1 & 23

"Hello, Jerrick."

"Hello, Jerrick."

"What's 'Immortal Octopi' mean to you?"

"Many arms, branches... extending outward in all directions... forever... a dimension, typically time, but not necessarily. Infinite in all directions, of time or space or other dimensions.... Dimensional travel, as you do... infinite dimensions, a single entity, a single lifespan but unlimited, immortal sideways, one and all. An organization of us. Sort of, Jerrick Harrison, Unlimited."

"Astounding, your talent. You needn't even know what a thing names to find the correlation between name and thing."

"Well, I've been practicing. It still helps to know more than the name. But I do think there must be something, within us or without, directing us, supplying the names unconsciously. When you find the meaning, it's so obvious."

"To one of me, anyway."

"So, which of us came up with Immortal Octopi?"

"Jerrick 591, although I didn't actually meet him. He's expired, I'm afraid. Mishap trying to slow down lightning."

"I say, that would be useful, wouldn't it?"

"Quite. Well, I met someone he met, had a bit of a chat with him. I don't think 591's idea of Octopi was quite the same, originally, but I think this is what was meant for it to be. Still, I don't think any of us has the lifespan to contact all of me, so we can't really reach true sideways immortality, I'm afraid."

"Well, we'll do what we can. Maybe time travel would help, and I can't see it would be so much different from interdimensional travel. But you're the quantum dabbler, you'd know better than I."

"Well, as you say, we'll do what we can. Although even if we could time travel, it wouldn't help us contact everyone. It wouldn't give us any more years to work at it."

"We could go to a point early in each of our lives and have us spend our lives contacting others of us and have them have others do the same, and so forth."

"True, but then that's all any of us would ever do. There'd be no other projects."

"Not necessarily. We could have a set quota of years, or of individuals to recruit before going on to other projects, and then our recruits would do the same and so on, none of us using our whole lifespans for it, but the organization would still expand exponentially."

"True. But we couldn't do that with anyone who's already been contacted, because of course, none of us were contacted earlier in our lives than we were."

"Of course, the laws of time may not be immutable, or somesuch phraseology, but it would surely be best as you say, for consistency's sake. A little chaos can be fun, but still."

"Still. Always still. Quite so. Yes. Well, but what is the organization about, anyway? About the projects. About improving the world, or rather worlds. Immortality, though. It's... mind-bogglingly big, then, isn't it? A shame none of us would be able to know about all that the organization does. Think of it, a single person, living various lifespans, some less than two decades, and who knows how long the longest? A hundred years? More? Or could one project be designing true temporal immortality?"

"Who would want to live forever?"

"Who but a fool, indeed? Some mindless dog, or perhaps we should say grasshopper."

"Surely the designer of immortality would work out the glitch of aging, not miss such a classic blunder. In fact, extending youth and health is simpler than chronological age itself, as more normal doctors and scientists prove. Age may follow, naturally, but more as a side effect or byproduct, yes?"

"Surely we live longer than those who bathed once a year and went to barbers and their leeches when ill."

"Mutual anachronism that, perhaps, but yes. Well, all this is your project, of course, whatever you decide to do with it. You should talk to the others. Glad you stopped in here first, or did you?"

"You were the natural first, for your RP talents. And I thank you for your help and insights. Perhaps I shall contact the others, now, or just make a conference call on the ID comm."

"I shall await your call. Over 500 of us now, quite the party line. And will all of us want to have a say? It could take quite some time."

"Perhaps it would be better to first contact Jerrick 13 and have him set up an ID BBS dedicated to this matter."

"Sounds sound to me. Handy thing, ID-Net."

"Quite. Well, I'll say goodbye, for now. Goodbye, Jerrick."

"Goodbye, Jerrick."

part four