Chapter 20

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I’m glad Mentor died when I was so young.

It’s made traveling to new worlds a bit more convenient.

When he died, I connected to the Crossroad for the first time. It happened when I was… just reaching “adolescence,” I suppose you could say? Er, well- I guess, in your terms, I was somewhere between nine and twelve years old.
That stage of development — the transition from childhood to adulthood? That’s the stage of development my new bodies are always made in — which is rather lucky, actually, since it means I’m rarely expected to know everything about the worlds I end up in. Quite often, I’ll get taken in and cared for because of my “age.”

Which is exactly what happened in the First Nav.

The body I’d been given was a B. I won’t go into detail on what the As or Bs looked like — mostly because I couldn’t describe them if I wanted to, but I also don’t want that to distract you. However, I’ll say this: They definitely weren’t humanoid.

Since I had arrived as a B, thankfully it was a group of Bs that found me. The Bs didn’t have a strict “familial” structure, but lived in groups with between one and five leaders, as many as thirty other adults, and a multitude of children.
And, unfortunately, it wasn’t uncommon that many of those children were adopted. Because the As, if their “structure” was disrupted, had a tendency to… overreact.

The Bs… “worked” for the As in order to survive. From the moment a B could move around on their own and follow orders, they went to work for a community of As.
The As had a much more structured ranking of authority among them. One family would rule over about seven others, all of whom would provide one or more services — such as food, medical care, and even artistry. Whatever the ruling family desired, they’d find a lower family to supply. In exchange, the ruling family would allow the lower ones the “service” of their Bs.

Now, as far as I could tell, this had started off as a mutual agreement between the two races. Because of their physiology, the Bs could venture into the outside world without fear.
But the As couldn’t.
The First Nav’s two ecosystems were not equal in strength. At any moment, the poisonous one threatened to overtake and eradicate the benign. Any “poisonous” creature that happened into a benign environment would be perfectly fine, but the reverse was not true. The As and Bs, as the only fully sentient beings, had established a partnership to help prevent the extinction of the benign ecosystem.

Or, rather… the Bs had decided to help the As out. Since the Bs didn’t require the As help in return and, in fact, the As didn’t have much to offer.

Except.

Except for the promise of an “easy life.”
Which the Bs became addicted to.

In exchange for having basically every one of their needs cared for (housing, food, even entertainment), the Bs rid the As immediate surroundings of anything and everything poisonous — cleaning their homes, tending their gardens and fields, and even serving as guards on the rare occasions any As dared to travel.
By the time they realized anything was wrong, they didn’t know of any other way to live. And the As refused to teach them. (Trades were heavily guarded family secrets, after all!)

 

A few Bs got around that rule, though.
It was rare, but crossbreeding was possible between As and Bs. These Hybrids would usually have the benefit of being able to survive in poisonous environments without being poisonous themselves; however, if they bred with either an A or B, the trait of the other race would disappear.
Of course, given the interruption they caused to their hierarchy, the As weren’t fond of the Hybrids. But their strict societal structure didn’t allow for much disclusion of them.

Reluctantly, some Bs were allowed more deeply into the As’ society. This was where I had found myself.

I wasn’t blood related, but this only barely mattered to the younger As of the family. Their trade was in making furniture and the like, so my musical talents were a treat for them. One they didn’t have to pay for. That, plus my angelic aura…
They took a liking to me. All the younger As did, even ones from other families.

And… I decided to take advantage of that.

I had failed in overcoming the prejudice in Illunira, but in this new dimension… Maybe it would be only one community, but it could grow from there!
So I taught these young As about the Bs — taught them to see past their society’s rigid structures into actual interpersonal relationships. And surprisingly… it worked!

This wasn’t the first time I’d tried this. And my attempts usually failed.
In fact… they seemed to always fail.

I struggled many nights… to remember times I’d succeeded… and sometimes, I-… I just couldn’t
So, to see these kids — so incompatible to each other that they could barely even touch one another… playing and working together?

It was bliss.
I’d… actually helped someone…!

I’d chosen a world… and it had worked…!

But OF COURSE it didn’t last!

 

The older As of the community found out. The younger As had assured me nothing would come of them knowing. They didn’t think we were breaking any actual rules.
… They’d forgotten that the ruling family made the rules.
And could change them.

They said our little group threatened to disrupt the “harmony” of the community — that disrupting the structure of authority put all As at risk.
Something about the Bs “not doing their jobs anymore” because other professions would be “too tempting” if they were options.

Regardless of their faulty reasonings, they decided our group was a threat.
So they destroyed us.

More than that, they made examples of us — to any children that hadn’t joined our group!

 

They killed them… All of them…
… Every last child…

They made a SPECTACLE of it!

I just about lost my mind.
If I hadn’t been restrained, I’m sure I’d have killed some of those As.

… But I was restrained. So I could do nothing.

As the “leader” of the group (I was no such thing, only its founder, but as if they would ever have believed me), they saved me for last.
They tortured me first, then killed me.

But I barely registered it.

 

The thing about the summarized memories I get left with- is that they work like normal memories. As in, the more impactful something is, the more easily it’s remembered. It has little to do with the amount of time something took to happen.
And most of my summarized memories at that point in my travels… They weren’t pleasant.

Dimensions after dimensions seemed to be filled with suffering-
-Oh, don’t misunderstand, though! There were plenty of happy memories too! It’s just…

With all of Infinity at my fingertips — infinite options, infinite possibilities…
Surely…
I could find an infinite number of paradises…

… Right?


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