“I found this.” He handed Cass a tablet, she read the screen.
“She was one of the engineers who helped build the Sovereign?”
“15 years after I left her behind. According to that file, she remarried.”
“I’m sorry Jay.”
“Don’t be. She’s happy. That’s good enough for me.”
“Does it say anything about Max?”
“Yes. At time of writing he’s 19. He’s just signed up for flight school. He’s training to be a pilot…like his old man”
“That’s great Jay!”
“When I lost them, it was the worst thing. It broke me. But, from the bad things, good things can happen. What happened with your dad brought you here, to us. You got a second chance. Take advantage of it. We’re all here for you.”
Cass said nothing.

Truth be told, I was absolutely reeling.
I couldn’t believe that I had finally told someone the ugly details of my personal history.
I've never done that before.
I'm glad it was Jay, though. For all our tempestuous history, I'm happy it was him that I told and I hope that he understands me a bit better now; although if I'm honest, I'm somewhat concerned that once he's had chance to reflect on what I've told him, he's going to feel repulsed by me.
He's better man than that though, isn't he?
I'm not sure if I'd blame him in any case; my past makes my skin crawl.
It's shameful.
I don't even like to think about it, let alone talk about it, because it's not who I am. It's not what I am.
It's not just that it was Brittany who lived those events and not I; it's more that I am absolutely nobodies’ victim! - I'm extremely proud of what I've made of my life; although, granted, I do occasionally wonder what could have been...
Jay said that I 'had' him.
My heart lurched when he said that; and for a second or two I had that weird, breathless constriction, that ache, that you sometimes get in your chest.
Does everyone else get that?
I don't know - I've never discussed it with anyone.
Maybe it's just me?
Probably not - I've read enough literary allusions to that effect and my heart and my feelings are no different to everyone else's.
Case in point: I was thrilled to hear the news about Katrina and Max. I'm so pleased for them and I can empathise with Jay feeling better, just knowing that they're happy. The guilt I feel (felt?) over Kat's 'death' and the part I played in her being in that damned prison is something I've been struggling with for a while, so it's a huge relief to know she's okay.
I wonder if we'll ever see her again?
It'd be nice to see how Max grows up, although I suppose Kat probably wouldn't be too thrilled with seeing me again – she and I weren't exactly close when she died the first time around, so she won't know there was a future where we became friends.
There's also the consideration of her other husband (whoever he is) as well...
Maybe intruding in on her life again might not be a good idea - It might be a bit too painful for everyone.
Things have changed and Jay's right, of course - We should make the most of the opportunities afforded us...

“I suck at this!” Jay said as he paced across the room and picked up Jamies pad.
“Hmm. Problem” he said
“Jamie doesn’t think we can power the QT drive AND the Dwarf with the new core. We can get the ship up and running, but we’ll be dead in the water…”
Cass scanned the pad, her more technical mind making more sense of it than Jay’s did.
“We need an additional fuel source to power the Dwarf while the core powers the drive, or vice versa..…what about the ramscoop, can’t we create a reserve to use as a backup?”
“It could work” said Jay. “But we need a source to draw fuel in from...unless we’re in a nebula, or the atmosphere of a gas giant, we can’t draw in more than a few molecules at a time unless we’re moving…and we can’t move, and power both..”
“So…what do we do?”
"I guess we get Jamie, Artemis and anyone else who's vaguely technical back in here and see if we can hammer it out" Jay paused to nod towards Cass with a look of concern in his eyes "You okay with that?"
"Sure, why?"
"I meant what with earlier and..." he gestured helplessly "Tears - Are you okay now?"
"Yeah, I'm sorry; bear with me, eh?" Cass gave Jay a wan smile "I'm just a bit fragile at the moment - I've not been sleeping well after... after what the aliens did in that facility; and I'm knackered from seven hours surgery with Jaxx.
You just caught me at the wrong time"
Impulsively twisting in her chair, Cass placed the tablet down on the workstation desk behind her and pushed herself to her feet "Thanks for being so understanding" she said as she approached Jay to draw him into a hurried embrace, her arms coiling up around his back as she pulled him close to briefly squeeze herself up against him, his own arms (hesitantly?) moving around her to return the hug for a moment before they broke apart and moved away from each other.
It felt good to be close to someone again.
"Let's get everyone back in here" Cass sighed as she tiredly flopped back down into her chair "And for the record: You don't suck"
Flashing her a brief smile of gratitude, Jay leaned across a nearby terminal and activated the internal comms "Can we have our technical and engineering personnel up to the Drive Room?" he asked "We need to discuss how we're going to get the Dwarf moving so we can power both the core and the Q-T drive"
Idly rotating back and forth in her chair, Cass scooped the terminal up off the desk beside her and flicked through the readings Jamie had taken.
"The Dwarf's too big" she murmured, more to herself than to Jay as her fingers swiped away at the data schematics "The Sovereign’s core was never designed to move something this massive - If we had less..."
She suddenly sat up, hurriedly placing the terminal down on the desk in front of her and leaning forward over the tiny display, her brow creasing into a frown.
"It's simple" she breathed
"You got something?" Jay asked, moving over towards her.
"Yes..." Cass shook her head "No. Maybe"
"Want to talk it though?"
"What is it we use to get around now that the wormhole drive’s gone?"
"Just one of those crappy old... Higgs drives" Jay said slowly, realisation suddenly dawning
“Exactly” Cass nodded “We use the Sovereign’s core to power the Dwarf’s Higgs Drive so we can utilise the Nakatomi-Okeke matrix -”
“And lower the Dwarf’s mass below zero, enabling the Q-T drive to spin up without needing as much power – That’s brilliant!” Jay beamed at her, his eyes shining “What happens when you activate a quantum drive inside a negative Higgs field?”
Cass grimaced at this “Dunno” she shrugged “I’d like to say that it’ll solve the radiation problem, but I haven’t got a clue – One of our scientists might be able to answer that”
“Answer what?” Artemis asked as he floated in ahead of Kenneth and a couple of the others.

<tag: Artemis / Jamie / White Wolf / Kenneth>
So if the Dwarf has a negative mass, the Q-T drive won’t need as much power to move the ship
How’s that for a solution?

The pseudo-hard science thinking here is:
Higgs drive – manipulates the Higgs field around a ship, reducing the ships mass to just below zero, enabling superluminal speeds, conveniently explaining how we’ve been travelling to different solar systems all this time. These were slow(!) and inefficient, and were superseded by...
Wormhole drives – cutting edge at one point, offering instantaneous travel within a 10-20 light year maximum range, eventually superseded by...
Q-T drives – theoretically able to quantum tunnel (i.e. instantaneously teleport) from one side of the galaxy to the next without all the dangerous mucking about with wormholes
Obviously the Sovereign was the prototype, so we can’t expect that sort of performance, but the question remains – What happens if you activate a Q-T drive inside a negative Higgs field?
Anyone got any better ideas or shall we do this and see what happens? ;-)

< Prev : Bearing all Next > : Fernandos or Bust