From the files of Unreal Estate: Open House, Some portions copyright other authors; see website for details
Written by Berayu –

"…this means that Mr. Salan and Mr. Hitell will be re-deployed to help the new colonists construct the parameters for their reality based entirely upon cheesecake; that is, if the creative department can cope with the increased workload?" The director of Reality Design looked across the boardroom at the leader of the Big Thought Reality Team, Werner Newland, who was staring straight ahead; looking, it seemed, at the wall. The director sighed; none of these artists seemed to be able to cope with the idea of hard cash and organization, let alone proper meetings. "Mr. Newland?"

A purple flash, the chiming of a gong. The sky opening, and a thousand blue penguins flying though, sitting on an impossibly high obelisk. Cherry blossoms…
"Mr. Newland? Your thoughts?" The words cut through the dream. He was back in the conference room, back in the RealWare R&D Centre in Edo, Nippon, and back in the metaphorical soup.
"Yes, they’ll be ready," he blandly muttered. Of course, this was a lie. David and Sam (as he knew them), were currently working on the old chestnut - designing a reality that was a reality engine (a surprisingly difficult task, considering that Reality Engines that created Reality Engines tended to collapse). He turned his attention wearily to the meeting agenda, looking ti the next item, waiting for the opportunity to leave early, and get back to his apartment. The director and the remaining executives looked at him suspiciously, but carried on nevertheless.
"Very well. The Urbana City Council has asked for us to re-design the park sub-program…"
A purple flash, the chiming of a gong. And then, the pain.


Light. White light. Werner was lying on his back, on something between a comfortable and spartan surface. As he tried to get up, he was suddenly held back by the buzz of the restraining field that had been placed around the bed. Twisting his head around, he saw that he was in a RealWare medical facility, which presumably meant he had fainted; he could remember nothing after the flash of purple light.
"Ah! Mr. Newland! You’re awake." A RealWare doctor strode towards him, conjuring up a scanner from his robes. He ran a glowing instrument down the twenty-seven year-old’s body and examined a few figures as they flashed across the display above the bed. "Hah! Just as I expected!"
"What?" came Werner’s bemused reply
"There is absolutely nothing wrong with you, aside from the headaches you seem to be still having, but we’ve dealt with that" said the doctor. "Were it not for the fit you pulled in that conference room…"
"I pulled a fit in the conference room?"
"You went into convulsions, followed by insane ramblings that went on even while you were carried, twitching, to this medical bay." Seeing that Werner’s expression, he quickly added, "You don’t remember it, because the problem has something to do with your brain chemistry…" He paused, and then furrowed his brow. "At least, I think it does. I am absolutely certain that you don’t know a word of RealWare Medical Protocol 452-B, so you wouldn’t know that neurological scans are absolutely forbidden thanks to their experimental nature and 79% chance of resulting in permanent brain damage – and because your neurochemistry is the only thing that could be causing the problem, I can only guess as to exactly what’s wrong with you."
"This is all interesting doctor, but I really don’t care. How do I stop it?"
"Not being sure of the diagnosis, I can't prescribe you anything; but, there are non-conventional options you could pursue. For example, many patients under stress have reported great success with the Nipponese style of meditation; ever tried it?"
Werner shook his head mutely. His time in Nippon had been spent entirely on art galleries, art conferences, and running an art and design course in his spare time to collect some extra En.
"Well, your workstation has entered into a subscription to the meditation class segment of the Nippon Advertiser. You may want to look into it. Oh, and there was one more thing your superior told me to convey...what was it? Oh yes: you have three weeks off work to ensure that this never happens again." He switched off the restraining field with a dismissive wave. "Good day," was all he said before he left.

Werner stood up and looked at the now empty ward. How odd, he thought. He knew that RealWare doctors were the best that money could buy and were thus insufferably arrogant, but this one was much more arrogant than the usual bunch. Werner slowly walked out of the medical bay, pondering what it all meant.
One thing the doctor said rang true, however – Werner had to neutralize the problem, and soon, or he’d lose his job. RealWare disliked employees that were constantly ill, and even his many awards would not save him from being sacked should he continue to be in this condition. He decided to return to his apartment, and call it a night.


The doctor walked slowly to his office, attempting to control his nervous excitement. He knew he had to contact them, but how might he explain the situation? A direct video link would be out of the question; the leader would understand, of course, but a lackey would probably do something rash. No, a text message would be the best way to do it. He switched his Workstation on and loaded up encryptor programs three, seven, and nineteen. After cracking his knuckles, he began to type.
To the Representative of the Society of Normal Reality…
This was always a safe move; while he wanted to send the message to Mortimer, his underlings always seemed to take offence at someone going over their heads. Anyway, an operative hidden in the bowls of RealWare was not really on the level of the leader of the Society, even if that operative was a leading member of the multiverse’s medical community.
I believe I have found another abnormal, this one working for RealWare in their Big Thought Division. The abnormal was directed to me after a fainting fit he encountered in which he caused small fluctuations in the reality fabric. I doubt that he is consciously aware of this, but it is worrying nonetheless. The Nippon engine has not crashed recently, and RealWare sensors under surveillance have not displayed any anomalous readings; in fact, I could only confirm his taint after running non-standard scans. I have found that this abnormal possesses the greatest level of abnormality we have yet encountered, despite the noticeable lack of any execution of these abilities. I await further instructions as to how to proceed. Artemis has been advised to track the abnormal, however, I advise against normalization until further observation.

End Transmission.


 The city of Nagasaki, Nippon, was famous for its neon-lit streets; they bathed the surrounding countryside in an eerie glow. Tourists would travel miles to see the neon art that pervaded the city – Edo’s local laws forbade the exhibition of some of the wilder types of neon, in the name of allowing its residents to get to sleep without having to blacken their windows. In Nagasaki, however, the lighting laws had been overcome by dissidents using very cunning strategy of ignoring them. As a consequence, the night sky over Nagasaki was permanently lit by the muddy violet colour of countless neon signs, which made the city a heaven for those who appreciated modern art and a hell for the 852,000 people who actually lived there.
Werner was a regular visitor to Nagasaki (despite the fact that his home and workplace were both located in Edo), and, like all regular visitors to the City of Lights, he took the precaution of wearing a pair of infra-red goggles – the lights were so surreal that it was virtually impossible to see where you were going without them.
In his hand, he carried a crumpled print-out of the advertisement he had found blinking on his Workstation desktop. That an ad could get on his Workstation in the first place was a bit of a mystery; RealNet SpamBlockers had a 78% success rate when it came to filtering out unwanted messages. And yet, this Nihongo message was waiting for him when he got back to his apartment (presumably part of a stream the doctor had ordered):




If the answer to these questions is yes, then why not attempt to seek a course of enlightenment by following the path that has been set out for you? Come to this address and we can assist you to cope with your psychological disorder. Try our beginner’s class at 22 o’clock tonight!

My pantaloons are full of weasels. Inform the queen, so that she might
shoo them away. Here we go 'round the mulberry bush. Go monkey GO!

His Workstation translator had slaved for nearly an hour on the last bit, with no discernable result. Intrigued, Werner had decided to go to the class. He didn't understand why, exactly, he wanted to go there, but it seemed as good a thing for him to do then to stay in his apartment.
As he reached an intersection, he glanced up to see the signpost. Corner Paradise and Cunning Artificers; it being 21:52, Werner turned into the street with a slightly brisker pace. To his left was a small shop, number 1466 - he still had quite a ways to walk.

As he walked, Werner thought back to the doctor's comments, and back to when the symptoms began.

The truth was that these seizures, visions if you will, had been happening more and more frequently, as he became more and more renowned for reality design. He thought back to the night when they began; it was just after he had been released from hospital after the infamous Hermes Disaster. It was the night of the Batesies (or, as they were formally known, the RealWare Awards for Excellence; they were called the Batesies because a Bates always chose the recipients, a Bates presented the awards, and a Bates started the thousand-year-old tradition). As he ascended the stairs to the stage to collect the Award for Best Reality Design, he suddenly felt the sensation of a purple flash, and the chiming of a gong, and then he was back in reality; his riviere lasting only a moment. At the time, he put it his trance down to excitement, and forgot about it.

However, as his designs became better, his visions became more common. Soon, his head began to ache whenever he drew up a design. He had taken headache tablets; copious quantities of headache tablets, to no effect. Just before he had the fundamental insight that led to the creation of a Reality whose gravity was entirely subjective (which led him to receive his 5th Award for Best Reality Design), he had his most painful vision yet.

The visions all had something in common; they all began with a purple flash, and the chiming of a gong. But they never lasted more than a few seconds; it appeared that his latest one lasted minutes.

He looked at his watch again; it was already 22:04, and he had only reached number 1710. He began to jog down the street, when he saw...

A purple flash, the chiming of a gong. A rain of lead, and three concentric circles. An exotic perfume, and the sun filtering through the trees. A searing pain in his right shoulder…
Suddenly, Werner was back in reality, now with a bullet embedded in his shoulder. He was being shot at! He tumbled in anticipation of another shot; glancing behind him, he could see two figures, clad in black, both equipped with serious-looking guns. He heard the pattering of feet behind him, and he began to run.
The light flitted, and formed crazy shapes that seemed to mock him as he ran; two bullets whistled past him with the wind. His head began to throb; a dull pain in his shoulder accompanying the excruciating pain of his headache. He ran.
He could see the street number signs beside him as he ran; the last one was 1712, and then he saw a glimmer of hope – he knew that 1984 would be safe… or would it? Perhaps this was all a setup? Even so, the street stretched the length of the city, and the residents of the storefronts seemed to be in bed. Trap or no, it was his only chance. So he kept running.
1928 now, but his aggressors seemed to be catching up on him. However, they were conserving their fire – the street was no longer deserted. Here and there, people were walking along the street, looking at the beautiful (or irritating, in the opinion of the residents) neon displays. Werner kept running, his tall stature and thin build assisting him in weathering the increasingly large crowd.
1964, and he was almost there, but so were his hunters; they couldn’t be further than a few feet behind him now, as he almost skidded on the pavement, he eventually got to…
1986. What? He darted a glance at the shop next to it, a small bakery, number 1982. Where was 1984? Knowing he had precious few seconds left, he nevertheless darted a glance at the printout. "1984, The Street of Cunning Artificers". But it wasn’t…
1984. A dingy red brick building sandwiched between the towers opposite. He could hear the footsteps slowing down as his aggressors caught up to him; but they were in a large crowd of hard-core artists, and were momentarily disoriented. He bolted into the building, ran through the glass door despite the pain, and then saw it. It was a very small box, with a very small label, which said, in very small print; "C9 Explosives"; and a very small timer was counting down a very small number to a very big explosion.
Danger if he stayed; danger if he left; the aggressors were now pouring bullets into the window. The room was otherwise bare, aside from a door at the end that had, against all probability and common sense, a piece of card, hung on a bit of string, with two words written in large letters.
"Open Me."
As time seemed to slow, he lurched to the door, opened it, and stumbled into a broom closet The door closed behind him. There was a whirr, and a brief sense of disorientation. And the door opened.


Common belief, for those in the know, established that Mortimer Fallsworth was the supreme leader of the Society for Normal Reality. And this was true. But it was also true that the Society had many cells, and each of these cells had a leader. One of those leaders was standing in the wreckage of no. 1932, The Street of Cunning Artificers, Nagasaki, Nippon, and he was not pleased. The police had come, drawn utterly incorrect conclusions, and left the politicians to mop it up. The mopping had been done, and now the leader of a cell of the Normalizers was looking, displeased, at the devastation. The object of his displeasure was swinging open and shut slowly, creakily, and for the last time. He turned back to another man, whom we can safely assume to be an associate.
The word seemed to sum it all up.
"We find the ‘temple’, and shut down its advanced cloaking device thanks to the abnormal your superior found for us, and we normalize the four abnormals there, as well as destroy anything they had in the temple. Apparently, the abnormal that unwittingly got rid of their protection finds a Reality Engine for Mobiles in a broom closet" here he indicated the now forlorn door "and gets into the festering heart of the whole movement."
His associate nodded mutely. He knew what was coming next.
"Now, in ordinary circumstances, this would’ve been fine. However, our enlightened operative, in his excitement, neglected to put a tracer on him. So, all we can ascertain from this incident is that a reality engine for mobiles left this space. That leaves us with one navigational symbol, and that leaves us with nine tenths of the multiverse left to investigate. This would take roughly seven thousand years to do."
His associate tensed himself for the inevitable.
"You know what, Artemis? I’m not going to worry about it," the leader said.
A look of disbelief and relief began to creep onto Artemis’s face
"I’m going to let Mortimer deal with you."
And, as Artemis was lead away by his former comrades, he understood why this must be; in the crusade against an omnipresent foe, the Society could not let incompetence bring them down.

Act one: Attack
A purple flash, the chiming of a gong. Voices, above him, whispering?
No. Yelling.
"For the love of Id, he’s the only living witness to an attack that could befall any of our temples at any time. Wake him up!"
"And if I wake him up, there won't be any living witnesses left! I will tell you when it’s safe to revive him!"
"Healer, I am inclined to support Jessica’s case in this instance. Please revive him."
"Very well, Sensei, but only for a minute. After that, I want you all out; the patient needs rest!"
Werner slowly opened his eyes. He was on his back for the second time that day, looking at a vaulted stone ceiling, and listening to two people close to the feet of his bed argue. He closed his eyes. He felt like he had just woken up the morning after a particularly egregious party. Perhaps this was what had happened; he had the taste of ashes in his mouth, the excruciating headache,
The dull pain in his shoulder.
It all came flooding back, now. He remembered the bullet piercing his shoulder blade, the splintering wood frame, the people who were chasing him, and the explosives on the floor of 1984, Street of Cunning Artificers. And then the strange door, and then… a large, stone building with a vaulted roof? He opened his eyes again, and found his vision entirely taken up by a large, good natured face of a man, presumably the Sensei, who looked about twenty-something years old. Small, sharp blue eyes bored into him, but these were mere distractions when one saw his hair; it was an slicked back black, with a loud and conspicuous purple stripe going right from the fringe to the very back. It was frightening hair. It was also infuriating; it meant that a return to the real multiverse was probably not forthcoming. He dearly wanted to go back to sleep, and wake up in a normal reality; a reality where he didn't have headaches, or unusual seizures, or chases into broom closets with ridiculous signs hung to them
But he wasn’t. At least, he mused, he wasn’t being chased or shot at.
The Sensei turned for a moment to an unseen presence behind him.
"Can he hear me? Good", the Sensei turned back to Werner. "Hello. You’re probably a little disoriented right now; the Healer tells me that the neurological damage was extreme. In just a moment we’ll let you rest, but we need to ask you a few questions. Can you try to sit up a little?"
Werner attempted to speak, but the words seemed to slur in his mouth. Groggily, he pushed himself up a little. The bed was more comfortable than he had appreciated, and, from his new position, he could gain a greater understanding of the room he was in.
It was a small, vaulted room. The walls, the roof, the floor (he guessed) were all made of stone, stone bricks that had been sculpted and fitted together so exactly so that mortar was not required. There were two rows of windows in the room, one row above and one row below his eye line; although they were really just decorated holes in the walls. Muted sunlight was flowing through them, lighting the small room with a soft glow. There were beds either side of him, and three beds opposite, in addition to some wooden carts which all together suggested a medical ward. Despite his headache, and despite the uncertainty of his future/present, Werner couldn’t help but be impressed. If this room was anything like the rest of the reality he was in, it was one designed by a master. Take, for example, the stones that made up the walls. Each one possessed a plethora of minute details; some parts were chipped away, the tension on each stone was properly accentuated, and the whole wall seemed to stand on its own accord. That wall alone would probably take a week of intensive programming, if a designer wanted to put that level of detail into every stone in it.
Such was the quality of the ward’s design that Werner ignored its inhabitants; although the bed was empty, there were several persons within. Directly ahead of him was Sensei. To his left was a man whose expression of stern disapproval at his patient’s premature awakening and long white gown immediately marked him as a doctor, or "Healer", as he seemed to be referred to. Behind him, and looking at the whole spectacle with an indecipherable expression was a red-haired, tall, and immensely imposing woman, who nevertheless looked very young. Behind these three were a collection of men and women, who were wearing cowls on their robes and looking on in interest. In fact, each and every person there aside from the doctor was wearing a purple robe, belted by a rope at the waist. Even Werner was – his other clothes were stacked on the tray next to his bed.
Although they occupants of the room were silent, he heard a great noise; massed choral music that, while soft, seemed to be endless; a sea of sound and emotion that filled the soul. It was heart renderingly beautiful.
His attention turned towards the man with the frightening hair, who was watching his observations keenly.
"What do you think?"
"Different" Werner mentally kicked himself. What a stupid thing to say.
The Sensei shrugged. "I’ve heard worse."
He continued. "I’d love to have a long, extended chat with you, but the doctor tells me that you need to get to sleep soon; so I’ll try to keep this brief. You are currently safe, on a reality called Idéa. You suffered from massive neural trauma. You need to tell us what happened five days ago, when you found the temple in Nagasaki…have I said something wrong?"
"Fiiiive days?" Werner’s eyes darted around the room. "I’ve been asleep for five days?"
"Just tell us what happened and you can get some rest. Please? Lives are depending on it."
Deciding to go with the flow, Werner related his story. There was a low murmuring as the people around him took it in. The woman leant forward to speak, but the Sensei put up his hand.
"Thank you. Now, we will rouse you when the Healer says it is time," and with a dismissive wave of his hand, Werner’s multiverse went black as a gong chimed in the distance, and the song faded away.


 As he expected, Jessica was the first person to speak as they left the Healing Ward. The music was louder out here, filling every corner of the cloister with sound.
"You see, Sensei? You see what your so called ‘defence’ idea has led to? Four deaths! We can only thank Id that the Society did not get here in that little incident. These ‘Normalizers’ are far more intelligent than you give them credit for, and far more ruthless. They won’t stop until they kill us all, and after this atrocity I would have thought you'd agree with me!"
The Sensei was silent as they strode along the long cloister bordering the Ki; their underlings keeping a respectful distance behind. This was a pivotal moment, and they all knew it.
The Sensei folded his hands. "What would you have me do? Declare war on this Society, and attempt to defeat it with force? They have huge quantities of money behind them, and have honed their abilities to a fine point. We would only incur greater losses if we assaulted them directly. And, as I have attempted to explain to you, that is not what we should do – look at us! We are merely pilgrims on the road to enlightenment, beings of peace and tranquillity. We are not soldiers, or aggressors. We do not let our ability isolate us from the people; we do not tear power from the realities, but seek to make our waves in concordance with the eternal dance."
"And we will soon all be dead. This reality? Destroyed. The sacred texts? Burnt. Our art, our culture? Stamped out. Your pacifism is a luxury, and one we cannot afford to have while our very existence is threatened!" She stopped, and the procession stopped with her. "That man lying in the Healing Ward has just told us that our time is up. The Society knows that we exist, they know what we are, and they are gleefully picking off our brethren one by one while we dither and try to confound them. We must fight back, and drive them off while we still have the time."
"Let’s say you’re right. Let’s say we go and kill a few of them. What then? It will come down to who has the most people and the most resources. We have about two hundred men and women we can draw upon to fight. They can draw upon the population of the multiverse. We have about five hundred thousand points, and struggle to stay in the black. They have rich, powerful donors who regularly sign over to them twice that amount in a month. We count among our number scientists, philosophers, theologians, artists, and poets. They count among their number armed vigilantes, ex-RealWare Special Operations men, and veterans of many wars, who can kill hundreds without compunction. We have dozens of potential warriors who would possess exceptional skill. They have hundreds of armed thugs – who only need to get one bullet, one explosive, one poison into one of our people, and our forces are diminished by a significant quantity for one hundred years. We could kill one hundred of these people and have no effect on the society except to spur them on in their efforts to kill every last one of us. Our only advantage - our Gift, would result in the main body of the multiverse coming after us in arms, and no-one, no matter what their power is, can last for long against such a formidable force. That is if we do not kill them all first by causing their engines to spontaneously crash."
"Which means you’ll do nothing." Jessica spat the final word.
The Sensei was yelling now, "Until we can devise a better method of defence, it is the only thing I can think of doing. If you can come up with an idea that won’t result in our utter annihilation, do feel free to tell me!"
With that, he turned and walked out to the Ki. Half of the crowd followed him. The other half surrounded their leader, who stood there, unmoving.
"That was his last chance," she muttered. "Sensei or no, someone must protect us." With that, she continued along the cloister to her quarters. Arrangements had to be made. 


After two days Werner had regained consciousness permanently and began to start walking again, much to the satisfaction of the Healer; although he was forbidden to leave the ward. The constant choral music was not helping his mood.
"Why can’t I leave?"
The Healer looked at him incredulously.
"The Sensei has requested that you stay in the ward until we can be sure that it is safe for you to know more about Idéa than you already know."
"I wish you people would stop concealing things from me!" Werner surprised himself by shouting. "Look, I’ve just spent the last week in a reality I’ve never even heard of, recovering from a bullet wound and some brain damage; both of which come from things I don’t know about. I’ve been chased, shot at, chased, threatened with explosives, chased some more, and now I’m in some sort of primitive hospital run by people wearing purple robes who are in some sort of war with some other people and I really am getting fed up!"
The Healer looked at Werner with an sympathetic expression. "I understand what you’re going through; believe me, everyone here could probably relate to that. Hah!" he shouted, "I remember when I first found my way here, when I accidentally saved someone’s life. Of course, I was trained as a doctor, but RealWare pays attention to temporal discontinuities and the engineer just happened to have a wristwatch…but I do go on." The Healer cleared his throat. "The Sensei has told me not to tell you anything that isn’t connected to your immediate medical concern, and unlike some others, I trust his judgement."
Werner felt like he was missing something. "Who’s this Sensei you keep mentioning? And why don’t others trust his judgement?"
"The Sensei," the healer paused, and sighed, "Let’s just say that he’s our leader, and yes, he has the really weird hair. As to the problems we’re having…I’d rather not talk about it." He sat down on one of the empty beds. "Tell me, why hasn’t someone done a neuro scan on you? The symptoms were clearly manifest long before we found you."
"The RealWare doctor said that neurological scans, or whatever they are, were banned."
"No. They are quite permissible, but almost never used – a general brain scan almost always finds the culprit. I wonder why your doctor said…although, if he was an agent for the Society, it would explain a great deal…"
"I hope that you’re feeling better," said the Sensei as he came into the ward. He turned to the Healer. "I was wondering if I might give Mr. Newland the grand tour; that is, if he is fit to leave your care?"
The Healer bowed. "Certainly. I want him back in three hours for another check; but I think the healing process is complete."
With that, the Sensei gestured to Werner to follow him. Slightly irritated at this imperious gesture, Werner nevertheless complied; he knew that the answers he wanted so desperately were only a few minutes away. 


The ward’s door opened out to a large cloister; a vaulted and decorated corridor-like structure that was missing most of a second wall; the wall seemed to consist only of small, slim, stone pillars. The Sensei led him between the pillars to the large, open space at the centre of the building. It was only then that Werner understood.
In front of him, and above him, and below him was a oak tree; whose trunk looked at least a quarter of a mile thick at its thickest, whose branches began some hundred feet above the ground, and continued to push out to the furthest reaches of the sky. The quad in which Werner and the Sensei were standing was roughly a mile square, and there were many purple-robed men and women sitting under the canopy of the great tree, either meditating or pacing slowly, in thought. However, there were many who were singing; despite there never being a group of the singers larger than three, they sang in complex melodies that seemed to reverberate and resonate throughout the entire reality.
The ground was level until the great trunk of the tree at its centre began to soar up. Werner looked back at the monastery, and saw that it too was underneath the shade of the great tree – the branches extended as far as the eye could see. In front of them, just before the trunk rose at almost a ninety degree angle, was a small, circular shrine; tastefully rendered in stone. On top of the shrine was a large gong, big enough to be seen at the distance Werner and the Sensei were at. As they watched, the gong chimed.
Werner was astounded. He looked at his feet, and saw thousands of leaves scattered on the ground; in this reality, at least, it was autumn. Each leaf was incredibly detailed, and their dynamic on the ground was amazing. Even more amazing was the tree – it was clearly something that had been programmed with the reality; but it looked like something real, something growing, something alive! This reality was clearly the work of the greatest Reality Designer of all time. The Sensei noticed his expression of amazement.
"It is beautiful, isn’t it?"
"It is. Speaking as an artist, I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as this reality…ever! I’d love to see the Reality Engine that powers this thing; the coding behind this is far beyond what I do, and I liked to think that I knew all there was to know about Reality Design."
"Yes…nine time winner of the RealWare Award for Best Reality Design?"
Werner raised his eyebrows. "You did a background check?"
"Good guess! Although it is rather annoying to have to go off-Reality and I assure you that the budget isn’t particularity robust at the moment, we still do one for every person here. You are one of the interesting cases, I have to say."
"You’re referring to the visions you no doubt know that I have?"
"Precisely! But the visions were really more just by-products of your true condition, the Healer tells me. Let’s walk and see the Shrine of Id, shall we?" The Sensei pointed towards the stone structure beneath the tree. They set out.
"Your Reality Engine is there?" Werner gestured to the shrine.
"Oh my goodness me no, it is somewhere much safer than that. But let us talk about why you are here!"
"I’ve been meaning to ask about that."
"Hah! Well, where should I begin?"
"How about why, when I ran into that building in Nippon..."

"One of our temples, by the by."

"...ok...there was a mobile waiting for me?"

"That was pretty simple; we got a distress call through a complex and probably overly convoluted communication system; we sent our only equipped mobile on automatic pilot to attempt to rescue any survivors; in this case, you."
"Were there any other survivors?"
"No. We were probably too confident; we had perfected a shield that only someone with the Gift could penetrate, reasoning that the Society that desires our destruction would have none on staff. However, we reckoned without their brilliant use of other adepts who were not affiliated with us. The message you received on your workstation wasn’t from us; it was from them. They used subliminal harmonics (those strange characters), which are specific to one target, to compel you to find us. You did, and our people lost their protection when you believed that the place existed."
"What is this Gift you keep mentioning?" Suddenly, a horrible suspicion began to creep into Werner’s mind. "Does that have something to do with my visions?"
"I believe you were one of only seven survivors of the infamous Hermes Disaster, when the prototype Hermes Engine imploded?"
"Yes. I always thought that it was a very lucky break, although…the other six all died recently. Six bizarre accidents, but…" Werner’s eyes widened.
"You’ve put it together, I see."
"So you’re saying that the people who were chasing me in Nippon were the same that killed the other six survivors?"
"They were."
"But who would want to kill off people who were involved in Reality accidents?"
"Because the Gift is always given in a reality accident; and given the propensity of reality accidents that we are plagued with, many have it. You see, in these reality accidents (in your case, the Hermes Disaster), the drive water (the water which is responsible for the wave refraction that creates a reality) fuses into you; you become a walking, talking Reality Engine…are you alright?"
"I’m fine; why?"
The Sensei was impressed. Generally, after they found out that they were Reality Adepts, acolytes hyperventilated, or screamed, or (in extreme cases) fainted. This one was promising, indeed.
"Generally, you see, people who find out that they are like reality engines tend to react quite violently."
"Oh. Should I?"
"No, that’s quite alright." The Sensei felt that he was no longer master of the situation. "I just wondered why you’re so particularly calm."
"Ever designed a Reality?" Werner felt on safer ground here
"Can’t say I have." the Sensei muttered.
"Well, the one thing you find is that often you’ll find a little bug, somewhere, that means you have to go back and effect changes absolutely everywhere, and the deadline for the beta is in about seventeen hours. And the thing to do in that situation is not to panic; otherwise, you’ll have a heart attack and will definitely miss your deadline. So I don’t really panic much."
"With that sort of mentality, you’ll fit in well here."
"Though I am worried about being a Reality Engine."
"It’s not much to worry about. Essentially, you are in tune with the harmonics the reality engine produces; think of it as being able to, in an instant, re-write the source code of an operating system of a computer, without being near the computer. Your sub-conscious mind takes care of most of the fiendishly difficult calculations necessary to use your power to any effect, which is a pleasant bonus."
"So I can do pretty much anything a Reality Engine can do."
"Not quite. The Gift is a difficult thing to manipulate, and most do it very badly. You have to experiment, to adapt; hence the reason that we call ourselves Reality Adepts, by the by. But Adepts have one, large, problem."
"You can’t have two reality engines in the same reality running different programs?"
"Exactly. This means that the less flexible engine crashes if there’s too much incompatibility between the reality the Adept is imposing on it and the reality it is programmed to use."
"Ok, but I’ve never done any of that stuff. In fact, I’ve only been in one reality crash, and that was the Hermes Disaster."
"The Gift generally attempts to make itself useful. Because you weren’t fighting for your life on Tribal Alpha, or struggling against RealWare in the ORM, or doing anything remotely physical aside from gym workouts; you never really needed to make your enemies explode, or to get an Open engine to work with five seconds before a fatal crash; or win the Aquarius marathon. So, your Gift takes a different route; you need inspiration and immense brainpower to design really cutting-edge realities, thus, it begins to warp reality around your brain."
"What?!" Now, Werner was really worried. "Are you saying that I'm giving myself brain damage?"
"Exactly. No need to panic, we’ve cured you. Your brain went into a state of hyperstimulation. Thus, the hidden potential of your mind was unlocked."
"Isn’t that a good thing?"
"Have you ever wondered why it is that we only use 20% of our brains? There’s a very good reason."
"Oh. And the visions…?"
"Was the response the sub-conscious, which was fighting for dear life, sent to the conscious in an ultimately successful attempt to stop it from exerting that sort of pressure on it…and, we’re here!"
They had come to the base of the trunk, or, rather, to the shrine at the base of the trunk. It was about 3 yards cubed, and, now that he was standing below it, Werner could see the huge, golden gong, hanging in a stone frame above the arched building.
"What is that gong for? I keep hearing it ring."
"It chimes the hours. We don’t keep a calendar or have any timepieces; besides, this reality is on a different time setting than UST, so the numbers of the hours are pretty irrelevant to us, but we need to mark time somehow."
Having said that, the Sensei led Werner into the darkened shrine.


Jessica walked into the Elevator, and the doors closed behind her. She spun around, and looked at the undisguised Elevator control panel. It was covered with the many symbols that would need to be entered in the right combination for it to traverse the multiverse, or, in this case, to travel to one particular reality, and then back to Idéa, without being detected. Of course, it had the best in cloaking technology; the precious points that were so coveted on Idéa had been spent almost exclusively on stealth technology. She looked at the long list of symbols she had painstakingly calculated some hours ago. The Elevator was a MANUAL mobile; and while it could be programmed to, say, teleport into one reality, wait five seconds, and then teleport back, it had to be specifically programmed every time it was used thanks to security protocols. So, her calculations had to be written in the source code that made many qualified Reality Engineers run away, screaming. Soon, however, she had keyed in the symbols; the Elevator shook, and she was there, safe and whole. She breathed a sigh of relief, which turned into a cough when she stepped out. The atmosphere on this reality was a little more acidic than usual.
It was called Aboria. It was once a paradise, like Idéa, but two polarized factions ripped it to pieces thanks to a lack of understanding and an abundance of pugnacious evangelism. Seeing this reality again after so many years made Jessica pause and question, again, whether doing what she was doing was a good thing. Perhaps the Sensei was right, perhaps they needed a new approach, perhaps what she was about to do would kill everyone she cared about and turn her beloved home into something like this, like Aboria. But what was the price of inaction? No, she had to do this, and stave of this threat. The Sensei would come around to her way of thinking eventually, and forgive her.
She cleared her throat, made a brief hand gesture, and stepped out of the Elevator. It melded seamlessly into the background, ready to be summoned into total existence when she needed to leave. She walked with slow, deliberate steps to a large building, with a flickering neon sign denoting the place to be "Duke’s Munitions". She pushed open the double doors, and strode into the lobby.
"Hey! Welcome to Duke’s Munitions! Um…I haven’t seen you before; and its kind of cutting it fine right now, I’ve got an appointment…"
Jessica punched herself inwardly. While she understood the value of a good disguise, she neglected the value of a good consistent disguise. She had made the appointment in a woman’s voice. She was disguised as a man. Damn. Well, she might as well make the most of it. Making sure to pitch her voice extra high despite her outwardly appearance, she said
"Yeah, the appointment was with me."
Duke’s eyes popped out in surprise. "Umm, well, you see, I kinda thought that…"
Jessica didn’t have the time for this. The Sensei was spending time with the new acolyte, Wernam something, but he wouldn’t be distracted forever, and if he called for the Elevator…
"Look," she stated bluntly. "I’m here to pick up what I paid for."
"Ok, ok, no need to get angry. First," he heaved a large, black briefcase up on to the counter, "fifty pounds of finest trilithium explosive. Classic, easy to use, no problems there."

Jessica nodded slowly. "And the other thing?"

Duke consulted his workstation. "Oh, right. The OTHER thing. You'd better come with me; I have to show you how this stuff works. You can’t fool around with it, it’s dangerous."
Beckoning her forward, he led her through the back of the shop, behind several steel doors, thick concrete walls, impressive alloy shielding, and so forth. He was exuberantly explaining his defence systems as he walked, making him an irksome companion. Jessica suddenly longed for a few hours of meditation, contemplation, perhaps even some Choir duty. Even a chat with the Sensei would be nice, despite them being in such an adversarial position at the moment. But Duke went on, and on, and on, and on. Considering that she could just punch a hole in the building with a thought, she was less than impressed.
"…and these trinium doors can withstand a blast of fifty megatons, which still probably wouldn’t be enough if the thing you asked for goes off without warning. But, we’re here!"
Duke, after keying in a twenty-digit activation code, pressing his thumb to a gel pad, holding open his eye to allow a retina scan, and humming the tune from "Oh, Wouldn't It Be Nice If Everyone Was Nice", had opened a huge, metallic vault door to reveal… a chamber, about the size of a clothes closet. In it were a small black briefcase and some computer equipment. He looked at his customer, and took a deep breath. This weapon was more devastating than any he had in his arsenal; one step down from a weapon that could destroy a reality. This weapon would make the most jaded killer in the multiverse gibber in fear. This weapon deserved a speech.

"May I present the multiverse’s last surviving…"


 Although it looked to be of brick construction, the Shrine of Id, situated beneath the Ki, was actually one big hollowed out piece of stone. The far wall was not stone; however, it was the trunk of the tree, the Ki. The shrine was bare and totally dark aside from two features. In the centre of the circular shrine was a dais, and on that dais was a pool, with a pedestal standing tastefully to one side. The room, unlike the rest of the reality, was utterly, utterly, silent.
Werner walked up to the pedestal. It was simply an angled stone atop a small stone spire. He bent down and looked at the pool. It was simply a pool of water, perhaps about three feet deep. He extended his hand to touch the water…
…and unlike clichéd movies, which would have the water to be a hologram and therefore be utterly insubstantial, this water was not. He quickly pulled back his hand, and wiped it on his robes. The Sensei, who had been watching this with some amusement, decided to intervene.
"It's not a hologram, you know. It's more like a water-based viewscreen."
"I thought as much; this is some sort of workstation?"
"The only one we have. We generally use slide rules and abacuses for any mathematics we need to do, and that’s the only thing we would use a Workstation for anyway. You see, we don’t have a link to RealNet – no-one can find this reality without knowing about it first. It’s the same sort of protection we had around the temple you found in Nippon."
"Oh, I see. What does this have to do with me?"
"It was created by the founder of our order so that initiates could learn exactly what this reality was about. It also allows us to perform maintenance on our twin reality engines, which thankfully doesn’t require it too often. However, all initiates must go through this before they become one of the Avowed."
"Hang on. I wanted to understand why I’m being shot at and having all these problems, but join this…group? And, from what I’ve seen, spend my whole life here? I have a really promising career, a career that could see me design realities even better than this. I want to meet people who aren’t monks, who don’t spend their time meditating and singing. Hell, I might even want to raise a family some day. I can’t spend my life here. So while I’m very appreciative for all that you’ve done for me, and I’d be happy to repay you for your generosity, I don’t really want to be part of your religion thingy."
The Sensei looked at him, directly in the eyes.
"Then you will die. Either you will kill yourself by cortical hyperstimulation, whatever that is, or you will push your abilities too far, and explode. Many Adepts end their lives in that way. And if you do experiment, even years from now, your engine could still crash, and kill you and everyone you care about. Even if you try to swear off ever using your power, it will happen subconsciously; and you will probably take a lot of good people with you."
Werner tried to open his mouth to speak, but he was practically hypnotised. The Sensei plunged on.
"And now there exists a group of vigilantes who are dedicated to our destruction, a Society for Normal Reality. They will hunt you down, Werner. And, before they kill you, they will wring every last secret from your screaming body on us, on our location, and the merciless killers; people who would kill children in their mother’s arms simply because they had the so called "taint", people who would destroy an entire reality if the population of those with the Gift outnumbered "normal" citizens there; these merciless killers would descend on our paradise and destroy all we hold dear, all that every Adept holds dear in his heart of hearts. They would deny us a chance to join our founder in the Place Beyond NullSpace, simply because of our potential."
Tears were now glistening in the Sensei’s eyes. "I will not allow eight hundred years of striving, and caring, and toil, to be destroyed by puritanical bigots. Wether you have the Gift or not has nothing to do with who you are inside, just like what reality you live in, or the colour of your skin." He stopped, and pulled himself together. "So, I can’t let you go back to the multiverse. And you can’t stay here without being part of us; your Gift is not controlled, it could destabilize the reality. If we can ever throw off the yoke of the Society, then you can get back to whatever is left of your life. But I’m afraid that fortune has condemned you here for now."
Werner looked into the pool distantly, hard at thought. "I guess I don’t have much of a choice…fine."
"Just a moment," came the Sensei’s reply.
Saying this, the Sensei walked up to the pool, bowed, and then walked to the pedestal. He pushed in his hand, palm down. The stone began to melt, to meld, to change, until it had assumed a different shape entirely. Nothing happened. The Sensei took his hand away from the pedestal, and turned towards Werner. The Sensei raised his hand.
"Sorry for this in advance."
With a jerking motion, the Sensei pulled back his hand as Werner suddenly fell forward into the water, slipping into the pool without a ripple. Knowing how long his predecessor liked to talk, the Sensei decided to go to his office and get some paperwork out of the way. Every road, even the one to enlightenment, is strewn with large quantities of paperwork.


Jessica, now back in her natural form, pushed open the doors of Duke’s Munitions with a thought and strode out to the deserted wasteland, humming a little tune. She hadn’t had so much fun for years; it was also satisfying to try out the procedure she had been honing for seven months on a living subject. There, at least, the Sensei was absolutely right; a small force could move mountains. Or, at the very least, knock out a man for nineteen hours in a second.
Because the Idéans generally shunned violence, and needless extravagance, Jessica was slightly shocked at the sheer enjoyment she had gained by punching a hole through each and every door that closed in her way as the automated security system, linked to Duke’s bio-signs, swung into action. Nevertheless, it would have been intolerable for Duke to see what happened to her disguise as she neared the weapon. In addition, she had to delete the message she had sent the arms merchant to protect the people in the inevitable inquiry that would spring from what she was about to do. Carefully carrying the suitcase with the weapon under one arm, and the suitcase full of explosives under her other arm, she telekinetically summoned the Elevator, and walked inside. As she keyed in the address for Idéa, she smiled to herself. Duke would attempt to trace her and get revenge, of course; which was why she took the precaution of detonating an explosive of her own. When the Elevator left, there would be no device left on Aboria that could communicate with the multiverse. Eventually, a worried well-wisher would transport in and he'd be freed, but none would come for a few days. That would be time enough.

Soon, she would have her revenge.


Werner, like most of the moderately wealthy citizens of Nippon, was entirely desensitized when it came to stories that involved mysterious rites of passage, secret oriental societies, and ninjas. Of course, he knew that ninjas did not exist. However, he was expecting his rite of passage to be one that would involve hardship, pain, suffering, and revelation. He did not expect to find himself in a pleasant, airy room; lit by soft light, furnished in an ancient Nipponese style. The high windows showed a tiny part of a massive tree; although it looked like it was winter at the time. He was sitting cross-legged on a mat, facing another man who was sedately pouring mint tea. The man had the odd slicked-back purple striped hair of the Sensei, but his stretched and worn face betrayed a much greater age.
"Tea?" asked the elderly man
"No thanks. I guess it’s probably useless asking why I’m here, seeing as this is some ancient rite or something similar."
The old man shook his head, smiling. The teapot floated up on its own accord and sailed out the window. "This is simply a computer simulation that you are interfaced with."
"Really? I suppose that asking how this works is just a waste of time."
"Damn straight. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who ask that. It seems every time I get a visitor it’s always how does this work? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?" the elderly man leaned back, laughing. "They ask all these questions, and they expect a computer program to answer them. Take it from me, my friend. Computers are not the way to enlightenment."
Werner couldn’t think of a reply to this extraordinary statement. The man went on.
"By the by, I’m the computer simulation of the First Sensei of this reality; you can call me Id."
He held out his hand. Werner shook it. "Werner Newland. I was a Reality Designer a week ago, but RealWare have probably cut off my pay by now."
"Hah! Don’t even talk to me about RealWare.  But if I started talking about RealWare, we’d be here all day. The whole reason my creator recorded my entire life into a Workstation was to talk to acolytes about Id. Are you ready to listen a long, boring story with probably no point to it by the time it’s finished?"
"Do I have a choice?"
"Clever lad! No." 


His full name was Edmund Wesley Bates, and he was the younger brother of Arthur Jacob Bates, then the CEO of RealWare Inc, slightly over eight hundred years before the present. Arthur J. Bates was moderately concerned about his brother’s continued existence; like all dynasties in human history, the Bates family had already accumulated a motley bunch of disreputable cousins who were constantly on the lookout for a way to seize the family fortune. Arthur perceived that, should he die before his children-to-be were old enough to rule the roost, his brother would take over the business to his posterity's detriment. Thus, Arthur decided to attempt to remove his brother from the competition, so to speak, and paid a ninja to kill him silently, unexpectedly, and (because the target was family), relatively painlessly. The ninja, confounded by the elaborate security around young Edmund, concocted an elaborate plot involving a reality engine, a strange letter, a mysterious break in, and a delicious breed of Peruvian mountain llama. However, the attempt was botched thanks to the fact that Edmund had secreted a small transporter on his person, which led to the ninja’s untimely death and Edmund’s inconvenient survival.
Of course, no-one suspected any foul play, because everyone knew that ninjas did not exist. Edmund had disappeared in the fiasco; and, because he reasoned that vanishing was really the same thing as dying, Arthur Bates was satisfied.
Edmund had ended up on the streets of Urbana with nothing but the clothes on his back and his remarkable abilities. However, he knew that his brother wanted him dead and the RealWare eight centuries was considerably less suave and business-savvy; the RealWare Defence Corps were always lurking around the corner, waiting for someone, anyone, to step out of line. In fact, RealWare’s utter disregard for morals, ethics, and human life made a great impression on Edmund, who reflected that the whole of humanity was heading on a downward spiral towards spiritual devastation.
Thus, he decided to search for enlightenment, and bring it to his fellow man.

To derive the funds for his expedition, he published an extraordinary book of his musings: The Little Book of Calm. It was a very little book, and it was filled with sayings designed to stimulate calm. It was also a better depressant than the most exotic drug you could buy in the slightly seedy reality of Paradisia. The book immediately topped the Urbana Times bestseller lists; trouncing the bestselling Hitchhiker's Guide to the Multiverse to stay at the top of the chart for a record ninety-six weeks.
At the end of it all, its now wealthy author purchased a powerful workstation, a bunker, and a Reality Engine for Mobiles, then  went off on a journey towards spiritual enlightenment.
The journey isn’t really relevant, so we’ll skip it.
But at the end of the journey, he returned to Urbana with a host of experiences, musings, and findings related to life, the multiverse, and everything. And it all pointed to the same conclusion; that the multiverse was losing its way. He reasoned that he was the only person who truly understood this because he was the only person (that he knew of) that had remarkable abilities over reality; he was a Reality Adept.
His Adept abilities had grown tremendously over the years he spent on his journey; although he had to keep a very, very low profile thanks to their inadvertent side effect of causing huge reality errors whenever he used them. However, when he returned to Urbana, a drunken brawl caused a partial crash in Urbana’s engine. This was Urbana eight hundred years before the present, and its engine was not as robust as it is now; the crash killed several thousand janitors, criminals, and other such low-lives.
Although RealWare did not suspect an Adept, Edmund lapsed into severe depression. Overcome with despair,  he set his engine to manual, punched in some random co-ordinates, and pulled the lever. Ordinarily, this would have catapulted him into NullSpace, and to a quick and painless death, but he instead emerged in…
…a very large, very beautiful reality that was dominated by a gigantic tree. And as Edmund saw the tree, and felt the incredible tranquillity of the place, he knew that he had found the place of enlightenment.
He disassembled his mobile home, and moved in to the deserted monastery that surrounded the tree. He spent much of his time meditating, and working the fields beyond the monastery to keep alive.
For five years he lived in solitude underneath the tree, and pondered the reason for this reality. The fundamental problems were as follows:
1.      Why would RealWare, the most acquisitive company in the multiverse, keep a reality active despite there being no-one who lived in it?
2.      Why would a reality be designed with a large monastery-like structure around a gigantic tree in the first place? And who had the ability to write such a             complex reality program?
3.      Why would such a paradise be utterly uninhabited?
There were many theories advanced over the years that would follow as to why this was, but nothing was ever truly substantiated; and, over time, the search for the origins of Idéa became meaningless - what mattered was that it was the perfect place for a Reality Adept to live.

The philosophy really began to flourish when he found a book titled "An Analysis of Modern Religions: Buddhism" sitting in an airtight room in the huge, abandoned monastery. After reading this ancient text, he developed a philosophy based around kindness, charity, poverty and personal enlightenment. He felt that humans were locked in a great wheel, where their obsession for their own little lives enslaved them to an eternity of perpetual reincarnation. He believed that Reality Adepts alone had the power to break this cycle, and so his life’s work was set out for him – to find those who also possessed his abilities, and to assist them in reaching the Place Beyond NullSpace, where he theorized there would be a paradise beyond the wheel of damnation. He also made a vow; to ensure that the Gift of the Adepts was not used to harm non-Adepts, and to keep the existence of the Gift a secret for fear of the panic it would cause.
So saying, he went back to the multiverse and began to search for those who shared his gift. They were easy to find; one need only look at the RealWare repair logs to find a malfunctioning reality and, sure enough, there would be an adept there. Of course, it wasn’t always adepts, sometimes it was poor programming or another manufacturing error. But the strike rate was high enough to make the search worthwhile. Soon, there were many Avowed, called so because they shared the vow of their leader; to never use their abilities to harm others, and to keep it a secret.

They also were more capable of using their power than their un-Avowed Adept brethren; because of a strange truth discovered by Id. Just as the small pebble in the right place and at the right time can move a mountain, so can a small power move a multiverse. The dangerous excesses of power that Adepts used to change reality were unnecessary; only a small change and the desired outcome would result.
This was all very well and good, but Idéa ran on a RealWare engine, and RealWare was becoming interested in its once-forgotten reality. However, Edmund (now known as Id) determined that RealWare was not the best company for a group of living reality engines to owe any degree of allegiance to and as the population of Adepts on Idéa rose to twenty-five, he teamed up with a bunch of disgruntled reality hackers and raided Reality Prime. In exchange for two engines and no questions asked, Id used a combination of surreptitious reality alteration and Bates family knowledge to break through Reality Prime’s security. They stole nine hundred and ninety-eight engines, but did not get away entirely without loss. Their "consultant" as he had introduced himself was captured by Reality Prime forces, and taken before the CEO, where there was an unpleasant realization that the supposed leader of the thieves was in fact the sibling of the most powerful man in the multiverse.
Id returned to his followers the next day, with two stolen engines, hacked to avoid RealWare’s bugs. The Reality’s program was transferred into a two-engine system, and, aside from the occasional secret membership drive, Idéa cut itself off from the multiverse entirely.
About fifty years later, Id came from his quarters, summoned his followers (who now amounted to about one hundred) and said unto them these words.
"I know the way!"
And with these words, the prophet left them in a huge burst of light and the smell of roasting flesh. A new Sensei was elected, and the journey went on.


"So, you see, I apparently found enlightenment shortly after I downloaded myself into this device. This meant that I couldn’t tell his followers how exactly he got there, which was really annoying. But we’ve pretty much been spending our time here in isolation. No-one could get to where my creator got on his path; they kept dying. So, knowing that, what do you think?"
"It’s really weird, I have to say. But I think I understand now; why I’m here, and why you’re being attacked by the Society for Normal Reality. I have to admit, it’s pretty scary."
"Not really. Just follow the path that’s been laid out for you, that’s what my creator always said. I suppose that I’d better get going though; the only power source in this reality is the Ki, and a gigantic tree doesn’t provide that much power. It’s been nice…"


Werner emerged from the holographic pool, and stood on the dais. The Shrine was totally empty, and utterly silent. He walked out, bemused. He saw the crater, carving a great hole in the ground that stretched from the shrine to the monastery. It seemed that the Society had struck again.
End Act One

Note: there is an actual company called RealityPrime, providing consulting in VR and game technology. It is not associated with Unreal Estate: Open House.

Because this story is the first of three acts, it ends on a semi-cliff-hanger, and the sequel is entirely dependant on the unexplained stuff in this story, no new material introduced here can be used without Berayu's permission, with the following exceptions:

The Batesies, or RealWare Awards For Excellence
You can't stop the Batesies, or have them presented by anyone who's not a Bates. They occur every year.

Nagasaki cannot be destroyed. The constant mind-warping neon lights can't be turned off.