13: Power Surge (part 5)

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13.5 The Pyramid

Invergloy, Scotland: 29 May 2107

Ross pulled his eyes away from the window. He had been watching the sunlight dancing on the waters of the loch and wondered if it would have the opportunity to do so again once this day was out. His own eyes were witnessing the scene for the first time, though, to Rayburn riding alongside him, the scene was familiar. Thankfully, the occasions when the two consciousnesses were discordant had become extremely rare. For most of the time they were totally one.

He glanced at the clock inside the cabin – it was a quarter past four. Just over half an hour to go.

He wished Amelia could have joined him but she was definitely safer off the Earth, not that she hadn't attempted the trip. He could detect her even now on the delayed ship that was still only half-way between the Moon and the Earth. He was also aware that Emily had managed to board the same craft.

Across the room three people sat, apparently calmly, watching him. Two were middle-aged whilst the youngest, Morton Fisk, wore his mask of tranquillity with unease. Within the young man's frame there was a high level of turmoil. Ross understood this, he was barely suppressing a similar turmoil himself.

The other two, Jennifer Kirkpatrick and Richard Norsworthy, held their turmoil in check and Ross could not detect it. Richard was his own support whilst Morton was Jennifer's. Each was tasked with providing backup should the main person in each pairing fail.

Around the world was a pyramid of connected pairs of people, pairs of minds. Ross rode the apex of that pyramid. Four of the five below him were spread thinly across the globe in China, Brazil, Canada and Australia. The fifth was Jennifer. Distance wasn't the problem, numbers were. Each of the five had their paired assistant and five more pairs within the pyramid below them to provide the strength required for the task. Under that level were multiple tiers so that, by the sixth level there were nearly forty thousand minds ready to be pressed into service. From there the numbers were less certain and some groups had more or less than the optimal number of five and some levels descended further than others. In all, there were nearly a million minds meshed into the structure atop which Ross sat.

He hoped it would be enough.

The seconds ticked by until the clock passed four thirty. Two minutes later, with fifteen to go, he gave the signal to start the song. He hoped the time was enough to bring the concert up to its full power, but not too long so that the joining of minds would tire or break under pressure.

As the crescendo grew he drew strength from the thousands below him and pressed his consciousness out of his body and up through the atmosphere seeking the target, the asteroid.

And there it was.

But it was coming so fast that focussing on it was like trying catch an eel in oil. Still well over thirty thousand kilometres away – about a tenth of the distance to the Moon – each passing second lopped around forty of those kilometres from the ever decreasing gap.

Ross tried to gain a grip on the rock but it eluded him as it twisted and spun closer. He tried to wrap a mental cushion around it but the debris that accompanied it, along with the burnt out remains of the rockets that had failed to divert it, tore that grip away as soon as he applied it.

He tried to relax – the distance was far too great and they still had more than eleven minutes to go.

He thought back to beginnings of what they were going to attempt today. Back to when he had been Professor Rayburn experiencing the first experiments that had pushed solid matter out of the universe. Where that matter had gone, and what it had to contend with until they released it and it snapped back into the known universe, was still completely unknown. Back then it had been small items – marbles, fist sized blocks of wood, a statue and, once, the contents of a whole room. That last hadn't been a success – its return had caused an explosion in which people had died, not their own members, thankfully, but unconnected innocents. The memories in Ross' mind, though they were not from his own experience, still caused him distress.

The process had been refined over the years but even the largest item moved was dwarfed by the size of the rock currently hurtling towards them. The problem was gaining some sort of traction on it while still being so far away.

If they failed in this, well... he hoped they wouldn't have to resort to the backup plan.

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