Here’s what Jarita and I figured out. That’s her name, by the way, Jarita. It turned out she had a job much like mine. She was on a semi-automated craft, way out at the edge of a galaxy that I’m still struggling to chart. She was a scientist, like me. She was also brilliant and gloriously goofy. Turns out her people do not usually go about naked in space. I caught her in the middle of nude yoga or something, and it hadn’t occurred to her to get dressed before trying to send the video feed.
“Hey, I didn’t think it would work,” was her explanation.
I told her I didn’t mind. We spent a lot of time naked after that … but I’m getting ahead of myself again.
It turned out her people are my people, from what she told me. My guess is she’s something like 300,000 years distant from me. Not light years, actual solar years. She wasn’t joking when she said the Earth was gone. Some dumbass blew up the moon, of all things, and the war spread back home. Around ten thousand years from now, the moon will be like the Middle East is now.
Darma is famous. That is, if you’re 300 millennia in the future. The “Voice from Beyond” that Darma transmitted back to the Earth starts the human race on its journey to expand as far into space as possible. Jarita and I figured that somehow, the Gov finds my encrypted files – years from now – and becomes convinced there is life out there. Everybody with a halfway decent spacecraft suddenly wants to be the first to meet them. Nobody knows who The Voice is, or whence it came. So, the jackasses just rush out after Darma and hope for the best.
Jarita, my beautiful, seven-foot nudie scientist from the future, was The Voice. History’s greatest turning point ends up being her and me, mostly doing the future equivalent of phone sex.
Yeah, I fell … hard.
But I haven’t told you the weird part yet. Jarita’s ship was hovering at the edge of a massive event horizon, doing “routine monitoring and recording.” Pretty much, she babysat the craft and did minor repairs so the equipment didn’t fail during critical times. Boring work, according to her, but the pay was tremendous. Since she was so far from the rest of the technical fleet she was attached to, all her communications were based on neutrinos and other subatomic particles we here in the 21st century haven’t even heard of yet.
I could hear her, we postulated, because the accelerated neutrinos allowed her signals to travel back in time. We had a long series of arguments about that one, since Einstein proved it was impossible. She eventually convinced me what I know about science is about equal to a caveman. Every time I would argue, she would start repeating, “Ugh, fire bad!” It pissed me off, but eventually I shut up and listened. The neutrinos were routed past this massive black hole’s event horizon. That sped up the signal enough that by the time it hit the other side (I didn’t know black holes had another side) the signal was traveling well past the speed of light. We figured it must accelerate the entire way. Technically, it’s a cheat to Einstein’s theory, which gave me some solace. The bottom line? She will send her signal 300,000 years from now, and it reached me, in what is already my past, zooming like a bat out of hell, on neutrinos too fast for us to even detect.
But it wasn’t too fast for Darma, as it turns out.
Now, Jarita’s people figured that her transmissions might be able to track backward in time, but since there had been no history of that happening, they figured it’s safe to let her try. No one, and I mean no one, thought for a second she could be The Voice. I mean, she was a twenty-two-year-old student, with a penchant for nude chanting and yoga. Not exactly whom you’d pick to be the single most important person in history. But even with guessing she could be heard, if someone had the equipment to pick up her signal, nobody thought she could hear anything back.
Which is why she freaked out the first time she heard me. My guess is that somehow, Darma is acting as a mirror, though it is not clear how, exactly. Darma is trained to find subatomics like neutrinos, analyze them, and act on the information. Apparently, Darma decided that some specific particles travel faster than light, and so, when they signaled her, she signaled them back.
I told you Darma kicks ass.
(end of part 5)