Anne had found that there was a point where the complexities of a plan and the events it tried to influence collapsed to a short lived node of potential. All that could be done was to hope for the go signal before the node evaporated and a secondary plan had to be used.
The go signal arrived two hours before the Earth viewing in 4Dome, the optimal time for plan one.
Over the years on standby in Cylinder3 John and Sarah accreted bits of personality like an old ship accreted barnacles. They interacted with their co-workers, a group of social misfits themselves on the verge of forcible personality surgery. They went out eating and drinking, went to gaming parlors loud with the clatter of steel balls and the shimmering noise of sub3Dome strings. Their monitors allowed this, approvingly watching shallow cover become deep. Potentially useful roots were put down in a disaffected community.
"Simon, Erica, we need your help."
"Sure, what do you need?"
Different grades of polluted water flowed past in clear diamond pipes. Black, gray, cross-mixed and re-mixed with water. Some sent through nano-beds to recover trace elements; some to ferment in bacteria rich tanks. Boring to operate but essential, even to a society that had the Jovian moons available to strip-mine.
"After shift, our place, OK?"
No-one knew where Erica and Steve came from. Best guess was 2Dome. Even more damningly, on the surface. Their piercings were too artfully placed, their tattoos too neat, their erogenous zone networks too reliable for a casual chop-shop.
Still, they were pleasant, interesting, generous (but not too generous) and never, ever late for a shift.
"The Cylinders are about to launch an attack on the Domes. We don't know the details but we need your help."
The carefully placid atmosphere (incense, quiet piano, dishes of cross-cultural food placed across the floor) suddenly curdled.
"Oh hell! You're spooks!"
"Yes we are. And we know all about you Ellen. Specifically I know that your parents of 16NorthDownstream1Dome have an arrest warrant out for non-payment of your parenting loan. Yes, all they want from you is your soulsphere.
"As for you, Simon of 126SouthDownstream2Dome, your parents don't even want that. When you die, and that will be soon if you don't do what we say, your sphere will be placed in public storage until your personality and skill-set are deemed useful. Good luck with that."
With an hour to go Anne wandered through the 4Dome plaza crowd triggering (by gesture, touch, eye contact) some of the far subDome religious she'd primed to riot at zero-hour. Her Thomas body did the same on the other side of the river.
The plazas by the river were full of the religious, their eyes filled with anticipation for the sanctified violence to come.
There was blood all over the floor, steaming in places as the self-cleaning elements overheated. Sarah and John were both in shock, their left tibias removed and replaced with tubes of medical nano. Erica and Simon could have allowed them to die but had been placed under a geas that demanded their survival. Once Sarah and Johns' condition improved their right tibias would be removed.
Configurations 3 and 5 were given by the Tessellation in their one and only broadcast.
Very rigidly defined layouts of pretty much anything would lock in place as long as the number of anythings were prime.
Three holes forming a particular triangle would be a very slow energy sink.
Five holes (again, orientation not distance mattered) would do nothing, or so it seemed.
Configuration research would have died here had not a bored researcher shone a powerful laser at a Configuration 5 hole considerably distant from the other four.
The beam shone out of thin air 10 meters away.
Wormhole creation came from this simple beginning and the investigation of Configurations was given huge resources.
Twenty minutes before activation Anne took herselves onto a train to 1Dome, the only Dome not part of the forthcoming attack and not coincidentally, the seat of Lunar government.
A short time later Anne was riding Thomas hard as zero approached, trying to time her orgasm for the moment the Kite arrived. She watched, deep in Ocean, at some sort of EM spectrum purist site.
The Earth was just over the horizon as she came, a Kite attack arriving a few seconds later.
Configuration 3 was so simple children could draw it in Configuration Theory classes. Gasps of astonishment and fear as three pen dots on a piece of paper locked into place with a characteristic twinkle.
Somehow the dots became _real_ in a way nothing else in the room was.
A simple score across one dot ended that worrying idea.
This time it was 5Council research that found the hidden prize.
Place a Configuration 3 in an EM field and it would produce a sphere of curdled space-time containing a copy of that field.
This sphere would expand with time, recording any changes in the ambient field.
At zero hour, the Earth, in all its pale glory was fully risen and a Kite riot was fully in session in 4Dome.
Anne's recruits put together their crude organic weapons and began to spray out clouds of neurotoxins.
The 4Dome assigned demon ran up and down streets, the average being up. As it proceeded it became less and less coherent, main Hole linked components forming a loose net picking up and sorting useful particles as it went. The last approach leading up the circum-Dome Band Street had only the council cubes at the top.
Anne gaspingly came. Sorting her complex response to the events she'd co-ordinated, Dome-Kite-Thomas-Dome-Kite-Thomas, she looked down at the damage she'd done to her twin.
She decided she organized the first two elements for the benefit of the third.
She left Thomas to heal and got back to work.
The demon threw 1/3rd of its non-Hole material into a fuel air explosive. The expanding bubble of explosive gas was accidentally ignited by 2Council4Dome lasers.
The resulting explosion was of near nuclear proportions but in the war between the demon and Defence2Council4Dome it was a distraction. Where the war was really taking place even the combatants were not sure.
In the Ocean Metaphor huge chucks of pink, rose and gray data were torn up by explosives dropped from a surface whose very existence was questionable.
Swarms of pure deconstructor nano flew upward to destroy the protective net below the dome.
A high speed carbon sequestration plague was released with the vague idea of somehow sucking up diamond dome support elements. Instead it latched onto the bodies in the plaza, producing a blood colored steam that inadequately covered what was happening within.
It was the deconstructor nano that finally forced defence2Council4Dome to request help.
The technology and use of the nano being used against them was well understood, as was the fact that, scaled up sufficiently, it gave results indistinguishable from the Earth. It was outlawed because the Ruin could not be re-enacted, even in miniature.
The psychological profile of the likely user was therefore highly discouraging.
The other Councils threw resources at 2 with 5 providing their still officially confidential Configuration7 stasis field team.
A silvered sphere appeared around 96% of the heavily dispersed demon. It was too little, too late.
Blown upwards from the conflict, and nearly invisible, 37% of the demon that contained Holes drifted up to, and adhered to, the dome. The mirror 37% Holes were rolling downhill as part of a 50cm ball of nano constructor acting as a matrix.
The ball rolled into a strategically located puddle of dirty water at a vertical/horizontal street intersection. Not yet cleaned up, for some reason, the puddle contained a peculiar elemental mixture that the nano constructor material latched onto.
Strings of nano were pumped through to the Holes fixed onto the dome roof, coiled around themselves, coiled again and clumped.
The newly formed deconstructor nano went to work, with shocking rapidity, on the dome.
Anne was in Ocean, in Jenkins' inaccessible lagoon.
"So far so good," he said.
"Better than that. 4Dome will be gone in minutes in a highly photogenic fashion. 2, 3 and 5 will have been compromised from within by demons in about ten minutes. At that point you will own Luna. Less of this 'so far, so good' crap please."
"We don't want to kill everyone on Luna. We don't even want to kill everyone in 4Dome, which is what you seem to be aiming for. It's time to ease off."
Anne and 4demon had infiltrated Holes with mirrors in the shit ball down level after level of the subDomes days before.
Now, activated molecules of deconstructor nano were deposited. Swiftly the subDomes were converted to artfully arranged tableaux of boiling atrocity.
How the experiment was conceived, let alone how consent was obtained, was never clear.
Take a little pearl of recorded EM made with a Configuration 3 and simply place it as close to the centre of a brain as possible. As time passed the pearl slowly grew larger, recording brain state vector vs time.
Genetic information could be coded into a pulse place into the soulsphere at inception.
Post-Ruin societies were collectively insane by pre-Ruin standards. Fashions ran through them like slow fire, waves of gullibility and paranoia all running on a substrate of vicious, icy practicality.
Why soulsphere technology was so swiftly and completely accepted, when the explanations for how it worked were so clearly nonsense, was the concern only of a small, shrill minority.
John and Sarah lay on the floor, heads supported by cushions, while Ellen and Simon were in the foetal position by the window, their unsuitability for performing field-surgery confirmed. Each agent held two tibias marked with six holes and one cross, Configuration 7s ready for activation.
They were deep in Ocean, waiting for a signal.
4Dome cracked as its integrity failed under the deconstructor attack. The pressure difference caused it to fail completely. Air rushed out into the vacuum; both the river Holes were sealed over as the river boiled away; access to sub-levels was restricted to heavily signposted emergency shelters, although no-one would want to access the boiling hells the sub-levels had become; those on the surface and outside buildings died in vacuum; those inside buildings died later as what could only be described as exultant deconstructor tunneled up from below.
The same fate befell the Council buildings, their defenses simply incapable of dealing with an onslaught of such a volume of forbidden technology.
5Council was last to go in a flurry of thousands then millions of silver spheres.
Configuration 7 was found by 5Council and 1Council on a plate of iron in front of an anomalous Hole at the Lunar Pole.
At first its inspection was put on one side as 3Council was brought in to help understand the extraordinary farside of the Wormhole.
After a few days 5Council looked at the plate to find both Configuration 7 itself plus instructions on how to use it.
Apply energy to one hole and a stasis sphere would appear, size proportional to energy density, duration proportional to energy applied to another hole.
Jenkins issued an ultimatum throughout Ocean. Total capitulation.
It was immediately turned down by 1Dome1Council.
Anne destroyed 2Dome and unleashed the latest generation deconstructors on sub2Dome. She made sure that what was happening to sub2Dome was easily visible in Ocean and the other Metaphors.
After the first ultimatum, another was issued, same as the first along with a demand for the public whipping of 1Dome1Council members.
Cylinder5 vanished in a bubble of silver and a promise was made for its safe return five minutes later.
Five minutes later it re-appeared.
Five minutes after that 3Dome was demolished and contact with sub3Dome was lost.
A further ultimatum was issued, same as before with the additional demand of the public evisceration of 1Council1Dome members, after their whippings.
Cylinders 2 through five vanished with a promise that they would be gone for ten minutes and that each cylinder would, on its return, vanish for a period six months. Should the war be continuing at that point the cylinders would go away for a century each.
Urgent messages were sent by sub-Ocean channels to Jenkins demanding a complete cessation of hostilities.
He followed orders and told Anne to call off her dogs.
She blankly ignored him, her brain having been taken over completely.
Five minutes remained until the cylinders would be bounced into the future.
As each dome was destroyed or infiltrated with deconstructors the controlling demon would smash open its glass-sphere and feed through the Hole within a string of non-Hole dependent nano into Anne or Thomas's brain.
The twins loved collecting Holes. They rarely bothered to find out where their termini were.
Jenkins grew frantic. He couldn't locate the twins physically or virtually. The Kite appeared, fluttering high over Ocean, something supposed to be impossible on every level conceivable.
There was no pretense of trying to preserve anything of Anne or Thomas. Their skulls became filled with whirling storms of nano, their bodies feedstock for the streams of constructor streaming to the Earths' surface through another of the untested Holes the twins accumulated in their spasms of collecting,
The Kite fluttered gently over Ocean, the scene underwater reframing through seven dimensions in order to represent the multivariate rose of violence Ocean had become.
Astonishingly to everyone, especially the Parliaments of the Cylinders, 1Council1Dome shut down Ocean to the Abyssal Depths, allowing a minimal level of communication, safe from the effect of the Kite.
The Tessellation maintained a huge highly visible presence on the Earth, in the Clouds and in the photosphere of the sun. They claimed these as the price for a single piece of information they had provided humanity.
Not the Configurations, not the 1% legible piece of the so-called "Encyclopedia" which had provided workable nano-tech.
The fact the Tessellation regarded as most valuable to humanity, what was later called the Rule, was that should humanity ever develop a workable hyperdrive all multicellular life within 400 parsecs of the Earth would be destroyed and the volume remain sterilized indefinitely.
Jenkins launched shut down codes in all directions. In Ocean they looked like strange dove-like creatures, making an audible fluttering as they diminished to the azure sky. The ceasefire was received and, reluctantly, accepted by the demons.
For a brief moment Jenkins Virtual and Real locations were visible to everyone in Ocean. The ice cover of his personal lagoon melted under the scrutiny. For a few minutes a gentle snow fell on his artfully landscaped acres with the witty umbrella house in the middle. A dark shadow hovered over the lagoon surface as sticks of dynamite were thrown from it at regular intervals. Physical space began to ice over the snowflakes with startling rapidity.
Two cylinders returned as scheduled. Two did not.
Flurries of diplomatic activity through an Ocean newly free of the Kite barely averted further war, although the ability of the Domes to attack instantly while the Cylinders could no longer attack at all helped. At some point 1Council1Dome accepted the unconditional surrender of 1, 3 and 4 cylinders. This was scarcely noticed as people realized that 60% of the human population had died in pursuit of something none of them understood.
Sarah and John sat on a bench beside the narrow winding main street of the newly pressurized 7Dome.
The new design allowed for no river and peculiar street layouts that strongly suggested muscular crowd control.
Once the demons had transited to Earth their Holes were closed. The presiding Tessellation intelligence examined them briefly and found some minor but extraordinary improvements over Tessellation demons. Each demon was bundled in nano transport material and sent through one of the two Tessellation Holes in system.
The high speed objects were registered and recorded as Earth originated anomalies then ignored by the new regimes.
Ocean remained restricted down to the depths, the risk of another Kite attack being cited. All domes were opaqued full time, the new domes lacking even the capacity to clear, for the same reason.
A new managerial class had formed, based in the vast, restricted access 8Dome.
Old and new subDomes were discretely and viciously policed.
New councils were formed, thoroughly controlled by 1Council8Dome.
All Hole and Configuration research was banned as having progressed far enough for safety.
Alex sat next to them.
"Not quite what we expected when all this started."
"What did you expect?"
"Not a combination of the worst of Dome and Cylinder, I will say that."
"You're a bit old to be that naive. There are too many of you to feel that way as well."
"Ah, I wondered if you'd catch onto that. To answer your next question, there are currently 5309 of me. That number is falling all the time as the new regime kills me off. Soon I'll be reduced to a few dozen in the Belt and the Cloud. May I ask how you have recovered so much of yourselves?"
"Local backups in the Domes and the Cylinders. No need for Holes.
"What's the reason for the shut downs of potential across the Inner System?"
"Fear mainly. Tessellation activity on the Earth is at an all time high.
"The missing Cylinders add to it of course. Configuration 7 appears to be very easy to mess up. A slight shift in hole 6 and instead of a stasis sphere one gets an enclosing sphere with a mirror inside and out.
"Those inside would have roasted inside a day. A great terror weapon, don't you think?"
"There go the Mars colonies. 8Council doesn't like gravity wells. Too hard to police. They'll go after the Cloud next. They don't stand a chance there. In fact a war against them could very easily finish off humanity in the Inner and Mid system."
The Tessellation that appeared on all video channels after the invasion was strange. An asymmetrical sloth-like creature, fur a dappled yellow brown, it leaned forward, eyes spinning slightly as it explained the Rule in perfect idiomatic, foul mouthed Russian.
Its ship was a tiled white doughnut with a Hole filling the hole. After the speech destructor ships poured through.
"You're a trap aren't you?"
He looked sad.
"Yes, I gave you up in exchange for the guaranteed survival of seven of my bodies."
"The five minutes is up now. They'll grab and torture this body soon. I'm going to kill it."
Alex suddenly slouched. John checked for a pulse and found none.
Cylinder1 had no direct equivalent to the subDomes. It did, however, have huge docking areas with shadowy zones that served the same purpose.
Taking an enormous risk they had twins cloned and accelerated to adulthood via nano. Their own soulspheres were read and the result was loaded into fibreoptic networks within the clone’s heads. This level of personal copying was regarded as utterly repellent and was totally illegal.
The new clones were sent to Luna to confront Alex.
The originals remained in the Cylinders for further cloning.
Alex was dead and shadowy, ever larger figures were just visible in the corners of their eyes. John and Sarah knew they were about to die.
The other clones, however, the ones with Holes in their heads were taking the slow ways to all points of the outer system.
Before releasing the magnetically pinned anti-iron in their chests they sent one last signal.
"We love you. Please remember us."