Meanwhile, in Aden, Charles’s aspects there had been contemplating how Essence was produced where Chaos interacted with Structure. The more rigid the structure, the more Essence was generated. Thus Geomancy dominated natural essence flows, while Hydromancy, Aeromancy, and Pyromancy were far weaker – and the Earth had about as much geomantic potential as the Sun did, despite the sun’s far, FAR, greater mass. Suns, and gas giants, and drifting globs of water or molten rock… simply did not generate power like a rocky planet.
Wait. Minds had “geomancy” of a sort… Was there anything more rigid than an idea? And an idea which was shared by millions of minds… No wonder there was power in Mathematics, and Patterns, and – for that matter – in cults! Was a cult anything more than a… mental demesne?
Ooohhhhh… So THAT was how they’d done it! He COULD make his own Kaiju Manse! At least if he could get TO a mental demesne… How had the Cauldron-Born pulled off THAT trick?
Gah! Simple again! Raksha could get into dreams – and what was a dream except a limited mental domain? An expression of the sleeping consciousness pulled from the core of chaos in every human soul? All they’d need… would be a speciality charm or a wyld gate! Like he used all the time! And building a manse in a dream… would be even easier than doing it in reality!
Lost in enthusiasm, Charles had promptly started probing. Unfortunately, as it turned out, many of the major Kaiju had already been constructed… Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Rodan, Baragon, Kumonga, Gamera, Ultraman, Gigan, and King Ceasar had all been built… That was most of the big ones, and pretty much all the benign ones – and more than one apiece, unless the Cauldron-Born had been recruiting (oh dear!). Oh wait! Mothra Leo really was still available, even if the demesne would need some work… It was complete with ancient tree for cocooning – although it was only a sapling at the moment.
Gothmug’s protests came too late, as Charles got some of his Raksha-analogues to help out and impulsively embarked into the landscapes of the imagination and the human racemind – and found them vibrant and powerful, fueled by the respired essence that “normal” humans were unable to use directly. Prayer, memes, cults or mental demesnes… all channels for that power, to be harvested or channeled by others. There were hints of higher powers too; essence-constructs well beyond the level that humanity should be able to produce. Ah! The ancient Deva’s hidden deep in the racemind that Aikiko had reported! With them active… it was no wonder that some humans could draw on their powers and abilities! Or that things were changing! Humans… were no longer the helpless, passive, prayer-batteries that they had been created to be!
Boosting the demesne, and constructing the manse, was straightforward enough. It was almost like something was helping… He went with the “Armored Leo” look. Leo could come out to play with Tsunami during the space trip!
He still wasn’t sure how he could possibly stop a massed kaiju attack which would likely have Godzilla on the enemy side and would very likely be in Yu-Shan, to boot! That could (or would) get TERRIBLY messy! Yu-Shan was much bigger than Tokyo, had far stronger geomancy, was overrun with powerful gods and exalts who might get involved, and one wrong street or building cratered might release who-knew-what from the vaults… A Kaiju Attack on Yu-Shan… could be catastrophic!
Of course, it might also be quite benign. After all… the Cauldron-Born certainly didn’t seem entirely hostile!
Actually, simply borrowing Adenic Thaumaturgy, and drawing on Aden’s energies gave the Cauldron-Born far more power already, with which they could do a great many things without disturbing the Loom – and Charles’s intention to add a Wyld level to Yu-Shan, and tweak the geomantic center of Creation, might prove quite useful to them. They might not even need the Kaiju except for keeping anyone ELSE from fouling up the proceedings. Why draw the attention of Charles’s many Devas when there was no need to? With Adenic Thaumaturgy to use for utility effects… they could focus on acquiring the abilities that they really needed.
In between moves, the Unconquered Sun too had taken notice. While it took a lot to get his attention these days, the sudden arrival of three hundred extra Solar Exaltations from beyond the bounds of Creation had been quite enough to do it – and the boy was one of the most eccentric and idealistic current Solars! It would be fairly interesting to see where he went with his quasi-primordial charms, and he WAS taking the defense and stewardship of Creation pretty seriously. Still… those “Infernal” variants were potentially troublesome, and the boy’s tricks seemed to be going in the same general way. It would probably be worth a second look at some point! At the moment, however, there was an upcoming move to consider. Charles could wait until he had some more time.
Not all that long afterwards, with the Elemental Pole Manses on Earth completed at last, Charles was about ready to head out into space. Of course, all he really needed was to get some of his aspects out far enough so that he could focus on them. There would still be gates to Yu-Shan and Earth open – which would be very handy unless the would-be babysitters used them to catch up with him! And he was thoroughly stocked up with salt, and holy water, and all that kind of stuff!
The babysitters would consider catching up with him pretty urgent. Nobody needed him giving things to Hannya and Deathlords and Behemoth Space Monsters and such!
Perhaps fortunately, Charles had elected to take the slightly-longer tour-of-the-planets route out of the solar system – and would probably spend the first few days watching stars, nebula, and so on go by. The real speed burst wouldn’t start until he was out of the local group of galaxies.
He even remembered to advise Rightous Hala and Mr Montague that he was starting out for the end of the universe, and so he might be distracted at work next week!
(Hala) “Well, I’ll be visiting Aden frequently, then… just in case something does happen that you need help for!”
(Charles) “Thank you! Do you want to come for the solar system tour part? It’s a bit inefficient I know, but I wanted to take a few hours to see it on the way out!”
(Hala) Oh, why not?”
She’d seen it a lot, but it WAS very beautiful!
Why not indeed… Charles dropped in on a few astronomers, and some NASA people, and invited them along too! Why not? By the time he got back… it would be almost time for the Gates to open! And some of the ones who had been hosting astronomy programs were getting quite elderly and had never gotten out into space yet, so it was about time! Anyone who was willing to take a few hours for the solar system tour – or a few days for the out-of-the-local-group part – got taken aboard for the trip!
The ones that knew Charles through his connection with Elzeard (since he was reducing the pollution that plagued their Earth-based work) were the most receptive to the offer. At the worst it would be a joke, so why not?
Charles took them straight to the bridge of the Tsunami in orbit. After all, “Beam Me Up!” was VERY classic – even if there was a certain amount of surprise and incredulity at the tree even if they DID have to admire the wonderful view!
(Scientist, blinking) “Have I been transported into my children’s cartoons?”
(Charles) “Not cartoons… but I must admit to borrowing some imagery! There are certain advantages to that!”
(Scientist) “How did you construct this ship? Or is it alive and matching the cartoon in that way?”
(Charles) “Oh, it’s alive! That makes maintenance and things MUCH easier! It’s sort of a manifestation… Uhrm… (he rummaged in his pockets and got out another box of Sigils) have one of these! They’ll help you get things figured out!”
And there was much the same process as before of playing around with thaumaturgic powers while looking at the view, with occasional pointing at various planetary features and a good deal of photography.
Charles had some close flybys to check on some of the more spectacular features!
Righteous Hala (again introducing herself as “Charles’s Nanny, Helen) helped point out interesting and little known features of the worlds.
(Righteous Hala) “Ah, and here is one of the two Great Polar Vortex of Jupiter, where heat is exchanged with the deeper layers!
The astronomers got some particularly good pictures of that one, and the moons and rings of Neptune and Saturn – especially since Charles had cheerily provided some artifact-instruments where the Tsunami wasn’t providing high-quality analysis… Rather more of them were excited about getting to see the trans-Neptunian region up close – although Hala seemed antsy for some reason, though!
(Charles, quietly) “Is something wrong? Or something we should avoid going past?”
(Hala, quietly) “Well… we might have some raksha attempts to attack; in most solar systems, the borders are where shaped raksha who don’t play nicely with the mortals go. I know you well enough that you’d want to trade with them and give them some of those collars, but how are you going to explain that to (nodding to the astronomers) them?”
(Charles, quietly) “Uhm… We’re already traveling faster than light aboard a living tree-ship… I think most of them already know that things are weird! And no one can do any unwanted shaping aboard the Tsunami.”
(Hala, quietly) “Well, definitely good, then! Any of that could easily be explained as sapient alien activity, anyway – which wouldn’t surprise many of them.”
She continued to keep an eye out, though and then one of the astronomers said something about seeing a palace out the window.
(Charles) “Oh, probably the Raksha! A lot of them hang around the fringes of inhabited solar systems!”
(Dr. Hirashi) “I hadn’t expected alien sapient life to be this close to Earth. What can you tell us about them?”
(Charles) “Well, in a way they’re ancestral to most of the universe! In fact… virtually all humans carry about 1.78% Raksha blood; there was some serious intermingling about 50,000 years ago, and the ones still on earth often produce halfbreeds to this day. Fundamentally they’re energy beings, but they have to take on physical forms to survive outside of the enclaves where the energies they rely on are still strong. They’re very sensitive to iron and certain magnetic effects, so the ones who weren’t willing to behave have mostly been run off over the past fifty thousand years. From your point of view… they’re capable of manifesting quasi-real illusions of most things, but they aren’t very durable when confronted with determined opposition. Their creations are really just extensions of their own energies, so there’s only so much any one of them can do anyway!”
There was some nodding; that explanation sounded like a cross between classical Fair Folk and psionic aliens.
(Scientists) “What do they intend with us? They would have to be staying here for a reason.”
(Charles) “Oh, human minds generate some of the energies they require. Thus humans venturing into their territories are potentially in danger; we, however, have plenty of protections… If you’d like to talk to a few, there’s no real danger in opening communications – or even in having a few aboard – as long as you remember NOT to let them talk you into something silly! For that matter… there may well be some Humans with them; they took some along when they were driven off of course, and will almost certainly have sustained colonies since.”
That caused even more interest!
(Hirashi) “If we could communicate with a human in one of these enclaves… I must see it myself to believe it! Do you think they would let us?”
(Charles) “Well… lets ask!”
The call got them the classical Grey starship bridge: circular, with weird beeping instruments. As one of the more famous human depictions of aliens, it was really quite popular among trans-Neptunian Raksha.
(Charles) “Oh, hey, that’s pretty good! I didn’t know that you’d been monitoring that close! I’m Charles, and these people would like to talk to some of you and perhaps some of the humans you keep out here! I’ll pay you for it!
The “alien captain” in his (her? It was hard to tell) fancy hat played up to the startled astronomers, and made weird noises in his / her “alien language!
Charles went along with the gag and booted up a translator – although he quietly let the astronomers know that it was for show; given that the Raksha were basically projecting illusions… it was actually easier for them to go along with expectations and popular images. That made other people do a lot of the work for them.
(Captain G’tanga) “Ah, Charles! I am Captain G’tanga, a humble Prospector of the Carbon Court. Human astronomers out this far? I’m surprised they aren’t speechless!… I would ask for a trade for some of my crew, but your reputation precedes you. Still… just one nibble?”
(Charles) “Well, I can offer you some of these (as he held up a box of Resplendent Butler’s Accounterments)… here are some as a present!” (He sent some over) “Will those do? I could ask of course… there are probably a few youngsters who have spent time with the Raksha on earth and wouldn’t mind a visit with you since it won’t take them long to recover – but I certainly can’t guarantee that!”
(Captain G’tanga) “Ah, better than what I was expecting! But if you could get me some older humans, that would be great. A diet of dreams drawn from children’s minds gets tedious. Their imaginations are spectacular, of course, but sometimes I just crave the structure of an adult mind.”
(Charles) “Well, since it would be temporary… I can ask; I can’t guarantee that any will want to spend any time with you though, even with the temporary drain. And to be fair… the scientists here just want to talk; I suspect that the artifacts are more than adequate payment for a few hours of you and your ships time.”
(Captain G’tanga) “Oh, fine then… you are as they said.” (To the crew) “Bring in the navigator!”
And a human who would not be at place on Earth in the slightest came into view. He appeared to be in his early thirties, and was friendly enough, but there was… just something lacking there. The normal side effects of feeding of course – although it looked like they were using the mutations that let people slowly recover. Sensible enough, after all, their resources were limited! Still, he promptly sent the man a Resplendent Butler’s Accoutrement of his own!
And oh, the questions the astronomers had for him!
He happily answered them. He’d been abducted about five years ago, and had mostly been sticking to the solar system and the outer limits. He spoke rather highly of the “Greys,” although some of the behavior seen in the fiction did indeed happen at the beginning. Once he gained the ability to use Essence, though, they made him navigator, and they treat him pretty well! He certainly wouldn’t have gotten to see the solar system as a shoe store clerk, that was for sure!
As far as he knew, he could come back to Earth tomorrow. He kind of wanted to see his family again, but he wasn’t so sure how the “Men in Black” would react!
(Charles) “Well, that should be fixed fairly soon! Earth… will be opening up a lot soon!”
(Navigator) “Really? That’s great!”
Pretty much all of the astronomers had seen Charles’ ads. They’d mostly been dismissing them – but now that there was a known connection to someone who blatantly DID possess the capacity for interstellar travel… they were a LOT more credible! They collaborated his statements!
(Captain G’tanga) “So that wasn’t some prank my Earthbound cousins were playing? It’s really happening.”
(Charles) “Oh yes! There are a LOT of things that need fixing!”
(Captain G’tanga, nodding) “That should create many opportunities for us. Hmm… Rogelio, how would you feel about recruiting more crew? We do have some empty berths!”
(Rogelio the human navigator) “If they were willing! Do they have to undergo the ‘treatment,’ though? I always feel so fuzzy after that!”
(Charles) “Well, so long as they use some of those artifacts – which will fix the fuzzy problem – I really can’t object! Spending some time with you will add a lot of wonder to some very bored people’s lives!”
(Captain G’tanga) “Very well then! This would be SO much easier than abducting them, but I’ll need a copy of one of those ads and a promise that this is happening.”
Charles cheerily sent them some copies of the ads… they didn’t give planetary coordinates after all – and the planets were getting staffs of manse guardians and kickaha and such, which would make it awkward to misuse the system… After all, doubltess some of the Raksha of that court would be wanting to be on the other ends of those gates for less benevolent reasons, even if that WAS blatantly shortsighted.
It didn’t take all that long before the astronomers were pretty much done talking to Rogelio and taking notes. They were getting a rather creepy feeling from just how CLOSE his life seemed to be to the “fictional” descriptions… Just how much of that “fiction” was entirely factual?
(Charles, after the Raksha had gone) “The Raksha really aren’t at ALL human of course, and don’t really understand humans all that well – but they do fake it fairly well! They’re… in modern terms, they’re self-sustaining superforce energy vortexes, given identity by a personal narrative, defined by the attractors of a set of five energy nexi, and potentially immortal. They… don’t really have an evolutionary history, or share most human urges, and only take near-human forms because it’s a stable form to copy. Please don’t ask how they can interbreed with humanity; it involves a certain amount of superforce-based overriding of the usual rules governing tht sort of thing in favor of narrative – and that’s pretty complicated to explain in any reasonable length of time.”
(Hirashi) “I see… I would assume they aren’t the only sapient life out there. ARE there any others?”
(Charles) “Honestly… most of the sapient life forms in the cosmos are expressions of the energy that gives it structure. Another huge segment of them are descended, ultimately, from human beings. The “Jadeborn” are Raksha who were permanently entrapped in forms during the creation of the universe. There are some other races, like the Dragon Kings – but there are only twenty-five million of them in the entire cosmos, and there may well never be any more since they were created with no potential to increase in numbers. There are some elder races… but they were scarce to begin with, and aren’t well suited to the current cosmos.”
There was a prompt run on the library files for documentation on the various species to study (once they were back on Earth), but considering what they’d seen already, and Charles’s apparent prior activities… they could certainly believe that there was more life out there. Several of them had already been planning to check out gates when they opened just in case, and that number had just increased considerably. After all… it would be the first chance in the history of modern astronomy to take a look from another vantage point!
(Hirashi) “Er… you’re handing out a LOT of information here, and some of it there’s pretty obviously been some soft of cover-up on. You ARE taking us back, right?
(Hala) “Of course he is!”
(Charles) “Of course! I simply need to transport one of the gates far enough out… Once it’s there, I can simply step back and forth!”
Well, that really didn’t break any more of physics than the fact that they were obviously traveling far faster than light did anyway. Speaking of which…
(Hirashi, who seemed to be becoming the unofficial spokesman for the scientists). Could you tell us something about how your drive system works? Blatant FTL undermines all kinds of theories!
(Charles) “Well… ultimately, I have to go past the boundary of the universe, at about 10 to the 100’th light years. Even at the maximum pseudovelocity I can handle… that’s going to take most of a month! Fundamentally… there several valid ways of looking at the structure of the universe; in some it’s a LOT smaller. And to be fair… it starts looking a LOT alike when you’re passing between galaxies.”
(Hirashi) “So the ship is simply ignoring that empty space? Or compressing it as it goes through?”
(Charles) “Basically, we’re just partially phased into a way of looking at it where the entire cosmos is only about 18,000 miles across. The reshaping of the original universe to it’s current form imposed a drastically expanded, relativistic, metric on the original structure of the cosmos – but the original metric is still available in some reference frames; we’re just occupying a compromise frame between the two metrics.”
Ah, direct reality alteration. The same thing – if obviously on a far higher power level – that the Sigils the boy had handed out let them do. Still, such POWER. The child had said that the ship was a “manifestation”. Could he possibly be simply… powering this entire trip by himself? Even if not, his resources were obviously incredible.
They’d have liked to ask Charles more questions – weeks worth – but with the departure from the local group they were reaching the end of the immediate tour, and it was time to step back to Earth. That would have to wait for another time. They’d certainly try to remain in communication with Charles or Elzeard, though!
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXXXI – A Pillar Of Fire By Night (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXXX – The Lava of the Lamp (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXXIX – City Of Fire (ruscumag.wordpress.com)