“Nabu, being renegade now, was able to explain to me exactly what the rules are. ‘An Eschaton must use the single surge of power by their granted Zoisphere to utterly destroy civilization on their world, including all physically preserved knowledge and records that could be used to prove a civilization previously existed there.’” He glanced over at Nabu. “Did I get that right?”
Nabu nodded. “Verbatim.”
“Excellent. So there’s a key phrase there. ‘On their world.’ I have to end civilization planet Earth. But…there’s a whole universe out there, right? And with our staging areas, we can go anywhere faster than the speed of light.” Ryan looked back to where the doorways stood and sighed. Still no sign of Crystal or Isabel.
Athena put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sure they’re fine. Crystal hasn’t survived as long as she did to let things fall apart this close to the finish line.”
“Right,” Ryan said, snapping his attention back to the conversation.
“Ryan…” Anansi said quietly. “Even if we got every single god on Earth to fill their staging area with humans, we could only save maybe two or three thousand. That’s not enough.”
“No, it wouldn’t be,” Ryan said, then held out his hand. He’d had enough recovery time gather some of his energy back.
It would be simpler to explain, but a demonstration seemed like it would be in order. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.
Reaching out, he began to grab onto strands of reality, twisting and pulling the equations. It was complicated, but not as hard as he’d been afraid it would be. He grabbed a sphere of air, forcing it into a ball around his hands – and then changed the nature of the matter. It wasn’t as simple as negating gravity around it. That he’d done before, it wouldn’t work here.
He had to change the fundamental interaction his matter had with gravity. It went from being normal matter to exotic matter.
It was repelled by gravity on all directions, pushing away normal matter so strongly, it even started to bend light that passed nearby it, giving the sphere a warped appearance like the gravitational lenses they’d used to safely observe Medusa back in the labyrinth. Reach up, Ryan split the exotic matter into two chunks and pulled them apart.
The effect was disorienting. Looking into the one over his right hand, you could see the view over his left hand, and visa-versa.
He’d created wormholes.
The energy needed to maintain them caused them to dissipate quickly. Everyone was staring at him, in varying degrees of shock. “You…you can’t maintain those for long enough,” Dianmu said.
“Normally I couldn’t,” Ryan agreed. “So I use the one big twist I get. One giant, massive twist. I create spheres of exotic matter – stable exotic matter – across the Earth. As many population centers as I can manage. We can fit hundreds of this into a single nanoverse. We have one god go and take them all to a new world. A habitable world. A place where humanity can rebuild and grow and expand.”
“I hate to be a problem,” Cassandra said quietly, “but aren’t you forgetting part of the rules? ‘Including all physically preserved knowledge and records,’ right?”
Ryan nodded. “You’re right, but I didn’t forget that part. Once humanity is safely extracted – or once it’s the last possible second – I let the wormholes go. Each one will have the potential energy of a nuclear warhead. If not more. It won’t wipe out all life on earth, but it…”
“Nuclear winter without the fallout,” Athena said, her voice soft.
“Exactly,” Ryan said, feeling sick at the thought. “A lot of the life on Earth will die, but not all of it. Enough to rebuild, evolve. Form a new intelligent species. They’ll get the chance they deserve after our departure.”
“We’ll lose Earth,” Dianmu said, her voice quiet.
“Maybe,” Ryan said. “Or maybe not. We’ll still have the information in everyone’s heads. Nothing in the rules says we can’t start writing it down as soon as we get to where we’re going. We won’t be starting from scratch. We’ll have no infrastructure, but we’ll have billions of people available as a workforce. We can bring materials with us too. Technology. 3D printers. Solar panels. Pre-cut wood. Nails. Seeds, farming equipment.”
Ryan took a deep heavy breath. His hands were curling into fists on the table, and he wasn’t sure if it was frustration or desperation. Terror, he decided. He was absolutely terrified that one of these gods, older and wiser and more experienced than him, would find some flaw in his plan, something he overlooked.
That he’d be back to square one. It shook him so much, his hands were trembling on the table.
“We’ll have a short time to create a sustainable food supply before we eat the new world dry, but…it’s possible. Especially if all of us gods lend all the power we can to making it possible. And then after that…well, we’ll have everything we’ve written down upon arrival. Every bit of science we could recover. Enough that maybe we could take this new world and…build something bigger”
“It could work,” Athena said thoughtfully.
“It’s…actually not a bad idea,” Arachne agreed, tapping her chin with her finger. “We’d need someone we can absolutely trust to go scatter the other ends of the wormhole around this new world. You…do have a new world in mind, don’t you?”
Ryan glanced at Nabu, his eyes wide with hope. It was the one thing he hadn’t been sure of.
Nabu nodded. “Kepler-442b, as humankind knows it. It’s a life-bearing world around a K-class orange dwarf. The local biochemistry would be compatible with human needs, although there would be a need to find a particular fungal-like organism that could be used to create antibiotics within three weeks – otherwise, the local single-celled organisms will start a plague that humans aren’t adapted too. Fortunately, I know how to cultivate it, and it grows quickly.”
Ryan waited for Nabu to continue with bated breath.
“No sentient life has ever arisen on that world, and its star has another ten billion years before it enters the next stage of its life cycle. Temperatures vary a bit more than is optimal for human life – it has a two hundred and seventy-three-hour rotational cycle – but it could work. Overall it’s a bit warmer than humans are adapted for during the long noon, but that will prevent too much freezing overnight. It’s a bit more massive, but not so large its gravity would be harmful to humans once they’ve adapted to the pull. It could work.”
Ryan waited. He thought it was going to throw up. He thought he might cry. Every other person at that table was sitting in silence, thinking, pondering. What did I miss? He asked silently. What is the flaw. Why is humanity doomed?
One by one, they nodded their heads. “It’s the best plan we have, and it’s a good one,” Dianmu said.
“We’ll want Crystal to weigh in,” Athena added.
“Where is she, anyway?” Ryan asked, looking again over his shoulders. “If she doesn’t show up soon, I swear I’m going to the moon myself and-”
A doorway appeared. Crystal’s doorway. Ryan let out a sigh of relief and stood up.
The door opened. Isabel stepped through it. At least, Ryan hoped it was Isabel. It could just as easily be a random gorilla carrying Crystal’s limp form, but given how concerned it looked…Ryan was certain that was Isabel.
“Hey loves,” Crystal gasped weakly. “We have a problem,”
Gorilla Isabell gently lowered her into a chair before shifting into Isabel. Ryan gasped. His sister looked badly cut and bruised as well. like she’d been through hell herself. “Kali,” Crystal said. “In her Destroyer aspect. She…she has the staff of Ra. And the super soldiers. And…and she had a message for you.”
Ryan stiffened. “What was it?”
Crystal heaved herself up to a full seating position. Her eye was swollen shut. “Stop this silliness and do your job, Eschaton,” Crystal said, clearly repeating words that weren’t her own. “You are not above the cycle. You are not better than those that came before. Humanity’s time has ended. End it – or force me to finish your job for you.”
“This doesn’t change anything,” Ryan said in the silence that followed. “We’ll just have to deal with…with all of this while we evacuate the planet.”
From the looks everyone had, none of them believed it would be that easy.
Yet they had to try. They had no other choice. They were on the home stretch now. The final battle. A chance to save humanity.
Or watch the world burn in solar flame.
–End of Book 4–