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Fleeing the city of New York on the TransContinental atmospheric transport vehicle, Dran Florrian is traveling with Palimpsest-the ultimate proof of a lifetime of scientific theorizing.
When a rogue organization attempts to steal the device, however, Dran takes drastic action.
But his invention threatens to destroy the very fabric of this and all other possible universes, unless Dran-or someone very much like him-can shut down the machine and reverse the process.
some antediluvian culture. Only its sheer size gave it away; its peak nearly brushed the steel rafters. When Florrian touched his palm to the gel and dug with his fingertips it shrank and withdrew with a faint sucking hiss, until its entire mass was a ball cupped in the palm of his hand. He put the ball at his feet and inspected the newly revealed machine, caressing its front panel, inspecting for any slight damage. It was vaguely humanoid: a sphere of blistered metal above an angular carriage
hypothesis, that he could hardly bring himself to consider it. The door at the end was locked with a diagonal bar. Hadn’t it been a wheel? A handle? Hadn’t the door been of wood rather than metal, or—and this memory was the strangest—of faintly pulsing purple flesh? No matter. He put both hands on the bar and twisted. Hearing it click, he drew the door open. The cargo bay was a long quadrangle, plain and steel-walled like the corridor, but expanded into grander dimensions. Columns of netting
have imagined: the sensation of having a part of him brutally opened to the world, the awareness of what should be inside flooding out. I’ve been shot. But hadn’t that been the plan? Now the pain was distant. If Faizan wanted it to be, it was all distant: his body, Dori, the storage bay, all little more than a shadow violently flickering. He had been shot, and it was excruciating—but only in one single reality. There were many versions of him. Most were unhurt. Others were sick; some were
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south, but by the time we could drop in, word had got out. The Manjoro were there before us. Professional bastards . . . when they’re not poaching, they’re running guns or drugs or people.” Florrian clicked up the monocle interface he wore for such impossibly delicate work and knuckled his eyes. Then he flipped the monocle back into place. The labyrinthine circuitry, magnified a hundred thousand times by the monocle’s firmware, in conjunction with his own adapted retina, swam back into clarity.