Quantum Candy — Episode V

Translation-Door-A115

 

 

The White-Lion was berthed at the space-station Gsarbeio, in the B-Ring section called Lancore, so named after one of the more successful captains who built up a fortune in the early days of the station. Tucked in between half a dozen of the support ships, under contract for additional defense, many of these lower-tier ships had seen better days, and whose dodgy crews, often left behind more trouble after a job than bribes alone could solve. Considering that the Gsarbeio, was now operating as a pirate station, one would be lucky to find crews whose pasts were not about to hang them in the present. Most of the ships which arrived at this station were under the flags of Clans, whose loyalties determined rights and status, not any laws based on central authority. The inner-core of the station leadership came from the ranks of the command services, who trained under the old guard, whose oaths and loyalties did not yield to the new Emperor, as smoothly as the traditions pretended. This station proved old power and new power rarely mixed well beyond pompous formalities. So as the old Imperial command ranks, were displaced by the new, those cast out of the former sought refuge among the out-casts, thieves and pirates, knowing such men (whose fortunes were usually thin), would be eager to join up to new blood and especially, new money. Like everything else it was the lure of easy money, that made the ends of so many desperate plans meet, and so it was out here in the lawless neutral-zone, that made fortunes for some, and grinding poverty, the norm for others.

As for the ships, which frequented the station, those that carried water, food-stocks, energy and material supplies were the best maintained, thus more profitable on a stable cycle of operations. Ships that were used for underhanded commerce often had the best paid crews, most powerful space-drives and requisite power to weapons generation capabilities. It was rare to find both qualities in one ship, as purposes in conflict, often ended up settled by death itself. The number of ways a man can die in space was far too numerous, for the squeamish to ponder lightly, but not so much for the men who computed the actuaries, insurances and taxes, which were efficiently collected, where the laws so followed, therefore, depended on where such demands could be militarily enforced. The best lawfully, run stations required a more significant level of upper-tier management supervising the continual maintenance, performance engineering reviews, keeping the structural-integrity officers and their crews actually doing their jobs, and a host of other positions, whose powers and pay-grades were wrung from the constant battles of costs versus profits. On a pirate station, running on empty was the norm and only the required essentials were serviced under the established rules of operations.The inner-core managers and their crews accomplished these tasks and the pirates paid them out of the deals which actually made money. Both needed the other to survive and so they tended to moderate their disputes peacefully.

Heriu and his loyal crewmen had managed to carve out a niche of respectable attributes, since joining up with the Ki-Cheine Clan pirates, whose base of operations on the Gsarbeio, had placed them operationally, in such a position to dominate the old trade routes, which the station once served as the primary anchor. Heriu had commanded several classes of ships, have successfully graduated from a joint Eskoltian and Imperial academy at age twenty-four. He had mastered the required technical knowledge and had proved himself, over a ten year period, working his way up the officer-ladder to the captains chair. He had acquired several ships of modest capabilities while serving aboard an ultra-modern Eskoltian destroyer class ship as a first officer. He was well respected in the circles he traveled in and was regarded as a competent military officer, without need of padding by way of his royal lineage.  The White-Lion was one of the riskiest gambits he had ever under-taken, and for a purpose which gave him no comfort in future considerations. At some point the ship had to be returned to the Eskoltian’s, but until then he was its Captain and the crew were enjoying the intense admiration of their fellow pirates for pulling off such a heist, even though it was not by their own hand technically speaking. Only he knew they just, received the ship, as agreed. However, they clearly controlled the ship and so the “rep” was theirs to enjoy for the time being.

Not everyone on the station had it so good, especially among the non-pirate classes. In general, life on the station was crude at best for those fleeing their previous misfortunes, but for the regulars who had settled in with more substantial resources, the quality of life was stable and for those at the top of the heap, quite prosperous. The station had started out as a base of operations for deep-space asteroid mining, and as an anchor for the space haulers, whose fleets of heavy-mass carriers, as such ships were called, provided the primary nucleus serving as the base for all other investments. The majority of space-stations, like the Gsarbeio, began their journey on moon-bases, both for the Eskoltian and Imperial classes, with specific mission purposes at the heart of the designs, with additional modular attachments and multipurpose rings[generating electricity, stability control, docking & transportation hubs and military security-stations] already engineered as well, long before the massive-platforms left the build-yards, or staging-zones, depending on the nomenclature so spoken. Language, regardless of tongue, naturally seeks the shortest description so conveyed among time-strapped men, and so the descriptive terminology was quite different in the formal science literature so found in the engineering books, as opposed to the techno-texts which were approved for official use, and the slang derivatives arising from men needing to speak to one another quickly and effectively, without errors resulting in men dying for stupid communication mistakes.

The Gsarbeio Station had benefited from being a mutual build between the Eskoltian deep-space exploration Guild, and Emperor Fain Qan, now deceased, who was the grand-father of the current ruling Emperor. The Eskoltian’s supplied the  top-level management teams; whose advanced scientific knowledge expertly controlled, with their super-computers and Q-terminals, the resulting technologically diverse, heavy-duty robotics, macro-sized mechanical-tools and human specialized equipment by purpose and use, while the Emperor supplied the sheer bulk of all the many materials, not just the advanced metal-alloys, along with the massive, technical labor-forces, both in production of all the materials so used, and technical work classes, as employed, in all phases of construction. All labor was under Guild management, with critical over-sight control systems under both military and civilian intersecting positions of leadership.

In the huge, natural craters all along the Gei-Pia moon-so utilized, in the massive base complex, the space-stations were born as swirling disks of plasma[elemental particles in flux]— controlled both by the magnetic and the applied vibration forces acting upon the specific classes of elementary mass. Disks were engineered according to their purpose, from the small—ten to fifteen, upwards to one-hundred and twenty-five Imperial K-Units[kilometres] inside the chambers, where disks were shaped like auto-pan-cakes on a griddle. Each disk was then structurally engineered and modified, by the enormous robotic-tooling machines, while still in a molten to near plastic-state. These foundation-disks, when completed, were then lifted out of the build-chambers, and efficiently, moved by the Tug-ships, to the next build-stage. Here in the assembly production zone, the stations were completed as designed(additional disks could be stacked, one atop the other, as well as, vertical structural additions connected by rings) as the massive construction work-forces, so aided by another class of huge robotic-machines, mass-assembled the structural components and added each completed section to the final production.

Once a space-station had reached the scheduled third-stage, where it was capable of holding its own atmospheric envelope, the sectioned interiors were next to be completed. Usually, by the fifth-stage, all power-generation systems, including that of air, water, sewer, along with all of the command control-stations, were operationally completed. When the power-generation and atmosphere-control was stable, all of the remaining computer based core-systems were completed, soon followed by the macro-systems for all lights, communications (external and internal), mechanical systems for heating and cooling, all lift and docking platforms, station security and the bio-floors for the production of basic proteins (while also ensuring proper air and water reclamation). When the stations cleared the final engineering reviews, a unique class of bulk-station haulers took their positions in the first ring[usually designated as the A-ring] and moved the competed station and its assemblies to where the stations were either assigned, or contracted depending on mission purpose. Once into position the final stages of the interiors and furnishings were completed and the stations were officially opened for business.

In the first nine decades of operation, the Gsarbeio, served as the hub for space-mining of unique none-rusting, iron-ores (which were found in high abundance) along a clumping of asteroid bodies, so gravitationally lumped together on the out-skirts of the Dibien solar-system, whose gas giants had flung the smaller bodies into a jumbled cloud of extreme conditions. The stations fusion-powered cores used the abundant hydrogen found in the nearby nebula clouds, while the advanced mini-mining stations were positioned to allow for the most efficient removal of the iron bodies, by tens of thousands of miners using specialized equipment and ships. The need for abundant metal-ore was far greater, than what any single source could provide, and the Emperor, could not allow the secrets of the Gei-Pia moon-base to be known, so by investing in these arrangements, he profited quite handsomely, right from the very first days of operations. Only after the one hundred and sixty-fifth solar period were the iron-ores officially declared to be exhausted. The deep-space ship routes had begun to shift along another axis, through the gate-wormholes,  as the pursuit of fortunes turned elsewhere for the easy money. As the station lost its primary purpose and those that accompanied that reason for being there at all— in came the drifters, pirates and other assorted individuals always looking for something the big players might have missed. And so the stations compliment had slowly changed, as the last of the old-timers, gave way to the new-comers, and the previous authorities, went elsewhere, as their duties changed and the taxable profits vanished.

While the station was a bit worn on the edges, it was still in the eighty-five percent operational status classification, meaning it only needed to re-supply those necessary fifteen-percent factors so deficient of air, food, water and fuels to keep up the bench-mark standards of living conditions. Not all stations made it through the years as well, or in one original piece. Disasters struck stations like typhoons struck coast-lands only in the aftermath many stations were simply abandoned. These relics were often still salvageable, or even moveable, depending on the integrity of the under lying structure. The Ki-Cheine Clan had formed a unique relationship with a large, multi-world conglomerate, which specialized in these recovery operations, and of course, such deals often depended on all of the remaining inhabitants being bought out or moved under pressure.

The Ki-Cheine Clan provided that pressure and in return they had first dibs on salvageable materials which one could stuff into a smaller class of ships. On occasion one of these hulks could be sectioned off and the Tug-ships could haul the pieces to wherever the buyers wanted then to be used. The Ki-Cheine had four of these ‘Tugs’ in full operational capability and so they added these “pieces” to many such stations, further increasing their profits and in the process, gaining a certain flavor of notoriety. Especially, in the additional off-the-books trading of females from a wide variety of cultural sources, all of it quite illegal officially, which was the main reason why they were called pirates. Not all woman came to the stations under the control of pirate clans or criminal gangs, as many were seeking fortunes, others escaping from the failures of marriages, debts or a life of drudgery. Men and women, had overly romantic views of the free-wheeling life styles, so found in the exotic cultures of the station-houses. A mythical escape fantasy which was sold to the more gullible members of the public, by shameless profiteers hawking their latest pamphlets, books and schemes as the law dimly allowed. This was just as true on Eskoltian worlds not just those under the Empire. The mix of people through the stations was quite fluid when there were still fortunes to be made and adventures to be discovered.

The Gsarbeio station had a permanent core of inhabitants of around fifteen thousand, but when the supply ships were coming in full of general goods, food stocks and booze the population swelled to well over a hundred thousand.  These counts were based on the number of ships in the B to F-Ring-berths, not strictly by a census of visitors who had rentals or found guest lodging on the station. People in the trading classes mostly lived aboard their ships, while using the stations resources to conduct business in the densely-packed super-structures, which made up the top-level, just like skyscrapers in any modern city. There was a considerable amount of space on the lower-levels wholly given over to food production, but it was limited to only those species, which did well under the limited soil conditions. Any plant needing a more complex environment, then what could be maintained under the cost restraints, was simply not grown. Extra-water was always coming in due to the gas-carriers ships which specialized in converting, or collecting, from the nearby Dragon Nebula, with its immense interstellar gas cloud[a huge chemical factory generating enough water molecules in a single day to fill the oceans of several planets] and other valuable molecular bodies.These ships had substantial investments and the Clans did everything they could to encourage them to stop by— hence lots of booze, drugs and women to keep the crews spending their silver coin and universal Share credits.

Aboard the station and the ships which came in on a regular basis, there was plenty of work to be done and so the men who came looking for a different kind of life, provided a steady stream of possible recruits. A plethora of job possibilities, of which some men prospered and others failed to thrive, but full on lawless behaviors, were not as tolerated as the myths, or out-right lies[often proclaimed by unscrupulous editors to sell higher-news ratings] which circulated on worlds far removed from the action. The station nonetheless, had a large, stable number of normal working families, plus singles across the age spectrum and so Heriu, had found his crew a place they felt comfortable with both as a home, and in their many dealings, as well as, fun. Where fun could mean any number of activities from gambling to physical sports.

This station had been his base of operations for over nine-periods with very little trouble, but now that quality of peace was threatened. The stolen ship was attracting attention, right along with the speculations as to what lengths the military might go to get it back. He was also wondering, as news traveled of the odd nature of a pricing crises suddenly gripping the Imperial metal-markets, how much longer he would have before the three Lords made their move to officially proclaim their independence from the Empire. His stock-in-trade was making deals for the most expensive class of specialized materials used in high-end technology. He moved more tons per trading cycle, from his sources of the unique ceramics, alloys, crystals etc. than anyone else supplying the independent traders, with considerable discounts in traded goods. He also had the connections to move substantial amounts of quality wines, specialty liquors and other luxuries, quite difficult to find at any price, which were in high demand.

Tossing in his bunk, Heriu, like the rest of his crewmen, who had gone through the manifold-Jump to the Earth world, and so returned, was again having the ultra-real nightmares, which plagued them all. This added quality of ultra-realism, or lucidity, made it seem as if he had already awoken. He realized, he had been asleep while only dreaming he was recording a log entry, mostly for his son. He had tried to awaken himself, but failed. Once this odd bit started the mind, in a loop of sorts, had no means to stop. Logically, he knew he was having another nightmare, but he had no sense that he was dreaming. What he realized was that he was captured and on a table. The pain going through his skull was quite excruciating. His captors wanted answers. He had none to give and so they tortured him. When his mind cleared he was being wheeled, so strapped to the bed, into another room.

Lying there unable to move, he of course had grave misgivings about showing these alien-humans the functions of the cards. So why did the Guardian, tell him to do something that was inherently foolish to the extreme? These men [who were demanding to know where he came from, where was his world of origination, how was his ship powered], had facial similarities to the Eskoltian races, but some of them looked as if they too had Tia Ma ancestry and who seemed to be speaking a variation of the old tongue. Such confusion swelled in his mind as he fought to keep his thoughts coherent… was he the double? He was then wheeled into yet another room, which had so much equipment stuffed into its every possible space, that it was like being back on board a cramped military-ship. These lab-coated men hooked him up to a machine, which they claimed was based on the Series 7 cards. How did these strange men obtain the real ones?

His mind went blank for a period of time and when he was conscious yet again, he was now in another type of control room facing yet another man he did not recognize.

“Can you hear me Heriu?”

“Yes. And you are?”

“My name is Eliot. The reason why you are here, is because I just switched you out of the control-room where you were being held. I needed to bring you here, so I could speak with you, without interference from the others—those men, who took you prisoner. I am going to help you escape Heriu, and in return, you are going to help me understand what has happened. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, I understand the words you speak, Eliot. Why do you want to help me?”

“I have no choice. Just like you, I am trapped in circumstances well beyond my control. You had to have come to the Earth, tasked with an objective, which directly caused our world to under-go a catastrophe of devastating consequences. I am trying to understand why, you made such a decision. Can you answer that question of why?”

“Contrary to your unfounded accusation, your world was already destroyed. Which is why we came to the past time-coordinate, as instructed. Your race was already long since dead, well before we arrived in the future time-coordinate. Your species was extinct.” He realized he was wearing his casual uniform for touring peaceful civilian stations. As a military officer of reserve rank and status he still wore uniforms according to the customs.

“Wait, when you say destroyed, do you mean all Life or just our civilization?”

“I mean, all life was destroyed. The world was in such a state of radioactive ruins, not even microbes crawled through the mud— as all water was poisoned, both on the lands and in the great oceans. A dead world in a grave is quite the misfortune. We had no hand in what occurred prior to our arrival.” He sat up from the bed and found his pain was gone. He stood up and stretched. The man named Eliot was around 5’11 with silver-framed glasses and grey eyes, with slightly greying sandy-blonde hair. He was thin-of-frame and was wearing an office-style suit, but no tie. He looked troubled as he paced back and forth in front of the small, security holding-cell, using a force-shield for containment. The room was not that large, but it was full of sophisticated lab-equipment, and was well organized. He did not feel threatened.

“How do I know you are telling me the truth?” Like most men, who do not want to believe what they hear, the question was more about his own honesty than what Heriu had stated.

Heriu answered him with a deflection of questions. “Does your race possess weapons which cause such destruction? Do you have conflicts of one Nation against another until all are engulfed by war? Answer for yourself. If you dare speak the truth, you claim to seek.”

“So you came back to save us from ourselves?” Another sarcastic question to deflect his growing sense of apprehension, that behind all of this was a deeper, more uglier fact. Mankind actually destroyed itself. Therefore, the time-future was open to radical revisions of chance, and probability that dead-men-walking, do not control.

“No… Eliot, you are mistaken once more. We came here to this unknown world, to do a mission, which I do not understand at all in future purpose. I did this mission to save my wife from my elder brother who rules our Empire, by cowardly principles, so based on his fears. He has tried to kill me so many times it has become a way of life between us. I thought I had removed myself from his scheming ways only to find my wife, in her youthful ambitions, had walked right into one of his more sophisticated plots, one which I dared not reveal. Thus, to save her from him, I agreed to do this mission, on behalf of a foreign entity, known to us simply as the Guardian.”

“So this Guardian, made these quantum devices and sent you here to give them to us?”

“No… yet another false presumption. The Guardian gave us specialized equipment to be placed on the moon, and upon the Earth world, in specific places for reasons only known to himself. The cards played a significant role in the device placements, but his motivations for doing so, as a technological factor, are not subject to my understanding.”

“So this “Guardian” is just playing ‘god’ with our worlds past-future time-line?”

“I can tell you are scientist, by such accusations, based on your being quite concerned with evidence and facts. Thus, you may find what I have to say to be somewhat disappointing. All I know right now, is that He is trying to discover something… an answer… what that may be he has not confided in me and he does not need to explain himself. Our deal was simple in its form, but became hopelessly complicated by its actions.”

“So you deny, purposely collapsing our time-future, by a weapon?”

“I had no idea such a result was going to be unleashed. I do admit my men acted out of self-preservation on my account. That is the very purpose of their lives under my command. And so they acted using whatever means available to do what needed to be done. However, even now I do not fully understand why I am still alive. Especially, after being shot— point blank in the head. By a scientist no less. Such an action violates, every rule of diplomacy, and therefore, became an act of war. A war your men started.”

“I agree that action was another fine example of why our species damns itself in the end.” Eliot looked like a man whose air had been pressed from his lungs and now could not remember how to breath. He released Heriu from the containment-field cell. Then he added,”the evils of such selfish men doom one and all very damn time.”

“As I said my men acted out of fury, for my death and their own self-preservation. Without me, they cease to have a purpose in life, or a home. However, I am not without compassion for your own people. The wrongs of a few do not justify the punishment of all. As for the weapon— I admit its use was not well thought out, especially the consequences. I do offer my help, for what it may be worth to you, but I am not a scientist trained in such matters as time-warp theory. Our ship has specialized equipment, but it was of little use to my crewmen to correct the unfolding situation. They were quite unprepared for what followed their actions.”

“That I believe… and the reasons are quite natural in the context in which the decisions were made. I appreciate your honesty. I do not have many allies and I certainly do not need any more enemies.”

“Have you made much progress in determining what you seek to understand?”

“In a general sense, I am making some headway. My problem is what I think I know may not be correct at all. A presumption placed on top of another. What I know for certain, is that our time streams are all confused, like colored strands of cooked spaghetti thrown across a table, in a jumbled heap. Which one of those probabilities, leads back to the way it was before, I have no means of testing. Even with what I can test, I still can’t make any sense out of the resulting data that I have been collecting, and studying, with my limited equipment. Nothing makes any sense theory wise either, especially in regards to those “motivations” you speak of…  specifically, why does this “Guardian” want us to have these devices, if it means we are just going to destroy ourselves, yet again, by some other destructive method?”

“Perhaps, you are thinking too hard. Too cerebral for such subtle movements of purpose behind such motivations.”

“In that case, I think we need to take a stroll. You need to see a few things to really understand my dilemma.” Eliot walked over to his wall cabinet and took out a set of keys.”Nothing speaks the truth like first-hand experience.” The two of them walked out the door and then down a long hallway, past a set of control doors, then out into the the lobby. Eliot led him out through a side-door into an outer plaza, filled with colorful plants and some very odd-looking trees, whose large, heavy-fruits resembled lime-green cucumbers on a vine. “Take a good look around you and tell me what you see?”

Beyond the low, fanciful coursed, colored stone-walls, a multitude of oddly dressed people, could be seen going about their personal affairs. Traffic upon the double-avenue, was heavy as well, and across this wide avenue were hi-rises of unusual architecture, color and style.

“I see many things of men and their daily habits. I see stone and wood so fashioned that it performs a mans sense of accomplishment to his ideals, but perhaps not his vital needs. I see people, of many colors of skin, of many sizes of bodies, of unusual features. I see a multitude of colorful plants and trees, of a great diversity, including such odd-looking living creatures, big and small, seemingly quite natural, but they too are clearly quite different.” He watched as Eliot plucked a strange looking pear-sized fruit from a tree, with low to the ground, bushy, pale-yellow, pinkish-edged leaves. Over-head he noted the orange sun in the vivid blue skies, whose petal-shaped extensions around its edges were pulsing.

“This gigoina-fruit is a good example of the kind of “problems” we the “lost-humans” have here. When I open it up it is full of a pulpy, pale-yellow substance, which actually tastes quite good on the tongue, but watch.” Eliot took a large bite, chewed and swallowed.

Heriu looked on in mild amazement as the body of Eliot, including his clothing, swiftly turned to a dark-violet hue and then promptly puffed out like a pod, nearly swelling to the bursting point. Eliot moved about in a way which seemed impossible for bones to perform without breaking. His arms and legs protruding like vines were growing leaves not unlike the plant.

“You see everything here has some kind of action on the body, but not always the exact same way for every person. I seem to get a more violet-hue and a greater profusion of these small bushy-leaves covering my legs and arms. This is not reality as we know and understand. It is an “instance” so contrived from the cards in action. I have discovered hundreds of variations of such “Instance-Actions” on the mind, or body, without actually discovering the why. Which is the primary reason I carefully engineered a means of taking you, right out of the hands of the “Group” and their lab monkeys, which have become my mortal enemies. If they succeed in killing the true “me” nobody will ever know anything about the cards or how they arrived on the Earth. They have ruthlessly removed every single trace of anything connected to them especially your involvement. People on the true Earth, or what I perhaps assume to be the real, nonetheless, will never know for a single moment of how their lives are fully controlled, warped or destroyed, by secretive men using “quantum inspired forces” which exist outside of the very rules, drilled into the public-mass mind, by whatever means completes the end purpose.”

“What do you expect of me, when I have never seen anything like this before?”

“I want you to help me understand how these “quantum based devises were fashioned. How did your scientists make them at all?”

“I do not know, the specific answers, to the questions, so posed. I can tell you that the sciences, which study frequency and vibration, are very old on my world, going back ten-of-thousands of years. I do not know what caused one man to discover what another cannot comprehend. These devices, are of more than one Series. The ones, we call Series 7, were so powerful from the very first days, they caused tremendous grief, both to the scientists and those who worked with them. The consequences went far beyond the labs themselves, harming more people, than what we can account for in the historical journals. Knowledge of that series, after the next generation, became forbidden. The ones we call Series 8 used a new variation for the Ace matrix, which allowed for a stable method of elemental extraction, mostly metals, in very specific, well-defined procedures on a moon-base, so built to secure those operations under heavy guard at all times. The knowledge to use these devices external to those specific protocols, has become more mythical than factual. And while I do know some of the deeper principles, of why they work, I cannot give you what I have never known… or learned from the few remaining men who once had access to such secrets. Money and power warps the minds of men, especially those seeking to keep such power to themselves. I see you are quickly returning to normal.”

“Yes, fortunately the substance effect does not last long. Let’s take a walk. The crux of my problem is this: You see I am a double, of my original being. A copy created by the time-collapse. Which is the main reason why I have in fact, so many such doubles. Worse yet, I no longer even know how many, or what has happened to my many known duplicated selves. For a time we all shared a mental link of sorts, like a tunnel with a open end to look out of, very strange, yet which allowed us to know where the others were, both physically and emotionally, to a degree. As time passed this connection became weaker as if the tunnel itself was stretching out. Much too long now to travel without extreme effort. So I stopped trying. However, I can still travel easily to several other “bubbles” of “Reality” as we call them, but not to the ones, I know were once part of a set of experiments, my original created with the cards. And if you have not already surmised your situation, you too are a double.”

“I was afraid of that. And what of my other selves?”

“Well that is the million-dollar question. The men who were holding you prisoner are also doubles of their originals. Do you grasp the fuller problem yet?”

“I am beginning to realize my fate is also likened to a strand of noodle hanging by a thread of ignorance alone.”

As the two men walked along the sidewalks they were passed by a mix of people, animals dressed like people, an assortment of real and unreal elements which if not impossible, were certainly divorced from any rule of natural law. The crowds payed them little heed, as they were too busy with their own illusions of life to even notice another lost-human. The buildings were brightly colored, with some natural rules in their structural design, but with other factors which contributed to a style more suited for whimsy than any real need to those which might live or work in them. The automobiles which passed them were loud and seemingly unrestrained by any physical rules, so they clattered, banged and screeched, while stretching, bending or bouncing off one-another, as if sound itself was the only real physics working properly.

The two of them dodged a vehicle using the sidewalk as a passing lane.

“I am surmising this world was based on a child’s form of entertainment?” Commented Heriu as a wolf-man swaggered past him with five beauties vamping along behind him.

“The original series of what were called “short-animations aka cartoons” was called the “Enchanted Circle” which was about a girl and her brother who find a toy which gives them the ability to enter a magical world where all the animals talked and behaved like people, only not just like real people. As the story-line went they basically learned more about themselves, as the lessons mounted from the consequences of what they did. As a Saturday morning cartoon it was a quite a popular series that year, and so it was used to test the matrix generation limits. Only we never completed the tests. I have been trapped here, while still able to travel into another set of “bubble-worlds” because my real self created the “Translation-links” between them. I suspect he was trying to get somewhere else, and during that time, because of that odd-connection, I knew where to look for the passages–called Translator-doors. These doors have unique geometrical patterns to help distinguish them from one another, and they are also protected from being damaged. Not all the “bubble-worlds” are animations, not all of the realistic worlds, are of course real, and a few of the most difficult to reach are real. Those were the worlds the real Eliot was obsessed with and the focus of all his energies. As the mind-link deteriorated I lost the ability to sense how to know which doors led where and why. It is like a maze whose rules are changing with each new turn in any length.”

“So here in these “Bubble-realities” us lost-people are trapped in echos of the real, just as the legends of my people recorded. In many accounts so preserved, people were bi-locating into other wolds, both as individuals and in some rumors entire villages. The time factors were quite incomprehensible, as many reports made reference to the ages many lived through, for life spans in ten-of thousand of years, but in a blink of an eye, as recorded by a clock in the lab. Past or future, there was no one rule they could find which made sense for all results. Time-entanglement was a proper way to summarize the experiences. From what you are telling me that is a factor here as well. A very powerful one.”

“I suspect, based on what you are telling me, our two worlds are linked by forces, well beyond those cards themselves, but when amplified, the rules changed without anyone really knowing anything of substance. Where our respective worlds are located in coordinate based “space-time” is not the crucial factor, it is something else. The 5-D plots for the Ace of Spades is the only hint to that primary reason, and unfortunately my real self never managed to grasp the math more fully. I understand the up-dating function to a slight degree, but not the real reason why it was there at all. Inside the train stations terminal-lobby is a hidden translation-door. We are going to take a look at another world in the linking order.”

“You say the card was up-dating 5-d plots? I do not recall this feature of the Series 7 Ace of Spades?”

“Well that is quite interesting. I assumed those that built the card made that feature to keep a library function of where the card was used or something.”

“No— if you have found the original Ace-of-Spades doing something different then it has been changed or modified. But, then again, any duplicated card would have attributes only known to those that make them.”

“Who could make that change to the original?”

“I could assume the Guardian, but the Series 7 cards were never in its presence. We kept the original Series 7 cards locked in a special safe surrounded by an entire guard-unit at all times. I knew of a secret entrance built to allow one to escape the lower-levels in case of an emergency. Perhaps, I too assumed falsely, that my elder brother was just too lazy to know such things, or act upon them.”

“Well, there could be another reason too. We assume a time change is only in a tiny-frame of reference. But we never consider how many other points might well connect in a different sequence of time-dilation. When your ship went into the past of our world, that time-link was modified globally, which spread like a ripple to every other point, from which a new reference can be made from the previous, where each “time-present-coordinate-point” is not the only possible focal-point. Since we had no knowledge of the “probability-links” of such 5-D or hyper-space points, to begin our starting-state assumption, we have no means of knowing, how many such points, might have changed, by an organized sequence, purely random or simply all at once. A crucial consideration due to the phase-change upon every point in space such a whole-sum resolution produces. Maybe some bits of our world, in that very moment—so entangled, went to your world and changed past-future time as well. Without stepping out of both “States” equally, the people never knowing the differences, would simply assume that what they know— is the only thing that is or can be known.”

“I have pondered the ancient writings, concerning the workings of the Series 7 devices enough to know they were quite powerful in time-functions in unexpected ways. Very troublesome too, as such aspects were not to be logically controlled. So I too, do have a similar quality of introspection, upon the deeper problem. I did say the subtle is there to be known— if one can calm the mind long enough to allow such awareness to happen. To sense such ripples of truth, flowing all around us, is the quest of our mystical teachings. I see we have reached the train station. Such unusual architecture… another example of the physical world not being true to the source, and yet here, it is the norm as if nothing else was real.”

“Well this world did start as a fantasy cartoon. By the function of the “Instance-Translation” it became a hyper-real one. A interesting set of differences, which allowed us to purposely study the discrepancies, which naturally arose from the real world, as consciously perceived, versus the one the subconscious mind over-lapped into the real— while hidden, in a sense, within the backgrounds of the fantasy itself. The “why”  we seek the fantasy, kind of study, within the study. In this “bubble” the cartoon laws are just real enough to be stable in every natural intersection of mental expectations. That was essentially, what was discovered. Our minds fill in the gaps, or spaces, so perfectly in every detail, it did not matter how limited the “construct” was in the initial matrix. The mind builds reality, so it follows, the cards when amplifying this natural state, are also true to the physical relationships, inherent in the reality, so created.”

“One reinforces the other, like a fine-geometric mesh. As the mesh grows certain precise geometrical rules are followed, as in a fractal. That is one of the deepest aspects of why the cards work. The vibrations of reality can be graphed mathematically, we called this model function a “Quantagraph” due to the direct relationship to all states of physical matter. These aspects are taught to school children, and those which seem to have a deeper grasp upon the subject itself are rewarded, thus encouraged to further pursue the sciences and many of them choose careers based on such natural affiliations.”

“A natural, successful progress for your society, as well as, career-wise for the scientists to further the knowledge base.”

“Yes, we have a long history of that very kind of success. The steps of that social progress however, are not the same for everyone. Our people simply do not share the fruits of that success equally. As a member of the ruling family I have no place to say I know of poverty, or the lack of basic necessities, but I recognize the falsehoods, the deceptions which have arisen, as one class is always a favored over another, regardless of character. It is this lack of a true moral-compass among the elite classes, which has caused my people great tragedy. Men who will do anything for another ration of food, shelter etc. become the tools of those who have control of a spigot of wealth flowing like water through their hands. This imbalance creates weakness, as the least accomplished, are constantly raised well above their true stations, by those who need such men and woman, to carry out their schemes, upon the rest of society. I can list thousands of such schemes I have witnessed by my own sprawling family as it sought to out-wit those who had accumulated enough wealth to threaten their hegemony and status.”

The train station was bustling with activity as they walked through the main lobby towards a set of doors next to the offices where the employees were going about the business of running the station. Eliot took out a long skeleton key, took a quick look around and opened the door marked maintenance. He had another gold and ruby key ready for the translation door.  Ahead of them was a long passage lit by gas lamps along the top of the brick walls. They both quickly walked along and then down the steps leading to a larger under-ground system not visibly in use. Eliot proceeded to another door to the left and fitted the key into a special box not directly visible to anyone, not knowing the visual key-points to touch on the golden symbol.

“This next one is a bit darker by its sophistication. This was full-length animated feature for the theater circuit, with a big production budget, no detail too small across the board, kind of deal. Very lavish, musically-scored scenes throughout and quite realistic. The plot featured the adventures of a boy who finds a magic lamp with a very troublesome genii who of course gets the boy into all sorts of trouble. Lots of magic, which was the focus of the study. How did these “magical forces” operate in the conditions so established. The problem here was that the entities, which are behind the more darker scenes, were quite powerful, and when the quantum amplification took over the show; it was quite the “go to bubble-world” for awhile— just to see if one had the fortitude, to make it all the way through the journey, just as the boy had to do, to accomplish the plot. Only just as before the rules went way beyond the plot-line into a whole other dimension of possibilities. Where we are going to exit is just off a beach cafe. The island is connected to all the mainlands so it is a good spot to enter and exit as a tourist. What made the movie so popular was its realism, but stretched to include all of the magical stuff. So it is quite real with some odd factors, mostly for us humans, not the characters themselves. Alright here we go.”

They stepped out into bright sunshine. The clarity of the world was indeed much different. People were still slightly exaggerated especially the ladies, but the proportions and the physical rules seemed to be very close to true reality. The exterior door was set into what appeared to be a simple shack with a pirate girl mural on top and a ship in howling seas across the bottom. A unique lock was on the out-side which required the special key to re-open. The golden symbol was a frequency barrier which blocked the entrance to passage no matter if the door was open or closed.

“I am just going to leave the door in the open state. Nobody here can pass through it and I seriously doubt any one will even come around back here for any reason. Lets grab something to eat and drink. Here unlike the world we just left, eating food and drinking is still unusual for us, but does work essentially the same way physically. We do gain energy by eating, so we eat. The boy took showers and used the bathroom, so the rules are in parallel, but with some subtle differences. Here for example trees grow fruits in mere seconds and without end during the growing season. You can fill ten trucks from one tree in a single day.  A man fishing can catch a fish as big as his house on a tiny lure, that kind of thing.”

“Exaggerations, to bring out the funny amusements of life, while still remaining true to the basic life order.” Heriu spotted a visible pregnant female. “These cartoon people are having children?

“Yes, they are. The boy visited, along with his entire family, his mom’s sister after her having a new bundle of joy. So here children are born as “new bundles of joy” just like clock-work. And they die because the boy experiences the death of his grandfather. So the population is born, grows old and dies. Unless, of course they find the magic potion’s, or spells, so they can prolong their lives. All manner of vehicles, boats, planes and rockets are here as well, with some very interesting space adventures for the real hardy of souls. We however are just here for the food and drinks and to briefly look around.”

“Do these people think about who or what they are?”

“In most cases no… sort of like bugs on a pre-computed life plan. But not always. There are those who do seem to question the oddness of it all, and on occasion I find one, often female, who can sense the truth in ways that are very intelligent. I tried to bring one individual back with me once, early on— a man, who had a scientific background, but the translation caused him severe distortions which I was unable to stabilize. The frequency locks are part of the system engineered by my original, to keep out unauthorized, human personal from using his short-cuts. These toon-people, cannot leave their bubble-world without losing their coherence, as best as I have been able to determine. Which is a good thing, because the bad ones, really need to remain here, under this worlds stricter laws.  Such characters, would quickly annihilate another world, where the toon-people, have no defense against their “magical” manipulations of world-reality. But then again, I have never see anything to suggest, what they do here, actually works in another world, so it is just guess-work. I simply chose to keep common sense in the right perspective. Lets take a seat over here. Nice view of everything around us too.”

The waitress, was a buxom beauty, with a big smile, and hair, piled up two-feet high. “What will it be gentleman?” Her features matched her voice–high and sparkly.

“Can we still get the number seven brunch special?”

“Yes, you can darling, but you will be charged a bit extra for the time-penalty.”

“Not a problem.”

“Great…. I will right back with your drinks.”

They watched as her walk naturally exaggerated every nuance of her perfect female form.

“See what I mean. It is all part of the way it works here. You can tell just by looking at someone, what kind of activity to expect… so drawn into them to make that visual connection to the emotional one, quite compelling.”

“Very effective by design too… and you are right this place is exceptionally realistic. It would be easy to forget you were not in a real world, or perhaps cease to care, there once was a difference.”

Exactly, and there in lies the danger…. you stop caring it isn’t real and then at some point it is like never waking up from the dream from which there is no exit. I do not allow myself  to cross over that fine line. Which isn’t easy.” The waitress came back with two enormous glasses filled with a concoction so billed as “the drink of all drinks” for the real man on vacation. She sat them down and Eliot flipped her a gold coin tip. She bounced very happily back the way she came. Across from them a group of teenagers acting like teens everywhere, had their music up loud and were of course bugging several older couples, trying to enjoy their beach solitude, by their harmless antics. Other people were simply hanging out, swimming in the Caribbean-blue waters, reading under the brightly-colored, beach umbrella’s while across from them in the unloading zone were buses pulling into the parking lot. Lots of tourists, were heading off in every direction, including those headed straight for the cafe. All of them were behaving, as if they were as real, as any other form of humans. Here the birds came in to roost in the trees, or find food in the large green swaths of lush plants. While the seabirds in big flocks rose with the winds coming off the ocean. A couple of dogs on a leash, were pulling their owners along, as dogs will do, as they chased after some new scent which grabbed their interests.

The waitress had returned with two huge platters of food, balancing them with ease as she showed off her ample assets, in every graceful swoop, turn and bend. “Enjoy your meals darlings. I will be back in a bit with the bill.”

“The food is quite tasteful and you can literally eat it all, one bite at a time or scoop style all at once, like the teens.” He had pointed over to a skinny boy who miraculously scooped up an entire plate with sandwiches piled up two-feet high and wedged it all into his mouth in a single, expanding bite.

Heriu tried a normal bite of the triple-Decker burger, chewing slowly, followed by some cheesy-hot chili fries. He washed down another bite with a long slurp from the tall glass, of swirl-of-flavors, milk-shake. “It is quite amazing how good each item tastes. The “milk-shake” is cold, smooth, with a sweetness from many flavors in the right proportions. I would say more proof of deep-math in action.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, how did you ever escape such a quagmire of family responsibilities and demands?”

“It was not easy. I grew tired of such political and financial games, thus, removed myself from the whole of it, while still under the age of sixteen. My elder brother naturally assumed it was because I was plotting to remove him from power, which greatly aggravated our already strained relationship. Our Father despite his twenty-one wives was not blessed with sons. We have sisters. Lots of sisters.  He thought he had been cursed by the Gods, and spent the last fifteen years of his life, trying every potion, he could test on someone else, first. My brother, was his first success, and so was named— as the gift from Heaven. He was spoiled beyond measure. I came along nine years later, by the same mother no less. She had birthed five girls between us, our whole sisters, who were none so pleased, that another boy had arrived to ensure the throne was to remain under a proper lineage of male leadership. So I had that to endure as well. My oldest sister so conspired, against my brother, on too many occasions, that she was eventually executed. That was a poor decision, blotting our Fathers conscience, which caused a deep-divide from which our family never recovered. Our Father as rule, also married off all of our half-sisters as they turned fifteen, to those who could afford the price of the royal marriage. We were not what one might term a happy family. And so to this day my brother has convinced himself, that I am the greatest threat to his throne, which has over the many years has simply become a case of self-fulfillment.” He was enjoying the meal, finding the dishes to be quite convincing both in quality and taste.

“If you do not remove him from the throne will your people recover from the next in line?”

“Not likely. His oldest son has already shown his hand to be of no virtue. He will sit complacent, as always, as the same forces of our destruction, crumble our cities and farming districts, while he so lavished, by praise and fed by deceptions, sits on an ever growing ass, blissful in his regal ignorance. His sole ambitions are to reform the reforms, and to create a more “modern bureaucracy” with more powerful gadgets, instead of ruling our kingdom with wisdom. Of course that would require him to do something outside of his far too cushy existence, one of which, where he is waited on— hand and foot—literally. A quality of daily life which is not healthy in the long run. Now let me ask you, how did you plan to allow me to escape?”

“Oh that is easy enough. You were not trapped here by the time-cascade event, so you can leave by the Junction-house. Another specialty structure us lost-humans frequented before the disaster. A few periods later there were quite a few new arrivals, not all good either, but the Junction-house is not under the control of the bad guys. They never think through very well the consequences of their own greed for power, money or woman. Sometimes food. Mostly power. The evil ones here go after the power. Sort of like a hot-potato game in actual practice, and when you are it, you go with rules or you get burned. To vanish in a puff of magic is not exactly a good thing however, as a new character never has the memories of the previous.”

“Who is the military-clad female, who just pulled up on the motor-cycle? She looks quite different from all the rest.”

“Good question… something is absolutely not right about her either.”

“I agree… I can feel her will-force even now trying to act on my glyph.”

“You’re what?”

Before he could answer the combat-style, so dressed female pulled out from hidden holsters two very large, hand-guns with octagon-shaped inner barrels, and before Heriu could cross the distance to disarm her, she fired… a blazing hot, blue-field burst around Eliot, causing him great agony, as he froze up, then blurred out. Heriu almost reached her before he too, was hit by the impact of shells, from which the blue-field force erupted. He was frozen in time like a ghost as he watched the female go back around to the hut. She came back a few minutes later looking for the key which had slipped from Eliot’s pocket. She spoke to someone by a communication device she carried as part of her gear. The other toon-people stayed well away from her in obvious panic. He was fading as she went back to the hut.

Heriu awoke from this nightmare, sweating profusely and feeling like he had just risen from the dead once again. Someone was sending these well armed assassins to kill him, but this dream was quite different. In no other such nightmare, had he ever met this Eliot. He roused himself out of the sleeping bunk. The glass-door curled upward as the bed swung out. He slipped off and went into the shower booth, quite troubled by the fact, his doubles were being systematically hunted down and murdered, without warning or explanation. He was being killed and he never remembered until after the previous instances. He was entangled all-right, but why in this manner? He had too much to think about— as always.

After, showering and dressing, Heriu, still had not resolved the new information in the dream. He also was quite troubled by the deeper reasons behind why, the Guardian had allowed him to essentially walk away with one of the most advanced Eskoltian FTL ships. The Guardian, also did not ask him about the resulting catastrophic collapse of the Earth’s Time-field. His men had acted out of anger and their resolve to preserve his life by any costs. He had thought after returning that the Guardian had intended for him to die there upon that world. How else to explain the contradictions which soon unfolded in the plans, after his arrival?  And those “other” devices had been placed just as he was instructed. Two on the moon and four upon the Earth, each in an equidistant position to the others. But that was before his men decided to enter the sub-domain and re-energize the ship into the past, to unleash the secret weapon. A weapon unlike any other, which had been added to the ship in secrecy. Perhaps, the Guardian was playing a very risky game with someone else? This other adversary was intending to steal the ship, to keep that weapon under its control, for purposes only known to himself. The Guardian snatched the ship away, thereby thwarting the adversary of his intended victory. To defend oneself is the Law of self-preservation, thus it follows— whom the Guardian protects has to be himself.

Sitting at the captains table, Heriu pondered the many moves he would make if his brother had such a device. His brother would no doubt try to kill him after being born. But how does one accomplish such an impossible task, of such self-protection? Sitting here in real-time one does not have the luxury of a second guess, if one suddenly vanished off the time-line in a hot-blur, of a blue-cloud. But was the guardian so vulnerable to any weapon? If the Guardian is out-side normal time constraints it would see such an attack long before it happened. Maybe, even allow such an attack to occur, just to see what the adversary wanted by its removal.

Know your enemy, as you know thyself.

If the adversary was trying to create the one enemy that could destroy the Guardian, it would have to have the same capabilities, or it would fail the moment it tried to fight such a hopeless battle with a superior foe. One would have to have another Guardian. A duplicate, whose qualities allowed it to be controlled, or the new one simply takes out anything in its way to achieve total domination. So the adversary has to keep his created pet on a firm-leash. Can such a thing as the Guardian ever be on a such a leash?

The answer is always about leverage. Have the one thing your pet needs to stay alive, or to remain in existence. A time weapon to duplicate the Guardian, capture the duplicate and control its powers for yourself. That is how his brother would attack and he would carry out the attack the very moment he had the edge, even if it meant he had no time to gloat. Then again, it was this tendency to revel in his own false pride, which had allowed him to defeat his brother’s most devastating attacks. His brother wanted him to know it was him…. and his persistence to that weakness revealed his greatest character flaw: A morbid fear of his own death.

Instead, of living his life to the fullest he was living it to the least… so fearful of losing it all that he had created the very circumstances to bring his fears to fruition. He hid behind a bureaucracy so immense it had spawned another one even worse. All due to fear not by inner spiritual progress. His brother had traded away courage for false security, which in turn made him even weaker, and far more malicious to those he personified as his enemies. As if riches were the only single motivation which moved a man to action. His brother was leading their people to a grave so dug by such false security. A false sense of accomplishment which a real enemy would destroy in a heart-beat.

Was this why the Guardian had chosen him? He had thought about this many times over the long years. This constant struggle to remain alive had made him stronger, more capable of leadership than his brother, so blinded by his own overwrought fears. Did the Guardian realize his adversary had a fear so over-whelming it could be exploited by simply allowing such a false sense of security? After all, key men did exactly as they had been told to do and were fooled by such negligent compliance, that they themselves actually stole the ship in a manner no one could dare risk. They assumed they had no risk, even as their security failed and they were wholly compromised, once the ship locked them out of control. From that moment on the only instruction for him was to follow his own instincts and to prepare for the mission into the 4th manifold. He was learning it was not about distance as it was about coordinate solutions. Those impossible 5-d plots had been given to them by the Guardian, who had to know where the Earth world was and presumably, that it was quite inhabited in the past but not the future. Was it reckless to send such a weapon along with men who would fight to the last breath to preserve their own leader? Yes… it was quite reckless and yet, the Guardian did so. Did this mean he knew the actions of the crew would lead to that world’s time-line being altered, and so changed, they too, would enter into a whole other future? A future the Guardian needed however, to defeat his adversary?

This meant the Guardian was playing god to save its own skin, but it had no life as themselves. So it was playing god to save the Eskoltian, from the adversary, still well hidden and all other considerations were to be ignored? What does an octopus of the sea care for the actions of a monkey in the jungle? Neither inhabits the others living environment except for the rare occasion one might stumble upon the other by chance along a beach. The contests of life were many and those who won lived another day, but not always as superior as many like to think. Perhaps, the people of the Earth were too weak to survive their own indulgences, which was something those on Anzu-Vi had not yet quite learned the hard way. Power for its own sake, never rises above it own defects, thus, those who wish to yield such powers must destroy more and more to get that impossible last quotient of that power they seek. A fraction of the fraction looms as large as a full moon. As illusions go it is quite common to fixate on the goal to the exclusion of all else.

To live one’s life differently, than the many, meant letting go of the destructive urges for more pleasures, than what one really needs, but the crux of such decisions, is what makes every mans life his own. The tapestry of such choices is the legacy which cannot be undone. A mistake hardly worth a second glance may very well lead to a catastrophic moment unforeseen in the blindness of habit and complacency. The over-reaction and the use of the weapon had unleashed consequences he had no means of understanding much less resolving. Their own selfish desire for self-preservation had caused a result which the Guardian had to have studied or why send them back at all? Why not choose another crew far more worthy and far more knowledgeable of such heady sciences? A factor of randomness? In a high-stakes game where the opponents know the out-comes of the moves, ahead of time, only a move not ahead is invisible to both. Who ever can make such a move wins, so the contest is to force the opponent to reveal their moves before they can force you to do the same for them.

Two time-travelers arriving at the same time, in the same place, is no coincidence, unless they have the same exact objective and circumstances narrow the choices down to just one. If two such foes cannot out-smart each-other by manipulating time, and the corresponding events, then one of them has to sacrifice something to gain advantage where the other has no such possibility to exploit. One has to control the future the other has to destroy that future. So him and his men were used to destroy the future of the first Earth, or was he assuming too much?  Maybe that world was already severely compromised by some other factor? Something only the Guardian knew which his adversary would only glimpse after they returned alive?

His own life had been a wild-card, but he had still failed.

Mostly due to not understanding what was really at stake… he had carefully chosen all of the details for the exchanges of the cards for the weapons, only thinking of his deeper goal to destroy the moon-base, and all of the riches, upon which his brother depended. Just like his men he had failed to note specific details of the initial encounters with the earth scientists, then the military, the first time, but quite the opposite the second. Such was his confusion in the days that followed the rescue he had barely remembered the actual fateful sequence where he was shot point-blank in the head. Not by the military guards, but a scientist who stepped out from behind them. Then Oshiria came out of nowhere with a stun-grenade and then he was no longer mortally wounded, but merely grazed. When they returned to the ship he gave the orders for the weapon to be deployed again. His men did exactly as they were trained and so they carried out his orders. After the weapon was unleashed only then did they encounter hundreds of themselves as if caught in a rotating mirror, itself reflecting a cascade of mirrors. Only when they tried to shut off the weapon they found it had no emergency shut-off circuit. The weapon once unleashed continued until it had exhausted the energy-source. A source they still had no knowledge of specifically, despite all attempts to analysis the entire apparatus, for where this energy came from, and was transducted, into the holding cells.

However, had it not been for Oshiria he would still be dead.

By going back to before the incident they had inadvertently set into motion a consequence, which they compounded after his rescue. They had traveled even further into the past thinking they would have a moment to rest and re-think what had happened, but that never occurred. Instead, the other ships followed one another like an echo into self-destruction. In panic they then moved forward through the blackness which had engulfed them, using the Jump engines at maximum power. They experienced an especially bad period of time-dilation which further eroded their abilities to maintain proper consciousness. When the ship re-entered normal space they were still in orbit about the planet, but a powerful beam of some kind was soon directed upon them. With only moments to spare Heisurda fired their main beam-weapon and destroyed the base from which the hostile weapon was controlled. A fire broke out in the immediate area causing substantial collateral damages. They scanned the open frequencies upon which the Earth broadcast an avalanche of radio and visual data… they soon realized they were in the future. A year of 2019, as compared to a year of 1949, of the original mission date. The world had changed so radically they did not recognize anything of what they had seen and recorded from before the cataclysm. All of the Series 7 devices had been lost in a whirl of time to places they had no means of finding without expending significant resources.

He had made many mistakes during that short period of time and no way of fixing them. They tried to go back along the same general path of coordinates, but found there were literal dark-voids where nothing existed of ordinary matter. Much to their growing sense of apprehension, they had completely failed the mission, just as the Guardian had summarized. They tried going back into the deep-past only to discover the impossible consequences could not be undone without causing yet another consequence just as bad if not worse. The cards which had also gone into that past, were duplicated in ways no amount of theory could explain. They behaved in ways no math could explain. How many of these impossible Earths had merged they could not determine. All they knew was once it was done it was not to be fixed and so they returned one last time to the same 1947 period. Another major mistake made out of false honor and his hatred of his brother. This time they were able to trade for the weapons they had wanted the first time, but the men they dealt with were so paranoid, they could get very little out of them knowledge-wise, which was useful. And so they had returned to the correct Jump point, where the Guardian opened an older gate entrance, and soon thereafter, they met up with the three Lords, at the space-station.

Her had assumed the Guardian would kill him and his men for their total failure. So he acted once again out of pure selfish motivation. Only the weapons did not fire. They had been changed so subtly only a total break-down of the devices, then placed under deep-scans revealed anything was amiss. He absentmindedly shut off the log recorder. If his brother knew that his son was already alive and well on Verria he would be as useless as dry clay tossed to the wind. The boy was born to a woman he had met while at the Pierra shrine and shared a meal with soon thereafter. He had never told anyone about her, or that she was from an Eskoltian world. She was the one who had him receive a glyph, and it was his number which convinced her to have his child in secrecy. The boy was now nine years old and was well accomplished by every account he had been receiving. He had found his wife, as a direct consequence of meeting his child’s mother, but so indirectly his brother had missed the whole of the truth. His son was not born of marriage, but of genetic exceptionalism. His Fathers vision was real, but his paranoia had occluded the deeper truth: the boy was outside the imperial family and was far better off because of the distance. His son was free to pursue a normal life under the quality of care only possible due to the Eskoltian way of raising exceptional children, in a social setting, quite conducive to their needs, and still well balanced by purpose. The other factor his Father had never understood because he had never known such a balance.

It was time for the ships pre-Jump meeting.

Heriu was waiting for the rest of his crew to assemble in the main conference room. He regarded his men with a disdainful eye. “Once again, we have failed to dislodge my brother from his rotting throne. A throne, as you all well know, which has long since passed its usefulness. If we do not expand our empire we shall be swallowed up like a gnat by a dragon. The Eskoltian worlds are too powerful, their technologies far too advanced, for our people to even understand how to use, properly. The majority of our rural people still use the communal out-house, as they have no running water into their shanty homes. My brother encourages them to adhere to the old ways with no eye to the future. His son is an imbecile. I cannot give my trust to someone who is as dumb as a rock, with no sense of direction for himself. He can recite every word from the many old books with ease, but he has no sense of why they exist at all. I do not claim he is evil, or deserving of a sword. I am only stating the unpleasant truth. If he ascends to the throne we are finished as an Empire. He will also cut off our supplies of metals and try to leave us with no ships or fuels. Our worlds are inherently deficient of the heavy-metals, so many take for granted. Anzu-Vi being a good example. Here is world whose wealth is a product of Market exploitations and accumulations based on manipulating the insider deals of Royal Contracts. They may have access to advanced technologies not under the imperial house control, but they have wasted the real advances for shiny trophies and posh parties. We cannot afford to go backwards, just for our general populations to remain the same simple people under a old-fashioned matrix of authority. And we cannot allow the three Lords of Anzu-Vi to waste the wealth on themselves and their bureaucracy of cronies in wait. And so we will act again as required.”

“Since we did not achieve the actual mission success, we have been tasked once again to go to this Earth?”

“Why is that world even necessary to our plans? They have no technology like the Eskoltian’s and no space facilities. They are savages with powerful weapons and little else.”

“Only the weapons we took in trade were duds!”

“No they were operating as intended, I suspect the Guardian manipulated them, to render them useless. Instead, of destroying the moon complex and thus, my Brothers hold on the Empire, the Guardian removed the Antioine-fluid from the chambers, diverting their collective attention and saved my wife.”

“She is safe?”

“Yes. An operative under Lord Su, spirited her away during the confusion. She is now safe, but I cannot reunite with her until we have completed this mission.”

“Why is the Guardian manipulating not only the Eskoltian’s, but our Imperial House as well?”

“He is only concerned about the future of our races, not the individuals who must be sacrificed to achieve that future.”

“But this thing is no God.”

“No… it is not a God, it is the instrument of those who serve the One above all. It is just a construct and it follows only that which it has been commanded to do. We are the weak links to that future at the moment. Without the Guardian we would be on a slow boat circling the black drain. We do not have the ships to strike against the Imperial space-fleets, and we are in no position to strike against the Eskoltian military space-guard. Only in our modest cast of fates do we have any powers at all. So let us not forget upon whom our future depends. The mission is unique this time. We are going to track down one of the remaining Series 7-NFAIR devices— the Ace of Spades.”

“How?”

“The Guardian has arranged for us to make a stop at an obscure space-station on the edge of the Casitio-system, anchored by the fourth, giant gas-planet Gustavia. A specialized crew will instal additional devices prepared for this mission. The Ace of Spades is the most powerful of all the cards and can be triangulated upon when it is in use.”

“That is a system(Oshiria was calculating the distances),  four-Gates… of 14 jumps minimum.”

“Yes, four-and-half renti. I have a new substance for us to use, which I heard of from other captains, but not till today have I ever seen. They are called MC-spheres by the Eskoltian military doctors. They help reduce the “black-rain” as well.” He walked over to the large chest which was marked as his personal property. He entered a security code and then a key for the manual lock and then opened the chest. The lid separated into two pieces which mechanically retracted. He carefully picked up the golden, glass-tray which held in individual cups the large silver-spheres. He motioned for each crew member to take one, as he passed through them. He took the last one for a total of twenty-eight. “These are no ordinary treats. You can break them open, cut them into slices or eat them like a fruit.”

He showed them by example using a knife he had in the chest. “You see the insides are very unusual. They look like silver-metal skins on the out-side with a gel like interiors, but that is just the appearance. Some have interiors like mine, others blue, or maybe creamy-white. These are minor differences, no doubt effecting how they taste, but which has no bearing on the actual purpose. These are to help us with the short and long term effects of Jumps, both in succession, and more importantly, into another Manifold of time-dilation. Unlike before— on our last voyage, where we experienced horrific bowel troubles and lack of proper digestion, barely any restful sleep, and severe mental paralysis—- this time we are going to be much better off. This edible substance will circulate in our bodies in a time-release function. We will experience no Jump-related lag and will only need a few additional nutrients in our regular diet. The only draw-back is the addictive quality of the substance in the middle. If I say, we are to eat one of these every third ren, my taste buds would be quite pleased, but my mind would be in such a dream-state and I would be quite useless as a Captain. Which is why these silver-spheres must remain under lock and key in my stateroom. Every other renti we will add one to the dinner meal. Any questions?”

“We can do everything normally?”

“Yes, we when we arrive at the station you can visit the Ladies without issue.”

“Now I am liking this solution even more…” Big laughs as the men each began eating the large, silver colored treats.

“These are fantastic tasting… like a sweet liquor but with some fire on the top-end.”

“I agree these are very tasty… the interior is very exotic tasting to me… like a wild Hisheir Berry.”

“How long until the effect is at operational levels?”

“According to the Guardian, all of us will be ready in two ren, some less. But once we are all in regular use it does not diminish until after three renti. So even after the last ones are gone we will still have additional protection time.”

“Are any of the other cards still in use?”

“We will not know for sure until we have the Ace card inserted into the device to be installed. If any of the others have survived they will be plotted for retrieval.”

“Isn’t it the Guardians fault for losing our Devices?”

“We used inferior duplicates. It was my brother who switched them for the real ones.”

The men gasped in collective surprise.

“Yes, my brother had an agent all this time shadowing my moves. Her name is Gi Tau. I never suspected her due to her deformity. She was just a lowly servant working in the kitchen. My brother had collected by the time I was nine samples of everything: my hair, blood, skin cells, finger-prints, retinal scans plus voice recordings. She told him exactly what he needed to know of my schedule, and he walked right through my security like a shadow of myself. He has done this trick many times to make me look evil before our father, but my mother, bless her soul, caught on to his little tricks and was able to teach him a painful lesson. A lesson he had to keep to himself or betray his own secrets. So yes, we unknowingly gave those earth scientists and their military nannies the real ones. And if you think for a moment you will perceive why my brother had to get rid of them.”

“He feared their power, and he had no means to use them.”

“He feared you knew their deeper secrets and thus, tricked you into destroying your own best insurance against him.”

“All those reasons and one more… our father had a vision once… he did not have such insights often… that in the future a  child would take the throne and rule the Empire in a manner much different than ever before… but my father foolishly believed this was a bad omen and his fear soon became my brothers. It is the future that they both feared more than the Series 7 devices. A future where the old ways are gone and the people have colonized worlds far removed from the one they now inhabit and no longer under the “imperial” authority.”

“Now without the Series 7 there is no way to re-initiate the Omicron matrix, right?”

“Yes, that is correct. The Series 8 does not have the same operational capability. My brothers brilliant dodge on me has turned right back upon himself. Like a game of Court Chess, he has out-moved himself.

“Why not just make more of them?”

“The science facilities where the devices were made were ironically destroyed by the very same devices in the early testing periods. The labs burned to the ground where all of the specialized equipment was housed and uniquely manufactured. Many of the original scientists also died in accidents and or were reported to be missing, after critical tests failed. There are very few reports or documents from that period which have survived wholly intact. The new labs were located on the moon base and after the eights, those types of problems no longer occurred.”

“You do not believe those Earth scientists are capable of manufacturing duplicates?”

“I think if they have succeeded we are not ever going to know for certain. Part of the secret of their successful manufacturing was the single minded pursuit of the success. Elder Zhou drew upon the most ancient of the sacred Divine books while designing them. My best guess is he had help from the monks to chant these ancient words perfectly in the unique chambers in which they lived. I do not think any scientist of the Earth has any chance of copying such mystical arcane knowledge, or duplicating such a complex wave-guide feature. No, I am afraid the secret to those devices died not only with the Elder Zhou, but also the honorable monks, to whom he dearly trusted with his life. I have met the ones who are there today and was quite impressed by their adherence to old standards. It is the only reason why the inferior 8 models worked at all as duplicates of the 7’s. Just keep in mind we do not know the original sequences of the possible forty-thousand geometries much less the correct ones they sang while being recorded, and over a period of a year maybe two. A remarkable feat of endurance none will be revisiting any time soon.”

“Are those three Lords from Anzu-Vi going to be more trouble to us than they are worth by alliance?”

“That is a good question I cannot answer at the moment. All I can say is they were quite disappointed, Lord Su was untouched by this incident, much to their chagrin. He has moved smartly into a Diplomatic relationship with the Eskoltian’s via one of their Agents. The very same agent who managed to photograph us and them apparently, as my Brother gloated by way of our private communications. I think that false sense of trapping me yet again will vanish, when he discovers my beloved has escaped his cage for good. I suspect she will soon be on the Eskoltian world of Verria. The Guardian, has made great effort to remove her so it stands to reason she will not be returning to harms way.”

“I think we are ready to begin our Jump procedures. Let us get to our stations. We have a complicate journey to accomplish.”

“And if we for some reason do not succeed?”

“My gut feeling is either, we succeed this time, or do not bother returning at all. Unless, you relish becoming a prisoner of the Guardian on some primitive world long since lost to history, or to be simply reduced to stars dust.

 

 The Office of Vsaris, Diplomatic Intelligence      16

Vsaris was looking out the window of his office, gathering his thoughts before the meeting with the lead Rep. from the InterModal Studies Group. These were the top-level nucleus members who studied anomalies arising from the 4th Manifold, which involved security alerts, especially when the reports came from multiple sources. Lord Su was talking with several other scientific specialists, in the meeting room, who had also been tasked with determining why security protocols were not only breached, but effectively shut-down all along the path of the stolen ship. He was deeply troubled by the obvious pattern, when all other possibilities were removed from the table, leaving the only answer— the Guardian. He had no other plausible answer to the damning quality of the data itself. But if there was another answer, the guy they were waiting for patiently, was the one who would deliver it like a hard slap to the face.

Vsaris glanced at a security alert on his desk monitor. Nothing really important, but every little something was being treated with a higher code-alert-status just the same. The diplomatic alliance between himself and Lord Su, raised a few eye-brows, after it was revealed, who else was under his protective wing. The young wife of the now wanted younger brother. She was a very interesting woman in her own right. Highly educated, beautiful, from a prominent family with deep roots intertwined with the Imperial lineage, and quite adamant that it was the Elder brother who was the real villain. Kidnapping your younger brother’s wife was still a crime, regardless of its unusual motivations, and in this case, severely conflicted by circumstances resulting from their mutual hatred of one another. A long history of the two of them trying to literally kill each other did not resolve well in the present. The data analysis of the ship scans left no doubt the younger brother was going to destroy the moon complex, in order to collapse the older ones hold on his power. Only something went wrong with the weapons control functions. They did not fire on command. So the attack failed. The younger was out to destroy the older brothers financial powers.  Powers stemming from the prodigious amounts of pure metals flowing out of that complex. He was under strict rules not to divulge or reveal the secrets contained in the Lord’s report. Essentially, one bomb-shell after another. A profound technological advancement which in turn created a fountain of wealth like no other. The younger brother according to his wife was trying to save the Empire from the dead-hand of its moribund bureaucracy. A government of officials, who had even more officials, to carry out the officialism’s to the next level. Even Lord Su grimly agreed that the over-burden was strictly due to the sheer amount of wealth that flowed in tight movements through the official channels of the upper-social class. For those at the top of the society life was incredible, but for those on the bottom, it was pure hell with a sugar coating.

His intercom signal chimed. The specialist had arrived as well.

“Agent Vsaris here..”

“Just a quick heads up… there has been another flight anomaly in the same Vector Zone. Heading into the 4th again, according to the Jump trajectory analysis. Just thought you should know.”

“Thanks Agent Seachio. Just one more thing…. is there any way we can pull from the scan data whether or not there is encrypted communications tucked into a random data telemetry signal. I mean, this ship is still going through the procedures prior to a Jump, and according to the senior project managers, I spoke to, that ship is still sending data to their centers, only certain codes are stripped out. I seem to recall one of your colleagues giving a tech seminar on signal graphing to reveal data hidden in either random data bursts, normal to ship operations on the mechanical level, or coded into the multi-spectrum sensor out-put logs which are automatically sent back to operations… right?

“I think I follow you… and yes, that is Grefiia. So you have a hunch the ship is under some kind of remote control?”

“Exactly…. I mean who is doing these 5-d plots?”

“Damn good question Vsaris. Are you going to shock me with another insight?”

“Well, lets just say there are very few candidates for that kind of computer busting real-time solutions.”

Vsaris… do you know what you are saying?”

“Of course I do.”

“You’re saying the military stole its own ship and the Guardian helped them pull it off!?”

“Nobody has those numbers Seachio, nobody. Only the most powerful of the Q-level queries can multi-phase those kinds of numbers… I checked the log status records, there are no resolved 5-D plots for the 4th manifold, only conjectures barely out of the 1st iterations of Hesikiens Theorems. Only the military has the upper-level hardware to test new ones not already in the public data-bases. I checked those records as well. There is nothing left to explain where those plots are originating. Nobody does 5-D plots by hand or just by amazing guess-work on a navigation screen.”

“You really freak me out at times Vsaris…. OK I will pull Grefiia right out of his current schedule and we will pull up an emergency, tasked response-team. If that data-stream is going to where you think it is we will find that answer…. probably around midnight, or so,  as we are looking at fourteen-hours of super-crunching a boat-load of raw-data numbers.”

“I appreciate this Seachio, really, I wouldn’t even be going there accusation wise, except that I have no way to explain these anomalous losses of security, or that our stolen ship came within micro-seconds of taking out an entire moon-city complex, which supplies us with 2.4 billion tons in finished, or raw metal contracts every year.”

“OK, I just hope your wrong for being right… ’cause this is nuts on a stick crazy. I will call you in a few hours with some preliminary results… maybe we will luck out and pull a new tangent or two. Bye for now”

Vsaris clicked off.  He checked the room screen. The Rep. was just about ready to go with his presentation. His aides were showing the assembly members to their seats, with each one receiving the assigned documents. Diplomatic secrets made for some interesting hurdles to be over-come, but this meeting was just small enough, to skirt some of the more wretched excesses of security controls. He picked up a few more notes off his desk and went out the door down the short carpeted hallway to the main conference room. He took his seat at the large fully prepped table.

“Good morning every one. I am Serg Briestein, the Nucleus Representative so tasked with this mornings briefing. Knowing time is of the essence, as I am on a very tight schedule today, I will get right to the heart of our mystery. Over a good many years there has been a persistent flaw in the Glyph Master Financial Records and Accounts. Very high level glitches which have vexed some of best and brightest for well over a century. These are glitches mostly in the financial records, missing fractional sums which barely make a blip on the data screen in real time, but when viewed in yearly plots, over a thirty year period, suddenly jump out like a cat from a screen. These unpleasant surprises have caused considerable havoc, not only in upper management, with such embarrassing errors in their financial reports, but also in the senior fiduciary Master Accounting offices which cannot resolve them. Not a single one.”

Serg continued, pointing to the graphs on the wall-screen, “what we have is a unknown insider. Someone who has infiltrated our Master Systems and has changed by means, known only to themselves, some hidden factor of the Q2O-level coding and communication protocols. We know this by the math glitches, but we cannot find where this exterior connection has been hidden in the older communication hub-stations. This is so serious that only those with top-level, security clearances are allowed to see the main reports and data synopsis. The anomaly which we have been researching for several decades, has intersected with the investigation tasked with this very serious security breach and resulting diplomatic situation.” He showed them on the screen, dozens of graphed histories, of the Master Accounts in question.

“Do you have political reasons to believe more than one group is behind these activities?”

“I too understand the implications of certain parties trying to undermine the legitimate ruling powers in order to bring in chaos and thus destruction. However, I happen to think we are being fooled by a single someone who is very clever, on a whole other level. So clever, we see tracks so well disguised we have no means to discern why. Our Master Account system,which tracks all financial activities is essentially none secretive. So this masking is that very missing clue itself. Who has this authority of top-down, level-one control? No current government leader has such secret access to the encrypted Q-streams between the Nodes… and no military systems flunky can alter a record for a general or for a crook. These Q-encryption’s are comprised of numbers too large for decompression, except on the dedicated Fortain parallel- systems. You can’t touch one of these node hot-lines without two hundred, data-feed sensors simultaneously ringing security alarms, on four different worlds. Our mysterious “insider” has to be an older individual, and I say this because he has exploited something, that was in the past, and is no longer accessible, in the present. In addition, he has acquired the missing project ship to carry out some unknown purpose, and is using the people so involved, who have a mutual goal to his own. Taking over our system to serve his own needs is our first guess. This one wants to rule over us, but he knows that is not possible unless the Glyph system is destroyed.”

“So your group has the evidence to support the contentions, that the recent events are all connected to take over the entire system?”

“That is the hidden goal, we believe satisfies all of the conjecture. To reach this goal requires the destruction of the Moon complex, a massive destabilization of the entire Market, thereby producing a violent conflict where war serves as a perfect cover for hidden purposes. Our “insider” is manipulating our military assets in conjunction with unknown parties, as no man with a glyph can do his dirty work, so he has found outsiders, to whom he is no doubt making deals, of nefarious purposes.”

“So you think he is moving military assets out of the 4th manifold?”

“Yes, the data shows that missing ship had been modified with unknown weapon-systems.”

“I know what you are thinking Vsaris that the Guardian itself has been compromised. Given the manner in which top-level security has been pushed aside, with no more effort than waving a finger in the air, I would agree. My report makes that very point. However, one has to remember the Glyph system operates by our consciousness, not by the Guardians acts of will. Unfortunately, we have very little access to its higher functions– as we have no 9’s currently registered. Without a 9 to initiate direct contact inside the main space-station, there are no means to such an exchange. And if you think about it carefully the Guardian has been cut-off, due to that odd fact itself, for quite some time now. Most math studies have shown rather conclusively, that the number of “9’s” in the general population is always around four and half percent. We have none. We have had no nines in the upper classifications in almost one-hundred and thirty-four years. That is the grand-daddy of the currant anomalies. And a startling clue as to how long this “insider” has been at work keeping that direct contact from taking place.”

“So you are strongly suggesting we have some two-hundred year old somebody manipulating the system?”

“Yes. The data has no other resolution. When we plotted the many divergences so reported from hundreds of top-level reports, they all lined up. ”

“And you have those data reports?”

“They are in the master index. It is a four-foot stack if you want them printed out in full.”

“How close to success, is this hidden hand?” Lord Su asked, looking up from his notes.

“Honestly, Lord Su, we believe this insider has moved into a final position. We believe he is going for all the marbles.”

“But why now?” Asked the co-chairwoman Lynfrei.

“I can answer that question,” replied Vsaris, “he has no choice. Once he took that ship his plans went into full motion. He is not fighting us— I think he is fighting the Guardian. A down-and-dirty attack too… had me fooled as well into thinking the Guardian could go rogue. Maybe the Guardian found a candidate for a Nine and this insider is the fool bringing him on in… from the 4th manifold no less.”

“That would be quite the chess move Vsaris, using your enemies triumph to bring in your own ringer,” remarked Lord Su.

“I agree with that as well Vsaris,” nodded Serg, adding another note to his own. “I will recommend that insight to be included in the post addendum. A genuine Nine in the right spot would be devastating to such an insider.”

“If you do not mind my asking, why is that so?” Asked Lord Su, still puzzled by the mysterious Guardians actions.

“The 9’s have access to the full on defensive powers which are restricted and well, of such a nature the term “godlike” might well become superfluous. The 9’s in the original history books have been subtly white-washed out of the present texts due to a more heady truth. They did things very few have ever equaled since. One of them Vsfarien moved cities of millions from the dying world of Piparien, directly to Oveita, where the descendants thrive today. There were no ships in the oldest of days. The exalted Nines used a technology which was only referred to by its slangy derivative: mass time-framing-teleportation’s. A movement of all things on a 3-d grid from one set of 4-d coordinates to another, with perfected resolutions. They did the absolute impossible and no one ever since has ever learned those secrets.”

“Secrets which would be only known by the Nine’s?”

“Yes… Lord Su, by their oral legacy and so written in their books of knowledge, of which very few remain, intact.”

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are out of time for today. I think we have much more to do and I hope we are successful in finding out more information of this mystery ships purpose, while we have a few cards left of our own.”

After the meeting Vsaris and Lord Su went back to his office.

“Go ahead and take a seat. Our coast-land fog is real thick today blotting out what would otherwise be a spectacular view of the entire northwest quadrant. The Q-terminal has a voice-activated control link,” he handed Lord Su an extra from the opposite side of the viewing screen, of the big-cube,”which you can use at any terminal, as the AI avatar will remember your directives and commands, so you do not have to fiddle around with unnecessary log ins and other minutia, while trying to figure out something.”

“I will have one of these big cube devices in my office as well?”

“Right along with any other device or equipment you deem required. As a full investigative liaison partner, your access is as good as anybody else within those parameters, of course. We do not browse files and records out of our area of inquiry as a rule. Plus, if it is really that important somebody of the right department will be well ahead on that point in most cases, so it is just a matter of keeping your info leads in good working order, so people know what you want and why.”

“I find all of this very impressive. To have such knowledge at ones fingertips is quite the boost to confidence. But from what I have been gathering, our insider has been hard at work for a very long time. Surely this means he has anticipated that his open moves will demand a more certain response. To walk into a trap of logic might be part of that long range planning.”

“I agree that is a real possibility. Whoever this individual is he has had plenty of time to make every move to gain what he wants. So he must have back-up moves if his most desired ones suddenly heads south.”

“That unusual Bas-relief of the man, just out-side the window. It is most peculiar.”

Vsaris followed Lord Su’s glance up-wards and realized he had missed something, all morning. “Actually I have never seen that before until just now.”

“Prenti?”

“Yes Vsaris?”

“Could you run a record of all work that has been done quite recently to add a Bas-relief out-side to my left exterior window?”

“There are no records of any such work Vsaris.”

“Well, can you run a scan of the building, isolate the area in question and run a full security-level comparison to determine why it is there at all?”

“Checking the coordinates… base element carbon, unknown isotope alloy, a distinct molecular vibration— I am sending an exterior R-D4-unit to perform a total spectrum analysis of the unknown intrusion. I am also going to scan the building for any other anomalous changes not registered in the Q-records. One moment…. this addition has no physical record, it appears to be an anomaly of undetermined purpose.”

“Looks like our insider has sent you and me, a unique message. Look at this mans face. He has been captured, as if, he is frozen in a single moment.”

“Your right. Frozen in stone forever. But why this message?”

“He is telling us he has the power to change our reality when he decides, we are to notice such a power. Just as Mr. Briestein stated, this one is quite clever indeed. He must know something of the Nines secrets, plus the power of the cards to manipulate time and space. This is a fine example of a change of Instance— a significance we cannot ignore.”

“Our insider certainly has direct access to all of our information. To reveal this kind of power is to acknowledge such power in use. He has given us a warning alright, we too could end up like this guy, only my glyph does not register any danger.”

“He is mocking your defenses, thereby, sowing the seeds of doubt. When the unit examines the material properties I would not be surprised if it is composed of particles not found anywhere else in our systems. Our adversary is cunning in his objectives, but unwise in his advance.”

“Or he is setting a path in motion. A game of time-chess, where his move provokes yet another, from the Guardian. We need to take a visit to a unique library on Oveita. I have a hunch what this little move here may be about. Prenti, could you arrange for Lord Su and myself to take an immediate C-5 shuttle to the Foundation House library, in the city of Breint, on Oveita.”

“Yes, of course Vsaris. A round-trip C-5 shuttle is being readied for departure. You can leave when ready.”

“Thank you Prenti. Most of my real work is going through information the old fashioned way. I know where there is map reference, to an obscure planet, on a large wall-painting done some time ago, located in this very library. That library, also is one of the few, which has accessible documents of the Nine Society going back all the way to the first period, even prior to our society becoming called the Eskoltian System. The books were written by a nine… named, Yveron, I believe. My dad used to tell me stories, as a boy, about his trips to this very same library, as part of his early college course work. He is an historian by training and is a dedicated life-long member of the historical club, which had all kind’s of unique projects involving old manuscripts and such. He told me about these incredible books written by the nines and eights stored there under tight management. Well, those books tied into the map, but due the language differences nobody really knew what they meant exactly. But the kicker was some of these passages so found, referenced a world in the 4th manifold, just like on the map. And so we are going to find out if we can make use of the modern translation programs and find out if this world is indeed our missing ships mystery destination.”

“A planet lost in the dusty records of time….” Lord Su was studying the many visual data references which popped up on the window based holographic-screen for his review.

“You see what my father remembered most about those writings so translated was a single line: When our people understand how to unfreeze the past, only then, will our people know the future. He always thought it meant our immediate people, however, I now wonder if it meant another possibility. Where our races originated has always been a deep mystery. A world frozen in time–as in time-dilation—literally stuck on the edge of forever.”

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