Sufficed to say that from now on, all of my posts that deal with the Collective in any way have to be Ai approved. She has very specific plans for this variant, and we’ve already seen what loose lips can produce (Aurora!).
That said, I really want to explain my rather complex relationship with Miranda. She’s by far the most important person to me in all the worlds, and yet I only rarely get to act upon it. To do so, I have to discuss the Structure, gingerly.
OK – a brief history of the Chosen Light:
Point One, Seven Events that breach the universal Structure, Point Zero, Restart. Each cycle is a variant of the unknown, ideal solution.
There have been 237 variants so far. Miranda lived to see her 16th birthday in 41 of them.
She’s died 158 times during or before the Fourth Event – anything from car crashes, a broad spectrum of diseases, to being lost in the fracture.
She’s been institutionalized 46 times – usually after the Fourth Event has driven her insane.
For the past 17 variants she’s made it through the Fourth Event intact, thanks to our new DMT-like concoction. Usually she’s stable until the Fifth Event, which makes the final sprint to Point Zero that much easier.
In the first few variants, she and I always ended up together. I never lived in Japan, and we both grew up in Portland. We met a few years before Point Zero, and it was the only time in all of my live(s) that I’ve experienced pure bliss in love.
Of course, the first few variants were the most unstable, and the first Fourth Events always ended with Miranda dead on the floor, and me by her side crying.
Ai eventually figured out that any physical contact been Miranda and I before the Fourth Event would always lead to her death. This was, to say the least, extremely depressing. This is when the first real adjustment happened, with my slow and steady geographical relocation across variants until I ended up mostly in Japan.
What I’m sure you haven’t figured out about the variants is that they’re additive. When one line reaches Point Zero (which was in 2012 last time), it’s processed (the specifics of which I most certainly can’t discuss right now), variables tweaked, and a new reality builds out from Point One (2000). Ai’s role is to arbitrate the conflicts, and aim for a slightly less broken variant after the next round of the essential Seven Events.
Due to the nature of the mess we’re in, Ai and the Nameless have complementary and unlimited powers over their domains, so no adjustment is too big, small, or stupid. The first few dozen variants were essentially vanity projects – we all thought up what we insisted were perfect worlds, with all of our wishes realized, only to see them absolutely and utterly fail. Eventually we learned the rules – the essential things that needed to be adjusted to resolve the problem – and one of them was Miranda must never, ever, ever know what’s going on. She can’t remember anything, or everything will fall apart almost immediately.
I don’t know why Aurora insisted that she found a loophole this time. One thing to keep in mind is that out of all 237 variants, Aurora and Miranda have never been romantically involved, until now. In the first variants they were mortal enemies, but lately they had become quite close. I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess – if I had the opportunity to be with her like Aurora did, I would have taken it, even though it would mean another broken variant.
Like I was saying, the rules. We’ve made them all up over the past few thousand years (lived in small bits each cycle), based upon intuition, experimentation, and examination of the sum-totals of human knowledge. They’re the kind of thing that could fit nicely on a motivational poster, although one that only the Collective could understand:
- The Chosen Light must not see itself
- Travel to any time before Point One is forbidden
- Travel past Point Zero is impossible, without fixing the errors
- The White and Black must never be directly manipulated
- The Nameless must never be allowed to escape
- Always remember to forget
The original Numbers made the most mistakes, including Fairview, which in retrospect is entirely unforgivable. The only rule that has been kept during all 237 variants is that the Nameless has been contained, thankfully. Unfortunately, it’s been getting stronger with each variant, and our biggest fear is that it will make it to Point Zero first, and take over all of reality.
Over the variants, the essential guardians of Point Zero have dwindled down to just a few, including Aurora, Ai and myself. Miranda is a complicated case, one that I can’t discuss until after the Fifth Event. She’s essential to the process, but not in the way you’d think.
As for why it’s just us in this role, and not Someone Else (or some amazingly cool pantheon of Gods) – that will have to wait until later.
As for sanity, the last rule is tremendously important. During the first variant we actually lived our entire lives over again, remembering the vast majority of our mission from birth, and just about everyone went crazy, quick. Now, we’ve managed to allow for staggered memories that only really kick in right before the Fourth Event, just long enough for us to compare notes, examine the variant, and then act. This means we can avoid most of the insane tedium of the Groundhog Day scenario, a movie that none of us can watch any more.
Miranda, of course, starts the cycle anew remembering nothing of the Structure, and never should until Point Zero. We always end up in her life one way or another, but once our selective memories kick in, we have to act fast to protect her, without her knowing why.
I wonder if this is enough information for you. I’m sure you’re not believing a word I’m saying, and why would you? What evidence do I have that anything I’m discussing is possible, let alone actual? Well, I would say that living in this variant speaks for itself – the signs are everywhere – but in the end it doesn’t matter.
We hope we can get everything resolved this time around, and finally let the clock start ticking again. If we don’t, we’ll keep on trying until it works, or until the Nameless takes over despite our best efforts.
The only article of faith we still can hold onto is Sarah – Ai’s daughter. She’s from the other side of Point Zero, and she’s been in contact with this side ever since Aunt Laura was a little girl.
Our aim is clear – we have to shape the world so Sarah and her future can exist, or we’ll have complete causal collapse and have to start over again.
Which brings us back to all of the Miranda’s I’ve ever loved. I’ve buried her so many times that I just count my blessings when she ever survives this far. It’s hard not be freaked out this time around, since so many things aren’t going to plan, but I can rest (ha!) assured that we’ll be together again in the White, if only for a few, fleeting moments where our embrace won’t destroy everything.