I can change the past of a photon, but that’s of little use. Can’t kill Hitler with a photon. But, if we could figure out what was going on, maybe we could send back a laser blast or something. I dunno, the whole thing is a work in progress.
1 Hour Later - Doc-Danger - Alien Planet (Diner)
Feeling slightly better. The breakfast joint is boisterous and the food is utterly alien, but I’m up and able to take water. I’m calling that a win.
“And for you, sir?” The waitress asks the Man in the Mask.
“He’ll have water. Big glass.” I say.
“Okey-dokey.” The waitress hustles off.
“So!” says High Roller. “What’s the plan for today?”
He’s happy. He loves weird breakfast with weird aliens on weird worlds. I’d rather eat on the Rumor. That said, High Roller doesn’t ask for much. I try to not be grumpy when he takes me somewhere.
“Nowhere’s on fire, I’m thinking this is a good research day.” says Fox. He’s reading Ibok’s will.
I’m not sure if Fox actually thinks we should do research, or if he’s offering it to appease me. Either way, I’m touched. I know he just wants to research Halfmen, and I’d rather he wasn’t studying a blood smeared rag where my food is about to be served, but I’m not being grumpy, so let’s call this another win.
While I’m glad I won’t be fighting Halfmen today, I’m not feeling up to serious research.
“How about a visit to Damocles?” I ask. “I promised Stinger I’d look in on it. Where is she anyway?”
“Left this morning.” says High Roller. “Said she needed new blood.”
I nod. That sounds about right.
Eve is vibrating. “Let’s do Doc’s thing. Go to Damocles. I want to see the Sol System.”
High Roller and Fox shrug, nod. Eve cheers. High fives are exchanged. Breakfast is served. It tastes like something I never thought I’d eat. Good times.
“So.” High Roller points at Ibok’s will. “Have you made any sense of that?”
“Kind of. It’s a game.” Fox points at some dense equations. “These are the players. The Guardian, The Gatekeeper, The Defender, The Prisoner, The Coward, The Dreamer, The Mother, The Lover, The Reaper... There’s dozens of them. Each of them has a strategy, and they interact with each other using the 4 Cosmic Powers."
Hmm. “Is this one of Ibok's games that can't exist? I thought nobody could use the 4th Cosmic Power.”
“Maybe?” Fox shrugs. “Maybe somebody's already time traveling. How would we know?”
I frown. Take a few bites of breakfast.
“What’s the goal of the game?” I ask.
“The goals are the same as the strategies. The Guardian wants to guard. The Lover to love. The Dreamer to dream.”
“Daw. They just want to be themselves.” says Eve. “That’s adorable. Except for The Reaper. That guy sounds like trouble.”
“Agreed. Also, The Defender and The Guardian sound like the same guy.” says High Roller.
“Nope. The Defender protects something from everything. The Guardian protects everything from something. They couldn’t be more different.” says Fox.
“Why does The Prisoner want to be a prisoner?” I ask.
“The Prisoner wants to escape.” Fox waves the will. “This is written in eleven dimensional math. I’m making up metaphors on the fly. They’re not perfect.”
“Fair enough.” I say.
We eat for a bit.
“So, are we in there?” I ask. “Who are we?”
Fox smiles. “Who do we want to be?”
We finish up. Pay the bill. Head back to the love hotel to get the Rumor. I’m feeling better. I wouldn’t say breakfast was good, but it’s agreeing with me.
I put the Rumor in stealth mode and ease it out of the hotel. I could warp out directly, but I don’t want to spook the locals. I set a roundabout course for Damocles. A couple million nano jumps. I don’t want any Halfmen following me to the Solar System.
I lean back in my chair and take out my data crystal. It’s beautiful. I’ve had a pretty good day so far. It may get better.
I’ve been avoiding Earth since I came to space. I didn’t want to get Megacles caught up with the Halfmen or the Space Gods. She deserves better than that. The rest of the human race is okay too.
I’m going to make a copy of the crystal and give it to Megacles. I’m going to introduce her to Eve. I smile. Today could get really good.
We pass through the last portal to the Solar System. Damocles is gone. The Sun is gone. Earth is gone.
It’s all gone.