Wine of the Gods 26: Embassy (10 page)

Chapter Sixteen
Early Fall 1398
Embassy World

 

 

It took another trip to the mountains to snag enough building materials to do some fast molding of twenty rooms and some semi-communal bathing rooms and privies.

Quicksilver sighed and wished she'd had enough time for landscaping.

She looked at the fat star shaped . . . restaurant . . . and went in search of a witch to run it all for a couple of weeks. Lapwing and Nighthawk jumped at the chance, and they drove a wagon load of tables, chairs, dishes, pots and pans, firewood and food through the gate literally minutes before the scientists began arriving.

Nighthawk sorted them out into rooms, sympathized with their horror at not being able to crap in a closet right next to their bedrooms, and promised to return with a few hours with, umm, mattresses. And sheets and blankets. Chairs, rugs. Curtains.

"Thank god for independent witches. I was so busy building the rooms, I didn't even think about furniture." Quicksilver sighed and stepped out to greet the early arrivals. "Good morning. I'm Doctor Quail Quicksilver. From Comet Fall." She stepped back into the building and led the way to the conference room. At least she had the table and chairs for her meeting.

"Hmph. Hal Humphreys. Earth." The man looked around the bare conference room and curled a lip. "I doubt we'll consider this a very equal exchange. What will you be showing?"

"My map of the multiverse, as far as Comet Fall has explored, plus if there is any interest, my current project examining the healing of planetary and larger sized splits."

"Healing?" He narrowed his eyes scornfully, and looked around as three more men entered the room.

Quicksilver smiled at them. "Welcome to Embassy, gentlemen. I believe the entire deputations from both Earth and One World have arrived, so perhaps we should wait until everyone finds this room before we go much further into anything scientific."

The three men ignored her and stared at Humphreys. "Oh, an Earther. Well, that will limit the means of showing things, won't it?"

Humphreys stiffened.

"I do hope we can have a scientific discussion, and avoid too many insults." Quicksilver sighed. "As is quite obvious, this building is barely finished and the rest of the facilities likewise. This first meeting will set some important groundwork for the future."

The Oner spokesman sniffed. "And where are your scientists, Hostess?"

"I am right here. Doctor Quail Quicksilver. And you are?"

"You are a scientist?" The man curled a lip, looking her up and down.

So much for my best suit making me look so intelligent.
"Perhaps, since polite social discourse is apparently going to be difficult, I should bring up my model of the Multiverse. It will give you something impersonal to insult." She'd encoded the model in a trinket, so she didn't need to personally maintain it while talking about it. She placed the metal and crystal wafer on the conference table and triggered it.

"This is, of course, simply representational, not a scaled model, this end is the past, that end a projected future. This in the middle, in brighter colors, represents the current time frame, the last fourteen hundred years since the first—so far as we know—discovery of transdimensional travel. These dark surfaces are the major splits. This one separates the Dinosaur Worlds at the bottom there, from the rest of the Worlds. This high split is the destruction of Hygeia. The Worlds tend to cluster, and the causes are frequently not obvious. I have labeled and colored the few I've identified. The green is the dinosaur worlds. We have the terror birds, in yellow, blue for the ice age megafauna Worlds, and in multiple shades of red, mankind.

"I understand that Earth has found some Worlds where other branches of the hominid tree became the dominant species. I have not yet encountered them, so they are not shown.

"Leaving the tree analogy behind and picking up a literary one, I have, in my own personal survey, identified thirty separate books between the Dinosaur split and the Hygeia split. Each book splits into sections and chapters and on down until we are at the level of pages—the collections of branes generally perceived as a single Universe by our human brains.

"My current research involves this book here, which I have labeled the Tunguska cluster. But before I get onto my hobby horse, why don't you all trash my model?"

"What sort of time scale is this on?"

"None what-so-ever. The Dinosaur killer and so forth are just schematic, showing which split came first. In the color section, the Hygeia split is roughly timed as sixteen thousand years ago, but we haven't identified which brane it split from, or if there were multiple branes or even multiple books affected.

"Comet Fall has had dimensional travel for twenty-seven years, as opposed to the Earth's several centuries, and the One World's ninety-four. With the additional roadblock of our smaller population, disunited nations, and frankly, a lousy educational system, we are no doubt a good way behind you. I realize that both your governments may want to keep some knowledge close, certainly my own has requested that our gate making apparatus and cross dimensional surveying methods remain secret. On top of that, academic competition will slow release of data. But what can be shared, we will share. And we hope that you will as well."

"Well." The One World spokesman eyed the hologram then reached in and touched the trinket, turned it and watched the illusion turn with it. "It is going to be difficult to share data, given the different computer protocols or in your case, complete lack thereof."

"Not to mention that you have entirely failed to have the volume increasing as a demonstration of the expansion caused by the continuous decision trees." Humphreys poked at the illusion.

"Umm, conservation of mass and energy would prevent any increase in the number of branes, although finer and finer splits could result in a greater, umm, volume, so to speak." The Oner scowled through the illusion at Humphries.

"Do you discount merges?" Q asked.

"Surely local phenomenon produce only local effects . . ." Another Earther joined in, earning a glare from Humphries.

More people had entered as Quicksilver had been talking, and now they crowded around and raked the model over, and contested their own views of the Multiverse. A quick head count showed eight Earthers and seven Oners, mainly distinguishable by the details of their suits. Earth fashions currently favored wide lapels and ties in heavy dark colors. The Oners had thinner lapels and brighter colors on narrower ties. The three women present—all Earthers—wore feminized versions.

Quicksilver's Paris suit fit right in. She reintroduced herself, and pulled out the adhesive name tags, purchased yesterday in one of the Earth's she'd been watching for a month.

Q refereed a few sharp comments while labeling everyone.

Numerous suggestions about the model were argued, and Q altered the model on the spot as pros and cons of how to even display a multidimensional phenomenon in three dimensions came up.

Her stream of worlds turned into an uprooted bush, with the uninhabitable "Hell" and "Snowball" Bands peeling off early and fading out of their considerations. Then the "Algae" Worlds, the "Gardens" with few land animals, "Dinos" with archeosaurs and dinosaurs, "Megafauna" with large avians and mammals common, A huge sideways split between "Empty" where mankind had never evolved, "Inhabited" Worlds, and lastly the "Disaster" band where humans had existed once and become extinct. A smaller split for the "Hygeia" band where the specific cause was known.

Home sweet home, and our nearby worlds with chunks of Asteroid Hygeia impacting in various ways.

Nuclear wars were argued as scattered isolated events, or a stream splitting early that contained them all.

The relationship between the time of the splits and the level of civilization nearly caused a fist fight between two of the Earthers.

And also with much arguing about the cause of the splits, the relative timing and whether the Hygeia Worlds had split from Empty or Inhabited Worlds.

Which brought up the theory of an even earlier diaspora, and more distant worlds with advanced civilizations. And Elves and Neanderthals.

The Earth contingent eyed her. "We know you are in contact with the Elves. Where do you put them?"

"While we did have a really interesting visit with Ambassador Time, I do not know where he's from. We are basing Disco on what very little he let out about his organization, but mostly we're doing as seems logical to us, to get some diplomacy started."

"Perhaps we should leave the politics to the politicians, for now. We can use this as a first approximation and work from there." One of the Earthers was actually acting as a peacemaker.

The scientists' specialties tended toward the theoretical and mathematical, and Q brought in both Earth and One World computers for use.

The books, plus the chips of detailed census data she'd collected from twenty parallel and apparently merging universes caught their attention in a major way.

"I'd love to know how you finance this sort of research." Jerald Biscopf sighed. "Gate time is hideously expensive."

"Our tech is cheaper, by several orders of magnitude." Q told him. "And I don't have as much competition for the resources. I'm hoping to include research as a part of the Disco organization. Perhaps co-operative research would be a useful way of promoting peace and tolerance. I'll see about getting gate time for outside researchers."

 

Xen had been adamant that they not divulge how easily they made gates, nor how few people they had who could do it. "They need to keep thinking in terms of tech, not live magical talent. They could kill you, me and the parents and shut us down until the youngsters grow up and figure out how to do it—from our non-existent notes and directions."

Quicksilver had had to agree with him, and devoted more of her non-existent free time to writing a primer on multidimensional magic.

And making various people work together to try and find out how her mother had been able to open a dozen gates, twenty years ago. As her father said, hopefully it had been his presence and assistance, not that she'd been pregnant with Q at the time. Rustle herself had figured that she'd taken too much damage in diverting Comet Lamb, strained something past healing. But they'd promised to practice together. As had Dydit and Never, Justice and Nil.
If none of them can do it, it really will be time to start having children. Somehow. Should have really taken advantage of Garit, but the royal line of inheritance stuff . . . Not to mention possessive males . . . Dammit.

 

However, Heliotrope had converted the census data Quicksilver had collected to both the Earth and One World formats, so they were all able to see the ten year snapshots of increasingly common names and addresses. They all looked a bit disturbed by it, then argued about modeling it, about watching it, and observer effects, nearly coming to blows as a Oner shouted "But the alien observer, just by his presence, renders the brane he is in less similar."

Quicksilver put her finger on a point she suddenly noticed. "It's all theoretical, isn't it? You can't actually look and see, can you? There's no observational machinery." Xen's injunctions came back to her. "I had hoped, with your longer experience in dimensional travel that you'd have something, some detector."
Other than my brain.

None of them admitted to any such thing.

At the end of a week, the scientists all departed. Q wasn't sure they'd accomplished anything beyond the ability to argue as equals, but she distributed copies of the census data to the departing scientists and magicked up illusion projecting trinkets of the model, modified for each group's preferred interpretation and handed them out. Powered by light, face up the charms displayed a five foot long by two foot thick and three foot tall 'hologram'. Face down they turned off. She gave them each one, and wondered how many would be sliced up and destroyed. She paid more detailed attention to how the spells encoded onto physical substrates. The nearly atom-by-atom rearrangement of copper, gold, and silicon surprised her, once she looked at what she was actually doing. Computer circuits and a trickle of electricity converted from light . . .

She grinned to herself. It almost wasn't magic.

 

Both Earth and One World scrambled to assist the legalities involved in the formation of a Department of Interdimensional Security and Cooperation on each of their planets, complete with legitimate identification cards for the personnel and bank accounts. Garit put his head together with his father's economists and created a budget. He planned to charge each polity a third of their first year operating budget, basing currency exchange on the prices of a dozen commodities, and generalized salary ranges. "All we have to do is figure out how to get them to want some permanent gates."

They hired people to run things, witches mostly, so they couldn't be influenced by the Oners. Paid them in Comet fall currency.

"Old Gods! A paycheck!" Nighthawk grinned. "Now if we only had a bank here . . . "

Xen pointed out and down. "You can walk through the gate and be in Karista in a few minutes, so don't give us a hard time. I wonder though, once we get this place rolling, if we shouldn't have some sort of coinage for, oh, restaurants and small stores and stuff? Can we make them use Western royals and crowns?"

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