Though NolJonra had overheard the heated exchange between Kishor and Commander GolTrenka, he had no idea how to save his young human friend.
An ingenious lie, he thought.
But in an unforgiving universe, he knew that Kishor’s cleverness was the thinnest of thin shields. Nol’s only hope, he realized, was to get advice from outside his immediate circle.
“If I may suggest, Commander,” he told GolTrenka, “my best vantage point for observing the human’s homeworld would be the second of its two moons.”.
Commander GolTrenka stroked her graceful mandibles.
“Very quick on the uptake,” she said. “I might almost think you had a vested interest in this case. You’re lucky my Chief Astronomer just messaged me the same suggestion.”
“It is the most logical course,” said NolJonra.
The Commander scowled and hustled the dull green android into the transmat pod and tore into her technical crew.
“This time, no accidents!” she said.
Nol stepped into the transmat pod and, mere minutes later, appeared on the surface of Chandra, the second moon of Kishor’s colonial homeworld — where engineers from the Imperial Fleet had already installed a secondary transmat base..
Have to act fast, he thought
Though the Commander had little knowledge of astronomy, she knew enough to estimate how long Nol would need to conclude his research. The only saving grace was that Nol planned to spend most of that time outside of Time itself — by convening a secret “Council of the Nols.”
Instantly, Nol put his temporal displacement engine into high gear and propelled his mass at right angles to the temporal plane at sufficient intensity to jettison him from his established timeline. Needless to say, this use of his displacement engine didn’t exactly conform with its specs. But soon enough he rematerialized all alone in a dull white void. One-by-one, other versions of him from four different parallel universes appeared — to form a rough circle of nearly identical androids.
While some differed from Nol only in color, one of the new arrivals was twice as tall, while another sported a second head, whose purpose Nol had never been able to fathom.
“Sorry, lads,” said Nol. “But I’ve had to summon this Council of the Nols rather abruptly.”
“What else is new?” asked the two-headed Nol. “Don’t know what it is about your universe, but you’re always in a jam.”
“I deserve that,” said Nol. “But this time, it’s not me, but an innocent human boy who’s in trouble. We have to help him or he’ll end his days in a radioactive mine shaft.”
The orange Nol shrugged his four shoulders.
“Organics,” he said. “They’re so high maintenance. But OK, I hate to see their fleshy hides suffer. What are we up against this time?”
Nol described the phantom evidence he needed of the phantom “dark matter disruptors” that Kishor had lied about to Commander GolTrenka.
“What a messy pile of steamin’ gluons that is,” said the Nol with two heads. “But hang on a blink, I actually saw a set of those orbiting around a world in my universe.”
Nol stared at him.
“Come on,” he said. “I’m grateful for the data, but what in the Trolgezoor nebula is a dark matter disruptor? A lethal weapon?”
But as the two-headed Nol explained, the devices he meant were much tamer.
“The residents of Damra 3 use them to keep the space lanes tidy,” he said. “After so many trips with their space-folding engines, the dark matter substrate gets pretty choppy. Without maintenance, subspace would become unusable for interstellar travel. I’m surprised your organic friends don’t have a set of dark matter disrupters already.”
“They’re still rather new at space travel, I’m afraid,” said Nol. “Lucky for us, we moved on from space-folding engines centuries ago.
The bright blue Nol, who’d been silent up until then, waved his head-mounted cameras in a frantic pattern.
“I hate to break up the gabfest,” he said, “but Time pressure is building up fast. If we’re gonna do something it has to be now. Otherwise … poof!”
The five Nols nodded. As they all realized, they could easily replicate the disruptors in one universe and transmat them to the other. The tricky part was rendering them invisible, so they’d match Kishor’s story. In a panic, Nol sacrificed his own chameleon circuitry so the imported devices would blend into space. “But won’t the humans be afraid when these things appear out of nowhere?” asked the Tall Nol.
“Not as scared as they will be if Commander GolTrenka comes for them,” said Nol.
The five friends nodded and, after a quick goodbye, popped back into their respective universes. Nol reappeared on Chandra, and smiled a satisfied little cybernetic smile.
Dark matter disruptors in position, he thought. As if on cue, the Commander’s voice broke in on his interstellar comlink.
“Report, you useless piece of space junk!” said GolTrenka.
Nol trained his sensors on a high orbit around Kishor’s homeworld and clicked SEND.
“See for yourself,” he said. “The boy was telling the truth. If you ask me, any world with such advanced tech won’t sit still while you hold one of their citizens hostage.”
“You may have a point,” said GolTrenka. “Unless I blast them out of the Cosmos first!”
(To be continued)
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