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There are no beginnings
It was an odd sensation, that of his arm moving in an arc before him and visually seeing the rendering of its copy n the digital space. His best VR specialist explained the process for the Ascendancy, who operated similar constructs previously, but the metaphysical notion echoed a sense of awe to this day. The idea summoned thoughts of the definition of reality; questions first posed by Plato, later Descartes to no avail. Modern man had yet to reach a consensus. What was reality? Was life a simulation of neural maps controlled by masterminds of the universe? Did it matter?

Nikolai's physical body stood within a sphere that projected the view of their connection with such resolution, he might as well have reached out to confirm its existence. Reality persisted, warped and changed. The floor moved with his steps, allowing for movement. The definition didn't matter after all.

Given the short time frame, the rendering of their digital meeting space was rather simple: the interior of a Buddhist temple. A thatched ceiling was held far above by wooden beams. Warmth gleamed around them with unnatural light. The floor was deep gray stone. No furniture, no décor, no windows. Yet, somehow, the environment was fitting. It reminded him of the Datsan that Wilhelm Ravhid burned to the ground in that first attempt at assassination. Was this Regus aware of his predecessor's failed legacy?

The time approached. Nikolai did not fidget at his suit jacket nor did he tug at his sleeves. He merely waited, hands behind his back, holding a small stream of the powers of the universe within his soul. Darkness wafted at his feet like smoke, as though the wood smoldered with his steps.

A flicker, and the mortal man appeared.

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