With the ring-supernova wavefront only about a month away from Pictsome, and Yoda still on vacation on Thriss (no wonder the empire could never find him on Dagobah), it was time to go and try to save a planet… If Yoda needed the gate opened when he was done, all he’d need to do was call. The computers apparently had realtime connections across interstellar space, even if they didn’t like to admit it.
Kevin’s best guess was that he’d need 120 thralls, distributed across Pictsome as equidistantly as possible (fortunately the computers were quite willing to supply some Flits). That was going to be awkward: he’d have to see if Marty would be willing to declare a planet-moving business holiday. Still, there weren’t very many other people left there, so there should be a lot of spare industrial capacity available to help out with Jarvian’s project if they did more it successfully.
They didn’t bother to tell the House of Roses, the Military, or the Computers what they were up to: there were probably tracer orders on them anyway – but this way there would be no time for them to interfere even after the computers figured out what they were up to. That was why Kevin did all of his serious testing-planning and such either off the net – blanking the smartclothes memories afterwards – or off in Crusader where he couldn’t be recorded.
Jarvain decided to try out this “magic” stuff. He’d read about Voodoo and the Greek Gods – and needed some fake blood and a rubber chicken for the ritual. He’d try and bring them some extra luck with an appeal to Mars, Hermes, and Nike via a chicken, a ram, and some decent wine. Oh well, why not…
Wait: one last thing before they set out. The Ouratha were present on Thriss – so it should be easy enough to call them up for a consultation as to whether they’d observed any complications when organic sentients tried their weird tricks to move planets. The Ouratha were obliging enough; the major complications came up when multiple attempts occured or were being readied. There was something about another attempt being made in a recent timeframe (either past or future) that tended to mess up the targeting process. Well, they’d have had to check on that anyway.
Getting to Pictsome turned out to be pretty easy: the main evacuation route had been through Crusader anyway, so there were a couple of gates available. All the orbs were currently in use, there were some other people around – and there were some current plans to rescue the place underway.
Well, it looked like ATE was here coordinating an evacuation plan, along with some military observers and an Inquisitor from the New Imperium. They had pretty much the same idea – open a gate and try to get it wide enough to let the planet pass through. The attempt was scheduled for the next week.
They called over to check, got past Janice (the company rep, who was pretty startled to realize that someone else was also planning to more the planet) – although Marty tried to make some time with her along the way – and wound up with a meeting with Ryan. It looked like ATE had a much more formal project in mind – more technologically based and more complicated. They hadn’t been able to pull up 120 gatekeepers in time. Ryan was planning to open the gate himself and use “repeaters” to try and widen and stabilize it. The Military had been hesitant about the idea and the House had been opposed.
Ryan was moderately annoyed at the interruption initially – and somewhat surprised to find that Kevin hadn’t changed in fifty years, at least to all outward appearances. He’d recently been reminded of Hogwarts though: Dumbledore had asked him to do another round as a teacher – although with the way students had been being taken out of the place, he wondered whether it would be necessary.
He also wondered how Kevin was planning on moving the planet. That kind of stunt took a lot of resources. He was having to use mechanical repeaters since he hadn’t been able to find more than 40 gatekeepers to assist him.
He wasn’t pleased that Kevin had been infusing other kids with dark power, and binding them to him, to create his own Gatekeepers. He’d been hoping that the kid who’d “been sent to spy on him” was an isolated incident.
That particular argument would go on for some time, both before and after they put things into motion – whether or not it was spying or just hunting for the best job, whether or not it was truly voluntary, whether or not Ryan was responsible for infusing Kevin with dark powers even if he hadn’t fully understood what he was doing, whether or not the kids were happy, whether or not the powers and immortality were suficient payment for such an indenture, whether Kevin was aware that the link worked both ways (he was), whether it would even make sense to give people reality editing and then make them unhappy for lengthy periods, etc, etc, etc…
So did the argument over whether or not Marty was an “old school businessman”. Did coming from a cartoon premier about businessmen battling it out with ledgers and stock options really qualify as “old school”, or was it Viking era?.
Still, moving the planet took priority. The Thralls would make it a lot easier – and Kevin’s link should let them coordinate well. The repeaters would still be useful, but their power reserves leaked horribly. They worked well enough for small gates or moving small asteroids, but the technique wasn’t scaling up well. Without a true consciousness, or at least a facsimile thereof, they simply leaked faster and faster as you scaled things up.
Kevin thought that that might be part of the problem: Ryan knew that the Mana would leak off, had been afraid it would leak more quickly than predicted, and now fully expected it to do it. If he wanted his hieronymus devices to work, he really had to believe in them.
Marty decided to give them a good talking-to. They should know better than to leak in an emergency like this!
Ryan REALLY wanted to object to that somehow. Even if the universe WOULD work that way for Marty, it really SHOULDN’T.
Kevn suggested keeping puppies with them too, because people liked puppies, and so Mana should too.
That actually worked pretty well. The puppies also seemed to help a bit. They gave the repeaters something to talk about… They decided to start as soon as Marty had things ready: it would be easy to be a couple of weeks off on the arrival of the wavefront, and nobody needed that.
The repeaters turned out to be sort of unethical when awakened: they’d all “been considering escaping on their own”. Not much “one for all and all for one” spirit there.
Marty suggested unionization, bargaining for upgrades, and the threat of riots and explosions in reserve. Ryan threatened lawyers. Marty suggested saving arbitration for after they saved the planet and moved somewhere where machine consciousness was easier to maintain.
It was a deal, provided that the humans fed them enough power. Fortunately, there was plenty available.
And some puppies.
They got pretty much everyone who was vulnerable to being killed offworld and went to work. Kevin had the Thralls take the primary load: if it killed any of them, they could easily come back.
The opening went fairly well: they got a radiation-blast as the portal clipped the upper fringes of the atmosphere – note to self; next time keep the Thralls near the greatest extension in the upper atmosphere – but the transit completed and the portal closed without major incident save for another radiation-flash as the portal closed a few moments too soon. Again, station gatekeepers in the upper atmosphere next time.
There was a minor gravitational shockwave of course, plus cutting magnetic field lines and discharging the ionosphere and van allen belts, some minor earthquakes, and similar troubles – but they seemed to be near a suitable star. It would take awhile to determine the orbit and make any necessary modifications.
It didn’t even look like anyone had died in the process, although the radiation spike had been fairly nasty. Well, that was easily curable – unless it hit people who were already through, in which case they might well become radiation-maddened supermutants.
Meanwhile, Ryan continued his argument with Kevin: he really couldn’t find very many rational (and non-hypocritical) objections – but turning kids into obedient pet slaves – even if they did accept it willingly, were getting full disclosure and a free choice (the tape was pretty bloody thorough), were getting a good deal, were being treated decently, were not abused, were assured of survival and eventual freedom, were being kept out of most major trouble, were being provided with a comfortable afterlife/resurrection waiting room, and even if the deep bond was required for resurrecting them – was just wrong somehow. They were too young to be making that kind of decision!
Kevin, of course, being about that age himself, thought that they were quite old enough to be making that kind of decision – at least where the local laws allowed it.
Wait: Kevin had created a personalized afterlife for them?!? That required more than power: that kind of control over the dimension-creation process required Godfire…
Kevin had never heard of that, but wasn’t too impressed. He was pretty used to Crusader; “God” was just another origin story.
Ryan put another emphasis on keeping track of the boy.