Nov 30, 2022
8 mins read
V I S I T O R … Set the scene with a universe filled with more night than day. Murky velvet curtains mark human boundaries under sullen stars bathing our stage in languid light. Stumbling from the dim dark, barely awake and fumbling, mortals makes ignorance an arena for fools in a world half asleep…
Space curls as time allows.
One endless moment finally breaks. Adrift, reefs of purple energy discharge in knots against a black sea strewn with gloomy distant starfire.
Too bright, he’s an arcing filament of golden spasms shuddering, spinning, a burning man-shape of energy degenerating into primeval heat.
All is flow beyond his glow. He is a wick of flaming horror corrupting ethereal augments and melting his third eye. Chronons later sparks flameout, but damage is done leaving his psyche smoldering coals of pain shoved into a cooling pocket for study later.
He already knows. Nothing can be right, because he’s alive.
Loss is a visceral chasm of adept senses and bespoke skills now felt as truncated limbs and stumps of ascendant gadgetry venting into the wane energy skein leeching away everything vital.
Great scallops and swaths of what he once called himself are missing and the losses immense and only grow.
He doesn’t fit. Smaller. No… lesser.
Cognition : crippled, he is no longer Vast. Light is a sticky residue suppressing every atom, nerve, and mech. A growing sense of horror rides the languid fluttering slow motion slit-waves of light forcing hopeless eyes to open and start measuring his new life.
Effectively blind, he gropes arthritic hands, uncurling and flexing with exaggerated perspective, still aglow and shedding excess energy and finding new pain. Movement has a viscous quality that feels more flavor than actual constraint and his body needs kinestic reset.
Communications : are a broken/impossible/expensive puzzle, because light has a speed limit. The multimeter points out obvious infinities and he knows where more are hiding. All his Force and Light gear now useless… worse, components are correct, but arrangements seem like an incomprehensible mess. Chunks of his head and spine will be inert junk for the rest of his life.
He is marooned in some Mindless Deep.
Finally done burning, he’s glad for the feel of healing triggers and system restarts percolating across lower mechabolic levels. No common variation of humanity would have survived. He should not be alive. By every measure of his life he is severely and terminally crippled. Down here, far from the Above, sentience is exotic and he lets base systems retool. Setting personality fragments to oversee augments once self-aware, he hopes they can manage without him.
Turning inward, selfscan lends familiar order to a new terrain and he sets off wandering dim hollow caverns scattered with familiar debris. A twist in Vast mechanics is apparent as wide spaces leaving nothing in close proximity, or even direct paths. He feels the low-level status humming, but no control of their functions. Accessing those systems and special abilities would be experienced as long casual walking tours across ever-changing maps. A mind the size of a city is still there, but sprinkled across a solar system scale.
No, it’s dense.
Contradictions are an emergent property of the Deeps. His mind is a tiny crowded house holding that huge city above him, feeling pipes extend and walkways limber and stretch like ligaments, or tendons, above him.
Acceptance of Little/Big contradictions means his new life as an impoverished imbecile will be full of wonder and endless surprise, Take up philosophy?
A Protector is the final, maybe ultimate, expression of five hundred or-so generations of families multiplying, migrating, and mutating across one arm of the galaxy, before spilling into the Above.
His body is a marvel of autonomous reflexes, regenerative redundancies, borrowed evolutionary tricks, applied instincts, and overlapping reinforcements groomed to keep people smiling and metabolizing everything from arctic methane to deep tropical nitrogen. Humanity takes for granted strolling across dry moon plains holding their breath for a day, or wallowing sulfuric pools on a hike to the party dome.
Solarians are notoriously ready to wallow in sensory hedonism -or- pursue exotic adventures, but most can also plot an orbit, navigate strange moons or spaceships like any local, and even manage stellar-scale hazards in a pinch, while staying competitive with the galaxies greatest monsters.
We are Numan, hear us laugh.
He is Ator von Nadar, a third order Nexus adept and ranked among Helios’ most-trusted violence workers and forward spies.
His chakras resonate, harmonizing and concordant, binding a lifeforce woven across three long lives. His soul is a bright shine of white with a metaform hard, sharp as a diamond, black as a seed.
He’s also wounded, and alone, and facing mortality.
There is no reference of anyone surviving such a sheer drop into the Deeps, or such Displacement was even possible. Costs vary; sometimes visits to the Deeps are measured in years, or by distance, sometimes by energy budgets, certainly social costs, but always-always reduce down to travelers committing lives. Some do finally return, but to different worlds. People die here. It is just not civilized Down here.
Exiting selfscan he recites, Where you stand resets horizons.
Starfire burns his mind. Drawing his attention. Again. Insistent.
Even down here through the turgid Depths it shines with a… quality, a certain aspect, maybe brighter than it might, or stronger, again with a curious… vitality. Becoming puzzle. Intrigued, compulsion is unusual to Ator and this interest only feeds a growing unease and surprised to still be gazing mesmerized by the curious orb when the charting persona brings a clue about the planet orbiting behind him.
Tagged Roj, or “Radiant Brother,” it is a singing gas giant aligning a string of sailor slang and unfurling data confirmations. Heartened, the name is both familiar and forgettable. Unless… fingers blur adjusting metrics and charts to controls that reveal planets and constellations suddenly reverberating across his soul like a banging gong, Three Sisters?
Amazement ignites an enfilade of wild hopes, How?
Adjustments reveals a shimmering blue orb with a magneto aura triggering swells of involuntary euphoria that send his hearts pounding, Home Of The Homeless!
Twinkling sapphire and dusty gold, sprinkled clouds draw him… his feeble eyes are fixed, holding in fascination, more details, every nuance, the color and gravity spawns a strange new hunger overwhelming him with it’s sudden need to draw closer… and finally he dares to feel wonder.
Then, a scimitar-thin slice of light slashes all hope.
Behind this miracle, creeps a single huge crescent moon peering around one edge turning his warm feelings a peculiar cool at this new double-planet. It’s light fills his eyes even as hopes drains from his heart.
All the shapes of man know the Mother, the Queen, wears her ring of debris like a thorny crown. Manhome's rings and dozen tiny moons cradled humanity from birth and hasn’t had a single large moon in recorded history. Nobody sings about the Four Sisters.
The word EXILE grows large and heavy. It squirms and wriggles, making itself at home like an overly large house guest, before settling into his mental furniture. An uncomfortable fit.
Foe reliance on geometry-stack weapons fling targets across unstable branches of the universe : it’s one-way, Holes. He is Lost, slipped between the nether.
Still, the sapphire planet calls. Those mountain shapes and ocean shades call him. So close.
Ursa? Any ally would be welcome and a Prime would cut millennia of striving …and one of the few ways he might return.
Setting multitool measuring psynergies, he finds relief simply watching the solar surface directly for the recursive filigree and geometry animations to realize why he’s drawn to this endearing warm glow.
This sputtering starfire is a proper Manhome, but… vacant. Without Radiance, every core piece of his existence is gone to him. Helios; null. Zodi strides undone. History and sagas stretching centuries missing… No brave Ice Fleets, Age of Children, The Splintered, Voidwalkers… peoples and sagas never here. His own footsteps can only be their last echo in his ears. A walk of acceptance.
Time for introductions. They are chatty here. Firmly paleo-electric, pouring out noisy torrents of unsecured broadcasts that border on the suicidal. Protocol prefers Contact along edge-conditions to diffuse tensions and so, with Forma crippled, he slowly edges a path out of the debris field and accelerates inward to the scattered settlements of rusticated Sister Ruby Red.
This dusty clod held none of the fairytale luster he grew up singing. Atomic fires smolder in pits sprinkled across the poles, or buried deep in cracks coaxing meager resources for handfuls of people. Grim.
Sapphire looks delicious. His best chance of eventually making his way out of the Deeps. This millennia, or next. Bustling and teeming with species he doesn’t know. Primates, several. Nuclear effects and light industry. They appear human. Mostly.
Starswept from the Web of Worlds
Jonathan Gibson ©'22 All Rights Reserved. All Wrongs Revenged.