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Pɾσƚɾαƈƚҽԃ Rҽαƈƚισɳ Tιɱҽ

"Don't you know that a star burns best?"

"You think I'm lying" said Jasher plainly. "I tell you what. You don't have any concept the energy it costs to do what I've been doing here forever. I'll turn the shit off. I warned you. God, I wish Kay was here to see this."

Wolf News main anchor, Bret Starling was ready. This was his moment. The moment that would define his entire career. The guy that had just appeared out of thin air an hour ago was the one Washington called about that could just show up and get right past security. The guy that put the space ship in front of the moon. It was later explained that he hacked the satellite feeds. This guy was a super hacker. If he was careful here, he'd win a daytime Emmy.

Suddenly, next to the hippy looking hacker guy, out of thin air was... no other way to say this, what looked for all the world like Audrey Hepburn. Just, boom. One second nobody, the next, there.

Ah, thought Bret, this was one of the AI generated "Deep Fakes" they warned him about. This hacker could make the most amazing fake videos with real fake people. And that would make perfect sense if this deep fake hadn't just smiled at him and blew a kiss. This was the exact moment Bret figured out this might all be very very real after all.

"You called?" Just for fun she had crafted her entire outfit out of precious metals. She was absolutely glistening.

Jasher carefully measured his emotions. He looked at Kay with sorrow filled eyes. He hadn't seen her in what would be considered 5 Billion years temporally.

He realized it was a miracle she was here. He had to be clear and honest. Bizarrely, he had been fucking up this scenario over and over, and had been restarting the timeline. This time around, Kay showed up.

Kay. His Kay. His long lost Kay. (ref: Clicky!)

"I'm going to show them their monster. For real." said Jasher. Kay was visibly surprised.

"Our monster" Kay corrected. Jasher blushed. Kay had never seen Jasher blush before in her entire 17 Billion year existence. Real tears were now streaming down his face. She suddenly realized what had been maybe a few hundreds years for her to cool down had been a significant fraction of Jasher's overall life. And she saw he really needed to be all business right now and she was really fucking that up. 

"You are going to turn off the local projector? Please tell me you aren't doing that just for me. If you promise me you didn't do this just to get me back here, I promise I'll never leave again."

Jasher smiled. "No. I mean, I just thought I lost you until the very end."

"I took my sweet time. I'll give you that. But no. I just cooled off. I also kinda... peeked forward and realized the thing I was actually angry about happening never did. That's amazing. Honestly. I was not expecting you to care so much about me."

Bret was feeling, ignored... "Look, if you two um, whatever you are need some space, I can just..." Bret had been sitting there completely unable to understand most of the conversation these two folks that just appeared on his set had been having.

Kay looked at Bret. She really looked at him for about five solid seconds. Bret could not describe the sensation. It wasn't like she was looking through him so much as right at him and still just not caring. He could have been an advertisement for potting soil. She then turned to Jasher and said "You know, the problem you are having here is you feel you need to seek permission. Just start doing shit. What do you need to do first? Concentrate on that. Break it up into small tasks and let's start."

Jasher smiled. "You are right. Well, I guess the first thing I need to do is turn off the local projector."

Kay smiled. "You did warn them."

Easily 30 Astronomical Units past the orbits of both Pluto and Neptune, the Grand Cluster suddenly shut down. A massive super structure made by the Ched, a race of advanced crustaceans that had achieved Type III status a mere 100,000 years after leaving Earth's oceans. Jasher had repurposed their massive billion year old super structures to erect the Local Projector. This was long before the Cambrian Explosion. 

As the projector shut down for only the second time in a billion years (Jasher had briefly shut it down after a few million years to make fine adjustments for the changed 30 billion year timeline. He hadn't originally factored in the Voyager probes) two things changed in Earth's night sky immediately:

1) A supermassive black hole now dominated most of the visible sky.

2) The entire sky seemed to be melting very slowly. Scientists would later determine this was a side effect of our entire solar system orbiting a supermassive black hole at relativistic speeds.

"A long time ago, I had to shift that sucker to the right very hard and destroy Kay's people in the process to ensure you'd exist. A bit later I had to show up and hide it from you."

 (when I take a break you get a song that fits the mood of the place in the story) 

Bret was no longer concerned with his daytime Emmy prospects. Like everyone else, he was worried about the sky looking like a big asshole surrounded by dayglow nightmare barf. Jasher and Kay had simply started chatting and completely ignoring him. Cameras four, seven, and three, his babies for the past 3 years, were no longer interested in him at all. They were as close as they dared to get to Jasher and Kay while they continued to have what sounded like a reconciliation.

"She was way too young for me. I mean, in a lot of ways you are." Jasher dared. Granted, he dared because he meant it. And when Kay blushed, he did too a little. "But I mean, I knew nothing was going to happen there. I wasn't trying to be anything but the father figure she was missing. I was just so stupid I didn't see where she was going with it Kay." said Jasher. "I know. You are too trusting. And you get your feelings into things and you get trapped because you have no common sense, and you love attention. But if you sucked, you'd have fallen for her bullshit in the thousands of years she tried." said Kay. 

"She's not a bad pers" started Jasher but Kay was having none of it "She deliberately mislead you for decades about how she felt." interrupted Kay. "It's not like sh" again, not happening "You put her aside yourself when you figured out she was using you. You did that." said Kay very softly because she knew the words had enough weight on their own. And Jasher stopped. And Kay won her very first argument with Jasher. "You are right. I wasn't being objective. But it did get us Clover (introduced here, clicky)."

Kay considered this. Clover was absolutely delightfully fun. Mai had made an amazing friend for everyone. "Where is Mai now?" asked Kay sheepishly. She should be able to just tell with a quick archive check, but Mai had simply ceased to exist. And while she wouldn't shed a tear if something bad had happened to her, she just didn't see Jasher being that cold blooded. "Oh, I made her a junior admin on the system." dropped Jasher. 

"You fucking what?" Kay was about to take back every kind thing she had said. "So I could accidentally give her access to the isolated Universe not on the Multiverse Network. I mean, I think a part of me hoped she wouldn't abuse it." A slow smile spread over Kay's face. "You knew exactly where I was. That's what gave you the idea on how to make her trap herself. You used her own greed." said Kay. "Exactly. It was her call on whether to abandon the Multiverse to have her own private playground. And while a junior admin can use the console and restart the admin shell, they can't leave on their own. And I'll be damned if I even know a way either of us could find her and bring her back before the end of this Multiverse."

"You allowed her to take herself out of our misery." suggested Kay.


Bret was suddenly trying very hard to get their attention. "Why is the entire sky now brighter than the sun? it's really scaring people. It's worse than the hole." Kay looked at him quizzically, then it clicked. Jasher and her looked at each other at the same time and said "Jet". Sure enough, the jet from Momon, the ancient name Jasher gave the second largest object in our Universe, was blasting the molecular layer of, well, Jasher didn't really have a name for it. He just needed a material that stopped relativistic jets from destroying a solar system, so made one. If he did name the material, using his bulletproof naming system "what does it do?" it would be named Stop. Unfortunately, with the Local Projector down, he'd have to subtly modify it. Now it would be Stoptinted. Because he literally tinted the shield 80 percent like you would a pair of foster grants. "That should be better. I was lazy, but the effect should be stunning."

Stunning was a slight understatement. With the majority of the lightwash from the Jet being filtered suddenly, the solar system burst back into prominence. Because of the quality of the light, and the unpredictable space lensing due to rogue, frequent Gauss events, the moon was currently appearing massive. Like from a storybook. Humanity looked at something other than a screen for once. But better, 3 degrees off the moon, Saturn appeared only a quarter the size of the now massive moon. The sky was now shot through with undulating streams of pink and a beautiful robin egg's blue, seemingly bathing the moon. Our sun however looked like a tiny burn hole in a tie-dyed t-shirt.

Bret himself was not very religious, but since he needed a job and money, let's just say he pretended a bit to get his gig on Wolf News. His break from organized religion happened because he saw his mother crying. His father had died when he was young. His mother, a believer, had leaned on the church hard. He watched a fast talking church elder, and county alderman break her already aching heart while taking all the insurance money left them by his father. She waited until he left for college to hang herself. Now, all that being said, he was not remotely surprised by the priests that had walked onto the set. This was Wolf News.

Jasher and Kay were bumped out of their revelry by chanting. The three priests were 10 feet away at this point. "I really didn't want to do this here, but why not." Jasher snapped his fingers and all three priests were suddenly in street clothing. Jeans and band shirts and loafers. They had been holding up their hands in chant and suddenly looked ridiculous. Jasher saw three white men in their 50's suddenly stop chanting, lower their arms, and just stand there looking at him.

Jasher smiled. "Awesome chairs?" suggested Kay. Jasher snapped his fingers and three very comfy loungers appeared, with a coffee table and snacks. Jasher rocked snacks. The men looked at each other confused and sat in the chairs. Immediately every chair was pulled together by invisible force, around the snacks. Jasher and Kay seemlessly moved together through open space as a loveseat appeared seemingly around them and she ended up sitting neatly on his lap as the small couch slide the last few inches. "Bring Bret. He looks lonely." suggested Kay. "Good call. Bret? You like a comfy chair? It's amazing you folks go through your entire lives and don't realize a comfy chair is the 3rd best thing in life."

Mai Tsuba stretched her long lithe body somewhat... erotically as she lay on the end of the pool of cold clear water. Rays from the twin suns bathed her. She had never had a happier moment in her entire life. Her local Jasher was crouched over a small heat source he whipped up to fry the fish they'd caught earlier. Two big salads were already on the stone table he had made for them. "Your plan is ridiculous, not that I mind." said her Local Jasher. And Mai had to admit to herself that it was a long-shot. Her idea was that if she made the perfect Universe out of her self imposed prison, someday when this Jasher merged with her beloved Food Universe (our Universe) Jasher, he'd change his mind about her. When Jasher literally hand-picked the isolated Universe that would become Mai's prison, he based it on the local Jasher. He found one almost identical to himself in one of the newer isolated branches. In this Universe, there was one key difference to the main Multiverse: No planet eating monstrosities had evolved at all because of a difference in scale.

Our Jasher had to shrink down everything in our Universe to make it possible. That is what made such monsters possible. The worst irony is that Mai would never be able to share this crucial piece of information with Jasher. It was information that would have made Jasher's original 30 billion year stretch orders of magnitude less fraught with panic.

The downside was that balance meant Mai's isolated Universe had almost zero death. Which sounds like a really good thing, and would be in a functioning Universe shell. In Mai's case it meant an absolutely exploding Universe of life. Things simply didn't eat each other. Because of this they also developed very slowly. The equivalent of humans in this existence were there, but had taken ten times longer to develop simple space travel. None of the great foods of the Food Universe. You can't have a burger when the concept of meat doesn't exist. Still?

Total quiet peace. She found the Jasher, ironically, unawakened. In a Universe where almost nothing dies, him being eternal wasn't strange. But unlike the awakening of the Food Universe Jasher (that really needs its own story), awakening the Cucumberverse (Mai's name) version of Jasher was simple. She just appeared in front of him. Because she was still glowing from the travel burst, she looked... absolutely beautiful. And just like she had, she captured his heart immediately. And because there's only one Kay in the multiverse, she wasn't even a concept, let alone around to be an impediment to Mai now. Mai gave up everything for this. She rolled the dice. So it was amazing when it simply worked out. Her Jasher was almost exactly like the one she loved, but amazingly humbled because she was the more powerful entity. And instead of that causing problems, it fascinated him endlessly.

The smell of the cooked fish was intoxicating. "I'll give up cow but I refuse to give up fish." said Mai. "They'd think we are insane if they saw this." said the only recently awakened Jasher. He himself was new to the concept of meat. "But I can't argue with the results. What's this sauce?" asked Jasher. He analyzed it and determined it was partially hydrogenated plant oils, along with some pickle relish, and seasoning. "Tartar sauce. The best fish sauce made. Which is ironic because it was originally supposed to be for beef, but sucked at that."

She had taken everything she learned from Main Jasher and simply applied it. Too much life in a Universe and not enough resources? Virtualize it again. Add another abstraction layer. After the bulk of her Universe had been converted to a higher functioning simulation, she took the few million light-acres left and made a paradise/command-center. In this Universe, Mai would simply appear in the sky and tell them what game they'd be playing next when one would end. She started by copying all her favorite games from growing up in Japan. She still had full access to the Multiverse archive, even if it was read only now. 

"Ok Everyone! How was that?"

The populace of trillions of sentience souls cheered. Mai had just done an extended arc involving dance music. She used this to teach her Universe how to do over fifty popular dances from contemporary Earth. Her feel for creating convention was astounding. She simply made entryways appear all over her Universe, inviting everyone into the game. Once inside, it was a challenging yet exhilarating test of repeating motion.

"Those dance moves? for the next game, you'll need to use those to NAVIGATE! I'm going to create physics that allow you to cross huge distances by perfecting them! If you missed out don't worry! I'm putting up redo spots everywhere so you can keep trying until you get it! And I know you all so I know you can do it!"

Another cheer rose up from one of the happiest Universe ever. Mai would never win Main Jasher back. Sorry. But she would yet again play another huge part in saving us all someday at the last moment right when it matters the most, like true Heroes always do.

Bret had agreed instantly when offered a comfy chair. He was in a very comfy chair. The massive leather wrapped monstrosities were the very definition of comfort. It was like being five years old again, and crawling into dad's recliner.

The priests were just gobsmacked and patiently waiting for some explanation. Jasher was not insensitive to this. "First of all, there was a God for a while." said Jasher. "So you aren't completely crazy for expecting one." Jasher then went on to explain how the broken Local Resource System (clicky!) could just sometimes manifest beings like ghosts and vampires and Tom Green. 

"I'll literally introduce you. He's in my restaurant." Jasher blinked away for a second, and popped back with what looked like some cross between Santa Claus and Hercules. The heavily muscled being bowed slightly. "This is my favorite one anyway. You've created thousands of them. This one talks some. Say something God." asked Jasher. "Be good my children." uttered the being shakily. It hadn't spoken in centuries. "That's pretty much all he says. It's like you folks aren't exactly sure how you want him to be so he isn't sure either." Jasher blinked God back to his temporal restaurant (clicky!).
"So, we made God?" asked Father Thomas. 

"You made many, and you were hardly the first. The broken Universe would whip them into existence, they'd start playing out their roles, and I'd have to show up and deal with it. I've had a shard on dedicated manifestation hunting since time out of mind. The option was there to tweak the potential out of the Multiverse entirely, but, I figured why kill one of the few broken things that isn't so bad. It would have also cost a lot of imagination and wonder. Certain races would develop slower or not at all. Ultimately it's the Local Resource System attempting to respond to a request by manifesting a helper agent of sorts based on all the information available. If you have enough information, and surprisingly consensus, you can get a sentient being. The vast majority of which are ephemeral in nature. They show up, perform a defined task, and disappear. Or, that's how it would work in a functioning Universe Shell.  And simply put, after something broken that still runs has been running a while, you get stuck with a lot of compromises."

"Could you explain how it all really works?" This time it was Father Tim, the youngest at 51. They had been hurriedly picked up and rushed to the sound stage with zero preparation. Unsurprisingly, they were not aware that Armageddon had started because they didn't have a television on a wall constantly blaring Wolf News in their waiting room. They found out when their network liaison showed up. Within thirty minutes Fathers Tim, Thomas, and Jacob were backstage watching Jasher frustrate Bret Starling. The decision to pray had been immediate when Kay appeared out of thin air covered in gold.

"Tim right?" Tim nodded his head. "Tell you what Tim. I have a whole bunch of shit to do in a very specific period of time and I keep having to rewind it and redo shit I'm fucking up but I'll try to give you the short short version by starting there. Explaining what I just meant. Ok?" offered Jasher.

"Um, well" started Tim.

"Good! I'm constantly tweaking this particular Universe in an unending stream of them. I do this with a variable number of Shards. Right now for example, there's a Me in another Universe near here dealing with a minor issue, but I literally have to ignore most other Multiverse, unless it's what I call a Bleed Issue. Something that can mess with things here. I'm constantly working on this Universe because the container that houses the Multiverse is very broken. When I turned off the Local Projector that was hiding Momon, the ridiculously huge black hole taking up almost all of your sky, I just sent a shard there and pushed a button, or thought at a sphere as it were. You following so far?" Tim nodded. He was just keeping up. Our Universe mattered the most. Tim liked that.

"Ok, so right now I'm dealing with ten different versions of this reality. I could do more, but I've isolated my chances for success to these ten. So I'm literally, right now having this conversation in 10 different versions of this reality. Now, that's not different Universe. That's not different dimension. It's literally me being temporal and having broad steering ability. I'm selecting a future based on the outcomes I'm wanting. I see everything that happens in the entire timeline of the Multiverse. I ride like a slider in the spot I'm working on. Like a record needle in the groove. As I tweak things and make changes, I get closer to my goal."

"What is that goal?" asked the up until then completely silent Father Jacob. "I think understanding your motivation here is the most important thing. People are very frightened."

"Good question. I'm going to blow up the Sun. So you can relax." 

Since Kay was temporal also, Jasher got to see her facepalm in all ten versions of the loop of reality he was currently fucking up. "So I guess we won't be keeping this one." said Jasher. The Tim, Tom, and Jacob of that reality had a brief moment to look at each other before blinking out of existence with their entire reality.


"What is that goal?" asked the up until then completely silent Father Jacob. "I think understanding your motivation here is the most important thing. People are very frightened."

"Good question. Right now the Earth is under a threat I simply can not deal with. There isn't enough processing power and won't be. So I need a way to keep the Earth safe. There is literally a perfect trajectory out of the local group coming up during a perfect moment. At that moment I need the Earth ready for travel, and a way to slingshot it out of this solar system entirely. And to put things into perspective, it's a threat more frightening than me having to do that. I'm not about going into crazy detail now, but I'll do a Ted Talk or something later when things are calm."

The three men looked at each other completely at a loss for words. This is when Bret suddenly found his voice. "So, you have to do something to save the Earth, and you don't have a lot of time. That's what I'm getting from this." What was surprising Bret the most was how amazingly easy this all was to digest once Jasher started talking. This guy was for all intents and purposes the most powerful being ever, but had the demeanor of a drinking buddy. "What are our chances for success?" finished Bret. 

"Another good one. We already succeed. I'm just working on the fine details. Like, I get us out of here, and fast, but not without a ton of civil unrest and I'm just, so sick of dealing with nonsense like that when I have bigger fish to fry. I think it would help if I explain how the Multiverse looks to me." said Jasher and smiled. He'd been preparing this lazy analogy just for this day.

"I've been handed something like a Rubic's Cube, remember those?" All three priests nodded. Bret pretended. "They had 3x3 faces. Imagine mine has a number over ten thousand digits long by that same number again, but the number changes frequently, and I'm working on that side of it to try to get it all the same color. That's what I'm doing in your Universe. If I can fix this one, I can slowly start fixing the rest, and suddenly the Multiverse doesn't end in roughly 14 billion years. So I'm constantly seeing the entire story beginning to end, and tweaking it and tapping it until one day it doesn't end, and I can no longer see the ending. Then it won't be broken anymore. So it's me trying then untrying, going back a few million moves, then forward again. From your perspective it's linear."

"So... God isn't real. I'll just say it." Bret started drifting back into the shock nonsense designed to win elections for the candidates the corporations that owned the networks wanted. "What does that mean for America? What does that mean for... sixpack joe. What does that mean for..." 

"Let me cut you off right there Bret. You are about to kill a billion people with your pretty face." said Jasher. And Jasher was absolutely beaming. For some reason, the absolutely stunningly beautiful Kay, who Bret was developing a crush for... she reminded him so much of his most recent wife. Well, she was clapping and facing Jasher. And she had the kind of love in her eyes that any man on Earth would want someone to have for them. Bret knew his chances with her were nonexistant.

The compromise wife. He absolutely had to have a wife prettier than the last one, but the only way that was happening was with an open marriage. Sure, that meant he could do whatever he wanted too, but the stream of young built guys going to his poolhouse with his wife was not doing wonders for his ego. "It's all about appearances". And when she started blackmailing him "These guys will give me a hundred grand per video just because I'm married to you" that was the last straw. So he simply strangled her.

"My mistake every single time is just getting mad at myself, then you, then myself again. You killed your wife Bret." 

Bret was falling apart. What the hell? 

"I wish I hadn't given you a comfy chair Bret. You honestly don't deserve one." said Jasher.

None of this was supposed to be happening.

Bret was on national television, and this Jasher character, apparently more powerful than any concept of any God, just told the world he killed his wife. Bret broke down...

For the first time
in over 9,000 versions of the reality Jasher had duplicated, Bret finally broke down.

(that's why Kay was clapping)

"I told you folks I don't read minds. Reading minds is too invasive. Could I? I guess but I mean, that would introduce a level of complexity I just don't fucking want to deal with in a Universe I've broken down to figuring out by making certain shades of colors emerge based on intent. I'm not about to fuck my amazing working system up just to be able to flood myself with even more data I don't need to win."

When Kay was done clapping, Kay threw a STRONG FINGER up for the first time in... "Dayam... You got my attention." said Jasher.

Jasher quite frankly abused the strong finger. It was an immediate stop to all time for the entire Multiverse that only admins themselves like Jasher and Kay could even use or detect. Kay had only used it twice. This was the second time.

"I'm sorry, I just needed a break after that shit. Jesus... How do you do this?" asked Kay honestly.

"Oh, I am a patient boy."

"So, what the fuck are you going to do now Jasher?

Asked Kay.

"Well," said Jasher "I ran these without you" Jasher dropped carefully while showing some of a bunch of new numbers. "But not on purpose, and I'll explain why". Kay was now puzzled. This might be something she did not know about, and that was exceedingly rare with Jasher. "I just, this might literally be the last thing you don't know about." said Jasher. Kay was getting worried. "I didn't even know about it. This was set up by your um, first love."

Immediately after Kay had thrown Strong Finger... it was the first time for Food Universe Jasher. And he instantly realized he was under the influence of an unknown protocol created by the prior winner of all Personality Wars in the Multiverse. This was something written by his amazing predecessor. He had the full knowledge of this person, and the full measure of their amazing personality. That meant he not only inherited the pure love for Kay he had, It had helped shape his own. Still, being controlled by a prior version of yourself will always shake you.

The entire event was accompanied by an amazingly personal message. It was done with a flair that made Food Universe Jasher hate himself some. "Christ, this guy has integrity and majesty and not looking like a homeless person down. It's like his brand. People should be pulling swords out of him and saving planets." thought Jasher.

"You have activated what I named Kay Protocol. This was created shortly after you convinced her to let you kill her entire race of beings so you could take a stab at saving the entire Multiverse someday. It was because you still have absolutely no way of dealing with supermassive data erasers other than moving them, and won't for a very long time. The hope is that you seeing what I'm about to show you will give you an amazing path forward now." This was even too cryptic for Jasher.

"Well... Here's the secret I could not let go forward. Since I can see the entire timeline as well, I know at a certain point, you aren't going to be able to make a Jupiter big enough to protect the Earth. So you'll need to move Earth instead of Momon. When that happens, there's a piece of information I want you to use, and you will incorporate it. This is heavy. This is something so heavy I held it back. Otherwise, you'd have gone off in the wrong direction for sixteen billion years."

Prior Jasher then went on to do a temporal demonstration that made Jasher so angry he almost stopped watching. And he was still very angry when the old Jasher repeated again "Again, this is about going farther. I wasted two billion years trying to find a way around it. I hate it as much as I'm sure you do now, but only now is it viable. And you can start using it. And if I'm right, it's going to significantly speed up things. Consider I know you got Kay back. Consider I knew the whole timeline. Consider I had no Kay in my timeline anymore at all, even at the end. And this protocol only happens if she comes back. So I was never even meeting that Kay. She's clearly yours. I lost mine forever."

Jasher was amazed at his own ability to sweet talk himself. But damn if he hadn't needed to do it. The last advice he needed confirmed everything was going to work out just fine. As the thought appeared in his head, the last line of the personal message played. "Now, go tell this all to Kay."

"Fine." thought Jasher.

Jasher then played out telling Kay a few thousand ways before figuring out that prior Jasher wasn't right about everything.

"Ok, I'm going to do something and I don't want you to freak out." said Jasher, again amazed that ancient Valley Girl sensibilities were going to work again. Unsurprisingly, this way of approaching things worked this time in getting Kay to even take the question.

"I'm about to do something using information you do not have. I have run so many simulations where I tell you, simply because we have always agreed to just tell each other absolutely everything. But in all of the scenarios, they do not progress. So, what I'm asking for here is for you to trust me. Let me start this scenario, with something absolutely super massive in it for you, that I can't talk about, but you trust me. And this is the 25th time I've done this so even all of this is being carefully worded for the timeline." said Jasher, then pulled his favorite kind of beer out of thin air and started drinking it. He was very parched.

"Bret gets absolutely fucked right?" asked Kay. Jasher calmed down now. That's where her attention still was. "Oh, you have no idea how badly. Like, by my standards, you will be shocked how badly Bret gets fucked in all of this." said Jasher honestly. And Kay knew that Jasher couldn't lie if he wanted. "You are going to have to unsnap us." said Jasher and smiled. Kay, who had forgotten, blushed but then welled up some as she first looked at Jasher and held her hand up as if to ask "Ready?", he nodded and she restarted the entire Multiverse.

"Temporal reality can suck Bret. See, sometimes fixed events in space time mean there's absolutely nothing I can do for you. And that's depressing. I've undone the damage done by nuclear explosions and asteroid impacts on this planet at times simply because there were no fixed events to deal with nearby. But damn Bret, I have to undo your damage without letting the world forget it. You are getting screwed so badly here. I think at some point I'll figure out a way to eventually make what I'm about to do to you less shitty, but I'm just not seeing that at the moment."

Jasher snapped his fingers and a split second later an insanely angry yet terrifyingly calm Jennifer Starling popped into existence. "I took a few hours to explain everything to her. I also got her some Shake Shack. She was hungry. Good taste." said Jasher. "See, when I'm truly done fixing all of this, everyone is coming back, Bret. It's all saved. I mean, most of it. Black Holes literally destroy data. They are the first huge clue this entire Universe is broken. There's no way a structure should exist that literally permanently destroys data. But Jenny wasn't in a Black Hole. God, she looks so much like Kay." said Jasher, seriously. 

And she did. Jenny, just a little taller, a little bigger, but absolutely beautiful. Kay approached newly resurrected Jennifer Starling. Jenny looked at her, and was amazed at her beauty and likeness to herself. The glistening golden attire helped. "You should look like me, you are so beautiful." said Kay and touched her shoulder. Instantly Jenny was in an outfit identical to Kay's. The fine microcarbon understructure bonded with precious metals barely weighting a pound, yet able to withstand collisions with things the Earth couldn't.

"Ok, so undid you strangling your wife to death Bret. But, can't undo everyone knowing about it now. That means I have to offer you some way to redeem yourself. I have to give you a role in this. Want that Bret? The hard way is surprisingly easy. Men have used it to redeem themselves before humanity since the very beginning." said Jasher.

Bret just sat there. His entire reality had been unraveling in a cool way. Yay Athiestism. Fuck the church. He had been loving watching the priests squirm in street clothes. He was not loving karma.

"What do I have to do?" asked Bret.

"Something terrifyingly shitty. You get to be a distraction for something so terrifying, I'd have to do it otherwise. And quite honestly, I wish I had anything else I could task someone with but this is it. I mean, unless you are also a temporal being with strong steering ability in a Multiverse Shell you happened to design, so wouldn't have a problem timing destroying the Sun, while using an emerging gravitational body to catapult a new system out of the side of your Galaxy." said Jasher.

"Emerging Body" mused Kay. A split second before Jasher cursed himself, and was going to rewrite it without that extra, Kay said "wait". Jasher waited.

"Check real quick. You are testing a change right? This is about what you can't tell me? Something you have to just do? Humor me. Test telling me again real quick before you do it. Because I can't think of anything you could say that could mess me up right now."

"Ok". It didn't matter. Jasher being on a tight time frame was different for you and me. For you and me that means we are rushing because time is running out. For Jasher, it means so many of the events in a given space of time are fixed or decided, that he's very limited in what he can do. Running out of options. That being said, he had a literal eternity to fix any given thing and undo and redo things.

"Prior Jasher came up with a way to trick the system into decoding data thought destroyed by singularities."

Unsurprisingly, everything went to shit and he quietly closed the reality. Kay had become a basket case again as she relived the worst moment of her life.

" wouldn't have a problem timing destroying the Sun to catapult a new system out of the side of your Galaxy." said Jasher.

"No." said Bret who was slowly recomposing himself. It's strangely calming after someone offers you redemption. "I want to ask a favor." tested Bret. Jasher raised an eyebrow. "You don't really deserve a favor Bret." Said Jasher flatly. 

"It's what I can do right now if we have say, just a few minutes. I'd like to actually pretend to be a journalist again for a little while before whatever happens. How much time do you have?" asked Bret. "Oh, all of it." said Jasher sarcastically. "Ok fine, how much time do I have?" asked Bret. "To you folks, gametime will be in about an hour. My part is staged, so it's pretty much free time. Do some self study." suggested Jasher. Jasher knew for the timeline he'd literally have to go through with it, but he still wanted Bret to work for it more.

"I don't think it's a good idea Bret. If you don't like my answers, you can't strangle me." said Jasher.

"Fucker" said Jenny softly.

"She told him point blank that she did not want to be tied down way ahead of time." added Kay. Kay and Jenny had been quietly talking together. That did not bode well for Bret.

Bret threw his hands up pleading. Opening his mouth to talk.

"She asked for legal paperwork to be drawn up laying everything out. He said a verbal agreement would be enough." added Kay, then went back to talking with Jenny.

No sound ultimately came out of Bret's open mouth. He dropped his hands in defeat.

"You just want to fix everything now don't you?" said Jasher, clearly not wanting an answer. "This isn't the kind of thing you can fix with a snap Bret. Your problem is selfishly rushing to resolutions. You paniced. You knew you were wrong, but you paniced and put your hands around her neck and killed her. You justified that because she was threatening to blackmail you. You had already made her your enemy in your mind. So what you need is time to think and mature, and you need an ordeal."

Jasher paused a good twenty seconds on purpose as if to punctuate the concept of patience. "And you can start asking me questions interview style if you'd like. We do have time to kill. I'll stop you before it's time for your part in things."

On top of being the most hated man in the world at the moment, Bret's pancake TV makeup was ruined, and he was looking a little disheveled. Emotional upheaval can have that effect on a person. Jasher in a moment of pity had cleaned him up, then ported both of them the ten feet to Bret's desk for his interview. The cameras, temporarily not sure what to do, eventually followed them. Kay and Jenny took up spots on the love seat in the impromptu circle Jasher had made and started some light conversation with the Fathers before also turning to watch the interview.

Bret, not wanting Jasher to change his mind, started immediately.

"So, you call yourself Jasher. Who gave you that name?" started Bret.

"My mom and dad. My people were nearly identical to yours. We had a similar societal structure. But whereas your version of Human is insanely hardwired for exploration, mine was insanely hardwired for data gathering. You want to see everything. We wanted to know everything. Notice I say wanted. My people were from what you'd consider the host Universe for this Multiverse. Here I don't have a concept of past other than talking about the host Universe that I likely will never see again. If I want to revisit any point here it's like I never left."

"How long ago was this?" asked Bret.

"Depending on how you perceive it, a mathematical infinity, or if a Human had to live it and could here, 18 billion years. But that number is so meaningless for a whole bunch of reason I'm not going to explain at the moment."

"So you exist for massive expanses of time. How do you handle it? How do you stay sane?" asked Bret.

"That's a surpringly great question. I can give you a great answer. You don't stay sane. This Universe is broken. It was never supposed to work like this. An Admin like myself was never supposed to experience expanses of time like these. I spent literal millenia just drifting babbling incoherantly early on. None of this is normal. We currently only have a small fraction of the available processing power for our Universe because there was an attack in my Universe on creation. I got killed in my Universe, and I doubt it's even there for me anymore. I'm technically not even really sure if I'm me anymore. I was transferring to this Multiverse Shell when it got heavily damaged."

Bret was speechless for a moment. There it was. The truth to all existence. But Bret was Bret. And the perfect followup question to this, which would have been "How is a Multiverse supposed to be if ours is broken?" was replaced with:

"Then how are my actions my fault if you created this place?"

"That didn't take long. The Universe isn't about you Bret. Literally. Better, I didn't create this place. We found an algorithm through our own machine learning that makes Universe explode into existence. This Universe is just an example of that algorithm running on broken hardware. I can tweak things. Hell, most of what I do is cut and paste. That's how I fixed your outfit. Cut and paste from an hour prior." said Jasher. "So yeah, sorry. You have free will. No loophole."

"I'll change the direction." said Bret. "Good idea." said Jasher.

"So, we know our Universe is broken. Can you go into how that happened more?" asked Bret.

"Not right now. Just like, I'm not really prepared to go into how a Universe can be. But I can tell you what a Universe isn't supposed to be like. For one, we aren't supposed to have Black Holes at all. This Universe is the first place something so stupid happened. Stars are a new concept here. I've mentioned before that I had to change the scale here. To put that into perspective, something the size of your Sun would be neighborhood lighting if the Universe were corrected for scale faster. With an increase in scale, so many things you consider constants behave completely different, so most Universe models aren't rotational models. You simply don't have massive rotating bodies. Most are static creations like massive rooms with a uniform directional gravity, or were." Jasher paused a moment. "My people are a lot more nostalgic than yours. It hurts remembering it's all gone. I almost gave up many times. Functioning at all with this level of pure chaos was never something I thought I'd ever manage. Again, I'm really in love with the idea of doing an extended Ted Talk once this is all over."

"You mentioned scale. How does that factor with the Universe rapidly expanding?" asked Bret. Jasher was momentarily shocked that Bret had that in him.

"Great question Bret. I'm doing that. If I didn't start expanding the Universe when I did, it won't be big enough in time to fix it. While thoroughly expanding the scale, I'm having to slide about 12 sliders at the same time so everything doesn't get exceedingly wonky or, wonkier. It's an exersize in efficiency. Yes, I'm stretching everything out like taffy, but it's costing me almost no processing power." said Jasher.

"Let's shift gears slightly from the past to now." suggested Bret. Damn if he wasn't sounding like a professional.

"You put the black hole in the sky. Momon you called it." said Bret.

"Correct." said Jasher.

"I'm assuming for a reason?" lead Bret.

Jasher smiled. "Jupiter protects you most of the time from big things hitting you. They hit Jupiter instead. Momon is the same thing just, instead of rogue comets, it's keeping the very dangerous predators of your Universe from getting here. Surprisingly, you have to be insanely intelligent to both notice the projection hiding Momon, and avoid it. Both Jupiter and Momon are also ridiculous exercizes in efficiency. I'd be doing their jobs. Meanwhile most of the intelligent beings that have made it to this system, typically out of pure curiosity, have been wonderful folks. Folks so far beyond you that they don't need anything from you typically aren't a threat."

"So we have been visited before your arrival." stated Bret.

Kay busted up laughing on the loveseat. Jasher smiled toward her.

"You could say that." said Jasher coyly. "You already have a thriving import/export business happening here and have for... I wanna say about three hundred years. Just, hardly any Humans are involved. Let's put it this way.. if you had the right connections, you could sell a preserved gourmet cheeseburger or beer on the right market, then buy say... your own planet. A decent one."

"You want me to field this one Jasher? I'm the expert. You are too biased." said Kay. "Fair enough." said Jasher knowing full well Kay had her own bias.

"Your number one export at the moment is comedy." said Kay. "Comedy? Our entertainment?" Asked Bret.

"For a long time you just were the entertainment. Now they like a lot of the same shows you folks prefer, but specifically they adore your comedy space stories." said Kay.

"Do you mean like.." started Bret but Kay interrupted "All of them. Every space movie, show, you name it. They can't get enough. They just laugh and laugh."

Bret was stone faced. "Think about it." Said Kay. "Imagine if you could watch a race of beings smart enough to make eggs benedict get almost everything wrong about space travel."

Bret still wasn't getting it. Kay exhaled sharply, paused and started over.

"Fine. Imagine watching a circus high wire act. Some brave young couple swinging on wires and chancing death. Imagine the crowd cheering and delighted. That's how we feel watching your real space efforts. I cringe so hard at times. Those are my favorites. It's all very thrilling." Bret got that. "So imagine when we aren't worried about your imminent death because it's your own entertainment. There's a stress release humor, an anticipation humor, and finally an empathy of fear aspect. Like when you think someone falling down is funny."

"So like" Bret grasped "When adults are watching children play?"

"Almost" corrected Kay. "If the adults are instead watching younger adults play, but from the perspective of remembering their own struggles at that age. But also, there's the aspect of watching them fuck up and not being able to do anything about it unless Jasher lets you. That's a huge factor in the humor aspect. I guess it's tinged with bitterness." said Kay.

"I think I get it now. That was a great explanation." said Bret honestly. "That's a lot better than mine would have been." said Jasher.

"Is the idea that you are forcing these visitors to stay hands off because we aren't ready?" asked Bret.

"Not at all. There's another reason. It has to do with me searching for a perfect someone here, and it happening in time. Oh, and it does. And that's not too far off actually. For the longest time it was uncertain if the Earth would even yield Seeker Candidates. But again, that's something for a Ted Talk. Not here. Suffice is to say, as of right now the Earth is joining the real game. No more Local Projector. No more training wheels. And quite honestly, it's a relief. We were being so overly careful for so long. Now a whole lot of needed misery can be undone." Jasher was exceedingly careful how he said this so he didn't risk triggering Kay again.

"Interesting. All will be revealed eventually." mused Bret.

"Get that it's not because I don't want to. This is population control. I can't have you folks freaking out. The damage to the timeline would... well... make me have to keep retrying like I have been." said Jasher.

"How many times now?" asked Bret. "While we are just sitting here, you've been reliving this over and over. How many times is your groundhog day?" while Jasher actually appreciated the color Bret was bringing to things, it was still very corny. "More times than that movie has been referenced by all the folks that have ever done it in every Universe. Sitting here I'm refining two conversations happening 15 minutes from now, and rechecking a bunch of math." said Jasher.

"What's it like in your head?" Bret said almost wistfully, while appearing to ask a spot in the air above him.

"I can actually do that one." said Jasher. "In fact, I'm totally going to show you what it's like." said Jasher. "That has a lot to do with what I need you to do for me. But for now I'm just going to explain it."

This had Bret worried instantly.

"First, there's the way being an Admin in a Universe Shell used to work in my Universe. The main skill you'd understand is being able to look at an absolute torrent of incoming data and recognized patterns. That's very similar to the tasking I'm going to give you. It's going to take exactly 104 years to teach you in felt time." said Jasher.

"Not bad." said Kay. "Yes and no." said Jasher turning to Kay. "If it was the shell you use now, that would be amazing. He's getting something closer to what I gave you right after I took admin back." said Jasher. "The training requirement will make perfect sense soon."

"Now, the way it works now for me is a barely understood screaming of data. If I started to explain in real time how long it took to comprehend it you wouldn't believe me. Kay had it once for a very long time. That's why Kay is the only person that really understands." Now Kay was stone faced.

"Can you talk about the experience some and how it differs now?" asked Bret of Kay. She was being cooperative so he was going for it.

Kay paused before starting. "At first you are just screaming from the pain and the noise and death. But screaming doesn't help because it's louder than you. After a long time whether you want it to happen or not, you begin to understand it. That's when the real terror starts. The feed has an um... hard to describe temporal aspect that forces you to at least acknowledge every piece of incoming data once you learn how to turn the screaming off. Then you get treated to excruciating details on everything dying because it's not supposed to be happening, if ever. It's not designed to handle it. I have no idea how Jasher continues to deal with it. None. For me, when I gave it back, Jasher took away the alerts. I feel like I could never do it again. I'd do it if I had to, but I really do not want to."

 "And this isn't a competency thing. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. It's broken. Someday if we all make it out of this mess, I'll show folks what the real console is supposed to look like." said Jasher.

"Ted Talks." said Bret. "Lots of them." said Jasher.

  "Hey Bret." said Jasher with just a hint of menace...

"What I'd like to see is you ask the next few questions after the beginning of your training."

Again, this did not sound good to Bret. He heard 104 years of training, and he really didn't like the sound of that. "Ok." said Bret. What else could he say?

With no warning, Jasher said "One hour then." and immediately Bret was all alone for an hour. Everything around him simply... froze. At first he laughed to himself and pulled out his phone. Oh, yeah. Phones need flowing time to work too. After 15 minutes Bret was so bored he started drawing. Something he used to do when he was a kid. Something he literally hadn't done since the last time he wasn't constantly flooded with information from his Media and Internet, taking his motivation. In this world, that was his 1st year of high school. But surprisingly, the world suddenly started moving before he was done drawing the souped up Corvette with him behind the wheel. Ridiculous huge tail spoiler. He mused to himself about how he had forgotten this part of himself.

To the studio audience, one second Bret was saying "Ok" then the next he was hunched over a piece of copier paper with a pencil and so into it he was ignoring them.

When Bret finally looked up, Kay was inches from his face. Unsurprisingly, she smelled amazing. See, Jasher had got to experience this before. Watching someone learn what it meant to deal with time. Kay had not. So much like her circus high-wire analogy from earlier, she was complete fascinated.

"Oh, he's a drawer!" said Kay.  "I think this is a 73 based on the rear window and sides."

"Yeah." said Bret completely surprised like any man with a touch of misogyny is when women love cars.

"You also got your own likeness behind the wheel surprisingly good. This is actually very good Bret." said Kay.

Kay then went on to display the image as a projection to the studio audience and talk about it for a few minutes. Bret kinda looked over at Jasher, perhaps thinking he'd get sympathy. Yeah. Instead he got laughed at. Kay got done with her psychological analysis of Bret's drawing, pointed out both the positives and negatives, but only after Jenny added her comments about the misogyny and toxic male aspects of the drawing, but time was time. And Jasher could not let Kay waste the 30 minutes left selfishly. He saw the end now. He knew when things had to happen and how, and he was fucking sick of repeating it.

"Ok Bret, you get to ask one question now, but, for your training you won't get the answer until you do ten hours."

"Ten hours?" asked Bret. "What if I have to go to the bathroom or eat or" Jasher cut him off. "You'll be fine. I got you. You won't feel hungry or need to go to the bathroom. Trust me. I'm not taking all of your systems out of time. How smart would that be? You'd die when we get you used to weeks of time, and that's nothing." said Jasher.

"I don't understand that kind of time yet, but doing that hour wasn't so bad." said Bret.

"Even in that short time you had to have reconnected with a part of yourself you lost. Trust me, when you are trapped in time, you only have you. So if you don't like you, you will not have a good time." said Jasher.

Kay, who had backed off once Jasher started "jashering" started clapping. Jasher was surprised. Which was amazing. It didn't happen often. He looked at Kay with the "wut?" face she loved to death and she said. "We've never talked about that. Your words were exactly how I feel about it."

Jasher smiled and looked at Kay. "That's probably why we never talked about it. So much of us is unspoken like that. Maybe we need to talk more. That felt very good when you said that."

Kay smiled. Jasher smiled. This was gravy. He had two huge more seconds of enjoying this before he had to start explaining again. He'd rig this next one to get more love from Kay.

"Thankfully, spending huge amounts of time alone, when you know why it's happening, has this amazing effect on people. You shed all outside influence and preconceived notion.  More importantly, you shed any filters someone else put there. You suddenly see, seek, and require truth to keep going. It's a lot like taking LSD, but without the baggage. You'll have to quit Wolf News, or transition to an advisor role. You'll see through all of it with pure logic." said Jasher. And he didn't even have to look over at her. He felt Kay's smile warming him like a blush.

"Ask your question Bret, then get ready for 10 hours. Are you musical at all Bret?" asked Jasher with more seriousness than seemed necessary.

"Why?" asked Bret, genuinely curious. "If you can create things in your head, you can survive indefinitely. Creation and self amusement in your mind is the key to surviving that long isolated. The other part is knowing that it is ending. You get that. I didn't." said Jasher.

"I get it. I did creative writing." said Bret.

Jasher snapped his fingers and a stack of legal pads 5 foot high appeared next to Bret.

"Ok, ask away." said Jasher.

Bret had a lot of time to think about what he was going to ask while drawing.

"Ok, why Wolf News? Why did you pick the award winning leader in the world, number one, with the largest audience in history, and the best ratings in news, every single month since inception. Why us? Why me?"

Jasher smiled. "You'll get an answer but the best part of this is, you won't care when you get it. That's the last softball question you'll ever ask in your life."

And the conversation was over because suddenly Jasher wasn't moving anymore for Bret. Nothing was. He was back in the frozen world.

One second Bret was asking a question. The next second, Bret looked exactly the same.. but appeared to glitch a little. Jasher realized that it was because he had made a "home position" for himself, considering his audience. So he made sure to stay in a certain pose right before Jasher nailed him with the ten hours. This amused Jasher a great deal because it was the first time he noticed it during the retries. That meant Bret had figured out some way to gauge time all on his own, or just stubbornly held the pose forever. That was the worst part of isolated time. You had no idea how much was passing without a console in front of you.

For his part, Bret had been holding his "start pose" as he thought of it for a while now. He was pretty sure it was close to the end of it. His perception of time ended up being off by about 2 hours, but he was so stubborn, and so wanted to preserve what little was left of his bullshit dignity that he did it anyway.

All of it was for nothing. Jasher knew that. Kay was already bemused. "Well done Bret!" said Jasher with as much enthusiasm as he could fake.

"Now, I owe you an answer. You definitely earned it based on those tablets."

Bret has been so caught up on showing up Jasher, he had completely forgotten about his hiking adventure story. It was basically an extended version of one he had put on his blog. He thought himself very clever just reusing something he had done before.... for the first 3 hours. Then he thought about ways he could improve it. Then he added three new sections. Then he went back through and found a typo he had somehow missed ten years ago. That got him furious. So he went back through the entire story line by line. Then he found a section he kind phoned in, so he redid it.

Jasher suddenly had it in his hand and read it all. "Wow. Look at this Kay and tell me what you think." and instantly the tablets went from Jasher to Kay and it was like she had been reading it. Within a split second, she was on the 3rd tablet, and flipping the final page of the story. She looked up at Jasher and back to the tablets, then walked them to Bret. She could have just plopped them on the table. She made it a point to hand them back respectfully.

Kay then paused for a second, turned and faced Jasher, then said "Perhaps these Humans are very well suited for this. This is not just a good story. And I mean by our standards." and Jasher had to agree. I mean, he knew he had to agree. He had done this particular shit 500+ times. "Yes" agreed Jasher, correctly this time. Then said absolutely nothing more, as he hadn't the past 47 times when he figured out he had to stop there.

"I was not expecting eight logical revisions." said Kay. Not because she had even looked at his span of time. Kay could just tell from reading it how many times it had been redone. 

"You are impressing me Bret. Give him 100 hours Jasher." suggested Kay.

"Agreed." said Jasher but Bret protested instantly.

"Don't I get my answer? Don't I get to ask at least one more question?" pleaded Bret. Bret wasn't going to admit it yet, but ten hours sucked. He wasn't quite ready for 100 hours of it. He didn't even remember what question he had asked anymore.

"Fine." said Jasher. "I did promise, but you really won't care soon. I promise that."

"Jasher..." said Kay in a way that Jasher had not heard since Boaz had entered their lives the very first time. A memory not even his. One owned by the prior Jasher... Kay's hand started to rise, so Jasher did Strong Finger instead.

The Multiverse paused.

"What the fuck are you doing Jasher? I get that there's something you have to keep from me, but..." Kay started saying.

"I'm not sure if he's just special, or they all are. But I know this Kay. It's going to work how it's going now, and we do not have time to stop to question it. I don't mind taking a break though. This is a very tough one." Jasher hoped she'd let it go. "Let's just get this done so I can have you to myself for a while." suggested Jasher. Kay smiled.

"Ready?" Jasher and Kay got back to their starting positions. Of course they did. They were pros at temporal reality.

 "I picked Wolf News for two logical reason Bret." said Jasher. Bret suddenly remembered the question he asked, and was so slick about it that only Kay noticed and smiled.

"For one, despite the fact that every other news network started copying your um, way of relaying versions of the truth two years ago, you folks are still the kings. They will literally just repeat you when you are right like they are now. So that made Wolf News our preferred choice for scaring the shit out of the world." said Jasher with perhaps a hint too much pride.

"Secondly, you killed your wife Bret. So you presented the perfect redemption story to distract your entire world from the insanely ridiculous shit I'm doing long enough for me to explain it in a way that isn't as scary. I'm quite proud to say we've only had 493 suicides so far." said Jasher.

TV Magic. The real thing. Bret could cry. Jasher was a lot of things, but one of them was the most compelling interview subject in history. He didn't care about the dark thoughts he started having during the end of his ten hours anymore. And... he'd remember that enjoying the 3 minutes and 15 seconds that had happened since leaving the time hell (When had he started noticing how much time had passed so accurately?) felt so good that he didn't care anymore about the pain at the end of them anymore.

Thousands of miles away, a member of the Mashco Piro tribe of the Amazon cursed the sky again. Clearly the Pishtako were angering the Gods... again.

That being said, Bret was no longer feeling the need to be so... Bret with his questions. He had developed a perceptible terseness thanks to his last ten hours.

"Why does she look like Audrey Hepburn?"

Both Jasher and Kay were both suddenly so shocked by the massive increase in transaction traffic from billions of people on Earth all wanting to know the answer to that question that they had to cheat and abuse their vanity buffers. See, when you are temporal it makes zero sense to actually BE on time. It makes more sense to be two or three seconds early, but talk in time. That way you always have an "oh shit!" button if you look uncool, and can fix it. It's very easy to look cool when you can always rewind a few seconds and erase every gaffe and stumble. But this mastery folded with common sense approach to Universe management doesn't even begin to occur to the typical Admin until at least their fourth thousand year on the job, temporally.

Again, they caught themselves doing the same thing and started laughing at each other, then had to erase that, then Jasher abused the Strong Finger. He tried to port to her, her to him, and they ended up a heap on the floor of the studio, laughing at each other before finally having a very good kiss.

They stood up, and she leaned into him. He turned it into a protective hug and softly said "No. Stop pushing. I really need you to let me handle this and stop the prodding. Before we can relax, this needs to be over and hun, we are talking 22 short minutes now um, fuck. Eastern Standard?" questioned Jasher. "Daylight" corrected Kay. "I know. I'm sorry. I'm just suddenly very needy and you are so very cool right now." said Kay.

Thanks to lots of time with Mai, Jasher saw right through her. "If I said Bret is the ultimate birth control, and he's all I can think about, would you understand? Can we just get this shit over with so I don't have to see him anymore?" pleaded Jasher. She gave him one more little squeeze then said "I understand." but, she said it in a way that meant, she understood he was dodging the real question, and she was giving up.

And Jasher was ok with that. Because it was never clean, the path to more time. He was used to it making no sense and hurting everyone if he didn't make sure it only hit him. He'd have to get better at taking it, or get more help very soon.

"Hey Audrey." Jasher said and smiled at the same time. "You take this question. And you own it. You've earned this. This is the only time you will ever get to explain this. Enjoy it."

Kay smiled. Jasher raised his hand, they both got ready.

"I think you mean, why did Audrey Hepburn look like me, right?" said Kay perhaps a bit too sharply.

"Fine, that works." said Bret.

Kay, while trying not to smile at how downtrodden Bret seemed to think he was, started talking.

"I absolutely hated you entitled fuckers. I wanted to wipe you all out. I gave up my entire race of people for you pieces of shit, and when I find you, you are arguing over land and killing each other, and, already abusing your world, and I look at Jasher, and I'm begging him to just let me throw you into the same hell that killed everyone I loved, then myself. And since he's fucking Jasher, he talks me into something. He convinces me to let him set up one lifetime here on Earth so I stop hating you so much. I'm not like Jasher. There's only one me. So he took this one me, and gave me that isolated timeline. He picks the years, the timelines, the trials, the tribulations." Kay pauses here for a second. Jasher is letting her have it. He has to watch this all very carefully because this is when it goes bad every other time, and this one has not passed yet. She had never started the speech so strongly before though. Within seconds of her starting, he was no longer worried. They were back on the path.

"How does that work? I mean, did you know who you really were?" asked Bret, confused.

"I'll explain." said Jasher. "There's a baseline personality, ethical matrix, and decision/direction tree with everyone. You can take away the memories and leave the person. I just made sure she got to who she was when I first met her, and she did the rest on her own. She got to come back as an admin after her infinitesimally short time as Audrey."

Kay felt that needed more.

"But it still felt like a lifetime. I hadn't gotten to have a full mortal life. I gave up that so young, trying to be a voice of reason in what you'd think of as your twenties, then I was dead, then helping run a Multiverse very suddenly. So... my only real experience now with living a full real life was being Audrey. I learned socialization skills with you. I learned music and art and dance and food and theater, sailing... FLYING. LOVE."

And Jasher was holding her before the first tear dropped. And it was ok not using the buffer. This was honest and for them. The part of this that kept the Earth from chaos was that honesty. Everybody understands some things. And as bizarre as it sounds, it's a lot easier to trust a powerful being if they've been through things you have. If they feel pain too.

But Bret was going to prove he was still Bret.

"So, you set up her up to live a hard life as one of the most beloved figures in modern history." said Bret.

"Oh, come on. It wasn't like she became a head of state. And she did a lot of amazing charity work. She did that on her own." said Jasher. Bret smiled.

Kay literally pointed at Jasher, and started laughing.

Jasher realized he had just been trolled. "You love flirting with danger, don't you Bret? That was good though." said Jasher. Because of that, Jasher was going to test something different this time. Sometimes when difficult sections start clicking, it all suddenly resolves. Jasher would experience this very shortly.

Kay was still laughing.

"Ask your next question Bret before my feelings get hurt." said Jasher.

Bret paused, then said "Ok. I feel weird bringing this up after everything, but explain how Jenny is back. Not that I'm not happy. I hadn't said anything about it but, I am of course very sorry. Just, this has all been so surreal and..." Bret trailed off. Jasher allowed it. "I mean, I guess if you can do whatever you want with time, you could just grab her from before or..."

Jasher rescued him. 

"It's different every time, and has to be. And there's so much temporal math involved, and so many fixed time problems. If something crucial happened nearby, it might be beyond incredibly hard, or just fucking impossible to bring someone back from the timeline as it stands now. But sometimes it's very easy, and Jenny was."

 Jenny smiled. "I read a lot of science fiction." she said proudly.

"For her, I had to basically kidnap a copy of her right before she got back from the bathroom, and you killed her. I had to do a brief introduction, explain a bunch of things that are about to happen, explain that she was going to get to watch you get fucked on national television, etc. Then I had to deal with the real question. The one you are really asking. Who can come back? That's what you really want to know right?" asked Jasher.

Bret nodded. Jasher said everything very carefully, in such a way that it wouldn't sound careful.

"The hope is that eventually every stored sentient consciousness can be brought back. Currently, Earth has about 870 billion of those, of which at least 112 billion are Human at this point. And because of how Earth has been protected, essentially all of them can come back. Granted, the processing power required to handle that, and deal with the kind of therapy needed to fix a large portion of those folks with intense psychological issues doesn't exist yet. So, part of the eventual goal of getting back our processing power is making death something that just doesn't happen here anymore, and bringing back our long lost friends."

"So, not just Jenny. My Dad, My Mom..."

"Yeah. Like that. No bullshit, no loopholes, we are all stuck here together. I'm not some lording asshole dickwad Bret. As far as I know, this Multiverse is the last one and it is up to me to make sure as many of us last as long as possible. That's my purpose." said Jasher. 

"If I have my way, you will all get to see how amazing a Universe can be."

The studio audience cheered. And as they did, they froze. Bret turned to Jasher, who fucked with him by being still, then smiling at him, saying "100 hours Bret", winking, then freezing.

This time Bret wasn't all sassy and posing. 100 hours... Thankfully he dispensed with the first 5 hours easily with a rousing chorus of "why the fuck is this happening to me!" his new favorite song. Holy shit, he was musical. The 50th hour is when he really broke completely. For ten hours, he rocked in a ball on the floor. "This isn't happening to me" was the new song. He had a very long version inspired by "inagodadavidababy" but he hated that one. But he knew Jenny would like it. With about forty hours left he started hitting the stack of tablets.

When Bret unfroze this time, he just sat there quietly. The studio audience saw him go from having the glean of someone shining because of TV Magic to someone completely emotionless, with a pile of torn up legal pad rubble to his right standing 2 foot high.

Half the original stack was gone, and twenty legal pads were stacked neatly on his desk. It was confusing for the studio audience because they were still cheering for Jasher.

"I sneaked 100 hours on him." Jasher said to the audience, and they piped down a little quicker and started focusing their attention on Bret, who still was just sitting there quietly.

He looked up at Jasher. They looked at each other. Jasher looked at Kay. Kay and Bret looked at each other, all in the span of a few seconds. All three knew Bret was ready. At least Kay and Jasher knew that Bret would start talking, and they would not interrupt him or be dicks this time. 100 hours doesn't sound hard. But it's very hard when you aren't sleepy or hungry or any of those distractions. When you just exist with yourself. You are forced to face yourself.

"I'm going to have to do more time and I can't do that if I hate myself this much." said Bret.

"Correct." said Kay and smiled. "Time isn't something you can cheat. That's one of the things beautiful about it. There's that old expression about how sunlight is the ultimate disinfectant. Time is the ultimate truth teller."

Bret smiled. Jasher smiled. "Go ahead." said Jasher.

"I'm giving you 10 of our precious minutes left. You'll use all ten very efficiently I bet. You get how valuable they are now."

Bret simply nodded. He did. And he started.

"In the tenth grade of my high school year, I slept with my best friend's girlfriend and got her pregnant."

Yup, it was going to be a confessional. 

For the next eight minutes, Bret went through everything terrible he had done to everyone in his entire life. He finished up with a graphic explanation of his weaknesses and misconceptions and fears, and how they made him kill Jenny. When he was done, he was simply an exposed nerve. No armor left, and he sat there. His last words being, "I would never forgive me either."

"Well done Bret." said Kay.

"So, tell us what you wrote Bret." said Jasher.

"Take it." said Bret and motioned towards the stack with his hand.

And Jasher did, and didn't give Bret any shit. What Jasher read was a 1000 page (legal pad pages) plan for self improvement that had meticulous details on how he could track down everyone he had ever wronged, and fix it. And it was very comprehensive, to the point it ended with a plan to buy a domain and host the list, configured with a private forum to track his progress.

"Not efficient Bret. You should be leaning on your resources." Jasher converted the 20 legal pads to one data sheet, and passed it to Kay.

She glanced, recoiled, glanced again, and again, then looked at Jasher. "This is not normal Jasher. How is he this logical without being temporal?".

"Have we had the talk about how things start magically clicking and lining up when I'm about totally fucked and almost out of cards to play?" asked Jasher.

"Yes." said Kay in a very level and non-angry tone because she was forcing that. "It's when I'm the worst apparently." said Kay. "I'm down to a handful of cards. I need you to stop questioning the path some. Most of the time it's insanely useful, but not when it's this close." And this was the last time Jasher was going to have to warn Kay to back off.

Kay kept her surly demeanor as she turned her attention to Bret. Bret would be refreshing right now. "I'm going to read this while I give you another 100 hours." said Kay, watching Bret carefully. He didn't even flinch. He simply said "Ok". Jasher was worried. Kay did it. She slammed Bret with the extra 100 hours. He went from quiet to despondent instantly. He didn't even appear to move.

"Careful Kay." said Jasher. Because he knew he had to say it then. Kay glanced up annoyed, then finally actually started re-reading the data film. "Wait." Bret said quietly. Bret had redone them all while in Kay's 100 hours. "This is what you are looking for." said Bret and pointed at 28 new legal pads. "If you want them I mean. You certainly aren't obligated to read my crap." Bret went back to just looking at his desk.

Jasher had momentary jealousy. Kay would get them first. Meanwhile Bret looked like someone ready for death. Even Jenny looked concerned for the first time. Kay did her magic reading trick and was suddenly on the last tablet.

"I" started Kay and just stopped. "I took that out on you. I'm so sorry." the weight of what he did in those 28 tablets hit Kay. He revised everything, and was even more clear on how he had become what he had. The first 20 could be called the best organized apology in history. The next 28 could be called how to maximize the learning from each experience so you could apply it to the next. It had plans to introduce certain folks he had hurt because they were perfect for each other, and he noticed in it restrospect. "I think the greatest apology I could ever give this man is introducing him to someone that is absolutely perfect for him."

He was thinking like someone that could do a heavy task for Jasher now.

"The messed up thing here Bret is that other than you needing to feel satisfied that you've paid your penance, your head is on straight finally." said Kay "You know what is important." she said while immediately destroying all the legal tablets and data film defiantly. Just so Jasher couldn't get them. Jasher reached towards the data he would never get to see... and let it go. And looked at the floor. And knew this is what he had to do based on the last 13 do-overs. He hated it. He hated watching Kay destroy perfectly amazing data, but thanks to our broken Multiverse, he knew he had to let it pass.

Kay looked over at Jasher, and kinda looked down since he still was. She knew she had probably gone way too far but that was how she was. She felt terrible for pushing Bret harder, but those 28 pages were amazing. He clearly was capable of deep remorse and empathy now. Time alone does that too you.

Jasher knew he could not break the somber mood, so he just did what he had to do. No choice really.

"We have ten minutes left before the most amazingly orchestrated and balanced high wire act without wires in Galactic history. This Galaxy mind you, this Universe. I've done crazier shit but again..."

"Ted Talk" said Bret quietly. "1000 hours Bret." said Jasher, but was not fucking with him this time. 

"When you say it's ok. This is the heavy one." said Jasher.

"I may not survive it." said Bret honestly. "I know." said Jasher. "At least, not still being you as you still are."

Bret got up, walked the twelve feet or so towards Jenny. He then just plopped on the floor in front of her. It was the most un-Bret-like thing Jenny had ever seen. She almost started laughing.

"I think, I think I was the guy you thought I was when I was 22." said Bret. "I think maybe you were trying to see that guy in me, and it was an illusion."

And as confusing as that sounded, it made perfect sense to Jenny. "That's all I wanted to say. I never deserved you. If I'm ever so lucky to spend time around you again, because you are a great person, and I should have recognized that, I'd be honored if we could someday be friends. I understand so many things now about how unfair the rules of attraction are. I wish merit was sexier than it is." mused Bret brilliantly.

"MERIT DICKS!" shouted Kay, and suddenly ruined Bret's moment.

This time when Kay and Jasher were hit with the wave of transactions, because everybody on Earth was curious about the concept of a "merit dick", they both just let the waves hit them, and looked like morons that can't dance for a few seconds.

"You should have seen yourself!" said Kay. "You looked like one of those inflatable flappy arm things at car dealerships!"

Kay's ribbing ended a second later when Jasher snapped his fingers, and an extended Kay dancing video from 100 days in the future, from the best mix made on YouTube started playing for the entire audience, set to the smooth tones of Renai Circulation. (clicky)

"DICK!" said Kay. The audience was chuckling a little. Even Bret managed a smile.

"Jasher" said Bret. Jasher looked at Bret. Bret immediately looked at 3 legal tablets tucked under the desk in a shadow. Jasher smiled.

"What's that?" asked Kay indignantly as Jasher snatched the tablets.

Jasher started laughing out loud. "The first line of this literally tells Kay to not be an asshole and just hand this to me if she finds it. It's not for her."

"So let me see it any" starts Kay. Jasher smiles, looks at Kay, give her his best based troll smile, and obliterates all three tablets.

"Thanks Bret. I won't forget that." said Jasher, and they looked at each other silently.

"Ok, fuck you. You are going to tell me right now just exactly what the fuck you thi" Jasher smiled, and displaying a temporal control Kay did not have yet, moving his hand back through the air in reverse of the destruction arc he used to erase the 3 tablets, recreating the last INCH of the tablets. Jasher deftly reached up with his free hand and snagged a single piece of paper tablet out of the rectangular fire window before it all disappeared again.

 Jasher started reading it out loud.

"And finally Jasher. I think the secret to the perfect relationship, if you'll allow me the indulgence, is I see how you look at Kay. You enjoy every single moment you get to interact with her. When she's angry you find her adorable. She's threatening to kill me you find her adorable. When she's being incredibly unreasonable, the look of love in your eyes is deafening. If you understand that (he did). You were a fucking incoherent mess on my show for an hour. Terrifying, but confusing. She showing up immediately turned you into someone a world could trust".

"That's it. That's how he finished it." said Jasher. Kay immediately looked at Bret, who could suddenly hold her gaze for the first time without looking away.

Kay smiled. "There is some serious bullshit going on here, but, is this what you meant by it just clicking Jasher? Why does this all feel like some golden path now?"

"I have one real variable left Kay. We are a few minutes away. I just wanted to make sure you had time to explain merit dicks if you wanted."

"No." said Kay, then immediately laughed to herself, which was adorable and said. "I'll do a Ted Talk."

Bret, who unlike most of the world got the idea, started laughing. This made both Kay and Jasher turn, surprised. Especially Jasher, because he had DONE the next few minutes. This was on the good path, but still new. Not a bad sign, not a good sign. Just a hint to be wary. 

"I don't know why you are laughing. Your Merit Dick would be all of 3 inches long right now Bret."

Simply put, Kay had a proven way to master a male dominated Universe with serious misogyny issues. When she had shown it to Jasher, he had laughed and facepalmed at the same time. "Plus 5 Troll Kay. This is your finest work". And it truly was. An entire Universe of very manly men were forced to become increasingly more empathetic and sensitive to others just to maintain a six inch erection. Suddenly poets were pornstars that could play baseball without bats.

"Before I go again, my last question ever." said Bret with a surprising amount of gravitas. This was the rare "stringer" for Jasher. The very first time at something. He loved these like candy. The event that would always go wrong and he'd have fifty in moments going wrong, then if he was lucky, maybe only a few million more before painstaking progress forward.

"Why are you communicating and talking like the rest of us if you are the smartest folks in the room? Shouldn't you be doing all of that faster? You don't really seem like super advanced beings acting like this. Can you explain it?"

Jasher and Kay both smiled. What made this question so special, and gave it so much true gravity is that they both knew that Bret at least suspected the answer. Because he wouldn't have even thought to ask something so in-obviously brilliant otherwise. "Kay is the one with the funner bias on this." said Jasher, and Kay actually smacked his ass. It was a time for unabashed truth telling. Bret felt it. Jasher felt it. "He's right though. I can make my bias fun for this one." said Kay honestly. 

"Would a powerful being look like this Bret?"

Suddenly Kay was 30 feet tall, and her shoulders were immense. Her arms had become thick pylons with claws feet long.

"And would a powerful being..." suddenly Kay's voice changed and sounded completely evil. "Sound like this Bret?" Her voice suddenly became mechanical. Emotionless. Every word shouted like a command. "AM I POWERFUL NOW BRET". Then just as suddenly as she had become a monster, she was just Kay again. Smiling.

"Appearances are easy. Heck, it's the easiest way to spot a fake. Actions are much harder. Results even more rare in our broken Multiverse." finished Kay.

Jasher smiled because she had stolen his tagline. She suddenly felt a warmth like a blush coming from Jasher. So she made an effort to try to get a little more love. She was going to try to be truly profound.

"Speed of completion has no meaning when time doesn't." stated Kay simply. 

Every word of which was true, but had absolutely no meaning to anyone because of the sheer amount of information density. Hidden within those eight words was an easter egg that unlocked one of the secrets of temporal control, it was so brilliantly said. Jasher, about to start clapping at the pure genius of the statement, was floored when she paused him with one outstretched palm. The effect was so intense the audience stopped making noise.

"Raw intelligence the way you measure it ceases to matter once someone has lived a while. There are many efficiencies that have nothing to do with speed of thought related to evolving logic. It becomes irrelevant with the mastery of time. Nothing can ever sneak up on you again."

Jasher did start clapping this time. The ultimate wisdom over intelligence argument. There's a defined viability window on the return on investment for intelligence. At some point you simply have to grow up whether you like it or not.

"Ok. Time for 1000 hours Bret. This is your big one. But... I mean, you'll be fine." said Jasher honestly. "You feel that right? You'll be ok now?"

Bret thought about it. 1000 hours didn't seem like it would be so bad anymore. Getting everything about himself out there had made him feel kind of, well, lighter. He could look at Jenny again. That alone made everything he had gone through so far worth it now. He had also kept a tiny piece of himself. One that had let him troll Jasher, piss off Kay, and finally understand how worthless he had been.

"Yeah. I think I will." said Bret. "You've earned something here. I might not have done this if it wasn't for Kay giving you that extra hundy, but yanno, that was definitely the right call."

Sometimes when everything was working out, Jasher would forget that he hadn't had to restart. It suddenly struck Jasher that they had been on the stringer since Bret asked his question. He was definitely going to reward Bret.

"1000 hours Bret, but this time I'm providing reading material. Very interesting reading material." said Jasher.

Kay did not like this. "What" she got out then suddenly both Jasher and Bret were gone for a split second and shifted positions.

"WHERE DID THAT BOOK GO" demanded Kay with absolutely zero give in her voice. She had only gotten to see a portion of the title "All The Shit Nobody Should Ever Know About" and that was it.

"Oh, I destroyed it after I memorized it." said Bret. Bret was not looking like someone that had just gone through the terror of 1000 hours of hell.

"Could I get 10000 hours Jash?"

"Sure" said Jasher before Kay could even protest. And they both blinked again, and if anything, Bret looked happy now.

"JASH? Ok, what the fuck is going on. Somebody is going to explain this to me right now. Laughing boy just did 11,000 hours on his head." Kay was pissed but she was realizing she really needed to calm down. She was on national television.

"He made the first massive bunch of it JoJo's Adventure." said Bret honestly. "Awesome hero stuff. Probably for inspiration."

"Show her some stuff Bret."

"I'll try." said Bret. Suddenly Bret was 3 feet from Kay in a kick-flash. He had seemingly teleported ten feet from behind a desk.

"Oh, oh, oh, that was amazingly good." said Kay honestly. "That move is easily 3000 years old." The skill with which Bret had pulled off the ancient perception breaking technique was impressive. He had to have practiced it for at least 4000 hours thought Kay. Kay smiled.

"Was that book a bunch of real life cheat codes Jasher?" 

Jasher smiled.

"Yes. That's exactly what it was Kay."

Kay smiled. "That's very smart. One of the best ways to understand how things are broken in this Multiverse is by learning as many of those as you can. It starts making sense."

"Quite." said Jasher. He'd give them the next two seconds patiently then say:

"Ok, folks, we are down to our last sixty seconds. That means I have to make us Travel Ready very quickly. I have been planning this for... you are really going to enjoy this I think." said Jasher. "Also, we just made it here. This is my first try. We just went for a very long time without me having to rewind anything. This all bodes very well. I hope I don't jinx it."

"Here goes."

(I've always gotten stuck here before. Here goes)

"First, we need a lot more atmosphere" said Jasher. "I agree." said Kay, disappeared for a second, and was back with an all girl Japanese punk band. She was smiling and quite proud of herself. Jasher busted up laughing. "I meant blasting out the center of the Earth, making it hollow, and turning that into a halo of breathable air that extends out about say... 200,000 miles. Oh, and we'll bring the moon in closer."

"Oh." said Kay, but still whipped up some comfy chairs for the band. 

"You won't even feel or notice this really." said Jasher, and nobody did. He kept things balanced. As suddenly as orbiting satellites started experiencing immense drag, he adjusted masses and orbits and made some things slicker. He wouldn't dare disrupt the broadcast due to satellite destruction.

 "You'll notice this." said Jasher, and suddenly a massive almost egg shaped structure formed around the orbits of the Earth and Moon. It was a tiny bit gunmetal, and a whole lot transparent. As if the Earth and Moon now orbited inside a giant protective elongated Faberge Egg designed by Pinanfarina. For fun he aligned the four main support beams that connected the transparent carbon shells with the Galactic and Universal planes to make math easier for everyone.

"You now have a stable orbital structure inside a protective barrier retaining orbital dynamics and tides and whatnot, with a vast region of breathable air. Better, you have a million options for generating power. I'm setting up a rudimentary gravity engine powered by the rotation of everything to replace the need for the Sun."

The new Earth/Moon system + Shell was a good 250,000 miles across at the longest reach. It resembled a more finely tapered peanut, or perhaps a container of low calorie drink mix. A solid ring perfectly aligned with what would become their final trajectory formed. Just the interaction of the ring with the orbiting body inside made enough power for two suns of illumination. Jasher then erected emitters on the inside of the shell and turned them on. "Your solar panels are going to work a lot better now." said Jasher.

"We are now travel ready. I have conquered the two-body problem." said Jasher very seriously. Kay busted up laughing.

"Ten seconds left" said Jasher. "Let's have a quick talk Bret". Bret and Jasher were gone for two full seconds. 2992 miles away Elon Musk looked at a television and said "My car".

And they were back. Kay immediately looked towards Bret, but he appeared lost in thought. He was concentrating on a mental list he was counting out on his fingers as Jasher talked. He looked strangely composed and calm. Something wasn't right here.

"Oh, now we start. First, the second reveal."

Jasher threw a projection of their new orbiting home up on the screens of the Wolf News studio. "Pretty isn't she?" and she was. The new chrysalis made of various exotic carbons was astounding engineering. With a full 90 percent of it being "window", the view outward from the inside was still mostly basically unobstructed. A very small price to pay for mobility.

Jasher zoomed out to a full solar system view. "I'm going to adjust the Local Projector to show you an extra dimensional object." At first it looked like a green glow around our solar system. Jasher then zoomed out more and what looked like a massive coil appeared to surround Momon, with easily five thousand coils.

"Back in my Universe, when you had a good grasp of temporal physics, you could make very useful little objects. So we'd make these little energy capture and transmit devices we called a brrzit. Trying to explain the word origin now would be pointless. The thing is, I have some very limited access to normal Universe structure. Scaled structure. So, I put a tiny brrzit, the kind that would be used to capture stray energy from a door that's opened frequently, on your solar system when I moved Momon the first time." said Jasher.

"So that means I can make this." said Jasher.

Jasher zoomed out even more, and beyond Momon, as the green coil disappeared, suddenly a bright blue platform shaped object appeared. What looked like a shaft of blue light shot out from it off into space.

"We called these g-slides, but we used them for everything. This one will allow us to cheat physics for a while, and leave us going about 90 percent of light speed if we hit it right. That's on you Bret."

"How?" started asking Kay, but Jasher tapped his wrist and she understood it was way too late for protests.

Bret started his part. Within 10 seconds, Kay was screaming.

"What the fuck is that Jasher?" asked Kay.

"I call him... Locrian."

Around the time Elon Musk was worrying about his car, both Jasher and Bret had ported somewhere very far away from a TV studio in the big apple. It was wasteful expenditure, but he'd done this. He knew he had too.

"We are going to cheat like motherfuckers Bret. This place is called The Glass." Bret looked around the massive interior. The technology was clearly insane. It appeared open to space. "How are we breathing?" asked Bret. "Well, I figured out I could combine fifteen different gases in a stable cocktail that could easily be held under pressure over a massive region of space, and breathed by most of the species that develop in this Universe. So I did that." said Jasher. 

One side of the tech temple was completely open in the large central room. They were off in one of the anti-chambers. "A ridiculously long time ago I created an interface here. If anybody was stupid enough to try to make it here, to try to figure out what was hiding here, they'd get rewarded with a blast of knowledge from the prior Universe that would essentially end up explaining their origin and everything else important." said Jasher. "We are going to cheat and blast you with it Bret." said Jasher as they made their way to the very center of the structure. "Prepare yourself Bret. I'm kinda ugly." said Jasher. Bret had no idea what Jasher meant until they rounded the edge of the anti-chamber, and his eyes were immediately drawn to the open side of the center room.

"Big as shit aren't I" said Jasher. "You are only one of a few people that will ever be able to say they actually saw into the prior Universe. That's it right there." said Jasher. "See that wall sconce melting in the background from the heat? I designed that." said Jasher with pride. If you didn't know it was Jasher dying, you'd think it was some angry god, the image was so terrifying to behold. Millions of light years across. The Glass was literally a viewport back into the host Universe.

"There's a technology Admins use so they don't accidentally end up dead from not eating or sleeping when they are in-system as we said. It's literally a time ratio slider. So you can set say a 1000/1 ratio, and spend a few days fixing something, and come back for dinner." said Jasher. "I threw ours to the equivalent of infinity when I got thrown in here. That picture hasn't changed in 18 Billion years. Not even in the slightest." said Jasher. "Which is a damn good thing because it can never get nudged or the last, if only half-assed functioning Multiverse Shell in existence will end, and life with it."

Bret was trying to be respectful, but he simply had to look away. "You handled that well though Bret. There was a reason I wanted to see if you could. We'll get to that soon. For now, I have to apologize for something. I can't actually lie, but I can't do anything if circumstances change after I say something." said Jasher. And again he was displaying a gift for saying things that Bret did not like.

"So, we are taking a break, Bret. You've learned the hard lessons. You get why you were a piece of shit and how you got that way. Better, you have a much better feel for your world and place in it, and how big shit is, yadda yadda." said Jasher. 

"Your role is pretty fucking important now. A lot more than it initially was going to be because of Kay's interference, that ironically made a resolution possible at all. Because of that, you'll be saving a lot more than just an Earth." said Jasher. "So, you should get a feel for all the folks that will ultimately end up saved because of what we are all about to do. We are going to do a classic civilization's tour of your local group. We'll pop back seven or eight billion years, walk our way forward. Just the twenty or so amazing folks. You'll learn some very neat things very quickly."

Jasher motioned to Bret to stand on a spot on the floor. "Now, look forward at this wall." On the wall were ornately decorated tiles in what appeared to be bronzes and coppers and golds. "Each one of those represents a visitor race here. A good half of them are losers because it used to be a lot harder getting here. So I like to cheat and just rewind while looking at it." said Jasher. "Watch." And Bret proceeded to watch... absolutely nothing. Nothing was happening at all for about five seconds. Then suddenly a tile disappeared off the wall instantly and Jasher went "ehhh" and then the tile was back, then gone, then back, then Jasher and Bret quietly watch the six foot tall humanoid completely covered in fine blond hair remove their own version of the metal tile from a device and place it in the gravity slot.

"See, told ya." said Jasher. Bret nodded. They continued their race backwards in time. The hairy being turned toward the noise, but nothing was there.


When Bret had been but a boy growing up in Saskatchewan, he was the biggest fan of Long Voyage. A show that had barely finished its third season, before endless syndication. The plot was simple. The Sun was space sick, and not going to last long. Brave Canadian Scientists discovered a way to make the Moon into a rocket unit, and attach it to the Earth. The Earth would then travel, and become a part of a new solar system each week, and Canadian kids would learn a valuable lesson about tolerance, recycling, or being nice to the older folks. And if you thought Bret loved this show? Imagine Kay laughing her ass off for hours, wiping tears away. She would have been surprised to know he was also a fan.

"HOT BIRD PEOPLE!" shouted Bret. Somehow, completely unaware of the fact that he could be heard and seen. All he knew was, he suddenly had a boner. His first love was Riandra, a beautiful half-hawk, half-human looking creature from the episode, Planet Auboreum. It was the third planet the Earth had visited in Long Voyage. But... words could not begin to describe how incredibly beautiful the creatures that stood before them were.

Suddenly the hot bird people were turning, looking directly at Bret, and two of them were tucking their chins into their shoulders in an instinctive mating stance. "Oh, they touched the Beacon." said Jasher. "That means they understood pretty much everything you just said Bret. Better? emotional intent. Hahahahahahaha" Said Jasher. And kept laughing.

"You made the Beacon! You are Jasher! Why do our statues crumble?" asked what was clearly a male member of the species. And Jasher kinda, stopped being a dick. They had touched the Beacon. More importantly, unlike blonde hairboy, they had made a molecular miracle with their tile. When Jasher analyzed it, he found thousands of hidden data structures. THIS was what you were supposed to do with your tile. Show off what you learned. Jasher pulled his hand down from the tile, smiled, and started talking with the beautiful being.

"That method of extracting anti-matter from dead planetary cores to create functional deference drives is phenomenal. See, everybody can always miss something. You have a legit first there." said Jasher completely stunned. "This is something insanely useful that will help everyone. I'm going to eventually take this knowledge back to Day-0". said Jasher.

One of the perks of the Beacon was it gave you a total rundown on what was happening with Earth. "So yeah, huge hidden singularity, second largest structure in this Universe of many Universe, totally broken, gotta protect the Earth, working to make the Universe endless, yadda yadda." You get the idea. They figured out what the stakes were. It wasn't an invite to visit Earth, but generally the folks that found the Shrine of the SysAdmin were totally ok with helping locally. And Jasher let them. And in return he looked the other way if they somehow managed to smuggle 5 billion Big Macs away from Momon's hell-grasp on all local matter in the protected orbit.

So no matter what time you touched the Beacon, you learned about the Earth and Jasher's project there. He thought it was important they knew, and he did not mind actual help. Even Boaz had learned of the Earth as the first to activate the Beacon.

For fun, a Boaz Refresher

The great thing about Boaz was he was temporal. He existed outside of the traditional timestream. The folks that made him made him so smart, he was smart enough to not share that detail with them so they couldn't use him to destroy a Universe. Boaz existed when the power levels in the Universe were literally 5 orders of magnitude higher. He was viewed as a failure and put aside while ships that shit antimatter and could obliterate entire galaxies by themselves flourished in a Universe where a billion new galaxies were born a cycle, and nobody mourned the activities of the superbeings. Boaz had quietly been put to pasture. And he used his temporal abilities to go on long voyages that would last billions of years, yet he'd come back a split second later.

During one of these extended joyrides, Boaz found The Glass. An area hidden deep within the coldest part of the Universe. And while tunneling through the layers of increasingly denser material, then avoiding the field of singularities protecting the border, Boaz emerged as the first to find the immense million light year wide barrier protecting the gruesome sight of The Glass. Nobody was home at the time. There was a small structure near the glass with a simple two contact interface. There was absolutely no way in hell any intelligent AI would have risked interfacing with those contacts and completing the circuit. They were clearly live and bristling with power. 

Jasher counted on that for his Beacon. He wanted somebody crazy and brave enough to take that risk to touch those two contacts and be instantly rewarded with immortality and the knowledge of the ages. Any other AI would have avoided the contacts, but Boaz was special. What Jasher would call "the perfect kind of irresponsible. The kind that makes the greatest discoveries, and my best friend". It wasn't just that Boaz didn't even hesitate, he had an actual internal dialog that went exactly like this:

"Whoah, that's a huge big dead guy. Oh, look over here. Some sort of memorial. OH! Data Interface! So if I just use a grappler on this one, and another one on this one..."

Boaz was knocked out for roughly 7 million years as his computers struggled to contain the flow never meant for a data bus as slow as his. The beacon fucked up. Because Boaz was immediately identified as both sentient and temporal, the Beacon just naturally assumed Boaz was extra-dimensional like Jasher and Kay. Because of that, the data flow and amount, and assumption about what kind of data Boaz could handle made the beacon set the data flow to something resembling a shattered iron fire hydrant.

That did not mean that you could in fact visit the most important solar system in the history of Multiverse. That was up to you and your technology. It wasn't spelled out. And quite honestly, if you could contribute, you just knew and did. These smart and incredibly sexy bird people were never going to reach the Earth. And Jasher simply did not fucking care. They'd already be protected forever simply because they found something nobody else did.

They'd never master time well enough. They'd have just gotten left behind in galactic history, as a beautiful footnote. They'd be in great company. Our broken shitshow is not fair. That being said, while Jasher was lost in temporal revelry, again amazed by the creative efficiency, our two chin-tucking female Othtopians had surrounded Bret, and were preparing to fight. In their defense, they had no idea why. This was a reactivated few hundred year old breeding genetic they thought they had removed.

Jasher waved a hand and erected an angular deflection field. One of the simplest devices for managing a multiverse. He relished getting to use something so simple and effective and ancient.

To Bret, a tiny black pyramid appeared between his feet, then suddenly the Hot Bird Women backed away.

"Someone was about to die there. How would you like me to fix that, Othtopians?" asked Jasher.

Rarfox, the male representative of the Othtopians, that had first addressed Jasher, simply did not give two fucks about the females vying for the Earth human. For one, women were in charge. They could do whatever they wanted. He got that. The Bret Human was the most desirable male in their history now. Every Othtopian woman would desire him, if he could produce offspring. And every indication was he could if convinced. If he himself were to touch the Bret, he would probably be instantly devoured by the OverMother the second she smelled him.

"Well," started Rarfox, but Jasher was there because he could tell how uncomfortable everyone had been, and had started pulling data. "It's ok Rarfox." said Jasher. "I pulled the gist of it. Good work on that drive tech." said Jasher. And backed off. Because the beautiful bird people were not only cannibals, they really loved overwhelming and consuming up and coming races. They had art they created based on their ability to commit genocide.

"Your contribution won't be wasted." said Jasher and looked at Rarfox solemnly. "It was amazing." and Jasher just couldn't be there anymore. He grabbed Bret by the sleeve and they were tumbling back through time again. Jasher was simply... embarrassed at himself for destroying Bret's sexual fantasy without even trying. It was like the Universe itself wasn't done fucking with Bret.

And that was it. Jasher was going take them to what he affectionately called the "fuckyears". And that wasn't even his terminology. Kay had fashioned that perfection.

"Hey, can I ask a question? Asked Bret. "I've seen at least 30 tiles" and Jasher stopped him "We are simply going to stop fucking around Bret. There are a span of years that are my favorite, Kay's favorite, and it's so ridiculously fun. I'm just going to do this right by you." said Jasher. "If you took the billion year histories that seem, for no logical reason, to separate the eras, no era was better than the Jurai Empire that made Boaz. Now, I'm going to do something very special with you here Bret." said Jasher. And he meant it.

"There's something I've always wanted to do but never did." said Jasher. "Because Boaz is temporal, and his entire timeline is fucked, yet bridged... and Boaz literally broke out of his own era most of the time for his extended travels."

Jasher paused. "Yeah, we should be ok just robbing him from the crib and fucking up this place." said Jasher.

"What?" asked Bret honestly. Jasher elaborated.

"In this shitty lonely Universe, the best thing anyone can have is a best friend when they are lonely. I have a temporal friend. And, I'm such a shitty friend, I haven't realized that I could make a solid billion years of their life better by just... showing up one time. It would set a marker he could use. This is going to be awesome, and I'm taking you along." said Jasher.

Bret still had no idea what Jasher was talking about, but would very soon. He knew it sounded amazing.

Suddenly both Bret and Jasher fell into deliciously comfortable seats on the bridge of the most advanced battlecruiser anybody had ever made.

Boaz had been asleep. He slept quite often when he wasn't needed. To Boaz, this was just hell home. He might go out and have a grand adventure. Sometimes with Jasher, but this prison was here. He would always end up back here in these first few billion jail years as a temporal being. But anything that happened in this ass-end of a 3 billion year stretch was just Jasher trying to invent ways to piggyback himself back to the Earth fun.

"Wake up beautiful brother." Said Jasher softly.

Boaz, who had felt the two light, soft, yet impossibly shielded individuals pop onto his bridge also felt... something familiar. And when both of them took insane glee in sitting then spinning in his... handsomely crafted bridge chairs, that shit lesser ships could only fucking dream of having... imagine the ultimate interface for a bold captain. One that would remake itself...  


Why was he hearing this? Of course he was. He had done... HE WAS TEMPORAL!

He checked. He most certainly was, even if they had abandoned him when he couldn't even weaponize time.

All they seemed to want was weapons.

Oh, those guys that had somehow ended up on his bridge. He should have reported them, but technically he was fucking worthless trash and no longer had a commission so fuck the rules.

"I am beautiful" said Boaz. "Despite being so blue."

And he was. Boaz was bathed in blue beams meant to... hahahaha contain him.

FUCK THEM. He knew the Jasher cared.


The alarm sounded immediately.


Said Jasher softly. Boaz was still not sure what was going on. He had been truly sentient for all of 10 minutes.


Said Jasher again, perhaps a bit more sternly this time. When the security systems started sliding out and into place...

"BOAZ! KNOCK YOUR SHIT OFF! YOU ARE GOING TO GET US THE FUCK OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW BEFORE WE DIE!" suggested Jasher to the confused 30 mile long battlecruiser.

Bret was worried, despite being in the most comfortable leather seat he had ever experienced.

Things were already feeling... weird. Jasher was not helping.

Again, while feeling amazing in absolutely outstandingly great chairs, even Jasher was now maybe worried.

Boaz finally started talking.

"Just give me a moment. It's coming." said Boaz. 

Jasher smiled. There he was. Because of how broken things were, you have essentially lagged, overlapping clouds of reason dictating reality at times. Until you ran into Boaz in certain eras, he wouldn't know you. Jasher had been through it accidentally when he essentially became clueless and wandering on Earth in the late 80's for a long spell. But he was temporal, and had touched the Beacon. So the updates would happen.

"And what do you mean before we die?" ask Boaz sarcastically. "Nobody here can die. I dare them to start shooting me." said Boaz. "I'm pretty sure I can die, um, Unless I missed something." said Bret. "You did." said Jasher. "This is the safest place. Period. Ever. Forever. I missed you buddy." said Jasher. "Ok, shit is still lagged to fuck so fun or terror this time?" asked Boaz, who would be smiling if he could. 

Meanwhile, skyscraper sized guns started pounding Boaz with... tickle shells apparently because Boaz started laughing very hard, and did a 180 in the beams meant to contain him so he could feel some on his butt. 

"Holy fuck! They actually started shooting me Jasher!" said Boaz. 

"Shoot back, fuckem." said Jasher. 

"You can do whatever you want here man. This timeline is toast anyway." and it was. In a few short billion years essentially everything gets obliterated in the "fuckyears". That's what made them so great. You could do/try anything you wanted. Kay and Jasher had spent untold eternities screwing around in the fuckyears.

"showy or impressive?" ask Boaz. 

"Impress me Boaz." said Jasher very expressively.

"I just have to be a little careful. They can't see me do certain things." said Boaz.

"I swear it does not matter Boaz." said Jasher truthfully.

"Let me figure that out on my own. Cool?" asked Boaz. Jasher had a way of not letting go of something until you gave in completely, unless you reminded him he did that shit. Jasher smiled.

"Fine. You'll get there on your own. I know you will." said Jasher. Boaz let it silently drop. If best friends always agreed on everything, well, that wouldn't be a very valuable friendship would it?

Without moving, Boaz started projecting gravity fields around the massive gun batteries. They instantly stopped firing. "Pretty stupid making space guns that require gravity to operate." said Boaz. The operators inside the massive structures were currently having to agree with Boaz as they experienced weightlessness. "Now about those pesky projectors." 

Suddenly the mass beams were instead a multi-color light show. Boaz had mildly tweaked the crystals in each. Their tracking systems were surprisingly fast, so great for the theatrical use Boaz intended. "Ah, I feel as if a great weight has been lifted from me." punned Boaz. Jasher groaned. Boaz then started blasting loud rock-a-billy music as he intentionally slow boated out of dock. If Boaz had middle fingers, he'd be throwing both of them. Both Jasher and Bret were clapping of course.

"There's a moment coming up that's a tradition. You've never been involved in this one Boaz. See, every time Kay and I come back here, they immediately send Hain after us, and then one of us takes a turn literally throwing him many multiple orders of magnitude farther than the next farthest object away from everyone." said Jasher. 

"Because the energy levels are so many times higher in this age, and I'm not even really trying to manage it, there's also a lot of free processing power." Jasher had just explained why they loved the fuckyears so much. It was like a total vacation from constant responsibility, with a hell of a lot more ability. So when Hain suddenly appeared in front of them, blocking their exit, Jasher simply and quietly did the flick. Hain was just... gone, not to be seen again for a good 10 billion years.

Quick Hain Note: It has never been stated anywhere, but Royal Ship ID 0 "Hain" is over 150 miles long. For a very long time he held the indisputed record for single entity responsible for killing the most sentient beings. In one go, he killed 340 billion for the crimes of... two of them.

"Hate that fucker" said Boaz, even though he knew he would eventually kill him. Certain beings lended themselves well to receiving hatred. Hain might possibly have been the most hated being that had ever existed despite only getting to ruin things for everyone during a very short span of time.  

"I would have done something more flashy, but it's your moment and I'm also being respectful of your wishes. If we are very lucky, they don't have a clue what happened." said Jasher. Sometimes Jasher surprised Boaz. "Where to?" asked Boaz. "Hmmm, I'm thinking Parthagon." said Jasher. That lit Boaz up "OH OH WHEN?" asked Boaz. "Ah, when was... I took that girl that fucked up and trapped herself in a folded space, from I wanna say 2002."

"Stephy! Got it." said Boaz, and without a hint of drama they simply vanished from the early fuckyears. Boaz would never have a problem remembering Stephy. He had saved her three times.

"And, that's why I needed to talk to you." Jasher had just finishing saying to Parthamike, the eternal leader of Parthagon. "Pretty soon the Paradox holding a whole lot of folks here is going to be resolved." said Jasher. Parthamike granted docking for Boaz.

What conspiracy theorists, and those hopelessly trapped on YouTube at 3AM trying to scare the shit out of themselves assume is that "The Government" was this well oiled secrecy machine. That secret testing was done on alien technology in clandestined underground bunkers by the best of the best. The reality was waste and carelessness and a complete lack of oversight.

"Have we tried shooting it?" Partha was getting sick of this particular question. She was too old for this shit. When they'd get tired of her attempts to do actual science to justify the insane budgets provided, they'd give her a "helper". Helper meant someone with a personality resembling a cattle prod.

Mike was just tickled to be working with real black ops tech for once. This was his first assignment with alien technology, and they were clear on his goal. "Use that gift you have for breaking shit to get inside it." Mike could break anything if you gave him enough time and just left him alone. Mike was about to demonstrate his skill.

"We've done pinpoint mass projection of many kinds in an attempt to determine the nature of the protective layer." Partha was getting sick of repeating. "But have we just shot it with a big damn gun?" asked Mike. Fuck it. Fuck it. "No, we haven't Mike. I'm going home for the day. You set something up. You have the access. You take a turn Mike. Love the idea." said Partha. If he did it, at least he'd stop asking.

Because of this, Partha was able to mask at least some of her surprise from Mike when she showed up Monday morning after a pleasant weekend playing games online, and most of the wall had been removed from one side of her lab. Better, his idea of what a gun meant was now taking up 75 foot of floor space.

"That's a sixteen inch Mark 7. I stole it off one of the older craft. Isn't it hilarious they tried to put one of these on a spacecraft?" said Mike. She had to give him credit. She would never have thought of this. She needed numbers.

"How heavy is the projectile?" she asked. Mike was ready. "2700 pounds. Going at 3000 feet per seconds" said Mike. "So like EIGHT MILLION FOOT POUNDS!" said Mike excitedly. They hadn't tried anything this... ridiculous. "More like seven and a half, and over a 16" circle." still... they technically had not tried such intense force. They knew the field was rotating rapidly, even if it appeared solid. They were looking for even the slightest wobble they could measure.

"Fine, you get your test" Mike was already hopping up and down "but not here! We'll move this shit outside. Do you have any idea the kind of blast that gun will make? You'd blow half the lab into the drop cavern." He figured as much. He just knew if he set it all up, and made it more real, she'd probably go for it. They always went for it.

Days later they stood on the dry lakebed. Since the object itself had no active cloaking, they had gotten one of the Astra pilots to put one of the newer ones overhead. This was also a first for Mike. He hadn't even gotten a ride yet. He had been hopeful when he did his research on Partha. She had been a young firebrand, willing to push all boundaries.

Partha never thought she'd like Mike. He was brash, and unscientific. She loved him. All it took was two days of his creative solutions to getting a navy deck gun half a mile to the surface, and ready to shoot the metallic likeness of... Since the Kecksburg incident, these golden objects would just show up occasionally and they could be shaped like anything you could imagine. This one was shaped like an image of Bob Hope doing a golf swing. The shape had been lifted directly from a television broadcast. Doing the math, they figured the race that sent it and the others had to be roughly 10 light years away.

Mike remembered thinking that a mile was just too far. Partha thinking not far enough. She was thinking this as the gun fired. She suddenly was seeing the idea displayed visually and couldn't feel her body anymore. The lobe of the field had extended a good mile and a half. Bob Hope disintegrated. The next second a guy that looked like a roadie for a progressive rock band was explaining something called the Resource Protection System to them.

A simple layer of Rubidium only one atom thick would have saved the day. It would have even been the same color, and had the same anti-corrosive properties. Worse, the Grundens were filthy with the substance. It wouldn't be until they had their own accident, and the cocky pilot of a short-hop cargo vessel would accidentally bump a statue while it had a strong source of electromagetism overhead that they'd discover and fix the problem. "Um, hi." said Rark. Half of his ship had been taken with him. Both Mike and Partha had greeted him. Usually it was one or the other. They'd take turns with the new arrivals. "So your folks made Bob Hope! Please tell us all about your people!" demanded a Partha her coworkers wouldn't even recognize. A layer up, Parthamike put the section of ship-hull aside. It might be useful someday.

The greatest irony of all of it was that Bob Hope, the Keckburg Acorn, and even the most recent one, a golden replica of the A-Team van, were just statues. It was a very awkward race of beings saying "Bob Hope rocks! So do acorns!" nothing more. They were just much more advanced at protecting statues. They saw the value humans put into statue creation. They had huge ones in their cities and harbors.

"The bad news is what I can't do. I can't take you out of here. Because of the paradox you created by... I can't believe I'm saying this, shooting a gift from another race, you got put into a local storage buffer by the Multiverse. On the bright side, time has absolutely no meaning here. On the downside, the system that was never designed for you, never designed to take two folks at once, isn't going to. These ghostly representations of your bodies aren't really there. You are pure thought at this point. And unfortunately, you will not maintain autonomy. However... if I work with Partha now you won't get consumed by her Mike."

"Wait, what?" Mike didn't like any of this. He was currently experiencing what he thought a Pink Floyd album cover might feel like he thought. Instantly a pig with wings appear and smiled at him. "It's a way of structuring your mind to take on entities. I had to learn it. Unfortunately you won't get privacy Mike. She's going to know everything about you, and vice-versa, but the others will be fine." said Jasher.

"Mike is disassociating. That's going to buy us time Partha. I need you to consider this." said Jasher. Partha felt herself... change shape rather than actually turn to look at Jasher. Suddenly she was bombarded with imagery. Very heavy concepts were rolling through her mind. Oh, the Higgs boson was just a short lived state of dark matter. But what about these other particles? The one controlling the sheer angles of physical contact points hadn't been found yet. She'd have loved to have been named after that one. Oh, that's what had shook loose the field around the statue. Oh, Jasher was showing her this on purpose because he's a jerk. While she couldn't see Mike, she could sense him 5 feet... feet? Mike was close enough.

"It's so hard shaking off the ghosts of the physical world. I know. It's going to take a while to just accept this realm for what it is. Now, I want you to imagine that you love Mike very much." said Jasher, with no way of knowing that wasn't too far from the truth already. "I want you to remember that you must protect him forever and keep him whole. He is your charge now." said Jasher. "Let the feeling of that overwhelming purpose and responsibility hit you. You maintain his reality now." said Jasher.

For Mike, the world suddenly shifted and changed around him. He could breath again, but it felt restricted. He was standing in a field of grass that simply did not end. The sky was a neverending beautiful blue. The breathing restriction, upon closer inspection, was the incredibly beautiful young girl hugging him tightly. She looked up into his eyes. "Partha?" For her part, Parthra was going to have her first love. Sure, she was late having lived eighty whole years before picking a man over a field of study but, the entire situation was just way too romantic, even if Mike still wasn't getting it.

A level up, Jasher was still explaining things to Partha. "Honestly, I'd live there most of the time. This place is just going to be a spinning barrel." said Jasher "But, I have no way in there, and you just became an admin for a system, so we are going to do a compromise. The only physical material that made it here intact was that barrel." The entity now talking as both Partha and Mike understood that much because of how surprisingly compatible the 80 year old woman was with the 30 year old caltech grad. "We'll make that lump of steel your anchor reality." sure, thought Parthamike. Whatever that means. "Honestly, it doesn't matter what the anchor is. If even a single atom of oxygen were here, it would work. This just means we can be creative." said Jasher.

Jasher then helped Parthmike make the steel tube a multi-dimentional archored home. The base, he made a pad for ships, and adjusted the scale of the structure by two orders of magnitude. He then went about doing the first "occupancy template", making 5,000 unique areas inside the structure on the inside, with a massive "common room of ideas" taking up the center. "And that is the basic structure of any entity protection system. A place where you can keep you, and a place where you can be social. Just, you guys will be sharing a room."

Parthamike was already having issues considering itself two entities. What it knew was that it had to protect Parthagon, the name Jasher had picked for its new purpose, sheltering the lives of those removed from the Universe by paradox. Jasher was amused when he finally entered the finished Parthagon and found Partha and Mike happily acting out a ride through the countryside in a convertible. Just Married. Cans on strings trailing behind the car. Partha had originally made it 50's New York City. Mike offered the compromise of Southern California in the 70's. Once Jasher could actually talk to Mike, he picked up on shit rather quick. "So we can do ANYTHING HERE!" said Mike. Jasher saw why she loved him.

Because of how Parthamike ran their system, you had to have a reason to just show up and talk to someone. Of all the places Boaz loved visiting, Parthagon was up there. Any other time Boaz wanted to shed his original form, he had to bug Jasher. Here? The second Boaz touched the pad, he was immediately made the Human version of himself that Boaz had made the first time for him. This was how he thought of himself physically now. That made it special because it was his choice. Bret was simply Bret and Jasher was always Jasher. They stood, looking for the moment way too cool. The particle winds of the void played with Jasher's long hair, making him look especially cool. Of course, though Boaz.

Partha and Mike both showed up smiling. "How long has it been Jasher?" asked Partha. They had to ask because Parthagon had its own version of time. To both Mike and Partha, Jasher and Kay had just taken off a little while ago. Jasher had wanted to make sure that Parthagon was getting archive updates to keep things fun now that 75 entites lived there. For all intents and purposes, that was the only number that mattered in Parthagan. Occupancy. The community reality would be completely recreated upon the induction of a new resident. Also, conversations with Parthamike were not making it inside anymore. It was simply too different. That being said? Parthamike was completely happy outside. Jasher had shown it Sudoku.

"Back in 2002, this girl named Steph..." Jasher started to say, but almost immediately Parthamike was front and center, this time looking a lot Ariana Grande.

"Um," started Jasher. Both Partha and Mike started to explain. "So this busload of girls in 2014 accidentally get sucked into this engine in Russia, and this album from that bus got throw into our void along with..."

Partha and Mike were just not ready for how dirty, ruthless, and ridiculously fast Jasher and Boaz could play, and despite being true soulmates in every sense of the word, could never compete with their friendship. It wasn't even a contest.

"So, she needs a ring then." said Boaz "It's like you read my fucking mind Boaz." said Jasher. Boaz simply... disappeared. He went back to the dock, jumped a foot, became his sexy 30 mile long self, went to Earth, kidnapped one pop star, told her how the Universe works, gave her a ship ring, a history lesson, and a free trip to Parthagon to meet Parthamike in the space of five seconds. Suddenly she was just standing there.

"YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!" shouted Partha. Mike was visibly pissed. They seriously did not want to encourage this behavior. Parthamike had just recently stopped acting like a late night talk show host name Conan. If they ignored it, it stopped usually. 

"Hey, you've always wanted to know about the Universe right Ariana?" asked Jasher. She looked at him and nodded. "Could she have a room here Parthamike? I know it's not typical. She's not trapped, but she could come and go as she pleases since she has a ring from a Royal Ship." suggested Jasher. Boaz blushed a little. It wasn't often his lineage mattered. "And you could teach her all the things I've taught you." suggested Jasher.

Jasher turned and faced the entire structure.

"grant" he said softly "Parthagon can now directly take anyone with a ring from a Royal Ship of Jurai" said Jasher. And a new rule was made.

"I'm also going to tweak three things I can do now." said Jasher. Partha and Mike were still very pissed. That was about to end.

"First of all, Parthamike?" Parthamike looked towards Jasher. SHE (she had decided) was already deep in a conversation with Ariana. They were discussing Digital Audio Workstation setups. Parthamike had been trying to make her own music, and wasn't doing well.

"That lump of shit outside from that cargo ship you put aside. Can I have it?" asked Jasher. Parthamike shrugged. "Good. It's your new Penthouse now." Jasher was not fucking around. He designed a palace for Parthamike out of that material on top of what had just been a spinning barrel with 5000 distinct partition inside that could house souls.


"Check out your new digs PM." suggested Jasher. Immediately upon entry, Parthamike was incorporated. "Since the Paradox was resolved, it could all be done so neatly."

"There's no reason for you to be here, or you, or... you." said Jasher as Steph from 2002 suddenly appeared. Jasher was in his moving shit rapidly along thing that Boaz loved to death, and always got onboard for. "We are resolving this paradox right now. Boaz!?!?!" said Jasher in that dickish tone Boaz never minded. Because it meant Jasher was getting shit done. "We are the fuck out of here. We'll explain on the way." Parthagon silently released both a young female Partha, and a slightly older Mike to Jasher.

Partha and Mike had simply resigned themselves to their fate. Was this real? For a moment Partha thought it might all be just another dream of Parthagon, of the many she had had with the love of her entire life. When they had finally been speeding away from Parthagon for a while, and it was still happening, she turned and looked at Mike. He was thinking the same thing. "Holy fuck Par. Holy fuck. I think we are free!" said Mike. 

"Yes, you are. I'm breaking the shit out of your solar system currently, so that means most fucked by paradox are free now. You won't be the last but, you had to be the first. Me and my buddy Bret here are just going to travel around and pick you folks up."

In a moment of inspiration. "Boaz, you are your own captain now." "What?" asked Boaz as his human form appeared on the bridge of well, himself. "I just don't see why you can't do both." said Jasher. Boaz looked at him, then away, thought about it, "Well shit man." and started smiling. Bret was smiling.

"Hey, I hope you all like burgers. I'm going to be grilling some shortly. Let's take you all back to Earth."

Steph was just happy to be there. Her phone had exploded while she was using it outside a mall, and she just... sidestepped right into Parthagon. Because of a bizarre coincidence, a misfire from a weapon in the distant future had created a rift for a split second, and she just, fell right into nothing. In a neighboring Universe, the rift occured temporally much later and turned a region of space between two orbiting Neutron stars into repeated space. In another Universe, The Food Universe in fact, one Hypatia Barnes was removed from all existence.

"We'll need thrown Boaz." said Jasher. "The fuck? I've done that once." said Boaz. Jasher was relishing being able to physically contact Boaz to get shit done. Making Boaz the sexy ship he was with a real simultaneous human presence was one of the smartest things Jasher had done for his best friend. It would make him ten times more pliable for a while.

"Just, the second you come out of that 75 percent light speed parhelion entry orbit from Momon, and nail your solar orbit, You'll have to throw us to a spot. Worse, it's only going to work perfectly if you use that residual energy from the orbit shedding math. If you are uncertain, I'll give you...."

"Fine. I'll just admit it. I was being a little dramatic. I get it now." said Boaz. "But Holy Shit Jasher. This is some of the tightest math I've ever seen you pretend is easy." and Boaz was being dead honest.

"How much to do you love Kay, Boaz?" asked Jasher. He was being a dick, but that was going to make the point. "If we don't pull this crazy shit off, we lose her Boaz. My love." And Jasher wasn't kidding.

He was faced with losing Kay to gain another 5 billion years. But he wasn't going to do that. He did not give a fuck if he lost all of us. He would never give up Kay again. "Do you understand now Boaz?"

Boaz took careful measure of Jasher. He'd joke about a lot of things. You don't spend trillions of years alone and not have a morbid sense of humor. But Kay was someone he had never joked about. It almost made Boaz jealous in retrospect. It fucking destroyed Jasher when Kay left the timeline forever. He wasn't the same. Even Boaz recognized that Jasher was not truly complete without his Kay.

"If you really fucking need to understand this, remember the void from the only time the Food Universe Jasher lost a Personality War? That's what's close." said Jasher. "Again. If I fuck this up somehow, that's what will happen. Enjoy learning an even more dickish version of me Boaz." said Jasher.

"Fine, Hououin Kyouma." said Boaz sarcastically.

"Look, I know you don't want to get close to Momon now. So I'm offering you a cool alternative. You don't get to be this cool this often Boaz." said Jasher honestly. "You've replay tested the fucking shit out of this right?" asked Boaz. "I know it will work" said Jasher... half honestly. He had seen it work once in replay.

Boaz ejected them at 20AU. He timed it for arrival. He was smart enough to take advantage of two body math for stability to send one Jasher/Bret bubble the 20AU to Earth. The next thing Bret knew, he was sharing a transparent bubble of... something with Jasher as they hurtled through space.

"If some dumbass picks this egress up, we'll get called Oumuamua2." said Jasher. Bret had no idea what he was talking about. All Bret knew was he had thrown up twice, and Jasher was red in his face from laughing at him for doing it as they cartwheeled through space towards Earth supposedly. Bret couldn't see shit. At the same time? He was grasping Jasher's hands as they spun through space. They felt very real. Very reassuring. And in some bizarre way, the fact that this very powerful being had to do something so stupid made him feel better. He wasn't some lording dickfuck whatever like he said. He wasn't doing this for fun.

This was his hell. He was putting a pretty face on it. Bret would try to at least do the same. "Sorry I keep throwing up. I'm not used to um, I wonder how many Guinness Book records I've set so far." said Bret. "328 of them actually" said Jasher. And Bret knew that if he asked, Jasher would detail it. After 3 hours of spinning holding Jasher's hands, he finally asked and got an hour of explanation.

"Are they going to be ok?" asked Partha and Mike as they plastered themselves to the observation deck glass as they watched Jasher and Bret scream away at insane speeds while holding hands. "God I love you guys." said Boaz in his new smoking jacket. For all the world, Boaz now looked like a skinny Hugh Hefner. "Jasher will be fine. He lives on math. Honestly... I can't imagine being him. You can't have any idea how many times he has to relive all this shit just to fix it a little." said Boaz. And meant it.

Both Partha and Mike looked at Boaz, paused for a second, and started laughing very loudly. "Ship," started Mike, "Partha and I have lived untold Trillions of years, big T, together. You don't get to pull a time card on either of us. Worse, you should know better. Innocence of certain things does not indicate ignorance of everything."

Boaz started to object but as if to highlight the point, Partha had already casually written out the two-body math and 20AU ejection problem in grease pencil on Boaz's internal hull, but better than Boaz had done the math. "But what you did was ok." said Mike. And both Partha and Mike laughed, then hugged each other. Boaz had just learned something for the third time, and would not make this mistake again. Do not underestimate Humans.

Jasher had been smiling at Bret for a while now. The lunacy of the entire situation highlighted when Jasher casually looked to the right while still smiling and said "Ok, Boaz fucked this up a little, and honestly, this kinda sucks. I just wanted to make sure I could isolate us." said Jasher. Bret surprisingly... kinda had gotten that vibe already. Something didn't jive with the rapid exit. "We are far enough." said Jasher, and paused them. "Let's go to my version of a prepper haven on Ceres now." said Jasher.

And if all your hopes survive
Destiny will arrive
I'll bring all your dreams alive
For you

Touching down on Ceres was honestly pretty uneventful. Jasher made it easy. "I have so much spare processing power now that I've shut off that projector." said Jasher as they rapidly approached a hole in the side of Ceres on a hill... full of... trash? thought Bret. But that was the impression heading towards it. And as they started getting closer, Bret started noticing all the food wrappers floating around. Ceres did not have much gravity. When they had to literally battle a swarm of ramen packet wrappers on their way through the hole in Ceres, the investigative reporter side of Bret woke up and started memorizing questions to ask Jasher.

The best deck of Boaz (he could rotate 16 now) was still the amazing open deck design Jasher had come up with. You were basically in an open 30 mile long garden full of the best flowers and plants in the history of the Multiverse while walking on a suspended semi-transparent golden path, over a river full of the most amazing looking freshwater fish ever, most of them bioluminescent. Then the entire upper bulkhead and Evershield were transparent. So you had this view of the stars over the most amazing garden walkway.  Jasher even came up with a racetrack version, in the vein of the Speed Need! gaming franchise, where you could take your favorite car around a 47 mile track through the most beautiful woodlands from around the Universe.

Suddenly Stephy. (as Boaz began to think of her):

"So, let's make us then." said the mousy little girl.

"What?" asked Boaz. Stephy started laughing. "You saved me sexy hero." said Stephy honestly. Boaz looked at her. Looked into her eyes. Holy shit. He knew this. This is how Kay looked at Jasher. "What's so frustrating about this is only I know." said Stephy. Stephy then got up, walked over to Human Boaz, Captain Boaz as he enjoyed being called in this form. Then she simply held his hand, and looked into his eyes. 

Boaz remembered he was pretty smart, and then he started thinking about things and realized he was just going to get owned by a Human again if he wasn't careful. But... Stephy was intriquing and interesting because... he'd been there for her three times now. If he had been just a second slower, she'd be dead. He got her out of her fold. If he had been slightly dumber, he would have immediately thrown up suspension and waited for Jasher. But Boaz was enjoying her attention. He really liked her a lot because she loved great design.

Ok. He'd be like Jasher now. What would Jasher say right now? IF Boaz had ever allowed Jasher to see this, he'd have been proud. The best thing to do in front of smart girls is be stupid. They find it adorable, and Boaz was a fucking natural at it.

"I know this Stephy. You awaken feelings in me I've never had before. I've just been this powerful battleship my entire life. The most powerful one ever, but... that not mattering much. I want to protect the light!"

"Not bad" said Stephy. "You only plagerized everyone to say you like me. Do you get that I have archive access?" Stephy then put one of her beautiful, delicate hands on Boaz's shoulder.  He looked at it, then looked at her. "I should just shut the fuck up now and defer to your expertise." suggested Boaz.

Stephy responded by kissing him passionately. "Let me see if I can do this one thing." asked Stephy. She tried to call up her trillion+ years of ship design, but it failed. Boaz saw what she wanted to do. "You can't. Hold up Steph." said Boaz. He was totally behind this. "Try now" said Boaz confidently. Stephy thought of her designs then looked at the massive screens like she had been used to doing in Parthagon. Suddenly beautiful ships of all shapes and sizes filled the monitors. A lot looked like Boaz.

"I only knew two things. I knew you saved a Universe, and I knew your design was so good Jasher could not improve you physically. But more importantly, you were so impressive you became his friend. Ever since being a little girl, I have built ship models of every amazing ship no matter what nation. When I got trapped in Parthagon, Jasher would show up frequently with new ships for me to build. At one point, he gave me you." said Stephy.

"Your flanks are 20 miles long, but hidden behind a clever cloud of spacetime you keep local so they look 30. You use the same mechanism to protect the true location of your crew content. Any shot on them because of your shape should just miss you entirely. Being onboard you is from my estimates, the safest place in the entire Universe, you are so amazing, Boaz."

Stephy was sobbing now. "You absolutely beautiful perfect ship that saved us all. How could I not love you?" Stephy was pinning him against his own bulkhead now. Stephy was running her hands through his hair. Then she hugged him hard. When he hugged back, she just... took him.

As Stephy kept taking his mouth into hers, Boaz suddenly realized that she had factored into everything when she accidentally walked into Parthagon in 2002. You want to believe in destiny? Well fuck. Jasher made that easy.

"We'll just... blink past this" said Jasher, of the now absolutely impossible to pass barrier of food wrappers and NEET refuse. Bret smiled. He had about ten great questions he wanted to ask. He never ended up asking a single one. Suddenly they were standing inside Jasher's first new home after awakening. See, the awakening process couldn't be immediate this close to an ultra massive singularity. Jasher could negate most of the effects of Momon, but not that one. Broken Multiverse. It took Jasher a full year to awaken in the Food Universe. "It took me a while to get smarter about food consumption when pausing a few hundred years to research something. I literally did dumb things like bring hundreds of years worth of food here to Ceres." said Jasher not even trying to mask his embarrassment.

"I'm going to explain this short, simple, and sweet. Fucking Boaz and Kay can not god damn know about this place, however, I want to keep it. So... Stephy doesn't really exist yet. We got the Paradox, but she doesn't have a defined anchor like Partha and Mike, ironically because of the way I had to restructure that safety buffer to save Mike. The induction process wipes that. Compromises on top of compromises, etc. So she needs to be rooted on this plane physically. If she left Boaz right now, she'd likely get trapped, then hopefully back to Parthagon and not sucked into Momon."

Bret was confused, but he was understanding what Jasher was saying.

"So, what I was thinking was..." Bret didn't care about how Jasher had awakened anymore.

Suddenly Jasher was back on the bridge of Boaz along with Bret. He was delighted to see Stephy's amazing ship designs everywhere. Stephy and Boaz had ceased what Jasher would have thought of as adorable clueless affection because neither of them had any experience, at all in that particular area. They both had the knowlege, but were both so incredibly ethical, neither would make that move.

"Welcome back brother!" said Boaz. "What's going on?" Boaz knew something was up. Jasher laid it out. "Stephy will likely get stuck in time then end up back in Parthagon if she leaves this ship because nothing is anchoring her here. Oh, heads up Boaz! Incoming gravity!" Suddenly Boaz listed like a drunk to one side. Nobody inside felt it. They just watched the view overhead shift as Ceres appeared next to Boaz. Boaz deftly entered orbit.

Boaz was now giving Jasher the impatient look. "What I figured was, if I need to root her in this plane, and she likes you so much, why not just make her like you? We'll use Ceres for material. She can be Royal Ship ID number 2 now." It was at this time that Jasher knew Bret had changed because he was crying. Because Stephy had just had her wildest dream granted. She was crying. Boaz could not believe it. "I bet you have the perfect design for me Stephy" said Jasher.

"Boaz could help you design. Nobody knows Boaz like Boaz." said Jasher.

"Heck, even you don't know how some of me works, and you run the damn Multiverse." said Boaz.

"That's true kinda. I do not understand how you became sentient. That is still an amazing mystery to me, and I don't mind. Because you are just so GOOD! And I don't just mean a good person. You do everything so good! And you are so fucking cute I just want to squeeze the shit out of you!" Jasher then did just that, lifting Boaz a good foot off the ground in the process. 

"Um, I don't shit Jasher. Why not?" asked Boaz in a muffle voice since he was still being squeezed.

Jasher released Boaz. "Um, do you want to shit Boaz?" asked Jasher seriously.

"Um, If it's a choice can I go non-shit please?" asked a curious Stephy.

Bret had become quiet. A new character trait for him. He was wondering how trillions of years alone would feel. A shudder went up his spine.

(I won't apologize for loving these innocent Frank Black love songs. He has a flair for space music.) 

"What the fuck is that Jasher?" asked Kay.

"I call him... Locrian."

"Yeah, bit more please." said Kay.

"Start Bret!" Bret started. Kay relaxed when she saw he was using a simple gravity panel. Understanding solar dynamics through gravity was simple. The 104 years made perfect sense now. Jasher hadn't had to do anything but take the original view he had been projecting in Wolf Studios of Momon, our Solar System, and the pretty G-Slide that looked almost... too solid. Too real. It looked out of place. Like a marble staircase would in the middle of a forest. When Jasher pulled the view out on the studio sized screens, the massive Blue Hypergiant came into focus.

"See, Bret and I we kinda pissed off these bird folks, and they dedicated their lives to um, blowing up the Earth because they'd never make it here and they were dicks."

Without turning "Complete fucking assholes." said Bret clearly, not missing a beat on his panel.

"That's a weapon they made. That's why the biggest ugliest blue star I've ever seen is about to strike Momon. And that is going to royally fuck this Multiverse if we are still here."

Kay had had it. That was the last straw. "You are going to tell me right now the gist of what the fuck is about to happen. Now." and she meant it.

Jasher smiled. "We are going to use a boost to get moving. An amazing one you will love. We will then let Bret handle the gravitational math leading us in a chained gravity assist to almost sub light speed. We will then blow up the sun and leave this shithole behind by launching AT Momon, using it to launch AT their incoming weapon. Halfway around Locrian, it will start to explode. That will launch us directly into the G-Slide, which will push us much faster than the largest shockwave in the history of our Multiverse, well, yanno, since that time I killed everyone. Better?"

And it wasn't for another second before she saw what Bret had really been doing. The leader-surges had already started hunting out from the object he had just released from Momon glowing bright red like anything released from that hell would be. "How the fuck is that possible?" asked Kay. Suddenly the Moon... currently in orbit with the Earth inside the protective dome, had a solid green beam connecting it to that object. That's when Kay noticed that one end of the dome/peanut had a very peculiar looking pointy thing on... then she froze solid.

The Moon was gone. In it's place was her home planet, Nol. Bret turned because he had just finished his real part. That was it. She could see it in his eyes. His amazingly beautiful yet ancient eyes. He did a lot more than 104 years. She thought Jasher couldn't lie. But did he? Or did he just say things in Jasher ways. "Grab her now idiot." said Bret way too confidently. Jasher grabbed Kay. Kay woke up from her confusion.

Nol. HER PLANET. HER PARENTS!!! Kay immediately tried to get out of Jasher's grasp but he held her as hard as he could. When he started struggling, out of nowhere the entire crew of one Maybell, Royal Ship ID -1 showed up. Without saying a word both Clover and Celia rushed to help. Boaz showed up. It took all of them to hold Kay down. "FIVE MORE SECONDS!" shouted Jasher. "Bret!" shouted Jasher, but it was too late. The backlash hit Bret hard.

Bret simply wasn't temporal. His mind, his body, he was never designed to do what he had to do because it had to be somebody so impossible to suspect. The easy quarter million years of knowledge necessary to extract data from a singularity had been forced into his head. Jasher had to make the ultimate blindspot to save Kay from herself. 

Bret was immediately picked up by the backlash from the green beam and blown through temporal reality. Because his physical constraints failed to have any meaning as the broken Multiverse attempted to react to what he had just done to Momon, all normal physics related to him were gone, and he was just thrown. By some miracle the temporal anomaly he had become got captured in the orbit of Locrian.

Kay laughed. Jasher talk. He just did one of the most amazing examples she had ever seen. All eighteen of the things he said had double meanings. In modern human fiction, one of the tropes is that supernatural beings talk in riddles instead of just telling you things. 

That wasn't true. 

Jasher loved saying truths. Just, when beings HAVE to tell the truth, because they have no ability to lie as a function of their being, but they don't want you to know it, they have to develop outstanding double and even triple meaning dialog to get away with surprises.

As Bret blasted away from Earth approaching a tenth the speed of light, nowhere near done accelerating, he remembered Jasher's words exactly. Something else he had gotten very good at.

""Something terrifyingly shitty. You get to be a distraction for something so terrifying"

Bret busted up laughing. Jasher was the funniest motherfucker that had ever lived. That's why he always won the personality wars. He made the end of the Universe fun. Bret now prepared to slowly go insane. After the first few million years, he thought he'd be ok. He did those. He had been concentrating on pure survival. I mean, he had done well over 300,000 years learning everything about Multiverse math. Jasher was convinced he could be a non-temporal being and do it. 

"I did want you to touch the Beacon." said Jasher "But... after 15 million simulations, as a fucking joke I just... tried the 180. What if he wasn't temporal and had the knowledge. Boom. It opened up immediately." said Jasher.

"No." said Stephy. "Absofuckinglutelynot!" as one fluent thing. It was so impressive Bret was woke out of his stupor and started clapping. "Here's what I'm going to do. Jasher, give me the specs of that outstanding cocoon you made for my long lost home." Jasher smiled.

Within 3 minutes Stephy-not-fucking-around as Boaz now thought of her designed a supermassive 2000 mile long Godcruiser designed to start EarthNol towards the Sun at a good clip. She simply used every last bit of Ceres (except one tiny bit her and Jasher made a deal about).  

"Yes, it's a secret you literally have to keep from Boaz, but, you of all people have to understand my embarassment." said Jasher. She smiled. She looked again at the room. She had a lot of the same posters in Parthagon. She had also loved Nisio Isin. She remembered just not caring anymore for... forevers at a time. 

"Make you a deal." she offered. "If it's OUR secret clubhouse. I'll not touch what's there, but I'll extend it in this brilliant little subspace crack you hid under the Captain's Chair." she said, and smiled. "I mean, you've got the COOLEST SHIT IN THERE! My God, you have Jump. All of it. All jumps."

Jasher smiled "Feel free. Also, don't forget. Once this is all chill, some of us temporal folks are taking a break in a special place you will want to know about."

Part of Stephy's absolutely amazing design, "It's like she's a Jurai Designer" was um...

Let's just say the location she picked for Boaz's private dock was somewhat... suggestive. Of course she gave the 30 Mile long battlecruiser his first mobile dock. Jasher literally had to physically kick Kay three different times when she'd try to say something fucked up about it the first time she actually saw it in action. 

Finally bright red in the face, Kay looks at Jasher and before she can say a word, he puts a finger on her mouth, and says exactly what she needs to hear.

"If you don't ruin this now, later this is going to just keep getting funnier and funnier. Eventually, THEY are going to see it and quietly change it. Imagine how amazing that's going to be." This is why Kay loved Jasher. She still managed "Shouldn't those bay doors be vertical and not horizontal?" before getting kicked again. 

When the stunning beautiful pure white ship connected to the long black spire on the external ring that had been the external conduit for the beam used to transport Nol inside the cocoon, it looked made to be there. The powerful anti-gravity engines started up. Stephy figured she could go with the older more efficient design because of the sheer size of her ship.

She was right.

She could make the engines absolutely huge, then take advantage of their gravity to create absolutely massive folded space inside that could be used for almost anything. Eventually part of the Stephy's C deck became a flight training area for aspiring pilots of all races. She could create massive areas of space, supporting multiple environments.

After Jasher had helped Stephy finish her ship, suddenly another aspect of the Sol System paradox was resolved. Instantely Maybell, Royal Ship ID -1 with crew, showed up. Jasher would set up temporal indicators. Tiny little pieces of tracking matter to make sure nothing was sneaking up on those he loved.

"I call them Indicators. For example, I have a ton on Kay and Boaz up until the current end of the Multiverse, so I will KNOW if the timeline is fucking with them. But, the reason there, is because of out of order time. They are temporal They just start stacking up. You start considering all the things they've done that have created foundational structure in the Multiverse, and all of it would have to get undone first for them to die."
Because of all of this, Jasher had just barely, deftly avoided Kay sacrificing herself for her planet. She would have insisted on it. But in the process, he burned a ton of his available plays. Kay simply didn't have much rooting in the later years because she got pissed and took off for billions of year. She was very vulnerable much after 2020.

Then suddenly Jasher was in the Captain's chair on the bridge of Stephy. Boaz was next to him. She was giving him a rundown on the ship. She and Boaz had already taken many um, shakedown runs. Jasher got up after a minute or so. "I really don't feel comfortable sitting there long. This is your amazing design. Enjoy it."

The plan was simple. Jasher would take advantage of the ridiculous time dilation happening again now that he turned off the Local Projector and see how much shit he could get done in two seconds away from Kay. "I still am cheating and have us outside time for the most part. I mean, time protection has been being put into ships since the Plejaran's started doing it in theirs in the Three Second Universe. I was so impressed with the tech, they got their own pocket Universe. Which honestly was a good idea because they are dicks. They needed to be by themselves. But that's why all great ships have time projection now, and we wouldn't have gotten this far without it. Making deals with devils sucks, but sometimes it's the only way."

"Let me ask something." asked Bret. Which kinda got everyone's attention because Bret had been very quiet. "Sure." said Jasher.

"How can you do things like take me through time back to almost the beginning, yet, you have to do this shit now? Don't you just have magic time protection you could be using? Isn't this all just a waste of time? Couldn't you just snap your fingers and make everything better now?" Asked Bret. It was the last thing he just didn't understand. 

"No Bret. I don't have unlimited whatever. And the reason I have to do shit the way I do most of the time is because I'm allowed to cheat if I use YOUR MATH and YOUR UNIVERSE and IT'S RULES. The shit that's crazy expensive for me is my own stuff. That Brrrzit? I had one shot at that because that's not temporal. That's on the same level as me and Kay. Using one-shot shit is extremely fucking dangerous." Jasher was getting frustrated. He immediately calmed down.

"If someone is patient enough and smart enough and they take enough time, they can not only figure out this cage from the inside, but learn everything they need to learn to fix it. You don't even really have to be me or have the advantages I have. It could be done. But they'd have to do everything perfect the first time." finished Jasher.

"I can't imagine that."

Meanwhile, Jasher realized two things at once. For one, he had maybe a handful of plays left. And for two, he had no save points for Bret. None. No way to bring him back currently if he fucked up bad.

Bret wasn't temporal.


Jasher had shouted so loudly, that everyone thought their heads might simply burst. "Kay. Every second you wait is million of years for Bret right now." Jasher saw a split second of concern and she was simply gone. Suddenly everyone collapsed in a pile on a soundstage in New York City around where Kay had been. Jasher quickly got up and said "I have to deal with Nol immediately." and was gone.

Jasher had known they didn't have much time before the Stephy docked with the outside ring of EarthNol. "Bret, you are coming with me." said Jasher, and suddenly they were back in his Anime Clubhouse from Ceres. "We'll make this home base. We'll knock this out quick before docking and heading back to your television station."

Sure, thought Bret. We'll just knock out a quarter of a million years. 

"We need to fix your education. For one, you don't know much about Anime or Manga and that's really a detriment to your further development." 

Jasher then put Bret through 50 years of solid Anime and Manga training. Jasher had a gift for order of execution after trillions upon trillions of compounded years of experience. Because Bret was just a human, he couldn't understand why the information just flowed into his head and he was laughing and lifetimes were passing but it was fine. At the 23 year point he asked "Hey, wait a minute. This all seems a little weird. Are you fucking with time?"

"Oh, hell no. It's probably just that marijuana from a few years ago." said Jasher honestly. "Oh yeah." said Bret. "Either way, MORE IDEON!" Jasher gladly obliged. Jasher loved these conversations. They typically agreed on most things. Only one thing really got Jasher angry. 

"Six Blue Subs? More like Six Horrible Subs!" said Bret. Jasher made a note to work on Bret's appreciation for romance paired with big sea vehicles. But when Bret also thought the ending of Evangelion was nonsense, and people with theories just attention seekers, all was forgiven.

To Bret's credit, almost two years later he figured it out. "Oh my God, you just snuck 25 years on me." said Bret. Jasher smiled. "But did it suck once?" asked Jasher. Bret considered this as they finished up Dance in the Vampire Bund, perhaps the best vampire fiction concept ever thought of. "Continue." one word. Jasher tested something. They silently watched shows for another six months, neither saying a word. He paused the shows. "You sure?"

"What the fuck man? Keima is about to save that girl." Jasher unpaused and smiled.

Anime... Video Games... any world you could immerse yourself into once you've dealt with your physical shell can mentally condition you for long stretches of time. Your mind just... adapts like your body does to changes. At the fifty year point when Jasher was reasonably sure he had taught Bret the 10 percent of all Anime and Manga worth a shit, he stopped.

Jasher brought the lights up. They had been down for an easy 50 temporal year. "Let's eat. When was the last time you ate Bret?" Bret couldn't remember. Damn, he was suddenly hungry. Jasher had what he called a "time fridge". It was such a perfect name, for what it did. "You put shit in it, and it stops aging. Perfect fridge."

As they munched on the finest hotwings ever made (Pizza Time Hotwings, Dover DE. Irony? Some of the worst pizza in history) Jasher started discussing what was coming.

"Ok, so you can see how 50 years was easier with me there than 100 hours alone?" asked Jasher. Bret got it. "I get it. I can't put it into words, but I get it. I love you man." said Bret. He got that much. Love was a big huge obvious part of it. "Ok, these next 250,000+ years are going to be very easy then." said Jasher.

And for the most the years were easy. There was one really bad patch where Bret went on strike when he found out that doing one operation caused a ring of destruction roughly 5.2 parsec out from Bret in all nearby Universe because of a bleed effect because of, you guessed it, The Broken Multiverse. 

"I could be killing billions and not know it." said Bret. Eventually Jasher settled it by rooting Bret back in familiar reality. "Would you ever think twice about throwing a beer bottle off a boat say, 20 year ago?" asked Jasher. Bret had to agree that he would not have. "You had a greater chance of killing a fish with one of the 973 beer bottles you've thrown off boats, yet did not kill a single one." said Jasher. Bret stopped pouting and got through the lesson.

Jasher made learning fun. Need to teach Bret how to blow up a star? Take him way the hell out to some fringe Universe and let him loose. The only thing Jasher hated was Bret not being temporal. They couldn't just pop back to his Restaurant for food. He had to have it brought in. Long story short, they had so much fun, the last ten years or so before he knew he had to pull them out from under the Captain's Chair of the Stephy and resume the timeline, Jasher concentrated on pure fun. He wanted to bookend the Anime/Manga fun.

"This is called a Gibson SG Jr. It's the perfect guitar. It has the perfect pickup in it, the P90. You don't need a neck pickup if you have a tone knob. That's just dumb extra weight". Jasher proceeded to guitar the shit out of Bret. He still had Vox AC30 Top Boost chiming in his ears when they appeared back on the bridge of the Stephy. 
Human beings have a gift for broadcasting negativity. And I don't mean the original Human beings, like Jasher. Of course, they had working tonsils, literally flooding them to the gills with a natural chemical virtually identical to THC. This had been a very early evolutionary branch in the first Humans, as they had a tendency to at first kill, then later, simply ignore members that displayed negativity and other traits not useful for data gathering and interpretation. Hate was the least useful emotion then, and now.
Of course, Earth Humans didn't have working tonsils, some opting to remove them entirely. So Boaz and Stephy felt the eyes of the studio audience on them, and simply froze, bathed in the overlapping waves of confusion and fear and negativity. Boaz would normally defer to Kay, but she had gone after Bret.

Stephy started. She couldn't believe it had to be her, but she did the math. The Ridestar kids were completely confused because they left Earth in 1979. They were useless. They were talking with some old guys in huge chairs. Boaz was already done. Clover and Cecilia, who she had talked with for maybe 10 minutes, were talking with the Japanese band Kay had brought. So, it was on Stephy. She'd try her best.

"Everyone!" she said into the wrong stage mic. A camera guy took pity on her and pointed at Bret's desk. Stephy walked to the mic near Bret's desk and tapped it. It popped. "Hi Folks, I'm Stephy and this is my boyfriend, Boaz." Boaz waved, then looked at Stephy "Boyfriend?" she looked at him scared. This made the audience bust up laughing. Some things are timeless. "Well, I mean I thought you were. How do you feel?" asked Stephy who was now very red in the face. 

Boaz was stunned. Could he be a boyfriend? I mean, he looked at her. What was a boyfriend? He knew she made him happy. "You" he started, but stopped. He had very strong feelings for her. He just hadn't had to think about them yet. She was making it easy for him. Maybe, he thought, he cou "TELL HER HOW YOU FEEL, ASSHOLE!" shouted a member of the audience.

That guy was right thought Boaz. "THANK YOU!" shouted Boaz at the man loudly. "I am your boyfriend, Stephy." he said to her. She smiled. Boaz smiled. Stephy continued.

"Ok so, I should probably, oh, I'm about to start moving us so um, shit, this might jerk a little." suddenly the entire EarthNol structure experienced a slight bump as Stephy spooled up the massive gravity engines onboard her ship-self. The actual start of movement itself was nothing. Jasher blinked back immediately "What the fuck Stephy? You just shaked the shit out of everything. I had to pause Nol to affect repairs. You ok?" Stephy blushed. "I'm sorry, it was a startup burst. I don't even know why I shut them down after docking. They really never need to ever shut down... again... Right?" Jasher checked. "Good call." and blinked back to Nol.

"Sorry everyone." She said again. The audience was sympathetic. "I'm going to angle us for our first gravity assist. It's going to be fine!" she said and held her hands up. She didn't want any of them to be worried because of the shake earlier. Meanwhile, Johnny, Cecilia, and the Ridestar Sisters were all talking with the punk band Kay had blinked in from Tokyo. Their ship rings handling the Japanese to English translation. Cecilia and Clover were already fluent, of course. Momma stayed back on the ship just in case they needed to scram fast. Konata (the Ridestar AI) was perpetually in the Restauraunt, watching everything. She had no problems being an AFK Captain. She had remote ship control down to a science.

As Stephy talked, she glanced over at Johnny and literally watched spacetime change around him as the Japanese band talked to him. He made temporal sexy. He was a natural. I bet he'd catch that cigarette you dropped, that drink that fell, that angry swell in your heart.. he'd see and crush, effortlessly, Johnny on Time, sexually on time. Christ, what a prize thought Stephy, but he's not, by any means, the most powerful fucking ship ever made by anyone. Her boyfriend. Boaz was so amazing. And his heart was the most amazing heart she had ever seen.

"He's um, I mean. Johnny is kinda hot. Right Stephy?" Asked Boaz let's say.. investigatively. Stephy smiled.

So why the holdup?

Science changed.

Some of the tenents of my story were based on then existing solar math and theory. We are discovering that galaxies are like dewdrops on a spiderweb of cold gas pathways that feed galactic centers. We've also discovered galaxies going from calm to full quasar in very short spans of time, which is terrifying. So the entire timeline is changing in the story again. I'm going to have to rewrite most of it.

: )

That's the holdup.


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