The journey to Mrs. Farnsworth did not go quite so smoothly for Henly.
In an alleyway not far from the Red Rum, he momentarily blacked out (by “momentarily” it is meant a duration of nanoseconds). The bright blue flicker against the brickface betrayed a static device was used in an attempt to stun him, but Henly knew that there was no point in feigning unconsciousness. He whirled to look the man in the eye.
It wasn’t a difficult task, given their size at that moment. “What are you?!” came a raspy exclamation. For the briefest of moments, Henly’s visage had become semitransparent.
It appeared that the wrong man had been stunned. While tempting, Henly knew any expression of smugness or bemusement could be construed as malevolence, so he kept calm. “Suffice it to say I’m not from around here.”
“You most certainly are not!” The man said shortly; he tugged at his lapels as he composed himself.
“Then again, neither are most people in this town, are they?”
“Nothing like you…”
“I’ve met a boy with amphibious traits,” said Henly, “nothing should surprise you.”
“Are you even really here?” asked the man. His tone was sincere and not meant as a slight as he squinted at Henly’s goggles to find his eyes.
“-or did I trigger a time travel device on your person?”
It was easy to deduce from this that the sources of tiny chronoton readings throughout New Babbage were the result of inventions capable of temporal manipulation which had been incorporated into their culture and used widely. Fascinating, he thought.
What had occurred was something else entirely – and far more serious – but Henly enjoyed the sympathy garnered from the incident and used it to his advantage.
“The sphere generated its own time distortion,” said Henly, “I’m sticking to a theory that I displaced Mrs. Farnesworth when attempting to enter it, at which time she re-appeared in the harbour.”
The man nodded; he was far less haughty now.
“If my theory is correct,” he continued, “then there may be residual chronotons – what my people call emissions caused by time distortion and time travel.”
“And you can detect this? Fascinating!”
Henly nodded. “Now we must see Mrs. Farnesworth while the readings are still strong.”