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Pattern of Infinity - Part XII - The Ultimate Significance of Time

By J. Kel
Page 2 of 17

In the Medroom, the woman who had been Li, who had been Molli, her self submerged, nearly lost, myriad fragments were struggling to disentangle, to live again, to awaken.

And therein lie the crux and core problem of her rebirth. She should have been Li, had been Li, accepted the fact, but the amalgam of her sister and her self was now gone. Cally was dead, and with her Li. The Cally self, the integration with that self she had accepted, had been ripped from her. What was left was a shattered myriad of points spinning in a vacuum pulling her in, a whirlpool of longings and fears that had driven her for nearly two years, pulling her down.

And around the whirlpool, shadow fragments of Molli, hidden and subversive, remained, still alive, still hoping. The integral sum that had been Li, so radical, so outrageous, could never have been complete. The broken fragments struggled to shocked awareness.

M . . . tried first to open her eyes. . .

Ol . . . to move her head . . .

Li . . . dying, pushed them forward . . .

Unclear actions and ill-formed thoughts joined in terrifyingly pain. Part of her sensed she was lying on a table, guessed it was the camp infirmary, and wanted to expire right there, but the memories were implications, and the implications were wrong. This place was not the camps. It was the Liberator. The ship of deliverance. And they were far away from Earth.

Touch had returned and the sense of feeling at her fingertips steadied. The tug of gravity reassured. The whisper quiver of the engines was a wonderful sound and sensation. Then she smelled the scents of the Medroom, sterile and safe. This was not a nightmare. She would not awaken in Servalan's captivity. The camps would never be again. From those thoughts, she began building a scaffolding of a self.

Feeling, hearing, the racing pulse of the engines as the ship neared the transition point to supra-luminal velocities . . . arrows of relief shot past her, soft white clouds of comfort drifted overhead. She was alive.

Then her senses stopped, her sight empty, as if a white curtain had drawn across her world. Ghosts and shadows moved around her, hiding, fleeting, gray and black, oozing soft conspiracies together. She was frightened momentarily by their insistence on death, but she fought back and by doing so strengthened. Whoever she was, she resolutely refused to die this way. She had much to do. She was Molli and she was on a mission. She felt her strength draw inward, intimate peace achieved in rhythm with the engines. Moving up her arms and placing her hands around her neck, she felt consciousness, awareness flood in. But still she could not actually move.

There was a sound of straining in the hull, then the quiet, smooth glide into twistor space. They were free of what had been. Finally.

//Li . . .// she heard the voice calling. An echo? From where? . . . and a scene formed before her drawing her in like a dream, weaving strands of inner reality and outer possibility. Molli of the maybes and might-have-beens fought to be.

She was near a pond, water mirror-silver smooth, form circular. About her myriads of tiny black pebbles mixed with yellow sand dotted along the shore. Above her, the lightest of breezes was singing. On this shore, drawing sustenance from water, rock, and air, she saw a single enormous tree. She was walking, barefoot, a step light as a dancer's. She had been a dancer once . . . The sand was moist, the pebbles hard and slippery, but her confidence, her will to survive, returning.

At the very edge of the pond beside the huge tree, she stopped. Looming over her, drifting shoreward, came a lapping sound. Suddenly she was feeling weak. She reached up and caught a swaying branch of the tree. Gradually, steadiness returned. Shivering, with both hands she held onto the branch as a pale sun shone down glacial light. Then it flared, its reflection burning across the water, but still the sun held no warmth. She turned away, eyes watering. The light softened as another cloud moved overhead. Finally she had gained control. She did not fear this place. She stopped shivering.

//Who is here?// she asked.

//I could ask the same question. Please watch,// came the voice. She knew who it was.

She heard a rumbling along the shore. Waves began rippling, small then converging, swelling larger, racing to the pond center, reinforcing each other, smooth, pulsing, ever stronger. Until at the exact center of the pond, they soared upward and out from them a single pebble shot straight skyward. She relaxed her hold on the tree and watched with one hand covering moist eyes until the pebble was gone.

//Then you knew . . .// she whispered, understanding.

//Since we first encountered her. What you saw was the arrow of time reversing, an impossible perceptual feat in the normal experience of normal minds.//

//We experience and endure. Is that what it is like for her?//

//We can only guess. What you saw was probably more symbolic than real, but it is certain -- she can see time flow backward, so there has to be some truth to what you just witnessed. The Auron scientists proved there are two arrows of time, one forwards to infinity, the other backwards to the beginning of the universe, to the timeless plenum that underlies existence. For the vast majority of people who have ever lived, they are only aware of the convergence, where the two flows intersect and temporarily cancel in the moment of Now. The opposing currents, always at odds, determine the chaotic path of life and freedom; they give rise to life, to mind itself. The scientists, beguiled, eager, then desperate to use this future vision, theorized it would be possible for a living being to attain it. And from there, deduced there would be no harm in attempting such. But the power can overwhelm even the strongest. And for an unstable mind, entranced by power lust, it could only result in the greatest of tragedies.

//Who are you?//

Molli lowered her gaze. The lake was smooth again, the sky silent, soft and still and . . . The pebble came crashing down. The waves moved out, huge towering monsters from the center, rising over her and with all her strength . . . all her will . . .

//I was Li. I was Molli. I am Molli. I still am . . .//

//That is not possible . . .// the Entity objected.

But the waves did not become particles. Instead, the waves became sheets of rain, parading past, one after another, touching like cloud cool spray upon her face softly. She fell back against the tree, embittered.

//I can't even do that right any more. And that was the extent of my power.//

The Entity watched, wondering, not understanding. Something was wrong. Why was she saying these thing? It could not be. Did she believe what was impossible? The Entity sought to console her, as it was seeking to console itself. //Molli ? ? ? . . . //.

//Yes. I truly believe it so,// she said halfheartedly. She struggled back into awareness, the scene before her as it had been, the sun in a sleepy summer afternoon by a placid lake. She was . . . she did not know who she was, let alone why. But it was certain she was no longer Li.

More memory returned. //My sister told me things. Many things I do not understand. But I must know: did you lie to us? Tell me!//

The Entity evaded. //That you are Molli? . . . That would be quite impossible. Forgive me, I must think more on this . . . No, wait. You are right. I will think later. I must answer your question. You asked a question and I must admit: I could never tell any of you the full truth.//

She was angry but forgiving, grateful for the honesty of the admission. //You lied. You said I would be able to change the `picture of reality.' Like I did when you first brought me to your world, to mindspace. I did not understand, but it would have been the beginning of something wonderful . . . to alter existence -- as you can. Instead you took my self and made me half my sister. Then abandoned us. Why?//

Rain drummed steadily on the sand, hitting with the violence of bullets.

//You are right to judge harshly. But you overestimate my power. What is there was only in your service and protection. I do possess a degree of future vision, and it was through it I learned Servalan was destined to kill you -- or at least someone she perceived to be you. That had to be prevented. If the original Plan failed, you were the backup. What power I possess was put in service to confuse her, to deflect her vengeance. The life currents were indeed manipulated to bring you and Cally together in the final battle. Since Servalan presumed Cally already dead, if she killed the Cally reborn -- the death of one of you was certain -- she might believe she had in fact killed you. Her prophecy would be both fulfilled and denied.

//You ask `why'? I do care. Because, it is truly so much more interesting. It only seemed you were abandoned, but that was never the case. I have caused you harm. You do have the potential. But it was not to be realized. To picture that power is, imagine . . . // and the Entity produced the black doughnut shape with the single white line of latitude, intersecting a single white line of longitude. //This is what I showed your sister, so she could understand what Servalan does is seeing the future. But with you there is something more, the beginnings of an amazing power, far beyond Servalan's. The image before you is symbolic of the whole of reality. The power if fully developed would enable you to move both circles, not only into the future and the past, but move them across Now, into an infinity of alternative realities. That is what would permit altering `the picture of reality'.

//It was the hope that with your sister's added strength you would be able to boost your potential over the threshold; to do what no one has ever done. Guided by your goodness, the evils of not only Servalan but of all time might be undone, `prevented' in fact. It was foolish and laden with terrible consequences. You have the beginnings, but that is all. Your power never achieved actuality. I could not inform you of the truth. Servalan's power over time could not be defeated by anyone not her superior; it would trap, consume, and destroy any who came into contact. She sensed something about you but never understood. She saw a link between you and Avon, but could not grasp its nature . . .//

Molli, defeated, downcast, walked along the shore, occasionally kicking a pebble. //How flattering to be a weapon. But what was the point? Once it was clear that I did not have the power, why continue to use my sister to protect me? Why lead down us down this path where none of us can escape?!// She turned and faced the sun, blazing full over the lake.

//Does the monster live?// she asked.

//Servalan lives, though victory is still possible.// The Entity hesitated but decided to mention it. //Indeed, for one on this ship, the possibility of escape from her time trap remains. One who has experienced a life transforming emotion can free . . ."

//This night that can be said of any one us! It can be said of me!//

//The power is there, but you are dying Molli. That much is certain. For you, it is too late.//

The sun was a black husk; the lake a pool of red flowing at her feet. She continued to walk. She looked back but there were no footprints.

//Try to understand. The `Plan' was a diversion against the greatest evil humanity has ever faced. Relative to another, you were the more easily manipulated as a counter force. It was through you I chose to work.

She stopped. //What do you mean `relative to another?' What are you trying to say? You mean Avon!//

The Entity was surprised at her perceptiveness. And hated itself for what it was about to say. //Yes. He was the other hope -- no, that is not quite correct. The hope was engendered in your love for him. I should not be telling you this, for you cannot free or save yourself now. Neither can Avon. But the power is real, subtle in ways none of us understand. It is still possible that together you might. . . //

//Then what Cally said is true! We are `People of the Wish' . . . !//

//It is possible. The power to change the structure of existence.//

//And did you work to protect him as well?// she demanded.

The Entity hesitated, but knew it could tell the truth on that one. //With Avon it was always understood that he would take care of himself.//

Molli laughed.

The Entity hurried on, spinning the tale as it went, hoping to offer consolation, straddling a tightrope of truth over an abyss of deceit. //Only by the two of you together, your children in one interpretation, would the potential be realized. Your love . . . //

//My love is my sister's love! I had nothing . . .//

//No. That is not true. Nor do you believe it.//

She was stunned. //I mean part of me wishes it weren't true! I want to be free to experience . . . Oh, what difference does it make now?! Forgive me dear dead sister. You did try to tell me. And now the truth to set us free will never be . . . // she whispered. //You knew what she told me?//

//I was in the Liberator from the moment she returned to it. I have been watching, listening, trying to help. I sent her a dream.//

//Yes in other words. You bastard,// she said.

//Please believe. You do have some power, and if used wisely even now . . .// But in truth, it was only that the Entity could not stop lying. It did not believe it any more than she.

She shook her head in despair, the empty night coming upon her. She looked up, the tree branches knitted together, strangling the sky.

//Too late . . .// she cried.

She felt her mind disintegrate; the fragments splitting off into ever smaller pieces, blazing their separate paths into the darkness like an endless shower of meteors. The Entity called to her.

She was nearing her own personal end of the world. But as she watched, she wished with a child-like intensity, her eyes glowing, that there would be some part of her life to survive this madness and in that life there would be the passion she now accepted for this man. The world before her vanished. She fell forward into a bottomless black pit of death.

//Molli!// the Entity cried in anguish.


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