My fic has been archived, and so has my help thread, so I thought I’d make a link post here, as well as general chat about both.
My fic has been archived, and so has my help thread, so I thought I’d make a link post here, as well as general chat about both.
How about some teasers?
The universe has changed. Almost everything is different. Even with only the vaguest of memories, I know this universe is different somehow. It’s a vexing partial amnesia, as there are recollections just out of reach, and those that aren’t, convey a sometimes starkly different reality than the one I’m in. I would fear I was suffering senility or some kind of madness, but the few who will open up to me are enduring the same misfortune.
Entry 001: Encounter
I told him that I was as lost as he was, and asked what he was doing in his travels. He shook his head. “I am sorry to say, I have given all of that up. The exploration, the search for knowledge… I can find no reason for it now. We were born too late to make a difference. I see no point in going on. If anything matters… if history will simply sweep away all our accomplishments, as if we had never existed.” He lowered his voice and added rather darkly, “The Reset will come, it will happen, again. It is inevitable.”
Entry 002: A step on the Road
I asked him what he knew of the Anomaly, and at that he became rather grim. “Do not speak of it, and do not seek it. The ATLAS is not something to visit. It can make you mad. We do not speak openly of this, but our Korvax friends are fools for worshipping this oppressive… thing. It controls the hated Sentinels which nearly destroyed the forces of Hirk, and our people entirely. Other people too. Do anything else, but stay away from the evil of black and red. Disturbing it could cause… the Last Days.” His pronouncement was sobering, and I nodded in glum agreement.
Entry 003: Life gets in the way
I wasn’t sure what I was heading into, but something always drives me to defend others. I quickly familiarized myself with the new control scheme while I boosted towards the obvious site of the battle. A group of Freighters in the distance was being hounded by enemy ships, streaks of energy beams gleaming over the faintly colored nebula beyond. Their targets ended up being a rather motley bunch of craft, Fighters of various kinds mixed with a few Shuttles, but evidently heavily armored as the other Fighters chasing them seemed to be having a tough time of it.
Entry 004: Life intrudes, mysteries deepen
"I wish that I had never been foolish enough to pursue these outlandish rumors, to learn such horrible things. And yet, I am unable to tear myself away from this journey. Something compels me. An inner Voice which has seduced me. I cannot resist The Call.
“If YOU are reading this, I am afraid I may have cursed you with the same Doom. Turn away. Read no more of my chronicles. Do not follow. Pursue happy dreams. If you can.”
Entry 005: Destination reached, journey just begun
I’m not sure I was more nervous in my life.
It’s silly, really. Why be worried about the Truth? The unknown was filling my mind with all sorts of paranoia. But what if the truth was bad news? What if there was no Truth? But in a universe this weird - a multiverse, built on such strange principles - there had to be Something to Know.
Entry 006: And then, things got complicated
There was one particularly troubling side thread in these logs, of someone else who dared participate in a scheme to capture a Sentinel Drone. It seemed to be for a number of purposes beyond seeing what made them tick; to see what materials were used to make them, to discern what sort of code determined their behavior and any A.I. bestowed on them, to learn of their connection to the ATLAS, if there was some way to use any connections to hack into the ATLAS… it was quite a daring and perhaps foolhardy approach to solving this dilemma which plagued the galaxy, and possibly the whole universe.
I read the entry with increasing dread. I wasn’t ready for this.
Entry 007: Recovery, and an amazing rediscovery
He gazed at me silently for a time. He seemed genuinely baffled, and I had no reason to doubt him. “Is there more?”
This was quite an extenuation. “There is, but… I’m not sure I should share this with you. It involves…” I fell silent at the expression my mind was creating on his visage, but it seemed real. Besides, wouldn’t they come across it later anyhow? “Oh, what the hell.”
It was the log of the first Freighter, and I could see Asrial visibly stiffen as he took in the bits of information I’d managed to cull from the fractured memory. “I… do… not… recall.”
He fell silent, and my mind swam with notions. The only reason he wouldn’t know this is if something unique had happened. “Asrial… do Korvax willingly separate from—?”
“The Convergence,” he finished over me. “It is… not normal. This is… not normal.” He fell silent for a time again, quite some time, and I wondered if I should prod him a bit, or let him think.
Entry 008: Mysteries, and Stranger Things
And then I came across another Monument. I was hesitant to deal with another one so soon, but most of my experiences were much more benign, so I settled my ship down in a flattish spot nearby and went over.
Every time I approached one, I was overcome with a sense of awe, of reverence, and I wasn’t sure who I was being reverent for. No one knew for certain of their origins. Where had these ancient marvels come from, made with such mystery and authority? Why had the Ancients fled? Why weren’t they around to shepherd these races, fighting to survive in a bizarre universe that changed on them without warning? It was exasperating, how humble I felt in the presence of these incredible artifacts. And how abandoned, neglected, at the same time. Was the Solution just within reach, guarded by arcane puzzles? The Answer I ached to know?
Entry 009: A step into the Shadows
It was a call from someone in a dark area near the back, and I approached him with a wave. But something felt amiss, and he didn’t wave back. I had a feeling I had been set up, and kept my hands ready to arm myself. He grumbled, “You took a bad step, speaking like that in the vote.”
Yeah, definitely not a fan of my first amendment rights. “I’m sorry, but everyone else was speaking their minds, and there were no signs forbidding Interlopers.”
“You are an outsider. Outsiders need to know their place.” I heard sounds of large bodies approaching from behind me.
Entry 010: A test of Fate, and of Faith
Two Vy’keen were talking in hushed tones above me, towards the back wall where cargo was stowed, and it sounded like they were discussing some sort of conspiracy.
“Are you sure?”
There was a pause as he perhaps gave a shrug, or checked for eavesdroppers. “Already he makes yokt’nka to the Gek which are of no benefit to us. Why? No one cares about those nasty toads. There is no cause for it.” Agreement… concession? Treaty?
“Foolishness. Peace without conditions only serves to make our enemies stronger. But what can be done?”
“Oh… something will be done,” the other one said in a gloating tone. “You will see.”
“When will I see and what will I see?”
“You will see… well, let me say only that the election may be repaired.”
Entry 011: Dreams, and nightmares
This other race… they had to be from old civilizations, or the derelict from a remote system, which seemed unlikely, though more plausible. I couldn’t believe they were all Travelers. The ship could have struck an iceball in the Comet cloud most systems had, or an asteroid on the way in. On rare occasions there were Warp accidents, which was why flight plans had to be filed, and arrivals carefully timed. But the other race… I had a lot to learn about this wreck, and I hoped it gave up its secrets willingly.
Now the question was, did I really want to learn the full mystery of this doomed vessel, and whatever unknown lifeform was lurking within?
Entry 012: The Mouth of the Monster
I hoped this might persuade K’tarsgh, as the Pirate looked like he was ready to blow me off. “He’s crying out for help. I have to do something… I can’t just leave him, like that. Please, help me. I’ll pay…”
My voice trailed off as he came at me with a strange, intense look on his face. The brute grabbed me by the throat, lifting me under the armpit to glare at me, thank God for that. “I knew it! I have a word for you , Interloper. I had a dream too. I had to face the worst evil in this part of the galaxy. To save you! Because you were too weak to save yourself! And all because your faking Walk drags me into it! You want me to throw down my life for you?” As if to illustrate, he tossed me out onto his lawn where I fell on my back hard, the wind knocked from my lungs.
Entry 013: Complications, and complications…
Someone grabbed my shoulder and spun me around roughly. Having suffered through a lot the past few days, I immediately clenched my fists in alarm which amused the bunch of Vy’keen confronting me. The one who stopped me wasn’t as big as K’tarsgh, who was quite the goliath, but none of them were small. “Feisty one! Lofazta segedbe. You fakr, who let lord K’tarsgh fall, take that u’prwat for yourself?”
Generally, there was a certain ettiquette Vy’keen observed when they wanted to demean someone, but these were Pirates. This brute was going out of his way to be an ass, and very crude about it.
Entry 014: The married life, the Traveler life, the complicated life
I secured one last data cable and then emerged. “Now… we just restore power?”
The engineer gave me a dour look, but nodded. “It will either start or fail. So what will we see happen?”
I took a greedy bite from my pita, chewing optimistically. “Ohh, hofefuwy… something really really good.” No one liked such a vague reply, but I feared they would stop me if they knew. I gazed worriedly at the large power switch, but… honestly, what was I waiting for? It would work, or it wouldn’t. I pushed it back closed with a snap.
At first, nothing happened but another whir of electricity. But then, a swarm of colors drifted across every display and lighting element. Well, pretty was a good sign, right?
Captain Grondo wasn’t so impressed, blurting out, “What are you doing to my ship!” The crew throughout the vessel responded to the light show with their own sounds of surprise and consternation.
Peeking inside the place, I saw a central fire pit, but what was smoldering was a stove which smelled of burned dinner. Great, someone couldn’t stand the stink of their own cooking and abandoned it, some discovery. I called around, but there was no answer. I noticed that in the chamber was also one of the green locked crates which was easy enough to open. Inside, I found some books, a few articles of clothing which seemed to be Gek sized, and some parchments. Looking them over curiously, I became interested as the top one listed off a number of crafting items.
5 units of athekla meat - whatever that was
3 tranis bulbs
2 spoons of pleasure spice… what the heck was this?
Skimming down the list, it struck me that I was reading a cooking recipe! Great, some solo explorer’s cook notes, and if the stink coming from the stove was any indication, they weren’t much of a cook. I wondered idly what pleasure steak was like. But then I caught a notation at the bottom of the page:
Taken from “Cooking recipes of the Ancients” - hard to find these days, but head to system…
I had to stop reading because my hands were shaking from excitement. My first clue to an Oameni homeworld! Ohh, my God, this was incredible! I could hardly contain myself.
I didn’t have much time to celebrate as a frantic voice called out in my speakers. “What is that!”
There was very little furnishing; a lot of ceramic jars and containers, some cooking utensils, a stack of kindling for the fires, and a bed which was much like a sleeping bag off against one side of the steep wall. It was almost disappointing. While I didn’t want a new fire, she seemed to spite me by lighting one with a little tool. Her gaze was on me the whole time, as if examining me to my core, and was appropriately unsettling. The woman herself… was she young or old? Slender or withered? Wise or a bit insane? Good, or evil? She seemed to be a little of everything. How very Zen. “Sit,” she ordered, beckoning at the ground opposite her and the fire.
“Oh! Yeah, sorry,” I muttered in apology, dropping to the spot. She seemed mildly amused. And then it struck me what I was looking at. I had seen her kind before, a few times. I was losing my edge. “Are you… a Traveler?” I asked in a wondrous tone. Wouldn’t that be amazing.
She scoffed at my question. “As if I look to have traveled. But are you a Traveler?” Her gaze somehow became more piercing. “Or something more?”
I gasped in astonishment, sensing that she knew far more than I could ever hope to guess. “I am! I mean… yes, but… I hardly remember a thing! Can you help me remember?”
She threw something into the fire - a powder? - and the flames roared to life with all kinds of strange colors. A strong aroma filled the place, and then I was stunned to see the boundaries of the tent receeding away, ever farther, ever faster, until all but the circle of fire near us was utter darkness. I knew that reality was a construct in our minds, more or less what we perceived, but there was a certain amount of fudging which was made to provide something we could handle in this quantum realm. Colors, tones, flavors… all were some sort of veneer our minds pasted over everything we experienced, like computer graphic textures, to help us make sense of everything. But this… was it from a drug which was messing with my mind, sending me on some sort of wild trip? Or drawing back the curtains our brains cloaked over this world, to reveal the Truth which lay beyond?
(Sorry this took a while, but this chapter is… immense, so I split it at the best break point that still made for a good adventure - and it’s still immense! I also wrote some things that were kind of painful, so I’m rewriting them, which some of it to come means a lot of rewriting.
A late Happy Anniversary! to our beloved alternate reality!)