“Twelve thousand years is pushing it Max. Not everyone makes it back.”
“I’ll be fine Raven.”
What’s the point? You’re no historian.”
“I’m thinking of taking it up though.” Max smiled.
“I’m talking about real unalterable shit hitting a wind turbine blowing in your face Max. Time and space is one fabric. Twelve thousand years is far away. We don’t know everything that can go wrong. We still don’t know why travelers become stranded in their hosts.”
“Don’t worry about me little sister.”
“I do. The only reason I do this, Max, is because I don’t trust anyone else to do it. I still worry every minute you’re gone.”
“You’re one reason I don’t worry. No one is a better pilot and there is no one I trust more.”
“Operating from a private state of the art facility doesn’t hurt either.”
“That’s right sister, but, don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.”
Raven gave her brother, Max, a little smirk.
“Wait! What about the hosts? Does what we’re doing harm them?”
“We visit and leave. I haven’t thought about it much.”
“Okay. I’m thinking about it now. Tell me, when you enter your host, are they aware you’re there? I have no idea what happens except what I hear from travelers.”
“When I arrive, I become aware of their body, it’s connection with the limbs, fingers, toes. I become aware of feeling and everything working together. Then, I become aware of the other senses. Sight last. Just before I become aware of sight, I sense the host’s thoughts but I can’t read them. At this point, I’m home but I’m still an observer.”
“Can you tell if you meet someone hosting another traveler.”
Max paused a moment. “Yes.”
“Max, if you can tell, you must be effecting them on some level. You may be more than an observer.”
“If we affect them, it’s minuscule.”
“How do you know if you can’t access their thoughts? How would you know if visiting your host makes them different? If so, do they return to how they were after you leave.”
“You’re making this too complicated Raven. You’re the scientist. I’m the adventurer. Remember?”
“Are there things you aren’t telling me?”
Max looked at his sister, Raven, and just shook his head. I’m not going to tell you everything. If I did, you’d leave me on my own.
He could be saying there is nothing I’m not telling you, or, he could be saying we’re done with this conversation. He’s so stubborn. Raven turned away unsatisfied and walked toward the pilot’s chair. She sat down and touched the controls.
Max could have told his sister about Curiliius not able to leave his host. Not able to return to his native time after his pilot called him back. Curiliius gained control of his host’s motor functions and tried to drown him. When that didn’t work, he tried throwing him into a fire. He still was not able to overcome his host’s instinct of self-preservation. Curiliius was fighting for his life. Max sometimes contemplated whether the problem was an unusually strong host, flawed technology, or the pilot. He also pondered the horror of being trapped in the body of a stranger so far from his native time with no way home. Curilius might still be there. They had lost contact. There was no way to bring Curiliius back even if they could track down his host.
Max could have also told Raven of hosts who lost use of their senses, limbs, and ability to speak. Max had never had this happen to his host. He was careful to quiet himself upon entering and just observe.
This was the dawn of the age of time travel, when you needed to slip into an unsuspecting host. This didn’t work going forward. Unauthorized entry into one’s body is a fundamental insult, and potential future hosts made sure it didn’t happen. This bothered Raven. On the other hand, how does a society, or an entire age, have such elegant technology and not use it? Is technology our manifest destiny? Does our possession of this technology justify the insult we impose on others? Maybe, we don’t need to justify anything. Perhaps, this technology is ours to master at any cost.
Raven had been contemplating “significance.” Maybe, people are more significant than technology. Maybe someday, societies’ greatest achievement will be not pursuing a technology to preserve a greater significance. Snap out of it Raven. You’ve got a job to do.
“Are you ready Max?”
“I’m always ready Raven. Press Go.”
Max’s body lay in suspended animation in the pod sustaining the avatar he was born with. The single vibrating string (“VS”) encoding his essential self (“ES”) was in another time, but connected to his body through the quantum worm hole Raven created. Max didn’t immediately return.
Max found a host. Thought Raven.