Then And Now, Part One: Paperwork

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(January 5th, 2009)

Then – August 2007

“Question Two: Explain Boyd's Hall of Mirrors Paradox, with full explanation of the related singularity theories, and discuss whether it is an accurate paradox, as well as why or why not.”

Nadia screwed up her face in concentration. “Hall of mirrors… um…. oh, it's the paradox attached to the Mirror Law.”

Sitting across from her, Jim raised an eyebrow. “More specific, Nadia.” The two were sitting in their apartment, music playing in the background, and a half-dozen books arrayed around them. At the moment, Nadia was sitting with her eyes closed, while Jim read from a test sheet mailed to them from the Invictus Academy.

Nadia bit her lip. “Flemenschtein's third… no, the Second Law of Singularity. No object in narrative law may have more than one reflection. According to the theory, you can have one dimensional alternate, evil twin, or produced-clone, but any successive reproductions become exponentially more difficult and less likely to survive.” She smiled brightly, moving through the pause. “The Hall of Mirrors Paradox undermines the Second Law by pointing out that if the reflection is itself reflected, you could theoretically have an infinite number of copies, seemingly undermining the Second Law. But if you can't, then you run into the problem of what makes a reflection a reflection under narrative law, since under Flemenschtein's First Law every object is both unique and archetypal. Reflections have to count as unique, which should let them be reflected.” She made a face, falling backwards onto the couch. “I hate dramatology.”

“I wouldn't worry about it too much. This is pretty advanced stuff – as long as you manage the basics, a few years from now, you won't even be thinking about it.” Jim grinned, setting the papers down. “You'll be too busy flying around, dropping rocks on Doctor Ecchs, and generally having a crazy time to worry about singularity theory.”

“Hey, we've already got one dimensional alternate running around.” Nadia stared up at the ceiling. “Wonder what he's up to.”

“Which one?”

Nadia turned on her side. “You know which one, Jim. Our Lucky can handle himself. It's the new one that I'm worried about.”

“Thought you trusted him.” Jim's reply was laconic.

“There's trust, and then there's trust. He's gone down the wrong road once. If he meets the wrong person again…” Nadia trailed off abruptly. “Alright, fine, I'm sort of worried about them both.”

Jim grinned. “Hah! Knew it.”

“Wipe that smug look off your face, buddy. You know nothing.” Standing, Nadia stretched. “Hell with this. I've seen enough paperwork to last me a lifetime. I'm going out for a quick flight, and I'll do more studying when I get back.” Walking over to the door, she began putting on armor.


“How can there possibly be this much paperwork?” Nadia stared at the table in front of her with mounting horror. She did some quick calculations. “There must be a thousand pages there.”

Amber patted her on the back encouragingly. “I may have let a few things slip in the last little while. We were letting the mayor's office handle it, but he didn't really care, and the SEA started to bother us, and… well… you wanted to get some hands-on work as our secretary, so I told the mayor we'd transfer it over to you.”

Nadia fixed her with a baleful look. “You hate me. You really hate me.”

“No! I just… to be honest, I didn't think there would be this much to do. If you get through the backlog, it won't take too long to keep up. That's sort of why we ignored it.” Amber smiled sheepishly. “Look on the bright side – we get to keep you on salary this way.”

“Joy. I guess it means I'm still on the team, sort of.” Nadia sighed. “I wonder how he's doing.”

Amber shook her head. “No news is good news, as the story goes. Not that I would know whether that's true or not. Jim never even told us where he was from.”

“He didn't like to be defined by his home.” Nadia looked at the table again, and then shrugged. “Okay, not so bad. If I pace myself, I can be done in a month.” She stared at the table again. “Or two.”

“Want some help?”

“No, it's my job.” Coming to a decision, Nadia pushed herself away from the table. “But first I'm going for a walk. Get some fresh air before I jump into purgatory.”

Amber chuckled. “Drama queen.”

Nadia smiled wryly. “I try my best.”

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