"Once, a madwoman told me that there were many worlds, and each with its own god that made it. That the gods had quarreled, each holding to their own views on life, politics, what have you. To prove which one is right, each cast a world in the image of their argument, a perfect expression of their philosophy, then they sat back to wait...and let the arguments play out to their inevitable conclusions."
The old woman drew her circles in the dust, then frowned at something she had done and continued on.
"And this madwoman, she cried every night, for she did not know if our world was wrong or right, an expression of truth or the vain argument of a flawed creator. She knew only that it could not be wholly wrong, or else the world would have failed; oh, but she looked around at the suffering of many, and prayed that in the end it would not be true - that this, and this alone, was the most perfect of worlds."
Rising, the old woman motioned to where the tea lay steeping.
"Humans," she spat the word, "are opportunistic. Oh, the well-fed ones can afford to be picky, but when they get hungry enough they'll scavenge. When anything big starts to die, they'll hover around, waiting, waiting patiently to slip in and get their goodies."
The disciple arrived. The old woman took the tea, using two arms to hold the saucer, and the other two to hold the cup, and stared hard at the lines in the dust.
"Well, everyone has to eat..." The disciple said.
"I'm not talking about some woolly beast, breathing its last, as people sharpen their knives, waiting to pluck out its tripe." She set the tea down. "I'm talking about gods." A whistling cluck echoed in her throat. "Although the results are much the same."
The disciple chose to stay silent.
"The game of the gods only works if the worlds are separate. But that did not happen. There has been...transmission. Leakage. From world to world. Now the worlds inform each other, to a degree. Some have quite heavy cross-traffic. The perfect of one world is now threatened. Because the humans fear that theirs is not the best of all possible worlds. They do not have faith. They will try to survive, to leave their world and find a better one, and a better one, until they have found their perfect world."
"Except if the humans are correct, then the reason their world is imperfect is because they themselves are imperfect. By invading another world, they upset the equilibrium, spoil the game. The world they enter, even if it was perfect before, now is not: because the humans have added themselves to the closed system. And they never, ever come alone."
The old woman drank the tea.
"What can we do, teacher?" The disciple said.
"We must hope," the old woman said, staring at the circles in the dust. "That the humans are wrong."
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