Chapter 31: Asteroids, Wormholes and Holograms
“Er… 419… what are you doing?”
“Making calculations,” she muttered as she typed at a furious rate on one of the terminals.
426 stared at her.
“Making… er… can’t you just use a calculator like everyone else?”
“No, because a) I just do them in my head, and b) I need to access the holographic mainframe.”
“Because… well, you’ll see in a moment.”
“In a moment!”
Millions upon millions of little lights burst into the room. They drifted, spun and twirled, around and around… an interstellar dance, forming slowly a spiral…
“This is a model of the galaxy now, as estimated by the computer, based on the model… back in the… ‘present’.”
419 tapped a key.
They were now ‘flying’ through the giant stellar cloud… through the Orion Nebula, through the Hourglass, past 51 Pegasi, left of Wolf 359… a giant space station loomed, next to a even bigger planet, reddish brown in colour.
“This is Bajor. No, not that, the planet… orbiting it is Deep Space Nine.”
“And you’re showing me this because…”
426 strained. Nothing looked out of the ordinary; it was just a space station orbiting a planet with a funny red shape thingy in front of it…
“You mean… that red shape thingy… is us?”
“Uhuh… we exited the Bajoran wormhole ten minutes ago.”
“How do you know these things?”
“I, unlike you, watch the computer…”
“Well, it’s boring!”
“Oh, and I suppose you think death boring too?”
426 promptly shut up.
“You mean, we are getting caught in gravity-pull of asteroid…”
“…which is being one that we are saving blue marble planet from in Earth-year 2003…”
“…which essentially is sending us into Gamma Quad of Milky Galaxy…”
“…and slingshoting us through Bajoran wormhole?”
“So, my little one-eyed one, you are sure we are only…”
“Yes, we are that close to Earth!”
By now Pleakly was almost crushing the spine of Galactic Federation Ships for Plorgarians with frustration.
“I see… so… you are having vectors?”
“I’ll give you vectors!” shouted Pleakly, throwing the book.
There are two types of actions: rational and irrational. A rational action, in this case, may be to put the book down and scream into a pillow. An irrational action may be to eat the book, or to throw the book at the nearest evil genius in the room. Screaming into a pillow is rational as screaming often helps irritated, annoyed or otherwise furious people calm down to the point where they can read The Magician’s Nephew without tearing it to shreds. However, throwing the book at the nearest evil genius in the room is irrational, because often that evil genius is much larger than you, and therefore can easily tie you into a figure-of-eight knot or half-hitch.
“Hey… be taking it easy!” replied Jumba, ducking the book, or rather, falling over his feet. “It was just being question…”
“I’m fed up with you pushing me around! Pleakley, do this! Pleakly, clean the laundry!”
“But you like cleaning laundry…”
“Not the point! You’ve treated me like your chew-toy for too long!”
“I am not treating you like doggie-squeaking-plastic amusement… I do not make you wash the dishes, cook dinner and blow my experiments up! Those are all things you are enjoying! And anyways, you are forgetting one thing…”
“Er… what’s that?”
Jumba stood up to full height (or width, depending on how you see it) and walked up to Pleakly.
“I am being much bigger than you…”
419 focused the hologram again. Star system after star system flew by… 419 counted each one off. Turo, Alpha and Proxima Centauri, Terran…
“This is the Earth.”
Centuries had not changed the face of the planet (though this was probably more due to the fact that the computer didn’t have an accurate enough texture model). 426, transfixed, started drooling.
“Er… may I ask you not to slobber on the hologram?” asked 419.
“Huh… er… oh, sorry…”
“No, not the… not the… toilet!”
“Did you hear something?”
“Sounded like the wail of the Northern Banshee come back from the dead!”
419 shook her head.
“Sounds like Pleakly…”
“Why would Pleakly be screaming?”
“Elementary, my dear 426… he’s afraid of everything.”
She tapped another key.
The hologram adjusted itself once more. Across hundreds of light-years it zoomed, past stars, planets and asteroids, to the other side of the galaxy…
“This is the last known position of that… ship thingy,” said 419, as a cube-shaped ship appeared, speeding towards its unknown destination.
“Now, at the speed it’s going, and it’s current heading…”
The hologram zoomed out to show the great expanse between them and it.
“… it will reach Earth within the next 300 years, as shown by the arrow.”
“Well, problem solved!”
“It’s not that easy. See, about three light-years from its current position…”
What looked like a sinkhole appeared, complete with U-bend pipe.
“… there’s what’s known as a ‘trans-space conduit’ that exits hardly ten light-years from Earth!”
“And that’s bad?”
“Yes, that’s bad.”
“Why is that bad?”
419 groaned again.