The Dreamer

Like a sailor deeply in tune with sea and sky, you sense the discontinuity in the vector as a cold knot in your stomach, fractionally before anything has actually gone wrong. You bolt upright in bed, face flush with sweat. There’s a beat of silence, and then the alarms sound.

A Nav Doll’s Purpose is to Guide, plucking a path through the Unsea from the fractally branching threads of possibility space. A migraine’s knife has suddenly been drawn through those threads, bleeding impossible colors into counterfactual timelines. It hurts, oh god it hurts.

The deck spins as gravity lurches–or is that just your inner ear screaming?–face hits the corner of the bulkhead. There are stars, you spit out blood. Alarms continue to blare, both the ones on the ship and the ones in your stomach: walls are closing in. You take off running.

You run the facts though your mind: Abstract Weapon is twelve hours out of a harbor that no longer exists (or never existed?) and six stadia beneath the mirror on standard dive trajectory, there should be nothing in your path. Where are you? Your stomach churns loudly.

The corridors of the old ship weren’t meant to be taken at a sprint but that doesn’t stop you; holding back the puke slows you down a bit though. The timelines aren’t diverging anymore, your mind claws for an escape trajectory but the walls are still closing in. It hurts so much.

Like a dream, the world seems to fight your passage. Limbs catch against the air and the act of dragging yourself forward each step seems to take a herculean effort. The vector knot is still narrowing, trajectories winking out even as you throw yourself down the corridor.

You put the pieces together as you run. S-tensor effects produce untime ripples within the ideatic medium. As the world you were leaving died, the topological realignment raced out ahead and caught up with you. You know where you are, and that makes it much worse.

“Reverse course! Stop the ship!” The words are still leaving your lips when the last trajectory blinks dark. Alarms continue to scream ominously into the silence. Your Witch Captain stares at you, but your mind is ten hours forward on the inescapable singularity of edleworld 27.

Edleworlds aren’t places, they’re libration points within latent space. The places where forces balance out and debris collects, floating garbage patches compressed into conceptual singularities. You’re about to hit one, there’s no way left around. You finally throw up.

A Nav Doll’s purpose is to Guide and your purpose drags you forward, smashing your mind against the trash heap, straining hundreds counterfactual deaths through the resulting cloud of relativistic shrapnel, your insides boiling as they empty themselves on the bridge floor.

The world contracts to a point, to a moment. You vomit dead timelines, coughing, bile dripping from your lips. A million iterations die in an instant, the room spins, you puke up everything else inside of you, until there’s nothing left and you’re gasping and dry heaving.

The world reestablishes itself. You realize you’ve toppled to the ground and been rolled onto your side. Your witch captain strokes your back. There is puke in your hair and everything hurts, the future hurts and there’s no path fo–look again.

The dead trajectories are gone, the poison is out of your system and your vision is starting to clear. The eldleworld hangs like a tumor in the future, but there’s something else. There’s something beyond the bile. You puke again, and then you can finally see it.

A way forward twinkles in that place-between-places which only you can see. Laying on the floor, covered in bile, you giggle uncontrollably. The only way out is through. Well, that’s not your problem. The Nav Doll Dreams, and the path unfolds. You reach out, and pluck the thread.

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