3,2 A class Altair. Garthan carrier group. Desert planet RA. 4,2 B variable Acheron. Reliquaries on otherwise desolate planetoid SEPULCHRE. 5,2 K Ember. Forest analog planetary biome, AVALON.
[NEBULA gap 5,2 to 7,2.] 7,2 F Jem. Steamy oceanic URLU, home of Urluquai, where we left the Voyager disc, the Zelbulig monocle, and various detritous of our voyage: sublight drives, and our hyperwave filter array. 8,2 Dwarf Vizier. Dead planetoid NETHERWORLD. A gap between northern and eastern nebular gaps, nearest star to CHERNOBOG black hole, where I write these notes. Allah provide that I should keep my faculties together so long. Here we discarded the hyperdrive that, in our ignorance donning the mantle of Babulon, entering the Garthan and Urlu systems in messianic dementia– and pulling our ships and theirs through Eledra’s aethric mirror. What was this arrogance? The years settling in with our mercenary, our concubine, Moon Marauder? Cryamnesiacs, post-Ins agents, a tribe of muppet cooks and maids scuttling about inside its bulkheads, commanded by a pack of superstitious sailors of the worst sort. Yes, themselves cryamnesiac post-Ins sports, claiming commissions from the Combine.
[[The wave from the antigraviton shunt shifts out of phase with me, such me as is left after 7,830 Combine solcycs phased in and out through its maw. SERPENT’S COIL in exploration. CHERNOBOG in repentance. CHERNOBOG as seat of the final destruction of the Tan Ru and supermatter entities. CHERNOBOG again, we shall collapse the shunt that has since sheltered us from this singularity.
[[Confusion sets in. I have travelled these paths among the stars many times, between my rounds at the eidetic matrix sphere, our woefully misnamed combat computer, between the parties with the Marauder officers spooky personality swapping --face games, their own inheritance, solcycs playing round their mnemonic sequencer. The world collapses out of objects into vectors, arrays, probability memories. Of course your favourite dream records nicely here as well, and should you sequence the mneme rising with the aintigraviton shunt’s wake of relativistic distortion along every synapse, ah. Ah. Allah. Lord of the worlds. RAHMAN, RAHIM.
Again. Not back to HOPE. Brass called. How many comets and moonlets did they burn to send that hyperwave through? HOPE. Just a Combine garrison system, seeded with memories of wrongs inflicted on the Ins, humanity. Still fighting the fight for the Ins, talking where possible, striking advantage when possible, crushing Ins enemies with ultimate intent whenever, whenever possible. We, the ins and associate, partner and servitor clades, dance as under the bright tree. The tree on the hill, the hill of the earth.
[[Again. No, we did not destroy advance fleets of Muktians. That was simulation from the grand days of our procession through the Aethric mirror, trading our space for that of previously tracked supraluminal vessels throughout the cluster. What were we thinking? That the mantle of Babulon, whatever that artefaqt was, would last us through every encounter with the ships we casually flung about space?
The Zorg we call Baldy, our alien buddy. Now I haven’t even begun to crack that nut. Where do we start with Baldy in the flotilla. He came in after. After we mirrored the Tan Ru and supersolid planetesimals into the CHERNOBOG black hole. Then we were just fucking around. The mantle was gone. Esmerelda, another immortal haunting our sector. And was she working for herself? One lifetime, 150 solcys or therabouts, doesn’t give much leeway for interstellar travel. Not on one’s own. Another HOPE faction, another batshit old post-Insian immortal? Or is the Combine keeping the children of G.Sol EARTH on its toes in more than brute force ancestral memory? Thanks, Combine colonization board. You betrayers of the Ins and Jin, sending seeds to earthlike worlds, building our tissues out of local soil, local rock, knitting our terran bodies out of extraterrene mater. Only the information in our systems decends from EARTH: our atoms, billions of years separated among these weird worlds. Baldy seems to say, Chill. Well, he never says or writes a word, our Zorg space surfer. But we all know. And before I murdered my sister officer just now fighting alongside me in the larboard plasma blaster. Before she ran this sim of the fight with the full fleet above URLU. Of course they didn’t welcome us, to snatch ourselves all down to HOPE, leaving urluquai corvettes, carrier and deep hunters above the world. I left the fucking squid our gold artefaqt from Earth. Brightly shining respendent, they declared. But that was at the glance off the mantle of Babulon. Who and what that one was, can no more be said. My sister said we’d run this on the sardion optimizer. No. That’s been the Moon Marauder’s battle computer for --how long now? I’m on the bridge of the Pandora! orbiting CHERNOBOG singularity, waiting to enter, we had no cause to dispatch the supersolids to hell through this gate. The Moon Marauder is not breaking up. The Pandora is not speeding away. We did not swap back the sublight thrusters. I am. The Zorg are witnesses. The Klakar are witnesses. They did take me away from the singularity i so would enter, to join those I’d dispatched into its maw. No more Zorg temporal usury. No more Marauder mind magic. No more dream quests, like we took in the 1005 days first to Chernobog. And to think flitting about the singularity would not change us again? Just to swap out the nebular collapsar drives for the lighter vacuum graviton imploders? No.
No, we spent millions of years dreaming and sharing ourselves through the sequencer.
Then the first visit, then the rampage under the mantle. We did destroy Garthan ships. And Urlu. And I see the klakar beacon has brought our patient comrades these four-ty years, may I use the old units? Esmerelda is an antiquarian at heart, you see, and would approve. These forty solcycs, four million perceived for a few of us in those 1005 objective days. We were already dead awed and afraid of what had flashed to us from the supersoilds.
The supersolids. Asteroid ships. Burned us with lava, but we burned them with tachyon helices. Unmade them, and most likely dumping their waste heat in some patafuture. Surely that will breed reptiles too, will it not? and who can say, we who have turned back from CHERNOBOG to snatch Urlu and Garthan fleets from their stars, depositing them above HOPE’s sun Glory. We were sent as warriors.
first years: hopping star to star. found graviton implosion drive early, tachyon beam, no battle computer worth speaking of. no aliens. Marauder. Humans (the Ins, insian, post-insian etc.) not hatched from Combine colony seed programming. Sure, we’ll take your fission rockets, oh how foolish we were, it will not fit after all! yes, by all means take the mnemonic sequencer, we shall dance in the space it occupied these last centuries, and party down running the Moon manually. HOPE military control of the Pandora was quite illusory after that. We flowed with the currents of space. We read the cenotaph of Rylex and accepted the tachyon ray gun from a daemon traveller. Good times.
Lower right cloud. After 15 some years we’d partied out, cleaned out the artifacts and tech. The klakar’s approach to trading, delighting in an a pack of uplifted watchfrogs as much as that hyperdrive --ah, and that was the next phase!
Just one hyperspace jump, we said. It will save so many days on our trip. Our plan, spooking out the stars then without ships. Just what the Zorg are up to, the two systems ships encountered them; and what sort of economy keeps the ancient mad artists and ideologs on the Moon Marauder going in the cluster? Have they really waited more than five hundred old earth years, skipping in and out of hypersleep, glandular fugue states and mnemotechnic activities? That’s the dreamworld years, and I’m not convinced Baldy wasn’t already with the flotilla at that point, in some converging universe. We saw him in seances on the bridge around our dear, dear antigraviton shunt assembly. Where does the time go. 8,031 cycs now.
The hyperspace jumps kept coming. Why not. The entire cluster was there for the plucking. The Garthan clowns, with their ion drives, gluon ooze shielding, their popguns and play wars. We left some better toys, of the civilizational and dakka varieties. Did they not see us as saviors? And were we not as luminous beings, visiting their star systems from the black hole they astrogate by, and leaving rumour of supersolid lifeforms dumped there?
Missing years. We were sent as warriors. We cannot take these warped thoughts back to HOPE. The Pandora has departed, the Moon Marauder broken up under the antiproton beams of the Urluquai. We still house the continuum renderer array. It senses, it sends, if but a seeming. All ships of this cluster, all supraluminal vessels artefaqts and tromalines are now etched with these logs. We were sent as witness.
The engineer has let me know the gravity shunt has been removed; its bubble still surrounds us, here above CHERNOBOG and its awful black maw. We shall pray in the equipment bay the shunt has occupied, and then send the ship in after all our enemies. We were sent as warriors.