"A little lower Matt... Lower still... Ah, that's right, right down to my tailbone. Perfecto! Don't stop until I say stop, and I might not say stop for a long while..."
Matt and Kathy were lying in bed in their tesseract, a thousand miles below the lunar surface. It was bedtime after a very busy Friday, six weeks after their return to Earth. Kathy had taken off her bathrobe after her shower, and was lying sprawled out and relaxed, getting a much-needed backrub. Matt was massaging the base of her spine with one hand, and gently caressing her buttocks and the backs of her thighs with the other.
"You were so cute, Kathy, flying through the air like that! You should have seen the expression on your face! My compliments for not jumping to avoid hitting the mat. Having the entire dojo see you teleport would have created quite a scene..."
"Laugh it up, big boy! Sensei Tabata is going to kick our butts Monday night, when he gets back from Japan. Having us learn both karate and tai-kwon-do were reasonable ideas, even the grueling schedule of six 3-hour workouts a week was okay. But your challenge to Tabata was insane! We may have Olympic bodies, but we're no match yet even for his top students. He is absolutely going to kick both our butts. And don't think us having our wedding five days later will make any difference, not with that guy!"
"It wasn't insane, dearest. Tabata really is thrilled to have us as students. He told me he first guessed we were professional dancers; we both have such great balance and reflexes. But it has been more than a month now since Portugal got its ultimatum from Eternal Jihad. We need the accelerated training, and the challenge was the only way I could get Tabata to do it. Besides, I have a secret weapon that just might let us hold our own against our sensei's tender mercies..."
"Matt! We absolutely cannot do teleport-fighting in the dojo! I know we've been practicing it in the Gym, and we both know how deadly effective it is, but"
"No no, that's not what I mean! I've been doing a lot of research on the mezzanine. I've learned quite a bit. I have a lot to tell you."
On their first day in the tesseract, Matt and Kathy had both noted with interest that the Manufacturing room was the only cube out of the eight with an internal second level. "Yes... I've noticed you've been spending a lot of time on the mezzanine's northwest corner. But Matt! As far as I can tell, that second level, particularly the northwest corner, is the operational control center of the tesseract. I've been reluctant to explore it..."
"You have to ask!? What if I accidentally took the air temperature up to stellar levels, or down to absolute zero? What if I changed the atmosphere to 100% chlorine, or bathed everything with neutron radiation? What if I flipped a switch and increased gravity by a million times? I'd be a thin puddle on the floor in microseconds, dead before I'd got a chance to correct my mistake... You're a braver man than I am, Gunga Dinn..."
"Well, that's the key point right there! You're not a man at all. Ah, you women are all alike! Do you know what your problem is? You talk a good line, but when you get right down to it..." Holding Kathy down on the base of her spine, Matt's other hand came up from Kathy's inner thighs, and he started caressing her vulva. "The bottom line is, you have no balls..."
"Matt!!! I... Ah... Oh, Matt..." All conversation ceased for the next hour...
Matt sighed in contentment. He was lying on his back, and Kathy was curled up by his side. Her hand was resting on his breast, and the warmth of her body felt delightful. Kathy leaned over and kissed his cheek. "You masher!" she whispered affectionately. "You have just molested the uncommon woman. I guess that makes you the uncommon masher!"
"Oh! The Uncommon Woman. It's a phrase used to describe women from Mount Holyoke College. Mary Lyons' phrase, I think. She founded the college in 1831 as a school for girls, as a seminary at first. The word uncommon had a slightly different meaning back then..."
"The uncommon masher... I like it! A title to strike fear into the heart of Sensei Tabata when we spar in three days..."
"So what's your big secret, oh great one? Oh you with the functioning testes..."
"Ah, that does feel exquisite... But I won't be able to think enough to talk... if you keep moving... ah... your fingers around... inside... my scrotum... like that... Ah..."
A half hour later, Kathy had finished her scrotal explorations, and was caressing the skin surface of the sac with a feather-light touch, quietly listening to Matt's deep breathing. She whispered "Asleep?"
Matt opened his eyes. "No, just drifting... Oh Katherine, I love you so much! So much of what I am is you. Thank you for becoming my wife. As the creature would say, great gratitude and appreciation!"
"I love you back, Matthew. With all that I am... Shirley picked up on it within a week of my working for you. She really is empathic, well deserving of her reputation for correctly predicting who will go out with whom. She sat down for lunch with me over a month ago, as confessed that you and I had totally destroyed her predictive methods. She said all her indicators were telling her we were already married, and she knew we had just met a few days previously. She's very insightful... I'm glad she's coming to our wedding. She really has turned into a good friend... Being married officially will be so nice! I really like our new church, and I've got a burning desire to express how much I love you in front of all of our new friends... Ah, I guess I'm drifting too. But I want to know! What's your secret weapon against our sensei?"
"Well, you're quite correct about the mezzanine's northwest corner. It really is the operational control center. There's a great user interface there for someone like me who doesn't know what he's doing. The creature was so thoughtful. Remember how we both noticed our first night here that, contrary to my warning, the showers will not let you turn the water to boiling hot? This whole tesseract is filled with safety interlocks. If I wanted to increase gravity here by even 10%, I'd have to present my case to the operations sequencer. And it might well reject my request if it didn't have enough merit. It's not sentient, not a creature. Just one hell of an interactive computer program. Adaptive logical reasoning far beyond anything I've ever imagined..."
"And you've kept this a secret for six weeks!? You fiend! Now I want to play there too!"
"Awake enough to want to play now?"
"Yep! Let's walk over. I could use stretching out a bit."
Matt and Kathy got up and put on their bathrobes, and walked first south from their Bedroom to Manufacturing, then halfway up the spiral staircase and across a short bridge to the east side of the mezzanine. They then circled around to the northwest corner.
"I've learned more about gravity and spacetime over these last few months than I ever would have thought possible," said Matt. "Here, before I show you what some of these controls do, and especially my secret-weapon control, let me test you on something." Matt moved his hand behind his back, out of Kathy's view. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
Kathy looked thoughtful for a moment. "I'm not sure. Can you spread them out more? Thanks... Three, I think... Now two. Now four. Your right, I've noticed this ability within me before. Having firm confidence before jumping that I wouldn't be colliding with loose furniture, knowing where you were in the tesseract by just thinking of each room until I could sense your presence. I assume you have this gift too. It's like an inner vision, or maybe a better description would be inner hearing. Have you learned how it works?"
"A little. It's the gravitational entanglement of our consciousness. It works like a bat's echolocation; tied in with visual memory. I think our ability to teleport starts with our mind echo scanning for the desired location, echo scanning with folded-space gravitons. When it finds a good, unique match between our current location and the focus of our visual memory, we have the ability to concentrate the space fold, overlapping the two distant 3-D points in 4-D, exchanging our body positions, and then releasing the fold. It's kind of like having two distant dots on a sheet of paper, and then folding the paper so the two dots touch. This is why we can jump so fast in teleport fighting. We've both gotten up to better than three jumps a second. If our destination is already in view, the echo feedback is superb! No normal human could keep up with punches, kicks, and elbow strikes coming in from random directions that fast. But to jump from here to Earth, it takes a minimum of a second, longer if the visual memory isn't super sharp. If the visual lock isn't good enough to uniquely identify the destination, the mind just can't figure out how to fold the space, and we go nowhere. We have to be a little careful. If an enemy realized how this works, they could set a trap by destroying an old location, and building a set-up which might fool us into jumping into something deadly..."
"This is fascinating, Matt. Seriously. It ties in with some ideas I have about all the closets and cabinets here in the tesseract, running up over 45 feet to the ceiling, with no ladders to reach them. I'll explain later. But since we're not teleport-fighting Tabata, how does this tie in with your secret weapon?"
"It has to do with the joining of space and time. We tend to think of the two as separate concepts, but I think the creature just saw spacetime as one construct. There are even books on Earth about this, about relativity, about how a light-year of distance is the same thing as a year of time multiplied by the square root of negative one. Frankly, I just don't get it. But the creature certainly did, and the operational sequencer has been trying to teach me how this works for weeks. There are some key differences between tunneling in space and tunneling in time. Time provides the base for all the spatial dimensions, all the spacetimes in the multiverse use it as their foundation. To tunnel through time is a dangerous business, with the adversary loose in some spacetimes. It potentially opens up avenues for invasions. The entity who built the tesseract loved us enough to take the risk, to time-jump us back to the start of our escalator journey. Just using the fourth spatial dimension to jump within our own 3-D spacetime is harmless. To jump from one spacetime to another, you have to move in all 11 spatial dimensions. We don't have this ability. With the adversary around, it would be suicidal anyway. Those jumps create permanent tears in space, ones the adversary is sure to find. Jumping in and out of the tesseract is safe, by the way. Seven of the cubes here are not exactly part of our spacetime, but they don't belong to any other spacetime either. The creature called them artificial constructs of folded space. It's an exception to the rule, I guess..."
"The poor creature. What a horrible burden it had, suffering billions of years of loneliness, when companionship was only a jump away. The temptations must have been incredible..."
"Yeah... It's inspiring to think of its caring love surviving through that hell... It left us a note in the operations log, apologizing for the rough traveling we had in the escalators. The creature was expecting a well-equipped expedition to make the journey, not two unprepared people. After all the efforts to design new human gene sequences for teleporting, it was horrified to realize only two unprepared people answered its call for help, and that we might die of thirst. It did the best it could. Each sink addition was done one at a time to minimize detection, but they still carried a slight risk of adversary invasion. It didn't feed us. It was hoping our hunger would encourage us to make the trip as quickly as possible. When it added the fourth sink, our luck ran out. A tiny bit of the adversary penetrated to one of the landing pads. At the end of our journey, when a hexagonal access tube had to be attached to the bottom of the escalator well, that point and the adversary's existing pinpoint penetration allowed the adversary to echolocate the escalator well accurately, opening the way for a full-scale invasion. We got out just in time. The creature apologized again and again in its note, saying that it would have had to sacrifice us if the adversary was about to make it to our spacetime. I'm so glad we make it, for its sake as well as ours. It would have broken its heart to have us die from its efforts..."
Kathy moved next to Matt and hugged him fiercely. Matt hugged back, and they both just stood there for a moment, not saying anything.
"It's an honor to carry the memory of the creature, Matt. A real privilege."
"Yes... I feel the same way... There was no danger from the sphere, by the way. The log called it a gravitational echo thread, just a combined visual-tactile-auditory illusion. We could talk to the creature because our consciousness had already been adapted to gravitational entanglement. Normal humans would have seen and heard nothing..."
"And now" continued Matt, moving over to a control console, "Let me show you my secret weapon." Matt pointed to a display with two numbers on it. The first number was 1 displayed in white, the second number was 16,777,216 displayed in orange. There was a small horizontal level underneath the display, set to the far right.
"Okay" said Kathy, staring at the display. "What am I looking at?"
"I'll give you a demo in a moment. It'll be the first time for me to try this too. But first, I want you to think, could you jump into my office in Chicago now?"
"Sure. But wearing just this bathrobe? It's after midnight on a Saturday morning, but could there be a janitor there?"
"Oh, sorry! That's not what I mean. Echo locate my office for a second, but don't actually make the jump."
Kathy looked thoughtful for a moment, and then said "It was no problem. There was no one in the room, by the way."
"Try south to the Entrance hall next."
"... No problem."
"Try the other end of the tesseract, somewhere in the Living room."
"... No problem."
"Now, watch this!"
Matt switched the level from the maximum right to the maximum left position. The display changed, the white 1 becoming a green 4096, the 16,777,216 also becoming 4096, but keeping its orange color.
"Kathy, try to echo locate my Chicago office now. I'll try too."
Kathy looked distressed after a moment. "My gosh, Matt. I can't echo anything! I feel completely blind!"
"Try the Entrance hall."
"... Nothing. This feels horrible..."
"Try the Living room..."
A brief smile appeared on Kathy's face. She popped out of view, and returned a second later. "What a relief! The Living room jump was no trouble at all. I didn't realize how fond, how attached I've gotten to my jumping ability. This is your secret weapon, Matt, to limit our ability to teleport? What's going on?"
"Here's what I've learned. Tearing time to tunnel through it and time travel is dangerous. The temporary tear runs the risk of an adversary invasion. But dilating or contracting time is harmless. It happens all the time in nature. Just being in a different gravity well will dilate time. The surface of the Earth is in a deeper gravity well than where we are now, in the core of the moon. Thus time is running very slightly faster here than at the surface of the Earth. The deeper the gravity well, the more time dilation, the slower the clocks run. Now, take a look at this control. Remember the old display, when the level was still on the right side? The operations sequencer calls that the interface mode. The top number on the display used to be 1. It's the ratio of how fast time is moving in the seven folded-space cubes of the tesseract, compared to the Entrance hall and the rest of our spacetime. This bottom number represents the ratio of time movement of the Entrance hall to all the closed closets and cabinets and refrigerator here. This other extreme position we're in now is called balance mode. The green 4096 means time here is moving 4096 times more quickly than it is now on Earth, and the orange 4096 means the time in the cabinets is moving 4096 times more slowly than Earth's..."
Kathy stood silently for several moments. "The implications are staggering, Matt... We have all the time in the world on our hands now, don't we? Our Saturday dojo session starts at 1:30 pm, over 13 hours from now, Earth time. What's that in tesseract time, if we run in balance mode?
"Just over six years..." Matt said, after a moment. "We have six years to prepare for our next dojo class... My explanation from the sequencer went something like this: We are using level-one time dilation technology, the most basic kind. It can contract or dilate time by a factor of two for every dimension, 11 spatial dimensions plus one time dimension result in two to the twelfth power, or 4096. Then there's a neat twist to split the plus and minus directions into two pseudo dimensions, east versus west, up versus down, backwards versus forwards in time, so the final maximum temporal gradient possible is 4096 squared, or 16,777,216. This particular tesseract is designed to operate with the maximum gradient present between the closed closets and the rest of the seven rooms, though I gather other design choices are possible. When you left my watch in the refrigerator for a minute our first breakfast here, time didn't exactly stop. About 4 microseconds passed by for the watch. But of course we couldn't see that. The same would not have been true for the wing box in the Entrance hall, but we never bothered to test it. The Entrance hall and the rest of our spacetime are not touched by any of this."
"And why can't I jump outside of the seven cubes now?" asked Kathy.
"Remember how we couldn't jump in the temporal tunnel when we went back in time? Our echo gravitons were being defocused by the time dilation gradients. The same is true now. Natural microscopic gradients from relativity aren't a problem, but according to the sequencer, a ratio of less than 0.99 or greater than 1.01 will be impossible to jump across, and the current ratio is 4096. You'll find the 4 doors and the top and bottom stair entrances to the Entrance hall are now locked. Trying to walk across such a sharp temporal gradient would be fatal. If you ever want to leave the remaining seven cubes, come here first, and put the tesseract back in interface mode. Here, let me start a display to show the movement of Chicago time..." Matt typed a few seconds on the controls. A display of 00:12:19.779 appeared. The last digits, Chicago time in milliseconds, began to increment once every 4.096 seconds of local tesseract time.
"Gosh Matt, this is a lot to think about... Can we jump back to bed now? If you're agreeable, let's leave the time control in balance mode for now. Having six years to train for tomorrow's class is mind boggling, but my gut reaction is that we should do it. I just need some time to absorb all the impacts this will have on our lives..."
Matt and Kathy jumped back to bed and turned out the lights. Kathy spent over an hour just silently thinking while being lovingly caressed by Matt, before finally drifting off to sleep. From an Earth-time perspective, she went to sleep in less than a second.