Recalling a lecture from when you were first inducted into the Technocracy-
“Akrites Salonikas was one of the Traditions’ most powerful.
“He never took on a leadership role, but, arguably, those who meddle too much with Lorentz transformations and Minkowski spacetime by means of …experientially-induced psychical phenomena rather than, say, superluminal motion… or using Higgs Boson gravity wells… or any dozen other sane mechanisms are as adept at dodging Loschmidt’s paradox as they are at dodging responsibility in general.”
A few students in the classroom snort laughter like nervous piglets choking on excitement. The speaker, a thin, baby-faced man, regards you dispassionately from behind horn-rimmed glasses before gesturing with an obvious prosthetic. Quiet.
“In all seriousness, though, moduli fields can be terrifying to consider. If the density of dark energy increases, eventually the connections between even the components of atoms will become too tenuous, and the universe’s brief, many-billion-year love affair with itself will end as reality itself rips apart. The dark energy density and expansion rate of the manifold become infinite and every speck of meaning in the cosmos is pulled apart into singularities dancing spasmodically in the void.
“That’s why Loschmidt’s paradox is so damn frustrating. Even if there was a way to travel against time, why is our way, our direction, preferred? Why are we spiraling out?- why, when we are understanding more and more of the intrinsic laws of the universe do they continually seem to change or defy categorization and understanding? Why does time-asymmetry seem to be the one inescapable rule? I have read everything I could find on Maxwell’s demon, mirror matter, supersymmetry, baryogenesis, every conceivable branch of statistical mechanics- you name it.
“The only thing that I’ve learned is this: in 10^1500 years from now, just before the universe is in tatters, cold fusion through quantum tunneling will turn light nuclei to iron; fission and alpha particle emission will turn heavy nuclei to iron.
“The entities popularly called “fairies” are thought by the Traditions to be laid low by symbols of order- specifically, iron. In truth, cold iron is incredibly ordered. All matter is progressing towards iron, towards order, because entropy is increasing.
“Iron is the canary in the coal mine. It is the last gasp of order. The Kali Yuga, the last age of the world, is the Age of Iron. Max Weber wrote about our unsolvable social situation in the ‘iron cage of rationality.’
“Chaos is not heat. The fire is not what is burning. Chaos is complete and utter isolation. Anything is possible when nothing is defined. The tree that fell in the forest may have made a sound. It may not. The sound may have been the crack of timber or it may have been the barely perceptible whisper of surgically parsed flesh.
“Chaos is not a riot of sound and color; that’s order with rules and patterns so rich and elaborate they provide a blinding and deafening amount of meaning. When everything is connected and interrelated, making sense of it is like…- like looking upon the face of God. Too much order renders a witness inchoate. The fairies are not anomalies born of chaos. We are. Only as meaning devolves have humans made a place in the universe. The kaleidoscopic, Arcadian storm the so-called “fair folk” set loose upon the world is a maelstrom of order in which we cannot survive.
“Chaos, though… Chaos is an icy, iron star disintegrating in the void with no rules to hold it.
“Think on that when you consider your duty to the Masses. This is not an easy truth. Dumb chaos- walls, rigidity, hard lines- is easy. True order is an impossible aspiration, the domain of gods. We will only be successful when it is the domain of gods and men.”
…Snapping back to yourselves, you recalled that you were on a rapid-response team to investigate a severe paradox storm brewing in the heart of downtown. The target- yourselves.
You snap back to your other selves and see the technocrats you possessed in a vision of the future staring at you from the doorway.
Roadie begins to play his guitar.
Blake approaches the Technocrats.
Roadie fumbles an arete roll in a spectacular fashion, and Doc Myers neutralizes some of its more calamitous effects with a prime-entropy “pulse-grenade.” As one of the patrons of Seeds’ head pops like a zit and others hit the floor screaming, Jessica calms the crowd with practiced poise and buzzwords.
Samantha goes to apprehend Blake, and the resultant paradox blinks El…Eljin? Crap… where are my notes…
Nathan’s character blinks out of existence.
The rest of you wake in the mining exchange around duffel bags of ammo, plastique, and a seizing Roadie.
After a trip to the shower, he does better. Earl recognizes the pills he woke next to as an elaborate prank he was in on. You get a wheeled cart, load it with weapons, cover it with a blanket, and head downstairs. You make it as far as the kitchen to Springs Orleans before a comedy of errors results in the cart being exposed. In quick succession:
Wu Ho: Apologies, this is not as it seems. We-
Earl: punches waiter
Blake: covers waiter’s mouth
Roadie: constantly making music with some equipment/part of his body, begins to weave an illusion to make the cart contents look like props.
The group “resolves” this issue, piles into a van, and, noting Roadie’s odd flickering, drives to go steal the Ripley Scroll from the Technocrats much sooner than they expected (because, once again, they’re missing days."
The attack goes down… more or less like before.
Mike Mattheson is cut in half by shrapnel from the vehicle exploding.
Roadie has one hell of an effect built and ready to go.
Symeon, unscathed at the point when your vision ended, collapses to his knees, eyes roll back, and he starts speaking:
In the sea without lees
Standeth the bird of Hermes
Eating his wings variable
And maketh himself yet full stable
When all his feathers be from him gone
He standeth still here as a stone
Here is now both white and red
And all so the stone to quicken the dead
All and some without fable
Both hard and soft and malleable
Understand now well and right
And thank you God of this sight.
At that, his eyes boil and spill down his cheeks, searing lines in his face as they go. In their place are two brass coins.
His screaming lets you know he’s still alive.