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13 June 2017 @ 05:25 pm
_The Last Merge_ Disco part 1  

Which I'm sure most of you remember, since I posted the unfinished draft. Starting here: http://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/422609.html

I need to write the Disco parts, and I think I'll do it just straight through, as if the other threads didn't exist, then interleave the parts later.

So it may have some large holes, and be a bit hard to follow, because stuff happens elsewhere that I'm not going to explain twice.

The start has just a few changes, but I'll start here anyway.

Part One—Before the Storm

Embassy World

Disco Headquarters

Fall 1402 px

Xen hid a smile as he watched his sister try to explain what was plain to her to so many people who, however intelligent, were, for the most part, not cross-dimensional experts.

"And this thinner spray of worlds are Earths that had devastating nuclear wars. The One World is one of them." Thin gray lines, thousands of them, forming a stringy fog over a wide wedge of her model.

"What are these oddball colored lines going across?" The President of the Empire of the One was studying the translucent 3-D illusion intently.

"I call them strays. Worlds so different than the worlds they split from that they've gone zinging off in unexpected directions, very far from the clusters of the more common differences that split their worlds." Q sighed. "It's . . . I really wish you lot would develop some machinery that could measure these things. In any case, the red lines, if you follow them back, departed from the main dinosaur line about sixty five million years ago, but internally have only experienced a few hundreds of thousands of years, sometimes much less. They're both rare and scattered. But they've allowed us a glimpse into the past of our own worlds . . . sorry." She clear her throat.

Embarrassed to have gotten distracted. Xen suppressed a grin.

"The blue are primitive worlds. A departure from ours at about fifty-thousand years ago, with perhaps ten to twenty-thousand years experienced internally. Also rare, but with a much tighter grouping as they cross the area of interest." Q touched the wafer projecting the illusion.

"However, what I want to show is that I've backtracked the Helios' micro-universe across the various membranes."

A black line sprung up, wiggling through the cloudy specks of thousands, perhaps millions of other membranes—parallel universes.

"Why isn't the line straight." One of the physicists glared at the model.

"I think that having been ripped away from its home membrane, it—all five stars and however many planets and asteroids—it is no longer orbiting the galactic center. But it passes through other membranes every few years and the similarity creates an attraction that jerks it around, closer to the equivalent bodies, even though it doesn't merge."

Xen frowned. "Wouldn't that be a little rough on the other brane? Surely they'd get jerked too?"

"Yep." She stuck her finger in the model. "Note that it wandered across the Hygeia branch. I suspect that has a lot to do with the planetary scale devastation so many of our branch's branes have experienced."

Xen leaned and tracked the black line to its end, deep in the nuclear war branch. "And now?"

"Now." Q reached and flipped a small tab of metal over, turning off the imbued illusions. She flipped a second tab over to the "on" side. A close up, now, with the membranes as a small gray crumples trailing the faint threads of their past positions.

The black line showed two slight course changes where it passed through one crumpled membrane and clipped another.

Q tapped the first crumple. "It's been a year since it merged with—and ripped the Earth out of—that membrane. It appears to have been slightly diverted from a straight path. It has just passed XC 12634. A world so devastated by nuclear war that no humans and damn few animals survived."

"It bent again, we could measure it." The Oner expert, Esna Withione was leaning forward, glaring as if Q was responsible for the looming disaster.

"Good. Good that you could measure it."

"If it keeps going straight now . . . " Dr. Esna scowled and poked. "Is that the One World?"

"No, that's EP 11566. It's going to be close. Possibly close enough to change its course, but not close enough merge. The course change will be entirely the wrong direction, for us. We had every indication that it was going to miss the One World, but the last encounter has pulled it back on course. This will make it even worse."

A touch and a faint cone extended forward from the Helios miniverse.

"Projecting its course after it passes EP 11566 is difficult. I think this cone is a reasonable estimate, but I'll up date it frequently."

"Especially after I have placed hundreds of gates between Helios and this settled world up here. I hope that it will influence the course of Helios. But that is an Inhabited World so while I'll use it to add to any divergence, I'll release it if the pull looks like it could encourage a merge. I am also in the process of placing my storm of gates up to this world up here, another X World, again in hopes of further countering any deflection toward the One World." Q drew a dozen parallel lines to the worlds she hoped would anchor the Helios miniverse.

"Then the next three encounters. You can see that there's a Dino World, and a Primitive World crossing paths—not over lapping—as they cruise through going different directions. And then this is the One World."

The growing cone of the Helios miniverse's possible paths included the One's crumpled membrane, off center, but not comfortably off.

"If the next world bends its path . . . " Urfa looked pale, lines of stress marred his usually calm expression.

"It might still miss. There are two more worlds I can try to steer it toward." Q met his gaze. "I need you to monitor the situation, well, I know you will, but I need you to tell me if it's working."

"Of course, we have no way to tell if it's what you're doing or the natural result of a close pass."

"Of course. But if it pulls it even a little, I can repeat with the Dino World, and again with the Primitive World. Those are both possible merges. We will not stop trying."

"Q?" Xen stared at her, horrified. "You're going to try to merge it with an inhabited world?"

"Yes. As an absolute last resort. Because we can evacuate a few million people a lot more easily than a few billion." She looked away from him.

Oh. Bloody. Hell . . . And she looks like she's going to cry, but she's right. No matter how many people we'd miss trying to evacuate a Primitive World, it'll be less than the number who refuse to budge from their homes on the One World. But for us to choose which world to sacrifice . . .

"Right." He swallowed, and sat back, a bit relieved at the appalled expressions on the Oners' faces. "So . . . how are the suburb worlds doing?"

The President finally relaxed, sitting back as his eyes crinkled with humor. "Oh. One. You have changed so many dynamics, I don't know where to start. But we have infrastructure in place and being expanded, on twelve Empty Worlds. So the twelve largest metropolitan areas could be evacuated in days. Which would barely be five percent of the population."

"We'll put up a whole lot of gates, at need. To those worlds, and your other colonies."

"And pray to the One True God we don't need them." Urfa shivered. "Or the millions of temporary housing units we're moving Across. We have another /// year to track them before we go into panic mode . . . maybe."