7 Red Twilight Worldwalkers chapter 7
A Wrinkle in Space
The Steel Rose
The portal twist and pulls, not only physically, not only psionically, not only magicly. The trip through the portal is painful and exhausting. The portal that Charlie called on was never meant to be traveled by the living. The portal finds a way to harm the travelers. Maybe if one had I hushed mind as well as a body and heart forged from steel they could pass though swiftly. But that is not the case for these travelers.
When at last the Xzoner spits the four of them out they land on a grassy field, a building that looks like a church sized up to skyscraper proportions before them surrounded by what looks like suits of animated shogun armor, and looming in the air are five snow globe like orbs masquerading as moon. There are no stairs in the sky, spaces is nothing more then spinning ribbons of light and smoke.
David, Milli, and Lances are rendered unconcise by the trip, Charlie alone is awake on hitting the ground, covered with clear viscose mucus, ooze vacuum packing his clothing to his body. He laughs in pain wishing that he had not been awake for the trip, he hides pain with comedy.
One of the armors, this one mostly gold and silver with a platinum expressionless face on the front of its mask and gemstone eyes floats over to them. Its body has dozens of faces cut into it, its chest is too large for its body, it has a rainbow of colored highlights hidden within the faces on its chest arm and lag guards. The armor speaks to the party, the voice not coming from hits mouths but more so a vibration inside it's hallow body "You are early."
Charlie still laughing as he is now crying laying on his face trying to find the power to stand jokes around "Hello again Celverant. (pronounced as silver rant) I have a reservation on room E772. I would like to inquire about upgrading to E776, it has a better view of the lake, and I understand that it comes with a 3-session patio. Also, can I get housekeeping to drop off my dry-cleaning at 6 instead of 7, I was thinking about going for a jog down the nature trail before the morning crowds start showing up." Charlie gives up on trying to fight his way to his feet and just falls onto his side rolling into a ball.
Celverant leans slightly over Charlie studding him. This man has survived a task that even the most veteran of Worldwalkers seldom attempt. He has traveled the mist ridding 'Chaos magic' and more then that he has managed to carry three people with him wall controlling the chaos. Magic of the chaos spectrum is powerful, yes, but unpredictable as its name implies. On Celverant's world magic is bountiful and so everyone plays with it from time to time. Everyone knows not to use chaos magic unless it is as a last stand. One only calls on this power when there are no other options open to them.
Celverant is the designer of the planeshifting ship called "the Steel Rose" where they now rest. The Steel Rose is a marvel of both magic and metal: eight-hundred miles in diameter, personalized atmosphere generation systems that triggers whenever someone boards the ship to match whatever needs the visitors needs for air and climate control, room and board that can be customized for any cheaters comfort, every dorm has a mater replicator that can summon a thousand pounds worth of provisions every day so long as one of the moons he has constructed has the components needed to conjure the supplies. All of this he has constructed for a single purpose.
Celverant is the Architect of Peace and he will bring order to whatever world he sets his eyes on. Under his carful operations he readies the scattered world of the multiverse for trade in the cosmic market. An impossible task he knows. Even with tens of millions of him walking around he will never be able to craft a single unified universe, but every world he brings into the community help accommodate the addition of anther world. Maybe even after he has pushed himself to the limit of his growth others will pick up where he leaves off.
To those that look onto this mammoth called Celverant and all the things he has crafted he looks omnipotent. But he understands that there is a limitation to the number of time he can subdivide his conciseness between more and more copies of himself. All the armors on this ship are him, the billion he has left on other planets as an arbiter are all him. He has already spread his influence far more then he had hoped but now he is running low on power.
This is why he seeks out other Worldwalkers. That is way he has constructed the Cathedral on the Steel Rose. Only with the combined efforts of him and all the others he can gather can Celverant continue his work.
Celverant brings the four travelers to a medical center to examine their condition, see just how much damage the Chaos magic did to them. Electrical burns, high levels of radiation, mana burn, psionic concussions. All evidence available seems to imply that the chaos should have torn these four apart. Celverant has the power to heal them but should they have landed anywhere else their travels would have ended with this trip.
Each of the travers have been moved into a room of their own. Celverant has entrusted their care to one of his fellow Worldwalkers, a Kami boy from a plane called Glyph named Sigh. As is true of any blessed Kami he has the appearances of a fox with luminescent white hair, he has ritualistic branding marks burned into his body: swirls of wind painted over red on his hands and legs and four triangles on his forehead three pointed up one down painted over in gold, he dresses in silk gowns brightly colored orange and red not so far displaced from the baptismal gowns worn priest from Tibet. It looks as if Sigh should walk on all fours based on the shape of his back and haunches but he is still perfectly comfortable walking on his hind legs.
When Charlie has partly recovered, he shacks himself awake. He calls out to the air it seem "Ali, how long has it been since I arrived?"
The ship speaks to him in a calm feminine voice "in what units would you like the requested information given?"
"hours, round up to the next whole number. Adjust for time on Delta 2750." Charlie elaborates.
"you have been aboard the Steel Rose for 97 hours rounded up to the next whole hour in Delta time." The ship confirms.
The tiny fox boy Sigh, who had been looking over a chart in a holographic book approaches "you seem to know quite a few things for someone that has never been here."
"here is one thing I still haven't worked out. You are speaking in your native language, and I am speaking in mine, but we both can understand each-other." Charlie proclaims.
"that is Seeker's doing. If I understand the information correctly the act of thinking creates an electrical signal. This ships computer captures that signal and when the configuration for speech comes up it rebroadcast that wavelength to everyone within audible range. This wave of energy tricks our brains into thinking we are hearing each-other talk in our preferred langue. One of the advantages of being multidimensional traders is that we enjoy the greatest technology from anywhere."
Sigh stands on a stepstull to get up to eye level with Charlie. "you asked for time in Delta time. Are you from one of the Delta diminutions?"
"yeah." Charlie still sound intoxicated from the drugs he was given for healing
"Delta to my knowledge has never produced a Worldwalker. The whole diminution doesn't have enough mana in it to produce a stable vortex or any entities with the power to control one even if it could be formed." Sigh explains
"I had help from the other side. the exit portal was already here I just had to direct it."
Sigh nods "that explain at least most of your injuries. How did you learn how to do that?"
"I killed someone that already knew how to planeshift and stole their power." Sigh's ears drop and eyes widen on hearing that trying to decide for himself if that was a joke or not. "anyway, what is Lances condition looking like."
Sigh pulls out a divice that looks somewhat like a phone with two metal rods coming out of the top of it, he sweeps it over Charlie "I am sorry but I don't have your names on file yet."
Charlie leans his head back "oh yeah, that's right." He thinks aloud "I am Charlie Pistol Belmond, the older man from Delta is Lances Else Jacob, the Devilkin from Phage is David Jazzman, the other… I don't remember where she is from but her name Milli Fredrickson Malagaurd."
"the older male in your party woke up shortly before you did, he was in some distress upon awakening. I gave him a depressant, he is better now." Sigh nods in understanding. He picks up the holo-book and starts to enter the information he was just given to the files of the lot of them.
"If I can have my armor back I would like to see Lances." Charlie expresses.
Sigh nods again and goes to collect Charlies personal effects "I see nothing wrong with that."
Charlie as he is getting redressed ask "how are the others?"
"the Devilkin has yet to wake up, the female is undergoing regenerative surgery, a number of forgen elements were detected in her body that we are removing. We are also going to repair her damaged eye and ear. Which reminds me, would you like us to fix the damage to your epidermal lair?"
"no thanks. I like my scares, they have personality. Wouldn't mind having hearing back on this side thought." He points out one of his ears. Charlie as he is zipping up his coat stops and looks his jacket over.
Charlie had referred to his outfit as armor and that is very much true. But it is more the just armor that protects his body, his leather is adorned with greegrees that only he understands the value of. His fingers find the patch on his right hip, the patch is the six inches long and two high, his fingertips run up the boarders of the patch to remind him of it's story, It reads '10years' he got it a music festival in La-Suar Minnesota, he was with the women that would be his wife that weekend, on the other hip is a patch that reads '99%', he got that patch at a bike show in Sturgis North Dakota, he was with his brother in law and his friend Mahomed Quin, on his neck he reach up to feel a pin in the shape wings, he had picked up three like it after an air show in Austen Texas, one for him, one for his wife, and one for his son, shadowing that pin is another this one is a bottle cap with fading color that once upon a time read Royal Crown, he forged it himself the last time he saw his son, the cap itself was from a drive in dinner called 'Galaxy Grill', and on his back there is a single patch the reads 'Patriot' with the image of an eagle holding the flag in its claws, that was the patch he added one year ago today, the summer he met Lucca Wingate. Charlie is wrapped head to toe in the best parts of his life. His armor proving as a reminder of who he is and who he was.
Lastly Charlie reaches into his inner pocket and feels his pocket radio there, He smiles. Sigh speaks pulling Charlie back into the here and now "what do you have there? It seems to have inspired a powerful reaction."
Charlie nods pulling the Walkman from his pocket "It's a toy really, an old on, I'm surprised it still works."
"What does it do?" Sigh is interested by the device.
"I'll show you." Charlie turn on the Walkman and take off the headphones so it will play out loud.
"…I'm home again.
I have seen the sky bleed red.
I wish I had stayed home instead.
You will see.
This man is not the man he is meant to be.
The one you see
He is nothing more than a replica
A replica of the man I used to be…"
Charlie stops the music. Sigh looks up to him "It reads poetry?"
Charlie nods "if that is what I want it to do. At one point in time I had hundreds of disk to play with this thing I think."
Sigh waves Charlie on, "your friends are this way." The two of the walk down a long well-lit hallway lined with windows looking into hospital rooms. Rounding the next been leading to the door into Lances room Charlie freezes seeing A 'man' with his arms folded behind his back looking into the room watching Lances.
The man standing in the hall is dressed in a traditional looking catholic priest shroud, the holy simble around his neck is a two-headed bird, his skin is death blue protruding from his back are a dozen knives, his scalp is lined with razorblades, meat hooks and icepicks hang from his belt, his eyes a vacant black. Charlie remembers this man, he is Sendaquil son of Akash goddess of blood, also called Harm angel of the void, he is one of Cravixs slaves.
Half panicked Charlie holds his arm out to stop Sigh and brings his other hand down to grip Souleater. "he doesn't belong here."
Sigh failing to pick up on the fear in Charlies voice announces "yes he does, he arrived shortly behind you. He is here to meet with Syphen to learn more about the realm formally know as Rhoda."
Harm has his own darkness that seems to fallow his movement, lights blinking on and off in his wake. The angel of the void addresses Charlie "Belmond son of Belmond. Have no fear. I have no interest in you today." The hellish priest pivots on his heels away from them and vanishes into the darkness left by the blinking lights.
Charlie runs off ahead to check on Lances, he slides throw the door to see the old man still in bed almost studying the partens on the ceiling. Charlie yells over to Lances "Lances!" seeing everything is as it should be Charlie forces himself calm "How are you?"
The old man drunkenly smiles "I haven't felt this good since that flower festival back in seventy-two." He wheezes slightly "air is somewhat heavy though."
Charlie takes one of Lances hands "Its ok, you'll be up and about shortly."
Lances turns his head to Charlie "Charlie. Who are you? Every time we meet things are just not quite right. You're just a little to calm and know just a little to much…"
Charlie finds himself a chair to sit with his friend he shrugs thinking "I'm a guy…I was born in Mississippi. I'm an engineer for the Grand county school district."
"what about all of this? It's like you are a real life superman."
"you know Lances, that is the strange part about hero's. there never what they look like. Hero's are called on for a single day, to do a single job, after that history takes over to fill in the rest. Sometimes hero's do what is right, sometimes not. But seldom are they who you think they are. Some rich, well dressed warrior? No one of my favorite story of a heroic person knowone even knows the name of the one that set of this chain of events."
Lances grown a bit "go on."
Charlie rest his arms on his knees as he starts a short story "seventeen seventy-two in the tarator of Boston drunk sailors from Grate Briton walk the streets of the harbor town. Tension is high in the air, the American colonist are being exploited by the royal families that claim to own their land. Tax collectors go door to door with the power of the crown at their back offering cheap threat. Winter of seventeen seventy-three the governor Massachusetts is called to Boston harbor, a ten year old boy stands outside the courthouse throwing rocks, civil unrest is tacking hold, the local silversmith has just been arrested under suspicion of conspiracy, a cold war is brewing in the town hall. An ambassador for Briton demands that the governor defuse the situation. The governor asks to return home for the weekend to contemplate his options, the ambassador seconds the motion. Exiting the courthouse, the ambassador's escort it hit with a rock, the escort lifts his musket and fires. A nameless ten-year-old boy is killed, thin and there in the shadow of the court."
Lances interrupts "I don't think I like where this story is going."
"it gets better. At the same time the neighborhoods crier is stepping out of the waterhole on the other side of the street, the sound of the gunshot shocks him into sobriety and he witnesses the ambassador kick the body of the dead boy, the crier pulls the bell from his pocket and starts ringing it shouting 'war has come to Boston'. Before sunrise the fallowing Monday a painter had captured the scene, a journalist had written down the story, horsemen had been summoned within weeks' people from all the surrounding colonies had heard the criers story and by spring America had formed its own army. One ten-year-old boy throwing stones was the last piece of kindling needed to set into motion events that would change the course of history."
The door to the room opens and one of the many armors that are Celverant steps in "Charlie Belmond from Delta, your assistances is required in the speaker's chamber." The armor grips Charlie by the arm nearly lifting him to his feet.
As he is being dragged out Charlie calls out to Lances one more time "Lances, trust yourself, if something feels wrong run! And trust Celverant, but only in the respect that he will not allow harm to fall on anyone under his protection!"
Charlie disappears into the depths of the cathedral being half carried by the armor. Sigh steps into the room to check on Lances "what a strange man." He offhandedly whispers.
Lances nods "yes, but I think I like him. He is honorable."
Charlie is shoved into a large room at the top of the cathedral overlooking the pains that surround the core of the Steel Rose, thick glowing pipes run though the floor of this room and a humming sound echoes. This room does not fallow the esthetics of the rest of the cathedral this looks more like a boiler-room the larger more colorful armor that seems to be Celverant's favored body stands looking down at his creations below
"you asked for a room overlooking the lake. You can have it. But first I need to understand more." The hallow voice comes from the shogun beast. "I have been watching your world, waiting for a Worldwalker to awaken. I identified two dozen men that exhibited characteristics common amongst us off them buy you are not one. Even-moor, you knew me before you arrived."
Charlie after regaining his footing brushes himself down "I have been here before."
"I have no recollection of this. Perhaps somehow you have this memory that I do not?
Charlie tries to explain "maybe it wasn't this you, maybe it was another you, we meat last time just like this but it wasn't like this it was this…"
Celverant speaks up "there are two ways that I know of that that can happen." The metal man walks over to a chair in the room and lowers himself onto it, as he does the chair lights up and starts feeding it from the glowing pipes plugging into his body "how well do you understand what Worldwalkers are?"
"I don't, last time around I wasn't smart enough to stop and ask." Charlie looks disappointed in himself.
"Last time around?" Celverant reiterates "that phrase alone says more then you understand. Worldwalkers have the power to slide across time-space everyone fallows the 'x axiom' natural fallowing the positive line, Worldwalkers have discovered the 'y axiom' and can choose to fallow it. But still in the positive direction, if time is looping for you, you have committed a taboo. You made a jump that fallows a 'double negative' line. You jump backwards across both time and space. Vary dangerous."
Charlie tries to wrap his head around this idea before an revelation seem to strike him. "Your planet had a myth about Worldwalkers and how they are born. What was it?"
"once a generation, one in every ten billon lifeform born from the ten times ten billon oldest stars is born so profanely beautiful that they turn the eyes of Chaos, one one-hundredth of them will see so much pain that Chaos will cry, one tenth of those that remain will suffer so greatly that Chaos will be moved to protect them. Once touched by Chaos the curtain of reality can be rolled back and those favored by Chaos can travel space freely with the remainder of their time. Chaos blessing changes with every person touched but allways those touch are seen as the most awe inspiring of their kind and the power for their will to become manifest fallows."
Charlie nods "right, why space, why not time?"
"I have seen vary few try to bend time, and those that have it has ended poorly for."
"what do you mean poorly?"
"they have become trapped in the space in-between worlds."
"why?" Charlie seems to be trying lead Celverant, he thinks he has learned something new about what he is, he just wants confirmation.
"I have never tried myself. I don't know how they get lost in-between worlds. But what value is this information to you?"
Charlie starts to exsplain "there is a universe eating monster out there and a I am looking for any weapon I can to try to fight it."
The door to the room opens and a women's voice calls in "we are seven hours and forty-four minuets into today's system sweep. As by network order 00-8 I have reached the limet of time I am aloud to execute this command. I must now return to Esper 15 and begin protocol 3"
Celverant looks to the door "Im am sorry, Seeker you may be dismissed."
The voice call back "that was not a request."
Celverant looks to Charlie "It seem our time is running short also. My attention is required in the grand hall. I am expected to arbitrate a land dispute for Glyph. I will call you back her shortly. If you wish to know more about Worldwalking talk to another worldwalker. You'll have little trouble finding them here." The armor disconnects form the chair and exits
Charlie runs out into the hallway calling out "Seeker!"
As Charlie runs out of the room what he fails to see is a shadow watching him from the darkness, a simi-human thing (human only so much as it has arms, lag, a head and erect form) it has a white blue membrane covering its body, large round gray coruscation like eyes which on a human head gives it a look of deep preponderances, its eyelids seem to blink in a circular way as three sets of eyelids wrap around each-other, it has no noise and fins in graduating blue red color where ears should be it has what looks like coral growing out of its arms and down its back making a shell and fins coming out of its elbows and knees that trail down its body as if it were a garment. It whispers it itself "A universe eating monster. I believe you friend."
"Seeker!" Charlie yells again trying to track down the women.
The women's voice finds him. "If you wish to speak you will fallow me."
Charlie runs after the voice finding a long haired blond woman with perfectly smooth pink skin, and shimmering sky blue eyes, but that is only her face her neck seems to have clock like gears in it, her chest is a dark blue hunk of metal that hides a red diamond hart her arms and legs are cylindrical with brass ball joints, she has three fingers and toes that are talon like two joints that bend one way and another that bends apposingly.
Charlie catches up and remarks "you are a girl."
Seeker frank in her reply "no, I am an amorphic life form that has chosen to cast the illation of a feminine shape in order to move around more easily in a place where the majority of attendants are humanoid and sexually dimorphic."
"Are you a Worldwalker?"
"Yes." She takes them outside and to a stone pedestal a short distance from the main building.
"I need to understand what we are hand how we work." Charlie beseeches.
Seeker melts into a fluid state ensnaring Charlie, he barely react only having time to duck and cover his head before he finds himself toppling through space again. Protected by Seeker it is a different experience, dark, silent, the sound of his breath and blood rushing through his body shockingly load, he seems to be weightless, but in a state of paralysis suspended in jelly.
Seeker pulls herself back together after landing, they are on a planet where the sky is gray, and a grids is perjected onto the clouds, numbers float in the sky in a semi tangible state, metallic bugs fly through the air cress crossing each-other drawing pathways as they move. There is a defining metal grinding coming from every which way, thousands of metal monstrosities move around them fallowing perfect 90* edges as everything moves on the grid drawn by the bugs. Charlie spins around admiring the patterns as things move.
It seems only moments after they arrive the streets suddenly silence themselves all the buster ending with the opining of sliding door in the buildings around them then everything stops. The noise, the activity, end all at once.
Seeker explains unprompted "everyone and everything is plugged into the hive. The hive tells us everything we need to know and how to execute required protocol: protocol one execute baseline EXE 1, this is unique to each unit, this is what we were maid to do, EXE 1 sequences will repeat for 8 continues hours, Protocol 2, execute secondary function, repeat for 8 continues hours, protocol 3, return to storage area, execute repair program, repeat for 8 consecutive hours. If Protocol 1 cannot be completed then skip to Protocol 4."
She leads them into a storage house. The house is mostly empty with the exemption of a single corner that is overflowing with broken machine parts and a table pilled high with half completed constructs, this disorder far displaced form the order seen outside. "three thousand years ago this world was overrun by things not so unlike you." Seeker looks at Charlie as she step up to the table.
She stretches and forms into three copies of herself linked by only the heart that floats between them, each copy grown in extra set of hands and starts sorting through the broken or half-finished devices.
"Im afraid to ask what happened to the" Charlie picks up a peace of rubbish to examine.
"their energy input to output rate was abysmal. We repaired them. The only part of them that worked within expected range dependable was the brain. That is what are hearts are made of. What is it you wanted to talk about?" Seekers speed and persition are strange and alien to Charlie, she can be at so many places at once and it seems each hand can do its own job with no need for the eyes or other hands.
"why aren't we Worldwalkers supposed to travel the Y axiom."
"I was interested in that point too. It seem that it is because a return trip is impossible."
"it seem to me that the world that you exit from is stricken from reality when you open a Y gate. Or that a 00 is added to your chrono code creating a paradox in your vary perception of reality. Attempting a retuen trip after a Y jump sends you to the same point in history from the original jump but in the history of the new Y world instead of your own."
Charlie enthusiastically approaches Seeker "I have done it! I have made a Y jump. I have done it more than once."
"was it a double plus or a double negative jump?"
"negative." Charlie trail off into another thought. "but things keep changing after each jump. Why is that?"
"what do you think make more of an impact on the universe: what you did yesterday or, what you are going to do tomorrow?" Seeker ask
"I don't know. Yesterday?
"things keep changing because you keep jumping into shadows of your own universe. Never have you made it home only to a place that looks like your home. Your alpha world likely no longer exists."
Charlies expiration changes to shock "Im happy I talked to you. I wonder why I haven't talked to you before?"
"I might not have been in the other multiverse you came form." Seeker produces a remote control form the pile of garbage, she fiddles with it momentarily then a siren sounds and a secondary fire door falls from the ceiling cutting the room in half and as such make the exit inaccessible.
Charlie looks back at the wall then to Seeker "what is that for."
"to limit how far you can run from me."
Charlie's exasperation sours and he places one hand on his whip. "what?"
"you see I am out of lab rats." She produces a toolbox next "I had every intention of abducting someone today, you where most egger. If you would be so kind, please try not to die before sun up…"