Her new friends had retreated well away from the argument, and eyed Ytry cautiously as he followed Rael.
“Don’t worry guys. Ytry’s one of nice Priests. Ytry, this is Sam Chou, former head of a large research center. A biologist and genetic engineer. And Michael Watson with his daughter Cali. Dr. Watson is a, well, magical engineer. Jerry Thorne and Connor Johnson are his lab assistants.”
“And all four nice and glowing. These Exile Worlds!” Ytry shook his head. “And Early Diaspora colonies with magic as well! Every time we turn around, the Multiverse has gotten bigger.”
Master of the Multiverse
Xen took a long deep breath and savored that feeling of being wide awake. Of feeling good.
“I wonder how long I slept this time?”
No answer, he was alone in the bubble.
He looked out . . . there was his mother moving in slow motion.
Surely she hasn’t stayed there for two weeks! No. She’s in the fast room, and I’m in another fast bubble. Twenty times twenty . . . so if it’s been a year in here, it’s been less than a day outside both. Excellent.
He looked beyond the fast room at a world frozen in mid-stride, like Lon walking across the bridge in the morning . . . a car on the street . . . I think I can see it moving.
And the inbetween . . . whoa . . . yeah, my brain’s developed some new tricks. I suppose it was routing around the neural blockers . . . he mentally pulled back to try and look at the whole . . .
Trailing from all the near worlds, he could see the ghostly branches of their past, follow their history, thicker and thicker as he passed their split points, all the way back to a thick trunk, all the possibilities from sometime in the distant past. He sank deeper into time . . . major branches arching off, thin twigs popping out . . .
Looking across the tree, a horizonal slice, so to speak, and he was looking at the multiverse as it was right now. Up . . . he was already at the top of the tree, nothing beyond but a fuzz of future possibilities, fading out quickly.
Nothing is certain, but some things are more probable that others. I wonder how thick that fuzz is? A day, a year, a millennia?
And looking across again, he could see the thin lacing of thread-thin gates, one reaching nearly across the whole. Why was a world so far away so similar to mine?
He followed that world down, watched it join others, but not including Xin Zhongguo. A spray of worlds growing through a branch of heavy worlds.
The Heavy Worlds. Moonless, oceans lapping up to the highest spines of continents completely different from his own. Continental shelves that were truly continental in size, teaming with life in the shallow water.
That bundle of branches raced straight down, intersecting the trunk of the tree, way down there where he could barely make out branches going off in all directions . . .
Everything I thing I thought I knew, every world I’d visited was just from a single branch—not the main trunk I egotistically thought it to be.
Except now we’ve stepped across, to another part of the tree. The Moonless Worlds. A small branch off a very different history, stretching out to intermingle with a small branch of ours reaching from the other direction.
I’m going to have to read up on the formation of the Moon, and see what else could have happened. There’s a lot of multiverse over there.
But he got back to tracing the Transport World’s branch. Down a little and across a lot, to intersect the trunk of the tree near . . . all the Pleistocene Worlds.
“How interesting. I wonder what happened, that could possibly have made it more like the heavy worlds?”
I need to learn more about the early Solar System. And sic Q’s astronomers on the heavy worlds.
He eyed the Transport World across the multiverse all those fragile little links, surely there was something better He eyed the blue of the inbetween again. He eye the bubbles, the rare cone, the rare tubes . . . could they stretch? And then there were all the odd shapes that had foamed out of Helios . . .
Later. Get up and see how much trouble Rael and Q have gotten into in a day.
He wallowed out of bed and grabbed the bathrobe waiting there and put it on, grabbed the sandwich on the side table, and opened the bubble.
“Hi Mom. I think I’m done.”
She looked him over, nodded in satisfaction. “Good. I’ll go tell Q. Don’t get killed while I’m not looking.”
Shower, shave, haircut, uniform. Then off to the office.
“Hi kids, I’m back.”
Julianne stuck her head out her door. “You only missed one day . . . and you look about sixteen. That just isn’t fair.”
“Hey, Xen’s back, everything’s weird again.” Chris Hanger grinned. “Rael took a scary bunch of people off to Wolf World yesterday afternoon, hasn’t been seen since.”
Lon joined what was quickly becoming a meeting in the hallway. “Yep. Where we found Wolfson and his wolf. Natch.”
“I see. Is there anything I need to do here before I dash off to see what’s going on there?” Xen frowned. “And . . . maybe check Xin Zhongguo and see what they’re doing?”
Lon pinched his nose. “Now why did I think you might be glad to settle down and write reports for a couple of weeks? Why don’t you take—do you still have the Great Stone Inn tucked away somewhere? Good. Why don’t you take it to a world one gate away from Sin Jong whatever, with people who want to study the place, and watch them. While you write reports.”
“Good plan. And it’s just one gate away from Wolf World . . . actually Wolf World is on the far side and actually closer, with the advantage of normal gravity. I’ll stick it there.”
“Closer to your girlfriend. Now you’re thinking.” Chris was grinning. “I’ll grab another gyp—Lon? Do we need to buy more? Or maybe something like those crawlers of the Oners?”
“Arg! My budget! Yes to both.” Lon looked past Xen’s shoulder. “Cactus?”
“Yes, we can afford them. Honestly, even as little as you guys charge for gates and corridors, and as many offices as we’ve got all over the Multiverse, we’re still running a massive surplus. Tell me what you want and I’ll put the orders in.”
“And I’m failing to see my sister . . .”
Grins all around.
Juillianne snickered. “She told us all about you hauling her away from a good fight. Really, I had no idea she had such a temper until she was stressed out about your kidnapping.” She glanced up at a scorch mark high on the wall. “She didn’t actually start any fires, but she started avoiding the library.”
Lon nodded. “Your father took her home, muttering something about lessons with Nil. Is he calming or dangerous?”
“Dangerous. And canny. Hopefully he’ll give her some advice about sneaking and getting information from people, when you don’t want to start a fight.”
“Ummm . . . “
Xen shook his head. “There’s no way to make her not dangerous. She just needs to exert a bit more control over her temper, and learn how to judge the opposition and decide whether a fight is a good idea.