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The house was too cramped for Ithuriel to properly show hyz father what hy had come up with so hy led hym to the top of the little knoll which was still adorned with Dory's tree house. Dory harself had gone on ahead to the former Washington State ghost town, Franklin, along with most of the Red Wing of the now long-defunct Church. Ithuriel could not hide hyz pleasure at the rare presence of hyz father, the seraph Michael, who was the absolute lord of the entire Earth and ar- guably at least half of Heaven. And Ithuriel had no doubt that when hy demonstrated hyz breakthrough hyz father would be all smiles as well.

To the north they could see where the Squaw River forked to form an island, but it was just a trickle now. Ithuriel brought that to Mi- chael's attention. Hy said, "The town is dying a little bit every day, father. I've come up here many times and I've watched it shrivel."

"There is no wisdom in com pletely stopping the flow of water," Mi- chael said, knowing that Ithuriel was well aware the source of the Squaw River was actually in Nyduly Wood more than four years away as the photon flies. "But as you have seen I am reducing it by degrees. I keep it just below the level it needs to be to fully support the de- clining population of the town as it is from day to day. That serves to keep them moving out. Eventually DECON will own the whole town, but by then they'll need to bring all their water in by truck."

"One consequence I've noticed, father, intended or not, is that the White Wingers who thought it was a bargain buying up Red Wing homes at seventy cents on the dollar are now grateful to sell their own homes to the United States government for thirty cents on the dollar."

Michael allowed hymself a sly smile. "Over the centuries many have at- tributed to me the virtue of justice."

To the north and west they saw the island that formed the center of Headwater, anchored at one end by the courthouse and on the other end by the sheriff's station. But half of the business were closed so hard they weren't even boarded up. They were simply abandoned by their former owners and left for Clyde Tolson of DECON to remake them in whatever image he had in mind.

But Tolson himself had not been around for several months. The War in Europe had entered its final year and J. Edgar Hoover had given Tol- son's leash a tug. He made Tolson put whatever side project he had going on in Headwater on hold to hunt down actual domestic enemies, not phantoms, infiltrators who were Third Reich saboteurs and spies. Special Agent Bill Sullivan and Dr. Trochman were likewise nowhere to be found. Paul Bergin had been sent to the Chair, Klaus Hansen rotted in Leavenworth, and Special Agent Mark Felt had left when they left.

To the east over the roof of his home Ithuriel could see the bulk of the town platted out south of the river. Dory's friends Robyn and So fie used to live over there but recently they moved with Dory to Franklin. It was eerily quiet, with very little traffic. Half of the homes lay entirely vacant.

South and east was the little bump informally called Mt. Motorcycle. It was perhaps fifty feet taller than Treehouse Hill. A very small cemetary lay on it's flanks. The railroad from the east wrapped com- pletely around it and merged with itself, the absolute end of the line. Behind the rail yard the uppermost vale of the Squaw bent south, then turned west again to wrap nearly halfway around the small mountain called Green Dome that dominated the western sky line. On its summit lay the charred ruins of the temple, more or less untouched since the Desecration.

Ithuriel took hyz copy of the Golden Gift into hyz hand and allowed the deadly hissing shaft of absolute darkness to come into existence and reach a meter in length. Hy said, "My lord and father need have no introduction to this artifact, which was made by hyz own hand."

"Indeed," said Michael, "and all the more so when its operation relies entirely on dark light provided by myself, which I can withdraw at will." And to punctuate hyz words, the weapon abruptly ceased to oper- ate.

Ithuriel put the relic away and withdrew a silver version. "Ah, yes, father, but the one I have made works entirely on its own, without your willing participation from instant to instant."

Hy brought the noisy dark shaft into existence and waved the new weap- on around. But there was a subtle difference in the appearance of the shaft. The angle of the shaft emerging from the Golden Gift always matched that of the muzzle. But whichever way Ithuriel rocked hyz new weapon the dark shaft seemed to rebuild itself at the new position, and the process, though swift, was just slow enough that the eye could catch it.

Ithuriel allowed the shaft to disappear, then handed the weapon to hyz father with the muzzle pointed away from both. Michael was stunned to silence, but hy tried the weapon for hymself, carving a deep trench in the ground as easily as it could be done with the Golden Gift. When at last hy found hyz voice, after deactivating the weapon, hy said, "Nothing in all of the lore of the Elohim, spanning more than nine hundred thousand years, suggests that dark energy can be synthesized artificially, outside of the body of a living sun."

"The effect you see with my imitation, father, is identical in most ways to what is produced by your device, yet it is not brought about by dark energy."

Ithuriel, who was Michael's best student, was also a remarkably effec- tive teacher. Hy undertook to instruct hyz father, which itself was an astonishingly rare occurence.

"By way of explanation, consider a magnet, which always has a north and south pole. Now if you break it in half, you will have two smaller magnets, and each one has its own north and south pole. Even the ele- mentary particles that comprise them are just tiny magnets. So we see if a magnetic field line enters a magnet of any size whatsoever, it also must continue through and leave the magnet. The field lines are closed loops. But what if there existed fundamental particles that could be either a source or a sink of a magnetic field?"

"Ithuriel, you are speaking of a theoretical particle which is called a magnetic monopole, but again, with my access to all of the knowledge accumulated by Ein Sof, the City of Stars, I can tell you the Elohim have never once observed a particle such as you describe."

"And yet, father, years ago you told me the Elohim have developed mod- els describing the primordial universe, and some of these models pos- ited an era when the universe was richly flooded with magnetic mono- poles. That was, in fact, when I first learned of the concept."

"I do remember telling that to you, son," said Michael, "but I also remember telling you that the most elegant model, one with the most beautiful simplicity combined with the greatest explanatory power, remains merely conjecture if the most obvious details remain unob- served."

"Then, father, please allow me to mention an article in the May 1940 journal Physical Review anouncing the synthesis of element 93. It has a half-life of only two million years, so any large amounts that were present at the formation of the Earth have long since decayed. It was not until a sample of element 93 was prepared by neutron irradiation that anyone on Earth actually observed it. So if magnetic monopoles are similarly unstable, it would come as no surprise the Elohim have not found one, if they never attempted to synthesize them."

Michael was beginning to enjoy this unexpected battle of wits with hyz beloved son. Hy said, "On the contrary, the Elohim have examined col- lisions from the ejecta of collapsed stars, which are quite a bit more powerful than anything mankind can assemble here, yet to no avail on the monopole front."

"I suspected as much, father, and I have abandoned searching for mag- netic monopoles as exotic particles. But there are lanthanide crys tals with interesting properties, made from molecules which have a tetrahedral geometry. They have four dipoles with two spin states each. Under normal conditions, in a crystal, each unit has two di- poles with their magnetic moment directed in, towards the tetrahedron, and two dipoles directed out. This is the lowest energy state, and the crystal forms a kind of committee which enforces this. But if you heat the crystal, thermal agitation can flip the dipoles to a random orientation. Increase the heat until the molecule sublimates off the surface of the crystal as a metal vapor, and the state of the dipoles are baked in. That's when things get interesting. On the scale of the molecule itself, all is well. The magnetic field lines pass through the dipoles as loops, as they should. But scale things up a bit, and look at the molecule from the outside. You might have three magnetic moments pointing in, and one pointing out. So you have a net sink of the magnetic field. Alternatively, you might have three mag- netic moments facing out and one in, giving you a net source. As a result, the molecule can be treated, mathematically, exactly like a magnetic monopole. And it's part of an ionized gas. So it's easy enough to make monopoles, or at least facimiles of monopoles, but the real trick is to keep them separated long enough to put them to work. Monopoles are unstable in the same sense that antimatter is unstable, because they're immersed in an environment that is hostile to their continued existence."

As hyz son continued to explain hyz device Michael was reduced to staring at Ithuriel in open-mouthed awe. Hyz thoughts raced ahead to glimpse how magnetic monopoles, the real ones, might have reduced the prevalence of normal matter to the present four percent of reality.

Ithuriel went on to say, "At some distance from the monopole the elec- tric and magnetic fields operate under an extension of Maxwell's equa- tions that include a parameter for magnetic charge. But the two kinds of fields are not compatible. It'd be like mixing oil and water. Since lines of magnetic and electric flux can never cross there devel- ops something like a skin between the two different fields, and that's where a wonderful and unexpected thing happens, father. If quanta of light energy cross that surface, they become carriers of dark energy. If matter crosses that surface all the mass remains, and it's still subject to the gravitational field, but it no longer interacts with the electromagnetic field, so it goes 'dark'. Electrons fly free of their attraction to protons. Perhaps they recombine with dark protons. But from our frame of reference the matter is simpy gone. This is ex- actly what happens when we use your macro, father, I just get there by a slightly different route. So there you have it, the best I can do describing how it works without re sorting to a heap of equations."

"But certainly the run time of your device must be very limited in comparison to that of the macro."

"That is true, father, and yet your macro has a severe run time limi- tation of its own. What if Keter or Daat knew of all the rat tunnels under this town and in yonder hill? Would they not begin to wonder where you found so much dark energy, and thus unravel the first knot of your ancient operational deception?"

"You make a good point, son, but now your Silver Gift can explain the most extravagant use of the macro. I consider it a gift indeed. But you have taught me some thing much more important than the secret of your Silver Gift. You may not yet see the full import of your deed, but I would proudly rank it among any of the works of the Elohim. Per- haps one day men will have a fold-door network of your own. So I have learned that every teacher must be ready for the day when hy has noth- ing more to pass along, simply because hy has been surpassed by hyz own student. I tell you that day has now come, and I should be melan- choly, yet I am exceedingly proud, for you are my own son."

"I don't understand, father. Why should you feel sad when you have fulfilled your role as teacher?"

"Perhaps it has to do with being a living star by nature, and a world- dweller only by choice. When I saw your achievement, I also saw the beginning of sunset for the Elohim."

"Then with your leave, father, grant your student another lesson for hyz teacher. Ever you have seen the Elohim as the ones who teach, and humanity as the ones who are taught. Yet what is the goal of such a relationship if not that both should grow into a full partnership? Have you never considered what the B'nei Elohim will do after we aid in your victory over Keter and Daat? Do you think their corruption is unique among the Elohim? Are there no other living stars who are held aloof from Ein Sof? We will find and ally with them as well."

"Michael bowed hyz head in acceptance of Ithuriel's gentle rebuke, but at once a new stream of thought came into hyz mind. Hy said, "Are you fully assured that you can communicate with your daughter Doriel at once, at any time, no matter the physical distance between you?"

"Of course I am, father, but I also happen to know that Dory prefers to keep such communications to a bare minimum. I don't blame har."

"Then are you also assured that no matter where you are, if you are in immediate danger I can summon a fold door and whisk you away?"

"There are the tales in the Green Book, but I was too young to remem- ber my mother before sha died. I have only known this place and time. But Dory told me that you once 'whisked' har and Gabriel to the top of Green Dome in such a manner, and I have no reason to doubt har."

"Then I have one more question, Ithuriel. Do you think you can stand before seraphim, either Keter or Daat, and lie to their face?"

"Now that, father, might need to be put to the test, and failing it, I would certainly be glad of a life line to Dory. But why do you ask?"

"Your Silver Gift suggests an entirely new course of action to me, and I would have you and your family leave this place, but I wanted you to be entirely certain I would never put you nor Anael nor Remiel in any sort of danger with no promise of instantly retrieving you."

"What danger, father? Are we now to join Doriel and the others who have already moved to the west coast?"

"Oh no, I had a place in mind that is somewhat farther away than just the state of Washington. Something on the order of five hundred mil- lion miles away."

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Strangers In Paradise