Again, Amir nods; either expecting the question or fully understanding the reasons for it.
“The first thing I will need to explain is the presence on this world of a small cadre of … I suppose you might call them ‘interdimensional saboteurs’ known as the Hidden Family of the Vyortovian Throne.”
He stops at your short, sharp bark of laughter. Brigand raises his head, stands, pads to your end of the couch, and settles himself against your leg.
“I… can see you’ve already encountered them. I suppose that makes sense, and I would very much like to know what you’ve learned, in turn, but for now, I’ll tell you only what I knew - what Father and Rusty explained to me at the time.”
“The Hidden Family were - are - members of a royal caste from the country of Vyortovia - the land once native to another dimension entirely - who determined that the best way to save their world was by folding their reality onto ours. Madness, except for the annoying fact they’d apparently discovered both the theory and eventually the means with which to effect such a thing. This relatively small group crossed the dimensional barrier between our two worlds several hundred years ago and began the long work they’d determined necessary to ultimately collapse the two realities into one.”
“Father and Rusty had encountered them in the past but, as I had it explained to me, the clashes were always minor things - their individual goals so inconsequential, their activities never warranted further investigation; just another doomsday cult. It wasn’t something they had hidden from us - which I accused them of when they first explained it to me - but something they’d never really thought important enough to mention.”
“That all changed, as I understand it, only weeks before the events that unfolded in July, two years ago. Father received a message from Achilles Chin and, although obviously suspicious, was unable to ignore it as some kind of trap - there was simply too much corroborative fact presented.”
“He and Chin met, alone - Rusty was still angry about this at the time they caught me up - and compared notes.”
“What had prompted Chin to reach out was his almost accidental discovery that the Family had, years before, used an entrance to what Chin called the ‘inner earth’, in Iceland - the Snæfellsjökull, if you like - where they’d planted what they called a “world seed,” and which Father called a Keynome - not a word that made any sense to me at the time, though it makes a bit more, now.”
“Father and Chin mutually decided on the need for cooperation in light of what it seemed to be the impending destruction of everything they knew, and made plans to ground out the energy of whatever the family was planning using another Keynome.”
Amir rubs at the bridge of his nose. “You can, I think, imagine my response. They dropped all this in my lap as we were en route to Washington, and I’m still quite certain Rusty was only a few hours ahead of me in receiving the news. They barely spoke on the flight.”
“I was there when everyone met. I remember wishing you were as well, but Father had been adamant about that - you were not to be involved.” He squints, as though trying to bring something far away into focus. “Chin even… asked after you, I think, almost right away. Not to ask where you were, but to verify you weren’t anywhere around. Father responded in kind, with regards to Alycia. It was… very odd, given the circumstances.”
He rubs at his hip, then his left leg. “They had determined they couldn’t stop the dimensional collapse - not entirely - so in order to prevent the entire world being lost, they planned to diffuse the energy of the Family’s efforts to the point where the collapse became unsupportable. The main problem was they needed a keynome to accomplish this, and they of course didn’t have a keynome.” Amir’s expression is wry. “A problem Rusty solved through the fairly simple expediency of charging into the nearest of the Family’s secret sites, killing everyone, and taking the site’s keynome over. It worked.”
“I, meanwhile, had been sent across to the opposite dimension’s corresponding location through one of the weakened spots in the dimensional barrier - the result of some superpowered brawl or other - with instructions to plant a sort of ‘arc conductor’ that would allow them diffuse the dimensional energies even further.” He looks at you. “The place was a nightmare of destruction - a haggard ghost reflection of our own world, even if you ignore the world’s larger doom. It’s as if the inhabitants there have lost all hope, and have turned on one another - I cannot imagine what might have caused such devastation.”
“I installed the arc conductor, and had been told to evacuate the area, but I was worried the local scavengers might have followed me and would take the device, so I settled in to guard it. I assumed that if Rusty and Father were on the other side at the same location, I was in no more danger then they were.” His smirk lacks any humor. “I was right.”
He sighs. “The plan, as near as I’ve been able to determine, mostly worked. Iceland couldn’t be saved - the core collapse there was too far along, too long in the build up and, according to Chin - too well guarded to prevent. But despite that, they mostly prevented the catastrophic juxtaposition.”
His face is haggard and almost gray. “But they couldn’t diffuse all the energy, I think. There must have been too much. The point of the grounding arc - where Father and Rusty and Chin… and I, on the other side - were standing, was… exchanged, I suppose, for lack of a better word. The energy backlash was --” He cuts himself off, head down, and the younger dog - Buccaneer - hops up and runs to him, propping himself up with his front paws on Amir’s knees. Your brother reaches out and scratches at his ears almost automatically.
If there’s more (and you can’t decide if you hope or dread there may be), it seems Amir is at his limits, sharing it.
Numina stands. “Would anyone like anything from the kitchen, while I’m up? Jason? Show me where the glasses are?” Her look is expectant, and her expression is easy to read.
author: Doyce T.