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Authors: Peter F. Hamilton

The Temporal Void

BOOK: The Temporal Void
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THE TEMPORAL VOID

Also by Peter F. Hamilton

The Greg Mandel series

Mindstar Rising

A Quantum Murder

The Nano Flower

The Night’s Dawn trilogy

The Reality Dysfunction

The Neutronium Alchemist

The Naked God

In the same timeline

A Second Chance at Eden

The Confederation Handbook

(a vital guide to the Night’s Dawn trilogy)

Fallen Dragon

Misspent Youth

The Commonwealth Saga

Pandora’s Star

Judas Unchained

The Void trilogy

The Dreaming Void

Peter F. Hamilton
 
THE TEMPORAL VOID
 

PART TWO OF THE VOID TRILOGY

 

MACMILLAN

First published 2008 by Macmillan

This electronic edition published 2008 by Macmillan
an imprint of Pan Macmillan Ltd
Pan Macmillan, 20 New Wharf Rd, London N1 9RR
Basingstoke and Oxford
Associated companies throughout the world
www.panmacmillan.com

ISBN 978-0-330-47918-9 in Adobe Reader format
ISBN 978-0-330-47917-2 in Adobe Digital Editions format
ISBN 978-0-330-47919-6 in Mobipocket format

Copyright © Peter F. Hamilton 2008

The right of Peter F. Hamilton to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

You may not copy, store, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this publication (or any part of it) in any form, or by any means (electronic, digital, optical, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

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www.panmacmillan.com
to read more about all our books and to buy them. You will also find features, author interviews and news of any author events, and you can sign up for e-newsletters so that you’re always first to hear about our new releases.

THE TEMPORAL VOID
Contents
 

1

Inigo’s Eighth Dream

2

Inigo’s Ninth Dream

3

Justine

Inigo’s Tenth Dream

4

Inigo’s Eleventh Dream

Justine: Year Three

5

Inigo’s Twelfth Dream

Justine: Year Four

Inigo’s Thirteenth Dream

1
 

Strangely enough, it was the oak trees which Justine Burnelli always remembered from the day Centurion Station died. She was hurrying towards the safety bunker doors along with everyone else in the garden dome when she glanced back over her shoulder. The thick emerald grass was littered with the debris of the party, mashed canapés stamped into the grass, broken glasses and plates juddering about as the colossal gravity waves washed across the station in fast unrelenting succession. Overhead, the timid light emitted by the nebulas surrounding the galactic core was now smeared into pastel streaks by the dome’s misty emergency force fields. Justine felt her weight reducing again. Yells of surprise and near-panic broke out from the staff pressed against her as they all fought for traction on the glowing orange path. Then a
crack
like a thunderbolt echoed across the dome. One of the huge lower boughs on a two-hundred-year-old oak tree split open close to the thick trunk, and the bough crashed down. Leaves swirled upwards like a flock of startled butterflies. The whole majestic tree sagged, with further fissures opening along the length of the trunk. It twisted as it started to fall into its neighbour. The elegant little tree house platform which the band had been playing on barely a minute ago splintered and snapped apart. The last glimpse Justine had of the trees was a couple of red squirrels scampering out of the toppled giants.

The malmetal safety bunker doors contracted behind her, and for a moment she was enveloped within an oasis of calm. It was a bizarre image, everyone still dressed in their best party clothes, breathing heavily with dishevelled hair and anxious faces. Director Trachtenberg was standing beside her, looking round wild-eyed.

‘You okay?’ he asked.

She nodded, not quite trusting her voice.

Another of the gravity waves swept through the station. Once again Justine felt her weight lessen. Her u-shadow accessed the station’s net, and she pulled out the sensor images of the sky above. The Raiel’s DF spheres were still accelerating across the star system to their new positions. She checked that the
Silverbird
was unaffected by the weird gravity waves which the DF spheres were throwing off. The starship’s smartcore told her it was maintaining position just above the dusty lava field which served as the station’s landing area.

‘I’ve just conferred with our alien colleges,’ Director Trachtenberg announced. He smiled wryly. ‘Those that talk to us, anyway. And we all agree the gravity shifts are beyond anything the safety systems were designed for. With regret I am ordering an immediate evacuation.’

Several people groaned in dismay.

‘You can’t,’ Graffal Ehasz complained. ‘This is what we’re here for. Dear Ozzie, man, the data this event is spewing out. What we can learn is unprecedented! We can’t just crawl away because of some safety restriction imposed by a committee back in the Commonwealth.’

‘I understand your concern,’ Trachtenberg said calmly. ‘If the situation alters we will return. But, for now, please embark your designated ship.’

Justine could see most of the staff were relieved; while Ehasz and a small hard-core science clique radiated resentment. When she opened her mind to the local gaiafield the clash of emotion was pronounced. But Ehasz was definitely in the minority.

Trachtenberg leaned in close to Justine and quietly asked, ‘Can your ship cope with this?’

‘Oh yes,’ she assured him.

‘Very well, if you would please depart with the rest of us.’

‘Of course.’

Through her link with the smartcore she saw the safety bunkers break surface, titanium-black spheres bubbling up out of the dusty lava plain. They started to glide smoothly towards the waiting starships.

With the evacuation procedures obviously working, Justine’s nerves calmed considerably. She asked the
Silverbird
’s smartcore to open a link along the tenuous Navy communication relay all the way back to the Commonwealth, thirty thousand lightyears away. ‘Dad?’

‘You’re okay, then,’ Gore Burnelli said. ‘Thank Christ for that.’

Leaking along the minuscule bandwidth was the faintest sensation of a smile. Warm Caribbean sunlight was shining on his lips. It was a comfort that delivered a completely unexpected emotional jolt to Justine. She felt her throat muscles tensing up as her eyes filled with tears and her cheeks flushed.
Goddamn this stupid body
, she raged at its weakness. But she smiled back weakly, ignoring the way people in the shelter were looking at her. ‘Yeah, I’m okay.’

‘Good, then get a load of this. I’ve been monitoring the Navy relay link to Centurion Station. Your new friend Trachtenberg just called the Cleric Conservator to tell him about the expansion phase. He did that before he even bothered to warn the Navy what was happening.’

Justine was proud of the way she managed to avoid glancing in Trachtenberg’s direction.
Okay, maybe this old body’s not quite so useless after all
. ‘Really. How interesting.’

‘It gets better. About five hours ago the Second Dreamer told his Skylord pal that he wasn’t going to lead anyone into the Void. Next thing we know, this expansion begins. I don’t know what your take is, but nobody back here thinks it’s a coincidence.’

‘The Second Dreamer caused this?’

‘It wasn’t deliberate. At least I seriously hope it wasn’t. Cause and effect, I guess. The Skylords exist to ferry souls into the Heart of the Void, and someone tells them that their new supply is going to be cut off. Junkies tend to get irritated and irrational about such things.’

‘The Skylords aren’t junkies.’

‘Don’t take everything so literally. I’m doing metaphors, or allegories, some shit like that. Point is, now they know we’re out here waiting to be guided, if we don’t come to them . . .’

‘They come to us,’ she whispered.

‘Looks like it.’

‘But nothing can survive the boundary.’

‘The original ship did. Somehow.’

‘Has the Second Dreamer said anything?’

‘Not a goddamn word, not even “ooops, sorry”. Conceited little turd. I thought I was arrogant, but Jeezus!’

‘Well, he’s going to have to do something.’

‘That’s the consensus back here, too. The thing is, Living Dream is closing in on him. That’s going to make serious trouble if they get their hands on him; our friend Ilanthe will make sure of that.’

Justine accessed the data coming from the station, watching with concern as their life support equipment was stressed close to its limit by the gravity waves. ‘It doesn’t get much worse than this, Dad.’

‘Shit, I’m sorry, angel. Are you going to get out all right?’

‘You know you don’t have to worry about me. Hang on for a moment, we’ve reached the starships.’

People were activating their personal force fields as the airlock’s outer door parted. Some of them were also taking pressure suits from the bunker’s lockers, making doubly sure they were safe. Justine knew she could depend on her biononics to protect her from anything the unnamed planet could throw at her. Her integral force field strengthened round her. She slipped her heeled pumps off and followed the others out through the triple pressure curtain. Ten aluminium steps and she was standing on the lava in bare feet and a completely incongruous little black cocktail dress. Tremors managed to shake the soles of her feet through the protective cushion of the force field. A gentle argon breeze fluttered round her, raising short-lived twisters of dust that never came above her knees.

BOOK: The Temporal Void
8.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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