June 9th, 2017

_Crossroads of the Multiverse_ start

Since it was mentioned (and I have nothing else to post) I'll repost this bit. I really need to have some permanent Earth POVs and these three young ladies might be useful.  This was written a gabillion years ago, so there are plenty of continuity errors.


April 1, 3513[1406]

"Welcome to the Crossroads of the Worlds" The old man's dignity was marred by the cynicism he wasn't even bothering to hide. "You have been selected from thousands of applicants for a summer internship here at the Earth Embassy. We expect you to work hard, and to also get to know your fellows from the other Worlds. We hope that you will have something more edifying in mind than counting coup by getting laid by someone from each of the other Worlds, but experience has proven our hopes useless."

That brought out a spate of nervous giggles.

"Please understand that the sexual mores of the other Worlds are different, and differ even between social classes and different societies in each World." He eyed them, the cynicism deepening. "There is a court system here. It is operated by the Government of the Kingdom of the West from Comet Fall. Please be aware that they punish rape rather severely. And inventively. Be very clear, verbally, without euphemisms, about what you want to do, and be sure to get verbal permission in such a way that no one would ever think it was coerced." He eyed them and shrugged.

"That is the One World Embassy." He pointed at the trio of buildings in a walled compound directly across the plaza from the Earth Embassy. "That is the Comet Fall Embassy." That was polished and carved stone, slightly ornate. "The blocks off the corners are, in theory, open to the public. Courts and police, both local and their so-called Dimensional police, in that one. The Library there, and the Hospital across there. The hospital is operated by the Comet Fall people and uses their nano tech. We prefer you bring injuries to the attention of our clinic in Embassy building three. There are considerable concerns about how well – or poorly - the Fallen understand the dangers of what they do." He ran his eyes over them. "No doubt you will all be wanting to explore, so pick up your luggage and come along. You'll be staying in the Residence Building."

Jill looped the strap of her small bag over her shoulder, and grabbed the handle of her large case and fell in with the crowd. There were supposed to be exactly a hundred summer internships awarded every year, and every year there were claims of favoritism and cheating, monetary payments and sexual favors that were usually settled by funding a few extra slots.

Jill had won her slot publicly, in the tri-state academic triathlon. She eyed the ditzy blonde fumbling with three times as much luggage as any sensible person could possibly need, and looking around beseechingly for help.

"Wonder how she got an internship." The tall willowy brunette beside her curled a lip and marched away.

Two young men lounging against the central fountain exchanged looks and grins and swooped over.

"Need help? Looks like you brought enough stuff to stay a year." The handsome black haired fellow smiled, showing faultless, white teeth.

His blond friend grabbed three cases. "Let us help you in any way possible."

Black hair grabbed two more and they bracketed the blonde girl as she trailed the rest of the interns.

"Oh thanks! I just got so excited, and I didn't know what to bring and what to leave."

"Hmm, what a dilemma." Blond hunk said. "So you brought it all."

"Oh, no. This is just barely enough for me to get by with. I had to leave _so_ much behind."

The old man led them around the left side of the Earth Embassy and up to a Security Gate. They all walked through, automatically identified by their chip.

"So, when you have some time off, come ask for us at the One World Embassy."

Jill looked around suddenly. The One World was their main rival across the multidimensional World. Or had been until the supposedly primitive Comet Fall World not only beat back the Earth's invasion, but followed them home and destroyed their Gate. Now the 'Fallen' controlled cross dimensional travel, and imposed their own rules of behavior.

This empty World had been designated as neutral territory, and all Worlds invited to build Embassies here.

The Earth and One World had been the first, but thirty-five others had built embassies here since then. Including Comet Fall.

But . . . to just sit and talk to One Worlders? The arrogant fools who worshiped their One Power, and considered everyone, including eighty percent of their own population, beneath them?

"We'd be delighted to be the first notches on your tally stick." The dark haired One Worlder leered.

"Oh, wait, Hector! No euphenisms!" The Blond shook his head reprovingly.

"Oops!" Blackie—Hector—smirked. "We'd be delighted to have sex with you."

"We love fucking idiots." Blondie assured her.

The girl stood staring as they dropped her luggage, her mouth open.

"Hey Greg, is that Earther for, 'I wanna give you a blow?"

Jill gritted her teeth and dropped her own luggage. She marched back out the security gate and grabbed two of the girl's suitcases. "C'mon, ignore them, they're just rude children."

The girl fumbled with her luggage. Again.

"Grab the god-damned handle and lug it through the gate." Jill snapped at her. The girl blushed and towed the case through as if it weight a hundred kilos, and went back for the others, making each one look like a tremendous effort.

Jill kept the largest one, and the elegant brunette another. The blonde girl looped some straps and managed to drag the rest along behind her. By the time they made it to the lobby, the girl was sweating and pale.

Jill looked at her and shook her head, realization sinking in. "Don't tell me. You're from Mars aren't you?"

The girl nodded.

"So you're fighting triple your usual weight, and you brought this much stuff?"

"I had to live on Earth for a year to finish acclimation, so I had to have a lot of stuff. I didn't even think about not having any sort of transport for the luggage, here."

"Mars?" The elegant girl looked the blonde over. "I thought all Martians were fat?"

"I dieted."

The crowd at the desk thinned and they walked up and were registered. "Third floor. Rooms 315, 316 and 317." The clerk pointed at them as he gave the room numbers.

Fortunately there was an elevator.

"I'm Kelly Tharsis." The Martian girl smiled tentatively.

"Pleased to meet you, Jill Fenris. I apologize for being rude."

"Shirley Mason. You ought to have just said something."

Kelly blushed. "I feel so stupid and helpless. We Martians always pride ourselves on being independent and able to deal with anything, and I just stood there, looking bovine." The door opened to the third floor, and she started shoving her stuff out the door. Jill and Shirley helped and they all dragged their stuff down to their rooms.

"Wow. They did warn us the rooms were small." Shirley said.

Jill nodded. Small bed, small closet. She looked down the hallway and spotted the bathroom sign. "Right." She dragged her stuff in and started unpacking. It fit, and the suitcase fit under the bed. Barely.

She looked herself over carefully in the mirror over the dresser. No roots showing. Just smooth black hair, in a long clean braid, intelligent and business-like. No one had ever noticed at home, and no one would notice here.

Time to explore.



Spring Equinox

Xen stepped through the Gate and cast a quick look around the plaza. The central fountain sprayed water, the grassy patches were green, the stone patches were stony and no one was trying to kill him. Made for a nice change.

He eyed the few people in sight. All of Question's attempts to get the various Worlds to open stores and trade and sell, or at least display trade goods had, so far, produced a single open air market west of the Comet Fall and Arrival Embassies. The Kings of Arrival and Western had become bosom buddies, and were underwriting a small currency exchange, and trying really hard to get all these arrogant asses to just sit down and chat with each other over coffee or tea as if they were equals.

The only people outside looked like couriers, hustling between Embassies with notes. No, he'd have to take that back. Three young women were walking out of the Earth Embassy side gate, and looking around both hopefully and fearfully. At least there weren't any predators in sight. Human variety. The One Worlders and the Earthers were forever going out of their way to be rude to each other.

He was early for his meeting with the Ambassador. Perhaps he should try to entice the trio into the market and buy them some coffee. Umm. Not really that early. Drat.

He walked around the Gate – for some reason it had seemed more esthetically pleasing to have people walk out of the Gates and into the Plaza. With the Gates ringing the Fountain, that meant everyone had to loop around their Gate and cross the street to their respective Embassies. It was very inconvenient for vehicular traffic, but no one had actually asked them to turn them around, yet. The Ambassador was waiting them out.

The Earth Embassy had taken up most of the block to the east of the Plaza, the One World most of the block to the west.

His own had shown restraint in their design, and put up an attractive carved block of polished granite with generous windows and surrounded it with a garden. The Ambassador's residence and the apartments for the rest of the staff were beyond the gardens, and they had stables beyond them.

One Worlders and Earthers used their mechanized transports when needed, and generally went out of their way to spook the horses. The Gate complex was three miles from the beach. With the weather warming rapidly, traffic to the beach would be picking up.

He just hoped that they wouldn't have a repeat –or worse – of last summer's incident. An Arbolian officer had seriously injured the driver of a One World Vehicle who had broken his horse's leg.

Wine and whine all around, and all parties, including the horse, sent home, healed but angry. It was bad enough when Comet Fall had to act like the Multiverse's policeman. Multiverse's babysitter was just too pathetic for words.

He trotted up the steps and greeted the doorman cheerfully. "Why so gloomy Hix?"

"The Earther's summer interns have just arrived. Two Oners were offensive within about three minutes. It's going to be like this all summer long."

"Erg. I saw some young women coming from that direction. I ought to have realized." He glanced back. The women were circling their Gate, examining it. "Give me a yell if you think I should saunter out and break anything up."

"Yes, sir."


The Plaza looked empty, and they ventured out bravely. No rude One Worlders were going to stop them. Not that Jill minded that the rude duo seemed to have departed.

A man walked out of one of the Gates, and looked around for a second before circling the Gate and walking off.

"He's heading for the Comet Fall Embassy." Kelly hissed. "Do you think he's a wizard?"

Shirley snorted. "Don't fall for that nonsense. It's just nano scale tech, and they manipulate it subconsciously. In fact it's probably _relic_ tech and they have no understanding of it."

"I like the idea of magic." Jill sighed. "Although I suppose like anything else, it has both good and bad things about it. It must be impossible for everyone to be equal, when some people have such a huge advantage."

Kelly circled the Gate to Earth, a big granite arch, filled with light and fog.

Jill was careful to not say too much. She'd learned early to not describe things. She just didn't see some things the way other people did. All the literature had described the Arches as 'empty', but they most certainly were not.

The man, wizard or not, had disappeared into the Comet Fall Embassy. Jill noted the carved 'EARTH' on their own arch, and walked along the line of arches. They truly were empty. The sixteenth was full of fog and also had a carved name. It was apparently from someplace called Arbolia.

"That's another of the Magic Worlds." Kelly said, eyes bright.

"It's a separate country on the same World as one called Arrival." Jill said. She'd studied long and hard to win this position. "Arbola is over here on the neutral side of Earth, Arrival is over there with Comet Fall."

They circled the Plaza, with Kelly chattering away and telling them things they already knew, and the gossip that was apparently making the rounds on Mars.

Black Hector and Blond Greg sauntered out of the featureless glass cube of their Embassy building. Jill eyed them nervously, and tried to chivvy the others along faster.

Kelly stared up at the One World Arch. "They enslave the people of other worlds, use the women as brood stock."

"Of course we do. Why, I personally have been looking forward to impregnating my designated four Earth Women for years." Hector leered. "You three would be such a good start."

"And you two would be such excellent plant fertilizer."

They all turned in surprise. The Comet Fall man walked up, smiling innocently. "Hi. I'm Xen Wolfson. I take it you're part of the new bunch of interns? Welcome to Crossroads."

Kelly beamed at him. "I'm Kelly Tharsis. From Mars."

"Mars? Mars the planet? Really?" He looked delighted. "May I buy you all some coffee? Tea? Yes, even the Bad Boys can come."

He was very tall, two meters easily, broad shouldered, narrow waisted and muscular. Deep dark eyes showed a blue rim and his brown hair was fluffy and curly, cut about five centimeters long all over. His nose had just enough arch to be both elegant and masculine. Strong chin. Broad shoulders. Dear god he was cute.

Jill found herself following him automatically as she stammered out an introduction. Shirley looked equally smitten, and the One Worlders followed, muttering about charisma and charm spells, and how they shouldn't trust a wizard . . .

Jill had spotted the tarp roofed booths as they circled the Plaza, now she saw that they held produce and various manufactured goods.

"We're trying to get up some trade, but no one seems to want to sell someone something that could be used against them. It 's a bit frustrating."

He led them to an outdoor pastry shop and after checking their preferences, got both a pot of coffee and a pot of tea, along with a plate of pastries.

"Now tell me all about Mars? Is it was dry and deserty as it looks through a telescope?"

"Oh yes, and it doesn't have much air, although we're trying to build it up by bringing in comets, but that's dangerous."

"I should think so! You have permanent colonies there, I take it?"

"Oh yes. The population is well over a million. I'm third generation Martian."

Xen grinned. "After all the tall tales of Monstrous Martian invaders, it comes down to pretty blondes? Dear me. I'd be disappointed if it didn't sound so insulting. No monsters at all?"

Kelly was giggling. "Sorry, nary a one."

"By the One, Xen. Must you be such an obvious womanizer?"

"Oh, Hector, the reason for my success with women lies in the fact that I like them, and enjoy talking to them." He twinkled at Kelly. "And yes, I am an appalling womanizer, so watch yourself. It is appropriate in my society for a woman to haul off and slap a man who has offended her. Feel free to do so at any time."

"Oh, Good Grief . . . " Greg glared at him.

Xen's grin widened. "Miss Fenris, hmm interesting name, mythical wolf or something?"

"Err, You're thinking Fenrir, a Scandinavian mythical monster." Jill blushed. "I didn't really study very much ancient mythology."

Shirley nodded. "Our schools have started focusing more on ancient history since, err."

"Yes. Something about getting your ass whipped that tends to focus the mind." Xen said.

Hector laughed out loud at that. "I'll bet."

Xen raised his eyebrows. "Didn't they tell you about the One World invasion of Comet Fall? Your troops got all of . . . two kilometers perhaps from the Gate. And when they saw that the Gate was taken down and they'd lost, they all committed suicide. Two hundred of them. Utterly appalling."

"Well, what do you expect, after your spy mission."

"Actually it was about two years before. We had to do a lot of searching to find you."

"We didn't start a war."

"Well, yeah, took us a couple of hours of hard labor to stop you dead, so, no. You weren't able to start a war." Xen shook his head. "And here I had you two figured as at least Nerteone. Surely the government stops lying at your level? No?"

They were both glaring.

"Ah well. Don't mind them, m'ladies, Oners invest heavily in their hierarchy of power and casting aspersions is very rude of me."

The Fallen steered the conversation back to Earth, and what they had studied in school, and did they like dogs and horses?

At some point the old man who'd welcomed them to the Crossroads tracked them down.

Xen, of course, greeted him with a grin and by name. "Mr. Jenkins! Won't you join us? No? I suppose you are here to shut down my information pipeline into the Earth's secret program of secondary education?"

"Yes, and the sooner the better." He eyed the three women. "We were concerned when you didn't show up for lunch. I didn't expect you to have found all three of the worst influences on the planet so quickly. There's an orientation meeting starting in half an hour." He stood waiting.

"He's not going to go away." Xen informed them. "Stubborn fellow. Will you let me walk you back to the Embassy? Oh, one thing first." He turned and looked back at the counter. "Yahlou, what are the prices for stuff here in Earth currency? What are you accepting these days?"

"We haven't had any luck getting card sales to work, so what we prefer are the tokens Mr. Jenkins will no doubt be telling you about really soon. A pot of tea half the size this Bottomless Pit ordered is one dollar, two pastries for a dollar. We try to keep things in whole numbers because keeping change in thirty-five currencies is a real problem. Come back any time, bring friends. I have a bouncer in the back, and he swears he can even get rid of Xen." She grinned, spectacularly good looking with even white teeth in a tanned face, and red hair braided around her head.

"What about us?" Greg smirked.

She lifted an elegant eyebrow. "I doubt I'd have to disturb him." Some thing beeped in the back and she flashed them a smile and retreated to take something out of a stove.

"Electric stoves and ovens are _so_ popular." Xen said. "You, either of you, really ought to sell them. Now, do let me escort you home. Mr. Jenkins wants you out of my clutches quickly."

He walked them back to the street in front of the Embassy, and turned away with the two trailing One Worlders.

The old man shook his head. "That young man is too charming for words. Ladies, one of the things we do is keep track of conversations with the Comet Fall people. Captain Xen Wolfson of the King's Own Intelligence Division is very high on our priority list. Do not talk about this with each other, yet. After the meeting you three split up, and each write out as exactly as possible everything that was said by anyone, including yourselves. Then we'll compare versions and jiggle your memories a bit."

They all nodded and Kelly sighed. "Is he really a horrible womanizer?"

"Yes and no. Women will tell him anything apparently because he'll sit and chat for hours. Sex? Not that anyone has admitted to. He's in a very odd position in the government of the West. I'll send his bio – what we know of it – to you three to share."