Kevin was brooding… Why would Famine be so powerful? Famine hadn’t been that big a threat in a long time, while disease was still around. OK, it was a reduced menace in Core too – but the last of the great plagues to sweep through the race were FAR more recent than epic-scale famines! He HAD to be drawing on Core! Nowhere else had the kind of unified belief to tap like that! The worlds of the Manifold had more local concerns, and far too many separate foci for any one of them to have that kind of power! Much less power that extended across the worlds. That was why he drew some of HIS power from the people of the Core! Why would fear of Famine be stronger than War? War was still a current…
Famine was more than lack of food and the fear of starvation.
Could Famine be drawing power from a scientific belief? It wouldn’t have the edge, or urgency, of the old fears – but everyone in core was well aware of entropy. More people now believed that the universe would eventually grow old, and die – starved for energy, and fading into an eternal cold darkness – than had ever even HEARD of the “horseman of the apocalypse” in all of history.
Kevin, with his usual adolescent enthusiasm, promptly took “a quick hypothesis” for “a working theory” and set to work.
He might be Core-educated, but he was an Opener with vast reserves of power to draw on – and he was far too used to having his casual theories spring to life as externalized facts to worry too much about the difference between leaping to a conclusion and hard information.
Besides, it wasn’t like he didn’t have the resources to start a side-project.
So how could he launch an assault on Entropy? Pulling all of humanity into the Manifold would work – but it would mean abandoning Core, which was unacceptable. He wanted the number of human souls in existence to expand perpetually…
So; assign some Thralls to – err… Project: Midnight Gardener – and maybe hire a few people and make inquiries – as to… hmm…
1) The occurrence of stars and astronomical objects in the Milky Way that need removing – stars that were entering really dangerous pre- super- or hyper-nova stages, neutron stars that were spiraling into each other or colliding to produce gamma ray bursters, and similar menaces – and the frequency with which new ones appeared.
2) Some good estimates on the velocity, state, and composition of matter which would need to be fed into the outer disk to maintain starbirth and keep the normal-matter sections of the galaxy in a semi-steady state.
3) The rate at which it would be necessary to remove mass from the supermassive black hole at the core of the galaxy to keep it stable. It could be fed negative energy to reduce it’s mass, even if that process would generate an enormous flood of radiant waste energy which would need to be directed out of the galaxy… Hm. Would that be distinguishable from a “naturally” active galactic nucleus?
Were there any naturally active galactic nuclei? Was an energetic galaxy a sign of a wide-spread galactic maintenance project? Was it possible that such a project was already running in the Milky Way? What would be the lesser signs of such a thing, and was it really too necessary as yet? It might explain the relative scarcity of dangerous astronomical activity – although individual Openers might also account for that.
He could look into that later.
It would be a worthwhile project to get started even if there was no connection with Famine (and it turned out to be impossible to convince everyone that the end of time could be forestalled indefinitely). The Heat Death of the Core universe was NOT acceptable.
Some of the scientists he contacted gave him such LOOKS…
There was even one guy muttering about “Hubris”. Well, it wasn’t like he had DELUSIONS of godhood… According to Ryan he had the real thing!
It took several hours to get that project properly explained and started.
Meanwhile, over in Battling Business World…