I lie back in the hospital bed, and smile at the nurse tending to me. I know what she’s going to do; I designed this sequence myself.
First she tourniquets my arm and starts the IV. Normal saline and propofol are administered, to begin sedating me. My heart rate, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and respiratory rate appear on a monitor above her head. Once my vitals begin to slow, I drop into a twilight sleep; the team will assemble. I will receive succinylcholine and etomidate to paralyze me, and the Professor will use a glidescope to insert a breathing tube into my trachea.
My name is John X. My team calls me the Driver. This is the process by which we are going to restart a dying world. My consciousness will be projected backwards in time while my body remains sedated and intubated, in a vegetative state.
I will take control of individuals throughout history: assassins, conspirators, and thieves. Through them, I will retrieve scattered artifacts that will be secured in crypts, and retrieved by my team in the present. These artifacts will be used to re establish humanity in a seed universe, next door to our own.
Once the drop is made, a sequence is initiated and I return to the present. The pull of time and fate is too much for me to prevent any of the hosts’ crimes and murders. I can hope that I will have exited before the killing starts.
What I’m doing is extremely dangerous. I can easily be killed, and my mind lost on these quests. I will more than likely lose all sanity before the end of this process, due to the pressures of incorporating and controlling disparate individuals. This is the sacrifice I’m making to save our species. I will almost certainly die.
My name is John X, I’m 21 years old, and nearly everyone I’ve ever known and loved has died. My team is a handpicked crew, the ones who will be cold enough to put a bullet in my head when I finally lose my mind.
When I was ten years old, I built a working nuclear reactor in my backyard shed, achieving fission using minerals I bought from hobbyists online. After the reactor provided power for my entire region, I became famous. It was then my true education began. I emancipated from my parents, and gained sponsorship from several billionaire patrons. Traveling the world, I advised governments and teams of scientists on all manner of technical, social, and humanitarian issues, providing solutions that revitalized economies, prevented wars, and quadrupled agricultural yields. I was credited with the crushing problem of overpopulation Cronus faced, prior to the current cataclysm.
At 17, I discovered an adjacent universe, barren of all anthropoid life form. We have can settle there, and re-establish human life and civilization.
Also, the heat death of our universe is rapidly approaching. This is the asymptote, the omega point. I’ve spent my entire life saving people’s lives, often from themselves, and there’s nothing harder for me than having to let go of 99% of the Cronus’ population. The survivors can be transported to the seed universe, after we open the door.
I remember when Excellus and I defined the mechanism by which we could crack a hole in our known universe. We sat in a conference room next to his classroom, drawing on a whiteboard.
“This theory derives from quantum physics and harmonic frequencies.”
“Yes.” I replied.
“You’re sure about this?”
“My models have been analyzed and re-analyzed by the AI running on my nano-computers. We’ve identified these objects throughout history.”
“You’ll have to explain it to me again.”
“The heat death of the universe allows for the reversal of the direction of entropy, and the travel of quantum particles. The laws of physics prevented this previously, but now the sun’s rapid enlargement and increasing gravity are drawing us toward the center of the solar system, those laws are becoming more flexible. I’ve used sentinel particles to map the whole of history, back to the big bang, at which point they bounce back to my receiver here in the 22nd century.
When this version of the universe came into being, a fragment of the previous universe, a source code, was shed into Cronus. It was likely how our universe started, as a reboot of a previous version. This fragment contained within it the harmonic frequency necessary to jump between dimensions.”
“Like an opera singer cracking a wine glass with her highest notes.”
“Exactly. You establish a resonant frequency, and two objects will beat in time with one another. Now, this fragment was split into seven pieces. When reconstructed, it will form the tetra graviton, a 64 sided polyhedron which, when charged, will beat at the same frequency of the dimensional barrier, and create a large enough crack to allow our ship to pass through to the other side.”
“So where are these objects located?”
“All throughout history. Each corresponds to a dimension of the tetra graviton.” I drew on the board: Sigma 7 = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 = 64. “Each of the artifacts, numbered one through 7, contributes a dimension to the polyhedron, and once assembled, allows it to perform the function.”
“How are you going to find them?”
“My team has identified the locations of all 7, prior to being destroyed or forever lost. We have targets who can retrieve and preserve these artifacts in each time period.”
“Don’t tell me, John, I can’t let you risk yourself like this.”
“I’m the only one who can do it, Eric. I’m going to send my consciousness across a raft of quantum particles into each target, locate, and preserve the artifact, so that we can rebuild the polyhedron in the 22nd century.”
“You know the dangers.”
“Tell me about them.”
“I go through time, moving backward, while my own time moves forward. I then reverse, and progress at the time scale of the new reality at this reality’s time scale. Meanwhile, I’m receiving intelligence from my own time and place.”
“The human brain is a computer, and it encodes information on the basis of where things are in time and space. The more information which I accommodate into my human brain which originates in vastly different time scales, the more difficult it will be for me to distinguish between reality and fantasy, between magical thinking and empiric deductions.”
“I haven’t yet discarded the idea of a soul, and I imagine it will flee from me at one of these stages.”
“Why will you do this?”
“What’s the use of being the smartest man alive if you’re forced to watch everyone you’ve ever cared for die around you, and you can’t stop the world from burning down?”
Eric thought about this, and while we talked more and more about it, I know I made an impression on him.
These memories drift past me like a dream, and then I see light before my eyes. I awaken in a small room, fully dressed in a threadbare suit. I stand up and shake my head out, to spread out the fuzzy feeling that comes with time travel. I go to the mirror and begin reciting to myself, “My name is Gabriel. I am nineteen years old. In seven days I will assassinate the Premier of Zubrovka, setting in motion the great Bellophoron, the war to end all wars. During that time, I must find the Unity Spear and get it to the cemetery on the slopes of the Treivic Mountain, in the Old Gileadan Cemetery, next to the grave of Reb Sam Bronkten. If I fail, the Titans will disappear, and the universe will implode.” I comb my hair back and study my face. Rough nose, bright eyes. I’ll let Gabriel drive for awhile and see where he goes.
He regards himself in the mirror for a moment, and then begins reciting:
“Remain here! . . . The sun of foreign skies
Will not warm you as warmly as our own,
Where none is your own, where there are no brothers.
Who will find a mother better than one’s own?
Your mother is this very land.”
He smiles. “There’s no escaping this land, my own.” He grabs his hat and his coat and descends the stairs.
His cousin Mark waits for him on the step. “Gabriel, you are here at last, I cannot believe it.”
“Believe it, my brother, for now is the day of our liberation, of our freedom!”
They laugh together. “Gabriel, have we been free, truly? Before the Zubrovka Empire ruled us, it was the Ruritanians.”
“But freedom begins in the heart, my dear Mark, and I believe that tyranny cannot long live when so many have hearts as brave and true as ours.”
They begin walking to their meeting, the Young Zuy society. “It’s not been the same at school since you were expelled, Gabriel.”
“Enthusiasm in the service of patriotism is no crime. We as students had every right to protest the army.”
“Only you were thrown out, Gabriel.”
“It was because I am so good looking, I am sure.”
They round a corner, and came upon a group of Zubrovkan patrolmen, talking to a boy selling potatoes in a cart. They watch the patrolmen pick through the potatoes, while the boy protests. “Listen, my family needs to sell these to eat! We need the money!”
“Cannot your family eat potatoes?” The patrolmen laugh as they filled their pockets. The boy starts to cry.
“These bastards, stealing from a child, they have no decency at all,” Mark mutters.
“You are right, Mark, no decency at all. Perhaps we should teach them some.”
Does Gabriel/John X:
A: Proceed to his meeting and leave the patrolmen to harass the boy?
B: Fight the patrolmen?