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13 December 2017 @ 07:06 am
_Mirror, Mirror_ part 2  

Ebsa decided on pure honesty. "Because I'm an Exterior Agent, taking a first look at a newly discovered transdimensional world. One that apparently split off from mine about fifty years ago. On that world you are a friend, a fellow agent and frequent partner."

Now Ra'd leaned and glared. "Not a Priest?"

"Umm, he has a rather . . . negative relationship with the One."

"Well." Razor sharp smile and leaning well into Ebsa's space. "My relationship with them is extremely negative, after they castrated me and tried to rape my mind. I killed at least eight. I got too busy to continue counting after that."

"Ah . . . " Ebsa blinked. "Riiiight . . . they didn't think they needed Warriors, then?" He looked back at his comp, the photo of the mushroom cloud over the central plains of the North American continent.

Ra'd hand snapped out and spun the comp. He frowned at it.

"That's the split between our worlds. We closed the gate in the face of their army, marooning most of the colonists. So my world was shaken by the loss of a colony, but continued exploring, hoping to find Granite Peak again, or better yet, the world that had attacked them."

"And did you find it?"

Ebsa subdued a twinge in his stomach. No wonder the high tones. They caught him at fifteen. For a High Oner, that's about when puberty starts.

"It's not quite so simple. We found a world . . . well, before that, but you would have barely started exploring it. Umm, it was one of five Exile Worlds, where the Earth dumped all the genetically engineered people. The Prophets—as you well know—were a marooned exploration team. The Exile was two years later, from their same world."

"Oh? And you think I should know about it?"

"I suspect your father and grandparents spoke of their origins. Those Left Behind—we found them." Ebsa paused as Ra'd stiffened.

Ra'd finally leaned away, sat.

"May I take something out of my wallet?"

Narrowed eyes. Nod.

Ebsa moved slowly, pulled out his wallet, the little vial of Joy Juice. "You'll find this useful. It's a von neumanns, dope a bottle of wine, and yes, of course test it on animals first. It's stuffed full of healing spells for damn near anything."

Ra'd eyed it, pocketed it. "So . . . is there another you around somewhere?"

Ebsa glanced at the comp and shook his head. "My mother was a baby when that happened. According to the census, she has two daughters instead of a single son. I was never born. Nor my wife. My father-in-law is a District Councilman, not . . . what he became on my world. A couple of my bosses exist. No doubt quite changed."

Ra'd nodded. "Pity my introduction to the future wasn't as peaceful as my . . . alternate's." He leaned closer. "What are you going to do about it?"

"Nothing. Not my world. Not my fight."

Razor smile. "It is now."

And he was out of his seat at Speed, curling into a ball as he hit the plate glass window and ran. Four men charging through the doors reversed course, ran after him . . . two coming in from the back service door had guns on Ebsa.

"You touch power, you die."

"Umm, right." Ebsa kept his hands very still. Play dumb? Or be honest? This is a dimensionally able world, closely related to mine. I think I'll start by introducing the concept of Disco to them.

"Where's he going?"

"I don't know. I just met him today."

A fist knotted but did not swing. "What did you give him?"

"A magic potion. It contains a couple dozen very powerful healing spells among other things."

Glower. "We can make you talk."

"No reason for me to not talk. But you'll probably want to Truth me right from the start, it'll save time and repetition."

He was cuffed, searched, and marched off to a closed truck.

Chapter Two

10 Yusef 1400 yp

"Tell us all you know about Azho Withione Nicholas Makkah."

Ebsa boggled. "Wait, do you mean to tell me there's a worse choice of letters for Ra'd? Holy One!"

Glares. Lots of aggressive body language. He was a bit surprised no one hit him.

"Tell us about him."

"Umm, I am a directorate agent, an explorer scout from a world that split off from yours sometime in the last fifty years. Probably associated with the Granite Peak disaster. On my world Ra'd is a fellow agent, and I know a lot of his past, that might be useful to you, but clearly your history diverged from that of my friend's years ago."

"Do you expect us to believe that shit?" The fellow in charge leaned close, threateningly. "If we weren't waiting for the priests, you'd be full of drugs and babbling your guts out. But don't look relieved, we'll be getting to that soon enough."

"No doubt." Ebsa tried to ignore his stomach. That hideous lunch, not sheer terror.

Two priests joined them . . . He recognized one of them . . . Ohme or something like that. In his world, he was stationed at Versalle. Part of a relay station to mental contact with the One.

Have I attracted high up attention already? He thought that over. No. This is because of Ra'd.

Rolled his shoulders as his handcuffs were released. Signed that he was voluntarily agreeing to a truth match. Held out his hands and started lowering his shields. Stopped at the sight of all the guns. "Yes, I'm strong. Do you want a truth match or not?"

Ohme snorted and took his hand. The other priest took his other hand, the top interrogator sat opposite.

:: I am Ebsa Clostuone Castellanos Montevideo. I am a directorate agent from a close parallel world, scouting out this one. On my world I know Ra'd, and recognized your world's Ra'd immediately. ::

:: That's not his name. :: from the interrogator.

:: Yes it is. He is Ra'd ibn Nicholas ibn Emre. A trainee Warrior of the One born in 250 yp, trapped in a doubled bag of the prophets for centuries. In my world he and the others with him, the survivors of Fort Rangpur, emerged in the year 1397. That point, being after the split between our worlds, his two selves no doubt began diverging. ::

:: Why did you speak to him? ::

:: He saw that I'd recognized him. Then I realized that this wasn't my friend. :: Ebsa closed his eyes and brought up the memory. Played it through, bit by bit, his thoughts, his reading of Ra'd's body language. He gave it all to them.

:: Why are you cooperating? He's your friend. ::

:: He's the twin brother of my friend. I know how extremely dangerous he is. I understand his anger, and gave him the means to reverse the cause. But I know how dangerous he is. And that the One will not release him. ::

Ohme's mental touch. :: But in your world, we released him. ::

:: In my world we thought we were facing a war with Those Left Behind. We needed Warriors. I am appalled by what you do to children. Eat the results of your lack of acceptance of an individual's rights. ::

Steaming anger. :: What do you know of Those Left Behind? ::

Memories again. :: I've met three of them. :: And he pictured Wolfgang Oldham leaning on the bar at the Tavern, Harry Murchison making a joke about something, Jason Rombeau laughing as he joined them.

Pain. He slammed his shield shut jerked his hands loose and clutched his head. Made himself hold very still, as he suspected there were rather a lot of guns aimed at him.

The top cop jerked forward and grabbed Ebsa. "Stop it! Now!"

The pain subsided. He squinted cautiously, then opened both eyes. The interrogator had collapsed, sprawled on the table. Ohme was sitting rigidly, eyes closed. The other priest was reeling in his seat. Ebsa looked around. Even the people not in the merge were looking shaken.

Ebsa shook his head. "That wasn't me. I think I startled the One."

"Startled?" A familiar voice.

Ebsa jerked around to face Urfa Withione Rodos Ottoman.

A huff of relief . . . followed by the realization that this wasn't his Urfa.

Urfa's eyes narrowed. "Interesting reaction. So . . . assuming we believe you for a single moment . . . who am I on your world?"

"Head of the Presidential Directorate, under President Orde, sir."

"Really? Orde's much better placed as the Minister of Finance."

Ebsa felt his face go blank . . . but . . . Oh, wrong Orde. "Err, Orde Withione Atlas Algeria, right? As opposed to my father-in-law who was a district councilman until he went for region?"

That got a sniff. "So that's why you searched for him? And Taix Castellanos?"

"My mother. I was trying to pin down the timing of the split. Figured if she was here, then it was after 1354, and if I wasn't, it was before 1382. Bracketed it, and . . . well, the Earth took the Granite Peak Colony the year after she was born, so I checked . . . " He hunched his shoulder and tried to only leak a little of his gastric distress. "We closed the gate in the face of the fleeing colonists. I . . . can't imagine having to nuke . . . " He shut his mouth.

"You didn't think the split was a long time ago?"

"Oh, the first Disco person through recorded forty-eight hours of vid broadcasts. So we recognized President Agni's picture in the news. In our world he's the retired XR Director and two time presidential aspirant."

"He tried to take the War Party from Orde?" Skeptical eyebrows.

Ebsa squirmed. "There was a . . . umm . . . problem involving a secret invasion of the world Those Left Behind were exiled to . . . an ignominious military defeat, a leak, and he lost the election to a minor party guy. Umm, Agni lost the last, our last, election, in fact."

"In 1400?"

"Oh . . . huh, time slip there. It's 1411 back home. Seventh of Yusef, right? I never did get a good explanation for why it's always the same day of the year, no matter what year it is, Across."

Icy skepticism.

"Excuse me, but . . . what are you on this world? Director of Interior, perhaps?"

A snort. "I'm a bit young for that. Subdirector of Criminal Investigations."

Right, one step below Director, and no doubt on the fast track upward.

Then Ohme cleared his throat. "His precise on Azho is essentially correct. He shaded a few items, avoided mentioning others, but never actually lied."

"Oh, we can get the rest, no problem." Urfa narrowed his eyes as the priest shook his head.

Ebsa felt the faint tickle of mental communication . . . and reached high up . . .

:: . . . a connection in the back of his subconscious. I think he has merged often enough with his Ra'd to be able to feel our Azho . . . without either being aware of it. I think we can use him as a hunting dog, and track down our rebel. ::

:: And if we can't capture him, kill him. ::

Can that be Urfa? So angry, so filled with hate?

:: NO. Absolutely not. The One must have him alive. ::

And panic from the Priest? Why do they need him alive? Ebsa's breath caught. Ra'd speculates that the One will collapse when the last Prophet dies. Do they think Ra'd can hold them together? Son of Nicholas, grandson of Emre and Elif.

But it hasn't collapsed . . . or perhaps it is collapsing slowly. Slowly enough that they think they can still save it.

ekuah on December 13th, 2017 03:17 pm (UTC)
There is a small error:
Memories again. :: I've met three of them. :: And he pictured Wolfgang Oldham leaning on the bar at the Tavern, Harry Murchison making a joke about something, Jason Rombeau laughing as he joined them.

He met four of the left behind. He met Dr. Gisele Heath in Ramadan 1408 in 'The Boy' when he brought his son Axbe to Embassy to treat his eyes.

Edited at 2017-12-13 03:19 pm (UTC)
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on December 13th, 2017 09:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Error:
If he has met four it's 'true' that he has met three!
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on December 13th, 2017 09:40 pm (UTC)
== Seventh of Yusef, right? I never did get a good explanation for why it's always the same day of the year, no matter what year it is, Across."==

A fun new "fact". Q should have spotted it years ago though and I think working through the details will make your head hurt.
(Anonymous) on December 19th, 2017 09:21 pm (UTC)
Dates across gates
Perhaps it has to do with the orbital position of the Earth? The positions have to match for a gate to attach?
matapampamuphoff on December 19th, 2017 09:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Dates across gates
That's what I figure. The Gates attach to roughly the same place on the surface, at exactly the same orbital position. Given the variable time lapse rate, the Gates must be able to "Time Travel" by up to six months "pulled" forward or back to match the orbital position.

Which brings up the possibility of an earth exactly X years and six months out of sync, might, given the slight variance in orbital velocity due to an elliptical orbit . . . might sometimes shift forward and sometimes backwards. Which I will have to think about. Surely someone could take advantage of this tendency to play the stock market . . .

I think I need a God of Wheeler-Dealers . . .
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on December 13th, 2017 09:49 pm (UTC)
You need to fix the "who was a district councilman until he went for region?"

If someone is on the Regional Council he is usually said to be a Regional councilman.

== The President—my President Orde . . . a district representative == works but

== My father-in-law is a District Councilman==doesn't