After a brief pause for refreshment, they met again inside the Gray Reception Salon, and they took places in comfortable seats near a small, low table. The Princess suggested an excellent, blue, steaming Fawbiak dessert wine, then she asked the attending personnel to leave them alone. Shalle appeared to have forgotten her repulsion against the raw farm smell—most likely she didn’t sense it anymore. Besides, she was well intrigued by Ambassador’s strong personality, and also by his strange unconventional behavior.
     Her plan was to charm the peasant, therefore to bring him into spiritual obedience to her person. Dar’Raen was some sort of a wild, rude, yet a handsome insolent male animal, and she felt it like a personal challenge to demonstrate her intellectual superiority. On the other hand, he was very open and natural, even excessively direct in expression, therefore she was anticipating funny and interesting “farmer’s insights” as she invited Dar’Raen again to start his story.

     “The Planet Aggrea, as you probably know, Miss Naydhu, has great oceans and a lot of farming land, though not a sufficiently developed industrial infrastructure. Since old times it has been just an agricultural Planet having technologies tailored predominantly towards agricultural purposes.
     Three hundred Aggrea years ago, a group of forty-nine scientists and their families decided to isolate themselves from the Great Obar Empire, and to become farmers on Aggrea, in the Palhn System. The entire Project had been initiated and planned by Dr. Muq’Taola who was, most likely, the brightest neuro-scientist the Great Obar Empire ever had. In the years to come they made great progress in developing a few extraordinary mind training techniques, therefore their children, and the next generations, became better and better in mastering the powers of the brain.
     I would like to assure you, Miss Naydhu, that we never use our mental powers to read people’s thoughts, or to influence their free will—unless we are forced to. In your particular case, Miss Naydhu, I promise that your mind integrity will always be perfectly safe near me.”
     Shalle replied smiling kindly, “Thank you for your comforting words, Mr. Dar’Raen. To be honest, I was aware that your people do not influence other people’s will, except when they are in some imminent danger. That is a very nice behavior, and it shows an excellent self-control. Everybody appreciates your attitude, including me. Please continue, Mr. Dar’Raen.”
     Dar’Raen smiled back at the Princess. She was very nice, and also very sincere, and he had no doubts that she felt exactly as she had said. Unfortunately, only a few people in the Great Obar Empire shared her feelings when dealing with Aggreans. He continued, “About one hundred Aggrea years ago, a massive emigration started from the Great Obar Empire to Aggrea. That process became so intense, that the Great Obar Emperor, your Grandfather, started fifty Obar years ago the so-called ‘War against Aggrea, peasants’ Planet’.”
     The Princess blushed suddenly, and she became concerned about the improper position a few objects had on the table area.
     He continued appearing he did not notice her embarrassment, “No person died due to the War on Aggrea, during the past fifty years, and nobody will. Unfortunately, the Military Fleets the Great Obar Empire persisted in sending against us had to be stopped, somehow, therefore lots of unfortunate accidents happened. Fact is, the Obar Imperial Fleets cannot cross the space boundaries we have set around Aggrea.
     In the same time, the emigration process to Aggrea continued during the War, as well as the commerce between Aggrea and the neighboring Planets and Satellites of the Palhn System, despite the permanent massive blockade from the Great Obar Empire. I hope you do understand, Miss Naydhu, that brute military force cannot be a match to people who can master their minds, and have superior technologies.
     This, Miss Naydhu, is what you and everybody else know. What I am going to tell you now is what only the people on Aggrea know.
     The initial purpose in developing the brain mastering techniques I mentioned was not the achievement of significant mental powers: it was only a method of increasing brain’s capacity to investigate, and to further develop the science. In other words, we continued investigating the atom in many small laboratories all over Aggrea. Our scientists work in laboratories on atom research for one or two hundred days, as long as they do have some theories to test, then they return to their farms to relax, and to develop new theories. I shall present you a classic example of a successful research, Miss Naydhu—”
     “Excuse me for interrupting, Mr. Dar’Raen, but I would like to thank you for everything you are telling me now. It is very interesting, and I started understanding you, your particular culture, and Aggrea. Please continue, Mr. Dar’Raen,” said the Princess, then she smiled nicely at him, though also a bit timidly. In reality, Shalle was surprised to discover that Aggrea, peasants’ Planet, was a World far more complex and civilized than she thought it was! Even more, she went on suspecting that Mr. Dar’Raen also was a person having a high intellectual profile. As a result, she began looking at him differently, with far more consideration.
     Dar’Raen watched her for a few moments. The Obar Princess was incredibly sweet, gracious and honest, and he discovered perplexed that he was greatly pleased to note all her qualities. He said, “Thank you, Miss Naydhu. As I was saying, I would like to present you an example of a past, successful research activity on Aggrea. Now, many natural phenomena seem obvious and ordinary to us, therefore we take them for granted, or we do not even see them until a few very intelligent people help us to open our eyes.
     One day, about one hundred fifty Aggrea years ago, a scientist named Jaltho Kuvlan was resting, lying on his back outside, in a crop-field. He was watching the sky. There were a few groups of white clouds, and he was admiring the way the clouds looked like clusters of small and big round balls, grouped tightly together. The round shape meant, there was a particular attraction vector between the water molecules. The fact that there were more than one, and in different sizes of balls into the same cloud, showed that the water molecules differentiated themselves, based on different types of intermolecular attraction vectors.
     It happened that Jaltho Kuvlan had a thermal engineering background. He had worked a lot with technological steam, therefore he knew that the steam ejected from a nozzle always precipitated, and it never formed clouds—not even a floating haze. That behavior was mostly evident at nighttime: technological steam precipitates, because the water molecule is, in fact, quite heavy.
     He asked himself, what helps the heavy water molecule to rise into the air and form those clouds at certain, specific altitudes? Not to mention that clouds could hold a fantastic amount of water. Normally, air currents or not, those water molecules should have dropped to the ground, not to accumulate into millions of Aggrea tons within the gathering of clouds. He concluded that the clouds were the natural manifestation of the antigravity phenomenon.

     [. . .]

     The difference between hot steam and clouds is this: steam is produced by the increased dynamic molecular energy, while clouds are formed by a static, intermolecular repulsion state, which is the manifestation of an increased antigravity vector. This last phenomenon is accompanied by an electrical imbalance inside the water molecule, which further results in the accumulation of a fantastic electrostatic potential. Then, when the lightning bolt discharges the electrostatic pockets of potential, the antigravity vector loses its bias for the benefit of the gravity one. Consequently, the water molecules attract each other strongly, they form the drops of rain, and then they start falling to the ground.”
     “That is a most amazing explanation, Mr. Dar’Raen! Although the static, artificially enhanced gravity is a well known application implemented on all spaceships—by shadowing the Khald vector inside a few specific, mass-defective metallic isotopes—nobody has ever reached conclusive results regarding antigravity. I never thought that clouds could be the natural manifestation of antigravity—although it seems so obvious! Could you, please, develop those theories?” asked the Princess. She was very glad she got the chance to prove, a little, that she was well knowledgeable in atom research.
     The Princess appeared to be genuinely enthusiastic about scientific theoretical research, therefore Dar’Raen continued his presentation gladly, “Yes, Miss Naydhu. Understanding natural antigravity was something that had to happen, sooner or later, though implementing it into practical applications proved to be a fairly difficult task. It took Aggrea about fifty years of intense research work, plus many resources, in order to develop the antigravity technology. I am allowed to talk about it, Miss Naydhu, and I shall do even more, because the purpose of my visit to the Emperor is to offer the antigravity technology we have developed to the Great Obar Empire.”
     Shalle was totally unprepared for that exceptional unexpected offer. She replied perplexed, “That is so unbelievably nice of your people, Mr. Dar’Raen!”
     He smiled a bit ironically at her, then said, “Actually, Miss Naydhu, we are the same people, part of the Great Obar Empire, although Aggrea has been a little rebellious up to now. We want to offer to the Great Obar Empire a viable chance for peace, the possibility to end the conflict, and then to develop normal cooperation relations. War, Miss Naydhu, is not, it never was, and it shall never be the way in which intelligent beings solve their problems.”
     “Mr. Dar’Raen, I am deeply impressed, Sir! I couldn’t express more sensible ethical concepts myself,” confessed the Princess with admiration. Inside her soul, Shalle was embarrassingly shocked to realize that the Ambassador of Aggrea was guided by such high moral principles.
     Dar’Raen watched the Princess for a few brief moments, and he couldn’t help noticing her wonderful eyes. There was so much innocent sincerity radiating from them that he felt a wave of heat rushing inside his chest. He remarked with vague sadness that he liked the Great Obar Princess . . . a little too much.
     He restrained his rebellious feelings, then he continued his explanations, “Thank you for your appreciations, Miss Naydhu; you are much too kind. To come back to antigravity, everything comes from the way we look at the atom.
     The atom is an extremely complex engine hiding many fantastic powers, most of them unknown to us. The way the scientists in the Great Obar Empire study the atom today is based on the old atomic models, when the nucleus was bombarded absurdly with neutrons and protons, and they measured the magnitude of the energy transfer, or the formation of hundreds of new, unrelated, pseudo-particles and radiations.
     About four hundred years ago, a few interesting discoveries have been made, when the theories that stated that ‘the speed of the photons is a constant and the maximum speed limit possible in the Universe’ were abandoned. Those discoveries have led to the construction of the first interstellar ‘Space-Disruptor Drive’, and then to the formation of the Great Obar Empire in our corner of Galaxy. You are well aware of those discoveries, Miss Naydhu, therefore I shall not insist, except on the fact that they were born due to abandoning the old theories, and starting with new ones.
     [. . .]
     Oh, I am sorry, Miss Naydhu, I deviated again from the antigravity subject.”
     “No, no, please continue, Mr. Dar’Raen. You have no idea how interesting it is to me everything you say,” said the Princess. She was totally charmed by his insights into the exciting Universe of the atom. In the same time, she started feeling somewhat shadowed by the surprising intellectual profile of her guest!
     “The antigravity vector exists naturally in all atoms, Miss Naydhu. At global atom-system level, and from the magnitude point of view, the sum of the gravity and antigravity vectors is zero. However, inside the atom the antigravity is great, while outside the gravity is preponderant. In other words, antigravity is consumed, most of it, inside the atom. That is a functional need, in order to obtain a greater gravity vector outside the atom, on one hand, and to maintain the entire structure of the atom, on the other.

     [. . .]
     In the old theories, it was said the electrons keep their distance to the nucleus due to centrifugal forces—”
     “Yes! That is exactly what I learned about the atom,” interrupted the Princess perplexed. She was well fascinated by Dar’Raen’s hard to believe explanations.
     Dar’Raen smiled kindly at her. He admired her a lot, because he had met Ladies before interested in the atomic theories, though none as charming as she was. He said, “Without the antigravity vector to oppose the terrible electrostatic attraction between the electron and the positive charge, and considering centrifugal forces only, in case of a mechanical collision the electrons would scatter away like beads, in all directions, or they could fall on the nucleus, except that never happens.
     Do not worry about these new theories, Miss Naydhu, because, as I said, you will receive all the data, and even way more. Now, please pay attention and do not be surprised because nothing bad is going to happen.” As he said the words, Dar’Raen raised his right arm up, with the palm horizontal and up. A sizable cylindrical metallic object appeared suddenly in the air, then it landed quickly on his palm.
     Despite his warning, the Princess slipped a little cry when she saw the object, therefore the Guards on duty rushed inside the room with weapons in hands ready to fire. The Princess assured the Guards that nothing bad happened, and she was perfectly fine. When they left, Shalle asked, “Could you, please, explain that object and its apparition from nowhere, Mr. Dar’Raen?”
     He said, “This is my flying travel bag, Miss Naydhu. It is a container equipped with two small anti-gravity generators, for movement and stability, and with . . . a few additional features. It follows me everywhere, since it is remotely controlled by my brain signals. You cannot see it, since it stays out of our space-matter-time coordinates, hidden into the First-Approximation, Energy Interface Two.
     This cylinder contains the information we intend to offer to the Great Obar Empire, and it is a model of an antigravity engine—among other things. It is totally harmless, Miss Naydhu.” He made the cylinder disappear, then he took a sip from his glass.
     The Princess felt like a student in front of her Physics teacher caught with her homework undone. She wanted him to detail his explanations, yet she was highly embarrassed by her lack of knowledge! She tasted her drink, then she asked timidly, “What is that First-Approximation, Energy Interface Two, Mr. Dar’Raen?”
     The Ambassador smiled kindly at her, then explained, “The Universe, Miss Naydhu, is a complex and coherent structure, though it is far more extent than what we see in our Atomic Universe. On Aggrea, we came with the First-Approximation theory which states that we can break down any structural point in the Universe into a minimum of three points, each on a separate and different coordinate systems.
     In order to understand the First-Approximation theory, picture this: if you peel the space-matter-time fabric of the Atomic Universe—we call this Interface One—you will find beneath another fabric made of many energy layers which form the Interface Two. Now, the Interface Two may be peeled in its turn, and beneath you will discover another fabric, the Interface Three, built out of energy gradients. Picture this, please: the energy gradients on Interface Three influence the energy values on Interface Two, which finally correspond to the matter distribution on the Interface One, in our space-matter-time reality.
     For us, things work this way: the Space-Disruptor Drive sends pulses around us which destroy the Interface One—the space-matter-time fabric of the Atomic Universe. Then, we generate an artificial Interface Three energy gradient, and that moves the ship on the energy fabric, the Interface Two, until we reach the energy coordinates of our destination point.
     This, Miss Naydhu, is the First-Approximation theory which defines three Interfaces but, of course, in Real Universe there may be an infinite number of Interfaces having impossible to imagine coordinates. The theory you know about the Space-Disruptor Drive is entirely different from our First Approximation, and the discovery of the Drive itself was more luck than science.
     If you remember, Miss Naydhu, the Space-Disruption theory cannot account for many unexplained phenomena, as is the fact that the Space-Disruptor Drive works less efficient inside the boundaries of a Planetary System, and far better in the open space, although not always. On Aggrea, based on the First-Approximation theory we have improved our Space-Disruption generators. As a result, we have more control, higher speeds, less energy consumption, and . . . Well, let’s say only, way more, for the time being.”
     “Mr. Dar’Raen, everything that you are telling to me is so fascinating and so totally new!” confessed the Princess while looking at him with eyes gleaming of admiration.
     The Ambassador watched the Obar Princess with delight for a few moments, then continued, “Unfortunately, Miss Naydhu, there is a problem with using the Energy Interface Two for transportation, as we do it right now. We are working towards developing other Approximation theories, far more advanced, and we are looking for other Interfaces to use, instead of energy.”
     Shalle asked intrigued, “What kind of a problem, Mr. Dar’Raen?”
     He appeared to be troubled by her question; he replied hesitantly, “Umm . . . well, we believe the Energy Interface Two is populated—”
     The Princess interrupted him surprised, “What! Are you serious?”
     “Yes, Miss Naydhu.”
     “What do you mean by ‘populated’?”
     He explained, “It appears there are energy-based intelligent entities living there.”
     Shalle asked with doubt, “Is that a new theory?”
    Dar’Raen replied in a serious tone, while watching her with sincere eyes, “No, Miss Naydhu, this one is not a theory. We have reached this conclusion based on evidences.”
     “Oh, how interesting! Does that affect us, Mr. Dar’Raen?” inquired the Princess.
     He answered in a troubled attitude, “You see, Miss Naydhu, err . . . the way we use the Space-Disruptor Drive on this ship, and on any other . . . may have harmful consequences for the entities living inside the Energy Layers of the Interface Two.”
     She watched him with frightened eyes for a few moments, then said, “Oh! That is so bad . . . How harmful?”
    Dar’Raen explained, “We do not know, Miss Naydhu. It could be simply harmful, or it could be devastatingly harmful—”
     She interrupted him in a shocked attitude, “Poor things! Mr. Dar’Raen, we have to stop this!”
     He smiled gently at her, then replied, “Yes, Miss Naydhu. This is one issue I intend to discuss with the Great Obar Emperor.”
     The Obar Princess watched him in silence for a while, appearing to be in doubt, then asked, “You said you have evidences; what kind of evidences?”
     Dar’Raen explained, “We have collected data showing that there is an intelligent activity on the Energy Layers of the Interface Two trying to avoid our passage through their realm. In fact, the cylinder you just saw detects the presence of intelligent activity on the Interface Two: it collects data, in order to help us plotting a map.”
     The Obar Princess asked confused, “There is something I do not understand, Mr. Dar’Raen. If we can access the Energy Layers of the Interface Two, could the beings living there come into our space-matter-time Atomic Universe?”
     He answered, “Yes, we believe it is possible, Miss Naydhu.”
     “That is a rather scary perspective, isn’t it?” asked the Princess beginning to feel uneasy.
     He tried to calm her, “This is just reality, and we have to live with it, Miss Naydhu. As a matter of fact, it is possible there are more Interfaces with other types of beings we cannot even imagine what they are, which are also capable of accessing our Atomic Interface. There is simply nothing we can do to stop them.”

     Shalle took some time to analyze his words. Everything she had heard was so new and so highly advanced scientifically, that she started feeling insignificant, compared to Mr. Dar’Raen’s intellect, although she was the Great Obar Princess and she had two scientific degrees! The Princess realized that, for quite some time, she was watching the Aggrea Ambassador shyly, with respect; on the other hand, she thought, he deserved it all!
     She asked, “You mentioned that you are developing other, more advanced Approximation theories. Could you, please, explain that to me?”
     The Ambassador replied, “Yes, Miss Naydhu. In the moment our suspicions—that there is an intelligent activity on the Energy Layers of Interface Two—have reached a certain level of confidence, we started looking for something convenient to replace the Energy Interfaces we are currently using for transportation. It has been posted as a Planet-wide challenge—”
     “Sorry to interrupt you, Mr. Dar’Raen, but I cannot imagine what could be more convenient than using the energy for transportation. This is so exciting!” confessed the Princess enthusiastically. She appeared to be well captivated by the subject.
     Dar’Raen smiled kindly at her, then continued his explanations, “After long discussions with stormy contra-arguments after arguments, we have reached a common conclusion. The least harmful solution for everybody, and the most efficient one, would be to use the Inertial Gradients of the Interface Four.”
     “Do those Inertial Gradients of the Interface Four actually exist, Mr. Dar’Raen?” asked the Princess with doubt.
     He replied, “As long as the Universe is full of inertial vectors, we do not see why not.”
     “But . . . how does it work?” asked the Princess appearing to be confused.
     Dar’Raen explained, “In principle, Miss Naydhu, there is a specific distribution of inertial vectors on any point in space, at any time, which is strictly dependant on the mass distribution and, implicitly, on the Energy Layers of the Interface Two. By performing very fast, multiple, mass to Interface Two energy transformations, we are able to transform the initial inertial system of vectors into energy.
     When we reform the mass, we relate to a shifted Interface Four system of coordinates, and we use the accumulated energy to create the new, transposed, inertial system of vectors. In turn, the new coordinates set by Inertial Gradients of the Interface Four correspond to new Interface Two energy values. This is the basic principle behind the ‘Transposed Inertial Vectors’ engine.”
     “I cannot figure that as a practical application for transportation, Mr. Dar’Raen, because those multiple matter to Interface Two energy transformations should have harmful effects for the carbon-based living organisms,” said Shalle.
     Dar’Raen nodded his admiration and acknowledgement at her, then replied, “You are correct, Miss Naydhu, and I want to apologize for being so cryptic. In practical application, only a part of the mass needs to be transformed into Interface Two energy, while the rest of the mass is shielded. This is a recuperative process dealing with changes related to the center of the mass and the inertial vectors associated, not with integral mass to Interface Two energy transformations. Overall, despite the fact that the Transposed Inertial Vectors engine works, in the end, in a mode similar to Space-Disruption, there are no harmful environmental consequences. We have performed many laboratory experiments, and the results are promising a lot.
     It should take some time to develop the Second-Approximation technology, but we hope it leads to a lot more efficient transportation, when compared to using the Energy Layers of the Interface Two directly.”
     “I cannot stop thinking of what you have said, about the entities living on the Interface Two being capable of visiting our Atomic Interface. It is frightening, and I am going to have nightmares about it,” complained the Princess with scared looks.
     Dar’Raen couldn’t help but to admire her wonderful irises which seemed to radiate a soft, live, golden light. He said, “Well, Miss Naydhu, there are many unexplained dangerous phenomena in our Atomic Universe, but we are scientists. It is our duty to keep our heads clear, and to dare studying our reality. You shouldn’t be frightened, Miss Naydhu, because accidental contacts with alien intelligence are not as dangerous as the accidents caused by the blind forces of nature.”
     “To what kind of natural accidents are you referring, Mr. Dar’Raen?” asked the Princess confused.
     He explained, “Well, sometimes, the space-matter-time fabric of the Interface One is destroyed, or ruptured, by extremely dangerous natural phenomena . . . I am certain you have heard about unexplained disappearances, in certain places, all over the Great Obar Empire. Those are minor accidents, but there could be even cataclysmic ones, at planetary level—”
     She interrupted him surprised, “Oh! Did those cataclysmic ones happen before?”
     He replied seriously, “Yes, Miss Naydhu; they did and they do. However, this is a disturbing topic, and I have no intention of frightening you any further. Let’s change the subject; please, ask me of something else.”
     “I am very curious: was there an alternative to the Interface Four?” asked the Princess.
     “That is an excellent question, Miss Naydhu,” replied Dar’Raen with satisfaction; he continued his explanations in a happy mood, “Yes, there was an alternative to the Second-Approximation, and I am certain you have guessed it: it is the Third-Approximation theory. The Third-Approximation has generated the hottest discussions in our science history, on Planet Aggrea. It deals with finding a replacement for the time coordinate from our space-matter-time Atomic Universe. Better said, not quite a replacement; I am referring to using the Temporal Gradients of the Interface Five instead.”
     “Oh, come on, Mr. Dar’Raen! Is it not possible to find an Interface of such Temporal Gradients,” said the Princess a bit annoyed.
     He replied amused, “Ha, ha! Everything is possible, Miss Naydhu. However, the problem is not if it exists, or even how to use it; the most important problem is: what are the consequences? You see, Miss Naydhu, using Temporal Gradients would allow us to develop time travel, and then our lives shall become, in fact, an absurdly confusing mess.
On the other hand, we have discovered that altering Temporal Gradients may lead to the irreversible corruption of the coordinate systems on all Interfaces, therefore it could result into a total destruction of the entire Universe. That is the reason the Third-Approximation was actually banned for study and research on Aggrea.”
     “Do not tell me that there is a Fourth-Approximation Theory, Mr. Dar’Raen—” started the Obar Princess, and she let her words unfinished, waiting for his reply. Shalle was overwhelmed with all those incredible, new and very advanced theories, and even a little scared they would never end!
     He replied smilingly, “Miss Naydhu, there are, most likely, an infinite number of Interfaces in our Real Universe. It wouldn’t make much sense to stop with only three Approximations, would it? However, all other Approximations are theories without immediate, practical applications.
     What is important now is that fact that we have reached, on Aggrea, the point in which we need the help of the Great Obar Empire, in order to broaden our research.”



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