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Audumla Station: A beginning at the end.

"Phaethon! It is about to begin sir!" called a gruff voice from the observation deck. The gaunt, blonde young man smiled. Using the archaic names of gods for the members of his team was, he felt, a masterstroke, on what would soon prove an exquisite canvas. He really ought to look up what his code-name meant, he mused absently; he'd chosen it at random and a wizened little co-worker had snickered to himself before walking away muttering something about ignorant imbeciles above their station, he thought he'd heard something about blowing the Imperator, before he'd turned away disinterestedly, Phaethon had never put much stock in what naysayers had to naysay about, especially when it regarded himself. As far as he was concerned it sounded majestic, and whatever other meaning it had, well he could look that up when the job was done. As he left the reception area he could hear the commentary "...and now, the man responsible for this decades entertainment, please warmly congratulate programmer 5073A from London IV, or as he shall be known for the duration of our show, Phaethon!"


Phaethon strode onto the observation deck to the thunderous applause of the select thousand viewers who were lucky enough to have on-site seats. The screen dominated the deck, stretching from floor to ceiling some hundred feet up, yet curving over the comfortably reclined audience; it was based upon old designs used in the 21st century "Imax" theatres, the nostalgic element seemed to strike a chord for some reason among generations used to infinitely more immersive entertainment. At present the screen showed the breathtaking view of stars that surrounded Audumla Station. Phaethon proudly stepped onto an anti-grav platform, which smoothly rose to a height of thirty feet in front of the screen, before he addressed his audience.


"Thank you friends. The simulacrum orbs have been launched and within moments they will arrive on Earth, 50,000 B.C., on the 9th of June, 6 a.m. prime meridian old earth time. I have a feeling that the divergent causality we will be observing, as a result, will prove a truly entertaining spectacle. Let's just hope it runs a bit longer than "Reagan, 1988 Apocalypse did"! Polite but a tad subdued laughter in the audience followed, as that spectacle had not rated particularly well in viewership, especially given how quickly Earth had wound up a charred empty planet thanks to Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev.


"As you know, this is merely the beachhead of the presentation, setting the scene and introducing key players for future viewings; this initial broadcast will last five hours, and will not have the benefit of being edited. However I believe that the exciting possibilities about to be made reality today, will hold you all spellbound! It's time to change history again my friends..." Phaethon's anti-grav unit slid to the side of the screen as it changed from its former celestial image.


The screen was now separated into twenty distinct screens, each focused on a fragile seeming (though in truth virtually indestructible, thanks to centuries of arms development that had surprisingly or not surprisingly depending on your view on life, led to uses in the entertainment industry) sphere, each of which appeared to contain, swirling in their shiny crystalline surfaces every color imaginable. Phaethon sighed in relief, for it appeared that all of the orb satellites were functioning properly. He glanced down into the pit in front of the stage, where once centuries ago there would have been an orchestra (or a few decades ago for that matter, they'd made a brief nostalgic comeback then along with the old fashioned theatre style, but only the theatres had remained, for pit orchestras required too much staff), there were now the dozens of 'manipulators', the men and women whose task it was to guide the nano-sized satellites to wherever seemed to hold the most entertainment. The satellites were undetectable (at least in the age that they had been sent to), pretty close to indestructible, moved at incredible speed and could be manipulated, through the technology of the 24th century, from millions of light-years and millennia distant (of course they were still impossible to retrieve from the divergent and often short-lived realities that the orbs created, but the scientists hadn't given up hope on that yet).


The orbs on the screen could now be seen in a variety of environments, a stunning contrast to the nothingness of the timestream they had just been traveling through. Here an orb sat amongst mushrooms on a dark forest floor, there on a dune, blue sky on the horizon, and over there on a log in a steamy jungle, full of vines and small carapaced bitey things. Phaethon leaned forward eagerly, waiting to see the creatures of myth and legend, the gods of old, the heroes of story that his team had so painstakingly researched. Although he, being on the P.R. and concept side of things, would openly admit that much of what he was about to see would be just as new to himself as to the audience. Now they would watch them take form and be born by the simulacrum orbs, those fragile, alarmingly complex devices capable of creating anything a person can conceive of from the very stuff of the cosmos. All those beings would soon wander forth and cohabit an Earth that until mere moments ago was just like his own had been at 6.00 a.m. prime meridian time, on the 9th of June, 50,000 years before the birth of Christ.


And then...there it was. The first 'simulcrite', as they were affectionately called by the techies, appearing simultaneously on each of the screens beside the orbs. Perhaps the other viewers did not notice, but Phaethon did; that in all of the sub-screens the growing simulcrite appeared much the same. He hurriedly cross-checked all the screens; a powerful man of maturity with blazing eyes, quickly growing first to human proportions and then beyond...


Certainly they varied in detail from screen to screen; in some he appeared Asian, in others European, in others he was lame, in some he had only one eye, etc. But they all held the same air of authority, all moved in unison and suddenly all of them stared with smoldering anger straight into the 'invisible' satellite lenses. Phaethon recognized a few of the images: Zeus, Odin, Daghda, Jehovah, Ra...The sudden fear of God entered him, for the greatest fear of any godless man, is that they are wrong.


"No..." he murmured. The rest of the audience was muttering appreciatively at such a spectacular beginning to the show. But Phaethon knew...that they had all presumed too much, tampering with the fabric of creation in such ways. The weight of their folly held in the eyes of a couple dozen angry patriarchal gods...


Audumla Station would have melted from the intense wave of heat that radiated throughout the galaxy, except that it vanished much too fast to do so. Within the span of an exhaled breath, there remained no trace of humanity in the universe. The deities of a distant reality were placated. The usurpers were gone, the gods had been born...


And across the world in the year 50,000 B.C. (now a dating system that wasn't guaranteed to say the least) sentient beings of various species, homo sapiens, homo neanderthalensis, homo floresiensis and others lesser-known, raised their heads and sniffed at a change in the air, almost beyond the senses and yet deep within their very core, a shift, an alteration, a tear. Something was wrong, something had altered and the world would never be the same again. 

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