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I Get Around
The holo in front of him was filled with pages and pages of thumbnails, all dutifully organized into categories. Alone in his office he smiled at the display, filled with happiness at what he saw. The machine learning AI was quick and had been able to organize the data rapidly despite the complexity of the submissions.

Row upon row of weaves sat before him, small descriptions underneath to indicate either what it did or what it was intended to do. Successes and promising lines of development; abandoned or failed experiments. Other users, those who were not admin level, saw only a subset of this. Open Source had revolutionized software development. Wikis had changed the way content was generated, harmonized and maintained. It was a relatively simple decision to combine the two for this.

When looked at longitudinally, it was a simple fact of history. Knowledge and technology exploded when collaboration was possible. Whether it was the universal common language of the ancient world, koine Greek and Roman roads or Father Marin Mersenne, "the post-box of Europe" of the 1600's who had connected scores of renaissance men and polymaths, sharing their research, collaboration led to rapid developments in science and technology. It was a wave that built up very quickly, as anyone could see when comparing life in the 1850s to life just a 100 years later. And that didn't begin to touch on the next 100 years, where computers and the internet led to advances not even dreamed of.

Just as neurons- single cells with no intent, carrying out basic functions based on its chemistry further based on the mathematical laws of physics- together became a consciousness of far more complexity, so too individuals working together constituted, in many ways, a super being of emergent intelligence. This was true for corporations or nations, as well as religions and communities.

So why not a channeler community? All of them sharing and researching and experimenting. Collaborating, modifying and experimenting. Some of the Rods of Dominion used his app. Sanjay had been happy to share. Others couldn't help but show off and the number of users had grown dramatically.

It surprised him at the types of weaves people were drawn to. Simple things, for many. Fire. Air. Combinations of earth. But then there those like Ilesha Fisher who were trying to use the power to work with metals, studying their effect as well as application in machinery. She was at the forefront, but her work was being looked at by other power users who also worked in metallurgy. Despite the difference in power, male and female, they could talk shop and brain storm.

Some of the Rods were using weaves developed in their military training. It was a useful tool for newer recruits, to demonstrate, so they could practice their formation. What was interesting was how surgical some of the weaves became. Some of that was his app, combining like Tau algebra terms in the same manner as Karnaugh Maps in digital logic. But some were...stylistic, was the best term he could come up with. There was an art to this. It was an interesting discovery and one he needed to think on. It was something he noticed in chip design as well. The laws were immutable. But there was still room for personality. He wondered if that could affect efficiency.

Those weaves were not available to the general users, though. Even the Rods or other users who developed weaves that were intricate, dangerous- and most of all, potentially useful to him- were segregated into small groups, though they didn't know this. While collaboration was fine and good, ultimately this had a purpose. All of it was to funnel through him. All of it was for him. His.

He felt an itch. Some of these he had played with. Only in a limited way, of course. He had not been hunting in a long time. Strangely, Malik seemed somewhat satiated at the moment. The intrigue, perhaps, of his position. The game. But the hunger was still there.

A hunt could be good. He'd have to use the disguising weave he'd learned from Oakland. His face, while not very well known, was still identifiable, both to those who might happen to recognize him, and- more importantly- facial recognition software.

Malik seemed to stir at the consideration, a coiled snake lifting its head lazily, a dragon, one eye opening in interest.

The weaves before him beckoned, asking to be played with.
Idly, he scrolled through the wiki, reading descriptions of the submissions. Some were bare bones. "Makes music"; "Creates balls of different colors." The maddening ones were like that but not simple. "Mix metal into water." He studied the weave for that one, unable to understand what it was supposed to do. Melt metal? That was just fire. The maddening part was it was in the female power so he couldn't even try it out. He could have someone else do it, he knew. But he was aware of the danger. Something had to be done about that. A way to test these safely. The simplest was to contact the woman and ask her what the hell she meant by "mix metal into water." The stereotype about artists seemed to hold true. Still, it was data.

Some were methodical note takers and their entries read like a diary. Those were a joy to read. They approached it like an experiment, logged failures and successes, their hopes, what inspired them, and so on. He subscribed to those people, knowing that even if it was unusable to him, even if it itself was not something that interested him- making flower petals grow into various shapes? He had a hard time figuring out how practical that was- the process itself was illuminating and taught him much.

One in particular kept pulling at him. A super heated column of air and earth, their temperatures so high that electrons separated from their atoms, creating the fourth state of matter, plasma. It was an interesting concept. Keeping it stable had proved to be difficult. Like lightning it tended to want to dissipate quickly. And it was...squirmy, was the best word. Not something he could control. He wasn't sure its purpose but he did like the way it moved and shifted colors hypnotically, rippling from one to the next like it was breathing. He wished he could figure out how to bind it, contain it in a specific form.

Another was playing with the 5th flavor of the power, the one that seemed to have no analog to the physical world. It was...ethereal. And yet it was also the one that seemed to warp the others, how they responded to matter interaction. It had played a key role in his creation of tau gates. It came up quite often in weaves that worked with living entities, healing and influence and the like. As if it was living itself, responding to will. It was alien in so many ways. And yet because of that, he hungered to understand it.

These two kept drawing all the "free" time he had- which was not much. It tickled the back of his mind, though he wasn't sure why.

He looked up at someone at his door and sighed, clearing the holo. Another meeting. It seemed he spent most days in meetings. Which meant he spent at least an hour each day running or boxing or working out just to get out of his head. To turn it off.

Locking his computer, he stood, put on his jacket and left his office.
Marcus found it hard to sleep that night. It sometimes happened, his mind unable to quiet from the day's concerns. Meetings were a necessary part of this job, but they ate up massive chunks of his day. For every one hour devoted to something that interested him, there were eight that went to administration: law makers, lawyers, project managers, department heads. A new Consulate had come into existence almost over night and organizing it was a herculean task.

And while beaurocrats knew their function, he demanded its structure would make it clear that he was at its head. That no part of it would be hidden from him. Of course, he knew he could not do everything. Delegation was necessary. But he needed to at least know what each was involved in. Practice, for when the time came. He didn't imagine it would any easier once he took over the Custody.

After an hour of unsuccessful attempts, he sat up in his bed and flipped on the television. He was bored. Nothing caught his interest. He scrolled through things to stream. He needed something mindless, something he'd seen before. A treadmill for his brain.

He stopped and smiled. There. The stirring opening music took him back. One arm behind his head, he watched for a bit, pieces of dialog coming to him a second before they were spoken. His eyes closed, but he was still listening. His breathing relaxed and he settled back into his pillow, switching the screen off but leaving the sound on.

He drifted, pieces of what he heard making its way into his head, his waking dream, warping it. He stood there, cool metal in his hand, solid and natural. His fingers caressed the buttons, the small dials that adjusted the length and intensity.

He pressed and a purple blade extended, the comforting vibration and tell tale shooosh accelerating his heart beat. He felt the Force flow through him into the blade, the two of them one, it an extension of his will.

And he smiled, as the image faded, his mind coming closer to the surface. He knew what he wanted to do. To make. He was excited at the thought.

Now he could sleep, content with his plans.
The tick of the mechanical clock mingled with the noises from the streets down below. The balcony door was open, though a security screen kept his apartment safe from ingress. The noise barely punctured his focus. The cylinder before him was split down the middle and hollowed out. Iron, but modified as the bearing had been, so that it was indestructible. The 3-d model he had designed had been sent to a metal worker and had been used to cast both sides, mirror images. Small divots with holes would allow tiny screws to hold the thing together. Before he had made the change he had carefully made sure it all fit together tightly.

The interiors weren't smooth. Rather they contained small slots for the matrix to latch into place. He'd ordered three, just in case. But the saying was measure thrice, cut once. Ordering more wouldn't be a problem. But he had no desire to wait.

Satisfied it had all fit together, he had woven spirit and earth, fire and air, in the pattern he had discovered, creating power "holes" in the iron. He couldn't help but smile. It was the same principle as adding trivalent impurities to silicon, called 'doping'. Those impurities created a P-type silicon semiconductor with positively charged "holes" desperate for negatively charged electrons to fill them. It was how transistors were made. Funny how the principle seemed to hold. In this case, the iron absorbed the power into its lattice. Early experiments seemed to indicated that the more force or energy directed at power-doped metal, the more of the power it absorbed to repel it.

Ilesha Fisher was working on something similar, though using the female half of the power. She saw the mechanical implications of this. Parts that did not break down were only the beginning. Others were working in related fields.

For him, it was enough that it worked. Because what he had planned would mean that a tremendous amount of heat energy was going to be housed by the object. Plasma, matter whose temperature reached the point that the electrons were stripped away from their nuclei leaving only positively charged ions of super heated gas.

He hadn't yet solved the problem of the "goopiness" of the plasma. It lost all cohesive structure at that point. He was playing around with various ways to 'encase' it. Air seemed a good potential though the thermal energy from the plasma super heated it to the point of danger. Getting too close- and you didn't have to be that close!- was a good way to get burned. He needed a buffer to hold the shape but keep from getting hot itself.

And so he pored over his Tau Wiki. searching for inspiration.

The problem was between his teeth. He would keep at it.
He was frustrated. It felt like everything he tried got too hot. Air? The surrounding got so super-heated that the blade melted things before it even touched. Earth? That became molten, droplets burning nice little impressions in his floor. His power doped metal would work, but completely defeated the purpose of what he was creating. He wanted an extendable energy blade. Water? Absently, he touched a nasty steam burn on his wrist. He was glad he had been able to dissipate the buildup quickly before there had been a serious explosion. He understood the dangers the early steam engine developers had worked under first hand, now.

But that had led him to try their techniques to create jackets with water cooled air. From there, a sheath of razor sharp air compressing the plasma, a few molecules thick vacuum, and then another sheath. Basically a blade thermos. It worked- sort of. The problem was keeping that distance constant at all times, the two weaves perfectly in sync with each other despite movement of the whole thing. It took work. A lot of work. And while he knew that once he had it 'automated', created using tau circuits, he'd not have to give it much attention, he couldn't help but feel he was on the wrong track.

That left spirit. The most malleable of the threads of the power. The one that had given him the secret in the first place. He kept coming back to it.

He looked at the clock, shaking his head. Damn! Another meeting.


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