He surveyed the barren hillside before him, first with normal sight, and then looking more deeply into the ether. The ether was unroiled, the mineral forms making stable imprints.

He envisioned a pebble being dropped into the ether, causing ripples to form along the edge of the mineral imprint. The pebble of life continued to vibrate, and gradually the ripples assumed a stable oscillatory pattern that increased slowly with time. He switched back to normal sight. The hillside was covered with grass.

He tossed in a few larger rocks, and was rewarded by the appearance of trees over part of the hillside.

His brow furrowed as he concentrated on the more difficult stage of his task. He molded together in his mind some slightly more complex forms, and cast them into the ether, where they set up more complex patterns of vibrations that did not repeat simply. He switched back, to see what he had expected. But then, he had heard the songs of the finches without having to see them.

He molded a number of more complicated forms still. Still simple in mental attributes, but more complex in the physical plane. He lobbed these into the ether, and was rewarded by flocculation in several places. He switched back, but again he could hear the bleating of sheep before he saw them.

Now for the most difficult step. He created a form that was complex on the mental planes as well as the physical ones. He paid special attention to the finer modulations of the physical form. Then he dropped it gently, almost lovingly, into the ether.

This creation was silent. He switched his vision to see a beautiful woman gazing at him adoringly. He smiled and opened his arms to her, and initiated her in the ways of love. And, not incidentally, laid the seed of the future race.

Finally he was done. He sent a wave flying into the higher reaches of the ether, and was rewarded by the appearance of a businesslike woman with a folio.

"All done, are we? Let's go through the checklist. Underlying strata? Check. Sub-vegetation? Check. Greater vegetation? Check. Minor life forms? Check, and check. And sowing the seeds of sentience--check. Very good. I'll do a more detailed critique later, but unless you've put in some well-concealed flaws, you seem to have fulfilled the qualifications for Journeyman rank." She made a note in the folio. "Oh--and you can keep this when you're done. It probably won't amount to much, but we've all done this sort of continuing project at one time or another. Have fun." Then she disappeared.

The woman he'd created had run away in fear of his companion. Ah, well--she was sown. Perhaps he'd create another. He set to work molding her in his mind.

<AjD gave me

With the additional condition: No proper names>

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The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey /