Ivory triggered my access to old memories of those times spent in the Hierion Domain when she inserted into my brain a swarm of infites that carry her own memories of our shared adventures in that virtual reality. In addition, I had recently received in the mail a small bottle of a "magic potion" that was sent to me by members of the Dead Widower Society. The "potion" contains a special mixture of chemicals that can safely stimulate a human brain and help someone like me better utilize the Bimanoid Interface.
Anney and Angela have the ability to explore the past Realities of Earth. Ivory always told me that Angela was providing us with information about the Ekcolir Reality, but I now have reason to suspect that Ivory was deceiving me. Her tangled lies began to unfold when Ivory provided me with some infites that hold her memory of a conversation between Ivory, Marta and Anney. First, I'll provide a concise account of Ivory's recollection of that event, then I'll give my analysis of its deeper meaning.
Ivory was trying to understand how Thomas had slipped from the Ekcolir Reality into the Buld Reality. She asked, "Thomas ignored the evacuation orders?"
Anney replied, "Trysta could get them out at a moments notice. They were in no danger."
Ivory was confused by this revelation. "Wait. Are we talking about the same storm? The hurricane of 1973?"
Anney nodded. "Yes. That was his last chance to be with Trysta in the Ekcolir Reality. She was lonely and anxious because Ekcolir had departed from the Ekcolir Reality almost a year earlier. When the storm hit, Thomas was then teleported to the Moon and kept safe inside the space-time bubble of the original time travel device. Trysta did not fully trust Grean, even then."
Anney shrugged, "Ya, Trysta told Thomas nothing useful about his future."
Right then, Marta entered the room. She was carrying her niece, the newborn daughter of her brother, Peter. For a few minutes the baby was handed around and examined by Ivory and Anney. When Anney was holding the baby, Ivory glanced at her mother and met Marta's eye. She said, "Don't say it."
Anney looked up and asked, "Say what?"
Marta shrugged, "I didn't say anything."
Anney smiled and said, "Oh, ya....the grandchildren thing."
Marta put an arm around Anney and whispered, "Ivory is an old maid, but I still have hopes for you."
pek-forsaken planet. Besides, with my ability to examine any man's replicoid..." She shrugged and left it at that.
Ivory added, "And Angela's the same way. Face it, mom, your only hope for grandchildren lies with Anna, and she's getting too old to do anything stupid."
Anney gazed off into the distance, her eyes unfocussed while she peered into the Sedronic Domain. "Although, Trysta did imply that she would have descendants on both sides of the family, from both Deomede and Ekcolir."
Marta asked, "What do you see?"
Anney shook her head and returned her sense of vision to her hadronic body. "Trysta felt it was important to keep some secrets." She whispered to Marta, "You know how that is." Anney handed the baby back to Marta.
Ivory asked her mother, "Ya, are you ever going to open up your vault of secrets?"
Marta tried to look innocent. "Whatever do you mean?"
Ivory complained, "If you ever explained your motives then I might listen to you when you spin your fantasies about me going back out into the world."
Anney said, "You're just stubborn, Ivory. You've been out there before. You're the logical choice. You can't expect someone like me to abandon the safety of Atlantis and go out among the Earthlings." She said "Earthlings" with a tone of disgust and shiver of repulsion.
Ivory nodded, "Yes, I did my time among the Earthlings. You can't expect an escaped prisoner to volunteer to go back to jail."
Marta said, "It's not that bad. Just think: this sweet little baby will grow up out there and find someone wonderful and have a completely happy life as an Earthling. You two are just spoiled. It's a mistake to introduce little girls to the Hierion Domain".
Anney muttered, "You certainly can't use the Hierion Domain as a way to brainwash people."
Ivory eyed her clone sister suspiciously, "What do you mean, brainwash?"
Anney said, "Nothing."
Ivory knew Anney well and could sense when something was being concealed. She said, "For me, the Hierion Domain was only a source of frustration. I wandered around in there for years and accomplished nothing."
Anney commented quietly, "You've admitted before that you were happy in there, with your companion."
Ivory shook her head and said thoughtfully, "I was lonely, but it was all fake. Eventually I realized that I was living a lie and got out of there."
Anney whispered, "Nobody escapes from the Hierion Domain."
Ivory said firmly, "I did. Lucky for you, I did."
Anney laughed at Ivory, "You know that your replicoid is still in there. Aren't you even curious-"
"No!" Ivory shouted. "And don't bother pretending that you have wonderful news from my replicoid. I won't believe anything you say."
The shout had startled the baby. Marta said, "Quiet, the baby was almost asleep." She shifted the warm bundle of blankets and baby to her shoulder. "You know Anney's right. Why does it make you so angry to hear the truth?"
Anney answered for Ivory. "Ivory hates men."
Ivory snapped back, "I do not!"
Anney pushed her point. "You told me that men are stinkers."
Marta shook her head sadly, "I'll have to put Peter to work on the pheromone problem. Nose plugs could solve the problem if you weren't all so stubborn."
Ivory asked her mother, "Was that your solution? Nose plugs? I owe my existence to nose plugs?"
Marta replied, "Your father ravished me out there on the beach. I just kept him down wind."
The three women laughed and then grew quiet. Anney said to Ivory, "Grandchildren to the side, you are the logical choice to go out into the world and test the waters."
Ivory nodded. "I know. But these days I can do everything via the internet. I don't need to physically go out among the Earthlings."
Marta added, "Don't lie to yourself. You are an Earthling, Ivory."
Anney sighed. "Truth. How rare. But, yes, it is true, not all Earthlings stink."
Ivory asked, "How would you know?"
Anney explained, "When I'm in the Sedronic Domain I can access information about each person's genome. A few Earthlings are like us, full of Preland gene combinations. Ekcolir made sure of that."
Ivory was skeptical, "I'm the geneticist. You've never explained how Preland gene combinations can be identified within the Sedronic Domain."
"I can't explain the details, but I can read the gene analysis results. Just like Peter, your old flame lacks the genes that manufacture the stink."
Ivory shrugged, "I told you, I'm not going to believe any of your stories. I'm happy here and I'm not going back out there."
Marta sighed and asked. "How did I raise such a stubborn girl?"
Anney suggested, "Part of the problem is your refusal to tell Ivory the truth."
Marta nodded, "But she's so far gone that she won't listen to the truth even when it is told."
"Ivory likes gossip." Anney looked speculatively at Ivory. "Maybe if I told her your secrets then she'd listen."
Marta laughed, "Ya, right." Then Marta seemed to take Anney seriously. She asked sharply, "What are you pretending to know of my secrets?"
Anney shrugged, "Oh, nothing much."
Ivory laughed, "You better tread lightly Marta, Anney and Angela will eventually find out everything. It's all in the Sedronic Domain, just waiting to be discovered."
Marta tried to pretend that she did not care. "All my secrets are old and useless."
Anney chuckled, "He is old, now, but so is Ivory."
Ivory asked, "Who are you talking about?"
Marta said, "Anney, you don't have to answer."
Anney and Ivory returned to discussing Thomas and his transition from the Ekcolir Reality to the Buld Reality. Marta grew bored and tired of holding the baby and she wandered off.
When Marta was out of the room, Anney said, "You know, he had an analog in the Ekcolir Reality."
Ivory did not try to pretend that she did not know that Anney was returning to their previous conversation. She asked, "You found his analog in the Sedronic Domain?"
Anney nodded. "I found clues to his existence in previous Realities...it was enough for me to track him down within the Hierion Domain, particularly when I put two and two together."
Ivory asked, "What does that mean?"
"It means that your attempt to get me to think like a scientist sometimes pays off. I hypothesized that Marta could still summon him into the Hierion Domain. I was right."
Ivory sighed. "You know, I'm a bit jealous. For years he's been safely tucked away in my memories. I'm not happy hearing that you've been in contact with him."
Anney suggested, "You're still in love with him."
Ivory shrugged. "Love? We lived a dozen lifetimes together. He is part of me. In the end, it just became endless frustration. Back then, Marta refused to let me contact him in the real world. All we had was the lies, the absurd virtual relationship that we constructed. It was like a dream, particularly for him. I had to end it and return to reality. Otherwise I'd still be in there, trapped in the dream."
"It has to be on my terms. The time is not right."
"What are you waiting for?"
"What we are all waiting for. For the Buld to arrive."
"That's crazy. The Buld mean nothing to him. He could die tomorrow and be gone. Why wait?"
Ivory put her arms around Anney and looked her square in the eye, "You don't know everything. Trust me on this. If First Contact turns out well with the Buld, when the time is right...I will act."
In some sense, there have been two copies of "me" within the Hierion Domain. I've recovered some memories from the times when I was in the "virtual reality" of the Hierion Domain with Ivory. However, even when "I" was not there with Ivory, there was always my "replicoid", the artificial life version of me that lives out its own life in that Domain. I believe that Ivory did live "a dozen lifetimes" within the Hierion Domain with my replicoid.
At some point in my life, Ivory realized that she had to stop summoning me into the Hierion Domain. By then, she was apparently content to do without "me" and continue living with my replicoid. However, Ivory was not the only one who could summon me. Marta apparently continued to bring me into the Hierion Domain, and she continued to pretend to be Ivory. Anney discovered this fact and took a certain amount of delight in teasing Marta about her secret contacts with me.
Ivory waited as long as she could before contacting me in the real world. She did not want to disrupt my life and make me a slave to the task of telling the secret history of Earth. She cared enough about me to arrange for one last visit after her death.
A remaining puzzle is Anney. I now suspect that she remains on Earth and is part of the Dead Widower Society. Anney apparently spent years searching through both the Hierion Domain and the Sedronic Domain, learning about the secret history of Earth and the differences between humans and the alien Prelands. I don't understand how Marta and Ivory summoned my consciousness into the Hierion Domain, but I wonder if Anney also has that power.
|"long skirt, sitting 1" by Jamari Lior|
Image credits. See the deviantArt stock image called "long skirt, sitting 1" by Jamari Lior.
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