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NAA: The house was too cramped to properly show hyz father what hy had come up with so Ithuriel led hym to the top of the little knoll which was still adorned with Dory's treehouse. Dory harself had gone on ahead to Franklin along with most of the Red Wing of the defunct Church.

NAB: Ithuriel could not hide hyz pleasure at the rare presence of hyz father, the seraph Michael, who was the absolute lord of Earth and arguably at least half of Heaven. And Ithuriel had no doubt that when hy demonstrated hyz breakthrough hyz father would be all smiles as well.

NAC: 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 Michael's attention and said, "The town is dying a little bit every day, father. I've come up here many times and I've watched it shrivel."

NAD: "There is no wisdom in completely stopping the flow of water," Michael 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.

NAE: I keep it just below the level it needs to be to fully support the declining 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."

NAF: "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."

NAG: Michael allowed hymself a sly smile. "Over the centuries many have attributed to me the virtue of justice."

To the north and west they saw the island that formed the center of Greendome, anchored at one end by the courthouse and on the other end by the sheriff's station.

NAH: 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.

NAI: The War in Europe had entered its final year and J. Edgar Hoover had given Tolson's leash a tug, made him put whatever side project he had going on in Greendome on hold to hunt down actual domestic enemies, not phantoms, infiltrators who were Third Reich saboteurs and spies.

NAJ: 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 Sofie used to live there but they had moved with her to Franklin. It was eerily quiet, with little traffic. Half of the homes lay vacant.

NAK: South and east was the little bump informally called Mt. Motorcycle. It was perhaps fifty feet taller than Treehouse Hill. The railroad from the east wrapped completely around it and merged with itself, the absolute end of the line. Passenger service had ended years ago.

NAL: Behind them 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 skyline. On its summit lay the charred ruins of the temple, more or less untouched since the Desecration.

NAM: 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."

NAN: "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 operate. Ithuriel put the relic away and withdrew a silver version.

NAO: "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 weapon around. But there was a subtle difference in the appearance of the shaft.

NAP: The angle of the shaft emerging from the Golden Gift always matched that of the muzzle. But however 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.

NAQ: 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.

NAR: Michael, too, allowed the shaft to disappear. When at last hy found hyz voice 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."

NAS: "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 effective teacher. Hy undertook to instruct hyz father.

NAT: "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 elementary particles that comprise them are just tiny magnets.

NAU: "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?"

NAV: "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."

NAW: "And yet, father, years ago you told me the Elohim have developed models describing the primordial universe, and some of these models posit an era when the universe was richly flooded with magnetic monopoles. That was, in fact, when I first learned of the concept."

NAX: "I 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 unobserved."

NAY: "Then, father, please allow me to mention an article in the May 1940 journal Physical Review announcing 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.

NAZ: 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."

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

NBB: "I suspected as much, father, and I have abandoned searching for magnetic monopoles as exotic particles. But there are lanthanide crystals with interesting properties, made from molecules which have a tetrahedral geometry. They have four dipoles with two spin states each.

NBC: Under normal conditions, in a crystal, each unit has two dipoles 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 of the whole which enforces this.

NBD: 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.

NBE: 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.

NBF: So you have a net sink of the magnetic field. Alternatively, you might have three magnetic 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.

NBG: So it's easy enough to make monopoles, 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.

NBH: 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.

NBI: Ithuriel went on to say, "At some distance from the monopole the electric and magnetic fields operate under an extension of Maxwell's equations that include a parameter for magnetic charge. But the two kinds of fields are not compatible. It'd be like mixing oil and water.

NBJ: Since lines of magnetic and electric flux can never cross there develops something like a skin between the two different fields, and that's where a wonderful and unexpected thing happens. If quanta of light energy cross that surface, they become carriers of dark energy.

NBK: 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.

NBL: But from our frame of reference the matter is just gone. This is exactly 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 resorting to a mass of equations."

NBM: "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 limitation of its own. What if Keter or Daat knew of all the rat tunnels under this town and in yonder hill?

NBN: 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.

NBO: But you have taught me something 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. Perhaps one day men will have a fold-door network of your own.

NBP: So I have learned that every teacher must be ready for the day when hy has nothing 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 melancholy, yet I am exceedingly proud, for you are my own son.

NBQ: "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."

NBR: "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?

NBS: 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."

NBT: 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?"

NBU: "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?"

NBV: "There are the tales in the Green Book, but I was too young to remember 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."

NBW: "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 lifeline to Dory. But why do you ask?"

NBX: "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."

NBY: "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 million miles away."

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Strangers In Paradise