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Imagine a space of incredible volume. Now place within its center an enormous ball of hydrogen and helium, collapsing against its own fiery detonation. Imagine a fireball so big that the force of its own illumination prevents light from its center from escaping for millions of years. Now picture the left-over bits from the star’s ignition spinning around in orbit, slowly accreting together over a staggering length of time.

This is the stage. This where all of the acts appear, lit from this ancient fiery torch. This where all of the tragedies and comedies that have ever happened and will ever happen, happen.

Are you getting the hang of it? Can you see this place, this domain? For as long as there are people and intelligences able to record impressions and ideas, this will be the only home of anyone who reads these words. But don’t feel so bad. The solar system is a big place and perhaps bigger than most might know.

For within this enormous system, the vast whirling orrery, know that certain places didn’t quite arrive in time for the show. What we see is what showed up on the stage when the curtains went up, but some of that which is hid off-stage.

In these other spaces, tethered to the rest of the system but still independent, are bounded universes entire. It is one of these places that a young woman wakes, lying on a field of grass. Picking herself up, she smells heath, dusty wind, and the trace of flowers in the distance. She can see the low hills on either side of a wide valley, purple and hazy in the distance. Peering intently, she can barely make out a structure perhaps two miles away, something with grey walls and fluttering pendants.

She called herself D. Perhaps if she can leave the valley, she may find a different name. She likes the sound of Jessica.

Does she want to return? A need brought her into existence, a desire to see a stray note in the symphony of the system brought into fuller harmony. And this she accomplished.

Are there other notes, discordant and unaddressed? Certainly.

Is it her responsibility to correct those as well?

The answer is contained in the question. She existed and exists. She exists to exist. Only when the system spun in complete order, with every mote of chaos of creation's first moments picked free, would she escape. So she knew that however long it might take her to cross the valley, the task would lay ever before her. She would forever be heading towards it, no matter which direction she turned.

She stands up and begins walking towards the building, unsure if it would offer a portal back to the stage or simply help point way the forward. And as she approaches that structure, its brightly colored flags whipping back and forth in gusts of wind, a faint smile appears on her lips.


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Chapter I

When the light came back on, the room was empty save for a corpse and two baffled agents of Section Starfire, the premier Anarchist Spy Agency employed by the United States government.

Two trained pairs of eyes quickly scanned the room and found it devoid of anything worth mentioning besides an old battle-scarred table along one wall and a book shelf against the other and, of course, the body of the man Spaceman had just shot. For his part, Marcus Delacroix, Agent Shield, stood across the room from him, blinking in the sudden light, unable to focus. On the table by his right hand was a squat metal object about the same color and shape as a wheel of cheddar cheese. Instantly recognizing this object, Spaceman allowed himself a rare moment of panic.

Pushing past Marcus, Space dashed to the door and tried the handle. Inevitably, it was locked.

“Do you know what this is?” said Marcus, slowly regaining his faculties.

“Yes,” said Spaceman as he darted to the b…

Chapter II

Agent Spaceman did not have much difficulty leaving the embassy. He had features and a demeanor easy to forget. Only his habits left their unsavory, distinctive marks.

Apparently there had been some kind of intrusion into the embassy. Every hall, staircase and exit was blocked by yellow-suited mercenaries of the AC’s. There was a time in the dim, distant past where this situation would have demanded his attention, his action. Thankfully, he had moved past such concerns.

Why had he even bothered coming out of his ‘retirement’ in Morocco? His inactive status stipend had been more than generous for his limited needs and the climate had been more favorable to his health. Really, if hadn’t been for that fever dream he would have stayed there the rest of his life. Having secured the object of his curiosity, he intended to return as soon as possible.

Which meant he needed money.

Finally finding a room with a broken lock on its window, Spaceman made his exit. A…

Chapter LXII

It took only thirty-six hours for a Section Sanitation Team to arrive at Santa Rosa. Leaving the town a smoking ruin was a non-option, especially with half the world on the look out for the Anti-Cerebrists.

It did surprise Shield to see The Chief leading the Sanitation Team. In the year or so he’d been an active field agent, he’d never heard of The Chief traveling more than five miles outside of D.C. The expression on his face suggested travel did not agree with him.

“We would have, of course, preferred if you had taken him alive.”

Shield looked around the remains of the town. Which him was he referring to?

“Sir, Spaceman resisted D with the apparently preternatural assistance of The Master. It was all D could do to put him down.”

“I wasn’t referring to Spaceman, I meant the Master.”

Ah, Shield thought, well that was a bit more awkward. “Actually, sir, he simply died. By the time Agent Two-Eyes and myself had come down from the bluff, he was already in cardiac arrest. Believe me when I say,…