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30 January 2018 @ 11:10 am
More Last Merge changes and additions  

Chapter Eight New Model

10 Nicholas 1404 yp

"My models are all wrong."

Xen eyed his sister. "Really? I don't suppose that means the One World is safe?"

"Ha! I wish. All right. I need to talk to all those physicists again. Including the Earthers who don't know the One World is at risk." She reached and turned over a tab. "See this? This is twenty membranes, that physically, coexist. They are separated by non-spacial, non-temporal dimensions. I think the gravity dimension must be part of the separation, other-wise there'd be more interaction."

"Uh, Q?" Xen bit his lip. "I seem to remember an old astrophysics theory about dark matter and dark energy. Something they could only detect from it's gravitational behavior, and they thought it made up something like over ninety percent of the mass of the universe."

"What? That's insane . . . unless it was membranes . . . some close, some far . . . "

"Q? Study that later. Focus. The membranes are separated by whatever. Now your model . . . what's the red spot?"

"That's the center of mass of the Helios Miniverse. When I focus in on about eleven lightyears diameter so we pick up thirteen stars . . . there's the Helios Miniverse, roughly six and a half lightyears across."

The model zoomed in to a thin sprinkle of stars. And a raggedy uneven circle.

"The membrane centers—as best I can eyeball it—on Earth, well call the planet Helios, so that's probably the location of whatever calamity ripped the Miniverse loose. But most of the Miniverse is empty, with the alpha Centari trio on this side to the south, and way out here, north but still on this side, Barnard's Star. So the center of mass of the Miniverse is very lopsided, and the whole things is tumbling.

"Now I'm going to spread the membranes apart and put it in motion."

The red dots turned into a red line running between all the membranes except the Miniverse. The red dot drifted away from the red line while the stars in the Miniverse rolled slowly out of allignment with their equivalents in the other membranes.

"See, the whole Miniverse drifts because it's not in orbit around the center of the galaxy, but as it passes through—in whatever dimension the separation exists—another membrane, the whole Miniverse diverts a bit, the tumble changes a bit. Mostly depending on whether Alpha Centauri in the Miniverse is above or below Alpha Cantauri in the normal membrane."

Xen walked around and watched it from all directions.

"So . . . how is it oriented, right now?"

"That's quite interesting. Or maybe I mean scary." she turned the model off and flipped on another. "This starts with the records we've stolen, and shows their approach to the world they merged with last year."

Xen eyed the stars . . . "It's made a full turn and all the stars are starting to match up again. But the center of mass is still off."

"Yes it turns every thirty years, which probably explains the timing of the Helao's forced merges. But it's always little high or a little low or off to the side . . . The gravity effects must be interesting. I need time to back track them and see what happens when suns pass each other. And what happens with a very close pass between planets naturally, with no merge machinery running?"

Xen nodded. "Maybe next year. I'll try to reschedule any disasters."

"I'd appreciate that." Q snorted. "Idiot. But now, they're synced close enough that the first merge pulled the Miniverse back toward the red line. Then the first X World Universe—the one we saw diverting it a bit—pulled it more umm, call it closer but downward. The second X World pulled it upward but my gates kept it from going very much closer."

"Umm, Q, why, in your other model aren't the membranes lined up?"

"Because of random drift. I can't show everything in one model. Imagine that everything in the area shifts slightly, differently, in every membrane. My red line shouldn't really be straight.

"Now pay attention. The Miniverse is still tumbling around its center of mass, and that spot is close to the same spot in the membranes it's passing."

Xen watched as the stars slowly rotated . . . "It's going to match up pretty close, isn't it?"

"Yep. All five stars, really really close. I can't tell how close, because I'm trying to pull it away from the One World, and there will be two more close encounters before it gets to the One World."

"What's going to happen when—if—all the stars feel a strong gravitational pull at the same time?"

"I don't know. I don't like to think what the gravitation pull will do to the stars, let alone the planets or the poor sods on it. Even without a merge, I'd prefer this close overlap to happen someplace with no intelligent life."

"Yeah. And all we can do is . . . keep pulling on it. The Dino World is going to be close, then just a couple of weeks later, the Primitive World. Tow months, then the One World." Xen stared at the model. "I really hope we’re pulling it the right way."

"Oh, I'm sure about that. I just hope I can make them miss the One World by a large enough margin to avoid the stars.

"Because even if they don't merge . . . things like solar flares could happen." Xen leaned and watched the model’s slow spin bring the stars into alignment.



Xen shook hands with Omsi. He’d met the External Relations Directorate’s Subdirector of Intelligence several times.

“Thank you for coming so promptly.” Omsi glanced over his shoulder. “I think you know Ajha? He’ll be the field leader, running the electronics end of things . . . “

Electronic? I wouldn’t have guessed that he was a techie.

“. . . and this is Icti Withione, the project manager.”

Xen shook Ajha’s hand, nodded to the rest as introductions circled, but the strangers seemed loath to actually treat him like an equal and touch him. Terrified there might be a bit of zing? And there usually is a little. S’why everyone assumed I was a Oner pretending to be a Halfer. We just ignore it, mostly. Oners, of course, make a big status deal out of it.

Omsi ignored them. “We’re going to use an old study world as a base for a surveillance mission. We want to study the Helaos, find out what world they’re planning on merging with this time.”

Ajha nodded. “We don’t want to open a gate straight to them, and as they’re probably able to gate themselves, they most likely can detect the magnetic signature of a powered gate. I’d like to open a single gate, and sit back and see if they can detect it. Give it a month and then move in for some serious information collection.”

“Sounds reasonable. And you want to use a specific world?”

One of the new men nodded. “It’s a desert world with nothing much of interest. But the first surveyors put in a water well and pressure tanks, a pavilion with solar panels and wiring. We could move in tomorrow.”

“Right, so I just need to find it.”

“Do you need to go to it?” Omsi glanced at the blank wall, more-or-less in the direction of the powered gates.

“No, just a brief touch of your gate while I’m looking and I’ll put a gate to that same world.” Xen grinned. “Save you a bit of gate time.”

Omsi snorted. “Yes. Ridiculous to stent on money for studying a dangerous and aggressive world. So . . . how much for two gates?”

“Where Helios is concerned, it’s free. And I’ll stick around make sure they aren’t detecting the gate. If it looks safe, we’ll place corridors around for you as well.”

Ajha was tapping at his comp. “I could snag this slot at midnight.”

Xen nodded. “Grab it. All I need is to know where you want this end of the gate. I’ll watch the gate touch and then set up my own. Your gate people know how we work.”


And it was indeed a boring and undistinguished world.

Even a pretty dawn couldn’t add much appeal to the flat rocky ground. Some distant hills barely broke up the horizon to the south. The graceless square of the metal pavilion was the only thing in sight.

Xen eyed the lichen on the rocks, and few hardy grasses and spiky bushes. “Why did they build even minimal facilities? How much of this was imported.”

Ajha snorted. “Most of it, probably. A private mining company was surveying the mineral potential, put a satellite into orbit, started building a staging area . . . rumor had it the Boss liked cactus and brought some of his favorites along. But the company had a hot strike on another world and pulled out. They came back once and collected the satellite data. Nothing worth the gate time, or even one of your gates.”

“Heh, now that is bad. Let me put up an arch for the gate . . . I could move it closer to the pavilion . . . how much distance do you want in between the gates, just in case they can detect the gate?”

Icti had followed them through the gate, and looked around in distaste. “I hate field work. A couple of kilometers should suffice. If you could open the gate to Helios on the far side of the camp, both gates will be reasonable handy, and we’ll have plenty of space to build more permanent facilities.”

Xen shifted loose rock closer and melded them down to the bedrock and formed an arch over the gate. “Sounds reasonable—so long as the Helios don’t find the gate.”

They walked south, and spotted what might once have been a bulldozed road, ending abruptly.

“I’ll bet the company comes to pick up their beacon as soon as they hear about this.” Icti turned and followed the not-as-irregular path to a drafty metal roofed . . . well, it had a concrete floor, but only one wall and a narrow store room across half of that. Ajha opened the door and glanced in. Empty.

“There aren’t even any animals to make a mess of anything.” He closed it up and looked around. “Icti? Let’s put any gates to Helios a kilometer south. If you really want permanent facilities, put them a hundred meters west. For now we can use crawlers or squishies, run a water line along there that will eventually go to you building.”

Icti just grunted and followed Xen south.

Ubno, the Action leader shrugged. “If they detect it, we’ll be yelling for you to come close it. Otherwise . . . well, personally I’d like a gate toward the outskirts of this city with the merge machinery, so we can get in and out with minimal chances of being seen.

Xen nodded. “Their built up area is a long oval, with the government offices just south of dead center. The magnetics centers are in a long arc across the north. How about I place a gate in the ruins back here, south of where they’ve rebuilt. That’ll put you within twenty kilometers of the government, and I’ve marked these spots as where there’s activity that needs to be checked out, all within a hundred kilometers.”

Ubno nodded. “So, let’s go take a look.”

They walked a kilometer south and Xen sat down. He could feel the others mentally listening and opened his outer mental shields so they could see what he was doing . . . and nothing more.

:: This is the Helios miniverse. Their world, their only city, such as it is. And back here, I’ll place the gate inside and out of sight . . . :: The cone stuck on and he withdrew, pulling the cone tail out.

A bright slash of light. Xen pulled back and watched a whip-thin tornado of light twist out to touch another world.

:: That’s what a powered gate looks like. :: Xen moved in closer to the world on the other end . . . lots of green . . . a town of hastily erected prefab buildings . . . he circled out. No sign of native people. The wild animals were mammals, unfamiliar to him.

:: Looks like they are colonizing an Empty World. Maybe they’re abandoning ship. :: That was Ajha.

:: I doubt they’ll all go. The old men will want another rejuvenation merge. :: Xen pulled back to Helios and found another cone.

Twisting the tails and the flat end sucked down right in front of him.

Xen closed his shields and stood up as the Oners all stepped through the new gate.

The mostly intact room was surrounded by rubble.

“A half basement.” Ajha climbed up to the opening halfway up one wall. “Damn.”

They all followed him, to look at the melted-looking walls and even the debris filling the street.

Icti pointed. “What’s that!”

“A Helaos merged with a tree. Killed both the man and the tree, of course. You’ll see things like that all over.”

“They haven’t . . . buried them? Or something?” Ajha circled the man-tree, poked an arm branch.

It fell off and thunked to the ground.

“Dry rot.” Xen sniffed. “Or just rot.”

Icti staggered away and vomited.

“They killed billions like this, so they could live forever.” Xen looked over at Ubno. “Be careful scouting, they’re very hard to detect. And while I’d as soon they didn’t realize we were watching them, well, things like that . . . tree . . . are why I have no compunctions about killing them.”

I wonder how many Helios died when I inadvertently sabotaged the Magneto? He was a little disturbed to feel so little remorse.

He herded the Oners back into the basement. “I’ll put both an illusion and a physical effect thin shield over it. You won’t feel it when you walk through it, but it’ll look just like the wall, so don’t forget where it’s located.” He’d worked while he talked, and they all eyed the stained concrete wall, then walked through.

The barren flats were a relief.

Ajha looked around in satisfaction. “I’ll camp out, moderately concealed . . . “

“Ajha, I swear your insane. Enjoying . . . “ Icti hunched his shoulders and looked around the desolate landscape.

“Or I’ll have my people out here, observing, so if the Helios find the gate we can slide back home and yell for someone to come close both gates.”

Xen nodded. “I’ll make sure there always someone available on Embassy to close gates. Q and I have another project we’ll be starting in a month. If the problem is serious—call for the Good of Spies.”

(Anonymous) on January 30th, 2018 06:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, *that's* an interesting typo

"Call for the Good of Spies"

cnmckenney on January 30th, 2018 06:21 pm (UTC)
God of Spies?
While I like the picture it invokes I think you meant "God of Spies" not "Good of Spies".
Joe Wojo Jrwojorider on January 30th, 2018 07:45 pm (UTC)
minor typo
"Tow months, then the One World."

Enjoying reading the setup. THanks again for showing us the work in progress
matapampamuphoff on January 30th, 2018 08:49 pm (UTC)
Re: minor typo
Like politics and sausages, watching the process may not increase your appreciation of the results.
(Anonymous) on January 30th, 2018 11:02 pm (UTC)
RE: Re: minor typo

'He was a little disturbed to feel so little remorse.' Sentence would read better if you replaced one of the littles.
muirecan: Withersmuirecan on January 31st, 2018 06:39 am (UTC)
RE: Re: minor typo
Actually I find watching writers write very fascinating. No two writers do it the same and almost none of you outline like my English teacher taught. You may have no idea how reassuring it is that most writers don’t outline.

cnmckenney on January 30th, 2018 11:57 pm (UTC)
Enjoying watching
I enjoy watching the progress of a literary endeavor. Not critiquing or criticizing just enjoying.
BTW. Do you think of yourself as a plotter or pantser?
matapampamuphoff on January 31st, 2018 02:44 am (UTC)
Re: Enjoying watching
Pantser. I have a start and a finish, so I can try to aim the story, but as often as not I wind up else where.

Then I diagram out the plot, shift things around and fill in holes--like I'm doing now--and somehow the end result is considered readable.

I write several stories at once, and various levels of completion, with occasional "logjams" where one story--this one, right now--is a real chore to write. Which is why I have four more stories almost ready to go, just sitting there, waiting for this one to get out of the way.

I really admire people with nice organized writing habits.

Edited at 2018-01-31 02:45 am (UTC)
(Anonymous) on January 31st, 2018 05:33 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Enjoying watching
That's what I figured. But pantser stories often seem to be more imaginative and with more engaging characters, at least to me.
matapampamuphoff on January 31st, 2018 01:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Enjoying watching
I really like writing the stories that pour out straight from the subconscious. _No Confidence_ last year and it all started with this incredible mess that I retro-engineered into _Black Goats_, _Explorers_, and _Spy Wars_.