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The Terracorp Chronicles

The Black Hole

t happened a long time ago, long before rational humanity appeared. It couldn’t be seen nor heard by eye nor ear, but its effect was immense. The two large giants had shared a common birth, a common life together and were now about to share a common death and a new existence as one. Their orbit had decayed until the two neutron stars began tearing material from one another with great flashes of X-rays. Now they were collapsing, joining their two great masses together into an incredibly dense object from which no light could escape. As the black hole disappeared from existence it cried out with one last shriek of radiation. Not a scream to be heard by ears, rather a shock-wave in space-time that spread outward in four dimensions similar to the way that ripples on a pond spread out in two. For millennia the wave traveled, subtly altering each point in space-time that it touched.

“I found the tapes.”

“You had me worried.”

“It’s not the latest revision.”

“Load it.”

“It might do funky things.”

“Load it.”

WOTAN MASTER OPERATING SYSTEM 1.0.0
PLEASE ENTER CORRECT TIME AND DATE
(MM/DD/YY HH:MM:SS): 10/33/91 02:48:00
== ERROR: INCORRECT DATE ENTRY
PLEASE ENTER CORRECT TIME AND DATE
(MM/DD/YY HH:MM:SS): 10/13/91 02:84:00
== ERROR: INCORRECT TIME ENTRY
PLEASE ENTER CORRECT TIME AND DATE
(MM/DD/YY HH:MM:SS): 10/13/91 02:48:00
== ERROR: SILO CONFIGURATION FAILURE - NO ICBM'S FOUND
CONTINUE (Y/N)? y

Rosy Retson, Captain of the Blutomo (a large metallic blue cargo starship), turned to the robotoid pilot on the bridge and asked, “What’s the current status, Robotto?”

“All systems nominal,” replied the automaton, “with the exception of the air re-circulation system in the main cargo bay. I have had to re-route some of the power from the auxiliary control systems to balance the demand.”

“No problem,” she replied, shaking her head and laughing. “That bay is pretty full, right copilot?” Rosy asked, slapping the big man on the back who was sleeping in the console seat next to her.

Bill Torque, renegade Gigacorp field engineer, leapt from the chair. “Wazzat?!” he yelled, holding his hands in front of him in a karate pose.

“Deep space tracking sensors are picking up the presence of an unidentifiable energy front outside the orbit of Neptune,” spoke Mr. Robotto calmly. “It is apparently approaching at a speed beyond that of light. This is an inconsistency – I will re-check the input data and recalculate.”

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” said Rosy as she manually checked the instruments to verify the machine’s figures. “Hmm. Robotto’s right. There is something out there coming this way, fast!”

“What are we going to do?” asked Torque.

“We’ll wait until it gets closer and see if we can…”

“It is approaching!” warned Mr. Robotta. “It is a void chasm moving through space-time. Warning! Warning!” The robot began to swing his arms wildly as the ripple approached altering the fabric of time and space around the starship.

“I feeeeel fuuuunnnnnnny,” said Bill, his voice sounding miles away and as slow as a 45 played at 33. He ever so slowly, slowly turned toward Rosy whose head and body were compressing making her look like a living mushroom. “Hhhhhhaaaaaaa hhhhhhhaaaaaaaa!” he slowly droned in complete amazement.

“I hooooooope thiiiiiissssss doesssssnnn’ttt lassssssssssttt lonnnnnnnng,” answered Rosy, holding on to her console seat arm rests for dear life. The chasm ride was now becoming nauseating and she braced herself for more. “Therrrre, ittt’sss beginning to let up. That wasn’t so bad. I’ve been in ion storms worse than that. What’s the status now, Robotto?” She turned to where the mechanical humanoid had been standing connected to the host computer with an umbilical cable. “Where did the robot go?” she asked, looking around the bridge.

“And then you landed on top of the Curator?” asked Perrier Masson.

“That is correct,” stated Mr. Robotto, turning his CCO arrays toward the jury.

“Your witness, Mr. Hamburger. Here have stick of gum.”

“I was yoost t’inking. Vhat are vee doing here?” one McGiga’s fast-food burger-jerk asked two others as they stood behind the counter of a McGiga’s food cubicle located in the Gigabus space wheel orbiting 37,5OO kilometers above the Earth.

“It is a failure,” spoke one of the burger-jerks.

“You’re Kubar,” said the third who at that instant realized he was the CEO of Gigacorp, Grodin A. Pudge. He glanced at his watch and turned to the first burger-jerk to speak and said, “Gus! We’re okay! The radiation was only temporary – it went away after 4 days.”

Gustav Von Stoppo, Commander General of the Gigacorp Company Police (Compol), replied, “Yah, I t’ink vee’re going to be okay. I still feel like dancing a little bit though.”

“What went wrong. Kubar?” Grodin asked as they changed out of their red and white striped uniforms and propeller beanie caps.

Dr. Balasubterranean Kubar, noted Gigacorp weapons systems developer and gourmet chef, replied, “Our exposure to the radiation was brief. Had we been exposed to it on a daily basis, we would have been rendered inert. The project was done with a lot of forethought after the fact.”

“Let’s see what’s going on downstairs,” Grodin said to Gus Stoppo who pulled a portable terminal from his side pouch. Plugging the terminal into a nearby network tap, Grodin logged on and read his electronic mail:

GIGACORP
Inter-Office Memo

To: All Employees, Intelligent Machines, and Compols
From: Elliott Quik, CEO Gigacorp
Date: 10/12/91
Re: The Death of Grodin Pudge

It is with the deepest regret that I must announce to you the death of our beloved CEO and Chairman, Grodin A. Pudge. Mr. Pudge and Gustav Von Stoppo of Compol met an untimely death when they were mistaken for criminal fugitives by an MX series automaton while docking at the
Gigabus Space Port.

Dr. Vernon Flat Top has been promoted to Executive Vice President with all Vice Presidents reporting directly to him. A briefing for all Vice Presidents will be held in the Tonsorial Engineering main conference room at 0200 hours. Dr. Flat Top will preside.

Gigacorp has always had your best interest in mind and will continue to protect you, its employee.

That is all! Return to your cubicle!

“We gotta get down there quick, men!” Grodin shouted with a waver of panic in his voice. “I gotta have a little talk with Elliott.”