Saturday, October 31, 2020

Glisnia: Dynastis (Part IX)

Hogarth didn’t know where she was, or who this...entity before her was, but she always tried to follow Leona’s Rules of Time Travel. Rule Number Five seemed pertinent right now, treat everyone you meet with respect, as they may unexpectedly return. “My name is Hogarth Pudeyonavic. I’m not sure what’s happening here. I scanned a book that I...”
“Created with your mind?” Aitchai finished for her.
“That code delivered you to me. How can I be of assistance?”
“We’re not sure of all the details, but we believe we tapped into an alternate reality, and accidentally...merged our two together? The alternate sun is bleeding into our reality, but it’s small right now, at least from our dimensional perspective.”
The man tilted his head back in thought. “Hm. Interesting.”
“Have you seen anything like this before?”
“I’ve seen overlaid realities before, yes, of course. I’ve never heard of your specific case, though. It is quite interesting. Is it growing?”
“Yes, we believe as it slowly pulls itself into our reality, it’s adopting our dimensions.”
“Quite right, except I don’t imagine it’s from an alternate reality. I believe you’ve reached another universe; one that is—to dumb it down, with apologies—smaller than yours. Did you see colors as it was first emerging?”
“I was not there. They called me in to help. One of them is indeed from a different universe. He has the power to enhance other people’s power, and he was trying to use it to help one of our people access other realities. It’s this whole thing.”
Aitchai shook his head dismissively, but still respectfully. “I don’t need to hear anything about it. Just give me a second.” And then his stood there for a moment, unmoving. “Okay, you’re good.”
“Really? It was that easy?”
“For me, anyway.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m everything.”
“Like...literally, err...?”
“Pretty much, yeah. I was a man once.” He raised his arms outward at a ninety-degree angle, lifted his shoulders, and looked down at his chest. “I looked like this. My name was Dyne Dyne Pala Pala. A few of us encountered a temporal anomaly, and it made us all immortal. We each have our own thing, though. My version is...unusual, and my essence ultimately became integrated with the fabric of time and space, for every universe in the infinite. I’m everything now. I’m really just the energy that pervades all matter. You’re talking to a high concentration of it, in a form that just makes it easier for us to communicate.” He shook his hands like he was warming up to play the piano. “I don’t normally have hands anymore, though.”
“Do you interfere a lot?”
“I’m not sure I would say a lot, as I’ve lost all concept of scale, but I suppose about as much as I feel is necessary. There are some points in spacetime that need my attention, as do some people. You are one of those people. I needed there to be a book in your world, or rather your world needed it. Most universes are just...normal. They don’t have time travel, or anything. Closest they might get are relativistic speeds. For the few with special needs, I monitor more closely.”
“Why me?”
He smiled, though as a holographic projection of a boundless metaconsciousness, it was just for show. “I don’t talk to many people, and they all ask that. The answer particular reason. You’re random.” He seemed worried that sounded offensive.
“Whew, what a relief,” Hogarth said. “Now I don’t feel so pressured. Whatever I do, it’s what I’m meant to do, right? I don’t have some specific purpose or destiny that I’ve been missing.”
“No, you’re just part of the puzzle. You’re a brighter part, I would say—you stand out more—but you still fit just as snuggly in the tapestry of reality as anyone else.”
“But I have been given the chance to talk with you directly, which is rare?”
“Indeed. You’re a puzzle piece that I picked up and inspected, to stay with the metaphor.”
“Does this have to be a one-time thing?”
“It’s not a one-time thing, but it’s not a whenever you can’t find your car keys kind of thing either. Your universe has car keys right?”
“Not anymore,” she responded. “Well, don’t worry, I won’t bug you too much.”
I’m always with you, though,” Aitchai added, “as cheesy as that may sound: in the sun’s rays, in the hum of electrical lines, in the cold of winter; that’s me. I am the energy that keeps all things moving. At least, I’m the conscious element of these natural processes.”
She nodded again. “Thank you for your help with this. Are you gonna warn me about messing with things I don’t understand?”
He shook his holographic head. “Nope. I trust you.”
“I appreciate your support.”
And with that, he was gone, and Hogarth was back in the training room.
Everyone else was still staring at the space where the miniature sun used to be, the rest of the group having entered the room at some point. Now everything was fine, and they were confused. The ones here when she left were standing a little farther from the epicenter of the problem than they were before, indicating that it had grown while she was talking with Aitchai. It took them a second to realize she was back.
“How long have you been gone?” Hilde asked.
Their friends walked over to hear better.
“A few minutes, I guess. Why, do I look older?” Hogarth joked.
“No, it’s just that it’s fixed,” Holly Blue pointed out. “Did it only take you a few minutes to get your answer, and correct the issue?”
“I met someone who fixed it,” Hogarth began to explain. “It only took him a second or two. We spent the rest of the time talking.”
“Who was this person?” Holly Blue was concerned.
“He called himself the Aitchai. Crimson, I’m sure you’ve heard of him.”
“Oh, yeah,” Crimson started, but then said, “no. Why? Should I have?”
“He’s, like...the god of the bulkverse, so I guess I assumed you had at least heard the name at some point in your travels.”
“No, ‘fraid not,” Crimson replied.
“How do you know he was who he said he was?” Holly Blue posed.
“How do you know I am who I say I am?” Hogarth volleyed. “We never really know anything. I choose to believe. He did fix the sun. It was from another brane, by the way, not an alternate reality.”
Jupiter slapped Ambrose on the shoulder, somewhat affectionately, but also a little to roughly. “You boosted my power a lot more than you knew you could. You need to be more careful, brother.”
Ambrose nodded his head, horrified. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.”
“Well, it’s all right now, we got it fixed,” Hogarth reminded them.
“How can we be sure it won’t happen again?” Holly Blue was about ready to scrap the whole project.
“You mean how can you ever trust me again,” Ambrose corrected.
“I was jokin’ with you, man,” Jupiter assured him. “It takes two to Tango.”
“He’s right,” Lenkida said. “We need safeguards, and contingencies, and simulations. You have all been going through this really quickly, but this has always been a long-term project. We have plenty of resources to keep us busy for the next several years. Figure out how you’re gonna do what you need to do before you start trying to do it.”
Hogarth looked over at her lab partner. “Holly Blue. Don’t.”
“What?” Holly Blue asked. “I didn’t do anything.”
“You’re about to suggest we give up, and I’m telling you, don’t suggest that.”
Holly Blue breathed in deeply, then released it all from her lungs at once. “I need to go before I say something we both regret.” She reached over to her wrist, and activated her teleporter, disappearing in a flash of lightning that was only there for effect.
“I’ll talk to her,” Crimson said as it prepared to teleport as well.
“Wait,” Hogarth stopped it. “Take her to Declan. She doesn’t wanna be here anymore, and this is my responsibility.”
Crimson tipped an imaginary cap. “As you wish.” It exploported away. Was that a good word for it, exploportation?
There was silence for a few moments.
“Ethesh,” Hogarth began. “I could do with a technician.”
“At your service,” he replied.
The two of them walked out of the room, and headed for the lab. There was a moment during this that gave her pause. This whole facility operated on wireless energy. Solar radiation was absorbed by the conversion panels on the outer layers, and delivered everywhere else. Every entity that required electricity to survive got it from broadcast nodes that the engineers installed at strategic locations. It didn’t matter where a mech or transhuman went, there was always a node nearby to supply them with power, and the signals generally overlapped with each other, so there was no loss of constant recharge, even though everyone was equipped with a backup battery. There were a few spots, however, with no overlap. They were simply oversights that no one had bothered to correct, but again, that was fine, because constant supply was a luxury, not a necessity. The threshold separating the training room and the hallways was one such of these spots, and when Hogarth crossed it, she could feel it. It was only for a second, but her sensory detectors were sensitive enough to register it. Normally, she would move on, and not give it any thought, but now she noticed it.
“What is it?” Ethesh asked her.
“That’s the Aitchai.”
“Your magical god friend?” he questioned.
She looked around like a paranoid wallaby. “He’s everywhere,” she whispered.
Ethetsh looked around too, but only with his eyes. “Are you seeing him right now? Is he telling you to do things?”
“Everything is always everywhere, and right here.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s all connected.”
“Do I need to get a doctor?”
“Energy. Matter. Matter. Energy.”
“You’re really starting to freak me out, and I don’t freak out easily. I once met Ludwig van Beethoven backstage in Gandren the past.”
“We’re thinking about this all wrong. We don’t need an altreal siphon. The time siphon will do just fine, as long as we use it correctly. Just a few molecules from everywhere, it’s all connected. Crimson Clover!” she shouted at medium volume.
Crimson exploported in. “Holly Blue has agreed to go meet Declan, but she has to get ready first. What do you need?”
“I need my body back,” Hogarth demanded.
“I can’t take her to Declan’s universe unless I keep it. I promise to return it immediately afterwards.”
“Don’t worry about Holly Blue right now. I can finish the matrioshka body.” She grabbed it by her shoulders, and forcefully swapped their consciousnesses.

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