Juan X, Chapter 1

I was twelve or thirteen, I can’t remember which, and my grandmother had told me to remove a shrub from the backyard. I chopped and chopped, and pulled it out, and there nested at its roots was a rattlesnake. I fell back as he struck for my hands and scrambled backwards, in a crab as he came for me. My grandfather’s shovel struck him in the neck, and he buried the point between the two sections of the snake’s body.

“Juan, you should never suffer a snake to live when it’s you or him. Remember that.” I was shaking, with a cold sweat, as he pulled me up.

I thought about this as I drove through the Sonoran desert in an old pickup truck. I watched the sun slowly setting across the Sierra Madre’s, and remembered his teaching, his words, his kindness. Returning to his home in the mountains had taken me several years. I hoped that he would welcome me.

My grandfather Orlando is a brujo, a practitioner of the old ways of shamanism. He’s the last of his line; my father was an engineer, and I was taken in and raised by my grandparents after he died. I never knew my mother. I lived with them until I was ten.  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 left my grandparents, gaining 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 the planet faced, prior to the current cataclysm.

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 world’s 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 Earth. 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.”

“I do.”

“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.

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