Quantum Candy — VIII

Flower-of-life

After the final televised interview, with the Agaveion press-corp, Charlene was not so sure this bit of scheming was actually working in her complete favor. She felt oddly trapped in a superficial role of a limiting quality, which was quite foreign to her true sense of self. She did not like being a celebrity under a false mask of an assumed self. The only thing that gave her a shred of hope, that there was a light at the end of this crazy tunnel, was the continued assurance by the Goddess, that she was very close to determining which world Mathew had been sent. She touched the two gold Prosian horn-buds with her right index finger. Odd things really, but essential. She had received via these Prosian communication devices, an in-depth tutorial on all things related to worm-hole travel and the proper identification of the system “Instances” earth science barely recognized as solar systems. Or as she thought about it more carefully, earth science only recognized one instance of the solar system permutations, which were in rotations in a never-ending spiral of which the star was indeed the ultimate center.

She was still having a very difficult time wrapping her head around how all this was working, even with so many charts and diagrams floating about her head. She was staring up at a inner-mind projection. An image which was inside her head, but was visually all around her like a hologram. She was looking the Flower of Life pattern. Which was a holographic interference pattern, underlying all physical reality. This was being related to the “holographic gravitational mass” of the proton. Her mend was reeling from the over-load of what this implied. She was not a physicist, or a cosmologist, but there was something about these patterns and structures she was being shown which invoked a deeper sense of contemplation.

So she continued with her mini-lesson on quantum Instances.  Gravity was described as a ratio of mass/information to surface area, through pixelation of the structure of the vacuum itself– a Haram-Conjunction— of hyper-fractal correlation. The number of possible quantum gravity/information iterations was unbound, while consciousness bound States in referential perceptions. All minds connected on the Supra-Order of “One Permeation” yet localized into discrete “Instance” realities.

Thus, every sun(star point) had any number of potential “Instances” as planet systems bound by gravity, which was a much more complex force. She skipped this section going to the next one regarding these “Frames of Reality” and world perceptions. The frame of reference for the inner-mind was likened to a movie reel on a vertical plane. Each still frame when run in sequenced-time produced an illusion of movement— the continuity of motion— which the mind perceives as the foundation for its role in directing the “reality” so entangled. An “instance” was likened to a horizontal plane, which had a parallel reference to the frame in the perception window— since the mind cannot include any other “frame of reference” at the same focal-time-state— all other “instances” are beyond immediate conscious awareness. To shift from one frame to another was an action requiring either considerable skill— which in her case did not exist— or was made possible by some other force acting on the consciousness— which did apply to her and so she was translated into another— Instance-Frame— along that horizontal axis and then moved into another vertical “frame of instance reference” altogether.

As a sub-note she read: Dreams were the free movement of the unconscious percolating into conscious awareness. Lucid consciousness, while in either state was a substantial factor of the creative process all beings have naturally, but many choose to ignore.

Her dreams had become quite confusing, but she was not concerned with that now.

The distance in “interstellar” absolute measures was rather mind-boggling, but not on the flattened, shadow-planes(negative energy/bound in super-symmetry) which all higher-dimensional objects produced. She was on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy, and in another “Instance-Frame Reference” but was in the same 4th manifold primary resolution. There were five all together. A manifold worm-hole was not the same as a mere intra-stellar one within the same manifold. Each intra-stellar worm-hole or Star-Gate reference, had additional sub-tends, of the co-coordinates of the world “instances” so referenced, as 4-D(It) plots. Moving from one Manifold into another required a 5-D/M Trinary-Plot, and when moving from one planetary system “Instance” to another Manifold, as a single continuity Jump, the additional sub-coordinates, so rendered as p(It) was added as well. The actual computations within those simple parameters was far beyond anything she had ever seen. But she was not here to become an astrophysicist so she just skipped that part entirely.

On the mental screen she saw a representation of the Earth, from her own memory, super-imposed with its last best known Instance coordinates. Another problem which the Goddess was solving as more information became known. She looked at the T-pathway, which was the transit 5-d plot she actually traveled, via the trinary-signal path, to the world of the Goddess and its Instance coordinates. She then looked at the space-transit pathway after coming aboard the ship to the home world of the Goddess, the city and the estate, to the very room where she was now resting.

This was nothing like any movie or TV series she had ever watched period.

She took a deep breath and momentarily turned off the mental imager. Her room was so luxurious she actually felt guilty for just being here. That was her real problem. She had never been in such a state of accommodations, or importance to really know how to react much less feel comfortable. Her back-story was so unbelievable that she felt embarrassed not confident. Her heroic father, barely holding on to a daring dream, of sending his beloved daughter back through the ancient devices, he had managed to return to operational conditions, was slowly dying. To once again re-unite their family with those of their ancient lineages was his dream and hers to fulfill. Her awe inspiring story of surviving against all odds of such a death defying journey was already sold lock, stock and barrel to the mass-media. Guided by nothing, but inspiration and hope, she had succeeded in arriving upon the world of the Goddess, after brilliantly deducing the final coordinate inputs while in transit. Yet, here she was looking at those very same plots and she had no idea what they really meant.

She went back to the examples of “Instances” so known of five major worlds so inhabited by the races of this system. Every star supported any number of potential instance-states. Finding another such state was quite difficult for planet bound consciousness to achieve naturally. Most races did not have this type of intra-instance capability and so they were stuck in one plane of existence. Any race which succeeded in “Jumping” to the next level would then discover the possibilities, but still had a long ways to go both technologically— power, infrastructure etc.

Races, such as the one the Goddess belonged to as a class, were millions of years ahead of races like mankind, and when they decided to lift such a race, out of the lower orders, these races greatly benefited from such an action, but the price they would pay for such an advancement, as she considered the many examples, was not so rosy in the end. She finally grasped the key factor of the “instance” examples was not space-time, or even galactic-time, but the manner in which a world existed did not originate as claimed by earth bound science theories, of gravitational acclimation’s of matter. Looking back into the interstellar past was not as straight-line forward or backwards as most assumed. It was all the past, as in an impossible spiral of “relative time-dilation converging motion” which was made manifest throughout the Cosmos Flower-of-Life pattern. Time-dilation was the cosmic-machine moving the frames, but what inside that frame actually moved? That was the mind bender— it didn’t. The mind was the actuator of the vibrations and energy flowed in perfected resolutions.

She continued to the three primary rules of the Cosmos— Spontaneous, Simultaneous and Instantaneous— which on both ends of the cosmic scales, seemed rather implausible to the ordinary mind, but to those races like the Goddess came from— these were the Laws by which all others were made manifest.  Their technologies were but magic to the lessor minds, who could not grasp the implications or the results. As an example: when she wanted something it arrived, but the key was how it arrived and by what method, each step was smoothed out— finesse was the measure of perfection. She was a rookie so green her practice “manifests” were just awkward.

She had the equivalent of training wheels on an adult bike.

The Goddess had specifically sub-linked her amateur-level Prosian horn-bud’s, in such a way, that she was being guided very subtly in the proper use of such powers, as needed. The mathematical system so derived from such formidable abilities was so beyond her she was quite limited in how such powers could be used as well. She did not have any omnipotent authority, more like fifth-stage apprentice notes to ease her past the tiny gaps of the mundane mind and the profound one. To reach that top first-stage would require another life-time or two just to master the basics. She was very realistic that was not in her actual future. Her role was to be this quiet, modest fifth-cousin, who was forever grateful for the many sacrifices of her parents. At least she could emphasize with that one aspect without effort. And essentially that was all that mattered.

She had quite the busy itinerary as a special guest and so she was going to be seen in such a social context. Her pale-blue skin, more emerald-green eyes, longer and much fuller platinum-blonde hair, was exactly the look these fifth-cousin females were famous for in the genetic sense, and her body was much more aligned to the pin-up ideal than she was expecting, but she didn’t mind that her over-all figure was even better than in college. The very reason why Bill was so attracted to her in the first place.

Back then, she and her group of friends loved to ice-skate and so she was in excellent condition while on the college team. Like so many girls she had gone for the guy with the fancy car and lots of spending money. She also had known him from the same city school where they both grew up, which added another factor to her decision. Early on he had loved her, but after they had become married, he had slowly changed to the very kind of man she despised. And his father was one twisted, evil bastard. The one thread which kept her from being swallowed up in a fog of depression was Mathew. He had been a bright spot from the very first day she met him. Polite with a wonderful smile, he drew her out of her moribund self and made her feel alive again. She was just trapped for awhile by circumstances, as was Mathew, to that crazy woman he had married. That would be an interesting switch. Let Bill and her be together. His wife was quite stunning, looks wise and that had blinded Mathew to her sinister side. She never told him of the vile conversations that female had launched on her, on those rare occasions they happened to be in the same place. She was a viper in disguise, whose drug habits had actually softened those razor-edges. She was so loopy after a few years her bark was a pip compared to the former. And then off she went into a drug-dive-something— totally lost in a haze of narcissistic self-indulgence.  Mathews ex and Bill, had so much in common, it was eerie, just how similar they were under the skin.

She thought about Mathew as intensely as she could and then let her hearts love move into that space. And for just the briefest moment— she was back in the apartment— looking at herself and Mathew at the table. They had even more of the substances!  

She bolted straight up from the lounge chair and began frantically pacing the room. What was going on? How could she be there and here? She was living her life in double? Was he back without her?

The Goddess momentarily, tapped her conversation screen.

“Charlene?”

“Yes?”

“Calm yourself… it is a natural consequence for a double of you to be occupying the same time-slot back in your original instance. A balance to the cosmic placement. Now listen… she is you and when you return she is still you… all she knows you will know as if you had been there all along… and this journey will be the extraordinary time— so compared. Do not get yourself confused, or you will lose the real location of your mate. Do you understand me?

“Yes… Goddess, I understand… it was just a bit shocking is all.”

“I realize this is all very different for you and I expect such minor disturbances will occur as you learn more about what is possible and not what you simply assume. Now take a deep breath… good and be thankful, that your connection is so strong, to your mate. You just proved once again that your “doubles” are hard at work obtaining yet more of these amazing Q-candies— I just saw the proof as clear as day, just as you did. Proof like that is like gold in the hand. Now according to the schedule, Variese should be arriving in a few minutes to help you get ready for the next social engagement. This one is important, but it is easy breezy. A nice dinner party with all of our own people, well selected guests, plus many more enjoying good food and conversation. As for me I am currently on my way to speak with my parents over many matters, but I will be checking up on the dinner party as the night progresses. I will be looking after the details of the press conferences as well.

By the way Averi is feeling much better and will be joining you and Variese. You handled yourself quite well and she is quite determined to remain in my good graces. You have already accomplished the hardest part successfully Charlene, so enjoy yourself.”

“OK, I will. Thank you.”

While Charlene was preparing for the dinner party, the Goddess was examining the data returns from Charlene’s contact experience. She had boosted that specific augmentation to the operational limits. Which was why she now had another piece of that one puzzle. And what a puzzle it was surrounding this earth female. Across the large screen the data was flowing allowing her to analyze the results whose quotients were still ambiguous. This earth had some of the strangest “instance” permutations she had ever come across. She was going to need some of their best scientists to help unravel the knot of mystery here. The entanglement potentials were so confused she had no way to resolve any individual world coordinate. It was as if the original world Instance was itself hung on a precipice of collapse. But that had to mean a weapon based on warp emanations had been used on the preceding Instance— a condition where one instance bled into another with usually catastrophic results. Civilizations as a rule did not live through such cataclysms, unless the original Instance was still under an expanding dilation field of enormous power. But that was insanity.

She went to an index, under warp field weapon results, drilled down the file tree and pulled up a collection of research notes on wars fought with such weapons.

Total annihilation of an enemy was assured when the time-dilation field was warped into a false-infinity bubble. A term loosely describing an Instance position, knife-edge to the Cosmic producing a continuity paradox. A literal state of seeing the external cosmos as if the end and the beginning were indeed from the same point in space. A sustained viewpoint which often had the prolonged effect of maintaining the illusion of being at the very center of the cosmos. Light shifts entering the field zones were in the inverse relations, and calculating actual stellar distances was tedious as a result. These time-frame bubbles eventually collapsed and another Instance would emerge to re-balance the Q-gravitational equivalence, unless a Maker so intervening, separated the damaged time-dilation field and re-initialized the Instance paths, of such worlds, so effected. Those Instances not worth saving, were simply allowed to degenerate back into primordial matter-states, which had the benefit of providing massive ore-bearing bodies in free(unbound) interstellar-space.

Another known consequence of such warp-weapons— manifested as mass-mind nullification— all mental-states are wiped-out, leaving a sentient population (unshielded) without a working conscious memory, or an identity of self… they became instantly, mindless creatures whose survival was less than one percent under the very best of circumstances. Tribal savages fared far better than civilized populations. Such weapons devastated such living populations and in their own current time period only the Gavius reptoid’s in the d-class had such weapons in their deploy-capable arsenals.  Now that was a connection the Goddess knew would raise the proper hackles in the higher Councils. This particular reptilian sentient variant was not well liked at all, especially by the higher-order Terozians who had taken great pains to distance themselves from their more primitive pirate minded cousins.

Her attention came back to the lower quadrant of the blue-screen where an equation had finally resolved. A new schematic graphic of the earth instance problem gave her a high-resolution result. The original “instance” had indeed been hit by an extremely powerful warp-field weapon… so powered by a unique, q-variant worm-hole, of the standard Fibeonu Index. This was an old, major-axis, conjunction worm-hole from a very early period.The star charts gave a preliminary coordinate, of a double-cluster, which judging, from the old linking indexes, was a member of the Percyean vault. The next closest cluster to the old earth instance, also caught her eye as well. At only 600 hundred light years distant the 5-d plot made this concentrated star cluster, the likely candidate for the mysterious source of energy for the transit path. The gravitational lensing produced a clean hyperbolic, of the correct coordinates. Whomever plotted their paths was an expert. That detail was meant to be respected.

She went back to the data concerning the odd, worm-hole, expanding time-formations— Brukant objects— naturally rare, but easily induced under field expansion in a negative 6th matter matrix. The devises Charlene had specifically stated as the cause for the unique substance generation, would be quite the discovery to aid in this application. According to the data a series of bubble-instances, had populated the inverted time-field[6th matrix], while other Instances of the same world-genotype seed converged under time-dilation forces in the same damaged zones. No resolution of the current earth Instance was possible due to cross-entanglement.

However, that was the very reason why miss Charlene from Earth was here at all. Such unique circumstances of entangled instance-paths.

The next readings were very unusual and she was not at all sure why. Another set of powerful, transient signals were emanating from the clusters of the Instances, which meant on one of those earths somebody was using an advanced, mass acceleration system, to transwarp matter. While this was still the most basic, and primitive form of technology, underlying the mass-teleportation systems— it was significant. More verification, that these many Earths, were indeed host to quite a variety of unusual activity. Most likely military in purpose. And no doubt quite secretive.

From the final data-summation it appeared that a certain balance between these “fragment Instances” had been reached. The transient I-bubbles were populated inside a much larger one in a rotation dynamic, which had become bound to the q-variant worm-hole, by Q-gravitational resonance. They were all turning in perfect tide-lock cyclical formation. That was another significant clue— she quickly compressed the entire data results and sent the package under high-priority protocols to one of her fathers most trusted investigation teams. This old q-variant was right in their favorite area of expertise. And finding yet another worm-hole of this class was going to make her father exceptionally pleased. She was going to be the twinkle in his eyes after this news. This one may have once stretched across the entire quadrant to link centers at the galactic core-rim. With the proper probes they would discover thousands of new systems in uncharted territories. Her family was well positioned to curry favor at the top of the echelons, after such discoveries. Charlene was about to mint her family another fortune.

Her shuttle-ship was preparing for landing and it was time to meet some minor relatives and then off to the evening events with her parents. She felt the joy in every step.

 

countdowntooblivion

 

 

Heriu awake to a splitting headache. He was in a bad smelling prison cell, a low-watt light illuminated his surroundings, whose crumbling red-brick walls were covered in graffiti. He stood up trying to get his blood flowing. The cot he had been sleeping on was filthy. The tiny cell had a rusty looking iron-sheet door with a small window at shoulder level, whose one inch-bars were curved inward from being hammered from the outside. He stepped up to the window looking left and right down the dim-lighted hallway. Nobody else was around. He vaguely remembered being shot by a female and a blue field enveloping him, but nothing else.

“Eliot?” He shouted out.

“Over here Heriu,” replied Eliot, who stuck his head up to the window and wiggled his fingers through the bars.

“Where are we now Eliot?” Asked Heriu testing the strength of the bars and the door.

“We are being held by a powerful sorcerer named Faustius. A real bad one in fact.”

“How come we are not dead?”

‘As a human duplicate, you cannot die on a world you were never born. The better question is why do we still remember each other? Usually, such a violent translation wipes the memory-slate clean. Somebody either wants information or thinks we know where to gain something they want.”

“You never closed the doorway.”

“It doesn’t matter. That female came in by a whole other method, but it does raise the question that somebody else might want to use that passage. That corridor has a whole lot of translation points, more than I ever wanted to test out so who knows. We need to get out of here.”

“They stripped me of my previous clothes and now I am wearing a foul smelling one-piece garment of lime-green and rotting shoes.”

“Yeah, me too. Look and see if any of the blocks have a sign of a watch-maker on them. It will be three-interlocking gears. Those are key bricks. This bubble-world is a derivation of the one we created called “To Catch a Jinni.” A mixture experiment that I thought was a bad idea. Mixing Bubble-Instances like beer and milk is just asking for trouble. The other input was a science-fiction movie about a highly advanced race where the females dominated the males whom they used like slaves. Then one of the slaves, reversed the power mode of their space-based, ray-gun, and made the females into the slaves of the men. A very controversial movie in its debut. Lots of scantily clad women running around basically. Sick bastards just wanted another play-world to indulge themselves in, but after the sorcerer unexpectedly, crossed a transition barrier, he did something totally novel. He made nice with the queen. The two of them then used the woman to lure the unsuspecting men into diabolical traps— the Fustian bargain, basically selling their souls for their wildest dreams kind of deal. Some pretty dark mayhem soon ensued. The real Eliot barely defeated the sorcerer and the Queen in a royal deluxe battle. Some say that act made him start to believe that he was a god. I do not discount that possibility, as too much power does indeed do some damn strange things to an ordinary mind. I am also sure that these two characters are still carrying quite the grudge.”

“I found a key brick. Now what?”

“Pull it out and smash it to the floor. Inside is a round sphere. Put the sphere in your mouth and swallow. In about two minutes or so you will transmute your physical features and walk right through the wall. Do not free me. Instead, go find the main guard station three levels up and knock out the big guy sitting two feet from the alarm. He will no doubt be asleep. This prison was based on rules in the movie— so knock him out get the key ring and return. The effect lasts exactly seven minutes.”

“OK… here I go. ” He swallowed the sphere which had a slight metallic taste and waited. Just as he was thinking nothing was happening, he realized that his feet, as seen through the holes in the shoes, were pale-silver in color. He then moved through the wall as if it was made of smoke. The cells they were trapped in were on the lowest-level so he quickly moved upwards through the floors and walls. There were other prisoners, but they were bio-toons. Moving as fast as he could he finally reached the main guard room. Sure enough the giant dog-faced man was sound asleep. He picked up a rifle more with his mind than his hands and stoutly clobbered the guard and he slumped silently to the floor. Heriu found the main key ring and a grabbed two pairs of heavy socks, from a box with extra clothes, and headed back down to the cell holding Eliot. He made it to the end of the corridor before turning back to his normal self. He turned the key in the lock and opened the cell door. Eliot stepped out and was indeed dressed exactly as himself. He handed him a pair of thick socks to wear. He put on the other pair and discarded the worthless shoes.

“Well, we are free… now what?” He handed over the large key ring to Eliot, who also changed to the thick socks and threw the shoes back into the cell.

“We get the hell out of here by a secret tunnel, located under the last cell on the opposite side of the guard station. The problem is the tunnel goes to a lab where in the movie various experiments were carried out on the prison subjects. I have no idea what to expect when we get there. But walking out the front door is a bad idea. The griffin is the pet beast watching the front-entrance and main gate. Without the proper swords it will promptly shred us in a heartbeat with claws three-feet long and razor sharp.”

“What about the other prisoners?”

“If any of them can tell you their name they can follow us out. Otherwise they are just characters like that stone. For them there is no leaving here as a character held in place by the rules.”

Heriu followed behind Eliot, as he weaved his way through the labyrinth of dark, filthy hallways and rotting cells. None of the bio-toons even responded to their passing or the occasional clang or bang of a rusting door. After a good twenty minutes of fast yet careful walking they came to the end of the last narrow passage ending in a cell-door. Eliot opened the creaky door with the key and Heriu followed him in closing the door behind him. Above their floor another set of guards were making their rounds and banging on the cell doors.

“We need to lift up the cot.” Eliot went to the front and Heriu the rear of the cot whose foot-high underside panels were solid. Together they lifted up the heavy cot revealing a two-foot square bricked opening with a ladder going down into the secret tunnel. The cot frame mechanism passed a notch in the arc spring-lever and was so held in place. Heriu followed after Eliot down the ladder which was at a slight angle. Once on the brick floor of the tunnel Eliot pulled on a heavy, cast-iron lever and the cot above was lowered by a spring release. In a notch in the wall, Eliot grabbed up an oil lamp and lit the wick with a wooden match from inside a compartment at the base.

“None of the characters know about this tunnel?”

“Until, they are shown something they have no knowledge. I have exterior knowledge so I can bend rules and such.”

With Eliot leading the way, they then headed down the slightly twisting tunnel for well over four-hundred yards, dodging cob-webs and an occasional species of vermin, not unlike a river rat, but with a more longer body. At the end of the tunnel was a latched door which did not want to open. They had to pry it open from the bottom, with both of them pulling as hard as they could, with their fingers wedged under where there was a slight gap. Finally, the old wooden door, which had swelled up from moisture and was warped at the top, opened up allowing them to enter into one of the lower-level, lab rooms. The place still had lots of strange looking equipment, used to inflict harm on prisoners, as old blood stains attested, and lots of cob-webs, along with thick dust covering everything.

The air was stale and slightly foul. Heriu flicked on a switch and a low power lamp hung from the ceiling turned on.

“I wonder if this old viewer still works?” Eliot set down the oil lamp and went up to the round-shaped device and began to fiddle with its power button. With a bit of a spark the old, viewer-screen came to life. Eliot switched the dial over to the public announcement channel. Sure enough there was a news broadcast in progress. It was old Faustius himself. There was no sound. Eliot tried to get the volume slider to move, but it broke off. The camera panned to the right showing the old queen, dressed in black. She was wearing a foot-high crown loaded with diamonds, along with a gold symbol surrounded by very impressive precious-stones. The setting around them was quite theatrical in appearance—on the level below the ornate stage in the shadows were huge, hulking figures, while out front in rows of fancy seating sat the audience. Most of them looked fairly human, save for a few rows of the wilder bio-toons variety. The camera came back in for a close-up. Faustius looked like he had been fashioned right out of the stereotypical bad-guy mold, but with a more fashionable crown and clothing. He was pointing to a large screen which had been lowered on his left. A series of still images showed a structure of great size whose top level was being used as a landing pad for a rather large space-ship, whose troops were under his command.

“Holy crap!” exclaimed Eliot rubbing his chin in amazement. “In the movie, part of the plot which never resolved completely was the building of a space-ship, which was to reach one of the other planets they wanted to enslave. They actually built the damn ship and look, they have been bringing in the people as slaves and lots of troops. He has built a fully modern military.”

“To be used against who?”

“In the movie it was the earth itself, but that goal was never reached once the men took over. Obviously, they have found a way to move between bubble-worlds. His spies must be the bio-toons who can take over bodies by his brand of sorcery. He had the power to transform the characters any way he wanted. The queen was a rather diabolical scientist in her own right who was pretty twisted. She was no squeaky clean type period. She was betrayed by one of her lovers, who was the moody, anti-hero in the movie. Nobody in that film was really good, more like shades of industrial-grey. The females were really no better than slaves themselves, and fought over the smallest, trivial details of their wasted lives. Petty tyrants in turn always humiliating the men, who were initially under the slavery rays, which made their brains, and thus wills, always obedient. How the hell those two formed a union has to be one of the deeper flaws of all bubble-world dynamics.”

“How many of these worlds did your scientists create?”

“Too many. I know at least one-hundred and fifty were cataloged in the indexes as running experiments. The other group per notes I had a chance to read on occasion, had another seventy-five or so, and then there were the clandestine ones, which were used to test weapons, mass psychology control and lots of other evil shit nobody would admit to planning even under oath. I mean they were bubble-worlds following foundational rules we created, so they were used as testing grounds for lots of purposes.”

“And the real Eliot took over the majority of them?”

“Yes, he took over them in a brute force kind of strategy. He knew where to pull the plug. He also had a set of weapons from another early world that only he had access to which I never actually saw myself. The original blue-field weapon came from that lineage of weapons. His main world was of course the robot world he had guided along and he had the numbers to make his Will the Laws of the Realms. He had a problem with specific worlds which had been explored by a completely different branch of the translator machines. I know very little about that as it was before my time. I was a cast off, which like a cat with nine lives—well I have managed to stay out of the dust bin.”

“The line here between what is real and what is a rule of the real, seems to me to be the key aspect to understand.”

“Yeah, you are right about that. Our problem is we are from a living source and these others are organic duplicities made real by the rules and kept in substance by a deeper rule set we were abusing. Well, the real Eliot and the men he was working with made the choices which set all of this in motion. These bubble-creatures sure in the hell did not create themselves out of nothing.”

The broadcast had gone back to the news desk reporter. The studio was quite modern looking and the man doing the talking looked quite human in every way. When the commercial break came the advert was of a woman looking to buy a new car. Her toon-chauffeur was dutifully checking every cars key aspects, until she finally found the model which was best for her upscale living lifestyle. Her males slaves were then shown serving her as she no doubt touted one last time the sleek looking luxury auto. No price was shown just a brief symbol.

“This world is advancing just like a real one alright, but with additional forces at work. Well, I think we had better get moving. I know of one transition doorway location here in the main city. We need to get there as soon as possible. We really do not have any real defenses here except being either very clever, or profoundly lucky with a few good weapons.” Eliot picked up the oil lamp.

“Lead on.”

They excited out the lab door and went up the old stairwell leading up to a foyer. Dust and cob-webs covered the old chairs and assorted desks and furniture. They went down another long dark hallway to the front section. All the rooms were busted up, filled with garbage and just lots of general crap that was strewn about as if people came in scrounging for things still valuable. When they finally found the front doors they stepped out-side. The night air was slightly humid and the street lights were working. They went gingerly down the steps, headed across the dead lawn, out the busted up front gates and up the street avoiding the broken glass and other hazards.

When they came to the corner there was a bus stop in front of a small corner liquor store to the right. To the left some street hookers were walking down the broad sidewalk towards the corner at a real leisurely pace. The hookers looked physically like normal females, but had toon-girl faces. One of them in a red-dress seemed to be pissed off about something and was arguing with another as they approached the street corner. A few other men were hanging out further down from the store front and not much else was going on. They headed to the right to the store whose main window sign advertised easy sex and booze for cheap.

“I need a map,” said Eliot, pausing for moment to look at the odd, male android head in the display case. A small label touted this as a sex guru memory vender machine. Eliot moved on and opened the door. Heriu followed him into the store. The guy behind the counter looked like a mad-cap version of a priest. He had a cigar in the ashtray and a large glass next to a bottle of Bourbon.

“Sin ain’t cheap gentlemen,” he said without looking up from the newspaper he was reading. “We don’t take checks either.”

Eliot studied the unusual symbol of three rings with precise dots on key points which was on every tag.”I’ll be damned. The Fustian bargain has become a form of money. When you place your hand against the symbol disk at the register it pulls energy out of your body.”

“Quite the system…” Heriu looked at the number of dots for each of the bottles. “You are right. Every item for sale has the dots in the same key points, and the more expensive  goods have double the dots.”

Eliot put back on the shelf a large bottle of Vincents Double-Gold Spirits. “The bio-toons are raging alcoholics from the looks of it… five-hundred proof whiskey? I see stuff here for us lost bio-logical’s. I will grab up a few bags of chips, some of these snack crackers and a couple of cold bottles of super-fizz just to see what happens. I also see some shoes back there in the bins below the clothing shelf. Beach runners by the sign. Hopefully, they have a coupe of pairs with our size.”

“Better than stocking feet.” The store had lots of things for sale. What was odd was how old and dusty everything looked. Well everything besides the bottles of booze, stacked up at the end of every aisle. “Look over on that stand in the back are some maps.” Heriu followed by Eliot walked down the narrow aisle and around the end-caps to the stand. Most of the maps looked downright ancient. They both thumbed through the holders until Eliot found one which was more recent and was of the general area he had remembered. He unfolded it and could see they had a way to go as they were in the older district.

“We look to be around fifty-miles to the south of where we need to go. We might be able to take the bus… if this station here on the map is of course still operational. About two-miles to the east of us by the local, city bus.” They headed back across to the right side of the store. Lots of clothing was stuffed on the higher shelves with the cheap beach shoes in the lower bins. They had to dig through jumbled mass of shoes until they had found two pairs which fit. They took off the tags and put them on. The beach runners were simple, tennis style shoes all white with blue tops. None of the clothes were for adults, as most of it was for kids and women. So they were stuck with their prison garb.

“Our clothing leaves much to be desired at the moment,” commented Eliot. “All these clothes for kids by the tag dates are really old too. And that beach is over thirty miles away. Nothing in this store besides the booze makes any sense sales wise.”

“These will work well enough,” said Heriu after testing the shoes briefly. “And yes, our prisoner outfits are rather loud. This bio-toon food must last forever. Some of these packages are tens years old by the dates under the price symbol. Maybe those like us are very rare around here.”

They headed back up to the check-out counter with all of the stuff.The wall section behind the long counter was stuffed to the last inch with tobacco products, female pharmaceuticals promising fast results, cosmetics in a wide assortment, creams, drugs for various ailments, toon-x-mags, and other assorted items including cartridges for hand-guns. A one-stop shop for thugs and hookers from the look if it all.

The tough looking old guy, nearly hidden behind the odd looking register, was wearing a silver crucifix with a similar gold-symbol to the paper-ones used as a price-tag. His leathery face was unshaven with a rough quality to his features. His bushy eyebrows lent a comical effect to his eyes of brown, which had bags under them, as if he never slept at all. He swiveled about in his high-backed leather chair which raised up as well, and quickly scanned the tags for the shoes, then the map and lastly the food items. He looked directly at Eliot, “hold up your right hand.” He proceeded to scan Eliot’s hand with another scanner which was on a c-hook on the side of the register.

After the scan, the palm of Eliot’s right-hand briefly lit up, with the same symbol, in red. He winced from the pain which soon followed. A receipt was generated from the register and the old guy handed it to him. “Thanks for dropping in gentlemen. Visit us anytime.” He paid them no further attention and went back to reading his paper— the late-night edition of the Faustian  Times. They picked up the items and Eliot stuck the map in his upper pocket.

Once out front again Heriu looked at his bag of chips, the bottle of super-fizz, along with two packages of the snack crackers, while Eliot studied the odd display of the android head. A palm reader was attached to an arm which came out for the customer. A high speed link for downloading any night action so desired. Before the hookers, who were eyeballing them both, could start up a conversation, a very long car pulled up across the street with a screech of tires. The front-end was stretched eight-feet all by itself, while the rear was another ten-feet. From out of the rear doors of the gleaming silver and black auto stepped out four big guys looking very ruthless and obviously well armed. They were soon followed by a shorter guy with a huge, bulging chest and a bald head, chomping ‘toon style on a big, fat cigar. He had enough gold chains around his neck to start his own gift shop. Visible by the small, interior dome light above the rear-seat, perched a well dressed woman. She was lighting up a cigarette in an extra-long holder. The bio-toon hookers smiled nervously at the men and moved off to the left, closer to the corner.

“The lady would like a word with you two guys in private,” said the short guy in a menacing tone of voice, as his muscle back-up flexed in cartoony unison. “She don’t like to be diss-appointed, if you know whadda I mean.”

Eliot took a big sip of his fizz drink and stepped off the curb. Heriu followed right behind as the guys closed in behind them. Eliot stooping just a bit entered the car, sliding across the fine leather bench-seat across from the well-dressed woman. Heriu slid in next to him. He took a long sip as well from his bottle of fizz. The woman glared at him for just a moment. The short guy slid in next to him and tossed out the chips and the crackers from his lap.

“My name is Miss Diamond C– my nickname from my fathers side of the family fortunes.” She took a long drag on her cigarette. “I own all of this section of the old city and I have monitors in every one of my liquor joints. When I saw the two of you on the screen, I wondered, now who are these monks wandering around in prisoners clothing, in their stocking feet? I see escapes on occasion, but not like the two of you.” She eyed Eliot much more intensely. “You in fact, looked very familiar…  a literal dead-ringer for that unmentionable one, who came into our world, when I was but a young fem learning from my mom the ways of the life. I even pulled up an old bulletin from those days, with your twins mug still shining in youth.” She took another long drag and blew the smoke in Eliot’s face. “Ain’t no god of robot men right now are you?”

“Well, if I was this conversation would be for nothing,” replied Eliot, wondering if she was going to have one of her goons blast him just for the hell of it. Her face was smooth for her age, but hard on the edges. Her very long black-hair was well styled just like her expensive clothes. The large oval-cut diamond around her neck was nearly buried in her cleavage. She had diamonds rings on every well manicured and glittering, polished-nail finger. Her intense blue-eyes were hard focused on his own.

“Now don’t go and get your knickers all in a bunch… tough guy. I just want to make a deal. You see— me and my sisters are having a real hard time getting some new territory, in the more fashionable, downtown city-zone, and I need a couple of nobodies to do a little job for me. I happen to have a set of keys to a safe which is holding some rather incriminating photo’s of my main political enemy.  A certain witch who has been giving me grief for years on end. My boys would be more than happy to bust a few nuts to get what I need, but their faces and hands, are so well recognized, they can’t get past the hotel Intel-agents or the security zones. You two on the other hand are unknowns, well he is more so than Mr Robot-look-alike man. So my deal is that you get what I want—- I will dress you in fine clothing for the job of course—afterwards I will pay for your stay at the B of C inn for a month, plus, a nice supply of life-units for compensation. If however, you are uncooperative I will simply send an immediate communique to one of my downtown contacts and thus, alert the authorities, that a couple of lost souls are on the loose. Plus, my boys will beat you to a pulp. Understand the deal?”

“Looks like we are at your service Ms. Diamond C… ain’t that right partner?”

“Yes, so we are.” Heriu took another slug of his drink.

“Good thinking boys. Another ride will be here shortly. My girls will supply you with the rest of my instructions on your way downtown. They will be taking you to one of our holding garages. Everything you need will be there ready to go including a quick meal. Get yourselves cleaned up. We will settle up the rest of the deal when you have completed the job.”

The short guy motioned for them to get out. And so they did.Heriu picked back up his chips and crackers from the street.

The short bald guy followed them back to the store front. “My good buddy here Mr. D. will look out for ya while you wait. The other ride will be here in two shakes. No fooling around with the ladies.” He nodded to the imposing Mr. D. and the rest of the guys piled back in the super-stretched car which promptly zoomed off down the street. Mr. D just stared at them like the dog he was meant to be. Thankfully, there was enough time to eat the chips, and finish off the super-fizz drinks before a long-white sedan pulled up in front of them. Mr. D. opened up the rear-doors and they climbed in with him right behind them. The three females were up front and a glass slide-window separating the two opened up. As the car sped along the female on the far passenger left whose fancy hat covered her features in shadow explained the deal. They both listened carefully and other wise remained silent. The ride was just over an hour long with nobody saying much of anything.  They finally pulled up to a garage. Inside a table was set up with clothes and some decent looking food. They both sat down and ate. Afterwards,  they were led into a general purpose room which had several private shower stalls. After showering and re-dressing in the clothes so provided they came back out ready to go. The three females checked them out thoroughly and finding nothing wrong with their look, they once again climbed back into the car. The same female went over the instructions just to make sure they knew what was expected for the job.

After another half an hour they were let out at the east entrance to a very large downtown skyscraper. The office they were heading up to was on the top floor just under the penthouse suites. This guy was an attorney deeply connected with the queen and Faustius. He was on a short chain, but it was their chain. He apparently had dirt on everybody in the social circuits.

“You two mugs understand the plan?” Asked the six-foot five Mr. D. whose white complexion made him look like a ghost in a very expensive suit.

“Yeah,” wearily replied Eliot. “Piece of cake.”

“Your a real smart guy…. chump. Don’t screw this up or it is going to be a long moment before you are allowed to die.” He was handed two hats from the female which he placed atop their heads.”Be sure to keep these hats on. Each of them has an imager so our Lady— Miss Diamond C— can track your every step. Now get a move on wise-guys. Our mark will be returning from his dinner party in a few hours and we want you out of there long before he returns.”

They had been dressed as swanky looking businessmen from another big city some two-thousand miles down the coast. They had a few interesting magical gimmicks as part of the disguise which made them sound correctly, accents being quite discernible and another which made the females find them irresistible. They had to get past the floor security to enter the private elevators which ran straight to the top. There was no other way to reach that floor. So the two of them swaggered into the main floor which was set up for commercial gambling. It was crowded with people, both of the real and bio-toons. Actually, it was difficult to tell where one ended and the other began.

“So are we better off now or worse?” asked Heriu brushing off another big chested bio-toon gal in her thirties loaded up  jewelery every bit as loud as her perfume.

“By a nose-hair,” replied Eliot, also pushing off several bio-toons nearly burying him under their flamboyant hair. He then realized that was not the right move. “Actually, we need to get a few of these bio-toons around us to make it over near the elevator entrance. Start sweet talking partner.”

He immediately began sweet-talking another set of busty party hounds, carrying big drinking glasses. They were so loud they drowned out the blaring music and cacophony of noise off the casino floor. Heriu did the same as they grabbed up some drinks and made like party dogs out for a good time while moving steadily to the goal. The security guards were paying them no attention and the two female in-house Intel agents on duty, quickly fell under the spell. They both started pushing away the two hanging all over Eliot. An action which was allowing them to move within only a few feet of the private entrance area.

Eliot was laying it on thick as he played on their amorous intentions, as Heriu kept the trio of bio-toon ladies in a state of gushing affections. He listened as Eliot kept up the charade, telling the two agents,”I just need for me and my colleague here to go back to our upper-floor room and finish a bit of last minute contract business. And then it is party time any way you two beauties want to play. All night long.” The two agents, a bit thick around the shoulders and waist, were making no objections. They even helped the two of them get the next available express elevator instead of one of the slower ones.

“Those bio-toon females are unrelenting,” remarked Heriu as the doors closed and the express elevator got underway.

“Some fairly powerful stuff alright. Those brunette agents were barely able to control themselves.”

“Are we being played?”

“Oh, I would guarantee you, we are being played big-time. Have been since we came here. The question is who?”

“I do not like this at all. I have grave reservations about what we are doing.”

“Yeah, I feel a real sense of badness as well. The magic key is starting to tingle.” The elevator came to a smooth stop and they stepped out. They went down the carpeted hallway to the second to last door on the right. With key in hand Eliot smoothly opened the lock. The hallway cameras would show no hesitation as they stepped into the room. “OK… now we need to go to the last room down this hallway. So they went left through a large open room and found the hallway door. This led to another door which normally was only opened when the adjoining space was needed by the attorney. With the magic key Eliot opened this door as well. Down the dim lighted hallway they went to the third door on the right. Eliot opened this door and they went into a rear office. Light from the exterior was just enough to see around the spacious well appointed office.

“This guy is quite wealthy,” remarked Eliot, looking over the items on his large executive desk.

“He sure is… quite the collection of pricy looking things. Look over on that wall, behind that framed picture is where the safe must be located. My pocket watch just lit up.” He showed Eliot the watch and tucked it back into the pocket. Heriu moved across the room quickly and they both began searching along the edges until Heriu found the switch. The slider lock clicked and the painting swung out revealing a large, inset style, wall safe. Heriu took out the watch and placed it over the gold symbol spot, as he had been told to do, while Eliot spun the dialer, as he was instructed— to the left three times and then back right—when the right number was reached the clock face showed an alpha character, which Heriu input into the digital key-pad. This kept the alarm from sounding when turning the dial randomly to a wrong number.

Five numbers and characters later, the safe-door clunked loudly and opened up. Inside was a well organized collection of stuff. In order to get to the folder containing the wanted photograph’s a set of smaller boxes and a large case had to be removed first. Heriu placed this stuff on the huge desk allowing Eliot to reach far into the back. While Eliot ruffled through the stack of folders Heriu opened up the case which was lighting up the watch with dragon symbols.

“This case is filled with objects— the watch is responding to them for some unknown reason. The items look like weapons, or some kind of high-end magical devises.” He took out a deep-blue and white dragon with unknown gold lettering, along its body. The articulated coiled design allowed the foot-long dragon to fit snugly around the wrist and arm, but he merely studied it carefully.

“I found the package,” said Eliot, sounding relieved. He opened up the thick, button-tied folder and discovered it was full of very explicit photo’s of an older female cavorting with a trio of men. “I can see why this would not be the kind of memory one would want splashed in front of the hubby or the local newspapers.” He re-wound the string and turned back towards Heriu. He was surprised by what he suddenly remembered. “Those objects are the source of power for some major magic. And the one your holding is for translating into another body-double.”

“You mean just be wearing this you can take the place of a double?”

“Yes. In fact, I should take a peek at where my originator is right now. If I had just a glimpse of what he is doing I could figure out who is manipulating us by sharing his memories briefly. He won’t even know I am there and you can do the same. It’s just like looking through a window. Nothing to it at all. All I need is a closet with a door to initiate the switch.” He placed the hat he was wearing atop the desk, so the camera was pointing to the window.

“How about that portable coat-closet at the other end?” Heriu pointed to the wooden, wardrobe closet on wheels whose door was slightly ajar. He set down his hat as well. They both walked over and Eliot opened up the door revealing lots of female clothes and coats. They quickly dumped them out onto the floor in a heap. The inside space was now big enough for Eliot, without being crowded. He stepped back out and fiddled with the trio of small, brass control-buttons on the dragons head. He finally had the right sequence of combinations and the dragons coils expanded enough for him to slip it over his hand. The dragon tightened around his lower arm, its head resting atop his hand comfortably.

“What really powers these objects?”

“Your life-force. The real secret is in why. Honestly, I never wanted to know that entire answer.” Eliot stepped back up into the portable, wardrobe closet. As Heriu closed the door a light came on in the adjacent room. He then heard a man, and a woman laughing, along with a dog yapping. Suddenly the door opened up and the guy, who was barrel chested and dressed in a expensive party-style suit was staring at him with daggers in his eyes. Heriu moved back towards the desk, while the dog came out from behind the female, running up to the wardrobe closet barking furiously.

The guy came up to the closet and spun it like a top, then asking, “who the hell are you?”

He started to pull a weapon from out of his inner coat, so Heriu, fearing he was going to be shot yet again, moved much faster than before—forcefully knocking the man backwards with a powerful kick to his chest. The damn dog went for his lower right leg forcing him to back off. The woman came into the room just as he tried to drop-kick the dog. She started screaming as well. He was pushed backwards by her and the dog, hitting the desk, knocking the case off and its contents spilled onto the floor. The guy was back up and in a fury coming at Heriu once again.

This time he stopped the man with a flurry of punches while fending off the female.  However, the woman who was short was also fast and in excellent shape. She came right back off the floor with the silver dragon, from the case, which was now unsheathed. The three of them whirled back around the room as he fought them both off. The guy had retrieved another gun so he triple-punched the guy in the throat and nose, sending him to the floor once again.. The female screaming bloody murder was on the other side of the closet with the silver dragon knife. Eliot suddenly came flying out of the wardrobe closet and she went right up behind him and stabbed him hard square in the back. Eliot screamed out in shock, gasping in pain as he fell forward hard to the floor. The woman continued after Heriu with the other golden dragon, now unsheathed as well. She was so fast he had barely escaped getting his throat slit, as she nicked his face, and his arms, before he was finally able to deliver a death blow to her as well.

When she hit the ground she turned into a green mist. The dog came running at him again, but when it crossed into the mist it too changed, as she did, and the cloud of them both, whooshed upwards, right out through the large paned window. The man was dead, but his blood was not red at all. It was light pink and watery. He had shriveled up like a deflating blow-up doll. He went over to where Eliot had fallen. He had been turned to white stone–knife, clothes all– just like a statue. He was too heavy to right, but Heriu realized he was not he same Eliot. No glasses, thicker hair and no dragon around his wrist. His clothes were quite different— very finely made as the details so indicated.

Was this the original Eliot? Heriu stood back up. He was in a state of shock. What had they been lured into doing? There was no such thing as coincidence.

He glanced back over to where the case had fallen to the floor. He quickly gathered up the remaining dragon weapons back into the case. The key was still on the desk along with the folder. He found a good over-coat on the rack and he placed into the pockets the packet of photo’s, the gun and the golden dragon-knife into another. If he was going to die he would do so fighting. The only question was who was going to be dying along side him. He was not of this make-believe world, so why pretend it had any meaning to him. Whomever was playing him like a toy was going to have to work much harder. He left the hat on the desk. With the case tucked under his left-arm he headed back out through the opposite room.

Meanwhile, in the car lot across from the Grand Illusions Casino, Lady Diamond C lit up another smoke.

“I see our wild-card duo completed the job as expected.”

“You are one cool customer Dr. Holtz. Had I not been watching the entire scene on my imager, I would have never believed such a long shot was going down the a-slot.”

“My ability to see ahead of the curve of time does have its many advantages. I want to you to keep Heriu alive. He is quite valuable to me and I will increase your life quotients well above the s-line for your continued cooperation.”

“What-ever you say Doc.  Me and my boys have no complaints so far– do we boys?” She had a big shit eating grin on her face as she was handed the silver spheres. “So these are the candies of the gods? Hear, that boys. Your Lady has the next level right here in the palm of her hand. And now that those awful pictures of my older sister are about to vanish into the fire-bin we will be able to move right on up the social ladder. Nice doing business with you Dr. Holtz. But I do have one last question: why did you take out the god of the all powerful robot-men?”

“Revenge is best served cold. He killed by negligence one-hundred and twenty-seven of my esteemed colleagues, when he failed to tell us of all of the consequences of traveling between our Instances. Had he told us the truth none of us would have risked our very lives over things so trivial. He knew we were in the wrong zone and never said a word otherwise. I was the only one who survived the accident. I watched all of my friends die a horrible death so he could play god with our reality. Now I am going to play with his life for awhile.  Have your men take the stone Eliot to the vault. I will speak to Heriu personally.”

Heriu kept his word and delivered the folder to Mr. D just outside of the casino’s east entrance.

“Sorry to see your friend took a round trip back to his own stone shoes. He ain’t dead however. Just transformed for awhile. Know what I am saying?”

“So he can come back?”

“Sure. Not a problem. I spent some time myself in a stone sleep in my early youth. As soon as a was freed— I was as right as rain once more. Nothing unusual about the stone trick, like any other minor set-back it is temporary. A cab will be here in a few minutes. You can keep what you have removed. I have a set of those dragons my damn self.” With the folder now secured in a brief-case he sauntered back on over to the white sedan. He climbed in and off it went. Heriu stood there for only a few minutes until a dark blue vehicle rolled to a stop directly in front of him. A man came out and opened the door to the rear seat. Heriu climbed inside only to find a very strange looking female almost like a ghost waiting for him.

“Good evening Heriu. My name is Dr. Holtz. Driver take us to the hotel. Now I am sure you have a multitude of questions, but I am on a very busy schedule. So listen very carefully to me… I had to stop Eliot from taking this war to another level. I have already seen that future too many times. I know how it ends and it is bad for everyone including your own people the Tiamese. AND yes, I know all about your worlds too. I really get around to be quite blunt about it all. So I am trying to keep those two meat-heads from escalating the war which has the bad precedent to piss off a much more powerful neighbor. One which has little interest in the affairs of men— but it does care about its oceanic life-forms— perhaps a favorite much like its own past— a very powerful feeling is there of protection.

In any event the war spills over to the shores of that world and this other one takes the action which snowballs the whole of it all to oblivion. Irrational actions leading to devastating results. I am picking a narrow path to that result which is peaceful and preserves life for all not just the few.”

“Did not Eliot win a war on this world?”

“Eliot only won the war here by a whisker. And he knew that to be true which is why he closed off the connecting passages and destroyed what he thought was the source point. The arrogant prick never even tried to find the better answer, he just acted on his own best interests and damned everyone else. For now sit tight and keep a low profile. You will have a chance to visit your friend, his better self, later in the morning.  You will deduce immediately I speak the plain truth. Eliot is just learning a harsh, but necessary lesson. He is a man of flesh, not a god and he needs to cease his manipulations of his own past. I accepted my personal fate and he needs to do the same.”

“Alright Dr. Holtz. I will contemplate all of what you have stated. I will meet up with Eliot once more. I will allow the truth to show me the path to take. I will take no other actions.”

“Sounds quite sensible to me. I know a few things about your family history Heriu. I know why your older brother lives in a rather dark place. We can discuss that aspect in the near future if all goes well. We are at the hotel. The room and all the things you need will be there for you. Take care here Heriu. The Faustian bargain is quite powerful in consequence, and while it may not kill you, it has a very bitter after-taste. If you believe anything believe that. Lord knows how most of this will turn out— I just know real living beings do not belong on bubble-worlds locked into a fantasy.”

“I am beginning to understand the futility of it all. An illusion wrapped in an illusion, bound to a trick of physics. Those cards were too powerful for anyone to control properly. Let us hope our actions have some meaning. Good night Dr. Holtz.” Heriu stepped out of the car.

Dr. Holtz rolled down the window. “You will receive a message later tonight with instructions. Good night Heriu and get some rest.” She instructed the driver to move along. She knew the real Heriu could not be approached by her without that damn phony Glyph going off like an alarm-bell. How long had it taken for the right circumstances to finally produce a change– a very long time indeed. When the car pulled into the special station she had built here long ago, she immediately translated. She had to nudge Vsaris and Lord Su once more just a smidgen along a deeper path of investigation.

The true secrets of Malick’s past needed some light shed upon them. The sooner the better.

Across the gap of the improbable stumbled the double of Eliot out of a closet. He knew immediately he had just been switched with the real one, after all— who lived like this— but him. Memories flooded across his conscious mind as if a dam had busted down deep. He continued walking out into the impressive room Eliot had built in this fortress of a palace— a La Grande’ indeed— to house his immense collection of selves. A room to myself was quite apt to his inflated ego. Row upon row of the many Eliot’s who had served their purpose and their time. Some with honor and some not so much… apparently not all of them were so eager to sacrifice themselves, so the great and only Eliot, could live on. As he worked his way down the second line on the right wall, he found his own image and like every other, so notated with the all important details covering his first moment which he remembered quite well. The image was taken right as he stepped out of the translator, on his first day into the bubble-test number eight. He was the Eliot eight, so created by the inversion of the Instance. He came in as the real stepped out. A balance to the equations. He continued down the line his apprehension growing. Eliot had planned nearly all of his own deaths to a very high level of detail. He wasn’t being hunted— he was the hunter. Near the end of the line in the third row down was a picture of Eliot with his parents and sister. He had written RIP on each of them, including himself.

Now why the hell would he do that?

Before he had time to really think out that answer he was interrupted by an exceptionally beautiful female, whom he recognized from the memory infusion as Sandra, who was a perfect robot in every detail. Like them all her middle-fingers had implants under the nail-bed, which glowed with a unique pattern given to them when they came to life. They could not remove this unique symbol or hide its state of activity. She was holding her hands behind her back.

“Tell me Sandra what are the three robot laws?”

“The 1st law is to serve the Lord, in all of his needs, at all times. The second law is to protect the Lord at all times. The third law is to protect and defend all those who serve and protect the Lord.

“Who protects me from myself Sandra?”

She looked at him so quizzically, he thought for a moment she was going to freeze up. Her mouth seemed unable to convey an answer… “I cannot postulate the correct response my Lord.”

“Scan my body.”

Her eyes lit up momentarily.

“Why am I sterile?”

She looked at him her body slightly trembling.”My Lord I am hurt by the question.”

“Answer me with the truth Sandra that is an order.”

“Your mother cells do not function my Lord, and you are sterile as a result.”

“Thank you for telling me the truth Sandra. I have been feeling very contemplative this morning. I needed to hear that answer to help me solve a deeper mystery of my own intellectual interest. I did not mean to hurt you by the inquiry.” He reassured her with a single touch to her natural looking rosy cheek. It was cold.

“I came here to tell you, as you tasked me to do, that the data from Dr. Holtz has reached our computational limits. We are already determining the qualities of yet a powerful system which will be needed to study this enormous ship.”

“Very good Sandra. Could you please send the latest results to my work station. I have an idea I would like to test.”

“Yes, of course my Lord. I will complete this task momentarily.” She turned without revealing her hands to him.

He watched her as she gracefully walked back across the room to the tall double-doors which connected this room to the next one, where he had a huge work-station. She was so perfect it was amazing. And she had solved a mystery he had been thinking about for quite a few years. He had no sex drive period. He looked at all of these Eliot’s and knew what the secret was really about. Eliot the real was sterile. He had no doubt hoped, that maybe, just maybe, one of his doubles would have a properly working male reproductive system. The reason why there were so many, was he had nothing to lose. Eliot had no biological offspring, his parents and sister had died, so he had adopted the robots as his extended family. He had lost himself in a world that was basically quite innocent. He just had a bad moment, buried deep in the locked-tight, memory file.

Suicide he thought, had to be the last part of this puzzle of why Eliot had gone to such lengths as he had done. Why he had even cared about such things as bubble-worlds at all. Here he was like a god ruling over his kingdom, and with no messy biological problems to deal with his robots served him absolutely, as they knew nothing else. He had perfected a method of re-creating himself, by exploiting his own transition path entanglement. Did that mean he had offed himself while his doubles selves were still in the original bubble-worlds? Not knowing that Heriu was going to throw the whole scheme into another consequence of rather disturbing results? He went back to the spot on the wall where the number two should have been framed like the rest. Only there was no frame. He searched through the drawers under the velvet and gold lined shelves until he found what he was looking for— a small nondescript notebook, whose pages were filled with math formulas… and tucked in the last section was a small picture. A picture of him and Dr. Holtz. On the back she had written– Keep up the good work Eliot, I know someday soon the world will praise your genius. Your friend and adviser, Catherine.

He thought long and hard about this connection, as memories swirled around in the deep background, but remained just out of reach. She was the missing part of the early years. He had a fuzzy remembrance of his long time friend who had saved his family. His sons name was Alex. Alex was the one who had remained on that world which had been discovered. The early period was the most difficult to remember because the second Eliot, did not debut until after the cataclysmic collapse of time itself. The world had swirled back into itself like an impossible magnetic black-hole, turned inside out. Another Instance had taken its place as if the first had never existed. The second Eliot was a freak of circumstance balancing the scales of his own life. He must have had the Ace of Hearts card trying to bring back his family, only nothing worked. The possible permutations had kept him busy for years on end. What was the answer?

He was pacing up and down the carpeted hallway trying to pierce that dim fog of memories.

Consequence was a fact of physics in motion. A meets b and c is a result. If you take c and go recursive back to A the result is not the original A but a new A1. You cannot retrace the path back to A without changing b first. An Instance of state A is like a hologram, every smaller piece is identical, however, time-dilation is the subtle force along the arc of motion. All motions are already under time-dilation, and that arc is so long to snip a piece from A has a much longer force charge, than a snip from a new state b. The closer the interval between the two new “Instances” the less force charge there is to produce chaos. That was the original problem in a nutshell. Earth had a long Instance period charge. The weapon dis-charge had accelerated the field expansion to the “Criticality moment” and it all promptly collapsed. A new Instance forms and it goes half the length and collapses again. A second dis-charge wave acts on the oscillating field and the process repeats yet again. Only this time there is convergence. The two good halves reinforce one another and a new Instance is produced, with an island of the old so bridged, that humanity is nearly walking, in its own previous foot-steps. A parallel world right down to the same details of history through the bridged zone, about two-thousand years ago and ending roughly 2019. Like a pendulum the time period swings from one to the other. And on each end a new Instance forms naturally as a quotient of the collapse points.

Each swing was going to be longer and longer. Each Instance fills in where the other collapses. People do not remember the shifts, as much as they sense the moment changing. The Déjà vu experience was that odd ripple going both directions not just one. A time ripple smoothing over a bad spot in the field. The A skip problem in a nutshell was simply why did mankind lose mass memory when the magnetic poles collapsed? Magnetic whirls in the quantum sub-level ceased positive spin— no time was a gap magnified a million times over. Across that gap memory switched back on— and in that “Instant” was an eternity of potential which rushed in like water filling a lower pressure gradient.

The Ace of Spades card exploited that moment in a way math did not explain nor predict— that was what he and the other group members had argued about for years— why did this simply looking device have so much profound power on that level? As an amplification device it was operating on a much deeper set of principles—- Cymatic theory was all about vibrations on the quantum level and up, but nobody ever bothered to look at the problem from the opposite side of resolution… a space for long waves to suddenly jump into a gap— and the cards were not meant to be used as individual pieces scattered around but as one device with many smaller units operating as a whole— a safety valve of sorts to keep that mind-boggling power following the circuits of proper resolution. A template which when properly followed moved energy from one non-matter state into a matter-state and back out again, leaving behind the desired results. An imprinting or 4-d impression of a reverse mold. Induction and transmutation in one seamless process. That was what the research was about before he had discovered a novel twist— a reality could be “induced” by a resonating field when the Ace and the four kings were on the same circuit.

The memory flooded back.

He had placed the King of Clubs card on top of the TV set he had in his office, while he watched the latest episode of“Stars End” the Continuum Paradox. That nights show was very funny. He was still laughing when he picked up the Ace of Spades card from the testing board and went down the hallway to where the translator pads were set up. They had been working major over-time improving the circuits and the charge rates for each incremental step of the amplification. He had the card in his lab coat pocket and stepped into one of the booths. The door closed. He started checking the parameter out-puts on the small screen built into every booth and then the most amazing thing happened. He was translated right into the show— full consciousness and the world materialized like it was on god-level magic. He was right in the main neighborhood. The sun was shining and the people and the robots behaved exactly as the show was based. He spent the next few weeks in the bubble-world time exploring everything like a kid just seeing a candy shop and discovering something called a chocolate bar. He had such a good time he was tempted to never leave.

So how did he leave?

“I didn’t”

Eliot eight spun around to see himself as Eliot, holding a unique looking gun. “What the hell is going on?”

“The grand moment of truth I’m afraid. Once in a great while one of my many selves somehow makes it back here. In your case aided by that witch Dr. Holtz. Very clever of you to use a scan of your body to deduce we are indeed sterile. Number two was the closest thing to a twin a man could ever ask for family wise. And now he is stuck on that Faustian world now doubt like a stone. That damn Dr. is one clever bitch. She has dogged me for so long she is like a goddamn shadow to my own. But she is twisting the truth. And it is not really her fault. She after all did live, somewhat, through one of the worse transition accidents ever. The problem is she does not remember she was stealing those cards for herself and that group she headed. They had no intentions of coming back either. She and them had basically refused to believe the cards were not meant to be separated. While she may have changed her mind, what little of it there may be left, it is too late for her.”

“Why does she hate you so much?” He noted this one was also hiding his hands.

“Oh, She swears I  purposely miss-led her and contributed to the deaths of her group, which is totally the opposite of what number-two me told her over and over again. She had no business trying to steal off in a compromised alien ship— from  the Heriu time-loop fiasco no less— and go off into another star system via a worm-hole which she and that crew had no idea how to properly navigate. Hell, nobody knew how to properly navigate that damn thing for decades afterwards. They went off into a whole other tangent and when that Ace of Spades did its thing they suffered the consequences. May I remind you the Ace of Spades card induces full blown,  super-conductive lucid dream states so damn real they last well— until they are collapsed by something else more powerful.”

“And so she went to the other side profoundly transformed by this accident?”

“I have no idea how she did what she did. All I know is that her pet bubble-world is quite the sophistication. If she had been able to remember the past correctly, she would remember she had abandoned it after realizing the robots were not operating there for reasons we never understood. I now know we made mistakes with her and I do wish hindsight had been kinder to me in her regard. I feel responsible for what happened to her because she was my friend and mentor. I learned  so much from her when she was back in our main group. She was a power house intellectual when it came to biological sciences. Hell, that’s why she had the independent use of the four cards in the first place. My number two switched them out one night because he felt she was becoming more aggressive about this wild scheme of hers and he was right. Four days later her and that group vanished right along with that ship, which one of the military hot-shot pilots had access to privately for testing purposes. All of those men and woman were brilliant in every category they belonged to professionally. They had a dream sure, but it was flawed and so they died. The guilt has to be quite horrible for her, but I did not push them over a cliff. They dove off expecting themselves to fly.”

“She is trying to kill you even today?”

“She has been trying to kill me without realizing I have never left this world since I came here. I can’t. She does not grasp it is my robot self that travels out there not me. I do not have the god powers I get accused of possessing, only the appearance. And yeah, I stand quite guilty of helping that misconception along by using a robot body to do my dirty work. You see I did discover that I could transpose the mind into a robot synthetic-mind perfectly. The robot does exactly as I do, as it is me, only I am here safe and sound, and on occasion the robot bodies, as you can see from this wall— die a glorious death on my behalf. You as a translation double were meant to keep my place on the other side of that barrier, which I built to keep out the undesirable elements. Many of which have faltered, which may once again be my fault, but I cannot undo the past. We are, but a tiny dot, in a huge expansive cosmos, which is not exactly always on our side. We live short brutal lives, and then poof— off we go somewhere else. Here I have a much longer life-span, but it is still a life-span. I am getting older and my health is not as good as a robot-body makes it appear.”

“So what now, you shoot me and I die for not knowing how to play by the hidden rules?”

“I don’t want to shoot one of my better selves. This gun is an insurance policy that nothing is attached to you from that damn Faustius world. That one was not my idea and I was against it from the start. Our scans of you are almost done. You seem to be clean and no brain oddities either. I am happy you are a good version of me. I feel like a proud father really.” He put away the gun. “I just cannot believe how damn clever that Dr. has become. And that ship she showed us. Holy mother of god that ship is on a whole other level of impossible. You have seen the ship right?”

“No… I was a little preoccupied.”

“The damn ship she showed my robot self is one-hundred and twenty-thousand miles long, eighty-thousand wide and forty-thousand deep.  The damn thing is so big we thought she was unleashing some kind of new data weapon on us or something. But, hell for sure it is as real as anything we have ever studied. My assistant Sandra was telling you the truth— our systems are are too feeble to handle the data. We are going to have build something a bit different just to get a better wrap up of its internal systems. All things considered we actually do not use that much in the way of computers here at all. In fact, as strange as it may seem to you, we barely use any real high-tech here, either. We are more fable than fact. The Dr. is the one under the hi-tech umbrella and she barely knows even why. We gave those unusual robots of hers our very best, artificial synthetic-mind, construct crystals very early on. After they closed off their transition gate, we had no idea what was going on there, and now, I have no idea what she is even planning. She is one strange woman as you may have noticed.”

“So number two Eliot was created when you stayed here and he had the King of Clubs?”

“Yes. I stayed here due to the fact if I returned I would have lost my memory as well. Every family that managed to leave just prior to the time-field collapse retained the proper memories of the events of our prior lives. My family was not so fortunate as myself. My number two tried to save them and failed. He and I both had a real bad period afterwards. He was still transiting over to the world discovered by Peter Bell and his group. He was quite fond of Bell’s son Alex.

Now Alex was in the loop and number two mentored him over many years. He was a sharp kid and he did just what was needed to keep that Junction House operating as we intended. One of my robot selves was corrupted by a bad journey through one of the riskier bubble routes, which led him through Faustius and he was never the same. We didn’t realize how bad he was until he came back and tried to kill one of our Andrea models. Like all robot duplicates he was non sexual, but he had some wild run-times floating through his robotic synapses and due to not having the proper male operating equipment he went homicidal. We had to change a few things after that to make sure the bio bleed through was caught by a deep security circuit. We decided at that point, as I have a council of our best minds to help my decide the bigger issues we face here, that it was best not to return through the Junction House, thereby, allowing unknown agents knowledge which might jeopardize those people. Alex seemed to  understand that well and he did a fine job of closing off that junction to the rest of the bubble-worlds and to an extant the earth itself. We know that eventually the field is going to run out of energy expansion and all of those bubbles are going to collapse. This world like the one Bell discovered are different however, as both do not depend on the original time-warp field for power.

He noticed that the robots, in the other rooms were doing the same things over and over again. As if on auto-pilot. He was getting real nervous as his right shirt sleeve rustled for a second. He had to keep this Eliot one talking. “What do you know of the one manipulating Heriu?”

“That evil prick who sent the Series-7 cards to the Earth in the first place, has been trying all these many years to goad me into meeting him face to face. I refuse to do so on the grounds he is too damn dangerous. We can’t figure out how he has been duplicating poor Heriu all these years as well. We finally caught the latest ship coming out of the worm-hole. The whole crew was in a weird somnolent-state. They were literally wide-awake and dreaming as if they were still back home on this space-station. The black-rain is one of the downfalls of space-travel and time-dilation while in Hyper-drive or Jump transition.”

“So you captured the ship, without firing a single shot?” He noticed the walls were shimmering oddly.

“We were able to take over their ship due to the fact when they come out of that Jump, the ship has a few seconds of vulnerability as it re-phases into our manifold-instance. Our ships are based on his so we just re-phased the two right together as only a robot crew can. It was a slick move and they pulled it off perfectly. They kept the crew sedated and brought them to a station we built just for them. I had my robot self blow back that bastard Malick’s ears but good, to goad him into doing something which would reveal where the hell he is operating from back behind that manifold-worm-hole.”

“What are you planning to do with the crew?”

“Well we have removed from the crewmen these spheres which were surgically implanted under the hippocampus. Every damn one of them was sending data back to a satellite communication hub which is rotating in and out of that worm-hole like clock-work. We also know that he has a net-work of some kind operating on the earth Instances, but damned if we can find out where they are hidden.”

“So this Malick has higher technology to work with and is manipulating the earth from afar?” The sun visible through the window rustled ever so slightly as if the wind was blowing across its surface.

“That guy has tech like nothing we have ever thought possible— quantum operational computers so advanced we look like cave-men beating two sticks on a rock to count to three. He has out-smarted us so many times, we had to employ a whole army of our best mathematicians just to keep up with his moves, like chess on seven levels, and he still whipped our asses. As I think about it this is the first time in fifty-plus years we have had a breakthrough which puts us on a tangent of hope. That miserable sonofabitch must have a natural IQ in the upper two-hundreds. I kid you not— a math analysis of one of his equations for plotting those 5-d travel paths proved he was smarter than most of us put together.  And this sonofabitch is the one who claims he gave reinlifement to our dead planet— so he could use it in his experiments with those cards, as he sees fit. And when he is done wiping his ass with us, he just pushes another damn button, and poof, our next Instance is nuclear hell on Earth. ”

“Can the Dr. get to him?” He pretended to be studying the last of the Eliot forty-ones on the wall.

“I think by her last appearance she was hinting she had some new angle on the bastard. I know she may hate me, but she really fucking hates him. My robots have had to goad her all along, so that he never thinks for a damn second, we are on the same side… that was one of those early rules, our guys came to a conclusion upon, that no matter what— keep pissing her off— so she spits in my face just like his and therefore, he never suspects our gambit…. which is to stall him long enough to figure out how to get out of our dead-end zone.”

“Have your guys figured out how to dodge his end game?” He was thinking their thoughts might start converging.

“Sadly no. We came up with much better time resolutions equations, but we cannot fix the unfixable. Our world really did a number on itself and our previous Instance was a life extinction event.”

“But how do you know that for sure with so many damn plots weaving around us?” He was not seeing the right reactions.

“Oh, actually that one is so simple it is been proven without a doubt. One of the first things we did after learning how to operate the Heriu super-ships was take a long look around what is called the negative-green continuum. That’s where everything that moves in that sub-space leaves an x-ray trail behind. There are no suns period and the faster you go the further back into time you will travel.  We then learned how to reverse that ‘course transit’ and into the future we went. Our world was dead as a doornail in five of our previous Instances, and that last one was no doubt full on atomic hell, as it was still burning. Now what that evil bastard did not tell us, was a new world always takes the place of one, that no longer has any life. It is a deeper cosmic law that seems to be operating just fine without his rotten touch. We have visited many such worlds, and we know by that extra-special feeling, they were not meant for us to be on. This world, was one that was meant for us to be on, and so we moved from the bubble world to this one. And that is the last of my secrets Eliot eight. You have earned the right to know the truth and now you do. And I hope you do realize you cannot go back.”

“What about Heriu?”

“He will have to prevail on his own. That world is a shit-hole of mean-spirited woman and bad-minded men. If there was a hell that bubble-world would kick its ass and take over.”

“You do realize they have space-travel and big ass ships carrying troops for some kind of war plan right?”

“Of course. Hell, who do you think gave them their first working ship? Look in these bubble-worlds, reality is like a giant epic movie, with lots of extras always moving into and out of the main scenes. In a few months at the peak of their new military conquest of bubble-worlds, fourteen through twenty-six, a new hero will arise from out of the blue and will once again save the day. This is the fifth-time they have reached this point. They are on a short reel. You see as a last minute stop gap the nuts who put that one together made it a short reel on purpose. Those people move through the whole plot in one-third of the usual time cycle. All bubble-worlds cycle, that is the cardinal rule that cannot be broken— no more than fish can swim after the glass bowl shatters to the ground. It is a repeater. The plot may vary slightly from one “reel” to the next, but the fundamentals cannot be changed. None of them are real. You might have noticed they all have that look? Like they are too big for their bodies, cars too long, lights too bright etc? Dead give-away that the rules are stretched and therefore, they are under the rules.

“But I still have real problem with the core logic here. How the hell do you know we are real? This logic of reality is stretched so thin my mind is starting to fuzz over. How could you be a living man if you came into a bubble-world as a robot and never left?”

“Come on now Eliot number eight think like a genius and not a fool.”

“All the people here were drawn from real people and the robots looked so real they too were just like people. So you came here and now you too are a robot?

“Bingo… and so are you.”

“But you said you were human?”

“What is to be a hu-man really? Consequences are real and when I came here I became like one of them. But I had a mind which was entangled with a real biological counter-part and that transcended the whole of the cloth for them all. The Ace of Spades card worked with the King of Clubs matrix magic, and all the people here became something greater, than what they had been by mere rules alone. I do not have any biological children, but I sure do have a big family of my robotic kids. And so does Mr. two and so will you if you decide to do so. Every Instance replication from my robot selves was just as real as human in every detail, including psychosis episodes. We catch colds and have nose-bleeds and deal with any number of human parallel problems of the biological state. We simply evolved faster on the clock, as we had far less baggage to deal with personally, as a much smaller, homogenous society than back on earth. We didn’t pass the one million mark for two decades. We are on a huge natural planet with no ecological downsides. We eat ordinary food to replenish our cells and our DNA is different, but it is still DNA. Our females have babies a bit different, as there is no pain for them in child-birth. The process is much easier, so our kids grow at a normal rate and achieve adult-hood not unlike those kids back on earth. We feel pleasure and pain. We have our bouts with drinking and other substances, that make our minds expand beyond the ultra-micro circuits, and so we learn new things, by such a consciousness path of novelty. I mean think carefully, as to when was the last time, you even thought about having a girlfriend?”

“Well, pretty much never. I just never got around to having any relationships.” The fake Eliot’s eyes glowed orange for just a mere second.

“Exactly… you never thought about something that you never needed. That will change here as you begin recognizing that you belong here with us.”

Eliot number eight facetiously smiled at the thought of finally being part of a family— his own family. He looked across at Sandra barely catching a glimpse of the middle-finger of her left-hand and saw the nail-bed was black. A tiny little moment of doubt crossed his mind became ever stronger. He looked at his wrist. The dragons head now visible was a burning red. The moment was reached.

In that fraction of a second he knew exactly what to do.

He lunged at Eliot one driving his hand deep into his flesh as the dragon burned white-hot flames into the wriggling mass were his heart should have been. In his peripheral vision a long, black-leg, like that of a spider came down hard onto his head, but it was unable to penetrate his skull. The super-fizz was working as intended. Eliot one was no longer smiling, as his face bubbled and pealed as he was frantically trying to pull the dragon back out of his chest. The two of them violently grappled and slammed into the wall shattering the glass panels.The fake Sandra, was as black as the thing sticking out of her head as she tried to help the screaming fake Eliot, whose body was now a torrential fire burning from within. In the corner of the melting room a black, hulking creature was howling in pain as the white-hot heat burned its many appendages. The figures of the queen and the sorcerer were distorting profoundly as the illusions of its puppet forms writhed in screaming agony across the burning floors.

The world around them started shimmering and quaking. The illusion abruptly dissolved and the world of Faustius came back into view. He was at the top of the building they had entered. A blue-pulsing vortex was forcefully pushing, massive, whirling grey-clouds across the horizon. The night sky was splitting apart. From out of the convolutions came a massive black sphere(no light around it) moving through the skies stopping, no more than a mile exterior to the top floor. The black whirling sphere was drawing into itself the very fabric of the world reality—the entire coast-line of cities, mountains, the ocean— everything and everything— was dramatically disintegrating into ever smaller pieces and was being sucked through the air, under ever more powerful concentrations of force. The very sky itself was being peeled from the heavens above, as the world inevitably was collapsing into the dark sphere of oblivion.

As the two Eliot’s fought, Heriu came out of his mental slumber still holding the golden-dragon blade. The entity was enormous with untold thousands of black appendages, sticking out of the heads of all those whom it was using, to suck the life out of them all before the world ended. The dragon once unleashed was not going to be stopped. Heriu crossed that seemingly impossible distance and with all of his might plunged the knife deep into the bright red-heart, piercing the underbelly of the great beast. As it convulsed wildly, thrashing around with such violence its appendages were being torn away, the people were being flung into the black-hole of oblivion. The intensity of the sphere upon the world increased ten-fold yet again, and a blinding light eclipsed the world. The foul creature and the world it had corrupted to no end— thunderously vanished into the sphere of oblivion— through the impossible darkness the two of them were drawn back.

Eliot and Heriu stepped back through the translation door through the frequency barrier. Heriu was too stunned to speak as Eliot fell to his knees exhausted by the ordeal. The sun was warm and the air was clean.

“We need to get a drink Heriu.” Eliot felt drained of life as he stumbled back to his feet. “Follow me back over to the cafe. Now you know why I left the door open. We were never safe in Faustian land. I knew it was bad, but I had no idea it was so far gone.” They both weaved and stumbled along the white-sandy path, back over to the outdoor cafe. They fell hard into the wooden seats as Eliot motioned for one of the ever super-happy waitresses to bring them a number-three combo.

“Boy, do you two look something awful. A number-three is just what you both need. I will be right back with your orders.” She bounced happily along back to the serving counter.

“What just happened to us Eliot?” Asked Heriu still quite dazed by it all. “One minute, I am sitting quietly in a chair, in a hotel room, contemplating the message of Dr. Holtz, and in the next moment all I see is you fighting a monstrous creature of profound proportions.”

“I couldn’t tell you the whole truth Heriu. I did not know how the last piece of the puzzle was going to be revealed.The Faustius bargain is based on on illusion, of our own desires. I had to face mine to stop that world from taking over all of them.”

“What about Dr. Holtz?”

“In the actual time line Dr. Holtz was Sandra’s mom. Back on my Earth Sandra was my fiancee and she was pregnant with our first child. Catherine was a PhD level biologist. She was the one who figured out how to make all of the bubble-worlds come alive with flora and fauna. The man she loved was the leading expert on the ships we had designed to travel back across space to the worm-hole, our astronomers had discovered decades prior to the actual ship launching— but when they went through the worm-hole the ship was too weak to withstand the forces. All those aboard were killed except Dr. Holtz. She was changed in a way we never knew was possible. To add to our misery the collapse occurred soon thereafter.  I lost my family and Sandra to the time-shift and they like so many others, were re-translated with different life memories. She never knew who I was from the previous period, but she knew there was something special about her child.

“You see my Sandra was an actress and the show “Stars End” was her first major role in a TV series production. The reason why I created that bubble-world was to be with her, as she was before the collapse and when I knew she felt that connection to me I couldn’t stay away. I loved her and she loved me. But that time period was just an island about to be hit by a storm.”

“My arrival?”

“To be blunt—I am the scientist which killed you Heriu.”

So you were the scientist?”

‘Yes. I had to do the deed in order to save my world from plunging into total darkness. The consequences of that action forever changed the two of us and we keep crossing paths as a result. However, I am always Eliot and you are always Heriu. We never lose our real identities. We just momentarily forget where we came from or even why.”

Heriu stared at him. The waitress came back with two big platters heaped with food and the over-sized glasses filled to the brim. She deftly placed the platters before them both and their drinks. “After a few good bites of Harry’s number-three combo, you two should feel much better. I hope.” She smiled sweetly at them both.

“Thank you,” replied Eliot, giving her a big handful of gold coins. “And keep the drinks coming.” He drained out half the glass and Heriu did the same.

“Sure thing darling.” She gave them both a very curious glance before happily bouncing on her feet back the way she came.

“So Dr. Holtz was telling me the truth and I did see you turned to stone by the dragons knife?” He took a big bite of the pie wedge— as he felt ravenously hungry.

“She was never effected by the powers operating on any bubble-world. She was immune to the poison of the Faustius spectral entity. We never bothered to think that bubble-worlds would attract spiritual entities from the darkest depths of our own souls.” He piled in a big wedge of fries smothered with the special hot sauce.

“How very foolish considering the powers of the Ace of Spades.”

“Yes it was very foolish. We saw the bubble-worlds as playgrounds for the mind. Places to test those ideas we could never ethically test on people. But there were three, main groups in the beginning, and one of them was so secret, we did not know the depths of their depravities, until after some of their creations, started shadowing other bubble-worlds. The original idea was to create a world like Faustius to test weapons, and such other things like those dragon weapons, which would work in these other dark creations, but that damn spectral entity took over Faustius, then the queen and from there it went sideways. That thing only wanted more and more victims and so it predated on the other bubble-worlds until I found a way to cut it off. A Faustian bargain was made and I lost a part of myself in the process. The part Catherine was positive held my conscience. She never let that one go by.”

“So you killed me to prevent your world from collapsing and trapped us both in a nightmare which has no exit?”

“Actually Heriu it was your idea for me to kill you, for you to escape Malick. Malick has been controlling you all along, not unlike that foul creature looking to suck the soul force right out of our hearts. You just don’t remember the plan. If you did Malick would know the plan. Your idea was to create a gap he cannot see across. He has a secret network of communication devices working on Tachyon principles. They are quite small and yet they are profoundly powerful. You out-smarted him Heriu on his own turf. You told me one has to trust your deepest gut instincts, when the mind is lost in logical knots.”

“The food and drink here was to protect us?” He wedged a large mouthful of a grand ham sandwich teen style and sent it down the hatch. He was starting to feel much better as the fog cleared from his mind.

“Yes, the combo we ate and the drink so consumed, has the specific consequence of diluting any other magic power, or force found in another bubble-world. My stone self was a nice illusion, but it was a count-down kind of deal. The dragon on my wrist was invisible until that moment was reached. I had to be close enough to take out the creature while it was most vulnerable. At the moment of feeding. On me of course.”

“And you  knew ahead of time?” Heriu took down another big slug of his drink.

“Yes. But not the exact details. It was a feeling more so than a literal picture with instructions. You see that creature could read not only the mind, but the unconscious as well. That’s why it always knew the deepest fears to prey upon. That bubble world was a caldron of hatred just waiting to be exploited.”

“I do remember now Eliot. We are friends lost in an epic struggle to preserve what we love. You save whom I love and I save whom you love… that was our deal. And that foul thing Malick is our enemy.”  They both came back around the small table hugging fiercely. “This battle has cost us so much it is so hard to remember all that we have sacrificed.”

“I know. And we both have made decisions whose repercussions keep coming back to bite us on the ass.”

They raised their glasses… “To all the brave souls who have sacrificed their lives so we all have hope.”

“To the good fight we shall prevail my friend,” added Eliot.

As Eliot watched his good friend drain away another big glass of the unique compound that would remove the memories of their last exploit, in order to preserve their edge, he could only wonder, how much of the real Eliot had that creature sucked out of his mind prior to him giving up the Ace of Hearts? From the conversation it was clear that the transformed Eliot was trying to either destroy the Junction-House, or find another way to re-gain control of its purpose. The goal had been to trap Eliot long enough to see what he was doing in his master plan. Collapsing the entire world was well beyond anything he had ever witnessed. Somebody else was involved well beyond Catherine.

In the crazy lane of traveling “Instances” time was not linear. Here he was ahead of the original— so those memories were of actions already done. This bubble world was on a vertical time-cycle, which would coincide again with the world of Dr. Holtz four weeks ahead. She was taking advantage of being ahead of Eliot one by five and half years. He hoped she had another plan to get Heriu one out of harms way. He and Heriu both were running out of duplicates for their enemies to kill. As the drink worked its magic he forgot what he was thinking about.

Heriu was of course already gone.

Across the distance a young boy watched as an object fluttered out of a clear blue sky. With great excitement he ran over to where the mysterious object had landed. He picked up the over-sized Ace of Hearts card. He studied the card and decided it was something of great magic. His father had found a magical tea pot and now he had found a magical card. He ran off to show his friends his latest prize discovery. He passed Eliot as he ran around the cafe to the back where his buddy washed dishes.

Eliot continued drinking. The sun was warm and the day was long.

 

 

 

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