CHAPTER TEN – The Liberty

The door closed behind us and then silence filled the air. No longer being able to hear wind, waves, birds, insects or anything else was a strange experience. There was a clean smell in the air like a fragrance of washing detergent. The corridor was empty and quiet. It was a weird feeling transitioning from that beach to a place so modern, so artificial. It felt different from the last time I was in this corridor. This time it felt safer, more homely. 

Periclum was taking me down the corridors and led me through a few flights of stairs. I was led to a large observation room with large windows on one side and benches on the other. They decorated it the same way the corridors were, with a minimalist white look. We entered from a door that was right next to the window. Periclum went to sit down and told me not to look around until we sat, I agreed to follow him and I sat down. I looked down at where I was sitting. Turned to sit, I looked up revealing an incredible sight.

I gasped when I had this bright light come shining in from the centre of this large cylinder where the inside was decorated with trees, houses, lakes and people. The cylinder itself was rotating, like a washing machine. I noticed four large platforms that stood stationary a few kilometres above the ‘ground.’ They looked like they were in the shape of wings. From those platforms came large cables that led up to a large rock that was placed just off centre to the bright, strong light. The large rock was surrounded with what looked to be drones of some sort. The light was giving off an incredible amount of heat. It looked like a miniature star in the centre of this cylinder. I looked further into the distance and couldn’t see much. I could see the edge of the well-kept town below and a wall that separated it from a dark forest of different colours. The cylinder seemed to continue forever, however, I could only see from what I can guess was a few kilometres and then everything went into darkness. It was a sight to behold, a true marvel. 

“This is my home, James, the Centrifuge of The Liberty.” I was sitting there with my mouth open not knowing what to say. Periclum fell silent and allowed me to take in the sight. It was immense. There were clouds that had formed around the bright light although they seemed to stir in a great wind. Never settling. I could hear the wind rattling against the windows, howling. I sat there in awe. “This is your home!? It’s like a planet in a shell.” Periclum made that strange gurgling sound, “I guess it is.” He said back to me.

“So this is a ship?”

“Yes,”

“Centrifugal force produces artificial gravity?”

Periclum once again did the gurgling sound, “Ahh, I knew your planet wasn’t as primitive as a lot of others were afraid you were! Yeah, that’s right!”

“So if that is centrifugal force keeping everything on the ground out there, what is keeping us on the ground in here?” I asked when thinking about everything from a more logical and scientific point of view.

“Nkri tech, James. They have some advanced toys and occasionally they let other races play with them. Although you shall never tinker with Nkri tech else they will kill you!”

“True artificial gravity then, manipulating the Higgs field and creating this gravity well that we sit in. It must take an enormous amount of energy to do that?”

“Eh, yes, I guess. I don’t know what a Higgs field is, it could be a human term. However, it takes up a lot of energy, yes. So does that VIP EMC room you have been staying in. However, we mine asteroids such as the one you are seeing here for fissionable material. It feeds the EMC in the centre of the room there. We created it inside the original nuclear fusion housing.”

It was a sight to behold, especially with me knowing the science behind it all and how complicated it all must be. There was one thing that was nagging my mind though. “What is the EMC?” I asked.

“It makes everything, it transports everything. It is the bedrock of our lives.”

I understood the EMC could create anything I wanted from my experience in the environment I was living in for just over a day. But I needed to know more about this technology. Asking these questions was my attempt to normalise it. “What does EMC stand for?”

Periclum looked at me for a moment, stared and looked confused. “You know what, I don’t know. One moment…” He looked away, staring into space just in front of himself. Looking as though he was concentrating. “Ha, I found it!” he said after a short while “The EMC stands for ‘Energy to Matter Converter’, ha so that is what it means. I always assumed it meant fast transport device.”

I looked at Periclum for a moment confused and then laughed, “What!? That doesn’t even match the letters.”

“Maybe not for you, but for me in Tuhingan, it matches.”

I wanted to ask more, but got distraceted by the view once again. I found my eyes scanning the scene in front of me. Getting up, I walked towards the window. “I’d love to see down there,” I said in awe. “It’s such a technological marvel.”

“Let’s go visit Re, he has been waiting for you,”

“Down there?”

“Yeah! Let’s go!” Part of me didn’t believe Periclum at that moment that it was possible to get down there from where we were. But there he was leading me down the corridors again and us continuing to talk about the EMC. He was telling me how the EMC can materialise any object that has been scanned and stored into the computer. That includes people. When I was transported from the Myrmekes, my original died. It scanned me before my death and sent my digital copy to The Liberty. At that moment I felt shocked at the thought that I was a copy of my original self.

“What!? That means I’m not the James Foreman original!?

“Afraid not, you were only your original on Earth.” I looked at Periclum when he said that sentence in a confused way. “The captain doesn’t like it either, she is her original self.”

“So I could make two of myself?” Periclum looked at me with a worried look.

“James, that would break the law!”

“Oh, these laws are strict?”

“It’s not even worth it.” he said in a worried tone

After that, we changed the conversation and turned to life on the Liberty. It sounded so nice. People were free in the truest form, they didn’t need to earn much due to the technology available to them. Most volunteered for various things, however, it was still possible to earn more energy rations to make more stuff, or experience more things. I found out that when I was placed into that VIP room the captain gave me unlimited energy rations. So I could have created anything I wanted. A part of me wished I had taken advantage of the situation more, but I needed time to get my head straight.

We soon arrived at a place that resembled a subway station with many, many platforms. We were in a brightly lit under passage and there were side chambers with large holes in the ceiling on the right and left of the corridor. There must have been fifteen of them. Going up into each hole were metal stairs. Yellow and blue lights shaped into writing were fixed into the wall next to each of these holes. Yellow saying ‘Empty’ and blue saying ‘Pods Waiting’. Periclum took me up to one of the flights of stairs marked with ‘Pods Waiting’. Once we were at the top, we were in a long corridor with about ten sliding doors either side. Lights shone next to each of these doors, again formed into writing, yellow ‘Empty’ and blue ‘Pod Waiting’. 

Periclum approached one that said ‘Pod Waiting’ and pressed the button on the door. The doors slid open and revealed a small seating area able to seat four people. He climbed into the front and gestured for me to follow. I stepped down and I seemed to be able to comfortably sit in the pod. It relieved me since the Tuhingan are so small. Periclum strapped in with straps across his shoulders and around his waist. He looked at me and told me to do the same. Without hesitation, I strapped myself in. I sat there waiting as he typed on a screen that sat at the front of this pod, just under the window. Through the window, I could see a tunnel that was laying in front of the pod. It was lit by sidelights either side of the tunnel and stretched until I could see it turn. Periclum explained that the pods are one of the original features of the Liberty. They were thousands of years old and designed by the Rehew. 

It was so impressive. Technology thousands of years old and still able to work? He was telling me they needed a lot of maintenance but they had a lot of drones to do the work. He typed in our destination and then sat back. “Get ready!” He shouted from the front. The doors closed and then the pod shot off like a bullet in a gun. It was a terrifying ride of sharp turns and intense g-forces. My guts felt like they were at the back of my body pressed against my spine and I felt like I would be sick. I could see the tube changing and shifting ahead like tracks connecting for a train to go in a different direction. It was happening so quickly that I was so sure we would crash a few times. I could feel myself shifting from being forced into the back of the chair to being forced towards the floor and being shaken in different directions. The tube opened up above us, I could see we were travelling quick and yet the tube above us seemed to travel with us. I could see the tube we were in had a slight ramp that looked terrifying in front of us. We hit it with a thump and was launched up this ramp causing us to jump in our seats. It was strange, it looked as though we became stationary and had to pick up speed again.

Again my organs began being pushed into the back of my body and being thrown in different directions until this terror ride ended. We stopped as abruptly as we started and then slowed down to what felt like a snail’s pace. I could see we were approaching another pod in front of us. It looked like it was slowing down into the section ahead. It then stopped and we soon stopped sitting just behind it. The doors opened and Periclum got out. I struggled with my restraints and then once I had released myself I launched myself out and was sick on the ground. Looking up, I could see we were no longer in a quiet place with no one wandering the corridors. There were what must have been twenty or thirty Tuhingan just looking at me as they walked towards or away from a pod. 

“Wow, wild isn’t it?” Periclum did this strange gurgling sound as everyone looked at us both. A flying drone came over and spotted us. It hovered over me, waiting. “Come on James, let’s leave the drone to clean up the mess you made.” I stood up and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, wishing I had given myself a handkerchief. Walking with Periclum, I looked behind to see the drone hover over my mess and then a light shone down onto the floor and the sound of wind began. I could see my sick disappearing right in front of my eyes, I was astonished. “That is one of the repair drones I was talking about. They keep the place running. Come on, let’s go see Re!” I turned around and followed Periclum up some stairs where I had to cover my eyes against the sun.

There was a strong smell of ionised air as I came up from the subway. My eyes took time to adjust but once they had settled, I saw I was in the middle of a bustling town. There were many Tuhingan going about their everyday business. About half the crowd was composed of other aliens that looked very different from everyone else. There was an outdoor market, like that on Earth, where everyone was buying and selling food, drink and little trinkets. Tall buildings surrounded us that stood around three, four, sometimes six floors high. The buildings seemed to be made of this strange concrete mix, with a transparent material placed like large windows. Or completely made of this transparent material. It didn’t shine like glass and had this strong look to it like it could survive an explosion. People were rushing around me as I stood there towering over them with my mouth open. It was like I was standing on a strange Earth where I could see the land curve up to meet with the other side above me. In the centre was a huge asteroid and a small star. Shadows crept across the land as these platforms appeared to rotate above our heads which had cables on connected to the star and asteroid. 

I looked to my right and saw where the land ended and a vast wall prevented it from going any further. I looked up to the centre of the wall to see that it stuck out quite a distance and appeared to spin quickly from my perspective. It had a large door on the end which could easily fit a very large ship through. Windows surrounded the door that looked tiny compared it. I got the feeling that I was sitting in there with Periclum before we entered that crazy subway system. Periclum shouted me over and I began to hurry in his direction. Looking at the ground under me, I noticed that they made all the streets of the same material they made the buildings. I couldn’t see any drains as I looked down the street. Just this perfectly laid road which looked like it never had any damage. 

The place was immaculate, there wasn’t a piece of rubbish anywhere. I felt I could eat my meal off of the road. I was following Periclum and not paying attention to where I was going. I was almost knocked over by a small bike although the driver stopped abruptly when seeing me. They didn’t seem bothered that they almost ran into me, just waited until I moved and then continued on. In fact, everyone didn’t seem to talk to each other. Even in the marketplace, the people were quietly going about their business. I ran to catch up with Periclum, wondering where he will take me. He led me down a side street and I thought I will find myself lost in this town later. It felt like he was leading me through a maze between the buildings. He seemed excited to get me to Re. We came out onto the main street again. Then we stood in front of a large building with a large sign placed on the side of it saying “Your Temple”. 

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