The Black Signal
The Black Signal is like an urban legend among the eden. It holds truth, but over the ages much of that truth was obscured. Their science failed to understand, but maybe we can fix that. The black signal is an anomaly that exists in a particular region of uncharted space. It routinely pulses, a signal that says nothing. Its point of origin is random, each pulse occurring in a different location at different times. Without a means to understand it, it's little more than a cosmic scream. Gibraltar is the source of the signal. We know I can receive the signal, but why me? Why is it even being sent? More importantly, can I use it to track Gibraltar down?
"Gibraltar?" Fraeia asks. I nod in reply and they shrug. "Outside of the stories about your mother, I know nothing." "I figured as much. No one does. Maybe with this signal, I can track it down?" Viritine laughs. She laughs? Why? An image of the galaxy appears on the screen. I see several green points, each representing the origin of a signal pulse. "Each origin is random. Do you see something we don't." I shake my head. "No, but I know something you don't. Well… knew." Viritine speaks in a soft, slow voice, "It's a remarkable discovery, amber. I don't think it will lead to much, though." "Why not?" I ask, my mind already racing. I joyfully scan the wealth of data on the screen to the point of obsession. Fraeia answers, "If you're right, it wouldn't change anything." I don't respond. In fact, I barely hear it. I'm focused. I'm so close. I can feel the answer right in front of me. It feels like I have a chance. I could fix everything. I could save mom, fix my life, and get the vengeance I crave if only... Viritine calls from above. "You won't be able to predict or track it accurately." "Hold on," I whisper. The anger builds. I need this. I need to find it. There's an answer here and I will not stop until I have it. I'm on cloud nine. To be so close that all you need to do is crunch the numbers, it's like a high. I just need… Fraeia speaks again, "Amber?" …need a moment of peace and quiet, like damn. I turn to Fraeia and shout, "What?" They narrow their eyes and their head gently tilts to the side. I take a deep breath. "Sorry. I'm just trying to figure this out." "Figure out what?" They ask.
Gibraltar is a fourth dimensional entity. It lacks technology but based on the origin of each pulse, and when they occur, it implies it can move at alarming speed. The points are too far apart for standard forms of travel. That means it can move as fast as a ship at warp. I think that's the key. Warp is about changing the space you're in relative to everything else. Velocity is dependent on time, but at warp you have no velocity. Warp travel is independent of time. What if Gibraltar does the reverse? A fourth dimensional being could, theoretically travel forward and backward in time like we walk forward and backward in space. Space and time are tied together. That's why we call it space-time. That means a fourth dimensional being could change their time relative to everything else, without changing the space they inhabit.
Fraeia shakes their head. "I don't follow." I smile, "Maybe Gibraltar is changing time independently of space." I scan the star charts on the screen "The signals all come from this region of the galaxy. If we take the equations for warp travel, change it up a little, maybe the origins will line up." "I understand." Viritine says, and a line emerges from the edge of the image. It bends as the line traces the chart, intersecting with several points of origin. I scream, "Yes." My hands reach for the ceiling in clenched fists. Every possible point of origin that could exist on the line matches up perfectly. "Now this should work for every set of origins. More lines are drawn but none match up. "Wait, no. That can't be right." "Think bigger. Time goes both ways." Viritine says.
This reverse warp travel or whatever we decide to call it, is about staying in place and allowing time to pass for everything else relative to you. Time for you seems normal, but for everything else, it speeds up. The expansion of the universe alone is superluminal, faster than light. Factor in the velocity of the galaxy through the universe, its spin, and the velocity of everything in that galaxy, and you effectively travel ridiculous distances without having moved an inch. There's a problem. Not all origin points line up. That's because we haven't factored in traveling backward in time. It shouldn't be possible. When factored into the equation, the line traces along the origin points, then bounces back along the same path but through a different set of origins. We can literally plot out the journey Gibraltar took, is taking, and will take.
"I...I'm impressed." Fraeia says after a long silence." "I did it? Is that right?" I ask. Fraeia smiles and nods. "Maybe but how does it manage to travel backward in time?" "Does it matter?" Viritine asks. Fraeia looks up in confusion, "No. I suppose not." "Maybe it isn't traveling backward, at all. If Gibraltar is as old as the data implies, it could have just traveled forward from the first pulse." I turn away from the screen with a wide grin. I haven't felt this good in years. Just moments ago, I felt groggy and eager to return to bed. Now I can't imagine sleeping. "Thank you so much. Really. Keep the reward, this is more than enough." I turn on my heels but Fraeia's voice stops me from leaving. "What? You're leaving?" I turn and my smile fades. 'Well yeah. This is the first lead I've had in ages." "Slow down." Viritine says with a chuckle. It almost sounds patronizing. Why is she laughing like a parent witnessing their kid do something cute? I'm an adult, damnit. "Amber, you didn't even ask me to send you the data." I turn around and my cheeks go red. "I… Oh." Well that's embarrassing. Fraeia smiles and asks, "If you manage to find it, what then?" I open my mouth to speak only to find myself unable to answer. I hadn't thought of that. Viritine floats in the medium, swimming lazily as she speaks. "How long have you been searching for Gibraltar, Amber?" I give a shrug and try to speak. I can't imagine how foolish I must look right now. "I don't know. Years." Fraeia tilts their head, their eyes narrowed. "Why? Seems like a waste." I laugh. "Of what? My life? I'm not exactly fond of living, so why would it matter how I do it?" I look down and keep my eyes glued to the pristine white floor. "That's a shame," Viritine whispers. Shadowy tendrils drift behind her as she darts to the back of the ship. Here comes the lecture. "Life is precious." I snap. "You're a ship literally built for war, and you're lecturing me on the sanctity of life?" I look up to the water above me as I continue, "Your culture is rooted in taking lives. How could it be precious to you?" Fraeia's eyes go wide. They straighten their back and cross their arms. Their eyes search my face as if desperately searching for evidence of a misunderstanding. I smirk and nod, bucking up and stepping forward as if to challenge them. "No, you heard that right." My words hurt more than I thought. They blink at me and take a step back, unwilling to punish my transgression but likely unable to forgive it either. I stop. My breathing is heavy. Why am I so angry? I step back. I shouldn't have said that. It wasn't kind, and it damn sure wasn't smart. What the hell is wrong with me? These two are the first people I've met who knew who I was and didn't immediately hate me. More than that, I'm pretty sure Fraeia has enough military training and experience to kill me in a myriad of creative ways. Who knows what Viritine is capable of. I run my hands through my hair. When that doesn't calm me down, I reach up and clench both sides of my head. When did I last take my meds? Yesterday, right? Guess they decided not to keep me level this time. My emotions flew too high. Viritine keeps watch in eerie silence from above. I glance up to her and then back to the floor. I'm a guest here. I know better than this. So much for new friends. "Sorry," I whisper through tears. "I'll see myself out." "Wait." Fraeia's arms fall and they reach out to me, careful not to touch the skin of my arm. "Are you alright?" "Not really." I was doing so well. I can't do this right now. I'm so close. "What was that about?" Fraeia asks. I shake my head. "It's a long story." Viritine breaks her silence, "Amber?" I barely muster a response, but manage to get a single word out. "Yes?" "The eden do not age. We are immune to most diseases and are extraordinarily resilient to physical trauma." "I know that," I reply, my voice rising then forced back down. I'm ashamed, but I'm still angry. Who does she think she is? "Death gives urgency to life. It alone can grant purpose and maybe even meaning. Given how hard it is for us to die, of course we would have a warlike culture. " I cross my arms. "I said I was sorry. I can't take it back. I wish-" "I'm not asking you to take it back. Just know the difference between those who show reverence for warfare and those who enjoy it."