Invergloy, Scotland: 29 May 2107
To say that Morton Fisk was unprepared for events was an understatement. None of those in this room or within the whole pyramid of connected minds that stretched around the globe fully comprehended what they were attempting. If they had, maybe they would never have made the attempt in the first place.
Morton felt his strength buoying up that of Jennifer's. He hoped it would be enough. Jennifer, in turn, passed that strength onto the person she knew as Ross Nunn. Morton was also aware of the other who cohabited that single frame, though he was too young to have met the Professor before the merging. He wondered what it had felt like.
Morton monitored the waves of minds that were being constantly added to the effort – another of his responsibilities. The song they were generating was pulling in hundreds of new minds by the second. Those at the periphery of the pyramid were tasked with integrating them as smoothly as they could but Morton, along with many other assistants, had oversight of the process. A part of his mind was occupied ensuring the surges of new input were not disruptive, that they would not divert the main flow of energy from its primary purpose.
At the one minute mark he felt an increase in the intensity. The power that was flowing into this room and, via Ross, back out into space was immense. Anyone peering in the window at that point wouldn't see this; they would merely see four motionless people, one standing, the rest seated comfortably, doing very little other than perspiring.
Yet, far around the world, away from this tiny cabin lost in the wilds of Scotland, that power was being channelled at a piece of rock that was hardly more than two thousand kilometres from impacting the Southern Pacific ocean. A couple of days ago Morton had asked why they were here and not closer to where the impact was due. "The apex is best furthest away," he had been told. "Scotland is near enough, though Scandinavia or Russia are probably closer to the exit point. Also, we need people this side to determine when best to release it back into our space-time."
Morton was still uncertain that he understood enough.
"Yes, got it," Ross mumbled both audibly and mentally at the forty seconds mark. Morton saw the beads of sweat running down Ross's forehead. His own felt just as drenched.
"We push in fifteen seconds," Ross added at thirty seconds.
Morton felt the pressure increase even further and Ross seemed to glow with his own light. The sight made Morton's eyes water so he turned his gaze to the others, to find them almost as bright.
"Five," said Dick Norsworthy, verbally only.
Each second saw more minds dragged willingly and unwillingly into the mesh. Morton adjusted the pathways of energy around the world so that the newcomers were used to the best advantage.
The calm features on Ross's face were replaced with a grimace. Then the glow about him faded and he screamed. Jennifer's eyes snapped open accompanied by her own shriek.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as Morton watched in horror. Ross started to collapse and Morton felt the channel up to the asteroid begin to shear away. Morton sucked energy from throughout the pyramid and delivered it to Jennifer, hoping she could use it to create a buttress to prevent the collapse.
"Can't hold it," Ross gasped, pulling himself back upright.
"Yes, you can," Jennifer projected. There were twelve seconds to impact.
Ross renewed his efforts but, through the web of energy, Morton could feel the slip and slide of the asteroid as it tumbled closer. Ross was exhausted, the energy he was channelling was tearing at his body, shredding his will and consciousness. Morton couldn't understand how Ross was holding himself together.
Then Ross groaned, "Too much." For less than a second he lit up like the sun and, an instant later, was gone.
Both Dick and Morton gasped as Jennifer broadcast, "Backup plan – three seconds!"
There were eight seconds to impact – five seconds contingency.
The flow of energy changed. Instead of being directed out away from the Earth, it snapped back to encircle the entire planet. Having failed to move the asteroid out of the way of the Earth, they now had no choice but to try for the alternative; to move the Earth out of the way of the asteroid.
"Two." That was Dick. The size difference between the asteroid and the Earth was immense, but they had one advantage. Where they had failed to gain purchase on a spinning rock erratically hurtling towards them, there was a chance that they could get a better grip upon the solid planet beneath their feet.
"One," Jennifer shouted.
A second later Morton almost gagged as he witnessed Jennifer's body shredding into thousands of particles. He felt forces tugging at his own body that threatened to do the same. Somehow, he managed to channel the energy away from himself and back into the pyramid. He reached out to Dick to find a vacant space. He hadn't even seen him go. His vision blurred as the shock set in. They had lost the apex and his assistant, they had also lost at least one of the top-tier five. He was alone.
He tried to focus on the other four top-tier minds spread across the globe. To his relief he could detect them, but they were in disarray. Having lost the primary focus they were trying to act independently, each trying to pull the entire Earth out of normal space themselves. Morton mentally shrieked at them to combine the effort.
At four seconds to impact he knew they were losing.
At three seconds he knew the asteroid was about to enter the atmosphere. He extended himself across the globe attempting to link all the minds together into a coherent whole. He managed it but the other four minds shrieked out their dissonant chords, jarring echoes that disrupted the coherence of the song.
At two seconds Morton knew that, without a doubt, they were moving the Earth out of the way, but they were all trying to take it in different directions. The minds in Brazil also had to contend with a small contingent who were still attempting to move the asteroid out of the way.
At one second he felt the Earth splinter and his vision blurred into five overlapping but similar views. His mind began to fog as if his intelligence was being sucked out of his head.
And then, inevitably, there were no more seconds left.
Ah, so that's what caused all this mess! Thank you for reading Splinters. Do please vote and/or leave a comment to tell me what you think.
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