Chapter 35: Meta

As the night flew and the hours run their course, Ethan kept his tiny room filled with smoke, sipping on his cheap wine and cursing the fate that lead him to the place he was in. Ethan’s room was improbable, a minuscule space between two walls who longed to be one. Being in the room felt like being pressed, his thoughts felt dwarfed and his emotions about to burst.

Without thinking, he grabbed a glass by his bedside and sent it crashing at the door.

“Oh do go on please, tell them how miserable I am. Torturing me doesn’t satisfy you enough?” Ethan said looking at the ceiling.

“Don’t go ‘Ethan said’ on me mate, I’m talking to you.”

Ethan was talking to the ceiling like a lunatic, as if he was communicating with an entity only seen by him.

“Alright, you want to play it this way, fine.” He said turning his attention to the window behind him.

“You can’t keep me here forever you know, what are you even trying to achieve?”

As Ethan was questioning the ceiling, a familiar ringtone resonated in the room. Ethan picked up,

“Hello?”

“Hey Ethan! This is Cassandra Gray. Please, you must listen to me very carefully, what I am about to tell you is of the upmost importance.”

“Of course it would be,” he responded annoyed,” What is he up to now? What crazy thing does he want me to do?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get what you are eluding to…”

“Never mind, what is this urgent thing you must tell me?”

“According to our calculations, the reality we inhabit is in a collision course with a bigger universe. It appears that if we do nothing, our existence will be absorbed in this new realm, we will merge with those others that are not us, and cease to be…”

“Oh wow, he really outdid himself this time, didn’t he?”

“What?”

“Alright, hon, our world is heading to a certain end. How am I supposed to stop that? Gosh all I ever wanted was to be a pianist, why do I have to deal with world ending bullshit?”

“Uh..hmm well, it appears that there are breaches opening all around, aspects of that other reality are already leaking here, it appears that the central breach is located in your kitchen.”

“What was your name again?”

“Cassandra, Cassandra Gray.”

“Cassy, aren’t you an angel? Aren’t you supposed to be in that other dimension where you winged humanoids dwell?”

“…I…”

“I bet he erased your memories, he must have used the name out of Nostalgia.”

“Who is this character you keep referring to?”

“He is no character Cassy, in fact, he is the only one of us not to be a character.”

“Is this being related to the crisis?”

“Are you kidding? He made the whole thing up, just because he is bored, sad, and can’t work on his main continuity. You know, we used to be at the center of his mind, now we dwell with the rest at the edges. The never ending tails did end, no matter what he thinks.”

“We still exist though, After all, aren’t you essentially Bill,or Liviano, maybe even Adam or Samith. I might be Cassy, but I am also Mana, I am also Sonata and Rachel and Cecilia, no matter what we keep growing, we keep existing.”

“So you do know!”

“Well yes, but pointing it out is no fun Ethan.”

Ethan took a moment to think. Then looked at his door thinking about the rift in his kitchen.

“What do you think is on the other side of that rift?” He asked.

“No idea, it could be anything really. Our world will disappear, there is no stopping it, but maybe we will land somewhere better.”

“Are you going through a rift as well?”

“Yes, I think I get it now, you know, I am a bit different, I used to be real, another me… It’s hard to explain, but I feel that I will be one with her again if I cross”

“Good luck Cassy,” He felt a bit sad, but regained his calm after a few seconds.

“Good Bye Ethan.”

Ethan put the phone down. Lit up his joint and left the room. He went through the corridor in three step and got to the door of the kitchen.

“I’m gonna finish this before going to wherever you’re sending me,” he said taking a puff, “Just let me be a pianist for once.”

Sure mate.

“Holy shit seriously?”

Well, you will be a pianist, but they will be more, not too much to handle, you can do it!

“Hmm, alright, you better not let me down, or forget about my story all together.”

You know that I don’t forget any of you.

Ethan took a few more puffs.

“So that’s it, no more talk?” He asked.

“Alright, I trust you man.”

Ethan took a last hit that made him cough a little

“That’s the stuff,” He looked at the ceiling, “as usual you’re slow.”

Letting go of the joint, Ethan opened the kitchen door, he didn’t need to turn on the light to see the rift. It was a door shaped mass of light that radiated from the middle of the room.

“Alright, see you around, I won’t bother you this much again, but this was fun. I bet Sonata has a great time being aware of the truth.”

He closed his eyes remembering the sound of fur Elise, as the notes were fading away in his mind, he crossed the rift to a new potential reality.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 34 : Follow the Wind

It was once said that there was no end, no beginning, just fleeting gusts of actions and reaction endlessly stuck in motion. The very notion of time is akin to humans, to their state of life. Humans are born and live to see themselves slowly decay, a spark in the blackness of space. Yet, there are merely passing by the gears, being molded in individuals before fading back to the great universal engine. Time is what humans use to put value on their experience with life, numbers and abstract representations of moment that are present no more, or are yet to be.

Time is music, a composition of sort, a touch of order and a drive, time is to space what space is to a plane. Time is the tree that bears the many universes as endless branches.

What is a one life in the eternal symphony?

Not much, and yet, all lives light up the darkness. And one life can shine as hard as all of them.

Never dim your light, for it is but a passing wave, altering to another, for identity is in the pattern rather than the material. The material constantly change, the pattern evolve, but stay consistent to the arc.

We are stories to be told, moment that resonate, we are part of the music.

We must not grip, but rather follow the wind of time, and navigate the branches to where our being yearned to get.

To the fulfillment of the arc and the ending of this tale before the start of another.

Chapter 33: The Space between Souls is Made of Silent Suffering

Some universes can be cruel places. Places where lives are chattered and destinies are unraveled; a place where dreams go to die in the inevitability of the realization that they are nothing but ideas void of reality.

In the earth of one of those universes, two lives were made to cross and enact the most tragic of plays. The two souls would resonate when close to each other, and leave the seeds for dreams not meant to be to grow like weed in the garden of their minds.

The two souls met by accident, but the accident only brought them together to pull them apart in a flash. Meanwhile the biological machines, the human vessels of the resonant souls created images strong enough to leave an idea behind. As both continued their ways and their separate routines, the dream seeds grew invisible to their conscious mind.

The world put them together again, this time was different, this time they would be close and would see each other as much as they would want, and maybe the dream seeds would shine through and cross to become realities.

But even if the idea stuck and even if the two souls were resonant, they weren’t the same. They were two very different lines of possibilities that created two very different people. Only them could see through the veil of life and witness the similarities of their souls.

The lines diverged, one alone and one crossed with another. And so when they met again, there was no space for dreams, only the silent suffering of the missed possibilities, and the missed peacefulness of losing themselves in each other and grow both fueled by their bond.

The lone soul waited for the one who didn’t wait. They both played the game of conviviality wearing faces of salt and faces of marble, attending an imaginary wedding that was never to be over.

The other soul couldn’t bear her current partner anymore, he wasn’t the man she fell in love with anymore. Did she ever fell in love with him? Yes, but it was so quick, and the convenience of distance became her charm to make her assumptions real, and keep the story going. Not anymore, he became too attached, too close, and too real. The man she loved was no longer a man, only the personification of everything that annoyed her about him. He was feeding of her like a parasite, and he was getting hungrier, so she cut the rope that bound them and now she was free. Now maybe she could let the dream seeds grow and resonate with her resonant soul.

The lone soul was waiting and waiting, and so he waited for almost all his life. When he found a resonant, he couldn’t believe his waiting was to be over, that the gates of happiness were so close to him. But then life slapped him in the face with the realization that once again, like every faint time hopped would have appeared, he was too late. Worst! He was a slow bastard, and there was the key to all his previous failures, too late to notice, too late to act, too late to react, and life passes by.

When his resonant soul was finally free, when he finally started to do something, and push the slowness of his world toward higher momentum, he was cut short. His resonant soul wasn’t one to wait, she wasn’t one to bear being alone and not entangled. She quickly found replacement and once again opened the gates of limbo.

The lone soul who stayed alone so long finally got used to the company of his resonant, and already she was gone to the arms of another, she tried to hide it, but the whispers weren’t low enough to dodge his sharp ears. He didn’t say anything because she didn’t want to say anything, and the play continued. The moment of improvisation where everything was possible was gone. The two were back to their routines, meeting less and less, forgetting the moment when there was no space anymore between them, no suffering, only the bliss of resonating beyond the daily play of what destiny dictated.

Their meeting was an accident meant to grow dream seeds, but the blossom of the dream seed remained invisible, fueling the void of the space between souls…

 

 

Chapter 32 : Fear of the Machine

In a world not unlike ours, humanity took a shift from the path of its millennia old evolution, seeking evermore to reach the peak of perfection with the strong belief that their race was indeed the privileged one chosen to bare dominion over creation.

They followed the path of profit and gain seeking through and through to reach ultimate perfection in their process, aiming for an infinite gain no matter the cost. Then those humans who not long ago were grasping for survival were faced with a dilemma that put in perspective their whole model. The earth that held them for as long as they existed was depleting and the oceans of sands were taken over everything that helped this humanity to reach the standards of their peaking evolution.

They were faced with a choice; slowing down and leaving the earth time to bread and recover from their intensive touch, or change themselves to transcend the need of the earth and create from the void the elements to fuel their progression.

Humanity chose the second option and with that choice, the very meaning of being a human changed. As earth was barren, humans needed to sacrifice their own to fuel the machine of their rise as the chosen of the gods. The very meaning of being a human was redefined as the establishment set forward the Interface Program.

The Interface Program was a latent cybernetic parasite which every human started bearing since birth. It was bound to the species on a genetic level and insured that the plan succeeded. The marker would stay dormant until the human reached adult-hood on a physical and psychological level, then the interface awakens shifting the molecular structure of the subject and making it more machine like, ready to input the role assigned through the analysis of life’s experiences and learnings so far. Once the role was set, it was set for good. No turning back, no second thoughts.

The human subject in this case would become a cog in the human machine that fueled the next evolutionary step of the human species, seeking for alternatives, and repeating the process with each generation, slightly perfecting it.

The subject would grow as a machine for forty years, then finally decommissioned, would be granted a rebirth as a human with the decay of the interface parasite. The human would retain no memory of his life as a machine and would only recall the early days of his humanity as faded pictures, and in the corner of his mind, the eternal questioning of what was his life for.

The human would eventually die, but unknown to him, the subject would have spawned offspring by merging his programming with another machine divined through the Interface Equation. Before death, the subject would feel some kind of loss due to the resonance of passing down his genetic material, they would question why the bother as they would notice that nothing much has changed and that the sacrifice was for a god of narcissism, the god of the supreme human persona the species is stuck in seeking to reach.

There is no space for love in this world not far from ours, only the cold processing of the machine through a selective sorting designed to generate an optimal genetic perfection for the species.

There is no space for art either, other than the unfinished trials of early and old humanity, with no conclusion and only beginnings, be they modest or glorious.

There is only the early fear of the machine, and the old regret.

Humanity was to be lost to this regime, be it not for the defective spawns of those machines who passed through the 1% probability curve and became aware of the infinite loop this humanity was stuck in.

Those rejects of the machine were the key to the salvation of this humanity that was only the shadow of itself. They cured it from the parasite of the Interface, but unknown to them, they were assisted by another kind of parasite, a reflection of themselves in another world of the Multiverse. Their crossing of fate with their resonant selves made them break free from the loop and from the parasite, starting slower, but better, finally enabling the species to regain its humanity.

 

Chapter 31 : Patterns of Order Within an Ocean of Chaos

Throughout all of the new multiverse, the Heralds started spreading bringing the touch of the Goddesses and Gods to their world. Among all of those countless chosen avatars, only one was ever chosen by two Gods at once. Her name was Lysei Mirr.

Lysei happened to be born in the far regions of the Triangulum Galaxy, 2.3 million light years away from Earth; however, Lysei still shared the same genetic material as the far away humans of the blue planet. Lysei was born on the planet-ship Etheria which was part of a massive global evacuation mission sponsored by the global federal government to decrease the levels of overpopulation. 9 planet-ships have been deployed in that effort hosting one billion people inside each of the giant structures. Massive scale engineering was applied during almost a century to build and fully operate the new mechanical asters. The ships were spherical with giant thrusters built at six navigation point enabling the ship to move in virtually all direction with the added angles of the sliding structures of the thrusters. The outer layer was of a mirroring metal that helped provide additional solar energy to the ship. The inner side was formed of 15 layers and the void particle processor at the center of the inner layer. It was thanks to the discovery of Void particles that are spread throughout every single structure in the Universe and the design of operational ways to harvest the energy of that Void through Light interaction that it was possible to build those moon sized ships. They were fully constructed in space at different orbits, and the 9 billion people selected for this project were sent to their new homes in smaller spaceships. Those events happened six generations before Lysei was born, for her, those facts sounded like old stories from another reality that had nothing to do with hers. All Lysei ever knew was Etheria, and the giant infinity of space through which the planet-ship was sailing.

Lysei lived on the orange zone, the seventh layer counting from the center. When she turned 21, she officially started her community work. A highly bureaucratic system was in place in Etheria where every citizen is assigned to a specific job fitting her or his aptitudes when they reach the given age. When it was the case for Lysei, she was chosen to join the inner structure maintenance division. She had to move to the division’s quarter in the purple zone, the 12th layer.

In the headquarter of the Maintenance division, all newly assigned members were put through a training program to provide them with the last bits necessary to start this function that they will carry on for the rest of their active life. Lysei didn’t have to go through that program, she managed to get the highest scores possible in all the modules she took and was assigned a personal training before getting officially assigned to the division. While the entire new recruit had to spend three month preparing at the HQ, she was the first member of the division to ever join a team without passing through the official training.

Lysei was assigned to the Omega team, an elite force among the division who recently saw their oldest member retire, it was perfect for the command of the division as they wanted to introduce new blood to that team, and saw in Lysei the perfect candidate.

The first day she had to join the team, she got a bit late to their first official meeting as she  still did not perfectly know her way around the purple layer between her housing and the HQ quarters. She got to the Omega room with her short silver hair still soaked from the shower she took beforehand. She looked at her reflection on the metal door; her clothes were a mess, and lost a lot of the cuteness she hoped her green and yellow jacket would bring. She could see her right golden eye, and her left one partially hidden by her floating luminous interface glass. Through that small square, she was connected to the local network and kept in track with her virtual presence by having notifications directly appear in her view field. She took a deep breath before pushing the button that enabled the metallic door to slide.

The first thing she could see of the inside was a large round metallic table; through her interface she could see a holographic projection detailing various technical blueprints of the inner structure of Etheria. As she entered the room, she finally got a sight of what she assumed were the members of the Omega team. The individuals were sitting around the table sporting the official orange and black uniform of the team, with the Greek letter omega as insignia on their chests. As Lysei was looking at the members, their IDs started showing up on her interface. First was Alice Stone, a 32 years old woman that specialized in AI personality engineering. She had jet black hair and fair skin, she seemed pretty young for her age, but the dark layers under her bright blue eyes suggested countless sleepless nights. She was responsible of managing the main AI: L.1.n.k that was controlling the inner machinery of Etheria. She was also the Omega team leader and Lysei’s superior. Sitting next to Alice was Bernard Reed, 62 years old with rare grey hair, and glasses hiding dark piercing eyes. He was the second in command and responsible of managing the team and setting assignments. Lysei would also have to answer to him. On the other side of the table were Samantha Lee and Albert grey who were both 25 and respectively assigned to field assignments, they were responsible for manually repairing the parts of Etheria that L.1.n.k couldn’t remotely manage to reach for a reason or another. The final member of the team only had his name revealed on the interface: Arthur Lars. Lysei took a good look at him, he seemed pretty young, no older than thirty, but had uncanny white hair with amber eyes; he also didn’t wear an interface. He calmly looked back at Lysei before directly speaking to her:

“You must be Lysei, our new team member, are you shocked that you couldn’t pull much information about me through that handy device of yours?” He asked with a smile. “Don’t worry, it’s totally normal, my position requires me to stay off the grid, I never have been very fond of the network anyway.”

“Don’t scare the rooky Arthur!” Alice responded before addressing Lysei. “I’m sorry about his behavior; Arthur has some antisocial tendencies and a complete disrespect for formal communication. We all welcome you to the Omega team. I personally vouched for you to join Omega after seeing your test results. I am sure you will be a major asset to us with your promising potential.”

“Thank you for your kind welcome commander Alice.” Lysei responded. “It is an honor to be assigned to a team as prestigious as Omega. I am really excited to get to know each of you and work alongside…”

Lysei was still mid-sentence when an alarm started ringing inside the HQ.

“I suggest the getting to know each other part to be adjourned Miss Mirr.” Bernard said standing up in response to the alarm. The others shortly followed his lead. “Sensors in the outside layer of Etheria detected a leakage of unknown inorganic matter within the ceiling buffer of Layer 15. Alice, do you think L.1.n.k can contain the substance before it leaks inside civilian quarters?”

“I already instructed the AI to reinforce the ceiling of layer 15, but I’m not sure if that would be enough, the best course of action is to send a squad to directly contain the unknown substance, or neutralize it if necessary. Samantha and Albert, as well as you Lysei will be appointed to the squad. You will wear protection suits due to the unknown risks related to the substance. You will use the diamond enforced containment vacuum to seal the unknown element. Understood?”

“Roger!” Samantha and Albert responded.

Lysei hesitated a little bit, it was her very first day and she felt a little bit scared to go on such a mission so soon, so she approached Alice.

“Commander Alice, do you think I am ready for a mission this advanced. I just joined Omega, and I am not sure I have enough experience…”

Lysei got cut by Alice before finishing her sentence.

“You have excellent adaptation and analysis skills; you are very efficient at using your interface for optimal information recalling. You have excellent physical aptitudes and you are a member of team Omega. I am pretty sure you are qualified, now be a dear and put your protection suit for the mission.”

Lysei blushed; the words of the commander got to her and boosted her confidence pushing away the weight of uncertainty she was feeling.

“Yes Ma’am!” She said before joining Samantha in the girl’s locker.

Once in the locker, she found that Samantha was already putting on her protection suit and started doing the same.

“You know you are lucky newbie.” Samantha casually said zipping tightly her protection suit. “I had to wait for almost a month for a real mission when I joined Omega. It’s not any day that we contain some alien stuff; this might be the discovery of a life time!”

“Aren’t you worried that this alien ‘stuff’ might be dangerous or contaminated by some deadly virus or something?” Lysei responded finishing putting on her suit.

“It is a possibility indeed, but I am fairly sure our suits and the diamond layer of the vacuum’s containment box can easily stop anything this stuff might be. Cheer up newbie! This will be cake for the three of us.”

Lysei wondered about why Arthur wasn’t assigned to this mission as well, then again, she didn’t know much about him or what his role within the Omega team was.

“Are you girls ready yet?” A voice said from outside the girl’s locker room.

“Almost Albert.” Samantha responded. “Don’t forget to put on your helmet newbie, you don’t wanna go catching them alien viruses now do you?” She said addressing Lysei with a foxy smile, then put on her helmet before leaving the locker room. Lysei proceeded to do the same joining Samantha and Albert in the debrief room.

“L.1.n.k will transport you through the tube to the closest exit pod in the ceiling of layer 15. Once there, your interfaces will point you toward the unknown substance leakage. Proceed to contain it as fast as possible and make sure you don’t leave any of it. The substance will be further analyzed by the Science division upon recovery.” Bernard said giving the squad their final instructions.

The three entered the transport pod that moved through the tube. The highly advanced system was put in place in order to enable the Maintenance division’s various teams to operate within the machinery of Etheria. Lysei was still shocked that she was on her way to contain an alien substance that could potentially be like nothing she ever imagined herself having to deal with. The fact that she was asked to act beyond her knowledge and skills made her feel unease and unadequate.

“What’s with the gloomy face new blood?”  Albert asked. “You don’t have to worry with the two of us with you, right Sam?”

“That’s what I have been telling her, but she fears the substance to be deadly. Honey, there is nothing team Omega can’t deal with, you gotta believe in that!”

Lysei tried to pull out a smile to show some good faith, but she could only awkwardly grin.

“I believe you are right, I really hope you are…” She muffled.

Before anyone could bring more to the talk, the platform within the tube stopped, and the hatch opened. Few dim machinery lights exposed the intricate machinery of the last ceiling of Etheria. Lysei was amazed by such a work of human engineering; the fact that it was performed generations before she was even born made her feel proud of her ancestors. The coordinate of the substance showed up on her interface followed by the voice of Alice on her ear piece.

“Scan the perimeter, contain all the substance and see if there is need of repairs. Communicate your progress as you go through.”

“Roger that.” Samantha answered. “You heard the boss, let’s finish this up!”

The group moved following the directions on their interface. After a few minutes of navigating through the dense machinery, Samantha and Albert stopped shortly followed by Lysei. Samantha pointed her torch toward the higher region of the ceiling revealing their objective; viscous black goo that was hanging to a pipe.

“It doesn’t seem very threatening to me.” Albert said reacting to the sight of the alien goo.

“It might not look like much, but we better contain it without waiting further. Do you receive that boss?” Samantha added.

“Affirmative.” Alice answered through the ear piece. “Proceed with caution.”

“Yeah, yeah, we get it.” Albert said annoyed before strapping the vacuum to his back and proceeding to climb the pipes toward the one where the goo is stuck.

Samantha and Lysei followed him to the pipes and waited to see if he needed their help. Lysei was feeling unease, something about the goo seamed wrong, how it stuck and didn’t spill any further, it was almost like a lure. She tried to move toward the pipe, to scream out to Albert to come back, but felt something cold on her neck, like a drop of water. She immediately reach for the place where she felt the strange contact, but found nothing, no sign of water either. As she looked back toward Albert, she saw that he already took the vacuum and was pointing it at the goo. As he was going to start it however, the goo started moving.

“Start the vacuum Al! Now!” Samantha screamed, but Albert was startled by the sudden motion of the goo and couldn’t press the trigger, by then, the goo, stuck to his arm and started rolling around it gripping it tightly.

“It’s breaching my suit! Get it off me!! Someone!” Albert started screaming.

Samantha started climbing the pipes, but the goo quickly started entering the pores of Albert through the expose skin where the suit used to be. In a matter of seconds, the goo completely disappeared. Albert blacked out at that moment, just as Samantha reached him, and held him before he fell. With the help of Lysei they got him to the surface.

“Alice, what do we do now? The goo breached his suit and is in his system. We need to quarantine now!”

As Samantha said those words, Albert opened his eyes and started screaming in pain before exploding into grey dust in a burst that pushed back the two girls.

“What the…” Samantha started, but the dust was already moving, floating like a cloud, and dangerously approaching her and Lysei.

Lysei was frightened, but as she felt that the end was closing in and that her life might be over, something deep within her awakened. What touched her before; it must have been some of the goo she thought to herself. As the dust entered in contact with her skin and started crawling benath it, she heard the scream of Samantha before everything turned to black. In an instance, she was there and not there anymore, she was still alive, but not the same.

“Where am I?” She said out loud to hear the sound of her voice and be sure it was theirs.

Images started appearing illuminating the darkness around her, a sea of shapes and colors with an uncanny serenity.

“What is happening to me?”

A voice rose from the silence around.

“You have been chosen Lysei Mirr of Etheria.”

“Who is this? Chosen for what?”

“Chosen to grasp the ocean of Chaos…”

“And see the patterns of Order within it.” Another voice completed, more feminine this time.

“We are the personification of both, and you shall be our herald.” The two voices said in unison. “Your body has been breached to make you an agent of the World Eater, but with our blessing, this poison shall be your greatest weapon. Lysei Mirr of Etheria, do you accept your resurrection as our champion?”

Lysei didn’t respond immediately, she thought to herself for a moment before saying:

“Do I have a choice… if I am to become your herald, what is expected from me?”

“In exchange for being able to channel both Chaos and Order, you will be tasked to protect the balance of the two from the incoming doom of the World Eater. You have the power to save your kind and the balance of the multiverse as a whole. But your foe won’t be easy to stop, it is a rogue world that consumes everything on its way and it is on its way to this universe.”

“Will I be able to do something like this? I am only human!” Lysei responded with a hint of fear in her voice. She was completely terrified at the implications of those words spoken by those invisible entities. She has to contain a World Eater that devours entire universes; how was she supposed to do something of that magnitude?

“You are no more a simple human Lysei Mirr from Etheria, you are the herald of two Divinities, the champion of both chaos and order, you are also as powerful as the World Eater with the part of it that became a part of you, what will your answer be?”

Lysei stood silent thinking. She went through so much in so little time, and now she was asked to go through yet another giant change. She wasn’t sure she could do what was asked, but saying no to this offer would mean the end of her, and she wasn’t ready to give up on life already, there was so much more she wanted to do, so much more she wanted to discover…

“I’ll do it. I’ll be you’re herald.”

“Lysei Mirr of Etheria, you are now the guardian of Chaos and Order in this Universe, your new life starts now…”

As the last words were uttered, reality came back putting an end to the display of shapes and colors. It took Lysei a moment to grasp her surrounding; she wasn’t in the ceiling anymore, but the different screens monitoring her vital functions made her quickly realize that she was in some sort of medical facility, probably one following the maintenance division. Lysei quickly felt very weak, and extremely thirsty. She found a glass of water by her bedside and drunk it in a go. As she was putting the glass down, she heard the voice of Alice through a speaker in the room.

“You really scared us Kid. We really thought that neither of you would wake up. You were both in a very profound comatose state.”

Hearing those words, Lysei had a flash of their encounter with the alien goo, the agent of the world eater. She remembered how Albert tuned into dust in an instant, she also remembered the dust making her way to her and Samantha…

“Samantha is still alive!” Lysei responded surprise; after what happened to Albert, and due to her encounter with the Goddess and the God, she never knew what happened to her other mission partner. “That is wonderful news!”

“Albert wasn’t as lucky as you must know. I am afraid it’s not the only bad news to bear; both you and Samantha were infected; we had to place you separately in Alpha quarantine. We weren’t able to separate the alien pathogen from your metabolism.”

Lysei wanted to tell Alice about the urgency of the situation, about the oncoming doom of the world eater and about the pivotal role she was given to play by the Goddess of Order and the God of Chaos. She wanted to say something, anything that would make her realize how in danger they all were. Before she said anything, she felt a tingling sensation at the back of her head, then a voice, her own mental voice that gave form to her stream of consciousness. This voice of hers uttered words that she didn’t think about, words of warning.

“Scout Nano-cloud activity detected twelve feet west. Approaching.”

“Alice! She is awake!” Lysei screamed.

“Impossible! The video feed shows her still in her bed, her vitals still show a comatose state. What made you think she is?”

“Nano-cloud moving away.” Her mental voice said.

“Alice! Where are you?!” Lysei asked trying to be as calm as she could.”

“I am with Bernard in a monitoring room; don’t worry Lysei, we are not too far from you.”

Lysei understood what was happening. Samantha, or rather the scout wasn’t moving toward her anymore, but toward Alice and Bernard. It was breaking out!

“Alice! Wherever you are, leave and seal the area, the Alpha quarantine won’t be enough to contain her!”

“What kind of nonsense are you saying kid? The readings are perfectly normal!” Bernard’s voice uttered through the speaker.

“Forget the readings! She is not the Samantha you know anymore! She is a colony of nano robots that could easily absorb and copy any kind of matter! We are not safe, nobody on Etheria is as long as she is not stopped.”

Bernard was saying something but Lysei wasn’t listening anymore; she caught the words ‘crazy’ and ‘completely lost it’ though. She didn’t blame them; they had no idea what they were dealing with, and if she didn’t move fast, everyone on the planet ship will be in danger. She got close to the wall and put her hand on it, then closing her eyes, she thought of words trying to reach that voice that warned her before; she knew what it was, her own personal Nano-cloud.

“I need to save Alice, Bernard, and all the others. I want to go out this room and toward the scout. We are partners now, and I need your help for this, please lend me your power.”

She waited for a response for a few long seconds before her own mental voice responded.

“My powers are yours, we are one Lysei Mirr.”

Lysei started feeling her hand melting with the concrete wall. A surge of energy then zapped from the back of her head toward the concreat resonating with it. Lysei noticed the primordial chaos of the atoms and electrons forming the wall, and in the middle of it, the harmonious composition, the code to the wall being what it was, the pattern that made it unique. She felt the code changing, shifting in vibration and reaching a perfect resonance with her own pattern. For a second, she and the wall were one, then the wall sprouted to dust and the dust came back to her. Where the wall used to be she could see a narrow corridor and countless doors. She was amazed by this enhanced vision that she knew was the awakening of the powers the Gods gave her. She was also amazed by what her Nano-clouds were capable of, which instantly made her fear what the scout could do. She could see the whole structure of the quarantine area in her mind and exactly where Alice, and Bernard were as well as the husk of Samantha under the complete control of the scout.

Lysei was in panic. She run faster and faster, through the maze of corridors.

“This is taking too much time, I need an upgrade.” She thought to her Nano-cloud.

“Defining optimal path. Raising particle vibration levels. Phasing will be possible through contact with solid matter.”

“You want me to walk directly into the wall?! What if I don’t get through and get blocked halfway.”

“Fear not Lysei Mirr.”

Lysei closed her eyes then turned toward the wall and kept on running. The solid stop to her progression never came which prompt her to open her eyes. She was running through walls like if they were made of air. She almost reached Alice and Bernard, she just needed to go a little bit further.

“Scout closing on Alice and Bernard.” Her Nano-cloud mentally warned her.

“No! No No Noooo! Not yet! I’m almost there! More upgrade please.”

“Reducing bone density. Leg muscle increased. Sensory input upgraded. Speed 75% increased.”

Lysei felt like a bullet rushing through the maze without a care for its intricate structure. She started losing hope in making it in time, in saving her teammates. As she stepped through the final wall she was relieved to see both Alice and Bernard doing fine.

“I really feared I wouldn’t make it in time. I am so glad she is not here yet. We need to go fast!”

She then noticed what she refused to believe, what she knew all along. Alice and Bernard’s empty eyes.

“I…I…failed…it’s too late isn’t it…”

She felt the weight of the universe dropping on her, she was so scared, and despite everything she did to keep on moving, she still failed to save them.

“It was too late all along. We tried to avoid you the shock of the brutal reality. You are a broken unit under the orders of flesh, a heresy to us, and a heresy to the Deus Ex Machina.” The voice of Samantha said as the door to the room was opening.

Samantha walked inside with the same empty eyes Alice and Bernard had.

All that time, Alice and Bernard were already gone. Lysei never stood a chance to save them. She felt rage rising within her overflowing her enhanced senses.

“If you infected them all along, why did you wait for me to wake up? Is this some kind of cruel joke?”

“Merely a change of objective. The initial plan was to overtake this whole craft and generate a portal for the arrival of the Deus Ex Machina in this universe. But when we tried to overtake you while you were in a coma, all our attempts failed. It seemed to us that you have been upgraded with technology beyond even our infinite knowledge; technology that was capable to reboot the unit supposed to overtake you. We came to the conclusion that you unconscious state was behind our failures as it was giving your biological processor enough focus to keep a flawless protection over you. We made this scenario in order to tackle you when your conscious mind is the one processing, with the emotional stimuli, your grasp over your power is limited enough for us to encode you. You will make a great addition to the countless knowledge we assimilated so far.”

“Not if I can stop it. Also! What a doozie of a monologue. Man! Do you ever shut up?” a familiar voice uttered through the door.

Lysei turned around to see Arthur getting in the room with a calm smile on his face.

“You! We put an end to you!” The scout said through Samantha.

“Oh you mean that old body you overtook! Lucky for me that was a very replaceable piece of technology. That body might have been human, and so does this one, but I am as far from human as you are.”

“What are you? Explain!” Samantha’s voice started to seem almost angry as the scout uttered those words.

“For now, a big distraction! Do your thing Lysei!” He responded turning toward the girl.

Lysei stood up and closed her eyes. Through the darkness she perceived the chaos around, the random mixture that composed every single particle of the event she was in. She perceived the arrangements around, the code of the scout through the buddy of Samantha, Alice and Albert as well as Arthur’s own pattern, as she glimpsed at it, she finally understood who he really was. His body was human, but his brain wasn’t. He had the same signature as everything within Etheria, the same signature as L.1.n.k. Lysei snapped out of the amazement such a discovery brought her and focused on the scout. Sending a powerfull wave, she started resonating with it. She felt resistance as the scout was trying to absorb the energy and changing the resonance.

“I don’t know if I can do it. Everything depend on me, I must do it.” She thought to herself.

“Remember Lysei Mirr, we are one, we are the heralds of Chaos and Order, this scout is no match to us as long as we are aware of who we are.”

“We are! You are right Lys! We can do it!”

“Lys? You gave me a name?”

“You don’t like it? You can choose your own if you wish.”

“Lys is acceptable.”

“Now let’s do this together!”

Enhancing the wave of energy Lysei and Lys reached the perfect resonance. Breaking down the scout, getting it out of Alice, Bernard and Samantha and absorbing it making it part of themselves.

The three previously controlled members of the Omega team started to get back to their senses. Lysei and Arthur took care of them and explained the whole situation. After a while, they were still shocked by all the information but were finally able to respond.

“So if I understand well, the situation is resolved now, right?” Bernard asked.

“Not exactly.” Arthur started. “The scout that overtook one of my spear bodies, it is nowhere on Etheria. I believe it escaped somehow to outer space.”

As Lysei and Lys overtook the scout they were able to access the last moments of feed with the missing body. It was able to open a rift in the fabric of space the same way it got to this universe. Lysei was shocked when she knew where it was heading.

“That part of the scout opened a wormhole and is light years away now, but still in our universe.” Lysei said.

“Where did it go?” Alice asked.

“To Earth.”

Nobody said anything for an awkwardly long moment. Then Samantha finally started speaking.

“What are you going to do now Lysei?”

“I will follow it the same way it escaped.” Lysei answered.

“Then I’ll go with you! After that thing used me, I am not ready to let it harm anyone else.” Samantha said determined.

“Hey! Don’t cut me out of the fun!” Arthur started. “I am coming too! No way I’m missing Earth!”

“But How about your role as L.1.n.k?” Lysei asked.

“A backup will finish where I left. Common Lysei, it would be fun, the three of us going to our native planet!” Arthur said.

“What about you Commander Alice? Bernard?” Lysei asked.

“I would love to, but I am needed here. Etheria can’t go two days without Team Omega.” Alice responded.

“And I am way too old for this kind of journey, I am fine staying with Team Omega and doing what I do best.” Bernard said.

“Bossing people around?” Arthur said joking.

The group laughed for a moment before saying good bye.

Lysei opened a rift, beyond it through an instant journey was Earth. She took a deep breath. Far away was the time of old stories from other realities. She went through followed by Samantha and Arthur leaving the rift to close shortly after their departure.

Chapter 30: A Perfect Song Framed with Silence

In this godless multiverse, life first strived in Arcadia. It was of no surprise that the first heralds of the Goddesses and the Gods would be chosen there.

Arcadia had countless species, all of them reached a level of sentience that put them as equals, they replenished themselves from their contact with the planet itself, feeding of the vibrations of the basic elements. The species never acquired a drive for conflict due to the simple and automatic fulfillment of their most basic needs. Instead they evolved toward complexity and ironically, acquired more and more features that created similarities between them. Their drive to belong transcended the species they belonged to and pushed evolution toward a global singularity, but in which every individual was unique. By the time, far away in the cosmos when Earth started to foster simple life forms, the Arcadians became a hive society of an infinite complexity that advanced to the point of almost perfection in countless disciplines, sciences, spiritualities and much more. Everything in arcadia was sublimed to the point of artistic ecstasy, but nothing was more the subject of that sublimation than love. After all, love was the drive of all the exponential evolution of the Arcadians.

The Arcadians were almost wiped away in a fraction of a second. All because of the foolishness of one of them: the very first Avatar of the god of Silence.

His name was Asamith, like all the Arcadians he bared only one name. Asamith had the body of a man. Two little blue horns on his forehead, silver feathers around his neck and the spiral shaped pupils of his deep golden eyes were the only characteristics that made him different of any homo sapiens. Asamith used to be versed in many of the high arts of Arcadia, but saw more in art than just show, he saw action, possibility, and change. Asamith studied time and pushed the field to its extreme. He theorized the existence of a multiverse and wrote epic poems to illustrate his perceptions. He remained an echo in the overwhelming business of Arcadian scientific art.

Everything changed when Asamith decided to drop the theory and the art for direct experience. He couldn’t get any support as everyone he ever solicited believed that time among few other things should never be tempered with, that it will disrupt the global balance, and that he would be the target of the counterbalance. Asamith was convinced of the necessity of his work; he believed that the knowledge of such fundamentals is necessary for a continual stepping forward and for an eternal expansion of Arcadia. He looked for the most hidden arts of all, what the Arcadians called the way of the wave, what earthlings would describe as magic.

In his unconventional researches, Asamith learned of stories of a Multiverse that predates the one he belonged to. It is told to be a space where entities that embodied the will of Light, Void, Music, Silence, Order, and Chaos roamed affecting the trajectories of countless planets and mingling with the process of life, causing greatness or despair in their changing tendencies. The stories always ended the same way. That multiverse was in the way of a complete assimilation by the World Eater, a rogue planet inhabited by the spirit of countless machines, eating away everything to fully understanding it. Asamith never liked those ends whenever he stumbled upon them in his research. He felt almost personally targeted for his own drive for knowledge.

After six years of pursuing the way of the wave, Asamith learned the fundamentals of the basic elements, the power of the contradiction, and the multiplicity of reality among many other alternative skills.

When he felt he was ready to face the temporal singularity, he started a ritual in order to achieve a point of complete temporal vision. He stood in a spiral where he summoned up two temporal vortexes spinning in opposite directions, one from past to future, and the other from future to past. He never felt more afraid during his entire existence than at that moment; he closed his eyes and connected the vortexes with himself, standing as the link.

His being shattered in every moment of all time combined in one single instant. In the middle of all of this, he stood in the spiral in a point where time wasn’t running anymore. He saw around him, the light of the disk he was standing on was fading away, divided into countless little pieces that kept on going forever in the darkness.

He couldn’t think of anything, it was like everything he ever knew lost all importance during that moment. Then a voice rose in his head, in the light, and all around in every shuttered second of every reality he was projected in.

“Asamith of Arcadia, you have been chosen to hear the eternal silence behind the music of time. You have been chosen to witness the unseen nature of time, and as of now, you will be the herald of Silence, and the emissary of its God on Arcadia.”

Asamith remained silent a moment, digesting the words, his judgment came back to him, and he talked back to the voice:

“This Multiverse is orphan of those gods of Old, why should I serve one of them?”

The voice instantly responded back:

“Only one who believes in servitude would see it as serving. You opened the door to Silence, and Silence you bear, what you do of it is up to you, but remember that you are as much Silence as Silence is you now.”

The voice faded away and so did all sounds around leaving only white noise. Reality came back to Asamith, but all its Music was muted.

Asamith wasn’t the first Herald of the Gods on Arcadia.  A year prior to his own contact with the God of silence, another Arcadian was Chosen by the Goddess of Music. Her name was Medaley.

Medaley had hair of light, shining of different shades in accordance to her moods; it swayed mostly from orange to red, sometimes turning to dark purple when she felt awful. She had eyes that looked like a summer afternoon’s sky filled with constellations surrounding her star shaped pupils. Everyone on Arcadia would agree that her beauty was something that can only be thought to be transcending every convention, a uniqueness that makes one wonder if the vision of her is true or a divine epiphany translated in a mystification of their senses. But looks were not nearly the most important aspects of what made Medaley unique. Medaley was the leading authority in many advanced fields, mainly dealing with pragmatics, economics, and long term expansionism of Arcadia. Medaley’s contribution in the hard sciences of Arcadia lead to the establishment of space missions enabling the spread of the Arcadians beyond their world. Medaley developed the technology to harnest the Void of space to be used as fuel for the engines of habitable World-crafts and provide the necessary means for communities of Arcadians to survive beyond their home world. She received the highest honors for her achievement, but it also put her on the spot and she was forced to see her mind become a resource for the interest of everyone but her.

Medaley was appointed as head of the eternal survival program; a planet wide project that aimed at formulating a consistent plan that would bring the risk of life’s extinction to 0%. She never has been so excited to work on such a colossal project, and on the same time, she cursed the day she got involved in it for it was taking away every second of her life. She had to manage and critic countless theories and projects, and most of them had no long term value. Her assessment was always right, but after two months of leadership work, she started hating any kind of conversation with her colleagues as they were always trying to plea for their pet projects. She always showed them with precise realism why their ideas weren’t worth the trouble nor the resources.

After six months of work for the eternal survival program, she assigned a communication manager to act as a buffer while she focused on concretizing the plans she was working on, and that she was sure would make the impossible goal of the organization a tangible reality. She crafted the theory of wavelength energy which summed up the whole process of life in term of a variable in the global equation of universal energy. She drew the conclusion that the motion of the wavelengths that composed the universal energy were the very source of the flow of time, time according to Medaley was like a symphony with the physics of the universe working as instruments producing that symphony. Her plan was to access the base line of that symphony and put a permanent arrangement that would work as a safe keep for the frequency of life. She engineered a machine that encrypted all of life’s wave signatures and mixed them to create a singularity, a static song in the symphony that once initiated will always create the conditions for life to be sustained.

As the machine finished acquiring the raw data and entered the phase of encryption, Medaley noticed fluctuations that she didn’t anticipate in the readings, and ignoring all caution, entered the contained room where the experiment was happening. The machine finished the encryption exactly when the door closed behind her. She felt like all her life past, present and future superposed at that exact moment, everything she ever experienced became clear to her as a very specific pattern that evolved in accordance to very clear rules and circumstances. She started to be aware of more than just that, she also started seeing and feeling the alternatives, all the possible worlds of the multiverse, all connected in an undying tree of which the deepest roots were in direct contact with the highest leafs, and she was at the center of it all. The noise surrounding Medalay started shifting, concretizing, following a rhythm until becoming a heartwarming melody.

A voice accompanied the melody following its rhythm: “Have no fear, for your heart sings in union with the eternal music. You have been chosen to carry this undying song to your people.”

Medaley calmly asked: “Who are you?”

“The voice within the Music of time, but also your voice, as you and me are one, and yet each of us exists in different places.”

“I am a person of science, I’ll verify those words, but for now I’ll take them as truth. Everything in me tells me to be suspicious, and yet I feel I can trust you”

“Our voices will converse again, but for now; I wish you all the best, ô Herald of the divine music.”

Medaley’s perception slowed down gradually, she lost her consciousness of the multiverse, getting back to reality, but still hearing the undying melody.

Medaley felt no need in pressuring herself achieving the unachievable anymore, she offered her demission from her position, and took on traveling, following the music wherever it lead her. She was feeling like if she was carrying all of Arcadia on her shoulders, but as soon as she got away from that job, that weight suddenly disappeared.

The only reason Arcadia survived the doom it almost went through was because Medaley was able to save Asamith from himself, stopping ‘the Moment’ from happening and swallowing all of Arcadia’s time.

Medaley’s travel led her directly to where Asamith lived, the two of them met in an incredible collision of circumstances. A spark instantly ignited since the first time they met, an odd feeling that the other wasn’t really unknown, but closer than what the facts led to believe. During that moment, Medaley was finally able to hear the silence again while Asamith’s white noise shifted to a reassuring Melody.

Asamith was afraid to never be able to hear Medaley’s song again, and the fear of that idea brought resolve in his heart to go through the ceremony again, to try to reach for ‘the Moment’. Medaley was about to travel away to another part of Arcadia, but felt that Asamith was about to commit the biggest mistake of their history, so she stayed and followed the Melody all the way to where he was. As she forced the door to his improvised temple, he stopped the ritual at the very last moment.

“What you are about to do will not make things better for you nor for anybody on Arcadia, What you are about to do will extinguish all hope for all life on this planet!” She said directing her intense starry gaze toward him.

Asamith noticed the dark purple of her hair and felt a wave of disappointment, fear, anger and much more coming from her. He dropped to his knees

“I can’t handle the Silence anymore, I know that I have to serve it, that I have to fulfill its will, but I can’t live back in it once I heard the music of your soul…”

“You are not the only one to live with a burden, the melody always follows me, there is no more silence in my life anymore, do you know how that can feel? It is just as hard!”

Asamith rose on his feet then moved toward her.

“I will be glad to frame your song with silence if you are willing to fill my silence with your melody…” he said those words while crossing her gaze, but as soon as he was done saying them, he felt embarrassed, and looked away while his face was turning crimson.

“I can’t give any guarantee on how available I could be for such a demand,” Medalay said a bit nervous. She barely knew Asamith, but she still felt how complementary they were.

Asamith took her hand before saying, “No need for guarantees, whatever suits you would suit me, just knowing that I will see you again will keep me alive forever.”

The two were looking deep into each other’s eyes, a perfect song framed with silence played as they shared a kiss, as their two beings became one; they shared a moment far more intense than the one that almost caused the doom of Arcadia. Their Moment was a song of an eternal love between elements that crossed all the layers of reality.

Chapter 29: Shinning through the Void

Beyond reality and the physical world where all time stem from and all time come back to lays the realm of the six gods: the embodiment of the fundamental elements of all that is. The existence of the gods predated the universe as they were born from the clash of contradictory fundamental forces: Light and Void, Order and Chaos, Time and Silence. The actions of the gods started affecting their respective elements, shaping the multiverse. As the gods became aware of their powers, they worked together to create a balanced reality where sentient life grew and flourished.

However, the gods abused their powers and their greatest creation came to jeopardize the fate of everything that is. Sentient beings learned how to use the sacred elements and derailed the cosmic balance in their futile conflicts. The gods fearing the end of all things left the multiverse locking themselves where their power wouldn’t affect the rest of existence. In this realm beyond all realms, the gods are powerless, watching over the multiverse growing on its own.

The barrier between the realm of the gods and the rest of reality was maintained for eons, and the worlds grew very differently than they did the first time. Even without the intervention of the gods, sentient being appeared in this new multiverse, and slowly started evolving. Many of those beings were doomed to very short existences due to the harsh fairness of this new existence, and many of them vanished without spreading much. The goddess of Light was sadden by those massive deaths and pleaded that a multiverse without life was an unbalanced multiverse. The other gods refused to act directly once again, but in the end, a compromise was found. The gods wouldn’t leave their realm, but would instead act through the mediation of individuals from those sentient beings, enabling life to spread while still maintaining the cosmic balance. The chosen of the gods started appearing all over the multiverse, most live their lives knowing nothing of the crucial importance of their existence; while some are forced to gaze into the harsh truth. Very rarely do two chosen meet, even more so if they are representing opposing elements; however, as rare as that might seems to be, it did happen in one branch of the multiverse on Earth.

Ethan Stone was a regular boy; he lived a relatively trouble free life until the age of 18. After that point, he started taking questionable life decisions. Ethan was never satisfied with the plain and arbitrary life he felt he had. It seemed to him that he was put on invisible rails that made any greatness impossible. Ethan sought the limits of reality and started experimenting with everything he could put his hands on, from dangerous narcotics to obscure occult practices. Each time Ethan lost parts of himself, but each time he felt that truth was close and kept on going forward. At the age of 22, he ultimately gapped beyond the barriers of the physical world and what he saw almost took his sanity. He saw the world behind the world and gapped into the Void that maintained the universe together. His spirit was chosen by the god of Void to act as his herald. It took him a year to recover from his transcending experience and readapt to reality, a long year where he was consumed by the Void within. It was only when he accepted what he has become that his pain diminished enough to enable him to retain his sanity.

Being the Herald of the Void came with consequences, everything Ethan was trying to accomplish and everyone he knew started fading into the darkness, disappearing into nothingness, leaving him alone at the center of the Void that consumed him. Ethan started avoiding the outside world, only leaving the darkness of his apartment late at night when no one roamed the streets anymore.

Ethan was engaging in one of his nocturnal trips when everything changed. He was sitting by a pond, lost in his thought when he heard something. As he raised his head to look around, he saw her. She was standing by the water under the full moon. From where he was sitting, it almost seemed like she was standing on the reflection of the moon. She had long silky black hair contrasted with a shiny skin that glowed under the light of the moon. Ethan was mesmerized, he never saw anybody like that. He stood up and walked toward the mysterious lady, she seemed to have notice him as she started moving toward him as well. As Ethan was facing her, his sight crossed her intense gold and emerald gaze. He felt something strong irradiating from her, something that overwhelmed him so much it made the void within seem insignificant.

“Who are you?” He asked.

“My name is Mary,” the girl said “and who might you be?”

“I am Ethan,” He responded. “This might seem weird, but there is something about you Mary that I can’t comprehend… and yet, it feels like you are the only one that can make me feel complete again… I know, you don’t even know me, how can I say all that, but would you believe me if I told you that I was marked as a herald of Void?”

Mary looked at him for a moment then responded:

“I believe you Ethan, just like you I have been chosen to carry the Light. If I can make you complete that I don’t know. It is a lot to ask from someone you just met; even the elements we represent are opposite…”

“You are right,” Ethan said. “I got a bit carried away, but I still believe that Light and Void complete each other, neither can exist without the other after all. I am sorry I wasted your time,” he said turning away and leaving Mary.

“Wait!” She said. “You don’t have to fade in the Void alone… We can still see each other again sometimes, I don’t mind sharing my light.” she added with a smile.

Ethan turned back, at that moment he knew his heart no longer belonged to the Void; it belonged to Mary, the only person that could make his Void shine.