Monday, March 19, 2018

Microstory 801: Burial Ground

Growing up, the four of us were inseparable. Lawrence, Jessie, Frank, and I would do everything together. Our bond was so tight that we ended up getting jobs together. Whenever one of us was tired of working somewhere, we would all quit and find something else. We even moved halfway across the country together. But then Jessie needed to go back home and take care of her sick mother, and the rest of us just couldn’t afford to go with her. It was okay, though, because we were able to keep in contact with her pretty easily in this modern world. Until we couldn’t. One day, she stopped calling, and we soon discovered that her family hadn’t seen her either. She was reported missing to the authorities, but they weren’t able to find anything. Since we’ve had so many different jobs, though, we had made tons of connections with others. We used this vast network to conduct our own investigation, and eventually learned that she was last seen at the docks where her father worked before he retired. There were rumors that a crew of fishermen were secretly pirates, so that seemed like our best lead. After months of coaxing, we infiltrated the crew, and discovered that the rumors were true, but that wasn’t the worst thing about them. One of the crewmembers was even sicker than the rest, and appeared to be responsible for the abduction of nearly a dozen other women. We found a poorly scaled map in his quarters, and set out to find the X. In the woods, between the bay and the highway, in a relatively remote area, we found what we were looking for. Parts of the ground had been turned up and replaced, forming perfect human-sized rectangles. Each grave was marked with some kind of personal item. We started digging the one marked by Jessie’s lucky stone, which was a painted rock she bought in a gift shop because it “spoke to her”. We worked slowly, not relishing the idea of seeing our best friend’s lifeless body. When we finally opened it, our eyes widened. I immediately grabbed her and pulled the mask off of her face. “Start digging up the others. They’re alive.”

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: August 25, 2171

What Leona and Serif learned during their research was that this world was first visited by a boy named Escher Bradley in 1990. Over the years, others arrived, until it all came to a head in 2016, when an entire town was sucked into a portal. Springfield, Kansas was actually one of the largest cities in the state at one point, and had been systematically pulled into said portal, bringing with it no survivors, and while erasing everyone’s memories of it. Those who survived that final fall battled time monsters, and opposing human forces, starting as a despotocracy, but eventually developing a somewhat stable society. They soon found themselves led by a group of choosers they deemed the source mages, who were each capable of turning others into mages, making this planet likely the highest concentration of chosen ones in the universe.
Later on, the Mage Protectorate fell too, as the monsters were nearly wiped out in one final war. The destruction this war caused was blamed on a woman, which led to a twisted Republic designed to be formally misogynistic, retroactively termed the phallocracy. But this too fell, and—after a transitional period with a provisional government, and a brief salmon battalion military state—was replaced with the Democratic Republic, which better resembled most nationstates on Earth in the mid-21st century.
People they either knew personally, or had one-degree personal connections with, contributed significantly to the changes this world experienced over the decades. Hokusai, for instance, was responsible for preventing Durus from colliding with Earth. This close call was what cased Saga to be sprung up onto the world, and eventually meet Andromeda, who was responsible for using her time powers to literally build the cities of today. Andromeda recently gave birth and died, which was why her widow, Saga chose to hide from the world. For the last year, while Leona and Serif were gone, the rest of the crew of The Warren spent their days trying to look for her, completely unsuccessfully. Time was running out too. If they didn’t leave for Earth soon, they wouldn’t get back by the time the new Savior turned thirteen, and if that happened, well...what were the consequences of that? If this was so important, how come the powers that be let Saga go to Durus in the first place? Or was that unavoidable? Was her daughter the Savior only because she was born here, under these circumstances, with Andromeda as her carrier? Even so, the rule was that Étude couldn’t teleport beyond the confines of the planet she happened to be on, but Andromeda possessed no such limitation. Why was she not simply transported before giving birth? Maybe then, she would still be alive.
“Do you have any leads?” Leona asked.
“We don’t,” Dar’cy answered. “And we never did. We haven’t been trying to figure out where she would go, because her friends were already doing that before we arrived. We’ve really just been traveling to other cities, literally looking for a mother and her infant daughter. We knew we would have the whole year. It’s not like there are billions of people here. Someone should have seen something, and I believe we have collectively spoken with nearly everyone in the world...except for the only person who matters.”
“What about her friend, Xearea’s brother, Camden Voss?”
“He’s still in a coma.”
“Wow—” Leona said, realizing the irony, but stopping herself when she started thinking it wasn’t ironic at all, but completely planned. “Nerakali. She could have communicated with Camden.”
“Oh, that’s probably right. And you killed her.”
“I did not.”
Dar’cy was loudly silent.
“Okay, maybe I did.” She didn’t open the airlock, but she was the reason Nerakali chose to jumpstart her own fate. “Well, maybe we can bring her back. Is there an extraction mirror here? Or an extractor? Or we could contact The Warrior.”
“One does the Warrior,” Dar’cy disagreed. “One simply hopes the Warrior does not find one.”
Leona sighed. “You’ve checked everywhere? Every city, really?”
“Every street in every city.”
“What about the non-cities? I was reading about the thicket, which covers the majority of the globe.”
“We thought about that. Hokusai got her ship airborne again, and has been using that to scan for signs of life. She did find a few people, but none of them was Saga; just hermits who don’t want to be part of society.”
“You’ve checked the whole this dimension.”
Dar’cy smiled knowingly. “We thought of that too. We looked in another dimension called Eboritur that the source mages used to live in.”
“No other dimensions, though?”
“There aren’t any that we know of.”
“What about ones we don’t know of? Who here can create other dimensions?”
“A few people, probably. We don’t have that data.”
“Then let’s get it. What would be the easiest point of access to the government’s internal network?”
“You mean, besides Camden’s mind?”
“That’s right, that’s perfect. He still has that thing in his head, right?”
“It’s probably the only thing keeping him alive.”
“Missy and I could interface with it,” Leona hoped.
“Yeah, and maybe kill him in the process,” Dar’cy warned.
“I have confidence in our abilities.”
“I doubt Camden shares your faith.”
“Dar’cy, we have a job to do. Now, you’ve been leading this charge for the last year, using the same people. It’s time you get some fresh perspective. Isn’t that why we’re talking here right now?”
Dar’cy was reluctant, but had to concede that they needed some way of finding her, and nothing so far had worked. Serif had been wearing the same clothes for the last several days since she hadn’t packed enough, so Loa and Brooke were taking her shopping. Leona and Missy went to the long-term care ward of the hospital, along with Dar’cy and Paige. They had to examine the cybernetic technology that had been merged with Camden’s brain, so they could figure out how to safely interface with it. Then they had to go back to Missy’s lab on the ship to build a device that could do such a thing. A few hours later, they took the device to back to the hospital, and plugged it into a human being. At first, it didn’t seem to have a good connection, but then the database started populating, and they had what they needed. A doctor named Pereira was nearby to make sure this wasn’t doing Camden any harm.
The database wasn’t organized in any comprehensible way. The original one was probably tagged, categorized, and searchable, but when it was downloaded into Camden’s brain, the information seemed to have rearranged itself into an association matrix. Perhaps both fortunately and unfortunately, this was not integrated into the rest of his cognitive system. This was presumably the reason he fell into a coma, because it was like his head now housed two separate consciousnesses—which it wasn’t designed for that—but it would also allow them to extract the information back to a computer, and free his mind of it. Paige and Dr. Pereira weren’t exactly on board with this procedure, but admitted they hadn’t come up with any better solution. Missy quickly wrote a compression program from scratch, and started the process. A few minutes later, the database was out, and Camden was actually showing signs of improvement.
“I am bound by my oath to protect my patients,” Pereira said. “To that end, I don’t think I can disclose the fact that you are now carrying the last unaccounted for copy of a database that was stolen from the government. As soon as he wakes up, though, I don’t believe my obligation to his mind will any longer extend to that...annex you have. I’ll be forced to report that the data was safely removed, so if you want something off of it, you better get it now.”
“Feel free to do whatever you want, whenever you want,” Paige said, taking the tablet from Leona’s hands. “I’ll only need a few moments.”
“What if what happened to him happens to you?” Leona asked out of worry.
Paige laughed as she was jacking the tablet into an interface port in the back of her neck. “Don’t hold your breath.” Her eyelids fluttered as she was assimilating the database into her own neural network. “Four candidates.”
“There are actually dozens, but many of them of them are already dead. Many more have not yet been born. Wow, this thing is extensive. It goes all the way to the year...never mind. Only four people are alive today, and older than fifteen.”
“What about younger than fifteen?”
Dar’cy shook her head. “Saga wouldn’t exploit the powers of a child. She’s getting help from an adult.”
Paige clicked her jaw, making it look like she was closing off her connection to the new information. “That is, if she’s getting help from anyone. Pocket dimension or no, she could have travelled to the past or future, or hell, even another planet, and this database wouldn’t tell us.”
“We’ll split up,” Dar’cy said. “Each pair will question one of the candidates. We need to regroup first, though, so everybody knows each other’s most recent telemagnet codes.”
Leona and Serif were assigned to speak with a man living in a city called Jaydecaster. Yes, he could create pocket dimensions, but there was absolutely no way Saga and her daughter would be in one of them. She was clear in a note written to her friends that she was leaving by her own free will. Mandis Romagna could only generate fear dimensions. It read the mind of anyone who entered it, and create their deepest fears to torment them. Theoretically these could be used as prisons, or tools of torture. Mandis, however, chose to pursue a life as a mental professional. He regulated the dimensions to help people face, and ultimately rise above, their fears. He was quite accommodating and understanding of Leona and Serif’s needs, and even offered them a free session in one of his dimensions, but he couldn’t help them. Just as they were leaving, Brooke and Hokusai announced to the group chat that they had finally found the woman they were looking for.
They activated their telemagnet devices, and teleported to the rest of the group. Annora Ubiña could also create dimensions, but these were more traditional, and limited in scope.
Dar’cy was already holding Annora’s arms behind her back, which she called a necessary measure. “You’re going to take us to Saga’s dimension, and only her dimension. If I so much as suspect that yours are as inescapable as the last guy’s, you and I are gonna have words.” She pulled Annora’s arms higher when she didn’t respond.
“Dar’cy!” Paige rebuked.
“Ow, I’ll do it!” Annora cried. “You don’t have to hurt me! I need my arms, though.”
Dar’cy held firm.
“Okay, I don’t need my arms. Goddammit.” She looked up, and formed a bubble around them. When the seams were fully smoothed out, they were all the way into the other dimension, in front of a nice little home.
Hokusai knocked on the door impatiently. They could hear voices on the other side, “...I’ll get it, since we don’t know who it is.”
Some other woman opened the door, but they could see Saga behind her, nursing her daughter. “Let her go!” Saga screamed.
“Whatever,” Dar’cy answered, doing what she was asked. “It’s not like I need her anymore. We finally found you...after a year!”
Paige stepped forward, composed. “We’re here to take you back to Earth.”
Saga had this look on her face that unambiguously told them, hell no.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Void: One Who Lives (Part XI)

After the death of her wife, Andromeda, Saga felt a void in her life. The only way she could keep it from swallowing her up was to hide her daughter and herself away from everyone. Her baby was kept in the magical floating womb for the next several months, until birthing from it into a tub of water that Saga had the instinct to place underneath. On August 15, 2169, little Étude came in at six pounds and nine ounces. She looked a lot like her mother, despite sharing no genetic code with her. She looked a lot like Camden too, but almost nothing like Saga. Maybe this was just all in her imagination.
Speaking of Camden, the ordeal had left him in a coma. That device he forced Pereira to install on him was designed to interface with computing technology. That was really all they knew about it, except that it was likely from the future, having either been left here by a time traveler, or fallen into a spacetime anomaly. Upon inserting the memory stick Morick had given them into it, Camden downloaded all the information contained therein, of which there was quite a bit. It was a database of all residents on Durus; past, present, and future. The download itself might have left him fairly healthy, but in an attempt to save Andromeda’s life, he expedited the process by the scanning the information all at once. This allowed him to extract that woman from the future, who had the ability to create the artificial womb...somehow, but at the price of his consciousness. The doctors weren’t sure whether he would ever wake up, or if it would eventually kill him. For now at least, machines were keeping him alive, and Saga knew there was nothing more she could do for him.
She gathered minimal belongs, along with her daughter, and left town. Over the years, Saga and Andromeda had gathered a number of friends, who might have been best described as fans, or even followers. People expressed varying levels of gratitude for Andromeda’s service to them; native Durune, and Earthan refugees alike. Camden’s experience as a secret agent had caused him to encourage them to keep track of these people. When he was working for IAC, he and his partners kept a mental note of everyone they had met, all over the world. And since they trusted each other implicitly, they shared this information with each other. One time, Camden found himself alone and badly hurt in Kamchatka Oblast, Russia. He only needed to make his way to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, where he found an old and minor coal miner contact of his partner, Yadira’s. This man didn’t know Yadira well, and didn’t know Camden at all, but just hearing her name was enough for him to agree to provide Camden sanctuary. Without it, Camden might have died. He instead got himself patched up, and made his way home in a few days.
The moral of this story is that you never know who might help you...who you meet will be vital to your future. This is why it’s always important to garner respect from people around you. They don’t necessarily need to like you, but when you’re bloodied and starving in the middle of a foreign country, their memory of you needs to inspire them to help. This was how Saga was able to disappear from her old life, and escape to a new one. She knew that a baby born from a gestational bubble outside of her mother’s body would be coveted by others. Perhaps if she kept Étude away from prying eyes, she would also be keeping her out of the database Camden used. Fortunately, she remembered someone who could help. Annora Ubiña had the power to create psychically impenetrable pocket dimensions. These could not be very large, but they were free from pollution, had an endless supply of metawater, with each molecule originating from a different source, and a food invocator powered by temporal energy. Most importantly, there they were safe from anyone looking for them, using any means, for any reason. At least theoretically.
There was no telling how old Saga Einarsson was. She had spent decades in the past, and was then reverted to a younger age. Even beyond that, time travel being what it was, true duration spent was hard to pin down. During her travels, she met a number of people, some of whom possessed time powers. One such was Sanela Matic, who was Darko’s grandmother. She could travel anywhere in time, but only as an intangible observer. If she wanted to interact with the world at a different place and time, she needed some other traveler. Saga and Vearden opened a door for her once as a quick little favor. They didn’t get to know each other very well, but for some reason, Saga could sense when she was around, and using her power. It was just some kind of temporal fluke. Today, she was watching Étude in her crib, when she started experiencing that rare, but familiar, feeling.
“I can feel you there,” Saga said. She still couldn’t see anything, and it might not have even been Sanela at all, but it had to be something. “Sanela, are you around here somewhere?” She decided she wasn’t going to freak out, and just hope for the best. She tilted her head, because she could almost make out language. Yeah, two people were talking, but it was extremely muffled and quiet. Perhaps they were concerned with her, and what she was going to do without Andromeda. This was unwarranted. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill myself. Étude means far too much for me to do that. I’m all she has, so you can go.”
The feeling disappeared as Sanela apparently left. But then someone knocked on the door, which was unusual, because Annora usually just opened it unannounced when checking in on them. Saga opened it to find nothing on the other side but an endless grayish void. Out of it came Sanela.
“I thought it was you,” Saga said. “Come on in.”
“You called?” Sanela asked.
“I did not. What do you mean?”
She gasped. “Who is this precious person?”
“My daughter, Étude. What do you mean, I called?”
“She’s adorable.” She stared for a little while. “Oh, umm...I put a tag on your voice. I’ll come whenever you need me.”
“I didn’t say your name until you were already here.”
“I just got here. You opened the door for me.”
“No, you were standing over me, watching. I could tell.”
“That was not me,” Sanela said, sure of herself.
“Well...maybe it was a future version of you.”
She shook her head. “No. It wasn’t. That was someone else, Saga, watching from another dimension.”
“This is another dimension. They don’t really...mix well.”
“Well, I promise that it wasn’t me. I came because I felt you needed help.”
“I guess that’s true. My host is great, but we’re not that close. She knows what happened to us, but I can’t really talk with her about it.”
“What happened to you?”
“I met a woman. Andromeda.”
Oh, it was such a relief to unload all of her trauma, and have someone she trusted listen to her. It was no surprise that Sanela was such a good listener. After all, her whole situation was watching other people like they were characters in movies. She probably didn’t spend a whole lot of time speaking, but no doubt had an unrivaled understanding of the human experience. When Saga was nearing the end of the story, Étude started belting out her hunger cry, so Saga had to start nursing.
“I thought she wasn’t yours? I mean, I thought you were the egg donor, not the carrier.”
“I was, but I started lactating as soon as she was born.”
“Yeah, I guess I’ve heard of that. She needed you, so you provided.”
There was another knock on the door.
“Tell me that’s a past or future version of you.”
“Like I said,” Sanela reminded, “I would know. That’s not me either. I’ll open it for you, though.”
When she did, she saw Annora standing there, but she wasn’t alone. Dar’cy Matigaris was holding her arms uncomfortably behind her back, like she was a prisoner. Behind her was Hokusai and Loa, along with Missy, Paige, Serif, and Leona.
“Unhand her right now!” Saga ordered, Étude still oblivious, and happily attached to her breast.
Dar’cy did as she was told. “That’s fine. We don’t need her anymore. Do you have any idea how long we’ve been looking for you?”
“It’s time to go back to Earth.”

Friday, March 16, 2018

Microstory 800: Dreams (Introduction)

Dreams! (dreams, dreams) Dr-dr-dr-dreams! I’ve been posting my dreams on a special Twitter account since October of 2010. The point was to not only remember my dreams, and develop better control over my thoughts, but to engage my creativity. I did it for a little while before stopping, and I believe I picked it up a few times over the years, before recently deciding that I needed to be more diligent with it. As I was working on the future of my website, I came up with my idea for the 900 series, because the number fit well, but that meant I had nothing for 800, and obviously I can’t focus too much on ten steps from now, I need to know what I’m doing before that. Adapting my dream tweets seemed like the most reasonable use of this space, especially since I amassed enough of them to pick the absolute best ones, so that’s what you’re going to get now. It’ll be a nice break, because I realized I don’t have to come up with photos that match the topics I’m writing about. All I need to do is slap a screenshot of the original tweet, and that should be enough to catch your eye on social media links. It’ll also be nice because I have for a while now been beholden to my own canons, but now I can to stretch my legs, and come up with stories free from these narrative constraints. I don’t even have to follow any set of physical laws, because you can literally do anything in dreams, even create stable paradoxes. I’m conflicted about my feelings towards this series. A part of me worries that any one, or more, of them could give rise to a new franchise that I had not been planning to do. Another part of me is excited for this possibility. This could get complicated. I think that’s pretty much all I need to say about this, as it’s a fairly easy concept to grasp. Every time I write one of these, I’m gonna be listening to a playlist of songs I like that involve the topic of dreams, just so you know how committed I am to my trade.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Microstory 799: Joker

When the great machine exploded, it sent everyone inside of it to various universes. Once there, their respective bodies adapted themselves to their new environments. Ezqava ‘Effigy’ Eodurus gained time powers, Azazil ‘Adversary’ Aj-lishdefil and his kind became god-like, and Shuhana ‘Shepherd’ Shenare developed a permanent connection to the machine itself, and also shed her original form. Meanwhile, Jakira ‘Joker’ Jeriesdi failed to end up in one of the universes. Instead, she became at first trapped in the limbo of the bulk itself, which eventually served to imbue her with properties of bulkverse. With practice, she was able to learn how to travel between the universes, becoming one of the few people capable of this. She no longer possessed a physical form, however, so she had to steal it from others. Unlike others with this power, such as Avatar, Gilbert Boyce, Quivira Boyce, and even Avery Ron, she had to completely burn out the original consciousness to accomplish this. If she forced herself into the substrate of one of your loved ones, that individual would be destroyed, and you would never be able to see them again. Instead, with the face of someone you once knew, there would be this stranger and monster. And once she left that body, it would die.

Though Jakira wasn’t evil, she was quite curious; always wanting to explore, and learn new things. She wanted to go to all the universes, at all the times, and see all the things. It was a noble pursuit, and why the machine was built in the first place. She didn’t even know right away that she was killing her hosts every time she did this, and thought she was just borrowing their bodies for a time. She killed myriad of people rapidly in the beginning, because of her intention to not steal time from any one person for very long. Once she discovered the truth, she returned to the outer bulkverse, as a disembodied consciousness, not capable of gaining any new experiences. This caused her to be angry and antsy. She wanted life, and if that meant a few hundred...thousand...million, people died, then so be it. She became indifferent to the problem, and eventually began to see other people as tools, rather than free-thinking individuals. She began to be more methodical with her trips. She would possess someone upon their reaching of that culture’s age of maturity, and maintain that body for the rest of its life, which was generally about twice as long as it would have lived with its original consciousness. Then she would hop into someone else’s body; someone young, but no longer a child. And she would do this for the entire duration of the civilization, only leaving once she had learned everything there was to know, and moving on. In a bittersweet twist, a certain group of people realized what she was, and what she was doing, so they went after her. They created a custom substrate for her, one that might be able to live forever, and travel to other worlds. But first, as punishment for her murders, she would have to spend a great deal of time locked in a prison built specially for her. This is when her story begins.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Microstory 798: Tax Card

During the 200-year period of chaos, when the galaxy was being claimed by all sorts of people with enough money to reach new planets, tax rates were unpredictable. If you wanted to leave the homeworld, you had to suffer whatever policies the founder of the planet you chose had decided to impose upon you. When the Astral Military Force was established, however, the planets began to conform to certain principles. As time progressed, it became harder and harder to push laws that were significantly different than competitor worlds, because citizens would simply leave for better lives. Across the next few centuries, competition essentially disappeared, with no world having any real advantage over another. Populations leveled off, and planets began to fall into one of a few classes. The sixteen original colonies became hubs for interstellar trade, and bellwethers for best practice, and though there were generally more people on the surface of the primaries at any one time, their respective permanent populations were not much than any other. Reservations were military installments, but all other worlds—secondary, tertiary, quaternary, quinary, and constellation class systems—maintained relatively constant populations, with only slight decreases down the spectrum. Soon after the primary worlds adopted a tax program based on mandatory AMF levies, other worlds followed suit. Whereas most nations on the homeworld long ago used some kind of income-based tax bracketing system, the new worlds utilized a flat tax method. All citizens of the galaxy were required to pay one hundred points to the Astral Military Force, so that the organization could regulate interstellar travel, and protect everyone from war travesties. One hundred additional points were allocated to each planet’s global government, while another third was designated for local governments. While earlier tax plans only required payment from working adults, it was decided that every living citizen was attached to three hundred tax points. Parents usually took responsibility for this burden for their children, though there have been cases of abandonment in order to absolve these parents of the obligation. It is not technically illegal if certain procedures are followed. All in all, it wasn’t the most perfect system conceivable, but it seemed to work for the galaxy...until the galaxy fell, and the remaining leaders turned towards a more every world for itself mentality.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Microstory 797: Cowgirl

Despite her codename, Deborah ‘Debbie’ Mynatt, a.k.a Cowgirl did not grow up on a farm, or a ranch. In fact, she grew up in the densest part of Manhattan, and had no interest in the outdoors. She even refused to go with her parents whenever they wanted to spend some time in Central Park. After the incident, though, she sought help from a man who couldn’t care less what his followers wanted, or what their personalities were like. He had this idea of the future—of the people he wanted to rule over it—and instead of adapting his plans to the people he was able to recruit, he forced his people to conform. Still, she felt she owed him her life, and did as she was told. She trained every single day, honing the skills he wanted her to have, and learning to effectively demonstrate her persona’s gimmick. She learned how to ride a horse, how to fight dirty, like a southerner, and how to handle a rope. Every villain and hero had their own special accessories that were tailored to them, and as unoriginal as it was, hers was the lasso, though she referred to it as her lariat. The lariat was a technological marvel, capable of loosening and tightening itself according to sensors attached to her hat that could read her brainwaves. She also carried with her sheath knives, and revolvers, making her one of the few members even of Forager’s crew who utilized deadly weaponry. Debbie was Forager’s most loyal servant, carrying out his every order to the smallest detail without question. She was not evil, but she was damaged, and the only way she would be able to get out from his thumb would be if someone else came along to control her instead. What she really needed was for someone to help her learn to be independent; to reject her abuser’s manipulation. Fortunately for her, the team she was up against wanted what was best for her. The only thing now was for her to decide to take the first step towards goodness.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Microstory 796: Bower

A c-brane, which is a particular class of universe, is only as large as it needs to be in order to accommodate its inhabitants. This is the cause of so much strife in the Maramon’s brane, for they were never meant to travel beyond their solar system, but something went wrong. Capitalizing on this idea, however, of an extremely limited scope universe, a group of some very powerful people decided to build their own universe. Now, normally, natural universes have near unlimited scope. They’re created by some kind of cosmological expansion event, like a big bang, and grow larger from there, as time progresses. C-branes, on the other hand, are created by the force of creativity. They manifest through imagination or dreams, and more often than not collapse upon their own instability. If no one continues believing in them, then they won’t exist. In the history of the bulkverse, which is the collective dimensional substructure all universes, no one has gotten together to make one from scratch, but these people managed to figure it out. Deemed The Bower House, it was designed to confine the most notoriously dangerous people from all over the multiverse. Most universes, including standard natural ones, have incredibly spectacular physical laws, which can be exploited to accomplish fantastical goals. In some, death can be subverted through transference to new substrates. In some, objects can be moved from great distances, through telekinesis. Some have slower aging, or faster-than-light travel, or even demons. The Bower House has none of these things. An individual transferred to this prison universe from their own will find themselves completely without whatever special abilities, or technologies, they were able to use before. There is no electricity, and no superpowers, and death is final. The idea here was to have a place to incarcerate the worst criminals in the bulkverse, who have used some unfair advantage against others. It is the smallest c-brane ever, with its sky being a low-hanging firmament, rather than light waving through empty space. It is impossible to escape from the Bower House, because there is nowhere to go, and no technology capable of creating a way out. Yet somehow, one woman found a way, and then all hell broke loose.