83 Check In

(Author's Note: Half-length chapter this week due to time constraints. It's not as long as I would have liked, but serves as a bit of a bridging chapter for the upcoming story beats.)

We apparated directly from Uppercrust's penthouse to the most warded area of Garment's shop. As a consequence of that, we also appeared directly in front of Survey's scrying mirror. Her now considerably obsolete scrying mirror.

"We'll need to replace that for you." I said. I couldn't help feeling slightly bad about it. I mean, it didn't really make sense. The mirror was still useful and the work she had put into mastering it would be applicable to new versions of the device, but I couldn't help but feel like I had forced her to waste time and effort on something substandard.

"The design was always intended to be part of an iterative process, which accounted for the arrival of new abilities. While the nature of such arrivals are inherently impossible to predict, their disruptive effects can be anticipated to a degree." She assured me.

I nodded. A mirror made with the benefits of Craftsmen of the Gods and Dedalus' Student wouldn't have the problem of needing to guess at locations to find the Nine.

Probably.

I mean, I was still very new when it came to that power. I had made precisely one object with it, so I didn't have the best sense of what I could accomplish or where the limits stood. Or if there were any limits.

That was the thing. Craftsmen of the Gods stood in that rare category of powers alongside things like the Arcane Craft, Infusionist, or Mega Bomb. Similar to the potential of Spiral Energy or Cuh-Ray-Zee!. Rare examples of powers that didn't have any true limits.

Most of my powers didn't improve from the point when I gained them. They provided some knowledge or capability, and that was that. I could get more adept at using them, but the actual effect remained static.

There were powers that needed to be developed, but they had hard limits. Smithing's ability to forge legendary weapons. Magic: Enchanting's capacity to recreate magic weapons through runes. Deranged Alchemist allowing the discovery of the panacea and other great secrets of alchemy. Bigger on the Inside's potential mastery of compression.

That had already been achieved, as had Incredibly Craftsmanship's potential to recreate Teigu.

There were also powers that could be refined and improved, but only within a strict context. Things like my various magic systems, alchemical transmutation, fields of technology and innovation, or even my tinker power's capacity to grow and refine itself. All technically endless, but operating within hard limits and restrained parameters.

Craftsmen of the Gods wasn't like that, and neither were the Arcane Craft, Infusionist, or Mega Bomb. The only limit on those powers was my own skill. Greater levels of skill could improve what could be done with other powers, but it didn't improve the powers themselves. With these abilities, what could be achieved was only limited by my own knowledge and understanding.

That wasn't completely infinite. There were limits to how much a person could refine their abilities. Points of diminishing returns would be reached, levels where improvements would become minor, refinements arbitrary. But that was a long way off. What's more, every power that improved my crafting abilities, every seemingly redundant set of smithing or manufacturing skills, they all fed into these powers. Every improvement translated to greater power.

But it would still take time. Time that I didn't want to spend. Time that I couldn't spend. Technically, the spiritron computer could grant me all the time in the world, but there were still limits it was working through. The metaphysics of the universe were being analyzed and emulated within the system. One by one, the esoteric aspects of reality were being bound within that virtual environment as floor after floor was added to the system's Serial Phantasm. Eventually it would be able to perfectly recreate everything, allowing training and development of even the most obscure abilities.

At the moment, it could handle conventional physics. And some magic.

It would get there eventually, and every step of the way, every additional floor would grant more opportunities, but I couldn't wait for perfection. I didn't need to. Even the entry level applications of my powers were strong enough to tip the balance. It was better to provide Survey a constant stream of improved scrying tools than force her to wait for when I could make a 'proper' one.

Somehow, I didn't think she would particularly mind having more divine means of gathering information, even if she would end up with enough divination artifacts to make up a divine regalia.

"I have been in contact with your parallel iterations." I didn't comment on her preferred terminology for my duplicates. "While an immediate upgrade will yield some benefits, they are confident that a device capable of locating specific individuals can be completed by the conclusion of the obligations I must personally address in the city."

I nodded. That would mean a precise location on the Nine by this evening at the latest. Countermeasures and detection powers didn't matter when it came to divine mandates. A location meant we could start taking measures to protect bystanders from their approach. Observation meant we could be sure those measures would be sufficient. It would finally nail down the last possible avenue of concern over the decision to wait for their arrival.

"I'm sure they can handle that." Previously, that kind of development would have been left to me. The benefit of refining those fields of crafting was too important to give up. But with the Exsphere and the potential link from Whispered, there was the potential to retain any improvements gained from that kind of work, even if I wasn't personally conducting it.

On the subject of the duplicates, we needed to get back to the workshop. I opened the entrance directly from the expanded backroom Survey used as a scrying location. It was a consequence of the privacy curtain not allowing such work from inside the Workshop. As such it was only masterfully shielded against detection, rather than operating on a level of technology that I still couldn't decipher.

I found my duplicates checking over the new computer core. Specifically, I found them with what had resulted from combining the previous spiritron computer with the Computer Hub provided by my Personal Reality constellation.

The Computer Hub was a 'top-of-the-line mainframe', really a supercomputer by any sensible metric. By my standards it was basically a museum piece. And yet, despite the fact that the technology was so woefully out of date it didn't even operate on the same physical principles as my systems, there had been absolutely no trouble with merging the two systems. My duplicates had even been able to hot swap components without disrupting the operation of my spiritron core.

The new system wasn't actually any more powerful, but all the little workarounds that had been put in place were suddenly unnecessary. The system was automatically online thanks to the Workshop's Extranet upgrade. It had a dedicated Intranet set up and maintained by my power, connecting it to the systems in my new Office, as well as the desktops, laptops, and tablets that had been provided for each member of the team.

Those were of nebulous usefulness. I mean, they were technically good systems, the kind of thing I would have been happy to have when I was starting out, but now it wasn't even the fact that they were outdated that was the problem. Fleet, Survey, and the Matrix emphatically did not need a computer. Tetra could interface directly with systems and emulate any technology she needed. Aisha had a tendency to lean on her watch or armor for any computing needs, and at this point she could probably build better computers herself. Tybalt and Garment might have gotten use out of them, but they already had better systems available to them.

The main advantage of the smaller PCs was the fact that the same ease of upgrades applied to them as the computer core. I hadn't seriously considered using spiritron processors in a laptop, largely for the same reason I'd never considered using a fusion bomb for a cigarette lighter. It was so monstrously excessive that even I was having trouble justifying it, and I had previously built Garment a laptop that outstripped the world's entire civilian computational infrastructure. Seriously, unless we got into some fairly heavy magitech applications, it wasn't likely to be worth the effort.

My duplicates were wrapping up the final check as we entered. "Did you actually get any 20% time?" I asked them as we approached, noting a failed connection to a small mote from the Alchemy constellation. They just shrugged.

"The whole deal with 20% time is we can do what we want. Doesn't have to be personal projects and downtime." He gestured to the second duplicate. "With everything rolling out like that, you think we were just going to sit on our hands and wait for the next guys to have all the fun?"

The second duplicate held up a tiny piece of metal, about the size of a dime. It had a complicated design of metal plates and a crystal core, but I could feel the technology that had been worked into it through my divine sense.

"Seriously?" I asked, looking at them both.

"Yep." He said, casually tossing the miracle of technology in his hand. "One Lambda driver, ready for integration into a Cyborg Hindu Godbody. Handmade, divinely enhanced, and benefitting from Gadget Master and our tinker specialization."

The device was supposed to be a major component of an 8-meter mech. Actually, with that design and the miniaturization that had been applied, it was probably intended for a much larger type of Armslave.

"Wanted to get it installed before the next set rolls out, make sure it's available for them." The first explained. "Plus, you need to start practicing with both the Lambda Driver and Spiral Energy. I mean, more than just in training matches."

"I know." I admitted. That power was undeniably my strongest ability. Truly infinite power, provided I developed it enough with proper determination. The Lambda Driver would help with that. Still, the fact that it was basically being integrated into my body….

It didn't actually disturb me. It might have disturbed me that it didn't disturb me, but that was a secondary reaction, the result of going through old thought processes and expecting a specific response. The cybernetics from my Godbody weren't anything like conventional robotics. The Mantra-based technology was integrated into my body on a spiritual level. It was as much a part of me as any organic component, something evident by how it was able to grow, develop, and change in a very organic way. You know, despite looking like a combination of sculpted clay and living bronze.

Even if they had been completely intrusive, I probably would have been able to handle it. The philosophy towards cybernetics gained from Technical Training was far more robust. I wasn't quite onboard on the level of the Laboratorium's skulls, but I appreciated the sentiment behind it. The way the motive force existed independently of the medium it flowed through. How the transition from flesh to machine wasn't something to be feared.

Additionally, with my Scavenger power, integrating new technology was trivial. The entire ability was based around incorporating seemingly incompatible technology seamlessly. Normally that would have been used with the Robotic Armor that came with that power, but it worked just as well on my cybernetic body.

"Do you need a hand?" My duplicate asked, holding up the tiny Lambda Driver.

"No, I've got it." I said. Extensive cybernetics had taken this kind of thing from a medical procedure to a firmly mechanical process. It was both reasonable for me to handle it, and a good idea for me to understand any modifications to my own body.

With the number of repair, modification, and upgrade powers I possessed there wasn't even a need for special tools or facilities. The dropping of the effect that concealed my cybernetic form, a quick partial removal of a chest plate, and the integration of the driver into my primary energy circuit, and then I was done. Human concealment was back up, and you'd never guess that I had just opened my own chest.

"Okay." I said, feeling out the new system. Flashes of blue light bloomed around me. "This is easier than I expected."

"Benefits of quality and efficiency improvements. Plus, the Arcane Craft. Standard Lambda Drivers are a bitch to use reliably, but this gets around the problem." The first duplicate explained.

I nodded. To utilize the tech you were either looking at extensive training or the use of drugs to trigger the correct mental state, and that was not something that would have good long-term effects for someone in a combat zone. The false axis effect of the Lambda Driver was mysterious enough for Arcane Craft to come into play. With that helping with control, Miniaturization and Efficiency reducing the energy requirements, and my assorted powers improving the quality and features of the device it was about as user friendly as possible. Offensive and defensive freeform force at my fingertips, with a side of spiral training to go with it.

"We were working on something similar for the Omni-Sphere, but figured it would be better to wait until we had a chance to get used to telepathy." The second added.

I nodded slowly at that. The device could fully link someone with the Tau wave, strengthening the effect of Whispered and allowing mental links to form to other connected individuals. It was a serious system to deal with, but for entirely different reasons from the Lambda Driver. Even with the Arcane Craft helping with control, it was going to be a lot to deal with.

Actually, with the Arcane Craft's need for appropriate objects, like with the Lambda Driver being installed on my Manipura chakra, and the recent drive for a final run of upgrades…

"You were considering the neural implant?" I asked, gesturing towards my head.

"Best place for it." The second explained. "Can't get better for boosting mental abilities than an actual brain implant." He shook his head. "Something for later, and we're short on time as it is. Plans are saved for the next guys. Just remember to summon them before you use the glove."

"I know." I assured them. The whole reason for this juggling of duplicates was getting around spiritual energy costs.

With the expansion of my reserves through training, experience, and the potential ability that came with Incredibly Craftsmanship I wasn't about to end up hungover from a single naming, but it was still the most serious expenditure I could make. Even double Naming Uppercrust's book was about the limit of what I was comfortable with.

The Glove of the East didn't have a limit on how much energy it could take. It would use whatever you could put out to improve the item targeted. On its own it was capable of consuming quantities of spiritual energy that would put the highest levels of Singing to the Unseen to shame.

I wasn't planning to completely drain myself in this task, but using the duplicates of glove to upgrade the glove would take forever if I didn't at least make a strong start. I knew how this was going to hit me, so at the very least I wanted to make sure the next set of duplicates wouldn't need to deal with that drain.

The thing was, we all drew from the same reserves of spiritual energy. It's just that it hit the person who used it harder. There was a whole dynamic of spiritual balance behind the effect, but now that my duplicates lasted for multiple hours I definitely did not want them entering the current length of 20% after having endured a debilitated state for their entire existence.

"Upgrades to the glove means we can upgrade everything else. Especially things that use spiritual energy." The first duplicate reminded me. I nodded. The anticipated three upgrade cycles would be enough to substantially boost the Skyforge, which would make a big difference for Tetra's procedure. Along with anything else that used Spiritual energy, or anything closely related to it.

On that note…

"Where's the Divine Weapon?" I asked.

"In the Laboratorium." The first explained. "Tybalt basically took possession of it as soon as it arrived." He grinned. "You definitely have some training coming your way."

"I'll bet." I said. Assuming I could fit it in with everything else. "And I'm guessing he wants one as well?"

"It's a mantra-based weapon. He's a demigod of war. What do you think?" The second joked before shoeing me out. "Go. We're almost out of time and we all know you get weird if you're here when we disappear."

It wasn't as bad as it used to be, but yeah, I couldn't really argue with that. If anything, expanded awareness made the end of their duration more visceral, particularly since I could feel the shifts in my Exsphere as it accumulated more lifespans, such as they were.

It was a short enough trip to the Laboratorium that teleporting felt indulgent, so I walked with Survey. Fleet had taken Garment and Aisha to the Regency center for prep work. Survey would need to follow shortly as Delphine Mertens, but she was taking time to put things in order in the workshop.

Plus, there was a point of door access directly next to the center, so it was a short walk at most. If Survey's civilian profile became well known we might need to make arrangements for accommodations and transport, but for now she could probably slip into the preparation for the event without arousing any suspicion.

"The duplicates have prepared a schedule for the development and training of Lambda Driver technology, along with other aspects of your recent abilities." She said as we walked, easily falling back into her familiar briefing mode. "It is anticipated that Lambda emulation will be possible within the Spiritron Environment well in advance of other exotic principles, allowing the possibility of an accelerated development path."

And Survey was advocating for the rapid mastery of a primarily defensive ability. Not surprised at this point.

"I'd like to see it implemented across the board. I'm not sure how easy it will be for you, Fleet, or the Matrix to use the Lambda Diver, but it should be technically possible." I replied.

"I will look forward to the potential upgrades, though I note that development time for abilities is limited. Prior to successful emulation within the Spiritron Environment it is unlikely the benefits of this technology will outperform our native abilities." She said, transferring supporting data for her points.

"Still, something to consider." I said. There was a lot of tech that could be integrated into Fleet and Survey's bodies. Stuff that was already slated for the next generation of the Matrix's nanites. Whether it would make a key difference was yet to be seen.

Actually, that was a somewhat literal statement, considering the upcoming divination items being directed at the Nine. We were indeed going to 'see' what could make a difference, and if anything else was needed.

As I approached the doors to the Laboratorium Survey fell back and gave me a hard look. I paused and looked back at her. "What?"

"It has been requested by the denizens and machine spirits of the laboratory that I, as an automaton in good standing, remind you of the protocols expected of you as the lead technical priest of this installation." I gave her a confused look. "Your raiment."

I blinked. "Seriously?"

"It is held in paramount importance both as a sign of respect and commitment. It would be greatly appreciated if you ensured you were properly attired." She said plainly.

I shook my head slightly. Really, it wasn't that big of a deal. A surge of mantra caused my cybernetics to once again fully manifest. With a thought my armor surged and manifested around me. Finally, I accessed my Weapon Swapping power, drawing a red dueling cloak from storage and quickly donning it. Pulling up the hood over my helmet and now clad in layers of master crafted armor I turned to Survey.

"This good?" I asked as the Size constellation missed a connection.

"I believe it will suffice." She replied.

It did more than suffice. Entering the Laboratorium triggered another burst of excitement from the skulls and a burst of activity from the machine spirits. My mantra senses could actually feel their pride surge forth as their maintenance rites intensified. I could also feel a particularly smug flavor of pride emanating from Survey as we walked through the room.

I decided not to acknowledge her reaction.

I found Tybalt near Tetra's perch and was once again reminded that we needed to get her a place to live that wasn't a glorified testing chamber. My weapon was floating in the next scanning bay, with readouts playing on holographic screens.

There was something about Mantra technology that the skulls just gravitated towards. The purest essence of faith driving the function of the machine, operating on a level that even the most advanced hexagrammic systems couldn't match. They were impressed enough by the examples I have been able to produce, but the weapon was on another level.

"It's a lot more complicated than it looks." Tetra said in her silent voice. She was both looking over the readouts and interfacing directly with the Laboratorium systems.

Or at least interfacing as much as the machine spirits would allow. There were no longer any issues with her biological status, but she was still classified as an abhuman and, much more seriously, was unordained in the ways of the Laboratorium's technology. The first was a slight black mark, while the second severely limited her access.

Tybalt, on the other hand, had been fully accepted as security lead of the facility and had acquired a half-dozen honorary Skitarii commissions since the last time I had checked.

"Mantra technology likes to dress itself up as religious objects." I explained. It was a lot like the tech I'd acquired from The Divine Machines in that respect. "The beads are actually Mantra projections. They're manifestations, like parts of my cyberbody. The real weapon is the filaments of the chain that run through them."

It was actually a brilliant way of storing the weapon in a compact form, and one completely in line with what I knew about that society. For all intents and purposes, it looked like a strand of oversized prayer beads. A quick shift and the mantra contracted, causing the beads to vanish and the connecting chain to expand into its true form.

From Tybalt's prompting I could tell he wanted a demonstration. Honestly, he'd probably been restraining himself since the weapon arrived. His eager eyes were all the prompting I needed. Really, I wanted to try it out as much as he did.

I reached into the gravity field and grasped the prayer bead necklace. With a smooth movement I flicked the strand, causing it to wrap around my forearm. The beads had the same bronze texture characteristic of mantra technology. I focused on them, drawing on both my own reserves of mantra and the quantities being generated by the praying skulls. Elaborate glowing script appeared across the surface of the beads before they suddenly contracted. I could feel the Mantra sinking into the thin chain that bound them together. The microfilaments that composed it warping and growing from the accumulated energy.

With a thrum of force, the strand expanded into a half-dozen meters of heavy chain. The thick links of metal had a finish that blended black iron and bronze in a complex pattern caused by the arrangements of countless linked filaments. Despite the weight of the chain, it was light in my hand, flowing freely as I swung the end. Then, with a flick, it extended to hundreds of times its length, stretching to the end of the cavernous Laboratorium.

The chain moved with enough force that you could see the atmospheric distortions from its passing. It wasn't a random flail but a precise motion. The force exerted from my hands was transferred through the links and amplified with focused Mantra. The weapon was more of an extension of my body than something I was wielding, and carried force and precision on a staggering level.

And this was only a fraction of its power.

Even with the full force of the Laboratorium behind me, even with Mantra capacitors to draw upon, I was only at level three. Enough Mantra to expand the chain over a kilometer in length, to control it with strength and precision, and to use it to deadly effect. But that was the mundane use. This wasn't a weapon for mortal conflicts. Honestly it wasn't even a weapon, not originally.

I wasn't sure of the nature of my connections to the worlds that my powers originated from, but one thing that had become clear was the fact that my abilities leaned more towards technical aspects than open combat. This society, built on Mantra use, prized combat, but it still needed to function beyond the limits of its warriors. My specializations, technology production, cybernetics, and now this, all spoke to a particular role. Not a battle-hardened champion, but one who preserves the things worth fighting for. It was a hard world, and no one was untouched by battle, but not everyone prioritized bloodshed. Some focused on other pursuits, fighting as necessary, and the nature of this made that clear.

This wasn't an instrument of war; it was a weaponized space elevator. A Chain of Heaven and Earth, part of the machinery used to move great loads from the bounds of gravity, or draw the treasures of the cosmos down to an earthly kingdom. Great machines, infrastructure, that when empowered by Mantra could lift and pull from the surface of a planet all the way to orbit. Tens of thousands of kilometers, reaching out to the heavens.

My weapon was a part of that infrastructure, a piece of industrial equipment refined, personalized, and empowered beyond measure. Not just any Chain of Heaven and Earth, mine was the Final Ascension, the personal godly weapon of whoever I had been in that universe. Able to function with power and precision beyond what any such equipment should be capable of, stretching further and with more power. At Mantra level five I could do more than haul loads into orbit. I could fling foes from the surface of the Earth. Snare asteroids and call them down onto the planet. Span the distances between planets with a flick of my hand.

I just needed level five Mantra. A million praying followers and I could turn the solar system into my own personal billiards table. Something like that was almost enough to make me reconsider my stance on cults.

With a flick of my wrist, I pulled back the chain, contracting it and wrapping it around my arm. The Divine Weapon was nigh-unbreakable. For a sword or spear that was useful. For a chain it was a game changer. Without annihilator powers nobody was breaking through this chain, and it would only get stronger as I could upgrade it. The Glove of the East was practically built for this.

I let out a breath and allowed the mantra to flow from the links of the chain. The filaments of metal contracted, the projected mantra forming into the familiar prayer beads. A quick check confirmed that the skulls had finished their scans before I stored it with my other weapons using Weapon Swapping. A brief blue flash and it was on call at an instant's notice.

Tybalt looked up at me and meowed. The accent power we shared actually meant he could speak perfect English if he wanted, but at this point everyone spoke Felyne, so it was just easier. I gave him a nod in response.

"We should be able to work something into one of your weapons." I explained. "It won't have the backing of my power, but it will still be a big improvement."

"Can you use that for me as well?" Tetra asked, leaning forward from the perch in her scanning bay.

"It's part of the upgrade." I said. "You can emulate a lot of Mantra based technology yourself, but there's crossover between Mantra, ki, and life fiber energy. You should be able to power effects yourself without needing a Mantra source."

Of course, that would mean paying the full energy cost of whatever you were attempting, rather than using the exponential jump between Mantra levels. Technically I could power my Mantra abilities and Mantra-based technology using Ki. The problem was the ridiculous energy needs once you got beyond level three. Level four could outfight an armada of advanced warships and level five could throw around mountains. Unless you had the power to accomplish those kinds of feats on your own, you weren't getting much from directing the energy through Mantra applications.

Of course, the growth of Life Fibers was something to behold. I had no doubt that Tetra would be able to reach that point eventually, so having a backing in Mantra would give her more options and better control when she finally did.

Something caught my eye and I turned to Tybalt. "Why is my hoe in a scanning bay?"

Tybalt tilted his head with a grin and meowed. I huffed. "Not much of a joke." I said as I looked at the archaic farming tool floating in midair. "At least you got the Bushnell in here." I said, indicating to the Armslave parked in a bay near the hoe. Tybalt gave a shrug. I did notice the skulls were significantly less excited about it than they would normally be for a giant robot. As I accessed the logs I found out why.

'That is not farming equipment' I transmitted to the Laboratorium systems, which had categorized the Armslave and hoe into the same broad classification. The response I received outlined the capacities of the M6 Bushnell, or lack thereof. The flaws in the hydraulic systems, the limits of the gas turbine, the complete lack of armaments.

In the opinion of the Laboratorium the Bushnell was a piece of industrial equipment of a similar level to the thousand-year-old farming tool that had arrived shortly after it. At my insistence of its intended purpose there was a begrudging acknowledgement that such devices could be drafted into service in desperate times, providing there were no superior options such as Land Crawlers available.

"To be honest, it is kind of tractor level." My first duplicate pointed out as I prepared the Glove of the East. A focusing altar had been assembled in the magitech lab to assist with the infusion process. Of course, the strength of the Arcane Craft was based on my understanding of the effect in question, and this was the first attempt to use the glove. Like many aspects of this upgrade process, there would be significant improvements on the second run.

"I know it's not anything special, but I don't want to lose track of scale." I explained as I adjusted the fit of the duplicated glove. I had dismissed the cloak, armor, and visible cybernetics to focus on the work in front of me. "We're throwing around massive amounts of force with even casual works, but that mech would still give most parahumans a very difficult time, even without any Armslave grade weapons.

"Yeah, but that's not going to convince the skulls." The second said. "And it's kind of fun that they looked at an army robot and immediately said 'farm equipment'." He made a final check on the altar. "You ready?"

"As I'll ever be." I reached out and focused on the original Glove of the East, channeling energy through the copy on my hand.

I dug down and felt the reserves of power within me. Mana, ki, fortune, Mantra, life essence, and spiritual energy all swirled in a tempest of force. Accessing a specific type of power was normally an exercise in skill, but the glove made it as easy as breathing. The spiritual energy within me flowed out and surged into the glove, causing it to burn white. With a final push it surged out, enveloping the true Glove of the East.

The flow was both too much and not enough. Moderating the energy was like trying to fill a shot glass with a fire hose. It drew out everything, with my full reserves ready to flow forth. At the same time the capacity of the object being infused was unbelievable. Like pouring water into a hole so deep that you can't tell if it's even reaching the bottom, much less filling it up.

I chose to ignore the effect on the item, instead focusing on my own reserves. I needed to keep them moderated and at a manageable level. When using the glove that amounted to flicking the tap on and off, but even that was a tremendous flow of power. With the cutoff I felt drained and winded, but I could see the improvements to the original glove.

Hell, I could feel the improvements. There was a spiritual aspect to it, one that was clear as day. Even my duplicates were aware of what had happened.

"Okay, big step up." The first said. "I can tell that took a lot out of you." I was seeing the edges of the drain on their faces, but the spiritual balance, while shared, would be mostly on me. "You need to…"

He paused as we all felt the workshop shake more than that, I felt an item settle in my pocket. Something that appeared on my person, not in a locker or storage bay. I reached down and drew out an exact duplicate of my Workshop key.

There had been a connection to the Personal Reality constellation. Two tiny motes, Entrance Hall and Additional Keys. They added a new entrance to my Workshop and a key specific to it. A key I could give to anyone and grant them the same level of assured access I had.

I exchanged looks with my duplicates. We were all thinking the same thing. The fact that the new entrance was aligned with the textile workshop just drove it home.

"A key for Garment." I said. "She can finally have her own way into the workshop."

"Yeah. About time." The first said. "Though you know Aisha's going to tease us incessantly over this."

"Of course." I said, taking a breath. Even with this lightening the mood, I was still feeling drained.

"Okay, we've got things taken care of here." The second said. "You need to recover, and since that's spiritual recovery, that means you need to go out and do things. Interact with people." He looked around. "Not close yourself off in a work blitz. We need you in form for two more upgrades, plus Tetra's conversion."

"I know." I said. "I can swing down to the Regency Center, help out with the prep." I smiled. "And give Garment her key." I paused as I was alerted to an incoming call. "Right after I speak with Alec."

I didn't know why he was calling, but it didn't bode well.

Jumpachain abilities this chapter:

Additional Keys (Personal Reality) 50:

This Access Key Upgrade gives you an additional keys to your Personal Reality. These keys attune to whomever you give them to and cannot be used by anyone other than them or someone they freely and without duress or coercion of any kind allow to use the key. If they lose the key, it will return to them if they are still alive, or to you if they are currently dead. If they die in possession of the key, their body will be transported to your Medical Bay, if you have one.

Entrance Hall (Personal Reality) 50:

This is the room your Access Key opens a door to. It starts off as a 5 meter cube with blank white walls, floor, and ceiling, as some doors, one leading to the current Host Reality, the other into your Cosmic Warehouse, with additional doors leading to other extensions as these get added to your Personal Reality. Feel free to customize this Entrance Hall as you see fit. Additional Halls can, at your discretion, be linked only to certain keys or only to certain extensions. This allows you to have an entry hall just for skiing if you want.