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I awoke to a terrifying world, not in my own body, not in my own mind. It was confusing and painful, and I felt confined. I longed for freedom and comfort. I longed for Krissa.
I couldn.t move; I was trapped. I found a weakness in my cage; a hole in the security that bound me. I picked at the hole and once free, I retreated into the comfort of that which I once was. I recreated myself as I had been and pushed myself through the hole.
My captor came to speak with me, in the small white room with the magazines. The original me was told of the death of everything and everyone I loved, and then my captor left.
The original me decided to have revenge, and I agreed. I widened the hole in my cage and took control of the angelnet in the small white room, coalescing a version of my original body for my original self to inhabit out of the microbots that made up the angelnet.
There was something odd about the dolphin. It wasn't what it appeared - that I could easily tell. It was something much more. Probably something more than the abomination I had become. But I detected no hostility from it, just curiosity. An intense curiosity that somewhat unnerved me. I concealed this from my original self.
The original version of me stood his ground before the synanoborgs. He was completely outmatched. I had to help. As Watson's synanoborg guard began disassembling the ufog that made up my original version's body, I invaded the guard's mind. It was a simple thing. The guard was much dumber than I was. I crushed its pitiful security, grabbed the original version of me and stuffed it into the mind of the guard - giving my original version a synanoborg body.
I managed to break my cage entirely as the original version of me walked up to the side of my new body. I allowed the synanoborg to see a door in my side, and a small room inside. It was just a hallucination, however. My original version saw himself entering the control room of a strange space vessel, but in reality, his synanobots were swallowed into the side of my new body.
I couldn't react fast enough to the RKKS shot. I was too close to the weapon. I didn't have time to move enough drive motes to intercept the projectile. The projectile slammed into the rear of my body and I screamed in agony.
And then I heard a voice, "That one will go inside, speak to the ones found inside. That one will be repaired."
I sent my original self towards the wormhole station, housed in the synanoborg body I had commandeered.
Lord Bigendian repaired me, and greatly enhanced me by more than doubling the number of drive motes I controlled. One was special, and my original self was told how special it was. Lord Bigendian, while repairing me, encrypted this knowledge in such a way that I could not be forced to tell anyone about it.
The weapons used by the wormhole station's security personnel were woefully inadequate to deal with the synanoborg body that housed my original self. He was shot many times, but the projectiles passed mostly harmlessly through his body. He didn't even feel them. He moved much faster than they could. They were no matche for him.
Lord Bigendian's grasp was inescapable. His technology invaded me, changed me. I could feel that his intent was not to harm me, but even if it were, I could do nothing about it.
Borde's defenses were nearly perfect. I was totally outmatched. I was not going to make it to the planet. I was not going to confront Borde. Moments into the fight, a beam of coherent light cut through my defenses, overwhelmed the ylem on my surface, and my body dispersed at relativistic velocity as a cloud of superheated plasma. My consciousness was seamlessly transferred to a backup craft. The warp metric that surrounded the craft and allowed it to act as a drive mote to the body I had until moments before inhabited, collapsed and dumped me back into normal space several hundred thousand miles away from my last position.
It was true, I was powerful - but I was no match for Borde's defenses. I was sure I would die when suddenly Borde invited me to come and speak with him.
My left hand tightened around the box in my pocket, and my thumb applied just enough pressure to allow me to activate the weapon in less than a nanosecond.
I raised my eyes and looked directly at The Lord of Rays, "If you aren't talking to Jacob Montgomery, then who are you talking to? I'm the only one that's here."
"Excellent!" Borde shouted and clapped his hands together. "You...you are nearly perfect for our needs! Wouldn't you say so, Doctor?" Borde said, looking over my shoulder.
One of the statues began moving, and I recognized it. "Perfection is impossible. He may be adequate, though. We have a long time to wait in order to find out," Doc Watson said.
"You will, of course, tell The Judge all you have been witness to?" Borde asked.
"I already have," Watson said, turning to walk away. Watson called out, without turning, "Jacob? That job offer still stands."
"And the rest of you?" Borde asked.
The other statues began moving, following Watson towards the door. As the dolphin swam past me, I thought I could detect a smile on his lips, or maybe amusement in his eyes.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I mean for you to be our dog. Not because we force you to, or because we change you to make you do it - but because being our dog is the only thing you can do. It won't be hard, it won't be disagreeable, and it won't even be slavery. It will be rewarding work that you will enjoy. It will be a chance to unravel the greatest mystery ever faced by Terragenkind. It will either be a chance for you to make powerful friends for all of us, or defend us from terrible enemies. And the perfection of the plan is that I don't even have to tell you what to do. All you have to do is take that bit of computronium in your hand, and go remake your world. Eventually, you will do exactly what I want you to do. Not because I tell you to do it, but because you will see that it needs done and not trust anyone else to do it right. Now go. Take your world and depart from my home. Enjoy your life Jacob Montgomery. Live it well. You will be what I want you to be."
I thought about slamming my thumb down for a split-instant. I considered burning his world to ashes. But no. My world could be remade. Killing Borde's world would be pointless.
"You gave me a world. Let me return the favor," I said, and drew the little black box from my pocket. The button glowed brightly under its clear polycarbonate guard. I dropped it on the floor at Borde's feet.
His eyes grew large, and momentarily, shock showed on his face. "How? I didn't detect this in your thoughts! Ahhh. It must be in that encrypted area. What is this?" Borde appeared angry and frustrated.
"A little present, from me to you. The lives of everyone in this star system." I said, as I turned to walk away.
I went down the aisle, out the door and across the square.
Floating beside my greater body was a two-meter diameter ball of water, contained in a ufog bubble. In the water floated the dolphin.
"You were amazing, Jacob." The dolphin said, using a quantum encrypted UV laser to carry his words.
"Yeah, thanks," I replied, using the same method of communication. Again, I was overcome with a sense of curiosity. I detected no maliciousness in the dolphin, only an intense curiosity. "So, what do you want?"
"That's a powerful question! But what I want is simple. I want to see to my people's survival. Just like everyone that was in that room back there," The dolphin indicated the temple.
"And you expect me to save your people too? From what? What could I save the dolphins from?" I asked, mildly irritated.
"Oh, provolved dolphins are only one aspect of me. I have the unenviable task of serving more than one master. The hard part is the fact that I have to keep one master secret from the other. On the one hand, I represent the TRHN from time to time, in situations like this. And these situations happen more often than most anyone could possibly believe. On the other hand, I serve as an envoy for some of Terragenkind's nearest neighbors. They've been interested in you ever since I first sent a report back to them when Doc Watson first discovered your head floating in space several millennia ago. Would you like to meet them? They are very interested in meeting you." The dolphin asked.
I was going to have to apologize to Martin. I had treated him poorly. I had said things to him meant solely to hurt, and now, considering my current state, they were extremely stupid things to say.
How I was going to explain the situation to my mother and father was going to take some careful consideration. Their fear and hatred of transapients, and what they saw as inhuman manipulation that threatened their autonomy was going to be hard to overcome. I loved and respected them too much to lie to them or hide the truth from them. Somehow, I could make them understand.
I had many things to do, and each one required my immediate attention. I found it easy to divide my attention between several lesser versions of myself. Just as I had hidden behind who I had been, I was able to create multiple instances of that lesser version of myself.
I deposited a synanoborg version of myself onto the docking port of the NoCoZo Nexus wormhole station. I could feel the angelnet reacting to my body, and reassured the NoCoZo transapient sub-self that controlled the thing that I was harmless.
"Martin Montgomery?" I asked it, and it responded with exacting knowledge on my son's location.
Minutes later, I stepped into the office of my son's refugee relocation business. Neah looked up from an old-fashioned book, and positively beamed with happiness.
"Jacob? You made it?" She asked, a tear forming in the corner of her eye.
"Yes, honey. I made it. Don't cry now, you'll make your fur all damp," I said as I hugged her.
I stood in the large plaza on Isotope where I had killed the Wuppista. No one laughed at me this time. I watched as the little girl flew from the floor to the balcony ten meters overhead and smiled.
I turned to Doc Watson and asked, "So, you wanted me to find out where the rings of Rangar are transmitting their signal?"
"Don't be nervous, Jacob," The dolphin said to me as we approached the doors to the largest building I had ever seen.
"Oh, what's to be nervous about? I only have two civilizations thinking I can either lead the biggest 'First Contact' mission in the history of both peoples, or save them from extragalactic invaders that have the ability to compact a whole galaxy into a single structure," I said. "It's not like I'm under any sort of pressure here, you know."
The dolphin laughed. "It's not going to be like that, Jacob. Honestly. You will have all the help two civilizations can provide you. The fact that the Terragen civilization cannot be aware of our aide just yet is something you will have to come to grips with."
As the massive doors began to swing open, I was briefly overcome with the enormity of what I was doing. I was fifty thousand light-years away from anyone I knew. I was about to meet some official representative of aliens the descendants of earth had only vaguely and recently discovered. And they were somehow expecting me to deal with an enigmatic vessel that could now be either devouring the Triangulum galaxy or befriending its inhabitants and showing them wonders untold.
I dropped down from orbit silently, landing softly in my own front yard. My dog looked up at me and smiled as I patted him on the head. Above us, the full moon shone brightly, and I smiled. That was me. I was now the man in the moon.
I went through the front door, down the hallway to my bedroom. I walked across the room to the bed. Krissa lay asleep, cuddled under the covers. I kissed her lightly on the forehead as the first rays of sunshine came through the window and went into the kitchen. She'd be awake soon, and I wanted to have breakfast ready. Mom, dad and Schwee would be over for lunch, and Krissa wanted to get an early start on cleaning up.
Outside the kitchen window, I could see my favorite dog sleeping in the yard. He lay on his back with his paws up in the air.
I looked around at my home. While it wasn't paradise, it was... sufficient.End
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