Canopus Station
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Styx & Stones

Posted on Sun Nov 22nd, 2020 @ 2:40am by The Narrator & Commander Calida

Mission: S2:2: Best Laid Plans
Location: Canopus Station, Small Craft Bay Alpha
Timeline: MD1 2120

“Go on ahead, I will be with you both shortly.”

Kar’kaan and Scholar Trivain both looked to the alabaster skinned Myriad called Haztor when he said this. Being the companions to a travelling Myriad, knowing obedience was key to one’s survival, they did not vocalise an objection. This was a near-miraculous feat for the Shishimi noblewoman, whose tantrums had become the stuff of legend when she had walked the service causeways of her homeworld.

With a nod of acquiescence, the two left their Myriad master and embarked up the shuttle’s ramp under the watchful gaze of the two Marines in their combat hard shell. Haztor’s eyes cast their ember glow across the two soldiers, seeing the crude but effective way they had been made safe against his people’s whims.

For Bounds, these Federationists were nothing if not capable players of The Great Game.

“You can come out now,” Haztor said to the shuttle bays empty air, his voice resonating both in the air as waves of vibrations and more subtle eddies in the etheric soup of electromagnetic radiation. “You’ve been in silence since the meeting, and I have felt your overbearing desire to...I believe the expression your new Commodore would use is ‘provide your two cents’? From one Unbound to the other, come forth, little ember. Come when called thrice as all good things are beckoned to Myriad voices.”

The Myriad's call was answered first only by the hum of a distant grav-sled. To an uninformed observer, it appeared to be self-guided, for there was no apparent way for the small box it carried to be directing it. The speed was gradual and casual with no heed for the haste of the moment. By the time it came to rest before Haztor's ramp, the languid stillness had built to a considerable peak.

"Your ubiquitous use of foreign and finite idioms is rather curious." The pod atop the grav-sled trilled out a voice that was tinny and loud. "As much disdain as you show for linear corporeality, you display a certain co-dependency towards it. Perhaps the burden of your diplomatic ministry has ordained a definitive separation from your natural state."

"Natural states are ones of chaos. And we Myriad thrive in that roiling sea of endless possibilities," Haztor smiled, looking down at the box. "There was a time when a palanquin like yours was something of a fashion. The mysterious box. Quite a few sapient races are driven by their curiosities to seek answers from boxes, to pry them open and gaze upon the treasure within. Of course, we are neither one of us petty beings of flesh and baseline matter. I merely visit materiality as one might walk an art gallery. You, on the other hand, are contained by it. You bow to it. You are a slave to it. A small box, for a small mind."

Amusement roiled out from Calida's carrier pod in telepathically driven electromagnetic radiation. "It has indeed been some temporal distance since your last connection with your own kind," trilled her mechanical vocalizer. "Such petty insults are so meaningless for Medusans and perhaps Myriad alike as to be undefined."

Verbal expression was condescending gibberish compared to her natural mode of expression. Calida detached from the sentient interface of her carrier pod and projected pure telepathy toward Haztor's proxy in search of the intelligence behind it.

~Those who dance the song of the silver sands of galaxies do not heed banal aspersions. Can you fathom the tilt and angle of the golden tier, Haztor, or do you wish that I continue to bemean you with verbal expression?~

And indeed she did. It was there, a subtle strand of immaterial mithril that thrummed like a struck cord. It sufficed the Proxy, the material shell puppeted by the Myriad...but no mind resided there. A chuckle played through the ether, humming from that silvery strand as Haztor's melodic voice sang out.

-You've spent too long in that box, that it is more like a lantern containing an ember.- A tension seemed to grow on the silvery strand. An elastic pull that seemed to draw Calida's attention. -You should shine like us. Instead, you shutter yourself behind layers of shielding and psionic protections to keep the Bound from losing their feeble minds. They are meant to be ruled by higher powers than their sciences and faiths can determine.-

That sense of pull, of a yawning abyss residing somewhere in that silvery strand, beckoned to Calida.

-Come little Light...we have a Myriad things to show you.-

The allure was strong. Calida allowed her sight to float away from her pod, which was more of an anchor point than anything else. Without its reference point, she would move freely between past, present, and future as a fish through water. Such transcendence was destructive to most humanoids whose minds would collapse like quantum superpositions under observation.

Were she to remain of any earthly good to the crew of Canopus Station, though, Calida would have to remember to find her way back through the fifth-dimensional parallax. If not, then the timeline would be lost to her as she embraced the infinite dimensions of eternity.

~Be careful what you wish for~ Calida warned in a siren's song of cadent silence as she followed Haztor's invitation to its source. ~The Myriad may have evolved to the Unbound State, but such was the birthright of my kind. For me. Speak your oracles without grandeur, for such is wasted on a daughter of Medusa~

It was a rush, in more ways than one. One moment she was in the corridor of Canopus Station, then at the thornback shuttle of Myriad design. Then whisked along to the Thorn Ship, the Myriad vessel in orbit of the station. In a moment its secrets were laid bare, displayed with glowing pride by the cloying mind of Haztor. Grand halls of treasures from a hundred thousand worlds. Bays of red-shifted light of artificially tortured space-time where beings from aeons past stood in rank after rank like terracotta soldiers. For many a handful of blinking moments had passed since they had boarded the Myriad vessel, whereas their worlds had crumbled to dust between breaths.

And then she was whisked away, pulled under the growing riptide that was pulling stronger and stronger against her. Stars of dizzying classes, planets in a variety of types and colours. And each one came with full knowledge of that sight. A star that rained diamonds into its photosphere. A planet with a crust of molecularly perfect diamond.

Faster, and faster, falling through knowledge and ancient sins.

And then the end...blackness. Emptiness. A yawning void edged with flickering embers of orange light. A roar of photon's racing past her, trapped in the downward pull exerted by a dent in space-time.

And then the black hole before her spoke.

-WE...DESIRE...CONVERSE...-

Calida clutched tightly to her temporal-spatial reference point, but then projected a pulse of tedium toward her destination. ~We are not amused~ The royal plurality was a reflexive outcome of Calida shedding her diminished form in order to address a higher thoughtform such as herself. ~We are not a finite consciousness drowning in the ocean of eternity. We will plumb your depths and know them. Speak what you will, Void, or We shall give you your fill~

Waves of gravity washed over her, bunching up the fabric of space-time until wrinkles became creases where the then and when of events ceased to coexist. It was the throaty chuckle of the drain of the sea, a chortle from the maw of entropy.

-WE...HAVE SEEN...THROUGH SPACE...AND TIME...AND POSSIBILITY...WE HAVE SEEN ALL THAT SHALL BE AND ALL THAT CAN BE...WE HAVE SEEN WHAT COMES...DO NOT INTERFERE IN THE WORKS...OUR DESIGN CANNOT BE KNOWN TO YOU...AND INTERFERENCE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED...-

~By the mere fact of my existence...~ Calida pompously retorted in a telepathic aorist tense that was altogether past, present, and future. ~... I was/am/shall-be interfering already in your design. What do you intend to do about it, O Herald of Oblivion?~

-WE WILL SHOW YOU.-

And it did. For this was not a blackhole. Or, at least it was, but not at the same time. It moved with sudden feral speed, and Calida was somewhere else. Like being under the sea, and looking up to see a net with countless holes cut in it, each one the ravening maw of a singularity leading to...here? Now? Then? A place where entropy hung up its hat and took a coffee break.

It was a place where time, even to a Medusan's intellect and mind, was twisted out of shape. A place of stars encapsulated in black ice, their light frozen away behind these shells. Of worlds torn apart, or simply left to freeze until their oceans were iced in their condenses atmospheres. A lifeless void of worlds where the gravity of stars was the only sign they were there at all.

A plague spreading across a solar system, then a spiral arm, and then an entire galaxy slowly being swallowed by a shadow.

From behind Calida, or before her, or soon to be her, a firefly swarm of orange embers danced in fractal patterns. It pulsed in time with the lapping gravitational waves wailing down into this reality sinkhole.

-OUR GREAT WORK WILL SAVE THE LIGHT OF COUNTLESS STARS. YOUR INTERFERENCE, IS YOUR OWN DEMISE. YOUR WORLDS AND LIGHT SHINE TOO BRIGHTLY. YOU ATTRACT THE VERY NEMESIS WE HAVE SPENT MYRIAD EONS COMBATTING.-

Calida was rapidly approaching the end of the line. It was tempting to follow this chain of consciousness to conclusion, but infinity was endless by definition. If she was to be any good for Canopus Station, she had to maintain the link of relativity to its fifth-dimensional parallax.

And that meant constructing a liminal fifth-dimensional manifold. She tethered herself between the carrier pod back on Canopus Station in her designated timeline and the event horizon of the super-consciousness with which she had been engaging. The interstitial space formed between the conflict of space-time and thought was a temporary joining of minds. Calida became a sea of undulating crystalized tentacles with eyes for suction-cups that phased in and out of sight as illuminated by an ultraviolet rainbow that spanned a full circle rather than the conventional half arc. A large Kabuki-esque mask appeared overtop the mass, forming a modicum of identity.

"This is as far as we go," Calida said, her voice audible within this transitory pseudo-realm of the mind. "While I am intrigued by the depths of your being, I am not intimidated. If you wish to parley for peace, particularly in regards to a great looming nemesis, then do so forthwith and forthrightly."

...PEACE...

The frozen worlds and shrouded suns vanished. What was left was the well of eternity, the firefly disembodied simulacra of the Myriad orbiting its event horizon in such a way as to play with causality like it were a harp made just for them. What better place to secure one's memories and data, ones soul if poetry was your vice than at the bleeding edge of traditional space-time.

...THERE WILL BE NO PEACE...ONLY ACQUIESENCE TO OUR WILL...YOUR SEA OF STARS ENDANGERS THE GREAT WORK...BUT THERE IS STILL TIME...MOMENTS BY OUR MEASURE...EON'S FOR THE BOUND...YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

And with that, the silvery subspace latticework of connections snapped. The force of its severing was extreme, with Haztor's proxy turning to ashen dust as it combusted from the subatomic backlash. Carpeting melted, the metal of the deck and bulkheads warped.

And for were it not for the shielding of Calida's travel pod, the psychic backwash would have been even more catastrophic. As it stood a security team and an engineering squad were rendered catatonic, their minds stunned into inaction by the sudden knowledge of an end to all things. Not just a metaphor, or a fantasy for another epoch...Truth.

~And you have been dismissed~ Calida emoted.

Outwardly, her vocalizer tapped into the station's communications network. "Calida to Benjamin." She maintained a first-name basis with the captain for reasons of familiarity, both overt and subvert. "The Myriad are withdrawing from the station."

 

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