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There is time, first, for another interlude of patient observation. I take myself there, to the place I've been before. The Lanes drop me in the first cold wisps of early light, sand and scrub crushing beneath my feet.

Around and behind me, men are moving. I hear them bustling about as I gate in, but I am not seen. I never am. I drop into a light depression in the soil, lying on my stomach with my chin resting on my tented hands. I feel the silica pressing into my wrists, some small poor condensation from the desert night trapped there within, and I watch the tower.

Motion stops, people settle; although I cannot see I feel them cease to move and instead to tense into their taut small statues of expectation. I have felt this before, and shared this sense, although I alone know precisely what is coming with the dawn that waits just out of sight beneath the hills. Slight painting trails of cerise and pale, pale yellow blue that show beneath some wisps of cloud announce the sleepy rousings of the sun. If I remain exactly here then I will not be seen; although, once, I did move and had to drop the Lane before my purpose here was fulfilled, a wasted window and a hurried gate. I do not meant to suffer that again. The seconds tick with patient promise as my eyes adjust and show me just how much light there really is - metal, wood and sand in stark relief with the faintest fog of condensed night streaking surfaces.

I've tried so many times, but have never seen.

Behind my feet, facing away from the all-important latticework, a small dome of desert sand lies careless tossed to hide me from eyes now all placed beyond. Twenty-five seconds now. I think of what I have just been told, of the possibility that (terrible though it may seem) simple paranoia and our nature may have conspired to raise in us the terror and the anger that have resulted in the wings of war in our hearts' kiln being fired. Those I've known dead from mistake? Or from a plan? I have to know, now, and I feel my newfound endless not-quite-life changing as I admit that to myself, the crystal framework of my multi-Lane probability ringing with the chime of a glass hammer's stroke. The decision made, the straight-line courses that made up the structure that is me come crashing down and 'round, in past and future and sideways still. I watch them fall, confused and uncertain in their tumblings, stopping twisting to realign.

I don't know what this strange new shape my existence takes portends. It is complex, and much more spiraled in on itself than before. I sense strange torsions and diffractions at its core; places where from outside looking in I can't see what goes on, just that I enter and - if my strange other sight is to be believed - perhaps come out the other end, but not precisely as I went in.

Ten seconds left. The voices on the Tannoy blare and fade, my attention dropping now away from problems that exist in some fantastic plane and place away from here to now and to this small impossibility. The timeframe is so small and slight, that there is no way to see it - I'll have to bend time fully to my will and see in tiny slices of stopgap frames and hope that I'll catch the frozen piece of light that I've come to see - with all this riding on my frame, still here I am (attempt number fifty-three) across the years. I've been told it can't be done, even with the control we wield, but damn them if I believe that.

Five seconds. Taffy-colored time stretches out and on, voices rumbling down to slow, and the first sunlight reflected off the wooden structure perched awkwardly up there ceases to flicker with the stilling of the air. I feel my very self speed up, information overload, time slowing down in exponential surrender (dials turned) and I settle down against the sand. I call the Gate up in my mind, to be sure that it will be there at need, and am reassured by the touch of gammashine and starsong that replies from a square of space just over me.

Three seconds in the outside world. In my mirror box, a day has passed, it seems, but I dare not risk losing sight for sound, not now - the still life portrait has shifted every so slightly before my eyes. I can feel electricity flickering around me, signals flashing in their world (reduced in mine to laughing relay runners) as they pander to the needs of metal and of flesh. The box awaits.

One second more. Here is where it starts - My gaze starts to narrow, and against my will I think of all the things I've seen - but not this, no, not yet this. Across the light-years and centuries, I'll watch as swords clash and bullets soar, as starships race sluggard light across the trackless depths, and yet this is new. This is what it's all been for, this endless search for things we haven't known; why he digs in rubble long since dead, and why I sit on starship bridges in patient communion with computers as they navigate a voyage no living soul will share with me.

Microseconds left.


The space around the shack floods with faerie fire as the frame I seek comes dancing into my Lane-slowed mind. I watch in fascinated wonder as the very air itself pours out a radiance of fragile brilliance into the morning, and the reflex that I planted fires at the sight as I make the last final jump into the shed itself.

The shape hangs there in its complex cradle, waking now, birthing pains begun. Everything is touched with this unearthly living fire and I feel the gammashine pouring from the core - this is what no man has ever seen, the birthing cry, and even as I complete the thought the casing vanishes into a blackbody storm. The second reflex kicks me in the head as the Gate throws me through, and I find myself back on the Herakles, laughing, normal speed, tears running down my face at the wonder and the awe as hundreds of years ago and light-years away all evidence of my presence is erased by the thunder and the light of Trinity.

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