After a strenuous mission, his special spaceship having come back damaged and nearly out of nuclear 'fuel', Sunstream was bathing coolly with Brill, when he was suddenly convoked, mentally, by Timmain.
There would be time and reason for tenderness soon enough, even Brill acknowledged that.. and Sunstream put his clothes on and went down to the inverted dome, under the Palace's crystalline structure.
Along his way, he met Nêvem.
Sunstream felt that the Palace's attention was strongly focussed on the android, ready to intervene like never before...
Nêvem still wore its tools at his belt.
" So... You were called along as well, my friend... "
" And insistently and urgently so. I barely had the time to replenish the first four pebbles of Cf. I could not stop for fear of triggering some explosion ; you know how unstable this particular isotope is... "
When they arrived, what shocked them both was the silence.
Usually, the accelerators and equipments, down there, produced a somehow constant and huge, multiple buzzing that filled the air and sometimes even shook their bodies, but here, everything was so silent that they heard the breathing of the elves waiting for them, even before seeing them.
This worried the elf, while Nêvem almost smiled and muttered : "Finally..."
Timmain, the Stargazer and the spirit of Haken were waiting for them.
Timmain spoke first :
" Since YOU, Sunstream were the one to launch this particular research, YOU have to decide. "
The Stargazer was more excited than ever and he even interrupted the High One :
" WE HAVE FOUND HOW ! We know how to travel between galaxies !... "
Sunstream noticed - no: FELT how the Palace was ready to utterly SHATTER Nêvem in an instant.
Yet, the android was behaving normally.
" No... ", Suntream thought : " It is... it seems far cooler, now ! It did expect this to happen. "
Once the Stargazer started to explain, he would not stop :
" You DO remember the sixth hypothesis of the Gyaan culture, about a hidden force, don't you, Sunstream ?! The one even YOU told us to STILL consider as plausible !... "
" Yes, I do remember it... "
" It hid something even more incredibly surprising ! We've finally understood, after a series of experiments with the circular accelerator for rays and ions. "
" One of those destined for defense !? "
Sunstream was deeply astonished : HOW could such an equipment almost only designed to damage attacking spaceships.. have revealed anything that fundamental ?!
The Stargazer explained.
Meanwhile, Sunstream noticed how Haken's spirit was slowly coming behind Nêvem...
" I tried, with the troll engineer - no : physics scientist, er.. Jodd, to create a swirling beam. "
The troll was barely visible, working at the other end of the dome.
" Then two swirling beams, Then one swirling around one straight, and THERE... we obtained STRANGE results. "
The Stargazer showed to Sunstream a lit control console that displayed the experiments results.
Sunstream was suddenly shocked by those results : there seemed to be a sudden, totally unexplainable loss of energy between the beams, AND far less thermic release than what the experiment should have caused, inside the structure !
And the next results, all along the various experiments that followed, displayed even stranger results.
Sunstream turned to Nêvem and sternly asked it :
" Do you spot any procedural mistake, in all of this ? "
The android checked, thouroughly, somehow interested, and it eventually had to invalidate that hypothesis. No mistake at all.
What shocked Sunstream was... the absence of sarcasm in Nêvem's remarks, at this point.
As if he already knew WHY and the conclusion it all led to... while Sunstream had to admit to himself that even his aroused curiosity and imagination, NOW at their top, threatening to turn him crazy ( had he not adapted his own brains for such a tremendous mental activity, that is ) ...
still offered him NO clue !
The Stargazer stared at Sunstream, grinning slowly as he guessed that EVEN Sunstream was not guessing.
And he exclaimed : " The VOID !... "
Sunstream understood it was a hint of some sort, but even his accelerated train of thoughts could not make anything out of that remark !
Delighted in exposing his discovery, the Stargazer went on :
" It predictably and slowly creates an extreme material void, in the intermediate helicoidal volume between the beams, but this void ALSO gets progressively devoid of ENERGY ! So... I reminded the sixth hypothesis, and I changed the settings. LOOK : "
He pointed to Sunstream another experiment, more complex, with resonance intervening and creating a sort of "tube" of void.
The energy levels were getting extremely low, as the detectors confirmed, all along, inside that tube. Even... At one point : ZERO !
Sunstream confessed he still could not figure what discovery it could lead to.
And the Stragazer joyfully laughed and completed with :
" And here, I tried and ACCELERATE a projectile INSIDE that tube. It had to be miniscule, of course, but... It WORKED ! "
The Stargazer stopped short Sunstream's coming objections and questions, by displaying a series of measurements :
" And the projectile did accelerate... WITHOUT LIMIT !... "
Sunstream wouldn't believe his eyes.
Nêvem checked and checked the measurements, and even that android expressed some SURPRISE, and it said, incredulous :
" Fifteen times c !?... "
The Stargazer proudly nodded, and he added :
" I stopped there, and I REVERTED the process... Guess what ? Back at zero speed, the projectile was TO-TAL-LY... IN-TACT ! "
There was an intense silence, now.
Sunstream had understood, and hope was getting him to smiling.
This system could obviouly be turned into a sort of travelling tunnel between galaxies.
" Of course, I then tested with organics. Same results. Then with a proto-nexus, but there... "
Sunstream noticed both Skywise's change of tone AND the results.
It was like a shock, like a punch to his chest.
Back at zero speed, the proto-nexus had LOST every connection with the energy network : life survived, but NOT 'magic'.
But Sunstream's imagination had been awakened, and he had already found an unexpected solution.
Yet, he HAD to check some things, first :
" Wait-wait-wait... What about the sixth hypothesis, then...? "
Timmain answered : " I confirmed it : the void CAN become a HYPER-void, which existence DOES explain the oddities in the evolution of stellar objects, according to the convergent model YOU established, Sunstream. But it DOES cut contact with the resonance. The Gyaan took that for the effects of a hidden force, but no... "
" So... FAR less unexplainable novae and super-novae, hmmmmm ?... "
But the Stargazer sadly replied : " Yes, Sunstream, but still a little more than the normal rate. The Mind-Flayers, no doubt. "
Only at this point did Sunstream realize that Haken's spirit literally had a HAND inside Nêvem's torso.
But the android was still checking and checking and checking again some results, obviously totally busy at that, the screens running before its eyes at extreme speed.
Sunstream understood what was happening, and he estimated it was time to calm everyone down.
Timmain still feared the android would try and kill Sunstream, but there was no more point.
However, it WAS time for exposing his solution, his PROPOSAL :
" I see how the system may be turned into a wide enough tunnel of hyper-void between two stations, even amply wide enough for us to travel through, beyond the light celerity in material void... "
Sunstream looked at everyone. Nêvem had stopped whecking and was looking at him, almost strangely amazed.. and interested !
" ... But I ALSO see a solution based on having that two-stations-and-a-tunnel system POPPED by magic through the intergalactic void. It's based on interferences AND the resonance principle. There DOES exist a hidden force, Timmain : the one that GATHERS void bubbles together. The mistake is about... GRA-VI-TY ! THAT 'force' is BUT the effect of VOID upon matter, NOT matter upon matter ! "
Then he pondered and rectified :
" No... No-no-no... There exists only ONE global, universal force... VOID UPON VOID ! It explains ALL cases. "
Timmain and the Stargazer were shocked by the realization, and they turned towards Nêvem.
Even the android was astonished, opening its mouth multiple times, about to object, but it could think FAR faster than humanoids.
The android and the Stargazer envisioned what Sunstream had guessed, and they could NOT invalidate that extreme hypothesis, from what they knew !
Of course they had to CHECK, first, and so they did, for loooong minutes, on various consoles, and Nêvem finally stopped, SMILING, and this millions years old android concluded with :
" Correct. Right...
I have a counter-offer to propose. "
It showed a console, where strange plans were being drawn and elaborated, while it was speaking :
" The galaxy I came from is two millions light-years away from this one, and the travel INITIALLY took us nearly forty millions years to reach this galaxy, millions years ago, as you may expect. BUT one of our exiling spaceships, slower, had established such a travelling tunnel of hyper-void between the two galaxies, and it DID arrive, and it allowed us, only quite recently, to travel back to Vinea, our home planet... in only TWO MONTHS ! And it travelled back to Earth's system. Safely. We had fled our stellar system, our galaxy, for fear of a super-nova, the two suns of our system seemed to head straight into that configuration. Yet it did NOT happen, and our home planet even survived ! So we ARE, currently, coming back to it, leaving the Earth where we had been hiding from humans, under the surface. "
The surprise and shock were the elves' lot, now. But the android had not finished, yet :
" But what you just discovered allowed me to design a better, SAFER travelling system, PROVIDED 'MAGIC' INTERVENES, that asks for only... a few DAYS ! "
A long silence ensued.
Nêvem calmly, VERY dignly, and without any trace of sarcasm, this time, said :
" I offer myself as a negociating intermediate between you and the ones who created me, in order for both our forces to benefit from this discovery... necessarily IN COMMON. "
Sunstream nodded. Timmain nodded.
Even Haken showed himself and that spirit BOWED before the android !
While he had been ready to brutally shut down the android's main batteries, some moments before !...
The proposal was shared, through the Palace, to all elves and elf spirits aboard.
And it was approved.
The meeting ground with the Vineans would be a hidden space station, near Jupiter, a gas giant of the Earth's stellar system.