel and disposed of their genetic experiments on this bombarded planet. It had been roughly a thousand years since a comet had collided with this World, killing most of the descendants of that exile. Seven years since Earth—possibly the same Earth—had again found this world across the insubstantial dimensions.
They'd found it inhabited, and capable of defending itself. But they hadn't gone away altogether. She stared at the rock blocking her sight of the dome. What were they up to?
The two metal rectangles at the base of the white dome were easily identified as the standard offices and homes the Earth people had bro
ught with them. Lefty and Question worked their way around the dome until it was between them and the rectangles, then slipped across the bare ground to its side. The door on this side was plain and bare, not even a knob. They both leaned on it, felt it carefully. Fortunately it was warm enough that the heat differentials were detectable in the latching mechanism.
hate doing infra-red. And I really hate things that just need brute force applied to a solid mass." Question grumbled. "Never would have this open in a second."
If she weren't sitting back behind a ridge watching.
set off the alarm, too. See the wire?"
"Ah, an electric circuit, now that's more my speed."
With a bit more
finesse and sweating over pulling a bar on the door on the other side, the latch clicked free and the door creaked stiffly ajar. They pulled it the rest of the way open to peer, and then step inside.
"It's a telescope." Lefty whispered.
"A huge one." Question cleared her throat. "There's no one in here, probably because it's daytime. So we don't need to whisper."
"Yeah." His voice was low anyway, and he prowled and poked. "Wish there were more books."
"They keep a lot of information on these computers of theirs." Question eyed the thing on a desk. "Never and I didn't get far enough into learning their machines for us to use them."
"Huh. I remember what you said, and they had them at Gate Camp too." Lefty found a pad of paper with scribbled notes. "Wish they had better handwriting." He set it
back exactly where he'd found it, and prowled further.
"There's not much back here. Do you think we could hide and watch?"
Question nodded. "We could duck out of sight, not have to use a light warp. Then they wouldn't be alerted to us by any static."
"And if they do come back, we
warp light and maybe they won't realize what causes the static. We'd better tell Dydit and Never though, or they'll be down here figuring we need rescue." Lefty looked a bit absent minded for a moment.
They settled down comfortably, picked up the paper pad again, and amiably argued over the various possible meanings of diagrams and scribbles. As the day faded they replaced the pad and moved to their nook to hide.
Footsteps crunched on gravel. The voices of the approaching Earth people were clear in the thin mountain air. ". . . set up that sweep of . . . "
"Turn in these preliminary results. . . "
". . . whole thing pinned down . . . "
". . . time if they want to try . . . "
The main door opened for a pair of men.
"It's just a matter of time, they must see that. They have to do
" The speaker was a rotund figure, young and earnest looking.
"Don't bet on it. Some politicians live to emote all over disasters after they've happened.
After all, they've ignored us for almost seven years now." The cynic was taller and thinner, with blond hair cut short. Older than the first one, but still in his twenties.