Work-In-Progress First Draft Excerpt: The End of Childhood

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"What do you mean, Asto's ship has been destroyed?" I don't lose my composure much, but the death of my husband, the father of my five underage children, my companion for the last fifty years - and I'd hoped, the rest of my life - was a justifiable reason.

Anara was the one to tell me, in person and verbally. "I mean it was reported destroyed by surviving witnesses."

"And you're okay with your son being dead?"

"No, Grace, I'm not 'okay' with my son being dead - if he is. But reports are clear the ship was crippled and fought on several minutes in that state. Furthermore, there was a survivable environment known to be close enough for even a mid-range Second Order Guardian to teleport, and it reported it was maneuvering to lower the energy differential. Unless Asto was directly caught in a catastrophic failure, he had opportunity to escape. I escaped a less favorable situation when my ship was lost in combat. It is probable Asto is still alive."

"Still alive - but marooned in a hostile environment with no food and being hunted by demons of every caste! I fail to see how this is an improvement!" Better if he'd gone out quick, in an exploding ship.
"Grace, I keep forgetting that even though you've been with us for fifty years, you still don't really understand everything Seventh Order Guardians can do. Assuming he escaped the destruction of the ship, it is probable he'll find his way back to the Empire. Tastimuno Instance is a potentially a single transform away."

"And he knows how to get there?"

"Do you not remember how ScOsh got to your Earth? He was only Fourth Order. Do you think I'd send my son into trans-Instance combat without preparing him all I could? I taught him how to make a portal between Instances before he was twenty, and even if he didn't know before, he had plenty of opportunity to look up the closest Imperial outposts in the ship's navigational database. He might be dead, but if he isn't, he can find his way home, and he'll bring any other survivors he can with him."

"Any idea how long? Before we know?"

"The only way we'll be sure is if he's restored to us. But I would expect him within two or three weeks of his subjective time. I'm sure you can figure out the less optimistic scenarios from there."

Yeah, I could. Hanging on for years, never sure if I was a widow, until I finally gave up. Probably just before he turned up, knowing the universe.

Okay, so maybe I was in pre-emptory denial. But my kids and I deserved the best answer we could get. So I asked Asto's splinter, Have you any idea if your original is still alive?

Since he is outside the Instance, I have no more means of contact than anyone else. If I understand correctly, without periodic re-synchronization, I will eventually begin to drift from my current state. That's all I know. The Great Families who know the most about splinters...

Aren't telling anyone else what they know. But that doesn't mean Scimtar doesn't. Unlike the rest of his family, Scimtar had been able to use splinters without risking his cover for at least a square and a half - thousands of Earth years. Maybe he could answer some questions.

Anara was still right there however. "Mother, thank you for telling me as soon as you knew. Right now, I'm in shock, trying to hold it together for the kids and wondering what's going to happen. I'm going to ask Scimtar if he knows of any way to use a splinter to find the original in another Instance."

"No, there isn't Grace. Splinters can be thought of as puppets following a complex program in the absence of the puppeteer. There is a special connection, but it goes from original to splinter, not vice versa. The only way I'm aware of involves someone with a Mindsword. Father would have made sure we knew if there was."

Wait a minute! "Maybe the splinter doesn't have a special connection to Asto, but I do. Our hard link will re-establish when I enter the same Instance, so all I have to do is Interstitial Vector into the Instance, and I will know where he is."

"It's not as easy as you think, Grace. The place where Asto was lost is complicated. There is a 'normal' three dimensional bubble we use as a staging area, but the place itself is a fractal. It's got peninsulae along seven different dimensional axes and we're finding out that two way telepathy can be problematic, even though its overall dimensionality is only two point fiftyfive. The battle is still ongoing as well, but the place is one the demons must hold; almost all of their brakiri and their industry is there."

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on October 5, 2020 8:17 AM.

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