20: Jack


After trying to absorb it for a bit, he asked, “Why can’t we just go back to Earth from where we are? If all you have to do, to change from one world to another, is ‘spin our particles’, why does it matter where you are? What prevents you from sending me back to Earth by doing the same thing right here?”

Rogan pursed his lips and wrinkled his brow. Jack suspected he was wrestling complexities he normally didn’t think about.

The big hunter switched to his wry grin. “People on your world can release the energy that binds matter together, I’m told. If I understand it correctly, splitting an atom is just a matter of firing a particle at its nucleus. Could you please demonstrate?”

After spending a moment baffled by the strange request, Jack realized what the man was actually trying to tell him. “You don’t have whatever it is you need, here.”

Rogan nodded. “It’s a bit like that, and its far too complex to quickly explain but… aye, it’s never so simple.”

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Jack had seen nothing back in the corridor to indicate the thing Rogan had found, the presence of a ‘path’ back to Earth. He had no image of whatever it could be that Rogan apparently lacked elsewhere than that one specific spot, nor how one would go about finding such a thing.

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So he asked. “Then what do you need, to move to another world?

Rogan sat up and unscrewed the cap on his canteen. “As you spin, the presence or absence of matter in the intervening worlds affects you, pulls you this way and that. To forge a safe path, you need either some rather bulky specialized equipment, plus time, patience, and a wee bit of guts–“

After a moment to concentrate upon refilling his tea cup with water from the canteen, he finished. “– Or a pre-plotted pathway writ in an unmoving landmark, a navigation pattern to follow. Then you need an engine to follow it, to do the actual spinning. I have the skill to act as my own navigation device and Althem provides the means for spinning, but I have no plotted pathway here. Without it or the equipment to find and plot it, I’m as stuck as you.”

“Althem. I still don’t get who that is, or where she is, exactly. I certainly don’t see her, here.”

Rogan took a swig, wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve. “She is the soul of a priestess who died a long time ago. She became a spirit bonded to a small gemstone, and that gemstone is now embedded deep within my chest.”

He looked down at his empty cup. “It’s what Nam told you before. We use the term Ijin for such beings as her. Carrying an Ijin is what makes me a Seryahdin. I supply Althem with some of my life energy so she is able to think and act consciously, and in return she acts as my flux focus.”

Jack bowed his head and held his hand to his forehead. “Flux focus. Must you use new terms every time you explain something?”

“Until we’re speaking the same language, I imagine so.”

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