Infinity Afterglow / Episode 13: Metaversal Shadow

A brilliant scientist is visited by a metaversal shadow

an epic space opera by mark laporta

A warning from a metaversal shadow goes unheeded, to the detriment of sentient life across the Cosmos. Mark Laporta’s Against the Glare of Darkness novels have been widely acclaimed across traditional and alternative media, and now he brings us a new entry in this expansive sci-fi universe. Read this new serialized space opera from the beginning,

Given the Olfdranyi’s volatile nature, she might not have taken an interest in the Kadervax, without its aura of mystery and intrigue. Yet if she’d known the truth about the incident that led to its confiscation and concealment, she might have been even more determined to kill for it.

In fact, the official story of the Kadervax was at odds with reality. A thousand years before Eldrinaj arrived on Zyffer 3, a meeting took place that might have altered the course of history — if it weren’t for the stubborn refusal of another volatile mind to listen to reason. The mind in question? Alkader Vaxioleth, at the height of her brilliant, yet tragically short scientific career. At age 26, she was about to test a frame-shift device that reason dictated should have been the most astounding technological breakthrough since the perfection of the space folding engine.

And yet, as any student of history knows, reason has almost nothing at all to do with the way events unfold. On the morning of the scheduled final test run, she received a visit from a curious wraith-like stranger, wearing a hooded cloak in several shades of gray — like a metaversal shadow.

“Doctor Vaxioleth,” he said. “You must not test this device. The time is not aligned.”

“Who the … you’re an Ootray, aren’t you?” asked Alkader. “Didn’t know any of you stayed behind.”

“Some of us did,” said the visitor. “But not the ones you know of. I am Kolenthantrur, a representative of the original branch of Ootray culture.”

“Not sure what that means,” said Alkader. “But you’d better have a much better reason than that if you expect me to interrupt my work. Do you know how much time and how many credits have been invested in this project? Not go ahead with routine testing because of ‘alignment’? The Skryntali moved past all that Ootray superstition centuries ago.”

“I promise you,” said Kolenthantrur, “that I am not the victim of superstition. I can also promise to reimburse you both for your temporal and financial losses if you will listen to reason.”

Reason?” said the Skryntali. “You have to be kidding. The phrase ‘the time is not aligned’ doesn’t qualify as reason.”

“I can explain,” said the Ootray. “At the moment, the curve of Probability bends toward a deeply destructive period in cosmic history, starting at this point forward. Ceasing your experiments would deflect that curve by a thousand cycles — until a more propitious era arose for the introduction of your frame-shift device.”

“How do … how do you even know about my work?” asked Alkader. “You must be an Alcastrian spy. I’m impressed. I didn’t think their genome remapping tech had improved so much. You look like the real thing. Too bad, I’m not fooled. It must have taken you months of cryo-time to get here.”

“Please,” said Kolenthantrur, “let me explain further.”

Alkader folded her arms across her chest.

“Listen to me, Mr. whatever-your-name-is, I’m not an idiot,” she said. “You think I could have discovered the principles of frame-shifting if I didn’t know a thing or two about Probability? Probability isn’t something you can turn, like a replicator dial, to get more “sugar” in your Future. I don’t care what your ancient texts say. We’ve moved on from religion. I suggest you do the same.”

“You are mistaken.” said Kolenthantrur. “But there is still a chance to save yourself the scathing humiliation you are about to incur. An official of your own government will arrive here in a few minutes with final calculations from your central bureau of computation. Do yourself a favor and refuse to implement that data. Pack up your laboratory and travel as far away from this place as you can. I will ensure that the device is kept safe until the appropriate time.”

“You know what?” said Alkader. “Get out, and take your crank talk with you. How the exploding neutron star did you even get in here?”

Alkader’s astonished eyes watched as Kolenthantrur vanished.

Idiot, she scolded herself, Fooled by a holojection. A moment later, Dremakar Baskiodresh arrived from the Skryntali Science Center on Zyffer 3. The series of data cubes she handed to the brilliant physicist doomed her to a lifetime of opprobrium and obscurity. Within an hour of firing up the first fully functioning frame-shift device to be produced in millennia, a parsec-diameter spatiotemporal anomaly appeared, only a few light years from her lab — caused in part by a massive, uncontrolled burst of gravitational wave forms.


A new episode will appear next Saturday, and each Saturday until the story is done. Read Episode 14 now..

Read Ungent Draaf’s earlier adventures in Mark Laporta’s novels Probability Shadow and Entropy Refraction, which are available at a bookstore near you, on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. Mark Laporta is also the author of Orbitals: Journeys to Future Worlds, a collection of short science fiction, which is available as an ebook.

Image by Kalyee Srithnam.

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