Sven crouched behind a spare bed in a military hospital. Uniformed nurses moved back and forth. This was Ahot’s first memory, probably not accessible to his conscious mind–it was a rare human who could actually recall his own first breath on planet Earth. But this location was located in the “geographical” center of every Soul’s inner universe, accessible to the owner or not. Thataway to the mental and causal realms, down yonder to the astral and physical.
The entire construct was actually nothing but an accumulation of simple, unmoving pictures most of the time, but Soul’s attention–the Soul being Sven, not Ahot, in this case–was bringing those still images to a sort-of life. Time to get going. The Seeder put a few finishing touches on his lime green orderly’s tunic by thinking them into place, then straightened from his hiding place.
No one paid him any attention as he left the hospital and promptly thought-focused a change of attire to street clothing.
He needed to get to the Outer Rim where new memories were constantly being added–the Here & Now, the Present which would enable him to observe his unwitting host’s frenetic activity pattern. Great danger would exist there, what with Ahot’s living attention hammering the area constantly…but no other place would work, at least for the job at hand.
It took a while.
The journey required several dozen changes of attire to match his surroundings as he traveled, a chameleon shifting color smoothly, almost automatically. Scientists belive the true chameleon manages this without any thought whatsoever…but what do they know? As for Sven, sometimes he had to really concentrate, focus hard. Sometimes he didn’t. There’d been times, back in his early days as a Junior Guild Rep, when he’d been out-of-phase during his Seeding maneuvers for a moment or two–occasionally a long moment or two–before managing the shift.
The route led through concentric rows, thousands upon thousands of scenes beginning with simple essentials like breast feeding and filling a diaper. Later scenes, as usual, became ever more complex, more intricately interwoven. Like all Seeders, Ahot had been something of a prodigy, reading at fifth grade level by his fourth birthday, later sensing deep resentment emanating from his classmates as he not-so-secretly read comic books tucked behind textbooks yet cracked straight A’s on every exam, year after year after year.
Not a pleasing fellow to those struggling to pull a C grade in English.
There was love from parents, two siblings, a dog, even several of the bright Eurasian boy’s teachers. Peer resentment escalated, an incredibly high number of schoolmates glaring hate with an intensity beyond anything Sven himself had ever experienced. Or…did his own school memories perhaps include just such levels of vicious bitterness directed his way, shoved down below the conscious level and ignored with vigor? Possibly.
It was a sobering revelation, but he had little time for introspective contemplation. A new danger zone would roll into view every so often, scenes still showing active life. Ahot’s fight with his father at age sixteen. The boy’s first sex, which happened to be with a cow on his uncle’s tiny dairy farm–after which he understood his uncle’s supposedly humorous story about the fellow hauled before the judge for bestiality.
“I wouldn’t of got caught, yer Honor,” the wretch explained, “But she crapped all over me!”
At which the judge nodded sagely and replied, “Do it every time, don’t they?”
Fortunately for the young Seeker-to-be, romantic relationships didn’t stop with mere ruminants…though his first human partner turned out to be a heavy, pimple-faced girl who made the cow look good.
Once a memory formed, it stood lifeless thereafter…except when Ahot reflected, remembered, sometimes agonized over his past. The cow suddenly shifted weight and dumped a load on the boy. Teenaged Ahot came to life, cursing. Sven froze in position, changing his outer appearance oh-so-gradually. If the Here & Now Ahot noticed something odd in his memory flash of the old bovine-banging experience, especially something that looked like a renegade Seeder, the traitor Garrett Di Marco, he might–just might–put two and two together.
And if the Eurasian tumbled to his presence, it was all over.
Now the heavy girl moved under young Ahot, moaning in drunken ecstasy. The boy pumped like he was bringing up water from an old well, though his nose wrinkled as he did so. The female apparently smelled even worse than she looked, far worse than the cow–even with manure included.
Great. The porno flicks were never like this.
Moving along quietly, virtually tiptoeing, Sven tried not to vomit. He managed. Any Seeder must of necessity cultivate a strong stomach.
Ajki’s Academy years were next. There was much action here, yet–paradoxically–much less risk as well. An “older man” by that time, Garrett Di Marco had been known to Ahot’s class as a Senior Seeder with a powerful reputation already firmly established. He’d even addressed that class, Di Marco had, on topics such as IUN (Inner Universe Navigation) and WTF (When To Fight).
It was amazing to see now, how young and cocky–smirky, even–he’d looked in that period. The guy made you want to bitch-slap him upside the head just on general principles.
Nonetheless, if Ahot did notice him wandering these premises now, he might not think much about it. From here on out nearly to the Edge itself, he’d be known as a positive role model…and an expected presence.
As he at last approached that very Edge, however, Sven’s combat radar ramped up to Red Alert and stayed there, readying all systems for anything from fight to flight to playing dead without warning. Here, pictures formed and congealed at the rate of thousands per second, becoming permanent additions to the Eurasian’s personal Akashic Records. Eventually, the picture-streams flowed together, becoming one great movie-river. Life Itself, at least in these lower worlds bounded by Time and Space.
The young Guild Rep was doing his job, healing his client, working diligently to remove constricting pink and blue bands of some weird substance resembling nothing more than steel-reinforced rubber. Those bands were extremely tight, squeezing the skull of Gene Trask’s astral body with incredible force. For a second or two, Sven stared at those horrors, lost in shock. There would have to be a fierce echo on the physical plane. His friend must have been suffering from unbelievable headaches, and for some time at that.
Yet the old man had never complained. Not once.
Ahot moved carefully yet swiftly; there was no doubt his client would feel much better after this deseeding session.
Yet it hadn’t occurred to any of the Sandfire crew that a real improvement in Gene’s health might be one result of ther little scam attempt. That alone made the massive cost a real bargain.
For Gene. What the karmic rebound effect on the unsuspecting Ahot Ajki would be…that was another matter entirely.
Finding a dense patch of shrubbery that would serve admirably as a hiding place, the renegade settled in to wait. At least it wouldn’t be boring; here was the focus of all real-time action and here was the key to timing one’s exit. In standard Academy classes, potential Guild Reps were taught to enter and exit through Dead Zones–that is, any place from astral through etheric planes where things tended to stand still. The moment of birth had early become one of up-and-coming Garrett Di Marco’s preferred launch points.
Until now, that was the way he’d always done it.
Not now, though. Won Ton Sampson had given them the clue before he died: Precise in-out timing with clean on-the-fly landings were handled routinely by Second Echelon and above…and this was the most likely method Sven Jensen had been able to intuit…so….
Another question: Just how did those upper echelon types manage to keep activities in other folks’ worlds from coming back on them big time? Hard to say. Impossible to say. Maybe they didn’t, though of a certainty they either believed they were safe…or feared their Guild superiors more than they feared death by disease. Villains are certainly capable of just as much arrogance as any heroes, of course. It was also possible they were simply deluded. Sven hadn’t been able to work that one out yet.
What he had worked out was the timing question. There might be many ways of doing this, and his way might be far from the most elegant option…but it did work. For now, that would have to be enough.
The key, he’d realized, was the Here & Now outer rim of ceaseless activity. One main point being that you were dealing with the Present, realtime or close enough to it. Ahot was currently working on Gene’s plane of emotion, but Sven was simultaneously watching the action from Ahot’s plane of memory. Keeping the Rep’s travels confined below the memory level was one way–they hoped–to reduce the likelihood of having “Burberry Mansk” lose his cover.
Better yet, every event processed pictures for Soul’s permanent memory file. The data all came right past Sven’s vantage point as it flowed into storage. When Ahot exited the client he knew as Burberry Mansk, Sven would know. When Ahot then looked at the nearest clock to log his time out, Sven would know–and that time would be local Earth time, in this case Eastern Standard. Good stuff.
Exiting through a moving flow of pictures had seemed spooky and difficult at first, but it really wasn’t all that hard once you got used to the idea. The incoming data had rhythm. A batch of pics, an instant of hesitation. A batch of pics, an instant of hesitation. Even the “average” Seeder (if such a thing existed) might not be sensitive enough to pick it up, but the assembly line had a beat to it. In truth, timing an exit to fall “on the beat” shouldn’t be any harder than slipping through a revolving door at one’s favorite hotel or airport.
Well. This would take a while. Several days if things worked out according to plan, several eternities–or worse–if it didn’t. The Seeder fished an orange from his backpack and began to remove the fragrant peel with a stainless steel spoon. He never had been able to tolerate the sensation produced by having bits of orange peel stuck under his fingernails.
Just then, his body took the opportunity to remind him rather forcibly that he still hadn’t urinated since launching in. A grim smile crossed his face. This would be the first time he’d ever taken a leak inside somebody else’s head. Better take care of the situation now, though. Unless he missed his guess, it wouldn’t be many more hours before Ahot Ajki would be sitting down to a Guild meeting. Tomorrow, at best, good Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise, he’d have the chance to exit safely.
He surely wasn’t intending to hold his water that long.