"We create our own realities. Every moment is a chance to make a decision. We only allow into our worlds what confirms our present view. This is the nature of ignorance. People literally cannot make sense of something no matter how obvious it is. That's how people can reject gays, aliens, the poor, the rich, or even be completely oblivious to someone who loves them. Folks choose what they are able to notice and then set up further filters on what to comprehend. Clear minds are able to grasp universal concepts accordingly. On the other end of the spectrum muddled minds shut out any awareness and can only produce delusions. Each of us adds to a general phenomenon we dub reality. Many of us are lucky to develop similar narratives. Every fringe group is pushing for a space in the common narrative. In a way they are literally proving their existence. Once you get so many people to agree, whatever it is becomes an accepted reality.
"Remember what Hitler said about how a lie told often enough becomes the truth? That's why vision is important. Alone, an idea atrophies. It only becomes productive, real, when a percentage of people have the same vision. That is what the collective unconscious is: the space where ideas meet, merge, and grow. We can choose to muddy it up with contradiction or clear it up to a frictionless environment. Most people do both at the same time, resulting in this clusterfuck of technological progress with no sense of ethics and therefore no sense of direction. A blinded machine. You tried to solve this problem in your own convoluted way. Like that guy in that old movie about the albino, you wondered if humanity would one day surpass technology. I let you go ahead because it opened your mind enough for me to clear it. Do you understand, my hearts?" I told her. I wasn’t sure why the words had come out that way. But Aeryn always managed to do funny things to me.
She’d just appeared with Joe Ashton out of the blue. She lay sprawled on the floor with a very confused expression on her face and Joe in her lap. From her thoughts I knew that she was from the past. This was before she’d ever met Mikassa. I sipped my drink and glanced at Damon. We had been sitting in the boys’ room of the A Seriesen, back from our search for John. We’d located him through an old friend of Damon’s but we couldn’t reach them directly. They were embroiled in some liberation or other and we couldn’t just go in and pull them out. So we’d returned here, let Mark Ulf know that he would have to bring John back later, and waited for the others to return. Ripley had already jumped through the warps to retrieve the rest of the crew. Damon would be joining him shortly but he’d joined me for a drink first, sensing my dark mood.
“What’s wrong with you now?” he’d asked me.
“Didn’t you see all that shit out there? All that fuckin damage? This universe is in tatters. There are holes and distortions all over the fucking place. How am I going to fix all that?” I reflected, depressed.
“That’s not fair, Mark. Don’t do that to yourself. It’s not all on you,” Damon tried to soothe me, putting his arm around my shoulders.
“But it will be. Won’t it? That’s what that fucking prophecy says.” I put my hands in my eyes, trying to block out the images. I could see it all, more and more every day. The time scars growing larger and larger. Millions of people, thousands of species being sucked back and forth through time. It was a whole new kind of hell out there in the universe. We’d all been cooped up on this ship so long that we hadn’t been aware of it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I think that’s part of the reason my depression had deepened these last two years. It was part of the reason I was so afraid Michón would leave. This universe was unraveling, cracking apart, and imploding. And Mikassa was making it worse. We were, too, with the way we were jumping in and out of the past and other universes like they were damn field trips or something. I let out a hiss. “Where the fuck is she? Where is Michón? Doesn’t she care? All this fucking trouble over Aeryn. It all comes down to her life, doesn’t it?” I seethed.
“I don’t know how accurate that is. This is not Aeryn’s fault. Nor is it Michón’s mess to clean up. Interfering with the past and the parallel universes sure as hell isn’t making it better but it didn’t start with us. Something else caused this. In order to find out what it is we have to clear away the damage first. We seal up the holes and then we find out where the largest split occurred,” he replied sternly. I don’t think he’d ever sounded so cross to me, or with me.
I stared into his hazel eyes, which were beginning to glow as he let his demonic side show. I had fucked him, I had loved him, but how much did I really know about this man? He’d been so tame when he’d been groomed for the Evanalca. But he’d been a pirate before all that and a demon his entire life. I didn’t know much about demons. I found my hearts racing as I felt afraid of him in a wholly new way. I’d once feared him because he desired intimacy with me. Now I feared the demon I’d never fully seen. The demon that had terrified Mikassa so badly. Other than Michón, he was the only being that Mikassa feared. Why? “Damon…” I said hoarsely.
“Yes?” He began to smile, and it was ten times creepier than my own sneer.
I had opened my mouth to finally ask when Aeryn and Joe appeared. Even though she was in our universe, I felt the pull from her universe. My brain scrambled a bit and then out popped that interesting little speech before I could stop myself. For a moment, I wondered whether Mark Ulf was using me as a puppet. I shook it off and looked back at her. “Are you my Mark?” she asked eagerly.
“I always am,” I responded, annoyed. When would she get that we were one and the same?
“How did we get here?” Joe Ashton inquired. He was quite handsome. He looked like Stuart, but an older and more refined version. He also wore his hair long like Karia did.
“Allison Mae did it. Accidentally it would seem,” I replied with amusement.
“I don’t know how,” Aeryn remarked.
“All those cameras you ingested had an effect. They made you enough like me to warp,” I elaborated. It was probably half-true; the fact that the universes had gaping holes in it certainly helped people slip back and forth whether they wanted to or not.
“And where are we exactly?” she asked.
“The A Seriesen. Boys’ room,” I let her know.
“What were you explaining?” Joe Ashton rose to his feet and regarded me with interest. I don’t think he remembered me, though. It saddened me but I knew it was for the best.
“The nature of reality. Our realities are converging. That’s why it’s been so odd lately.”
“Why are they converging? Are they not supposed to?” Aeryn questioned me, looking around at all of the photos.
I swallowed hard, thinking of how so many of us were dead now. I grew angry. I wanted to punish Aeryn. Even though it wasn’t her fault I wanted to hurt her. Why the hell did I need her so much? Why the hell did I want her so much? “No. Our first meeting should never have occurred. I’ve been trying to set things right,” I told her meanly. She had no fucking idea how bad it was.
“So it was a mistake, you meeting me,” she said quietly. “Then why do it?”
“I need you. We’re connected now so must follow through. Trust me on that,” I sighed, deflating.
“Yeah. He dreamed every possibility and this is the best path we have after what happened,” Damon piped up from my other side, giving me a break. He already knew Aeryn had a strange effect on me. He squeezed my hand and then leaned forward so she could see him better.
She seemed surprised. I’d probably blocked her line of sight with my dark aura and so she’d never even realized he was there. Her eyes changed completely and she drank him in. I felt my stomach twist at the renewed confirmation that she liked him better than me. “Oh, hello. Have we met?” she flirted, thinking about running her tongue down his chest and then sucking up his organ like a lollipop.
I rolled my eyes. Unbelievable! She was worse than me! “Don’t worry about him. Do you understand what I told you?” I tried to get her back on track.
“I suppose. Answer me this: do you only love me because you need me?”
“I don’t even know you. I love her. I just need you. You have useful talents.” I knew it was wrong. But I was more than a little pissed she didn’t return my affections. She didn’t hate me; I knew that now. Yet she still didn’t want me. I had never felt so insane over two such oppositely endowed women: Michón and Lilith. I felt like I was being ripped apart by the two of them and one of them didn’t even want me. It wasn't like me to go after someone who didn't like me but Aeryn had me all twisted up. I hated it.
Damon gave me a disappointed look as Aeryn’s face fell to pieces. She began to cry and turned her head away so she wouldn’t have to look at me. “I see. Why bother helping me? Why save Earth?”
“It’s the best option,” I said.
“I’m just the means to an end for you?” she asked.
Hearing the very real pain in her voice, I softened. Shit, I’d gone too far. Even if I didn’t mean anything to her, at least Mark Ulf did. And she’d definitely never like me if I intentionally wounded her. I poured myself a strong drink and glanced at Damon for help before I royally screwed up everything. Placing a hand on my shoulder, he explained softly, “You must forgive him. It’s been a super awful year for him. You also dropped in on a particularly heavy con.”
“I can understand that. Events are crazy in my life as well.”
“You all go by years as well?” Joe sat on the stool next to me and grabbed a drink. He wasn’t too afraid to toast me so I gathered he was aware he’d met me at least once before.
“Kind of,” Damon replied slowly. He took Aeryn’s hand and led her to the stool next to Joey. “We use whatever’s convenient at the moment.”
“Sounds fun,” she chimed.
“It usually is…” Damon poured her a drink and looked her over.
That’s all it took, apparently, because her mind went all gooey again and I could smell her arousal. Then she mentally scolded herself for being distracted when an impending doomfest was about to go down. “Oh, Aeryn, you know that’s not fair,” I almost laughed at her.
“Snoop.” She turned up her nose at me.
“What will happen will happen. Don’t feel bad about your thoughts. If you want to jump Allishuan’s bones, be my guest. I really don’t give a shit,” I let her know.
“What is wrong with you? Jiminy fucking cricket it never ends with you. I don’t know what happened to you but I seriously wish you’d remained Ulf. This Blue person has some serious problems,” she laid into me with that iconic anger of hers.
Damon placed his hand over hers and sent her calming vibes. “Leave him be. When you know him like I do, you can tune most of that shit out. He’s just a cactus. Life of despair and all that. He’s actually being nice right now. Considering our earlier con, his permission for you to sleep with me is like bowing,” he laughed.
Why, that scheming little bastard! I thought, beginning to understand why she’d taken Damon as one of her first victims after I’d brought her here.
“Permission? Does he own my sexuality now?” she snorted, highly amused and thankfully more relaxed.
“I wouldn’t want to. I can barely control my own,” I said to her. Glaring at Damon, I added, “And I didn’t mean that as a compliment, dickwad.” I leaned in and told Aeryn, “I think he’s just flirting with you.”
“How are we going to get home?” Joe interrupted our weird bit of play. I was slightly disappointed because I’d sensed the possibility of a ménage in the works if I kept my temper. It still wouldn’t have made her like me any better but at least it would have been fun.
“Guess I can take you back. I’m headed out anyway,” Damon shrugged. That was true enough; he did need to be in their universe to retrieve some of our crew members.
“Wait. Mark Ashton would kick my ass if I didn’t gather more intel. While I’m here can either of you tell me more about the Tree of Life? We’ve located this unusual black tree near my old home.” Aeryn snapped out of her daydreams and became serious. I smiled as I read a thought from her about needing our help even if I’d become a colossal ass. It was nice to see she regarded me so fondly (yes, that’s sarcastic, retard. I did actually smile, though. Read the Allison Dutch series if you don’t believe me).
“The Black Tree is there now? What year are you from?” Allishuan’s eyes widened. She told him and he did a quick mental calculation. “Shit. That’s when Dimana becomes lost. The BTS crew will be headed to Earth soon. We have to be careful not to bump into our old selves,” he warned me. Mentally, I assured him that Mark Ulf would guide him to the right timeframe and avoid overlap.
“We’re lost. Look, you dinna hafta tell us about your life, these folk, or the future. We need some practical news for what we can do now. Can you lads help us out?” Joe urged us.
“Keep someone watching that Tree. Matter of fact, you should go there in person. You have to follow my notes to stop this thing,” I instructed them, knowing it was useless. It was already too late.
“I don’t quite get it. Why can’t you simply tell me?” Aeryn slid off of the barstool and stood in front of me.
Damn, she’s beautiful. I had to take a deep breath to focus my head on what mattered now. I had to be as helpful as possible. “’cuz this is the last time you can see me until you come away with me,” I revealed, catching a glimpse of what she was facing.
“Because I don’t want to fuck it up anymore!” I lost it, whirling around as I burst into tears.
“Hang on, me going with you is good news. It means Earth survives, right? And you mention your people will come here. Isn’t that a positive thing?”
“We really can’t tell you. There are several outcomes. What we witnessed is only one. Your decisions will determine which future comes to pass,” Damon explained. “Think about what he told you about reality when you first came here.”
“That’s messed up!” she exclaimed.
“No guarantees,” I agreed, taking an extra-big swig.
“If this is the future, where am I? The one who left with you, I mean?” she asked tentatively.
I faced her and gave her a sad grin. “Can’t tell. It’s a surprise.” I hugged her, wishing beyond hope that she could bear what was coming. “Good luck, Allison Mae,” I whispered into her hair. “Take them home. Leave me,” I ordered Damon, rushing from the room and going into the nearest common room to finish crying. I hoped she’d be strong enough.
We all looked after Mark as he left and were silent for a few moments. What had he seen? I looked back at the redhead who looked so much like Stuart as he complimented me, “I can’t believe there’s some real color in here now. It must be you.”
“Thanks. But these are the only rooms that require manual change. Alright guys, let’s get you home. I’m sorry we couldn’t be more help,” I said, holding out my hands for them to take. I found I quite liked this guy. He remained positive despite the odds. I warped us back to her world, her home. “I hope I get to see you again,” I told them sincerely.
“Me, too. You’re much nicer than him, Allishuan,” Aeryn purred at me.
I felt that familiar tingle work its way through my spine. Delicious Aeryn. “Call me Damon.”
Joe made for the door, calling back over his shoulder, “I’m going out for blood. Be back in a bit, A Rún.”
Aeryn waved at him and then gazed at me with a bit of heat in her eyes. “Thank you for your help. All of this is messing with me. Talk about a reality check!”
I grinned at her. “Indeed. This is pretty big for us as well. You’re not alone.”
“You don’t know how comforting that is to know.” She sat down on a red couch, deep in thought. “Damon, you really can’t tell me anything more?” she pleaded.
I knelt in front of her and placed my hands on either side of her, wanting to make love to her so bad. I rested my forehead against hers, sending her soothing vibes because her thoughts were racing. “I can’t…” I said with regret.
“Can you tell me about Mik?”
I recoiled. Is that why Mark had fled? Had he seen what was about to happen to Earth? “Mik’s behind this?” I sputtered. I deflated a bit and sighed. “Figures. Whatever you do, be careful. You’ll probably make it through. Just focus on seeing me again one day,” I teased her. She smiled and hugged me. I held her tightly for a few mindigs, looking forward to our next meeting all over again. Before I could kiss her, I warped back to the A Seriesen. I went to Mark Ulf and told him I was ready. I hoped she would be. It was all up to her now.