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The Other Side of the Black Hole

by Win Lyovarin

Gorian Rain was born on Thorain, a planet in the Thorian stellar system. When he was ten, his father was killed by soldiers of the Davonian Constellation Federation for being the leader of the uprising to liberate Thorain after the planet had been mined for its ores by the Federation for more than a century. After his father’s death, his mother died of grief. Gorian Rain experienced a complete reversal from a gentle and peace-loving boy to one who was fond of arms and violence. He wanted to avenge the death of his father. From that time on no one ever set eyes on the boy Gorian Rain. It was rumored that he had been training for fighting at a guerrilla warfare academy in a secret valley of Dagon. After many years had elapsed, he emerged to fight against the Davonian Federation in the name of the “Thorain rebels.” He was a Staff Officer of the rebels in charge of planning sabotages on the planets of the Davonian Federation.

The Davonian Constellation Federation consisted of 87 member planets. It was named after Shane Davonia, the hero of the Virgo Cluster. The ratification of this constellation originated on Galabon 800 years ago, with an objective to establish peace among the stars. All through the ensuing 800 years there were very few wars among the stars due to the strength of the Federation.

The inhabitants of the many planets in the Davonian Federation needed to consume a huge amount of energy. It was necessary for them to seek energy sources from planets outside the Davonian group. Thorain was one of the planets being mined of its ores by the Davonian Federation to the point that its people suffered. Thorain was full of authorium, an element capable of creating a massive but not dangerous nuclear energy. The more than a century long looting of Thorain had led to a resistance at a widespread level known as the Thorain rebels.

In the 801st Davonian year, Gorian Rain led his men to blow up Galabon’s central arsenal. Galabon was a small planet under the rule of the Davonian Constellation Federation, a symbol of the Federation’s 800-year long power. The blowing-up of its arsenal was therefore a slap in the face on the part of the Federation. After that, wars between the Davonian Constellation Federation and the Thorain rebels had gone on for ten years.

I first heard of Gorian Rain when I was in active service on Maren. The Thorain rebels attacked and completely destroyed our base by plunging their war craft over from the Zee stellar system to reach Maren in a twinkling, a seemingly daring and very dangerous, but effective, strategy.

The Thorain rebels’ force conquered Maren within 30 hours. I was with one of the last units who barely managed to escape. I could not imagine how Gorian Rain had learned of our war strategy.

After the fall of Maren I reported to the Chief of Staff Officers to the Davonian Constellation Federation. My duty had changed. My new target was to hunt Gorian Rain down. It was a special operation employing only 20 men directly under the Chief of Staff Officers to the Davonian Federation.

He said to me, “Major Revi, if you accomplish this mission you will have a chance to gain a high position in the army and “rise up.”

Of course, everyone wanted to rise to a high position in the Davonian Federation! But the battle at Maren told me that I would not get there easily. Hunting Gorian Rain down, whether dead or alive, was quite far from the word “easy.”

***

I lay down in a warm and cozy armchair on the Excalibur 77 commercial spacecraft from Galabon to Mara, 13 light years away. I took this trip following the latest information from our agents that Gorian Rain was a passenger on the craft. However, no matter how efficient the Davonian Federation intelligence unit was, there was no information on his latest countenance. We only knew that he was 30 years of age and had gone through at least 15 transformational operations, including some DNA changes and two bodily stretching and shrinking procedures. Among the 500 passengers from planets in the multifarious stellar systems, worlds, and languages, it was difficult for us to pinpoint which of the passengers on Excalibur 77 was Gorian Rain.

I tried to read his mind. If I were Gorian Rain what would I do after defeating Maren? I could not figure out what malicious plan he had in mind when he was hanging around Galabon.

Gorian Rain, the rebels’ Staff Officer and Planner, was an expert in Gora, a tricky 3-dimensional board game adapted from several types of ancient chess by the Emvarians. He would certainly not allow us to catch him easily. That he had been at large this long was due to his prudence and the anticipation that made him always one step ahead of us.

My past was not much different from Gorian Rain’s. I was, like him, an orphan since childhood. My parents died on Rawain during the Gorian rebels’ attack. That was the reason why the Federation had selected me for this mission. They knew that my personal hatred for the rebels would make me deal with them more resolutely. But I had to admit that he was a befitting opponent to fight against.

A beautiful space hostess handed me a drink. I raised my right hand to accept the glass and thanked her. The passenger sitting beside me stared briefly at my right wrist.

There was a ring around my right wrist like I was wearing a bangle. It was a scar from my fighting on Maren. My right wrist was severed into two parts by shrapnel. Luckily they were joined back in time.

The space hostess accidentally spilled the liquor on me. She said, “Pardon me sir. I’d better take you to put on a new shirt.”

I followed her to another room at the back of the craft. I whispered to her.

“Have you seen anyone looking suspicious?”

She shook her head. “Major Revi, I’ve searched everywhere but found no one.”

“Don’t mention my name.”

“Sorry, sir”

We had placed 17 of our people on this craft. She was one of them.

I handed her a small glass bottle.

“Put this perfume on and walk around the craft one more time.”

“Perfume?”

“A perfume distilled from the rethos flower from Thorain, Gorian’s birthplace. It has been diluted to only 5 %. Most people would certainly not be able to smell it but Gorian would.”

From the study of Gorian Rain’s background, the people of Thorain possossed a gene that made their sense of smell keener than those of people from other planets. And rethos grew only on Thorain. Gorian, being born there, was thus familiar with its smell. Accordingly, anyone among the passengers who reacted against her body smell was probably Gorian Rain.

She sprinkled the perfume on her and walked away while I returned to my seat. The camera embedded in her cap took pictures from all angles, relaying them directly to my Polaroid glasses and then magnifying them into 3-dimensional pictures showing real time. They were as clear as if I was walking along with her. I studied the pictures from the glasses carefully.

Fifteen minutes passed. When she walked past a big guy wearing a gray suit, I saw him sniff and turn briefly to look at her and then lowered his head again. But that brief glance was enough to let me know that he was the man we were after.

I rose from my seat and relayed orders to my subordinates at several spots on the craft. We would deal with him immediately before he became aware.

My reinforcement and I reached the seat of our target, but Gorian Rain had disappeared.

***

The space hostess ran towards me with an agitated face, spluttering, “The pilots…”

“What happened?”

Panting, she said. “Gorian Rain burst into the pilots’ cockpit while I was serving meal to the captain. He killed all the pilots…”

Gorian Rain had taken over the spacecraft! His nose was not only sensitive to the smell of the rethos flower but he could also sense our presence immediately. I knew that if too much pressure was put on him he might choose to destroy the craft.

My brain was working very hard.

“This craft has been designed to deal with hijackers and saboteurs, with an emergency passage to enter the cockpit…”

She regained her composure and led me to a small elevator shaft near the lavatory.

“The upper level is a room for storing provisions. Pipe number 7 is connected to the one in the pilots’ cockpit…”

I crept along the pipe with a wide enough diameter to allow me to pass through. The following minute I lowered myself into the cockpit.

Gorian Rain swerved to face me, with the weapon in his hand pointing at me. In that fraction of a second he hesitated for a moment when he saw me. I shot at him in the chest and he fell down, his blood splashing on my shirt. Gorain Rain dragged himself to the control panel and pressed a button. I shot at him again. He lay motionless on the floor, gasping like a fish being thrown out of water.

I mumbled, “Die, rebel, die.”

He chuckled.

“What are you laughing at?”

The Thorain rebel was fatally wounded. I looked at the flight monitor. A humming noise sounded in quick succession. I suddenly knew that the Excalibur 77 was accelerating its speed to the step of plunging. My heart sank when I saw the point of destination. Gorian Rain intended to destroy this craft by plunging it into the Marova black hole, 52 light years from this spot.

Marova in the Galabon language meant “not returning home,” showing clearly that the journey we were heading towards the black hole was one from which we would never return.

I reset the button but it was too late. I fell to the floor but forced myself to rise and sit in the pilot’s seat. The craft accelerated and I slumped into the seat. The pressure was so intense like my body was being crushed by a mountain. I felt as if I had melted and become fused as a part of the seat. Around me the blurry bands of colors were the lines of the running force as if running into the rainbow. The craft had started to plunge. The immense yanking force was like the body was being stretched by a stretcher. Around me was a vague blurriness. Time seemed to stand still. However, I still heard Gorian Rain’s laugh of satisfaction. In the whole control room only Gorian Rain and I were still alive.

The craft stopped short and slowed down to normal speed, showing that the Excalibur 77 had got out of the plunging stage, but only for a moment. For in front of us there was a pitch black area with not a single star to be seen. I knew instantly that we were on the edge of the Event Horizon, the area around the Black Hole. We were slipping into the center of the Marova Black Hole from which no force could pull us back.

In the wink of an eye, the enormous force I had never experienced in my life jerked us ahead. All around was complete darkness. I had never seen such complete darkness before. I knew that no light could exist in this area but I did not realize that it could be this dark. My mind started to be unclear. I felt as if my body was shrinking. In the pitch darkness time seemed to freeze. I felt that my body became smaller until it turned into an atom and then shrinking further on into a particle, but I was still conscious that I was the same man as before.

A hundred years ago, a scientist of the Davonian Constellation Federation succeeded in designing the stretch-resistant device in a singularity state. This, theoretically, would enable man to enter the Black Hole safely. From then on every craft had been equipped with this device for protection in an emergency. If a craft plunged into the Black Hole area it might come out without disintegrating first. However, there had been no official test on its effectiveness since all the craft had a system that automatically barred the entry into a black hole.

At this moment, the whole craft had been compressed into a particle, but I was still aware of the changes around me. Slowly, I became aware that my body was giving birth to a new entity.

I did not realize that entering the Black Hole was a journey back in time to be reborn, but as what?

***

I did not know when the humming noise around me had subsided. I looked around and found that I had come out of the Black Hole. I was aware that now the size of my body was that of a baby’s. I was a baby being embraced and suckled by a woman.

There was a compassionate look in her eyes. I knew immediately that she was my mother in this new world. Our hearts bonded completely. I drank milk from my mother’s breasts reassuringly.

Then my body gradually grew. I was a child romping in the fields of a planet. I knew not which world or planet it was, but not my old world. Here the sky was always orange. My house was in the middle of the field at the edge of a lake. I did not know whether this was really a rebirth after my death or a dream. Or was it a hallucination caused by going through the Black Hole? But I could clearly experience my existence. It was a fact!

I learned the language of this planet. I studied books and subjects, growing up into a teenager and a young man respectively. My parents taught me to be good, a worthy member of society. My father was highly educated, knowing almost everything that went on in this galaxy. My mother had warned him that his knowledge would bring danger to us.

It was like my mother had said. One day she told me in tears that father would never come back. He was murdered on the way to the capital city as leader of the resistance movement. Not long after that my mother passed away. Before she died she said to me. “I am sorry. Take good care of yourself and be brave just like your father.”

After my parents’ deaths, a friend of father’s had me enrolled at a military academy. Around me there were people from children to youths. We studied all types of war strategies, history, politics, society, and economy of the galaxy. This academy trained people to be leaders of society.

In my class there was only one girl. Her name was Navia and she came from Emvarian, one of the planets occupied by the empire. The Emvarians were headstrong and resisted the invasion of the empire to snatch away their resources. In the end the entire planet of Emvarian was destroyed. The girl Navia was one of the last groups of Emvarians that managed to escape just in time.

One day I saw Navia playing Gora by herself. She was able to see all the moves thoroughly. Navia could look at everything at several perspectives. She possessed an excellent memory.

From that time on I always played Gora with Navia.

I was never surprised why the school accepted Navia as a student. What surprised me was why a girl like her would want to be a soldier. Maybe she was like me, coming from a world destroyed by the empire, and wanting to change our world for the better.

Ten years passed and I grew into a tall and strong young man while Navia became a beautiful but serious young lady. Our topic of conversation had changed to that of inter-planet politics. She told me about how unjustly the empire had dealt with the planets outside the system.

“The empire is only an assembly for the sake of interest, not for the sake of peaceful cause like they have said. What is evident is there are many planets situated in the territory of the empire but they are not included in the system. The reason is they want to exploit resources from those small and powerless planets. They always cite the pretext of legitimacy for their invasions.”

I told Navia. “Our way to solve the problem is through liberation war. The small planets that have fallen victims to the empire must join together and fight.” She only smiled but did not answer.

We finally fell in love. One day I had the name Navia tattooed on my chest. She said that she loved me too but we had to part temporarily since both of us had a great task to perform for our native planets.

After graduation Navia settled down on Galabon. I was strongly disappointed when I learned that she was working with the empire. One day I went to see her there and demanded an answer why she had betrayed her cause.

Navia told me that I had no way to win over the empire by using force. The only way to topple the empire was to destroy it from within by becoming a part of it, infiltrating upward and undermining the empire slowly.

My unwitting interference caused her plan to fail. Two days after my visit Navia died in an accident. I knew well that she was murdered because the empire force had recognized me.

My heart broke. I had lost this battle even before it began.

I used to doubt why I bothered to fight against the empire. No matter what, I would never win. But the resentment that my parents and the girl I loved had died at the hands of the empire made me unwilling to accept the fate dictated by the empire. I would make them sample the taste of defeat.

After Navia’s death I wandered around the stellar systems, searching for a way to win by acquiring allies to destroy the empire. There were 27 planets being exploited by the empire but they were afraid to oppose it. I had to show them that the overthrowing of the empire was not something that could not be done. They had no legitimacy in exploiting our resources. I began by destroying the symbols of the empire. I cooperated with a group of soldiers to blow up the arsenal on Galabon as a slap in their face…

Blowing up the arsenal on Galabon? Wasn’t this the life of Gorian Rain? Why did I feel that I was him?

Then I woke up with a start. I opened my eyes and looked around. I was seated in a spacecraft. The interior of the craft was very familiar to me. I pondered and looked at the control panel before me. I was traveling in a commercial craft from Galabon to Mara, 13 light years away. This craft was the Excalibur 77. I had woken from my dream after entering the Black Hole.

This was a nightmare! Rebirth, the military academy, Navia…Luckily all these were only dreams…

It was normal that man usually dreamt about what had happened in combination with his imagination, turning them into strange dreams. I had combined the true stories I knew with the ones my brains had imagined. It might have been the result of my nerves having been pressed during the journey across the Black Hole.

The Black Hole! I did survive the Black Hole. The spacecraft was still intact but something seemed to be amiss. I remembered that before entering the Black Hole I was in the pilots’ cockpit, not in a passenger seat as it was.

A whiff of perfume floated to my nostrils. I turned to look at the source of the perfume. It was coming from a space hostess. I inhaled the scent and recognized that it was the smell of the rethos flower from Thorain, my native planet.

I became startled. My native planet! Why did I think that Thorain was my native planet? What mattered was why I smelled the rethos perfume? Only the Thorians had a gene that enabled them to detect this scent better than people from other planets.

I went into the lavatory and looked at myself in the mirror. My face looked different from the face I had been accustomed to all my life. It was the face of Gorian Rain! I startled. This was no dream. This was truth. Emerging from the Black Hole I became Gorian Rain!

I knew now why Gorian Rain had known the strategies of the Davonian Constellation Federation so well that he was able to completely destroy Maren. He “used to be” one of the Federation’s men—me!

There was a gun in my hand. I just noticed that I was holding it in my left hand.

How could this be? Before entering the Black Hole I was right-handed. Now I was left-handed. I raised my left hand to see it and became startled. A scar in the shape of a ring around the left wrist. I looked at my right hand. There was no scar whatsoever. How could I have changed? Or was this the result of the journey through the Black Hole?

I pinched myself and felt the pain. This was truth! It was not a nightmare. It was the other side of truth. The other side of the Black Hole might open a door to another universe.

Rebirth, the military academy, Navia…All of these were true!

I left the lavatory and returned to my seat. My senses told me that danger was near. Someone was after me. I rose from my seat and walked to the back to hide. I saw three men tiptoeing towards me. The door to the pilots’ cockpit opened. A space hostess was taking some food to the pilots. I pushed the door open, bursting into the cockpit and shooting all the four pilots dead. The space hostess rushed out of the room before I could deal with her. I locked the door and went straight to the control panel to change the course of the spacecraft.

About ten minutes later, I heard a sound from behind me. Turning around abruptly, I saw someone emerging from the pipe. I raised my weapon and aimed at him, then stopped short. That someone was Major Revi!

At the second I hesitated, Major Revi shot at me first. Falling down, I restrained my pain and crept to the control monitor. I set the craft to plunge to the Marova Black Hole, 52 light years away from this point. I wanted everything back. If the journey across the Black Hole could turn me from a Federation soldier into a rebel, it certainly could change me back to my former state. I needed my old life back. I did not want to be the rebel Gorian Rain. I had to return to the old world through the Black Hole once more.

The craft started to hum. I knew that it was going to plunge again.

Major Revi shot me one more time. “Die, rebel, die.”

At that minute I chuckled. I was him and he was me, or I used to be him!

“What are you laughing at?”

The craft plunged into the Black Hole once again…

I was pressed against the wall. The pressure was so intense as if my body had been crushed by a gigantic force. All around was complete darkness. My mind started to be unclear. I felt as if my body was shrinking. In the pitch darkness time seemed to freeze. I felt that my body became smaller until it turned into an atom, but I was conscious that I was still alive.

It was strange that in that fraction of time I was not afraid. I knew that I would be reborn. The universe consisted of two adjoining sides. I went out of a universe and emerged at another universe, turning my life backward.

The Excalibur 77 lunged forcefully forward, heading toward the center of the Black Hole. But some kind of feeling told me that I would survive.

The old future was waiting for me…

Darkness gradually became brightness.

I experienced my changes once again. I was reborn again, growing from a boy to a young man and a soldier. I studied military subjects and gradually rose up to become Major Revi.

I regained my consciousness. At the moment I was standing on the Excalibur 77 in the pilots’ cockpit. On the floor were the dead bodies of all the pilots and Gorian Rain.

I gazed at Gorian Rain’s body for a long time. My job was over. The principal leader of the Thorain rebels was dead. The remaining force had no power to fight against the Federation.

I looked at the blood stains on my shirt. Gorian Rain’s blood.

I headed for the lavatory and looked at my face in the mirror. The face I saw was Major Revi’s.

I raised my right wrist and looked at it. The ring-shaped scar was there. I smiled. I had become the old Major Revi.

I knew that Gorian Rain’s death had opened a way for me to get to higher positions. After this I would rise higher and higher.

I changed my shirt. At this minute I thought of Navia. She used to tell me that I had no way to win over the empire by using force…Why did I suddenly think of Navia?

I stopped short and took off my shirt. The name Navia was tattooed in the middle of my chest!

***

I went to see the Chief of Staff Officers to report the death of Gorian Rain.

He patted my shoulder in satisfaction. I knew that the door leading upward in the Davonian Federation had been opened for me.

I smiled. What Navia had said was true. The only way to topple the empire was to destroy it from within by becoming a part of it, infiltrating upward and undermining the empire slowly.

Translated by Malithat Promathatavedi

Copyright © 2011 by Win Lyovarin

Win Lyovarin is a Thai writer well known in his country for experimental writing, such as combining graphic design and visual art into conventional writing. Born in 1956, he has worked as architect, graphic designer, creative director, copywriter and writer. He won several literature awards in Thailand and Southeast Asia. An avid reader of science fiction himself, Win writes science fiction to get young Thais more interested in science

 

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