Here's a special story that I was thinking about for a long time. Its a short story so its my WEEKEND EDITION this week, enjoy and just think, this isn't so far off hey? lol

God’s Creation

Chapter 1: Principles and Passion

Dr. Charlotte Clare walked along the university’s hallway, like many days before she was on her way to work. The best work he had ever had. She stopped at a door and swiped a ID card and the door opened and she went in, to see a room filled with people working at breakneck speeds and she looked up at the video running on the wide screen above the control room. It was a Galaxy, a new Galaxy, not one ever seen before or ever would be seen again. It was an experiment, in new technologies, and they were making it happen right here on campus.

It was spiral much like the Milky Way, their model, but much bigger, but it was almost pure blue and white, all new suns and planets and she smiled to think it.Of course that video was from billions of miles away out side the galaxy itself, and she went to check the rendering and saw the new numbers. 100 billion stars of 5 major types...all made and working in a Cyber Universe inside a massive computer.

The computer running it all was a prototype from many years ago when things like Terrabytes were rare. Now it was an old oversized piece of equipment but it had many good qualities, like nearly unlimited memory, not chip fed but solid state, and fast... very fast, so rendering a new planet took seconds compared to the process of imagining it, or getting the specs right. So everyday dozens more were added at exactly the right place all over the galaxy.

She checked some of the specs to make sure they were running at the best settings. Every planet was rendered in minute detail, right down to the plants and insects. Not as many as Earth of course but enough to make each seem real to anyone visiting. And not all friendly... some were meat eaters, some sucked blood, some ate grass, all very scientifically done for realism. From above... like the map... the computer whizzed along with little to do but make pictures and run simulations but that wasn’t enough, when finished this would be a working, living galaxy from end to end and her Masters Degree would be complete and her reputation made.

She checked the machine and smiled, right now it was running 50 Terra bytes of CPU, and 13 Terra bytes of Digital Memory and 5 Terra bytes of GPU, for those details on the surface, and she decided to go and see. She waved to her helper and she sat down in her chair and got a helmet to wear. It blocked out everything, sounds,smells even light and as she dropped the screen in front of her the world she chose came to life.

It was called Capsilon, her name for it... nothing official...but it had running rivers and lakes, fish of many types, nice white sunlight and beautiful colored flowers growing in the fields. She walked by the stream to see small animals scurry into hiding and she smelled the fresh air and flowers.Hmm...maybe for this many just a touch more scent...she’d make that adjustment later...she saw fish jumping at bugs and she smiled at that, very well done Frank, and she’d tell him later.

She walked over to a small group of plants she had planted herself and checked to see their growth. They were up and growing but not quite as well as she hoped. She made a note to check the real specs and see if she had not seen something before planting them here. If it was a minor difference in light for instance then it could easily be explained..oh wait..light, this was a white star, Earths seemed Yellow, but that was from millions of years of Vulcanism and pollution, and that never happened here, that did explain it as she just smiled. At least they grew here,carrots lettuce and onions, all in neat rows, and she nodded, satisfied that food products would grow here on her world.

She checked the temperature as it seemed night was coming on. It was 70 degrees Fahrenheit, not bad, so that was fine especially in the evening but she felt a light jolt, as she was told that she had been here long enough, or someone wanted her outside, so she closed her eyes and slid the helmet off to see the Dean and her helper, Frank watching her.

“Hows it going? You’ve gotten some amazing things done this year.” The Dean added as she thanked him for saying so.” no one has ever digitally created a galaxy so complete before, right down to planets in proper orbits with atmospheres and animals, its amazing! Your Masters is a sure thing.”

“Oh I’m not done yet, I was just checking the little world I’m watching, plants are growing I planted from seeds, from Earth, vegetables actually, and they’re growing...oh and Frank I saw bugs being eaten by fish jumping for them, well done!” She went on as even the Dean looked faint, he had no idea the detail was this complete.”In a few more months we’ll add people, just like here but with better knowledge of things like ecology, and then watch them spread out and colonize. The planet will go into a series of evolutions that...” She was ranting as the Dean stopped her after a minute.

“Charlotte, you’ve proven your theory, that people can create life in a computer, not just people but entire galaxies, your job here is done.” He mentioned as she looked surprised, in her mind she was no where nearly done yet.”The rental on the computer is nearly over, thats what I came to tell you.The Physics Department gets it next, so I’ll be bringing a group of teachers and interested parties by this week to see it and then we’ll wipe it clean. But fear not, after what I’ve seen here you’ll get the highest rating we can give for your Masters.”

“Oh, thank you Dean,” She said softly as her face was frozen in shock as he smiled and waved and left as her team looked around at her face and a few looked sad for her while others chuckled she got so into it. “wiped clean...” she whispered and closed her eyes to try and remember every little thing about her world, the one she created and would now lose forever.

Chapter 2: Inventiveness

In a week the Dean was back and with him many people from many different specialties. They brought up the screen and showed every detail that Charlotte had made and one went inside to see one new world and walk its shoreline, smelling the air and feeling the warm sun, until they called him back.

“Absolutely incredible!” She was told as her face grew red and she smiled a lot and shook everyone’s hands, but one older man watched solemnly and waited, and she thought perhaps she had done something wrong, but as the members walked out praising her all the way, he slipped her a note and left with the others and she waited and read it privately and was surprised to see she was invited to his office at Universal Gaming for a meeting, and she felt that her studies went well beyond gaming, but even Frank mentioned that she should go, you never know what he might offer, and so with that in mind she went for her meeting, while not too happy about it.

She went in on the appointed day and was treated like Royalty there, they rushed her in to see the CEO, John Sherman and he shook her hand all smiles. She was at a loss why he wanted to see her but it became abundantly clear just a minute later.

“I hear you’ve discovered a way to make tensile sensations in a game environment is that true?” he asked as she smiled and said it wasn’t exactly what he thought, as he sat back waiting.

“I created a system where you can walk a world and smell the flowers and the fresh breeze, its not like being in a Red Light district,” She hinted as he roared with laughter and she joined him a minute later.

“Well said, here lets go see OUR new system and I want to see what you think.” With that they went down a few floors with him explaining what they had been trying to do, and she looked a little surprised he was working in nearly the same direction as she was.

They entered a secure room and she saw the very best of everything there, and tech members that seemed less than thrilled they were sharing their new designs with a stranger. He sat her down and gave her his visor and she put it on and instantly was walking through a foggy swamp in the early morning and it seemed pretty well done, but there were no smells, or feeling of cold or wet that her world had, but suddenly she jumped and swatted a bug, and saw a drop of blood on her hand and a dead mosquito and she smiled. She felt that...pain just for a second... and she hadnt done that on her world yet but they had it here, and she saw why she was called, they were working in parallel, and her discoveries would make this world almost real, and she was sure that was the reason she was here.

She took off the visor and said she was impressed, as the tech members there smiled.

“I got bitten by a bug and swatted it and saw the blood on my hand, thats impressive, I didn’t add pain to my world, just smells and the feeling of warm and cold..” She went on as one tech nearly choked as she spoke and John smiled and agreed to everything she said.”but for you REALLY want people to feel real pain? Isn’t it all about being immortal and indestructible?”

“Reality has pain...” He said waving for her to follow as one man nearly stopped her to ask questions but John gave him one look and he stepped away.”I’m not creating a new game, I’m creating Reality in a computer.”

“Thats impossible,” She said smiling but he didn’t smile at all and she wondered if he wasn’t some mad scientist or something and she had gotten mixed up in his world.

“You’re a scientist, describe Reality.” He said as they got back to his office and they sat down for coffee.

“Reality is:” She started, “everything around us. The ability to see, taste,touch,smell,feel pain to feel hot and cold, to love and hate and to survive from day to day. In my opinion, thats Reality. Its something we can touch and know it is solid, and taste and know its sweet or sour, there are more scientific descriptions I’m sure, but to me thats Reality.”

“And God created the universe and rested on the seventh day...” He said softly as she looked upset he brought religion into this.” you created a galaxy all by yourself, we are creating a Universe, with 100 thousand galaxies in it.” He said as her mouth fell open.

“If we place people on our worlds, and they can taste,touch, smell and feel pain and hate and love...are we Gods?” He asked as she sat back not feeling very happy talking about this.

“No...” She added softly,” we’re scientists just testing new theories and making new systems.”

“And yet...we can nearly create every sensation you mentioned as ‘Reality’ just a minute ago. If we work together, we can create a universe so detailed, so real to anyone in it, that they could never tell it from our Reality, wouldn’t that be a grand project to attempt?” He asked as she had to admit it sounded challenging.

“But for what purpose?” She asked suddenly and he was taken back a bit that she questioned him so quickly but he smiled and answered.

“To create immortal humans.” He said as she nearly fainted and he sat back and explained what he meant.”Our bodies die, shrivel up and disappear over time, but what if it didn’t need to be that way? What if we could move our consciousness into a new body, a body that doesn’t die? Then preserve our real one forever. So long as the brain is intact, the consciousness goes on. Hell we don’t even need the body just the brain on life support.”

“Now you’re talking crazy,” She insisted as she got up to leave.

“Am I?” He called after her as she stopped to hear,” What would a billionaire pay for immortality? How much is an eternal life worth?” He asked as she walked out and closed the door behind her.

Chapter 3: Encumbered

She went back and tried to forget the whole thing, but on the day of the wipe, Frank handed her something and she saw a jury rigged flash drive, or a small box... and she asked why.

“We cant save our galaxy,” He added softly,” but thats Capsilon,call it a keepsake.” He said as she gave him a big hug and everyone laughed.

“Thank you my friend.” She said and when it was officially over she went and finished her paper, and handed it in and got the highest grade possible just as the Dean had promised. But when she went back to her class as a teacher, she was told she was being let go, and she looked shocked.

“Why?” She demanded as the Dean explained she had ‘a higher calling’ as he walked her to the curb. “But how will I make a living now? I need this job and my home is close by!” But just then a car pulled up and she turned to see a limo waiting on her dismissal and she was furious.

She opened the front door to the surprise of the driver, and called him everything but a man and demanded he tell his boss she wasn’t working for him. He was either insane or insanely greedy, and either way she wanted nothing to do with him, and she went to her car and went home for the day.

Her severance pay would last a little while so she planned for hard times. She paid her house payment and then stocked up on groceries for now. Then went online looking for work and found very quickly that she was ‘unhireable’ by anyone but Universal Gaming which called her machine leaving messages every hour on the hour.

“That damned man!” She screamed and shut the machine off for the day, then the phone calls started, and they refused to hang up until she answered it.

“100,150,200 thousand...” The salary went up and up and she finally shut it off and went to bed for the night, feeling more angry than anytime before. But John wasn’t taking no for an answer and by morning a courier was at her door with a case with 100k in it as a ‘signing bonus’ and she felt like screaming.

“You tell him if he sat down and talked to me like a real man and didn’t try all these heavy handed things we might have come to an agreement.” She declared as the little courier looked lost,” but now I wouldn’t work for him if I was starving!” And she slammed the door in his face.

John got the message of course, and saw he was going about this the wrong way, and so a few days later his limo pulled up outside her house and she looked up from weeding her flowers to see an older man she already knew step out and walk over to her and he looked sad.

“Sorry...” He said softly as she got up and dusted her cloths off and offered him some coffee or a cold drink and he accepted and they went in to have that serious talk she had demanded.

“I don’t want to make a world where money is everything. People who have nothing to lose do anything they feel like. It would be chaos...and not a world I’d like to be on.” She demanded as he agreed that might happen.

“We have created 150k worlds and counting.” He mentioned as she looked shocked.” My the being run with the fastest CPU made or in the making. And a drone operated repair and replacement team that will live forever, making repairs and improving the machine as time passes. It will be an immortal machine as well.”

“Drone repairs??” She asked as he clarified they were nano-drones made specifically for repairs and maintenence. “This gets more impressive all along.”

“Thank you for saying so...” He added having a drink as she sat there thinking.”the machine you were using at the University is a fraction of what we have. Mine is the fastest any corporation owns and will be improved on indefinitely. The rich people who want immortality will pay for all that, and even if they become megla-maniacs on their worlds, there will be perhaps a million others which we can control and maintain...any way we wish.”

“Hmm,” She whispered as he sat back waiting.”so you create an entire universe, give a few planets away to some rich people and they pay for everything else, sounds like an impressive plan if it works. Will anyone even take the bait when it gets mentioned?”

“I am taking orders right now, we have 10 people that want in. One wants his paraplegic daughter to live a normal life somewhere else. Another wants his son to live forever and carry on the Family name. They all have their reasons, and we have 50 million in deposits already and that will double when we can show them something substantial.” He added as she nodded it might work after all, and seeing someone walk on a new world that could never walk again was something she agreed with.

“Helping someone who is disabled... maybe from the neck down... to live again. I can agree to that wholeheartedly.” She mentioned and he smiled and said for every rich person wanting immortality, he’d let one person in for just that reason for free, and she agreed and the deal was done.

“Heres the contract I made up check it over and sign it please.” he said sliding a note pad over to her and she looked and looked shocked. 250k for her salary and a place of her own when she was ready, a real ‘retirement home’ anywhere in the universe she wanted, and she made a change saying she had to have her old team as her subordinates and he agreed and she signed and the new universe took a huge step forward.

“I’ll have a car pick you up every morning at 8.” He said as they shook hands and she went to call her old team and they all signed on and got ready for the ride of a lifetime.

Chapter 4: Cooperation

In a week they were in their new offices, and met the Companies Team members. They had meeting after meeting and when they asked what she had to offer...when the boss wasn’t around...she slid the flash drive into their machine and her world was there to be seen, in all its glory and with sensations they never had in theirs.

“This is my world, Capsilon...” She mentioned and they agreed they were well ahead in some areas, but she didn’t agree at all, saying that there was much work to be done yet and they all laughed since scientists are never satisfied.

“If we combine our work, then not only will people feel the wind and smell the flowers they will feel pain and hunger, not something I had originally planned.” She admitted as their Team Leader, Dr Simon, laughed...saying that she never planned for full Reality... but only the parts she liked, as she smiled and agreed to that.

“But they will also feel Love and Hate and Jealousy, and Fear...thats what our Team brings to the table.” He hinted as she nodded that they were working in areas she hadn’t before. “To limit ourselves to just soft breezes and warm days isn’t Reality.” he hinted and she sadly agreed, and they went to work to add some of her work to his and it took them a month to get the basic details right and when it was over Simon walked a beach and felt the warm breeze for the first time, and he smiled wide and took off the visor and gave her an emphatic handshake and she smiled wider than before.

“Phase One is complete, we can start letting other people see our work now, if thats OK with you.” He said as she agreed, saying that they needed to remind people it was still a work in progress and he laughed and agreed to that too, as Mr. Sherman smiled from his office and decided that it was time for step two of his plan, and his other research team was called in for a meeting.

“Yes sir! We can have working interfaces by the end of the month!” One man said while a few others looked less than sure.

“Frank....” Sherman said softly as the man slowed down and saw the looks on his fellow workers faces and he looked less than thrilled they turned him in.”I want a real...and safe...interface, so when exactly will it be ready?” he asked again and Frank finally admitted that while theirs worked, it needed a lot of fine tuning.

“ 3 to 6 months.” Frank finally said, as Mr. Sherman smiled wider and thanked him saying to work around the clock if necessary because the rest of the project was catching up fast, and they all agreed and went back to their lab and hours and days of fine tuning and adjustments.

“Neural Interface in 3 months, tensile feelings for cold, hot, wind and smells in 3 months too.” Sherman whispered seeing the report from all the staff. He opened his files to the long list of names that he had already talked to, the ones that were willing to put their money...and futures...where their mouth is, and started to call saying that samples of the new universe were open to see and that complete transformation would be ready in 6 months.

Dr. Clare and Dr. Simon walked along towards the break room as she went over some minute details while he smiled and asked what she had found wrong now.

“These smells don’t quite match from the test yesterday...” She added while he laughed and said she was too hard on her people, and she laughed too and said she knew she could be because she had good people to be mad at. “If the smells vary by more than 5% then people will notice.” She said as he thought that maybe she was being a little too much of a perfectionist, but he went along with it anyways.

“I’ll have the changes ready by the end of the week.” She added and he thanked her saying that Phase Two was almost ready and that they would be adding her figures and properties to the main server, and she asked they wait for the new patch, and after a minute he finally agreed.

They went their separate ways then and Dr. Simon got a call and Mr. Sherman asked how it was going, and he laughed for a second.

“She’s really something, her specs must be perfect, or she wont let them go. We were just talking about a 5% mistake she found and shes holding up Phase Two because of it.” He added as Sherman asked if it would even be noticeable at all and Simon said she felt it would be, so he was standing firm with her on this one. “One more week.” He said as Sherman agreed and the patch was moved back a week to await the changes she promised.

But the Test Server already had her latest patch in it and as one Billionaire walked through a field of flowers and smelled them as he picked one and looked it over carefully Mr. Sherman watched him on the main monitor and the man was spellbound.

“Its soo real...” He whispered as Sherman smiled wider still and the man took off the visor and asked when his daughter could see it, and they set up a time to take a sample unit to her hospital room and Sherman reminded him not to promise too much, the interface wasn’t ready yet, but the man was all aglow and he saw that his words went in one ear and out the other, and he checked to see that live testing was underway at the Neural Lab and that meant that they were nearly ready.

Chapter 5: Promises and Failures

In two weeks the girl was strapped into a helmet and visor. Her father had told her she could play a game, or look around at least, and she was thrilled after laying, paralyzed for years, staring at the ceiling every minute of the day.

When they turned the power on, she instantly was standing on a beach, with water lapping the shore and birds flying overhead and walking along, gathering food. Her eyes filled with tears and she started to cry and her father wasn’t much better, as Sherman gave her instructions on how to move, using her eyes, and soon she was walking along, in ankle deep water, and smiling like there was no tomorrow.

“Would you like to live there?” Her father asked, as Mr. Sherman demanded they weren’t ready yet.

“Oh yes! Its beautiful here, and so warm too...” She whispered as her dad said it was a done deal, and Sherman left them both know that it would take time, but it was possible, as the girl cried loudly and her father got even more upset.

“I want her set up with a place to live, and all the things she wants in the new world by this time next week...price is no object!” Sherman was told as he argued the point, but lost to an overly protective father, and a girl who was next to a vegetable that had just seen a new life.

He went back to the lab and called the Team in and when he told them what happened they weren’t too happy with it.

“Out of the question... we need more time.” He was told as he reminded them they promised him a while back it would be ready and the Team leader looked sad but admitted it worked, but had side effects. “After a while people get massive headaches, some sort of feedback we haven’t found yet. The housing and materials she’d need are in game, we just give her the cash to buy what she wants, but her control interface will get more and more painful until we figure this out.” He said as Sherman said to use any and all the people he needed... even drawing from other Teams... and the man agreed and ran out to continue his work, and Sherman waited on calls from other people testing the new worlds and told them all that injection would be a little while longer, as some got upset, and others agreed that perfection was worth the effort.

Deposits passed 100 million now, and he bought the very best of everything. His auto-repairs and upgrades were working and he added new servers, all very high tech and fast. His Universe expanded every day, now 10k galaxies and growing. Even with people who ask for space faring civilizations, in a hundred lifetimes they could never see it all and that was his plan.

Even fools that paid through the nose and got a new world all to themselves with millions of slaves and their own Kingdom, were still a drop in the bucket compared to what was out there and every month a new galaxy came online and he wondered what limit he should set, and started calculating that next.

But by now every Team was working on the interface and things were getting done. Dr. Clare was getting the idea that it was the eye contacts, the little dots that controlled movement for some, that were the problem, and she added that if overdone after hours of working, everyone would get eyestrain and headaches and Sherman asked what could be done.

“If people overdo things here they get stiff and sore and hurt a lot.” She mentioned as everyone agreed,” So why not the same thing there? If after years laying around they go out running, of course they will hurt, we just move the pain from their head here to their body there. Then when they rest and sleep their eyes get a break and they don’t hurt as much, moderation in all things, see?” She added as everyone nodded and Mr. Sherman saw the end of his torture with lawyers calling every day demanding they let their clients in.

“Great, fix it and let me know the second its ready.” He said as everyone left, and Clare got a bonus to her months pay for seeing the obvious...that everyone else had missed.

“OK then...” Dr. Collins said smiling,” we don’t fix the pain problem, we just move it to their sore muscles and legs, no problem, lets get to it.” And by the end of the day things were looking up and Mr. Sherman saw that his Reality was slowly becoming real, with details forming that even he had not seen before.
Within a month the young girl had a nice place within a few miles of the beach and people walking around to deal with. She lived in a small town near the ocean and walked daily to the farmers market and gathered fruit and food and talked to her neighbors. Her father was in tears too, and watched her from his offices as she started to feel right at home.

Of course the tutorial reminded them this was a REAL world and if she worked too hard, she’d hurt and get tired and hungry, and hurt she did, but even that was expected, and she laughed as she slowly got up after taking a nap and said that it would take some time to get her muscles toned again, and even Sherman saw her thinking this was her real life now, and he smiled and left her get on with it.

The check that came in was massive...more than he asked for...and he smiled and made the deposit. How much is the life of a young child worth? How important to a massively wealthy man to see his only daughter happy once again? And no one asked what was on it and Mr. Sherman certainly wasn’t saying.

Chapter 6: Promises Kept

By the time everything was in place, 24 wealthy people either had relatives or themselves living in the new Universe. Some had special deals where they came and went, others, like the young girl, lived there permanently. And as Clare sat at a meeting talking about upgrades and small problems they were still having, she brought up something no one else dared mention.

“So, John...when will we start adding normal people to the new universe? Didn’t you say that we would give a free life to one person that cant afford it for each rich person we add there? I don’t remember seeing that happening yet.” She hinted as the room got deadly quiet and after a minute Sherman laughed and the tension was broken.

“I did say that didn’t I?” He asked not expecting a response. “ Have anyone in mind, Clare?” And she nodded saying that the Veterans Administration had a lot of good men and women that would be thrilled at the chance, and he saw her advocating for a good cause, and he silently approved.

“Very well then get me a short list and we’ll see what we can do.” he added as she agreed and when the meeting was over she made a call, and her contact was happier than she had been in ages to hear it.

“A short list huh?” She asked as Clare agreed,” I could give him a hundred right now...but I remember our deal too... even if this isn’t your own galaxy, if its as good as you say then Jason gets first crack, followed by many others that gave too much for our safety.” She said sadly as Clare agreed and her best friend was listed first, and she went to see him laying there, eyes focused on the ceiling, and she told him about the new program and what it was like, and he agreed to go, as tears ran down his face, and Clare had to leave to keep from joining him.

Jason Hedges was the proverbial boy next door. He and Clare went to school together, and the first two years of college, but he left to join the Air Force because flying was his dream, but after 5 years in Afghanistan, his chopper went down in a fiery ball and only two people survived it, if you call being paralyzed from the neck down,’survival’, but he was strong willed and refused to die and soon was shifted from room to room and hospital to hospital until he got a room at the local V.A. where he spent the last 3 years laying there in silence.

Clare heard about it right away and visited him telling him of the great strides she was making in her work. She told him he would walk again...and she’d see to it...and he smiled on that rare occasion and said that even God couldn’t fix him now... and she laughed and said in her world... God wasn’t necessary.

Then came the change to working for John Sherman and his Universe was even larger and more fleshed out than hers and when she told Jason about it even he was surprised they were actually making it.

“Smells, tastes, even touch when we’re done.” She’d say as he just smiled. It seemed like a dream come true and he couldn’t wait to see it, and she declared he would, the second it was ready. But he wasn’t being fooled that easily, and things like this are very expensive, and he knew the V.A. was never going to pay for it, so he just smiled once or twice and left her go on about her work, knowing he probably would never see it finished.

But on the first day of June, 2025 Jason Hedges got his computer interface, and lessons in how to use it. He was told he had dozens of worlds to choose from, and he chose a world that was far more advanced than this one. Space crafts instead of aircrafts, and stations everywhere, hundreds of years more advanced than his old world.

And he got a ship to fly, as usual something small, and he thanked them the day the visor went on and his new life started, as he stood there on the dock looking at the pointy little ship.

It looked for all the world like a tiny SST, slim and pointy with delta wings on the back. His lessons told him it was made for air and space travel, and he could do either with it. It had a tiny cargo capacity of 5 cargo units, and that gave him options to do small trade runs, or pick up scrap and salvage in space. He was in tears the second he walked...actually walked...over to it and laid his hand on the shiny surface, and it was cold to the touch, and he burst out laughing and thanked Clare for not forgetting him, and she cried for a second too and said ‘your welcome’ and she closed her link and went back to work, knowing she had fulfilled a sacred promise, and left Jason begin his new life just the way he always loved it, just him and his ship.

He had a lot to learn too, the controls were simple enough, he was told, and he was given 2 cards by the security man on duty. One was just a generic white card marked ‘codes’ and the second was a bank account from the National Bank, and he swiped it at an interface nearby and saw 1000 credits on it and smiled. Clare was taking care of him he could see, and he slid it into his pocket and went back to the ship.

He swiped the white card and a door opened along the side, and as he stopped going up the little gangplank to enter he saw the shape of a larger door to the left, obviously for loading cargo. He went inside and checked out the cockpit and found the manual and read through it quickly. It mentioned ‘ask the computer’ if he had questions and after turning on the power he did, and it told him a lot about the ship, the civilization, and the galaxy in general and he felt both happy and a little overwhelmed at the same time.

There were chances to make a living everywhere here. Trading, military work and just plain mining could be profitable, of course not in the little shuttle he had, but that could be sold and other ships purchased at any shipyard and some smaller places that were privately owned.

The computer mentioned salvaging for parts and weapons and Jason agreed anything free was worth gathering and it seemed to become instantly understood they’d watch for that, and she taught him how to use his pocket computer to check stocks or look for work, and he soon found that those old parts she talked about were damned expensive, one power cell cost 100 credits and they were used for emergency power and for some stations to assist in their power needs. Some larger ships had a Warp Drive Unit and it used a LOT of power and they used these to help run those too. And that was the cheapest part he could get, some units for add ons were hundreds of thousands of credits and some weapons an equal amount, and he saw that what Clare gave him,plain and simple, was food money, and he’d need to get to work to survive here.

And that was a shock too, a small meal... as he soon found out... with coffee and a bowl of stew and a roll, costs 50 credits, more with dessert...and his eyes popped to see that the future was an expensive place to live.

Leave the station then return? 100 credits for ‘registration and parking permit’. Fuel wasn’t much of a problem since a small amount was scooped up as the ship traveled, but the 100 cubic foot tank that carried the liquid fuel that was loaded at the factory ran the fusion drives and power generator, so it lasted a very long time with the extreme efficiency that the little ship had, more than enough for his lifetime, the computer told him, and he wasn’t sure if that meant it was extremely efficient, or that he’d die soon, but with this new information, Jason saw he had his path cut out for him. To survive here he needed to do anything possible, within the Law, to make some cash... and he backed away from the station to go get some practice in his new toy before he found something he couldn’t handle, or a job he wasn’t ready for.

Chapter 7: Learning the Ropes

He went out riding around and soon was in an area with a lot of asteroids and the computer reminded him that mapping the area might be worth the effort, and he started scans as they flew and he saw a lot of minerals here that someone might need. He also used this as a practice area for his training, flying faster and faster and dodging rocks and he even fired a few rounds with his little cannon, and he found a number beside the icon on the Hud, showing him the ammo left, another cost he’d need to keep an eye on.

But the little ship was fast, real fast, and he smiled a lot getting used to the controls, and after a few hours he went back to the station and posted he had asteroid information for sale, and as he got his dinner a grumpy old man called and asked what he had found, and after some negotiations, Jason could eat in peace knowing he wasn’t going to starve for a few days yet.

His first deal...5000 credits...not a lot but something, and the computer reminded him that there were millions... literally...of asteroids out there and someone had to be the first to scan them or find the exact spot some rare mineral could be found, and Jason saw that maybe his first impression wasn’t quite as bad as he thought.

Every time they talked, Jason learned something new from his computer. Like: adding his codes to a disabled ship can often make it yours by claiming it as salvage. Then his ships computer could fly it back to he nearest station while he flew along side for safety sake. It left him know that skirmishes between planets, or private groups, left wrecks everywhere, and pirates often attacked trade convoys in certain areas, and any time a battle was fought, there was sure to be objects of interest left behind. Like weapons from destroyed ships, and cargo that was either still on board the wrecks, or floating in space. A bounty for the serious worker who wasn’t afraid to go look, and see if they found wealth...or the ships that caused it to be there.

“Study the cost lists for weapons and ship equipment,” She mentioned and he agreed. Since he had little cargo room to spare, knowing what was worth more in a time of fast and furious action might be the difference between making a few hundred or making tens of thousands in a trip.

“A skilled pilot can look over items and see which ones are worth more in an instant.” She reminded him as he laughed, saying she better keep an eye on him for a while, at least until he saw what was out here...and she agreed that knowing it all first thing as asking a lot. “You’ll do fine.” She remarked as he nodded agreement and they went back out looking for more to do.

While flying along looking at stations and ships and doing a little daydreaming about moving up into one of those, Jason heard a call from a freighter nearby. It was under attack by pirates, two small fighters trying to get free cargo by threatening them with destruction.

Jason ran that way after sending the call out even further and asking for help. He got there to see two ships very much like his shooting indiscriminately at the larger ship, and just then Jason got a call saying that Sector Security was on its way. That was all he needed, as he ran in and fired a few rounds into the nearest fighter, and it dropped its speed dramatically as the engine started to smoke.

It turned and flew away trying to escape, and Jason left it go for now. He was busy with the second fighter who was really upset he had intervened.Meanwhile a wing of bigger ships ran in and attacked too and the fight was over pretty fast after that.

“My shields were going down badly...I might not have survived if not for that little fighter.” The freighter captain called as the Sector Commander smiled wide on the coms and thanked Jason for stalling until they got there, and the freighter captain gave him a nice reward for running in to help him. Jason’s reputation went up too and even though the pirates would remember him after this, he felt like he had gained a lot today, and went back to the station a happy man, and got his ammo refilled and any damage fixed before going out again, and his new life took a big step forward.

Clare’s Team was watching too and decided that he’d be OK now, and she agreed. She left him a note on his personal coms saying she’d check on him from time to time, and when he saw it he realized that he really did have a new life here, and his friends were watching over him.

But things outside were still changing, as Clare was sitting in a meeting with the Boss and other researchers and her mouth was hanging wide open listening to what they were saying.

“It would be much more efficient this way...” One researcher was saying as Clare jumped to her feet, screaming.

“Their human beings for Christ sake! How can you even consider amputating their heads and putting them in storage instead of maintaining their entire body?” She demanded as Sherman motioned for her to slow down, and added no one was amputating anything, it was just an idea to make taking care of the bodies easier and cheaper on the families of those who would live there forever.

“Hospital rooms and nursing care costs thousands, even tens of thousands a month, and their bodies are, most times vegetables. The research team only mentioned it because we can keep the brain alive almost forever, the rest of the body degrades and dies, and what happens to our people then?” He mentioned as Clare sat there fuming. She did see what they were saying...long term the bodies would die long before the brains...but to just say it out loud like this sounded terrible and she wasn’t for it one bit. “If you don’t like this alternative, then do some research and offer something better.” he added as she nodded she would, and the meeting ended with her stomping back to her lab to start dissecting the visors and sound system to see what she could change there to make things easier on everyone.

But she knew even improving those wasn’t going to help in the long term. It would make the big, bulky visors more comfortable to wear, but the long term problem remained, and after a meeting with her staff ideas were floated that would make a difference, and one idea struck her as both ultra-modern and humane for their friends.

There had been research for years into decoding the thoughts and memories in the brain and some researchers had successfully recorded dreams and even memories of past events. If that could be expanded...then either copying memories and personalities or draining them from a dying body into your avatar might be possible. Then the new body lives on in the new Universe, while the old body passes away and can be disposed of.

“Do you think it’ll work?” One researcher asked as Clare said even she wasn’t sure.

“It beats having frozen heads sitting on some storeroom shelf.” She added sourly and everyone agreed and research started into the new system.

Chapter 8: Time Passes

Months went by and as research jumped ahead by leaps and bounds, the new system still wasn’t up to Clare’s standards. It was true that a copy of the memories or even dreams now could be made that were clear as a bell, but the personalities of the individuals were harder to find and copy. The basic idea was sound and research proved it, but getting absolute clarity when copying everything from the brain to the avatar was giving her headaches every day.

“The research still isn’t ready...” She said again at the monthly meeting, as Sherman asked if any advances at all were getting done. “We are doing in months what should take years of research to get done...” She insisted and even he admitted some other researchers were in awe of her work.

“We can copy a small amount of the persons personality, and many of their past memories, but the memories seem fragile and even after a transfer some disappear with time. The personality is harder to gather but seems more stabile after transfer.” She went on as many there smiled she had done so much so soon.

“So we can create people with personalities in the new universe without having the visors on at all, but their memories fail after a while?” He asked as she reminded him that partial personality transfer was NOT the original person, but some odd half way thing, and they couldn’t control what was lost either, as he smiled and looked away as she got angry that he ‘didnt get it’ and he said she was being a perfectionist again, as many there giggled around the table and she got even more upset.

“When your people ask to be given a new life, they expect an exact copy of their memories and personality in the new universe. If they get there to test that and find that they don’t care at all about things they loved here...they will not be happy.” She insisted and after thinking about that even Sherman agreed. “The technology is getting better every month, so just wait, soon even the hardest to convince will be happy with the results.” She insisted as everyone agreed and she bought another month, at the least.

In this time Jason was doing OK for himself. The little shuttle was gone and he had a mid-sized ship now. A used medium fighter with some good options on it. He could carry up to 6 missiles under the wings and had 3 guns now instead of the one. He was getting a reputation for quality protection work, and both stations and convoys called for him by name, and his income went up with nearly every safe trip under his guidance.

His bank account showed it too, and he was thinking that someday he’d retire from escort work and own his own station, and with that... a secure income for the rest of his life...whatever that might be. But he knew now that after all this time if he had to go home and live that life again, he would kill himself...or try...and he never wanted to lay in that room and stare at the ceiling.. ever again.

It felt like another lifetime ago, and when he thought that he realized that it really was, and he was happy that he had gotten this chance... and he left messages for Clare telling her just that.

And she returned his calls, when she got the time, and told him of the new interface, and asked what he thought about it. He was a little sad that he’d be completely cut off from his old body. But after thinking about it for a while he agreed, that his new life would vastly outshine his old one and last 10x longer, and he agreed to the new idea, and became Clare’s first guinea pig as part of her experiments.

The new interface was now 60% efficient, not nearly what Clare wanted, but Jason agreed to a trial for testing purposes, and she guaranteed him that he’d be OK..even if the experiment failed she only had to restart the old visor to get him back fully... and he agreed and the first test was made.

Jason was awake in a second and looked around as she asked how he felt, and it was like some odd voice in his head asking questions. He forgot the coms link and her voice too, and when he asked who she was, and if she was a God or Demon, she realized the link was not ready yet, and activated the visor again.

“You were awake and active,” She admitted as Jason agreed,” but you had no memory of me, or even that you were talking to someone on the coms link. You asked if the voice was a God or Demon.” She reminded him as he laughed and after a second she joined him.

“So, you’re half way there. The new interface can put people here without the visor, hell without even a body there anymore...and they can live again. Now just work out the bugs and you’ll be fine.” He said as she agreed and the link went down again for a while, and Jason saw that once she was done his new life would be complete. Because right now he remembered that old life in the hospital and the pain he felt there, and he’d never agree to go back no matter what, and he’d gladly give up a few memories for that, but he didn’t mention that to Clare...not yet.

Chapter 9: Fine Tuning

By now Mr. Sherman had 120 people in his new universe, and out of those 6 owned their own worlds. Two of those were now engaging in a skirmish war between them, and he shook his head and laughed that even here people couldn’t get enough...of anything...and it made him sad sometimes.

But with 150,000 habitable planets so far, and more on the way, he knew that time and space would give anyone who wanted, a place of their own, and all the Peace and quiet that anyone could ask for. It was all kept in perspective by sheer size, and he watched as even now, a new galaxy was added to the universe after weeks of research, and another 1200 habitable worlds with it.

The proportions weren’t up to Nasa standards, but he felt they were too optimistic, so he lowered his substantially. And even at that there would be huge chances for expansion, and many worlds ask for and got Star Travel, so eventually they might meet, somewhere out there, and become friends...or not. But that was their problems, he had a Universe to build and his people were still changing the very fabric of what it would mean to be there forever, as many asked and begged for now.

His Universe became so well known that Corporations asked to own property there, and worlds got cities and Corporate offices ruled them. Families from the very richest countries moved offices to the new Universe and set up shop there too. It was well known that this was NOT a game, but a new Universe to explore, and it became a training ground too, for officials and officers from all over to prove themselves, without the chance of dying that they might face here.

They weren’t exactly immortal there, and there definitely was pain. But they felt that with the option to remove the visor and come back, a little pain wasn’t so bad when their training got tough, and they learned a lot more this way about what their actions really meant, or caused.

People in the new Universe could get killed...and continue on...but certain things had been decided to keep some from taking advantage of this. Like: when you die and come back fines are levied...some incredible fines too...and your body can take damage, so some pretty boy might wind up with a huge scar right on his face, and knowing that up front slowed the arrogant and ignorant down substantially.

It was possible to get artificial limbs too... and talk about ruining your looks...they were purposely made to look artificial too, another way to make people consider their actions, and after many ‘deaths’ even the body disappeared, and you came back as your relative ( no choices for sex or sexual orientation) so technically... you were immortal...just not in complete control.

When the new interface was ready that would change again, and he decided to keep the old visors around for these training options. If they were sure, beyond a doubt, that they were going to live forever in the new worlds, then full transfer could be made, and then their old bodies could die, or rot away, and it would mean nothing to the personality that survived inside his Universe. They truly were explorers and colonists, and he smiled that many got everything they asked for, for themselves or their loved ones, and he checked and saw a certain CEO laying on a beach, visiting his daughter, who had...technically...only months to live, while she laughed and frolicked in the ocean right at his feet.

Cancer was still a terrible thing here and after being bedridden for 2 years she was free now to laugh and enjoy her last days. He had made it clear that even with the option, she would die on this world and he’d allow it. Because Immortality was for God not Man ...but that didn’t stop him from enjoying a vacation with her before she ‘went away’ for good. And Sherman saw hypocrites everywhere and shook his head and closed the link.

Claire’s interface was now at 75% efficiency, and with that you got most of your memories, and many stayed for a long time. But even in Reality, memories aren’t completely permanent, so they do fade away and she admitted that she was almost there, and got just a tad more time to work with.

Mr. Sherman saw it too, and left some people know it was coming soon. After owning your own world, returning to be just another businessman wasn’t even an option, and a few couldn’t wait to drop away from their old bodies and rule within their new one forever. The necessary paper work was done and their Families agreed, some with some troubled looks, but soon everyone was ready, and as Jason tried it again, his only comment was he had a headache, and Clare laughed and asked him to take something for it...and it worked. On his world or Universe, drugs helped with the new body, as did herbs on less technical worlds. But now it could be done efficiently, and after a few days trying it out, Jason said he was sure everyone would approve, and his body was given help to pass, and his new life became all there was.

“And there you have it...” Mr. Sherman said, standing before a meeting of the Science Council of the U.S. Senate.” We have made a new Universe and put people into it that would rather live there than here. Even to the point of giving up their bodies here for one there.” he admitted as many looked shocked.

“And its a real life, not a game?” One man asked as Sherman agreed,saying they felt hot,cold, smelled flowers or smoke and even felt pain or love and hate, and someone who was suddenly dropped there would never know the difference.”But who rules there? The U.S. or someone else?” He was asked as his eyes popped and he tried to explain that there were dozens of governments all owned by the people living there, or some that were made in advance.

“Anything approved by the U.S. Senate as a New World, must be ruled by U.S. Law...” he demanded as many agreed, as Sherman looked sad that he had gotten greedy and asked for them to approve his work as Reality instead of just Programming.

“That’s not a problem,” Clare chipped in, as someone asked why she said that.” here you’ll live and die and the U.S. will someday disappear like many civilizations before it.” She said as many sat back in shock, looking sad she could say that.

“But in our Universe it can live on, we can give you a new world, and the U.S. can rule the entire place singlehandedly.” She said and many looked happier to hear that, and Sherman saw where she was going with this too.

“Perhaps more than one...” he mentioned as it seemed like a done deal. The Senate would agree the new technology created Reality inside a computer, their people would get 2 new worlds all for themselves and immortality for them all, and Mr. Sherman became a hero, a God like person who created a new Universe, and Clare lived happily, walking the beaches of Capsilon for ever, as the NPCS living along side them made stories and legends of the people ‘from the stars’ that lived among them, and who lived forever.