Chapter 12 - Origin

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He opened his eyes. A sharp pain seared through his skull as the light invaded and he shut them again.

Terris waited for the throbbing to subside before opening one partially, again. After a moment, his iris adjusted. The light level was low. He vaguely remembered the metal shaft protruding from his shoulder. He didn't make an attempt to move.

"Welcome back." Her voice was silk and sent a tremor through his stomach. "Since this is the only time the ship has said you've been still, I thought I might bring you up to speed on a few things."

With effort, he turned his head. Violent pain attacked his skull once more. "Where," He began, his voice cracking. She sat in a chair beside him, her booted feet elevated on another chair, leaning back with her hands folded over her stomach. She wore a uniform of jet black.  Her pale skin and dirty blonde hair stood out sharply against the fabric.

"No talking for you." She commanded softly. "For now, listen." She waited for the nearly imperceptible nod he gave. "Good. You don't seem to have an off switch that doesn't involve being impaled, but since you were, I'm going to take advantage of it." Dawn swung her legs off the other chair and leaned forward, elbows on knees. He was struck by the unnatural grace of her movement.

"First, a history lesson." She began, her tone changing to that of an instructor. "Around two thousand years ago, there was a boy.  According to historical archives, he was average in almost every way, except one. His imagination. At nine years old, with colored pencils and a sheet of paper, the boy drew the design for a machine. It used a charged particle stream to separate oxygen and hydrogen into their diatomic forms from water. The heated gasses were collected in separate tanks, cooled, then reignited in a combustion chamber. This is the basis of the boy's engine. Its a bit more complicated, but I don't have the expertise or knowledge to explain the details. The design did not see the light of day until two hundred years after his death. That machine eventually replaced standard combustion engines on Earth for two reasons: the fuel was water, and the only waste product was water. The engine ended pollution, the wars for natural resources, and eventually wrought societal changes that led to the end of global hunger and starvation. Sadly, the boy never saw the good that a colored drawing would achieve. This was the second greatest invention of the millenium."

She paused to make sure he was listening. Terris wouldn't have cared if she were reciting passages from a trash compactor manual. His focus on each word was absolute.

Satisfied of his attention, she continued.

"When that design was found and implemented, the boy's life was researched. Who was the hero that would save beloved Earth? He never went to college, married young, had children and lived a rather ordinary life. His home became a tourist attraction. His life became legendary. Odd choice in a spouse, strange career decisions, but, overall, normal human behavior. There was almost no data to suggest that set him apart from the rest of society.  However.  He had an automobile that was eventually sent to a salvage yard. A research team found it and attempted to restore it to be placed in a museum in his honor."

"When the automobile was stripped to the frame, the mechanic found a box bolted to an inside rail. To make a long story short, the box was vacuum sealed and contained another design. This one, a blue print. A bidding war ensued and the box was purchased by a man named Irish Stewart, a scientist of some renown."  Her green eyes glassed over in memory.

"The scientist and the blue print disappeared from public view, never to return."

Terris nodded. He had heard the legend as a boy ans the scientists name was a recurring enigma in his search for the Dawnhammer.

Dawn saw the light of recognition in his eyes and nodded.

"That blueprint presented revolutionary ideas. It was the core of a new type of transport. The theory behind it was that a gravitational link between two objects of mass could be isolated. Say, between two stars. The hydrolock concept that is used in the energy barriers aboard space stations and carriers to seal a compartment from space could be used to lock atoms together in a ship to form a single object of mass. The ship would then target two stars and insert itself into their gravity link to become a pivot point in the magnitude of that bond. Gravity is amplified in one direction while being reduced in the other. In essence, the engine creates a freefall through space. Because there is, technically, no accelleration, the relative speed is limitless. Because the ship is inside the gravitational link, it's pull is at constant nuetral."  She paused to let that sink in.  "There is no inertia, regardless of speed."  She said quietly.

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