During fold translation, linked to the ship’s main drive via my ‘shard, I drift in thought, in a semblance of sleep. In this state, I dream again in the dark between the stars. The ‘shard must be locked in introspective mode while in the Maelstrom. Wait. There’s a light up ahead…
The diffused glare of four suns. Shining through walls of living crystal...
...I am the King of Shards—Wait. Who the fuck is the King of Shards?
...I have been called that in the thousand millions of cycles since my ascension as a hyperdimensional being. I now labor in my workshop, doing what I’ve always done; creating new and wonderful testaments to artifice. This time I’m on a new labor—you could even say I’m putting my very soul into it.
Tendrils of living hyperplasm lift the handiwork, turning the shifting, rotating, gemlike mass this way and that, glittering in the light of the suns as they shine through the translucent panels of my workshop wall, refracted through my masterpiece’s exposed structure, circuits newly completed, and scintillating like clusters of stars in miniature.
My thoughts wander across time, back and forth through the continuum, past, present and future completely meaningless to me. It’s one of the benefits of existing mostly in dimensions of spacetime that three-space beings can’t visualize, even when they can contemplate them in the abstract.
I can exist, act and think anywhere, and anywhen. But my attention is required here and now, at this moment, in this place. So I focus my mind in this segment of time and muse as I work…
Of all the galaxies making up the crumbling Grand Civilization, there is one that merits my attention; a curious barred spiral in which around a temperamental adolescent star, a young world spins, already nursing its first signs of life, a tiny world, third from its sun.
This small world...the crucible of a species billions of cycles hence, a species that will change the universe forever, and it is for that species I build this…
My masterwork, so cunningly made… My tendrils resonate with the energy of spacetime to put the finishing touches on my crowning achievement, welding its pan-dimensional crystal casing together, an instrument extruded from the fabric of the universe itself, shaped and grown almost like a thing alive.
It is almost like those of my other, lesser creations gifted to powerful servants, but with a new wrinkle. This one can replicate itself, endlessly. All it needs is a host.
Eleven axes of spacetime twist and shrink, curl and uncurl, shifting the geometry of reality, locally adjusting natural laws and physical constants as it does so. Finished.
I carefully test my creation, the most powerful of its kind ever built… A hypershard. The Prime shard, I’ll call this one.
The device’s three-space existence is it’s most tenuous, and it would seem to shift and change to a mere three-space entity as it rotates through the higher dimensions of the multiverse. Then I think of my colleagues. Idiots. Idiots, the lot of them, I say to myself of my former associates. To me the rest of the Nine are shortsighted fools who lack my perceptive gifts.
But I forget my privileged perspective since I ascended to this state. I alone see what the others refuse to see. Even my first true friend and closest ally, Sarusammog of the Gates, blinds itself to the fetid truth.
The universe changes, evolves, and this billion-cycle experiment comes relentlessly to its end. The Nine have failed. I have failed. After billions of cycles of glory, all is lost. New worlds will accrete from the dust and gas of young star systems, cooling, hosting new and strange forms of life. Life that will go on without us.The universe cares nothing for our petty notions of dominion.