A day shy of a week ago Robotech Master was out on his e-bike when an SUV struck him and drove off. According to the most recent news available, he passed away from his injuries at around 2:00 this morning. I have kept some news up on his user page and, at this point, ask that anyone wishing to leave messages or tributes do so on either his talk page or another page that can be used for such things. His account here and all of the stories he has gifted the Shifti community with will be preserved in memoriam, as we also did for Morgan.

User:Michael Bard/A Tale of One Entity

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A Tale of One Entity

Author: Michael Bard
This story is a work in progress.
Author's Notes: New additions, if there ever are any, will start with a few words of green text. Keep in mind that significant revisions are possible, and sometimes necessary. The entire text is therefore in flux.
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by Michael Bard

Some notes are in order so the reader can understand what this mess is...

Many moons ago, just before one of the TSA-bashes, somebody on the TSA-talk suggested that those not going should try writing a story where they go to Fantasy Island and "things" happen. I started a story, but nobody else did, and the project died a whimpering death.

All I ever got written were the two chapters here, along with some notes about where to go with it.

Years later, I saw the incomplete story, and had the idea to write it as a homage to RAH's "By his Bootstraps". So, I sort of wacked a plot into shape (which is listed in detail at the bottom). It still isn't quite write -- I had to made too many compromises to get the logic to work (such as the granted shapechange ability -- an earlier idea draft had the POV character trapped as a feline when the gate closes, but that caused problems for other parts of the story--).

The reason I'm posting it is that a recent conversation with ShadowWolf reminded me of this project.

At this point, I doubt I'll ever do anything further with it. If enough people poke me, maybe. Or, if anybody wants to take what I have and run with it themselves, go ahead, with my blessing.

Part 1: Into the Dream

It all started on a Saturday. As usual, Peter slept in, barely forcing himself out of bed by noon. It had been another late night trying to get some programming done. He always took Saturday off to relax.

As usual he showered, ate some breakfast, watched some TV. Finally he decided to go out - he knew that he needed to get out more. And it was a nice summer day. So he got dressed and opened the door and walked out into the hallway of his apartment building.

Or at least that is what he thought he did.

Generally hallways were not large areas covered in grass and rocks - and he knew for sure his was small and had carpeting.

Nor were hallways brightly lit by a late afternoon sun. Especially at noon.

And almost never do they contain seagulls and palm trees.

Peter spun around and looked behind him.

As he had half expected, the door to his apartment was gone.

So, what was going on? He definitely wasn't home anymore. He looked for signs of civilization but he couldn't see any roads, or buildings. He looked up into the sky and could see no sign of any airplanes.

He shook his head - this made no sense. Unless it was a dream. That's it! He decided to just relax and enjoy it until he actually woke up.

He listened for anything, so he would have somewhere to go. All he could hear was the singing of birds, and the rustle of palms. Behind all that he could faintly hear the sound of waves.

He decided to go that way. At least then he would be able to keep from getting lost.

The walk didn't take long and soon he arrived on a sandy beach. It was wide and straight, the sand white, but streaked with red bands. That was odd. There were some large rocks here and there along the shore. He walked over to one to climb up and take a better look around. He had just reached it when he heard laughter out in the ocean.

He looked out into the waves and saw the bobbing head of a woman about 50 metres away. He watched as she briskly and cleanly stroked her way into the shallows and stood up, water dripping from her waist-length white hair and grinning face. She was wearing nothing, other than her hair and her smile.

"Why don't you come on in? The water's wonderful!"

He didn't know what to say. Finally he managed to mumble out, "But I don't have anything to wear."

Somehow she heard him and just laughed. "Neither do I. So get in here. There's no one here but ourselves, so come and enjoy yourself."

Peter started looking for a place to change behind.

The woman laughed louder. "Really, there's only us. Nobody will take anything of yours. It doesn't matter anyway, I've been expecting you."

Since this was a dream, he might as well enjoy it. He started pulling off his shirt. Meanwhile, the woman walked further onto shore waiting for him. She snuck up while he was removing his pants and threw the water she had been holding in her hands onto his back.

The cold water caused him to spin around, letting his pants fall to his ankles. The woman just laughed and fled into the water, her behind waving back and fourth enticingly. Fine, if this was a dream, then he was going to enjoy it. He quickly got off his pants and shoes and ran into the water after her.

It was cold. It was really cold. But it could be survived. The water was also salt, not fresh. He'd never been in the ocean before, but in his dreams he finally was.

He looked around for the woman but couldn't find her. Then he was splashed from behind and she grabbed him. He couldn't turn around but then she let go. He turned and she was gone.

What was going on?

Then something bumped him in his back. He spun around again and looked down at the grinning face of a pure white dolphin. He'd never heard of a white dolphin. But then, this was a dream. And the dolphin was white - as was the woman's hair.

"You were the woman, right?"

The dolphin nodded and clicked. He just shook his head. It couldn't be. But it was a dream. The dolphin was still there. He reached out to touch it, afraid that the dolphin would suddenly vanish. It didn't and allowed him to touch it, or her.

He'd never felt a cetacean before, but had often wondered. He had once in a museum felt a simulation of a dolphin's skin. The closest description of the sensation was as though he was touching warm, silky, rubber. The dolphin felt like that. In fact just like that.

Of course, it was just a dream.

The dolphin interrupted his thoughts by inserting its dorsal fin into Peter's hand. He guessed she wanted to take him swimming. Why not? What could happen in a dream? And he wasn't disappointed. The dolphin went slowly at first, but then sped up. In all the swimming he had done he had never moved this fast. Then the dolphin clicked and suddenly dived. He wasn't expecting it, but the dive was short. He was back on the surface long before he was in any danger. Did the clicking indicate a dive?

The dolphin waited a moment for Peter to catch his breath and then bumped into his hand again. So he grabbed her dorsal fin and they swam off together. Peter was beginning to enjoy this. He hoped he wouldn't wake up any time soon. Then the dolphin clicked again and Peter sucked in a lungful of air. And they dove down. So the click signal did indicate a dive.

The dolphin slowed down and gave Peter a chance to look around. The water was blurry, and the salt stung his eyes, but he could still make out a reef and incredible plentitudes of fish. Then, too soon, they surfaced again.

This continued for the rest of the afternoon. Some of the dives were long, some were short. The dolphin always signalled the beginning of a dive with a sequence of clicks, the more clicks, the longer the dive. Gradually, as the sun was beginning to set, the dolphin began to head back towards shore, but not towards the beach, but instead towards a rocky outcropping. Peter didn't care - this was the best dream he'd ever had!

They approached the rocks and then the dolphin suddenly stopped. Peter floated in the swell and looked around. About a hundred feet away the waves were crashing against the rocks. Above he could hear the seagulls and he could smell the salt encrusting the shore. Then the dolphin let out an extremely long sequence of clicks and bumped him. This must mean a very long dive. Peter began rapidly inhaling and exhaling to prepare. The dolphin clicked again and bumper her dorsal fin into his arm. He grabbed hold and inhaled as much as he could hold. Then the dolphin dove.

The dolphin dove down, deeper than they had gone before. Peter used his hand to pinch his nose so that he could equalize his ears. Quickly they reached a tunnel and the dolphin sped in, not even given Peter a chance to let go. Now Peter was committed. More and more committed as the dolphin swam further and further into the tunnel. Quickly the light vanished and all that Peter could see was blackness, and all he could feel was the rushing of water. After about a minute, he began to worry. He couldn't hold his breath much longer. But he had no choice. He began to need to breathe, but he forced himself to wait. He must have tightened his grip for the dolphin swam faster. He had to breathe, but he couldn't. Just a moment longer. Just a few moments longer.

The water began to lighten, being lit by an eerie green. It was dark at first, but grew brighter. Finally, the dolphin angled upward and in a moment breached the surface. Peter blew out his bad air and gasped for breath. The dolphin remained with him, holding him afloat.

Gradually he caught his breath and was able to look around. He was in a cave of some kind. He could see no opening above him. There was no shelf although the water did shallow towards the walls. The only light was from algae and plants in the water, it was dim but enough to see by. There was just enough light to cause ripples in the cavern roof so that he could see it was alive with stalactites (check). A drop of water fell from one into the pool.

Then he heard a woman's laughter tinkling off the walls.

He spun around and saw the woman floating beside him, her white hair spreading out in the water behind her like smoke. He looked down and saw that she was not completely a woman for below her waist her legs merged into a tail. Not green and scaly, but white, like the skin of the dolphin that had brought him here. She was a mermaid.

He would have refused to believe, except that this was a dream. Still, he opened his mouth, but she wouldn't let him speak, sealing his lips with hers. Her tail wrapped around his legs and slowly they sank into the water together.

For a second he worried about breathing, but as they kissed, he felt her exhaling air into his lungs. She exhaled until they couldn't hold any more, but still she kept blowing. Somehow his lungs grew and grew until finally she stopped. Even more strangely, with his lungs now bursting with air, he was still sinking. The water should buoy him up.

He didn't have time to think about this though. Occasionally he would exhale through his mouth and nose, the bubbles tickling his face as the drifted back to the surface. Then the mermaid would kiss him again, and fill his lungs until they felt like they would burst. Peter had never made love before, and would not have this time, but it was the mermaid who was raping him. He had little choice. He grew warm and began to respond, all thoughts of breathing and drowning fading from the moment.

He really didn't want to wake up.

Gradually he responded to her and together they climaxed. He screamed in pleasure, exhaling a roar of bubbles to the surface, but didn't get any water into his lungs. Before he could panic she kissed him again, filling his lungs fuller than before. They kept filling until it felt like they burst in a roar of bubbles. He could feel himself sinking down to the bottom as the mermaid abandoned him. He had no urge to try and swim to the surface, had no urge to breath at all. He felt warm and comforted. He felt relaxed and loved. He finally touched the bottom of the cave and just lay there. He was warm and comfortable. He was dreaming so he couldn't drown. Finally the dream left him and he fell into sleep.

He could remember little of the rest of his dreams that night. All he could ever remember was breathing thick, moist air very slowly, but without seeming to inhale or exhale at all. In the distance he could hear faint singing, so low that he heard it with his entire body.

Part 2: But is it a Dream?

He finally awoke, cool but comfortable. The bed felt much softer than he remembered and his room was dimly lit in green phosphorescence. He realized that he wasn't in his room, nor was he in his bed.

He was still in the cave. In fact in the water at the bottom of the cave.

It had to be a dream. He had awoken from a dream before, in fact awoken many times from a dream before. But this was getting too much. He remembered the last, and only, time he had ever realized he was dreaming. He had confirmed this by the age old method of pinching himself and feeling nothing. This was getting ridiculous. He had to know. So he pinched himself.

And it hurt.

But how? He didn't need to breath. He felt no tightness of chest, no shortness of breath. He looked at his chest and confirmed that it was not moving.

Then why was he not dead? And where the hell was he?

He tried exhaling and watched bubbles come out of his mouth and rise. Eventually he had to stop as he ran out of air.

But he still didn't feel any need to breath.

It had to be a dream. It absolutely had to.

That woman. He had to find her. She would be able to explain everything.

He looked around and saw the exit from the cave and started swimming towards it. Swimming seemed easier than it had in the past. He stopped and checked. His legs were still normal. The woman would know.

He slowly made his way out of the cavern and into the open sea. He noticed that his lungs were full again. But how? And if they were full, then why was he not bobbing to the surface?

None of this made any sense!

He swam to the surface and popped his head above. He still didn't need to breath. But why? Well, he started to breath anyway. It felt odd. He had to think about each breath. And he began to feel cold. He looked around and saw the shore and began swimming towards it, but it was slow and hard. Finally he gave up and went back below the surface. It was comfortable there, and much easier. Eventually though it became too shallow and he had to surface.

He slowly walked through the quiet waves onto the beach. The sand was damp - it must have rained overnight. He looked around and saw his clothes. Unfortunately they were soaked. Then he realized that he was breathing on his own again. Something really strange was going on. But where was the woman?

He turned around and looked out to sea, but could see no sign of her.

Fine. He would take a look around the island and come back later. There didn't seem to be any rush, and he was hungry. He looked around and saw an apple tree.

Part 3: Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts

- goes into cave - finds operating computers - OBIE - reaction - what are you going to do? - somebody asked for you so I'll send you to her... - engulfed in silvery mist - can feel changes grow - that's different - I thought you would enjoy it more this way OBIE interjects... - meets woman - same upper body - you - she just laughs - miss me? - okay - what is going on - don't worry - but I have to worry - thats your problem, everything had to be rational - this is so unrational it has to be a dream - hah, I will show you - wonder what is going on in your absence - since dream there is no absence - but there is.... - see what going on back home - how - leads to cave on side of volcano - mists - breath and have a vision - ah yes the prophecy method "A Mighty Empire Will Fall" - doubter - argument - fine - I'll learn - shoves body into cave - breaths - doppleganger replacement - no writing, no painting, no reading - just works - finishes program, business partner happy - is putting life in order - watches throw out all of prized possessions, delete useless fiction... - No! - flees from cave - vision is skewed - collapses at edge of stream - later - wakes up in bed in apartment - early morning - too early - needs to use washroom - staggers in - turns on light - looks - lost weight - really fit - looks at legs - slim muscular - what is happening - is this a dream tries the cliched "pinching" method - yes it hurts - remembered tried once and it didn't and realized was in a dream - is this not a dream? decides to go and get some answers - get dressed - walks out through door

Part 4: Souls and Biochemicals - back into silver mist - what is going on - what is happening it makes no sense - that's your problem - even your fantasy has to be science - what - somebody calling in background with crisis - no time - why not make more of himself - doesn't work that way - discuss souls, biochemical, consciousness, etc. - time to change my world view - experience various forms in mist - mostly animals, aliens - talk - asks who is woman - what woman - one I keep meeting - one that seems to keep changing me somehow - three laws - why not obey me - maybe don’t have laws - maybe you’re not human - but - she's asking that I show you the other side of things - maybe it'll fix your world view - what - vanishes

Part 5: Escaping the Dragon - Elven female in service of Dragon Empire beseiging Caldayan fortress-city??

Part 6: Keeping My Soul resolution - love - person in love from afar with dreams - made computer bring here - now what

Finishing off the Unfinished Story "A Tale of One Entity"

- all the main characters are the same person trapped in some wierd time loop - time device only transports "soul" (need a better word) - puts soul into safest available body - IF available (in far future there is no mamallian life left - why? - never say?

"POV" loop - in bed at home (old house with tenants - on second floor - lets cat in (cat is female - apparently dropped from balcony) - raven also swoops through window - strange - warms up cat - wraps up - raven starts talking when done - must go though - what - through that - glowing portal just inside window where cat was - why - very important - power - transformation - you'll be fine - trust me - you'll be back soon too - takes step towards - you have to go - then raven swoops down and drives him through

- first part - roughly as is - remove convention bits if any

- wakes up - finds cave with machinery - time portal - same woman there - talks - explains what it is - must go back and get somebody - want to repopulate earth - lots of abandoned tech around - eternal life - and me...

- pops back - in control of raven (female - HOW finds out - laying on nest?) in tree - recognizes home - new form - how to fly - get who? - sees open window - sees cat on sill - huh? - sees window open and hand pull cat in - no - remembers story - and he is raven - swoops into window - conversation - panics - doesn't want to lose experiences, changes - forces self through

- cat looks at him and nods head - what? - how can he tell - gate flickers - what - what is going on - cat walks to gate and points - how? - paw/mouth - goes through

- comes through as young raven - somebody apologizes and shoves him into another machine - screams (gains shapechange) - loses consciousness - wakes up as dolphin - heals - lonely - suddenly senses someone in water - it is himself as male - doesn't know who it is - finds can changes, entices - enhances - mates - what has done? - swims away to think - comes back later follows trail to gate - he is gone - but how? - remembers that someone was there - her - sees reflection on metal and recognizes - therefore she must have sent him through the gate - BUT if she did then when - not yet - thus, to gain shapechange must learn gate and then come back to this time to give himself the explanation and send himself through

- lives on land slowly - experiments with gate - somewhat figures it out - trackball to control location - default is current location which matches house, wheel to control time - finds viewer that transmits through gate - explores past - now about 6 months pregnant - sees images of humans - changes - go through? but then how get back? - follows - something happens - sudden darkness - horrible, cold, evil, spins time and space controls wildly to escape - suddenly self falls through and screams and loses consciousness - time control cannot go beyond present

- what? - views - sees raven and cat - but why is he here now - has to fix - changes time dial through to neutral position - now - works back until sees self in water - goes back a bit further and drags self through - ok first problem fixed - dials back further watching the gate - sees flicker - stops - finds self as raven - goes back a bit further and steps through - sets gate time controls to apartment - hurrying through "recent" past - sets focus just as raven comes through - grabs him and throws him into machine - screams - unconscious - falls to ground - now what - reaches down - can sense friendship - can sense can heal the other - carries him out and puts him by shore and makes her into dolphin

- shuts down this gate and returns to her "present" to have child

- pregnancy - birth - love - changes - one day son wanders into cave - no -goes - sees the gate open - sees him step through - rushes to controls -looks - sees that child has become himself - recognizes parents - Ok - well its fate - shuts off gate - so lonely - walks away - rests - after noise can't stand it - remembers the TSA list - will go back and offer to bring some of them - well go back to after leave first time, change back to self, leave gate open, and start process - changes gate to house where this started and goes through to stop cycle from ever beginning - comes out as cat trapped on windowsill - starts mewing - gets let in

- run through events

- left - can't change - gate goes away

- meows plaintatively

Changes: - can force change on others once changed - gate is closed by aliens (flees to before events start since knows no immediate pursuit and knows humanity survived so best guess as to no long term pursuit) - ends up back in original type but can shapechange at will - and can change the shape of others