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Andrew Murphy

Aberrant: The Long March - Delta Earth: The End of Andrew Part 3: The End [F]

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Continued from HERE

In the space outside time the Andrews survived on literal borrowed time. They worked quickly, knowing full well that their connection to the multiverse could sever and leave them trapped for eternity without completing their task. In null time no action is possible, no electron may move around an atomic nucleus, no chemistry can occur, even quantum phenomenon become frozen, unable to change because change requires time. Drawing power and time from the portals to their worlds, the Andrews worked, and in no time at all the generator took shape.

Andrew's mind reeled, how was it possible for an infinite number of men to work on a machine of infinite time and yet complete that work in a finite time. Even a nova level intellect as advanced as his found the events hard to grasp. The device, if indeed you could call a machine of infinite size and complexity simply a device, was finished. Manned by an infinite workforce and powered by infinite power the machine had but one single function.

Switches were flipped, countless dials were spun, and an infinite supply of buttons were pressed. The machine, powered by the infinite grandeur of the multiverse turned that energy back upon reality. The portals slammed shut, in the vastness of the multiverse an unknowable number of time and cross-time travelers found themselves forcibly shunted back into realtime their machines a ruin of melted parts, their bodies purged of the ability to breach the natural flow of time.

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Time, like infinity, is difficult to define. Within our experience of reality time is what enables us to observe change. We experience our world in three physical dimensions that we can observe directly. We can measure the length, width, depth or height of an object, person, or location. We experience time in a different manner however, we exist within time but we cannot observe time as a whole.

We can see the ball and because of time we can observe its change of position as it rolls down an incline. The ball changes its place within the three dimensions. We observe the change incrementally, as subjective time for the observer elapses the ball moves. Were the ball to move from its starting point to its ending position without the passage of time, perceived or otherwise, the ball would appear to change position instantly.

What makes things more difficult is that time is subjective to the viewer. Einstein's theory of relativity tells us that time is subjective. Even old wisdom and sayings demonstrate that before science proved it we knew time was subjective, "time flies when you're having fun", after all. However if time is subjective to our perception it is appropriate that our perception is subject to time.

Human thought, the operation of the mind, is a complex electro chemical process. Without time to allow a change in state the change in chemical and electrical states within the brain that allow for thought and consciousness are impossible. Even for a Nova time is largely inescapable, some can manipulate time, speed it up or slow it down, even travel against the flow of time or across causality into alternate presents. To exist without time at all however, that may be a feat that even a Nova cannot achieve...

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Andrew had less than a nanosecond of life remaining when he flipped the switch. The machine upon activation severed the portals which lead to the multiverse and with them so too were the umbilicals of time severed. The machine had cast a field of energy that would prevent breaches of time and then it ceased to operate. The connections that powered the machine were gone, and the time that allowed the machine to operate was likewise gone. The field held, it would not degrade or fluctuate without time.

Andrew knew all of this, but he did not, and would not, know if his gambit was successful. He'd done the best he could, he'd stepped up and gone toe to toe with the Watchers and he might have well beaten them. In the handful of picoseconds he had his brain considered the possibility of failure.

Time was a required component of change and so it had been needed to allow the device to work, to allow the machine to be built, powered, and activated. Time was the enemy, it branched at every chance it got. Andrew knew that he would not die, he would simply cease to change, once the machine activated and that regardless of success of failure he and his infinite brethren would float, unchanging and timeless, in the void outside of time. That instant when the machine turned on might have been enough to allow the fundamental nature of reality to force another branch, a branch that would span the entire multiverse.

Andrew had been certain the device would work, certain that failure was not an option, that it was effectively incapable of not functioning as intended. His plan seemed flawless, the machine had to work and so Andrew hoped that there could be no splitting of time, no other result that would allow his plan to fail.

Andrew didn't have time to smile, he didn't have the time to find out if he had failed or succeeded. He only barely had the time to register that he would never know, that only if somebody else came to this place and retrieved him would he know if he failed. In the scant moments before he ran out of time he realized with sadness that he could never know success...

... and then time ended for Andrew.

The end?

The reader is of course welcome to decide for themselves if Andrew was successful or if he failed in his goal. Likewise the author is beholden to the choice of the setting's creator to understand that his success would be non-cannon and his failure would spin off yet another set of locked timelines while maintaining the status quo in an equally infinite set of timelines.

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