Field Trip

Jean had been lecturing on quantum field theory for eight days, seven hours, and forty minutes. The lecture was scheduled to end in twenty more minutes, but it seems that he was concluding early. "Any further questions?" he asked, as he always did at the end.

An elohite – his plant, his shill – raised its hand on cue. "Yes, Emetiah?"

"I have a question about how this subject relates to metaphysics, specifically the Theory of Forces. A typical human, for example, includes only one or two Corporeal Forces in its makeup, but has on the order of ten to the twenty-fifth physical particles. It would seem there is only about ten to the minus twenty-fifth Force per particle, but Forces are unitary – there is no such thing as half a Force; Force-fragments are only cohesive Essence bundles. How, then, do Corporeal Forces relate to physical quanta?"

The seraph coiled next to Emetiah looked at its fellow angel curiously. Emetiah spoke the truth, of course – it did "have a question" – but the seraph appeared to have resonnated that this was not exactly Emetiah's own question; the elohite had never considered the matter before this lecture. No matter.

"I am glad you asked that," Jean replied. "The answer is best given with a field trip. Come with me."

And they were all elsewhere.

The angels and saints of the class tumbled through a pale greenness, without gravity. Some of the saints yelled in alarm. Various cherubim lunged after them. Here and there, students collided with struts in the meshwork that filled the place. Soon, all were clinging to these, or hovering between them, looking around.

As far as they could see, space was filled with a lattice of glassy, chartreuse bars, joining glassy globes of the same color. The lattice varied in pattern from place to place, and tingled to the touch.

Jean stood at ease on one of the bars, in his native elohite form, but flickering with brilliant whiteness. "This," he told the class, "is an aspect or component of the Corporeal Plane, one of the Sub-Corporeal Planes. It is also the electron field. How do individual electrons relate to the electron field? Anybody?"

A mercurian cleared her throat and raised a wing. Jean nodded. "Every electron is a quantum of the electron field. Electrons are how the electron field manifests. Every electron is the same because it is a manifestation of the same field."

"Correct." And because he could feel her question, he waited a little.

She asked, "Is that like the way Archangels can manifest in several places, but be the same Archangel? Are archangelic avatars the quanta, or analogous to the quanta, of the Archangel's Word?"

"The phenomena are not identical, but there are significant similarities. See me later, if you wish." He addressed the class as a whole: "These nodes, joined by the spars, are Corporeal Forces, structured to form the electron field. Jointly, they are the cause of every electron appearing in the Corporeal, but there is no one-to-one match between electrons and the Forces here, any more than there is between pixels on a screen and the network of generators that light them."

There were elsewhere again, a similar zero-g lattice, but pinkish this time. "This is the positron field, the electron field with the opposite terrene sign."

They were in a white lattice. "This is the photon field." A bluish lattice. "One of the quark fields." Back in the pale green lattice. "But the electron lattice is my personal favorite, for reasons you can guess." He permitted himself a slight smile.

"The Corporeal Forces included in a human or celestial soul are not, themselves, the body of that soul. Rather, they are the interface between the body and the rest of the soul."

A malakite, one of his own creation, raised a wing. "Yes, Baruch?"

"Can the Demon Princes reach these Sub-Corporeal Planes?"

"No. See me after class for more detail."

And they were all back in the classroom. It was the end of the eighth hour, right on schedule. The class filtered out, except for Baruch, who came up to the lectern and waited patiently. When the room was empty, Jean said, "Come with me."

And they were elsewhere. It was not so otherworldly as the Sub-Corporeal Planes, but it was definitely not earthly. Baruch flew between towering clouds in vast cumulus perspectives. Lightning flickered over and in and between them. A bolt struck near Baruch and stayed. There, in the bolt, dancing on it in swift and solemn ballet, was Jean, his form still flickering white, his eyes blue-white fires.

"Where are we, sir?" Baruch asked.

"My private quarters. To answer you more fully, the Demon Princes cannot reach the Sub-Corporeal Planes yet." The lasting bolt bucked and jigged and sweated ozone. Jean's footing on it kept perfect pace. "They did not even suspect their existence until a few decades ago, when quantum field theory began to circulate on Earth. Vapula theorized the existence of the Sub-Corporeal Planes and now regards his theory as certain. Unsound inference but, as it happens, correct."

"If Hell had access to the Sub-Corporeal–"

"–it would be a major blow," Jean confirmed. The bolt vanished, and Jean with it. Then it was back and the Archangel danced by Baruch's other wing. "Hell would mine the sub-planes for Forces and attack the Corporeal through them. At a minimum, every living thing on Earth would be in peril as their internal physics and chemistry deranged. The very rocks would sicken. Retaliation would be so urgent that a premature Armageddon could result."

Baruch flew silently for a few seconds. Then, "What can I do to help?" he asked.

"I have organized a team of angels and saints, the Ma'adim. They work in great secrecy to track and thwart any infernal work undermining the natural order. If you choose, you may join it. If you decide not to, I will remove the memory of this conversation from your Ethereal Forces and think no less of you."

So sudden. Baruch was a Malakite of Lightning and used to "sudden," but still–

"You need time to think it over," Jean acknowledged. "Take all you need." And he was gone.

Baruch flew on, considering.

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