"Let machinery fake my place, who has time to chase. Digital is where it is. Love can always be replaced. Welcome to my consciousness. Welcome to our race. Everything is never quite enough."
Everything (is never quite enough) - Diop, Wasis
The golden ball was able to accommodate all of us, though it was a somewhat tighter fit now that we had two extra people. As we approached the new planet, Puppy's future mate, I couldn't help but notice the coloring of it. "It looks almost like it's been manufactured."
"You're right, that definitely doesn't look like normal planetary patterning." Milyardo agreed with a nod, "look over there." He pointed at one patch of colors, set in a definite pattern of concentric circles. "That is not caused by a natural process."
"But Khali said there's no major lifeforms, so what could have caused it?" Already we were nearly within the orbit of the planet, about to enter its outer atmosphere. The golden ball began spinning within itself, forcing a gravity and spin to match the planet's.
"Alright, we have a problem that has to be solved." Heero said softly, eyes on the planet, "The energy on the planet can't be found, and yet it appears to contain life. So if the planet appears not to have it, and scans show it doesn't, then what could the answer be?" He nodded suddenly, smiling brightly. "Perhaps, what it has is like what Puppy had, only in this case it is with energy instead of with life. We couldn't sense the life on Puppy, the primordial ooze not giving off the right sort of signal. So if this planet has something similar, we wouldn't be able to detect it. Right, Khali?"
"Right, so if it is there, why can't I sense it?"
"Because of the form it has taken?" Bell suggested.
"So in other words, we just have to wait and see?" I asked, turning back to watch as we slid through the atmosphere.
"I'm afraid so, there's nothing to do but wait and find out."
"I hate waiting." 138 whispered, still hiding amongst strands of Milyardo's hair.
We drifted over oceans and fields, the likes of which I'd never seen before. I'd seen millions of scans and pictures of different planets in each Universe, but never something as odd as this. Heero seemed to echo my thoughts, voicing them aloud.
"Oceans don't come in circles, and look at that field." We all turned our heads, staring at the circular field. It seemed everything on the planet was somehow circular, lakes, and even the rivers bent into a circle. It was decidedly odd construction for a planet. And the fact that we thought of it as constructed, was even odder.
As the golden bubble skimmed lower, we started searching for a decent landing place. Eventually slowing, and gently bumping down in the middle of one of the large circular fields. The bubble opened, petals falling outward. And we breathed in the air that can only come from being on a planet.
"Interesting," Khali murmured, sniffing delicately.
"What is it?" Milyardo asked, following her example and inhaling. "I don't notice anything."
"Of course you don't. But using my senses and connecting with my ship half. I am able to tell you, this planet is a little bit more bizarre then we thought."
She paused, as if considering how to word it, which most likely she was. "It is, perfect. That's possibly the only way to describe it. The atmosphere is an exact mix of elements, almost as if it too has been created."
We each sniffed, trying to somehow determine if she were right. Only Bell seemed to be able to sense it as well, nodding in her direction. "Too perfect to have come about naturally."
"Right." She closed her eyes, lifting her face to the sky and inhaling deeply. "Mix ratio is 100%, defined elements of Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen are matched in degrees."
"A pattern," Bell agreed, standing up and jumping lightly down to the ground. He knelt, touching his fingertips to the soil. "An enhanced growing field, no chemical additives, perfect."
"Ok, so what's this all mean?" I asked, hopping down beside Bell and watching him. He turned, his eyes bright in the sunlight.
"I'm not sure yet."
We spent some time exploring the small field, finding nothing, no life forms, no plant life. Nothing except the perfection of the elements within everything. Only that was out of place, being precision balanced in every respect.
"There is no explanation for this," Khali said with a bite of frustration to her voice. She was kneeling, fingers buried beneath the soil. Beside her sat 3 or 4 vials of different samples she'd taken. She let out a low growl, angrily tossing another vial to the side. "This is ridiculous!"
"Still nothing to give a hint?" I asked, watching the others as they did much the same thing as Khali, all of us having been taking samples. Annoyance levels seemed to be running high, at the lack of information the planet supplied about itself. "And still no sign of where this energy source might be?"
"Nothing, except these levels." Khali's head shook back and forth, her golden eyes closing as she sighed. "The frustration of this is indescribable. There should be some sort of indication, something more than what we're finding here."
"Unless I programmed you wrong, and this isn't the planet we need." I said softly, voice barely rising above the soft breeze.
"No, I know you did it right Duo. It's not you, or your programming. It's as if the planet itself doesn't want us to know about it."
I sat back on my heels, turning my face towards the sky with its setting sun. Interesting that this planet had a solar system. It should have been a much colder place, the sun so far away that there should have been snow, ice, definitely not this warmth, almost balmy. And yet even with the fading sun, it was warm, a perfect temperature. A twinkle above caught my eye, like a shooting star. My gaze followed it, attaching to another shimmer of light. In moments, I realized there were millions of them. Falling through space above like a shower of stars. "Khali," I tugged her arm, pointing upwards. "Finders?"
She glanced up, body stiffening beside me, "no, not finders…something else."
"Not big enough," she dropped the vial she was holding, slowly standing, eyes glued to the sky above.
The lights were moving, dropping through the atmosphere, golden glimmers that sparkled in the waning light. I looked around for everyone else, noticing they were already standing as well, moving back towards us.
"Duo," Khali whispered, grabbing my arm and pointing with her free hand. "Those are energy sources." Her voice shook with excitement, an understanding dawning. "That's our energy, that's where it comes from."
Again my eyes shifted to the sky, watching what look like the beginning of a golden snowstorm drift slowly downwards. It was beautiful, looking like butterflies, soft and shimmering. I held out my hand as they descended closer, catching one with a shock. It was a butterfly. Or at least, it looked like one; a butterfly made of pure golden energy. It's little electric wings brushing my fingertips and sending tingles throughout. I held up my hand, balancing it on my palm, bringing my eyes level with it. It was perfect, symmetry and lines as if designed. As I peered closer, I realized there was a faint pattern on its wings.
"Concentric circles." Khali whispered, and I realized that she too had caught one of the creatures.
They were dropping faster, a flurry of wings, trails of gold following their paths. Looking around I realized the others were fast becoming a darker haze amidst the shimmering forms. But my feet didn't move, instead, I knelt, cupping the small energy source in my palm and watching it. Its tiny wings fluttered, the feel of the other golden flies tapping against my skin like a million miniature shocks.
"Duo, look at them when they land." Khali's voice said from my right, though I could no longer see her through the mist of snowy gold.
Reluctantly I dropped my eyes to the ground, watching. The butterflies of energy were landing, sinking beneath the dirt, becoming absorbed by the planet. Wherever they landed, a small ripple seemed to spring up, like a stone being dropped into still water. A concentric circle.
The strange yellow butterflies stopped flying after another half hour, all of them having found their way beneath the ground, melding into the planet and disappearing. Except for the one that I had held onto, refusing to let go. It fluttered feebly inside my cupped palm, soft touches against my skin.
"Well," Khali said quietly, her fingers now twined with Bell's as we stood together, "at least now we know where the energy is."
"And why we couldn't find it." Heero added, from beside me.
"So, show it to us Duo." Treize said, coming over and staring pointedly at the hand that still held the butterfly.
Slowly, I opened it, balancing the little thing on my palm for everyone to see. We all bent close, staring at it in fascination. It fluttered its wings, and then stilled, seeming to be thinking about something. I gasped, as the small electric shocks it had been giving me began sinking beneath my palm, inside my skin. Heero grabbed my wrist, as if he could hold it off. But already it was too late, the butterfly gone from view, and inside of me. Left on my palm, were the same concentric circles that we'd seen on the ground. A faint marking of white on my skin.
"This planet just keeps getting weirder and weirder." I murmured, twisting my hand this way and that, trying to figure out what else the small butterfly might have done to me. I didn't feel any different, and the mark on my palm didn't hurt or sting. "Nothing," I said softly, looking up and trading gazes.
Khali let out a soft sound, almost like a hiccup, "Ohh, what was that?" she muttered, clutching at her head.
"What?" Milyardo asked, putting a hand on her shoulder.
"I just-hic-felt someth-hic-strange…" she trailed off, all of us watching her avidly. She rolled her eyes, laughing for a moment. "It's my ship half's warning systems. Sorry, they feel a little different in this form." She smiled sheepishly at us, shrugging and holding out her hands. Then blinked and blurted out "Shinalp! The warning systems!" Her eyes closed, a look of concentration marring her features. "There's some sort of storm heading our way, and it's…" she shivered, "it's huge, monstrously large."
"Shelter?" Milyardo asked, already looking around at the blank scenery.
"Now, and fast."
"The bubble, it's the only place that might protect us." Treize said quickly, already moving back towards where we'd left it. "Its walls can withstand almost any amount of pressure, though we might get tossed around a bit. But that depends on this storm."
Silence descended as we ran, jumping into our seats and sealing the bubble as quickly as possible. There was a pause as we spent a moment breathing heavily, panting and staring out at the sky.
"We can't take off in a storm, we'll just have to ride it out." Milyardo commented, glancing about, making sure we were strapped down as best as possible. "138, are you ok?" he asked, looking to his left, where the tiny Youlin was sitting on his shoulder, one claw wrapped inside the blond hair.
"Yes, for now."
A rumble off in the distance caught our attention, the storm was coming. My eyes drifted across the sky, trying to catch a glimpse of it, but there was nothing to see, not a cloud, not a wisp. Another rumble, this time closer, and yet still nothing showed in the sky above. But I could feel it, a low vibration, as if something were coming ever closer. Briefly, my mind flashed back in time, to the moment I had felt the robotic finder in the flooring, the fear of it, knowing it would kill me.
"What the…" Heero whispered softly, and I glanced toward him, following his gaze into the sky. He'd been looking in a different direction then I had benn, and now, I too could see what was coming.
"Creos," 138 hissed from its perch on Milyardo's shoulder.
The storm was coming, but not like anything I'd ever seen before. It was not condensed into the form of a cloud; it was a mighty river rushing through the darkening dome of the sky. A clear sheet of water, immense in proportion, awakening stars visible through it as it moved overhead.
"Open the bubble," I heard myself say, nearly unbelieving of my own words. To my shock though, they did, and the night air was upon us, moist with the water flying above. Not a drop fell, nothing but the sound, the overwhelming sound of it. I stood then, wings stretching unconsciously. The water called me. In a silent voice, something about it pulling at me to fly with it. I bent my knees, and pushed off, wings dragging my body after, flinging me upward and into the night.
"Duo!" I turned my head, casting a glance downward even as I surged upward. Heero was already on his feet, pushing off after me. And to my amazement, Bell was following, a glowing blue pulsing around him, one hand still holding onto Khali.
Then my gaze centered on the sheet of water above as it grew closer. The sound as I approached was amazing; it felt as if my eardrums would shatter from the mere proximity of it. I wasn't sure what was moving me to do this, to get a closer look. I only knew, that I had to do it.
Soon I was flying above the mass of water, winging my way towards its middle, flowing with its tide. Looking ahead, I could see it leading off and over the horizon, the dying sun nearly extinguished. I pumped my wings furiously, speeding up, determined to follow it to wherever it was going. Beside me, I caught a glimpse of Heero, silvery wings spread wide, spanning a good 3-feet more than my own; catching the setting sun and rippling water reflections on the undersides. Beautiful, as only he could ever be.
To my other side, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the glowing sapphire of Bell, using pure energy to fly both himself and Khali, as they too went to the call of the water. Something about this great sheet, so mighty in its travels, rang throughout my head, mesmerizing me, forcing me to come to it. And though I had been the first of us to answer its call, I knew the others felt it as well.
Hours seemed to pass, time having no meaning any longer. Inside, all I could hear or feel, was the movement of the rushing water. A tidal pull, gravitation at its fullest.
Then the water was diving downwards, pushing through a massive circular chasm in the ground. I followed it through, still winging my way along its topside, determined to see where it went.
It should have grown darker as we flew inside the planet, cave-like blackness taking over. But it never did, instead a golden glow as that of the butterflies lit the interior, going deep down into the planet with us. A glance to either side, and I could see, that this was where the butterflies *had* gone. Millions of them plastered against the walls. The smoothness of the stone a sign that this was not the first time the water had come this way.
Deeper we went, and the light never dimmed, the water still traveling. I wondered, whether its destination might in fact be on the other side of the planet, puzzling over what the core of the planet would look like. Would it be filled with water? Molten lava? The planet was not normal in any sense of the word, so therefore, who was to say its core would be?
It soon became all too obvious that it wasn't, as we reached it. The immensity of the center of the planet, too huge to comprehend. No space was this big, not enclosed, not like this. For a moment, not even the call of the water could move me. My wings fluttering absently as I stayed in place, staring with awe at the inside of the planet.
It was smooth, like standing on the inside of a ball. Stone turned to silk with the passage of the water through this place, millennia in the making. The water flowed like a great, flat river directly through the center of it. Flying to one side of it, I was able to see that the water looked like a thin line running through a circle. Then my eyes fell on the butterflies, and I was not surprised to note they too had a pattern, a familiar one. A concentric circle.
Like a spiral that never had an end, swirling into itself over and over again.
I closed my eyes for a moment, unable to bear the view for long. Slowly opening them again after a few moments of trying to catch my breath. To my right, Heero floated beside me, lazy flaps of his wings keeping him there. To my left, Bell hovered, one arm firmly wrapped around Khali as she stared at the cavern.
"Bell!" I hollered, waving a hand to gain his attention. He nodded, stretching out a tendril of blue energy towards the water.
Suddenly, everything went still, the water running out through the other side, the silence deafening in its wake. The butterflies stirred, as if a breeze were blowing past them, wings fluttering. Slowly they moved, whirling in snowy clouds towards the center of the cavern, coming together in a mass.
They seemed to meld together, becoming one, a form taking hold. Molding them into a giant golden being. It was larger than Khali's ship half, though not by much. And then it began to unfold, becoming vaguely human in shape, even more massive then it had been. A rippling sigh echoed and bounced from the smooth walls, eyes like giant black lakes opening to stare at us. Despite myself, I inched closer to Heero, grabbing for his hand, nearly tangling my wings with his in my fear.
"Bell?" I squeaked, hoping that somehow he would be able to communicate. Heero's hand gripped my own harder, squeezing my fingers tightly. I glanced over, watching his face; it showed nothing but blankness.
A sound began filling the cavern then, like the wind of a hurricane. I looked over at Bell again; ready to beg him to say something, only to realize he was. The windy sounds emanating from his lips, impossibly loud. The pitch changed, becoming deeper, booming around us, then switching back to the softest whisper of sound. Silence fell again.
Softly at first, a whistling breeze filled the cavern, gradually building into a roaring scream, dying down, whispering, only to heighten again.
Bell nodded, turning to face us. "It accepts."
Before I could ask what it accepted, he went on. "It will mate with Puppy, and create life. It has…been waiting. It is," he paused for a moment, a frown on his lips, and shook his head. "It is energy without life, it is…"again he stopped speaking, and then yelled out the rest in a rush. "It is *thinking* energy!"
I blinked, "but you said energy couldn't…"
"I know!" He cringed slightly, "I was wrong, ok?" he grimaced, glancing back at the giant being. Briefly, the sound of the wind through reeds echoed from his lips. Then he turned towards us again, "It's impossible, but…what it says makes sense."
"And what does it say?" I asked, feeling the fear drain from me, this strange mission almost over at last.
He motioned at me, "hold out your hand to it, Duo."
I did, displaying the white circle that had been left behind on my palm. The golden being blinked its massive eyes, more wind-like sounds howling from it.
"The universe has marked you." Bell said cryptically, nodding to himself, and responding in kind to whatever the strange being had said. "It will wait here for its mate, but we must leave it now, it says it must prepare."
"Don't even tell me it's planning the wedding." I snorted.
Bell looked embarrassed, turning his face to the side, but not before I caught a glimpse of the rising blush on his cheeks. "Let's just go, ok?"
Deciding not to push him any farther, I smiled, determined to finish the conversation later.
"Look," Heero said softly, pointing towards where we'd flown in.
The golden ball floated towards us. Milyardo and Treize looking with awe at the golden giant that sat in the center of the cavern. They sank graceully to the bottom of the curving floor, the bubble falling open.
Treize looked up at us, worry in his eyes. "Well?" he yelled, "how did it go?"
I grinned, swooping down, Heero's hand still clutched in my own. "We're going to have a baby!" I shouted, laughing.
We were back on the ship, peering out one of the larger view ports. I had a bittersweet taste in mouth, and I realized, in a strange way, I was going to miss Puppy.
"It's starting," Bell whispered.
My eyes went to the space beyond the port, gluing to the scene outside.
Have you ever seen stars fold themselves like a great velveteen blanket of night?
The universe was moving; softly draping it's arms about itself, spinning while never changing. An optical illusion that couldn't be, shimmering in and out of consciousness like a dream.
The planets moved towards one another gently, drifting ever closer together. Spinning around each other for a moment like dancers in a grand waltz, bowing their heads and gracefully accepting one another for company. Faster they spun, merging towards the center, mingling into one, huge amongst the well of night.
It shone, glowing golden like a sun, rich greens and blues washing across it in emerald and cobalt. Landmasses of auburn and rich sable, clouds of pristine whiteness drifting above it, and then, little twinkling lights began sifting across it, tiny flashes of brilliance.
"Life." Heero whispered from beside me, his voice shaking with awe.
Unconsciously my hand raised, fingers spreading open, palm flattening against the port.
The universe had given birth
Transpod: A dimensional traveling device. The transpod will transport human mass within any area that contains another transpod. The time taken for each journey will always be exactly 10 nanoseconds, as time is folded as well as matter to create no ripple within the dimensions.
Slosta: A drink created from organic matter grown on Jilad, the Slosta is filled with nutrients that heighten awareness and energize.
CR chips: Two microchips implanted behind the ears, the connectors that allow a direct linkage to the VR modules.
Shinalp: A form of cursing, Shinalp is somewhat akin to saying "shit" or "ah shit"
Kajacrap: The Kaja is a life form located on the planet Neskin, a large beast known to produce huge amounts of feces. The phrase kajacrap is akin to saying "Bullshit"
Fliogan Warriors: The Fliogan is a race that attaches metallic wings to their young while they are still being formed within the incubators. The wings are partially organic, fusing with the young so as to become part of their bodies. This warrior race is known to be extremely high tech, and very vicious, most normal humans will not go near them, as they are known to kill without reason. Very little is known of the Fliogan or their ways.
Feed Tubes: Connectors that feed information and nutrients to any life form connected to any long-term device.
Lavablue 6: The planet on which the society of Fliogan reside at this time.
Levels: Technological knowledge is rated by level; most societies only have an average of 30 levels. The common level of most humans is 5, techmaster levels tend to be higher and in the upper ranges.
Steelshift: 1 of over a million different charted elements, Steelshift is partially organic, allowing it to be integrated with human DNA, testing is still in experimental stages, most distinguished users of this element are the Fliogan.
Slipshot Diskwings: A style of wing known to be common among the Fliogan, Slipshot defines the integration of movable parts, Diskwing is the style of the small circular patterns of metal that form the wings of Fliogan.
Contract: A contract is a more binding way to say, "Promise or swear?"
Optilenses: Cyber optic lenses, which can be used during a VR program only.
Creos: The original form of the name Christ has changed with the passage of time, modern form of the word when used as a curse is Creos.
Orstras: A plant matter grown in dark caves on the planet of Trinition, considered a delicacy on most planets, the plant is dark purple with small white bells that can be plucked and cooked. The taste is said to be sweet and delicate.
Realtime Call: The difference between a realtime call and a regular call is in the distance, all realtime calls infer off planet residence of the caller, communications run at high speeds, face to face talking is still difficult between planets.
What is your task: This is the way most people will ask what your job is, what career you're in.
Crèche Technician: Most people are born to the incubators and raised in crèches, the technicians help care for the many children being raised in such places.
Grower: The still forming body of a child within the incubator, a delicate time that must be carefully overseen to prevent accidents. A grower is usually designated as a child in a womb-like state. Between -1 to -9 months, or the time a child would be inside of a mother's body.
Youlin: A manmade mammalian life form, these animals are specifically created to improve the technology behind cloning. Most tests are performed with a small VR module; with which the creatures are filled with the only knowledge they know, as the Youlin is created with a blank slate for a mind.
A Set: A group of Growers that have reached maturity.
Trance state: Every few months of a citizen's life is recorded during REM cycles, the consciousness is stored within a neural processor called a memory chip. Occasionally when one wishes to know another, an exchange of such chips may occur.
Wetwiring: circuitry and modifications that can be installed within the human body without harming it.
The System: There are 3 levels of the system. The first is that which take cares of the minor systems such as basic maintenance, the second level controls techmaster training, medical facilities, and knowledge. The final level of the system controls all other functions between worlds; each detail is observed, and stored within it.
Klishana: A crystal found during an expedition of exploration, it is not only organic, but sentient as well.
Pinalr: A vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked, it is said to be an acquired taste due to its strange fleshy texture and nutty flavor.
Guplit: A type of fruit grown on many planets, it is small and covered in tiny spikes which make it needful to be carefully eaten. It is said to taste rather sour, with a hint of sweetness.
Fermented Hisle Juice: A type of fruit also grown on many planets, it can be juiced and distilled to form a mild form of alcoholic beverage.
Brean-scalpel: a surgical instrument designed for a bloodless opening and closing of tissues, often used for personal bodily modifications.
Inverse Star: Very rarely when a star starts its death throes, it will turn in upon itself and feed off of its own energy, creating a new form.
If you would like a definition for something not listed here just ask! ^_^