Jen Air: Frontier of Forever, Part Six

Continuum-ing a Star Trek inspired story to celebrate the show’s fiftieth anniversary.  The sci-fi convention suddenly got a little too real, and now people want answers.

Part OnePart TwoPart Three Part FourPart Five

Jen Air: Frontier of Forever, Part Six

“Well,” Kaya moaned as she suddenly found herself stuck in a corner of the ceiling.  “This is great.  Just great.”

“What’s the matter?” Tenley swam by, the back of her head resting on her hands.  “Something driving you up the wall?”

Kay ignored her, instead focusing on Jennifer who slowly tumbling between the floor and the ceiling.  “What happened?  Did we move?  Are we in space?”

“I don’t think so,” Jen said, looking sideways at strands of her long hair snaking out.  “A-at least, not exactly…”

“So who turned off the gravity?”

“I-I…” Jennifer was cut off by some loud groans as if all the walls around them were in agony.  The whole building was grinding, creaking, crying, but no one could comfort it or know if it would ever settle down or be torn apart.  But then someone turned the gravity back on.  Tenley was able to twist her body and land on her feet.  The others were not so agile, but all managed to avoid injury as their bodies were pulled back to the ground.

Jennifer sat up, just a little dazed.  “Well, that was certainly unexpected,” she said, pursing her lips as she thought.  “We’d better get back upstairs to see exactly what’s happening.”

“Hey,” although Kaya’s arm was sore she got a hand on Jen’s shoulder as the blonde woman was already on her way out the door.  She didn’t know where her friend suddenly got this much energy from.  “Don’t you think we should slow down?  Rest a moment?”

“There’s no telling how much time we have,” Jennifer sighed as she faced Kay.  “Besides,” she then quietly admitted, “if I lose my focus now, I-I might just start to panic.”

“Alright, but be careful not to wear yourself or the rest of us out.”

Jen agreed with a brief nod.  Nevertheless, moments later she, Kaya, Tenley and Will were stood in the promenade.  It was much dimmer than when they had arrived at the convention, now that all the windows were shut and the emergency power went only to the main lights.  All the signage and illumination around the exhibits and displays had shut off.  The people were gathered in clusters around those who had been hurt or injured.  No panic or hysteria yet – just confused muttering, tearful children and subdued words of comfort.

“Jennifer!” She was surprised to hear name called out by someone other than Kay or Tenley or Sayuri.  Initially she assumed it was someone else being called who just happened to share the same name, but the voice was familiar.  Then her eyes lit up.

“Doctor Sarkis!” Jen beamed like a child seeing her favourite relative, which was more or less the case.  “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“I was a Trekkie at least a decade before any of you were born,” the dark skinned woman explained, meaning she was a Trekkie since she was about ten years old.  “But I was not expecting to see you here either.  I would say I was pleased to see you out enjoying something normal, but,” Jana exhaled slowly. “Did you have anything to do with this?”

“No,” Jen promised.  “I came investigating some strange particle reading.  They were emanating from a machine located in the basement of this building.”

“Any idea who put it there?”

“No,” Jen said and consulted her tablet again.  “But, it appears it was being controlled from over here.”

She followed her antenna to a cylindrical cage, big enough for a person to stand inside but currently unoccupied.  There were wires running from it to some computers and consoles, although like everything else in the promenade there was no power flowing into them now.

“Some new virtual reality game that was being demonstrated,” Doctor Sarkis explained.

“You guys!” Sayuri ran to them, a little dishevelled and worse for wear although no more than everyone else.  “What’s going on?!” She demanded, but Kaya could only shrug in response.

Jennifer frowned.  It seemed she wasn’t going to learn much from this machine right now, so her eyes wandered.  She saw that shutters had closed over all the doors and windows.  “I’d like to be able to see outside,” she said.  “Get an idea of what kind of environment we’re in…”

“There’s nothing out there,” Sayuri informed them.  The others all turned to her curiously.  “I saw, just before everything was sealed up… it was like everything outside was flickering in and out of existence and then there was just nothing.”

“Jen,” Kaya said curtly, “I think it’s time you explained exactly what’s happened.”

“I-I don’t know,” Jen answered honestly, “exactly…”

“Your best guess, then.”

“Alright,” Jen sighed.  “I’ll try.  You see, I don’t think we’ve moved at all, at least not in any of the four dimensions that you know.  Those are the three physical ones and the fourth relative dimension of time.  But some theories suggest that there may be more.”

“Such as string theory,” Doctor Sarkis elaborated.  “A theory postulating that the building blocks of our universe are tiny strings of matter.”

“Right.  Each string vibrates, like the strings on your guitar, producing a multitude of different harmonies.”

Kaya’s nose wrinkled.  “So wait… are you saying we vibrated into a different dimension?”

“Maybe,” Jennifer shrugged.  “Maybe a whole other reality.  Perhaps there are many and each one plays its own unique tune.  It was all theoretical until a few minutes ago.”

“But, we can just vibrate ourselves back, right?”

“If we knew exactly what tune to play to get us there,” Jennifer sighed hopelessly.  “There are other questions too…”

“Like what?”

“Like why did the gravity disappear, and then come back on again…”

Doctor Sarkis was squinting across the promenade, to a little crowd of people gathered on the other side.  “Wait,” she whispered.  “That man over there… I know him…”

“You mean Argyle?” Sayuri asked.  “He was the guy running this VR thing.”

Jana furrowed her brow.  “No… that’s not his name.  He’s a former employee of Meridiem.  I met him at a conference once.  His name’s Sturgeon.  He was a particle physicist.”

“Sound like someone we should talk to about all this,” Kaya suggested.

The man in question started to peer back at them, perhaps also recognising Doctor Sarkis or simply sensed that he’d been recognised.  In any case, he began to push through the crowd and move hurriedly away from them.

“He’s going to run,” Tenley noted.

Doctor Sarkis stepped forward.  “I’ll get him,” she promised as she started removing her heels.  Sure enough, Sturgeon pushed his way out of the crowd and began to sprint across the promenade, lots of confused glances in his direction.  Jana Sarkis took aim, and threw her shoes.  One of them bopped off his head and he huffed and fell forward onto the floor.

The women then walked hurriedly across, Sarkis and Kaya lifting the beleaguered man by the mans.  Kaya suggested that they should probably take him somewhere a little more private for questioning.

“Take him to the control room,” Will suggested.  “We’ll get a better idea of everything going on from up there anyway.”

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