Space Flight 704, Chapter 58: Familiar Spaces

"I recognise this world."

"We came past here a little while ago, I think - but we were moving so fast I wasn't paying attention."

Rex was solid again and standing next to an enormous featureless skyscraper.

"The Ortrix will be here again some time in the future."

He put his hand on the stonework of the building.

"These stones are enormous!"

Stepping back, he wandered away from the buildings to get a better look at it's entirety.

"That's no skyscraper," he gasped, "that's a stone hut!"

Space Flight 704, Chapter 57: Plans in Time

The Other travelled with him.

What will you do with it when you have followed the Ortrix to it's source?

Rex pondered.

"I suppose I'll see if it can be destroyed, or use it in some way to take Jones' power away from him again. If I can't do that, maybe I can stop it being made in the first place."

A sound plan, his companion replied, although perhaps more difficult than you expect.

"No doubt. But if there's one thing I've learned since I died, it's that nothing worthwhile is easy."

The pair sped on into the past.

Space Flight 704, Chapter 56: The Changes of Time

The time-belt was the Ortrix again.

And now the time-belt.

It wouldn't stay each way for long. While tracing it backward and forward through time, he'd seen it forged into time-belts and reverted back to something like the Ortrix so many times he wasn't sure which was the original any more.

Occasionally it had been sent back in time to collect itself with varying levels of success. He held his out-of-body breath as he followed it through the short time Jones had it.

He also wondered about the sneaky joy-ride The Professor had taken it on once.

You Won’t Share This Post

Not so long ago, there was a much wider gap between the various methods for acknowledging online content. At one end, you had the option of reading something and then doing absolutely nothing. On the other, you had things like leaving a comment, emailing the post to a friend, or writing a blog post in response to another you read elsewhere. Len Kendall - Don't 'like' this post

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The habit of "liking" things on the internet would be difficult to break. But it inspires me a little because it gels with an upcoming experiment I have planned for The Geekorium.

To "like" (or +1) something is the lowest form of interaction you can have with someone's post, and it saves you from having to put actual thought into your response. I think I'd rather have "likes" on my posts than nothing at all, but I'd certainly appreciate some thoughtful comments more.

Len points out that the "like" button is one-size-fits-all. There's no way to say "I appreciate you posting this, even if I disagree with the content". There's no difference between liking your favourite noodle bar and liking news of your friends newborn son. And with the rise of sponsored posts on Facebook, your "like" on the noodle bar page now puts ads for that noodle bar front and centre above more important things like births, deaths, and marriages of the people I actually care about.

I expect this behaviour is here to stay, but I will try and think a bit harder before liking things in future, and I'd appreciate it if you'd do the same too.

Don't like this post

Space Flight 704, Chapter 55: The Flight of the Ortrix

It took a while.

The Ortrix had led an interesting existence. As the time-belt it had observed the beginning and end of governments, watched the deaths of lovers and seen evil men frustrated over and over again. Empires rose and fell on its unyielding law. When used as a weapon, it more often than not backfired. When used for personal gain, it invariably led to heartbreak.

Those who used it well learned to ride it, saw some sights and left things mostly the way they were.

The time-belt did not allow time to change, but it did cause some mind-bending time loops.

Space Flight 704, Chapter 54: Singular Conundrum.

They are one and the same.

The power of the Torimbalo was used in the device you observe.

The thread Rex had followed hadn't tapered out, so much as disappeared into itself through the time belt. Squeezing his consciousness through it, like yarn through a needle, he could see the thread emerge from the other end.

He followed it through to another time, pausing to get his bearing while the other slipped through after. As he tried to establish when he was, he noticed the thread looped back on itself and through the time belt again.

"This is going to take a while isn't it?"

Space Flight 704, Chapter 53: Lost is Found

You are searching for the Torimbalo.

"Well I still don't know what that is," corrected Rex, "I'm looking for the Ortrix right now."

Rex continued his clumsy dance through time and space, following the temporally luminous thread of the Ortrix. The Other followed alongside.

On a nondescript planetoid, in a system that no longer existed, the thread unravelled.

Finding where it ended, Rex turned to his companion bewildered.

"This isn't the Ortrix. This is the time belt!"

Roger Ebert: I do not fear death

I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. Roger Ebert

If only I could really learn this leeson.

Space Flight 704, Chapter 52: Bathed in Light

Rex crashed through the past.

Following the thread of time, he ricocheted around divergent moments trying to find one that would not alert Jones to his changes.

He found the threads increasingly intertwined about the presence of the Ortrix.

Where are you headed Rex?

The voice of the other startled Rex enough that he misjudged a quantum event and plunged through the fusion-heat of a star seventy thousand years in the past.

"Shoot, man! Don't do that," he complained.

Space Flight 593: Split Second Decisions

It's OK, you don't have to live with this.

It's OK, I'm certain I can change this.

Jones rested a heavy hand on Rex's shoulder. Producing a small vial of an indigo liquid from within his cloaks, he leaned in closer.

His heart heavy with grief, Rex watched the scene unfold again. He had forgotten all of this, but he remembered his heart breaking.

"I picked this up on a recent mission and I've only just confirmed its properties."

"I would only have to change one thing. One tiny little thing."

He unstoppered the vial and took a small whiff.

He went back to a moment before and hovered over the alarm panel

"What were we talking about?"

"Come back to me," he thought.

Jones looked around uncertainly, noticed Rex - brooding, distressed - and the vial in his own hand. He struggled to keep a smirk off his face.

A dull pain bubbled its way into his consciousness. He watched his own memories unfold from this moment as the pain slowly increased.

"Ah yes. This is a memory toxin. A measured dosage could erase all those ghastly images from your head. You wouldn't have to remember how you found her, or that she was even with you that day." Jones gripped Rex's shoulder harder.

Anrianna heard the alarm and raced to her station early. Rex and The Professor were surprised to see her, but forgot their surprise as the Hundred-Tonne-Husky lurched out of control and began it's devastating decent toward Nolix.

Overwhelmed with grief, Rex snatched the fluid from Jones hand and downed the whole bottle. Then he passed out.

The trio emerged groggy from their synthetic cocoons and Rex's panic dissolved into joy to see Anrianna safe.

Taking the vial from Rex's fingers Jones muttered to himself, "Well that was quite a bit more than I wanted to give you, but no matter, maybe now we can get back to more important matters."

The pain intensified as the next few days played out. As they returned to base and Jones hailed them home, Rex watched the ripples of change flow forward to the future where the new Jones would notice.

He crushed the empty vial beneath a boot and helped Rex to his feet.

He left the alarm panel alone and the past remained unchanged.

Jones chuckled.

Rex cried.

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