The Sundering - A short story

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The Sundering - A short story

Post by Abigail » Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:28 pm

Summer heat baked the ground into a cracked, desiccated mass, a thin crust over a briny substrate that helped to give this place its name. She had been to and through some strange and beautiful places but this one in particular spoke to her soul… to the part of her that felt so keenly the loss of everything she had once held dear. Years flew past in her mind’s eye as she waited for the sun to dip below the mountains, composed herself for what she must do.

Had there been another person present they would have seen only a slight figure huddled beneath a worn serape managing to look cold in heat that blurred vision, played tricks with the very stuff of light and air. Another onlooker might have seen simply an indistinct shape, another of the boulders that littered this hellscape. With the right sort of vision one would simply have seen a vacancy in the landscape, not even a flicker of energy suggesting life.

What none could have seen was the enormous and growing level of potential within her. She drank the energy of this place and as the mountains strained up to swallow the sun the level of potential rose within her. This night, this place… all was in readiness as it had been forecast when her world was young and bright, aeons ago.

She called across the universe within herself, an echo of other/self answering with disinterested musings and cooling her ardor for what would come.

Shadow reached out to envelop her in welcome and cooling darkness while a wash of potential rose again within and her senses unfurled, questing for threads of life so ubiquitous even in this desolate place. To her eyes this valley was awash with trillions of life-glows and their power grew even as she opened herself to more potential, filling wells of possibility, beginning to spin the web of probability that would be her new pathway in this strange and wonderful world.

Absolute control was beyond her, beyond any being but she could nudge things in the direction she needed them to go. The need had been discovered long before but circumstance had trapped her into a form that she grew to detest, unable to alter it in any real way, unable to seek the mercy of a final dissolution… the solace granted all life eventually.

She had circled this star more than 50,000 times, all of it spent in this form, always hiding, pretending… never understanding that she hid from herself even more effectively than she had from the subjects of her observation. The world these humans occupied had changed drastically in that time, glacial epochs advancing and retreating while always these curious beings spread and learned, grew and quested.

She remembered the initial shock of awakening, knowing she was something other than the form she occupied but not yet knowing what it meant to be what she had become. Other missions had tested her dedication, her persistence, even her considerable intelligence… but nothing could have prepared her for this strange world, this bizarre way of living. Nothing could have prepared her for the shock of becoming a species that did not float amongst the clouds of a cold planet but moved on protrusions over solid surfaces, drank what to her species would have been unyielding stone.

New senses… ways of perceiving reality… in truth, a new reality in an almost total sense. Even the Old Ones who huddled within the gravity wells of neutron stars and gloried in the gravitational tides were more comprehensible, more familiar.

At least that was the way it had begun. Her greeting to this reality was a wall of sensation that overwhelmed her ability to process it, light in wavelengths none of her species had ever perceived filtered through completely new senses her species had never needed to evolve. It took her a very long time to learn to sort these things into something that had meaning, time during which she was encased in the adamantine shell which was all that remained of her former physical self.

Her new form had been patterned after the dominant sentient species, specifically the male of the species since they were more physically powerful. Her people had never studied this sort of life before and the very concept of gender was something as alien to them as communicating using light and sound would have been. Her species method of self-replication was utterly unlike any of the more complex organisms here, more akin to reproduction of microscopic life and in some very important ways her species was monocellular in nature. She herself was an iteration of her parent being who had budded her off and so on down the line. With effective immortality for individuals evolution and sentience took vastly different paths.

Her mission was drawing to a close, the time when she would return to her original form and depart for the closest giant planet located conveniently close within the same solar system. It was not her place of origin, very far from it… but that was to be the next step for her, to add herself and her offspring to the new home.

In the past the budding phase would simply have proceeded on its natural course, she would have simply detached newly budded offspring and sent them tumbling into the wild sky of a new home to live or die as the whims of fate dictated but here she could not do that. More, she did not want to do that… did not want to go back to her world of unbounded sky, did not want to rejoin her own kind…

She had determined that she would use the energy accumulated for her trip and reproductive cycle to undergo a more comprehensive overhaul than she had before. This time she would become and remain completely human, would be able to live and love and bear young and eventually die in the same ways humans did. It would not be a normal human lifespan, a hundred speedy trips around their star if they were lucky. No, she would have another 50,000 cycles before her time came but come it would if she did this thing.

The face of a small rocky world upon which she sat turned itself toward the endless black and at the proper moment she released all of the potential within her in a soundless, formless detonation of sparkling probability, shards of space-time sloughing away from her presence and evaporating, string fragments singing away into nothingness. There was no way around it, all of her other/selves would sense what she was doing, had done… the power of it briefly outshone the star she circled.

Nothing was harmed… the life-glows in this valley gained strength and vitality and plants began to awake, sending shoots toward the surface until the entire valley was a writhing mass of verdant life, striving for the inky sky and spreading up the sides of the surrounding mountains.

In the center of it all sat a figure, huddled within a worn serape, managing to look warm in the chill of desert night.

She rose, now fully herself, a female human with a history like no other and began to make her way through the greenery, out of this place which would no longer be known as Death Valley.

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