I considered dropping this under “Mysteries of the Multiverse,” but then thought better of it.
In this short segment, Major Jon Tash and Colonel Iris Shaffer are on Mars at Mesa Mines, seeking to hide their recovering premier, Rudger Hess. Jon, assisted by Hype, his ship’s computer, is explaining to his commander how the universe and his ship, the Hyperion Way, actually work.
An excerpt from my book:
The Martian Armed Resistance Corps
Baby steps, he thought, recalling the day he had learned the truth. Little, tiny baby steps. “Hype?”
“I need a cup of coffee, Hype.”
“Duran. Black. Now.”
She watched, and the requested cup — black ceramic, ringed in gold leaf, and piping hot — suddenly materialized on the bench next to the major. Her eyes widened just a bit, and realization began to flood in on her.
“Oh wait,” she whispered. “You didn’t just … Oh, no! No, no, no, no! Jon!”
“Oh, yes, Iris,” he murmured, agreeing with her realization. He picked up the drink. “… And it’s the best coffee in the neighborhood. A Panamanian blend … A very finely ground roast.”
“How did you do that?”
“Magic,” he replied. “Just call it magic. It’s far easier than details would permit.”
“Jon … we can take Mars!”
“With what I just showed you, with this cup of coffee, I could take the solar system … but I don’t. Hype is contingency only. He keeps us alive. That’s where his intervention stops.”
He showed her the Tash logo on the steaming cup. “The company stays out, that’s why.”
“No.” He again looked out the side window. “This cup is one of the niceties Hype can easily perform.” He looked back at her. “Another thing he can do is housekeeping. He runs a taut ship … But there’s something else, Iris. He has the power to change things … to make things very right or devastatingly wrong. That is not a path I choose to follow at this time.”
“But, Iris, that’s all there is to it.”
She folded her arms, glaring around the compartment for some idea, any idea, then sat on the side bench. She shook her head, refusing to believe there could be nothing more to say on the matter.
He took a sip. “You wanna taste?” he asked.
“No, I don’t wanna taste. What I want is Mars.”
“…And you’ll have Mars,” he assured. “But you’ll have to get her the old-fashioned way. You know, fight for her.”
“I have to tell my father about this,” she breathed.
“ ‘It won’t leave,’ ” he repeated to her.
“ ‘On that, you’ve got my word,’ ” he pressed, finishing the quote.
She stood from the bench. “No-o-o…”
“Jon, I hafta tell ’im, damn it. This is just too big.”
“Well, right now, your father’s a little busy at Mars Base Alpha, probably demanding that his premier be found at once and returned.”
“Hype got ’im outta there,” she deduced. “He got ’im out and handed ’im to us, to you, like the coffee…” She looked over to Hess. “Like it was … the easiest thing in the world…” She glanced at him. “What did you mean by changing things and maybe makin’ ’em wrong?”
“I said ‘devastatingly wrong.’ ”
“Okay.” She looked at him. “So how wrong is that?”
He took a slow breath. “No solar system. No Milky Way galaxy… No universe.”
“What?” She took a small step toward him. “You’re kiddin’ … right?”
“People have a tendency to not believe the sciences, the reason, the cold, hard, rigid facts of physics. They work so hard trying any myth at all, so they don’t have to understand, so they can deny, disbelieve, claim it ain’t so. Twenty-four/seven, even while you’re trying to catch whatever bit of sleep you can, physics continues working, continues being beautiful, ugly, harmonious, chaotic, and you don’t have to lift a finger. It just goes on, and on, and on… No, they find it much easier to believe the myth, the fantasy of some divine, benevolent creator of all matter … and so to never have to fully realize the true wonder, the inexplicably calculable event that was the big bang, and its following expansion. Benevolent? Why is there war, Iris? Why do people have to starve to death? Why does anyone have to die at all … and many so horribly? That’s our benefactor at work?
“You see, after the big bang, after the great expansion, it all seemed to stop here — right here, on this very spot — with this one glorious universe … and with us parked at Mesa Mines, but there’s so very much more to it. What we see here…” he clapped his hands, making her blink, “…is a sham, a facade.” He took her hands in his. “The big bang filled the quantum field with sparks of dark energy, with wave after wave of cosmic expansion following each and every spark. Wave after wave after wave, trillions of ’em … quadrillions … octillions … an infinite number of ’em… Wave following crashing wave, forever and ever.
“Lacking sufficient dark energy, some of these expansions fell short, incomplete, falling quickly to stagnation. Still, every one of these expansions ended in a splash, with the creation of some new endless universe … even the dead ones. As for ours, I like to think this one was a success, for many of these universes contain no matter whatsoever. No matter, no radiation, no forces, no neutrinos … nothing. Others are so tightly packed with junk they force a kind of universal inflation, actually rubbing, quite noisily, quite disastrously, against the forces of adjacent universes. Still others, like ours, seem to fit just right, so perfect for sentient life to survive, to evolve.”
She nodded her tentative understanding. “Okay, um…”
“Each expansion wave follows a quantum patch through the multiversal space-time continuum field, each with its own physical laws of what makes hot hot, cold cold, solid solid, and real real … and Hype owns this.” He looked down at the premier. “Gettin’ Hess outta that conference required absolute control over all time and all matter in our universe, Iris … as well as in our closest, newest bubble universes … all of ’em. All time. All matter… Forever… Everywhere … and every when.”
“Oh…” She regarded his expression. “You’re really serious about all this?”
He took a sip of his coffee, sure this was likely all a sane person could take at once, and gave her a small nod of his head. “Provisions.”
“We’re likely to be here a while,” he stated, bringing her back to their current predicament. “We’ll need provisions.”