Excerpt from World-Bridge: The Early Years by Amos Sten, p.2
“well known, of course, to the Agency and to the elites across Earth C-14 (a designation popularised by Maxine Latour for her discovery of the 3% increased amount of C-14 in that Earth's atmosphere), and versions of the truth were known to much of the population - if heavily distorted, but in Earth C-12 initially the numbers of people aware of the existence of a parallel world numbered in the scores at most, with hundreds, perhaps thousands who suspected some part of the truth. Of course, over the first ten years much of this was to change.
Sitting at his desk, reviewing the latest employment figures he felt the change in the air before he heard anything. Looking up he saw the man, tall and thin, with long dark hair worn lose. He had an undeniable air of, not authority precisely, but perhaps mandate, yes this figure came with a mandate.
President Hage Geinob closed his laptop, but he didn't activate the security alarm, after all he had been expecting this visit even though he knew neither the time, nor the place that it would occur.
“Mister Orion, I believe, won't you have a seat?”
Completely unperturbed the figure, Orion, settled himself at ease in a comfortable chair by the window.
“You know why I am here Mr President?”
“I have been briefed by my Ambassador in Bangkok that I might receive such a visit. You are something of an Ambassador yourself I am given to understand - coming to me with a proposition then?”
“Yes Mr President. My proposition is really very simple, you agree to enter into high-level talks regarding a number of issues of worlds-importance, meeting once a year at a location to which I, or one of my representatives, shall convey you, and you get to become one of the architects of a new world. There will be certain conditions of course…”
Three months later he would receive a similar visitation, this time by a young woman who insisted, with a smile, on being called “Spiegelshreck”. As had been agreed during the original meeting, President Hage put on his blindfold and held out his hand. When he removed the blindfold, after several hours, he found himself in an impossible space - a great black room, with strange patterns and whorls cut into the ground and ceiling, and vast, vast window looking out onto what could almost be a pair of stars - two great balls of energy pulsing in unison, with a bridge of flowing power between them. At a large table were seated nearly forty individuals. Carrying his briefing papers President Hage sat down at his appointed place and began the difficult work of interplanetary politics.
Excerpt from World-Bridge: The Early Years by Amos Sten, p.47
“In January of 2026, 108 countries' delegations unveiled their joint proposal to the United Nations General Assembly. Lead by President Maria Sanz of Argentina the so-called “World-Bridge Dossier” was presented to the Assembly, with expert evidence provided by two dozen expert witnesses. Unbelievable as it was the evidence was incontrovertible - at last knowledge of the two Worlds became widespread. Alongside the evidence was presented a detailed and thorough proposed political settlement both between Earth C-12 governments and between the two Earths. The major powers were completely blind-sided by the revelation, and its associated proposals - we now know that high-level talks had been being organised for nearly a decade located in Phuket C-14, handy for not being spied upon.
The consequent international and political ramifications are well-known today, but the level of detail and preparation put into the unveiling, the united stance of the proposing states and coupled with the manifest benefit of cooperation and equally manifest disaster of refusing it all played their part in getting us to where we are now. Of note also must be prescient wisdom of Robert Jones, the new British Foreign Secretary whose whirlwind tour of all 108 proposing countries provided a diplomatic backbone to new agreement. Widely recognised as one of the ablest politicians of his age, his support for the deal was undoubtedly invaluable.
Perhaps more surprisingly, the anticipated social and political shocks following this revelation were, for the most part, restrained and minimal. The Edinburgh riots were unexpected and caused considerable damage, and the Canadian ultra-nationalist movement remained a violent extremist organisation for nearly two decades after the revelation, but for the most part global society simply accepted that it was 'globals' society. Historians are still analysing and arguing the causes, but there is broad agreement that the rapid development of technology from the latter half of the 2010s made for a society more amenable to change, the spread of the Exegesis amongst online conspiracy sites, and the related Parallel World Romance boom in the early 2020s cemented many of the ideas in the public consciousness.
The figure pauses before the viewing window, the twinned soul-batteries shining like beacons before their face.
“No?” they ask, rolling the word round their mouth as if it were some new and unexpected thing. In many ways, it is for them.
“No. I am sorry, but I won't give that order”. She is not tall, and there is sweat on her brow, but her stance is firm.
“You know that I could crush you where you stand, call down Sathasivam and give him the order instead.”
“Yes, but Najib Sathasivam will also tell you no”. She has control of the tremor in her voice, and is gaining confidence from her continued drawing of breath. This is going better than she expected.
“Will he now. And Smithson, and Bascara too no doubt”. Their voice, is it filled with wry amusement, or icy anger?
“Because of Jesse Hargrove?”
“Because of Jesse Hargrove”. There is another pause, and then, driven by some primal urge for self-destruction, or perhaps just the core physical fact that nature abhors a vacuum she cannot help but adding “And Harry Potter, Director”.
“Very well then. You may go. Be it known though, there will be… consequences for this.”
“Yes Director, we expected as much.”
Access Record: AA.AA.F9.45.00001B - Record Name: UNTCI 2056/03/01 - Access User Name: Demiurge01 - User Password: Password_1
“Welcome to all Seatwels from around the world, in Indigocast, Panoramicview and good old-fashioned broadcast! This is Annalise Guttwalder reporting live from UNTCI1) control room here in the heart of sweltering Kolkatta. Well, in the 2020s we had the internet of things, and the 2030s the internet of minds, but now, after nearly two decades of collaboration by the top boffins that Seatwel and Seafort have to offer - relying on the sterling and tireless work of the mysterious Worldwalker to provide the bandwidth - it is now finally ready.
Well we have heard from Dr Yildiz Baykara, Reader in Pluriverse Information Theory at the University, about how the technology actually works, but for most of us all we really need to know is that once UN President Zhan Liu presses the button you and I will be able to access www.Seafort.com by Coltonnet, MindLink™ or internet and from there get to the Seafort Webworld. By a similar access point on their side it will be possible for Seafortans to access the Seatwel Internet - though for the technical constraints described by Dr Baykara unfortunately their access will be more limited.
Now, before we start the countdown I just want to remind you all that we have a moral obligation to respect the sensibilities of Seafortans and that consequently all activity on the Worldweb will be moderated. Of especial importance is to refrain from discussion or posting content relating to the following topics:
A well appointed office overlooking the river and Westminster
“It worked as you predicted Mr Jones. The alternate access points are now expanding at 1.2 times the rate at which they are being closed down by the Agency. The Interplanetary Firewall is being circumvented at an unprecedented rate and our growth forecasts predict that we will reach 80% coverage by the end of the decade.”
“Call me Robert, please. The forecasts are, unfortunately, not entirely accurate. They fail to take into account the effect of market homogenisation in the MindTech which will make it easier to assert material control over node-access. Call it 50% coverage by 2060 and 80% by 2070. After that it becomes less clear.”
“If you don't mind sir, may I ask how you managed this?”
“Me, Harold?” the man smiles. “I didn't do anything - I merely made it my business both within government and without to keep a close eye on all matters of… increased network connectivity let us say. Call it a quirk of my personal histories that I felt it sensible to do so. When I first heard about the Interworld Web project, oh back in 2034 I think, I took note and put my finger to the pulse.
I mean, I suppose I did support Dr Baykara whilst she was at Cambridge - let us say that I had a sense of both her remarkable intelligence and her commitment to freedom of expression - and made her aware of the junior researcher position at the UNTCI at just the right time. Of course, without the work on the Seafort side by parties who shall remain nameless this would never have happened. There I merely predicted that someone would, let us say, pick up on the other side.
Still, all in all I think this remains a rather successful approach so far. Now, in your report you mention the unusual glitching activity in the BIVHosting centre outside Lisbon. I'd like you to send the results to the Phillips Colton Foundation for further review.”
“Certainly sir? But our own people have taken a look and it doesn't look like anything unusual…”
“No Harold, nothing unusual. Yet.”
“and furthermore the Agency, on behalf of Seafort recognise the above listed crimes, committed by designated representatives of the Agency during Operation Fallout running from the period of 1985, represent material and lasting harm caused to Seatwel individuals innocent of any wrong done to Seafort or its inhabitants. It further recognises the great evil that was sought as a matter of global Seafort policy, and nearly achieved.
In turn the United Nations, on behalf of Seatwel recognise that the above actions were taken under a climate of utmost need and harm - harm caused by a rogue conspiracy of Interworld Experimentalists known as “The Woodstock Twenty-Five” located in Seatwel. The United Nations, on behalf of Seatwel therefore, now and forever-more, refuse the intention to seek criminal, material or extra-judicial redress against any and all representatives of the Agency during that period.
Instead both in each world a monument to the wrongs undertaken by both sides should be constructed so that neither world ever forgets.
President of the United Nations, Zhan Liu
Ambassador from the Agency, Worldwalker”
Once there were two worlds. Once they were separated by the twin gulfs of ignorance and the thickness of a reflection. Once there was a war between the worlds.
The young woman swallows nervously, but repeats the words with no unsteadiness to her voice.
The Worldwalker and the Spiegelshreck looked into the mirrors and saw the two worlds, the separation and the impending war. They saw and from the shadows they acted. I shall seek to see as they saw, and then to act as they acted.
As she speaks his name she looks up - Orion, the Worldwalker. He looks old, and tired, but happy too. The family endures and in each generation some chose to share his burden - to learn the old arts and walk the old path.
Never shall I turn aside from my reflection. Never shall I look but not see. Never shall I see and not act.
The smile on his lips tells her that he finds the formality of the oath a little funny, but she likes it. It makes this feel… proper. This matters.
I shall favour no world over another, admit of no origin save the human and work always to refuse those who do. I shall be the bridge between worlds, the voice that speaks truth to power, the walker who follows the better path.
She feels the tears prick her eyes as the end is reached.
Not two worlds, but one!
The Worldwalker leans back in his chair. He is tired. It has been many generations. It started with his family, but really with Echo and him - true transfer between the worlds. Not the destructive, violent, abusive techniques of the Agency, nor the generational swapping of Twinned Souls passing between the different reincarnation cycles. A little part of one world taken into the other, and vice versa.
After the Crisis there had been so much to do and so few people to do it. How many thousands of miles had he traversed between the worlds? More than he cared to count.
Then came the interconnections - and suddenly people could communicate with one another. Oh the Demiurge had tried so hard to control that, Orion smiles a little at the memory, but they never really did understand something that could be built from the bottom up. Those had been a busy few decades in the immediate aftermath - quelling brushfire wars, helping track down interworld criminals - even if the number of people who could cross over and back again was less than a hundred, information could transfer and that meant trade could happen and that meant - well human nature is nothing if not predictable.
The soul transfer had always been possible - the Agency had made extensive use of course, but with the charged history of its use there and with the reactions to the Seatwel abuses of the technology few enough had wanted to use it to start with. Finally now that was changing and passing between worlds was becoming as common as passing information between them.
Orion stands to hug Stevie and to welcome her into the Reflections. One day it will be true, one day there really will just be one world with two Earths, but today, here an now, a cell of Seatwel Swiss terrorists were trying to hack into the Seafort South Pacific Fusion platforms in a bid to cause an explosion and send a tsunami on to the East coast of Australia, radicalised by the charismatic neo-Pesedjet evangelist, Thoth-Ammon.
So tired. One day, he thinks, one day he'll be able to rest. But for now… and he passes over.