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The World is Yours
The meetings seemed to go on forever. In between, it always took a moment for him to shift gears into whatever he needed to be. Lawyers and judges and advocates, he went into policy mode, thinking about tight legislation and their ramifications. Application specialists, it was contemplating the future roles and careers in the CCD. Curriculum, research and training. Not to mention all those applicants who needed to be vetted and categorized, their abilities and skills and gifts studied and understood.

Soon, he'd be meeting with Leonid and Alexandrova regarding shaping the public's view of channelers. A Captain Drayson would be coming by too, to begin the process of enfolding Domovoi into the Consulate and expanding it.

Marcus had some thoughts on that and on field readiness for their members. Though now a Rod, Sanjay had not been deployed yet. Any channelers in Domovoi would need field training and he'd be crucial to setting up the training parameters if not teaching the first few himself. Marcus would have to eventually find someone to oversee that, though.

And then there were small things. A message from Natalie Gray peaked his interest. He couldn't help the smile that formed.

As it happened, he liked her. He studied her work in the app. Not a scientist or engineer, she nevertheless had a flair for exploring and working off hunches. And while he hoped her explanations and testing could become more rigorous, the work she was doing was good. She was in truth an artist, driven by instinct and feeling.

Some in the STEM fields discounted that as a valid approach. And perhaps in the very end, they were right. The foundations had to be solid. In the end. But, he knew better. Srinivasa Ramanujan was one such artist, exploring and discovering mathematical islands and continents, spelunking caves and ascending mountains, all based on instinct. He claimed his family's patron goddess inspired him. And while Hardy tried to force him to adhere to rigor, Ramanujan's artistic whimsy was still more often right than wrong. There were now entire fields based soley on deciphering and understanding his work, as if he had peeked into the mind of god and had seen too much.

Maybe she wasn't a Ramanujan, but she was an artist. And her work hinted at promise. And now she needed a favor. Sometimes he marvelled at the universe. As if the Force were making things work out for him.

Of course he knew that was mere confirmation bias. How many threads had he tied, how many connections? He couldn't begin to know. Clearly, some of them would bear fruit. The old story. "Oh my god, I was just thinking about you when you called!" And yet, how many times had you thought about someone who hadn't? The human brain- that most exquisite of pattern finding objects in the universe; a device that saw faces in clouds and Jesus in a water stain- only noticed and stored recollection when the pattern matched, reinforcing an existing belief. Confirmation bias.

So probably not the Force. Just a single seed coming to fruition. And yet how wonderful it was. Not only helping a Northbrook Gray- and banking a favor, a lever, should he need it- but also helping one of the Rods. He remembered Carpenter. Providing asylum to his family...well, if he had the measure of the man- and he knew he did- that would not be forgotten.

Neither would Vellas fail to take note. Marcus almost smiled at his imagined irritation. Why Marcus and not himself? Sanjay was already his man. The others would not fail to see that Marcus was the one to go to for sensitive issues- or for pressing ones.

All for something that was quite easy for him to perform. Indeed, the request was made and approved within the hour. Answering her other question took a bit more time. Dr. Weston had been hard to catch, but he had spun a story- Consulate related. He wasn't sure his information was helpful but it was all that was available.

Finally, he was done for the evening. Oddly, the sun was still out. A pleasant surprise. His meeting with Ms Fisher had sparked something. Rekindled an interest in his own work. He wouldn't head home yet. A walk in the adjacent park would help center him and get him in the right mental place.
Marcus had removed his jacket and laid it across his lap as he sat on the bench. The cool air was invigorating, especially after being cooped up in the Consulate all day. It had been a while since he had worked on his project. He was constantly distracted with an endless array of jobs and decisions, people to manage and projects to oversee.

While multitasking was a necessary part of this job, when it came to this, he needed focus. A way to think deeply. The quiet peacefulness of the park allowed him to relax, to slow down and clear his mind amid the invigorating scents and sounds and feel of life and the universe.

Gradually, in his meditative state, that tranquility seeped into him, Explaining the specifics of the Tau Algebra to Ilesha had prodded something in him. He was proud of his discovery, of course. As far as he could tell, nothing could destroy that bearing. To an extent, that bothered him, as it seemed to be a violation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. But this field was so new, with the Force only a recent discovery (or rediscovery, according to the Atharim.) It was hard to say how this new science fit into their current models.

But realistically, at this point, the ball was useless. An interesting creation, certainly. Then again, most things were like that. The twitching of frog's legs in response to electrical current had been accidental. No one knew what it meant or what to do with it, at first. It remained a parlor trick to entertain or wow the rich and the bored. And yet now, it played a crucial role in medical engineering, bionics and such.

The principles behind any discovery, as well as the first iterations of experimentation, were always crude and impractical. But over time it became an engineering problem, as the science behind it was clarified and made all the more rigorous, and as implementation began to eek out better results.

And yet the problem remained. It wasn't like he was going to set up shop as a the sole maker of indestructible metal parts. Until he could teach it to others- or a woman discovered the female Force equivalent technique- it was mostly a curiosity. Even with a handful of channelers, their creation could never be done on an industrial scale. Which meant their costs would be astronomical- and out of reach of most.

Which circled back to the real project. The hunch he had. A way to expand usage of the Force, regardless of skill. Metal could be modified to resonate with the Force as a whole. The key had been spirit. Of the five flavors, it alone could have its resonance- the oscillating trig function that was the 3rd term in the Tau- changed or attuned. He had first seen it done by Vellas back at the Christmas dinner, a web of spirit designed to detect any use of the power.

Marcus had taken that and ran with it, realizing he could modify an existing element matrix's resonance using specific combinations of spirit. And so the bearing had been created, drawing power and strength from the Force itself. It had become indestructible.

But that wasn't where he wanted to stop. If the metal- something pure like iron, as opposed to steel with its scattered bits of carbon and manganese permeating- could resonate with the Force as a whole, could he make it attuned to a specific flavor? One bit to work with air, the other fire, and so on. It was the next step of what he wanted to accomplish. He had the overall resonance calculated. A partial derivative on that would give him the specific one for each flavor.

His eyes opened and he rose, unable to hide the tight smile on his lips, and headed to his rooms.
Of course Marcus had to laugh. The next morning anyway. Up until midnight and still nothing. It wasn't that the resonances were wrong. But getting spirit to modify them was easier said- or calculated, rather- than done. Small ingots of iron sat around on the desk, a silent army of failure surrounding his head, slight pool of wetness at his cheek.

And yet, he felt a perverse joy. It had been a long time since he had fully immersed himself in something like this. Like he could feel it, just around the cornor. He felt young again.

And so the next day was almost distraction, his main focus always taking center stage when something else was not preoccupying it.

Still, like so many things, the more he focused, the more it eluded him. There came a point during his Brazilian jui jitsu class that he took a direct hit to his head. Enough that his first reaction- after realizing he was on the mat- was anger, the Force filling his palm, ready to level the entire building.

He caught himself and the absurdity made him laugh. Later, in the showers he stood there, letting the water wash over him, an endless cascade. And the tension seemed to leach out of him. By the time he was dry and dressed, all stress had left him.

What was a sporadic exercise was suddenly pushed to a permanent one. It was good to get out of his head. To think as a human animal.

He thought of Danika. He'd seen her a couple times and their interaction was cordial. But something had happened. He didn't know what, exactly. He had been a gentleman throughout. And her beautiful face and body called to him. Still, there it was....

Deep in the back of his mind Malik slithered, as if anticipating the day he could see Spectra again. She was chaos writ large. Which should have bothered someone who hungered for order as much as him. And yet...

But whatever the reason, he came to his studies renewed. And from a different angle. Instead of seeking control, of imposing, he tried to listen for resonance and harmony. It was antithetical to how one used the Force. But still...
The Force thrummed through him, connecting him to every part of the room. Dominating it was second nature, of course. The small ingot of iron hovered before him, held by threads of air.

Looking deeply, he sliced off a tiny sliver or air, a thread so thin as to make a human hair a mile in diameter by comparison. Gently, he pushed everything else away so the filament existed in a vacuum. Faintly, he could make out the tiniest of vibrations.

The oscillation function had indicated a miniscule wavelength, measured in angstroms. He quieted himself, let Malik absorb the seething turmoil of the Force, boxing it away, focused until all that existed were his threads and the filament.

And he waited, watching, attuning himself to the vibration, as if he could somehow make it out. And gradually, as if straining his eyes, he could see more clearly. But only by a shade.

Irritation flushed him but he fed that to Malik too, clearing his mind. He floated in nothingness, drifting. Amplification. Somehow, he needed to amplify it.

As a speaker did sound.

Another filament of spirit floated to that of air and spiralled around it. Their resonances were not initially in sync, but a small tweak slowly brought them in tune. Middle C in comparison to High C, its wavelength proportionally longer. The resonance was definitely clearer now and he surpressed the thrill that ran through him.

The hint of an idea grew. Another thread of spirit, it syncing with the first. Another octave of the resonance. He smiled. The technique worked. The spirit was acting as the amplifier. He could increase as needed.

He looked at the ingot floating there, and gently enfolded that weave into the one he'd used to connect the bearing to the Force as a whole. As he did so, he increased the amount of power, so as to effect the change.

It seemed to last an hour when in reality it had taken on momements.

Silence filled the room.

Gently, the ingot floated back to the table and he let his weaves go. He took a deep breath and channeled all five flavors of the Force into the ingot. The metal resonated and his heart leaped.

It responded to air. It vibrated with air.

He laughed and laughed.
Five ingots sat on the desk before him. Each one seemed identical. To any quark tunneling microscopic, they were. Each atom of iron sat equidistant from the other in a perfect 3 dimensional lattice structure.

And yet, a childish smile on his face, he couldn't help repeatedly channeling a single weave of all the powers at each one of them and seeing them resonate in different ways. One for each flavor: earth, fire, water, air and spirit.

A sixth sat off to the side. It had been divided into sections and the process repeated. For this one, that single flow of pure Force produced different resonances in each part: one section was for air, another for water, and so on.

It had taken days- or evenings, rather. He found he forgot to eat, he had become so engrossed in what he was doing.

Of course he cataloged it all in his app, though a secured area of the cloud. He'd not let just anyone see this. Not yet. Especially not until he was the master of it all.

For what he envisioned, though, he needed more. In and of itself, each ingot didn't do anything but resonate. Twitching frog legs in response to an electrical current. Oohs and ahhs might fill the display room....but it wasn't useful. Not at all.

He remembered as a child finding an old play-dough press. It had been in someone's garage. He studied it, saw how the raw dough could be fed in and something structured come out. The small containers of colored dough were filled with solid rocks, now. He'd never gotten to try it.

But that's what he wanted. An object that, when fed the Force, produced a specific braid, to borrow a term from Knot theory, of multiple flavors of the power.

The problem was, the metal only resonated. It didn't do anything with that flavor of power. It didn't pluck it out of the mass and shape it as the press supposedly did with dough.

After a day or two, he took a break. He was in the weeds, with this. Too close. He needed to step back.

One of his practices when he hit a wall was to compose a letter to an imaginary friend describing his problem in detail. He usually found that just defining the issue and all the avenues and dead ends he had taken usually helped him see the answer.

He had paused while writing his letter, remember how similar it was to talk to Malik so long ago- long before he had a name- about his pain and anger, his frustration and deep loneliness. Just talking to him seemed to help. Malik had become more real until Marcus knew his answer as soon as he had composed his dilemma. It became a two way conversation.

It was a comfort. As he described his problem, he went over each of the elements of his equations. The first one was the 'twistyness'. The Dowker notation of each knot made up a Jones polynomial. It described each thread of each flavor of the power and how it wound about in 3-d space.

The 2nd element in the matrix was the 'fractal dimension' expressed as a line intergral, describing the amount of Force (its maginitude or density) of each thread at any given point t. When pressed by whomever was on the other end, he explained more clearly. How much of the Force was he using for each thread? Some threads might be thin and weak, others thick and strong. This captured that.

Finally, the 3rd element in the matrix of the Tau was the parameterized oscillating function of each thread, identifying what flavor of the Force it was.

And something funny happened as he explained it to his imaginary friend. The first and third terms of the matrix were fine. How a thread was shaped and what kind of thread it was was unchangeable. It couldn't change.

And you'd think so was its magnitude. But there was an interesting aspect to integrals many missed, for which line integrals were merely a subset. Even though they might describe physical quantities like area or how strong something was, they weren't bound by normal human assumption.

A person measuring the area of a circle or square will always expect their result to be a positive number. A 2 by 2 square will have an area of 4. An area with a negative number makes absolutely no sense. Same with maginitude or work, defined as force to change vector velocity. There's zero work and then greater than zero work. Negative work or magnitude makes no physical sense.

But in mathematics, divorced from reality as it is, such assumptions have no real basis. And thus signed areas or magnitudes of work (or forces) can exist and can be negative.

He stopped, stunned. Could that be it? Could it be so simple? If his 2nd term was negative and impressed in the iron, would it create a vacuum- a negative pressure section creating a 'suction' to draw the actual thread in?

He almost stopped breathing. It was elegant. He envisioned a play-dough press where a vacuum sucked in the dough. But in this case, each ingot would suck in the thread or color it wanted.

He looked at the clock. It was past 11 and tomorrow would come quickly.

But he couldn't stop. At least with one of them. Not if he was this close.

He closed his eyes and seized the Force.
Two days later, exhausted, Marcus sat in his chair watching the flame flick on and off. It was just a flame, popping into and out of existence. An easy weave, so basic, so...nothing. On. Off. On. Off.

He couldn't stop. His brain was tired, to the point that his excitement was subdued. It had been a long day. His desk was littered with ingots, most of them failures. The negative line integral had been the key, but of course, it was far easier said than done. Finally, he had worked it out and a weave of Force into the metal had resulted in a single thread created.

Almost, almost he was done. One more step. He anticipated still more hurdles. The shaping of each thread in the matrix. But somehow, thankfully, it had seemed as if he had gotten over the hump. That last step had fallen into place fairly quickly. He marveled. It seemed once you had the necessary components- and even the making of them wasn't that hard once the process was discovered- putting them together to create weaves wasn't actually all that difficult. Like putting legos together.

Which was a good thing. Because this was a viable technology now. Or would be soon.

On a whim, for the final model, he had shaped the iron into into a stylized flame before beginning the process. It amused him.

On. Off. On. Off. The flame flicked to life and winked out over the metal tip.

He could sleep now, finally. He had slept, true. But now, his mind could relax. It did not have to churn even as he dreamed, seeking answers.

One final time. Ok. One final few times, smile still on his face, and then he'd go to bed. He had a morning meeting with Alex and Leonid. And he had messaged @Spectra Lin as well, to meet him at the Consulate for lunch. From there, he'd see what happened.

[[will continue in The Way I Am]]

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