Son looks to you, stating, ‘Come sit with me, while I tell you a tale of how I became Emperor. How I became Lord of the Universe.
‘Select humans had evolved Eons ago, advancing to the point mentally that they were indeed masters of the Milky Way Galaxy. They classified themselves as Homo-Immortal. Upon their ascension, it was a hard truth discovered, we were alone in our galaxy. Another hard truth, we are not alone in the universe.
Each galaxy is home to a superior sentient being, with variations of this select sentient reflected in the DNA. Even though they may seem different, at their core, their base genome, they are genetically compatible.
Upon this ascension, they were introduced to the Great Game. The Great Game has a council of representatives, one from each galaxy that advanced to the point of ascension. They were welcomed to the Great Game by the council, and explained the reason, rules as well as the resolution for losing.
The Great Game exist as a way for superior sentient beings to exert dominance over each other without destroying the universe through war and other nefarious means. The rules were simple: You cannot directly interfere with the development of your galaxy or another, nor the Great Game when two or more galaxies confront and interact with each other. If you lose, your galaxy starts over with its population and evolving. Any damage done, is not repaired, except by time, and agents of those that Ascended.
This is how people, mere mortals considered a ‘God’, spent their time. In the Milky Way, these representative went by many names: Gilgamesh, Zeus, Thor, and Jupiter. For some it was a pantheon of Gods and Spirits, such as Kit-sune, for others just one name, a generic term, such as Lord or God. Eventually these beings wared with each other. War in Heaven, the legends call it. You can see even to this day evidence of this war. The great scar in the sky, as seen from a place called Earth, the true home for humanity. The war caused much calamities on the Milky Way, what scientist would call again and again black holes, and dead, rocky worlds, nebula clouds that are toxic to life, while looking majestic. Even dark matter, falsely thought to exist, but it does, if only in the imagination.
What mortals would consider magic, was really technology. Another truth Ascendants realized was that humans had a way to develop what was lost over and over again, mostly the same, with slight differences. Languages, like Latin and Greek, math and science terminology kept reappearing over and over again. How the sciences and technology was applied, however, differed.
The Homo-immortals are now few. A Father must teach his son lessons of surviving the Great Game. The Son must win, accomplishing what his father could not. As Ascendants they follow their protocol, their directive: Win the Great Game by defeating the rivals and become Lord of the Universe. Lose, and you must start again. For the Great Game is all. All is what the Ascendants have to lose.
Father and Son, last of the Ascendants, gathered around the Ocular Orb, the central piece, the only item of worth. The Ocular Orb is a circular table with a glass ball that rotates in its housing. The Ocular Orb rests within a table that is square, of stained wood. At the base is golden rings of dials to rotate the view in time forward and back, left and right, up and down, observing the Milky Way from the current time to the past. The future, as unwritten, cannot be viewed. The glass ball itself can be rotated to look at different places, people, and events in the Milky Way.
Looking around this central piece and into the distance, there is nothing but the fog running as far as the eye can see and imagine. This is no ordinary place. This is the Dimension of Solitude. Father created this place to escape from the Great Game. Each of the rivals in the Great Game have a Dimension of Solitude, private unto themselves, allowing them to meditate and plan in peace for their next action. They may leave their dimension at any time to interact and socialize with the other rivals. The rivals are known among each other as the Ascendants.
The Ascendants are created when a species has self-evolved through consciousness to a higher plane of existence. Each galaxy is overseen by an Ascendant that rose from within that galaxy, and there is only one race at a time to fills this role. These Ascendants created the Great Game to channel their energies in to something constructive, less they destroy reality in a bid for conquest. The current Ascendants of the Milky Way is Father and Son, human, from Pax-Gaia, now known as Earth.
When we look upon Father we see someone of wisdom. White flowing hair and beard wearing a simple tunic with a golden cord tied in a hitch knot around the waist. His face is aged with smile lines, laugh wrinkles at the corner of his eyes. His eyes have seen much, always seeming to look beyond what is in front of him. This brooding mood contrasts with his jovial personality and instinct to teach his son.
The Son is sitting at the base of the Ocular Orb, lying on his hip with his legs bent and ankles crossed. He looks up towards Father in expectation of the lesson for today. Like Father, Son is also dressed in the same fashion. From his shins below he is covered by a swirling mist. Sometimes the mist is blue, at other times red. There is no rhyme or reason for the color. The fog is. Son observes Father with a background of neutral diffused light. Not bright white or dull gray. The light source cannot be pinpointed. The light is to deliver a sense of seeing, nothing more.
Son looks up to Father from where he is sitting, imploring, ‘When do I get to use the Occular Orb?’ Father looks down to his son, smiling gently as if he is revealing a big secret. ‘Today, actually. But you just can’t flip a switch and go. The Occular Orb is more than just a viewing tool. It is a way for you to gain understanding and experience from lesser beings by studying what has come before.’ replied Father in a deep baritone voice.
‘Why?’ Son asks while leaning his head to the left.
Father responds, ‘You must learn from the past to understand my mistakes, so to not repeat them.’ Father walks over to Son, sitting down beside him. ‘You see, Son. I have been playing the Great Game for a long time. Every time I lose. You win, great! You lose, and you have to start over.’ Father hangs his head in shame, lowering his voice. ‘You see, Son. I have tried so many ways to win against the other Ascendants. I’ve tried different faster than light technologies to span the gulf of space. It has gone by many names over time. Hyper Drive, Skip Drive, Warp Drive, and all kinds of drives as named by the society I created to use them. When that didn’t work I tried using the warp and AEther itself. I’ve tried Star Gates and Portals. In the end they all failed. Other Ascendants used their beings, which go by many names, to contest me. I refer to them as Far Outsiders, Agents of Chaos, even sometimes by a simple letter.’ Father stands up and paces around.
‘We have rules for the Great Game. The first is no direct interference with the lesser beings in our galaxy. We provide indirect guidance to the lesser beings, point them in the direction we want them to go. The same process is used for fighting the others in the Great Game. The lesser beings fight others for dominance. You lose, your galaxy resets with the dominate life, and you try again.’
Father walks back to Son and looks down. ‘Son, the Occular Orb can take you any were into the past of our galaxy, allowing you to review and experience the Great Game. You can see the whole battlefield, or experience from an individual level by riding along as a spectator. You will feel all the joys and sufferings of this individual you are riding.’
‘How do I escape?’, Son asks of Father.
‘Simple. Your conscious is automatically rejected back to here when the person you are riding loses conscious.’ Father answers factually. ‘I recommend you focus on my latest failure of the Great Game, see what you can learn, and improve what I have started.’ Father quickly closes to his Son, giving him a hug. ‘I’m so tired of failing.’ Father whispers in Son’s ear. ‘Do what I cannot. Win the Great Game, earn a seat on the ruling council.’
‘I will Father.’, promises the Son.
Bridge of Lion’s Courage
‘Are you o.k. Captain? Would you like another drink? Is that not to your liking?’ asked his First Mate.
Captain Vanitas looks to his right, where his hand knocked over his goblet. ‘I’m fine Titus. I was lost in thought is all. I was considering the fleet in front of us.’ Captain Vanitas rose from the table and crossed to the viewing window to consider the ships confronting his fleet.
How can someone be so different from us? It’s not right. Captain Vanitas thinks to himself. He looks at his reflection in the window. Perfectly pressed uniform, mane groomed to regulation fullness. His shoes shined to rival any mirror. He cultured his voice to be commanding, yet gentle.
‘Commander Titus, walk with me. I require your counsel.’
Titus set down the serving ware to fall in step with his captain. ‘Yes, my Captain. What do you require?’ said Titus in his usual high strung voice, so at odds with his brutish size. Captain Vanitas glanced over to his First Officer, regarding his appearance as they walk. Titus stood nearly 3 meters tall, with thick gray skin, pointed face, biceps the size of legs. Titus chose to enhance himself physically with rhinoceros genetics, given his chose career as an infantry officer. He must have planned this from his childhood, or maybe it was decided when he was a ward of the state. ‘While we walk to the bridge, brief me on what challenge we face today.’
Titus reached into his pocket for his reader. Caressing the device, he woke it up. Accessing the security briefing, he told his captain what he wanted to know.
‘Presented before us is the Bainari Yui. Shortly we will be invading their territory. The fleet arranged before us is a border defense fleet. Their ships are different than ours. Where we grow our ships and nurture them, the Bainari Yui manufactures them.’ Titus reads.
‘Titus, you mean they actually build their ship? The same way I build my den? There ships are dead? How do they function?’ Captain Vanitas interrupted.
‘Yes. They build them, and no they are not living. They are purely mechanical machines. There is no spirit within the shell of metal. They are crewed by bipedal beings who have integrated these machine parts into their body. It says here the term is ‘cyborg’. I’m not sure what that means, Sir.’
Captain Vanitas and his first officer walked to the bridge door. Captain Vanitas reached up and caressed the activator lock. It was warm to his touch and gently pulsing. With a gentle rippling the membrane relaxed, allowing them passage to the bridge. As they enter the bridge, Captain Vanitas roars, ‘Report!’
Commander Fenfual looks over her left shoulder, nodding greetings to Captain Vanitas while ignoring Commander Titus. ‘My Captain. The fleet arranged before us should not be a challenge. Comparing fleets we have a five to one advantage in capital ship sized vessels, three to one advantage in cruiser sized vessels, and no advantage in destroyer escorts. Their capital sized vessel is of an unknown design to us. It does mass two times the size of one of our capital ships. I would procced with caution till we know what we are dealing with.’ She reported without taking her eyes off the displays.
‘Very well, Commander.’ Captain Vanitas purred. ‘Attention on the bridge. Shift fleet color to red. Charge all weapons. Raise deflector webbing. Proceed to engagement speed. Extra ration to the crew who gets the first kill.’ With a course of ‘Aye, Aye, Sir.’ The bridge of Lion’s Courage came alive with the sound of war.
‘Captain Vanitas!’ Commander Fenfual shouted. ‘Something is happening!’
‘On screen! Magnify!’ Captain Vanitas commanded. The screen resolution grew larger showing the Bainari Yui fleet raising a spine from the top of all of their ships. As Captain Vanitas watched, all of the smaller ships started to arc lighting between them, the directed it to the larger ships until all of the energy was directed into the unknown capital ship they observed earlier. As the crew watched, the electrical buildup was discharged in their direction.
‘Brace for impact’ Commander Fenfual shouted as the lighting made contact with Lion’s Heart.
One moment Captain Vanitas was standing on the bridge. The next moment, all he felt himself flying through the air, then suddenly his momentum stopped, and darkness welcomed him.
Son finds himself waking up on the floor, holding his head and screaming in terror. ‘Its ok son, you’re ok. I’m here. You’re safe.’ Father hold his son in his arms, comforting. After a while the son recovers, taking a deep breath and relaxing.
‘The first time you ride someone is quite the experience.’ Father explained to his son while they were embraced. ‘You have no control over what is happening. You experience all the emotions, joys, pains, and sudden deaths as the being you are experiencing. You are along for the ride. It was shocking for you to experience the being you were riding to go unconscious, but that is the only way to end the ride, be it from sleep, or from another means, most times violent. It does give you a perspective, allowing you to walk in another’s shoes.’
Son sits up, looking to his father. ‘Thank you for being here. I didn’t know what to expect. Why are they fighting each other? Who was the…enemy… I think they were enemies fighting each other. The being I was riding. Everyone called him Captain Vanitas. He seemed to be enjoying the prospect of combat. I did not feel hate, just pride. Maybe he was prideful of following someone’s directions?' Son implored to Father.
‘That is for you to discern. The purpose of this is for you to study, to learn. This is the best way to do so, by walking another being’s shoes.’ Said Father. ‘When you’re ready, perhaps you should get the other side of the story. Ride someone from the other side of the conflict. There is always more than one side of a story.’
‘Yes, Father.’ Son answered.
‘Another idea. This time, pay more attention to your environment, your surroundings. You can learn about someone by their environment as much as by their words and actions.’
Son kneeled in front of the Ocular Orb, manipulating the control. He moves the viewing to center over the Bainari Yui fleet. With the press of the activator button, he find himself falling, falling, falling down a deep black hole of nothing as he falls asleep.
Bridge of Binary One
Son suddenly wakes up, waiting for his mind to make sense of his surroundings. Through the vision of the being he is riding he sees he is sitting down at a console working the controls. He sees his hands are both inserted into the console up to the wrist. Son senses the mind he is riding is focused on many things at once. Within his vision he sees words and lines of text scrolling across his eyes. Is this what it is like to be part cyborg? I’m pretty sure I dialed to the other side of this conflict.
Son hears chirps and beeps, which he understands as, ‘Report!’ The chirps and beeps continue. ‘Lieutenant, sir.’ Son hears the being he is riding respond, ‘The fleet approaching our borders has the same identifiers that hit the next sector over last week. We are outnumbered by 763% margin in the Mega-ship class and greater size, but with equal footing in the digi-class sized ships. The ship the processing banks have identified as the flagship of the enemy fleet as Lion’s Heart. The profile matches the records with 97.3% accuracy.’
‘Thank you Byte Mii.’ The lieutenant answers. ‘Byte Mue. You’re the anthropologist. What do we know of this fleet invading our protectorate?'
‘In according with standing protocol, the officer who made first contact called this fleet Bug One. The recorded interaction footage between the first contacts showed the bridge to be composed of a mixed species of bipedal beings with animalistic qualities. They identified themselves as the Mutatio Empire. They were only interested in conquest, not talks of peace. This is an expansion empire, sir.’
Lieutenant Alpho snaps his head over his shoulder to call out to his sensor operator. ‘Byte Sei. What is the Lion’s Heart doing? Magnify the Optical Portal.’
‘Compliance, Lieutenant.’ Byte Sei reported in a monotone voice. Byte Sei smiled, knowing that voice tone would irritate the Lieutenant. ‘It appears the Mutatio Empire fleet Bug One is making preparations for an attack. The sensor readings show the ship’s hulls to be living matter. It is organic, so they may be grown, Sir. The Lion’s Heart appears to have deployed some kind of shield. Its characteristics is much like that of a stiff spider web with some type of membrane bubble between the strands.’
‘Byte Sei. We are not mindless drones for embracing technology. You know I don’t like that tone.’ Lieutenant Alpho child him. Engage our pulse cannon. Let’s see how they handle a little jolt.’
‘Compliance. Order issued. Thirty seconds till attack is launched. Commencing grounding operation protocol.’ Byte Sei said.
This place is very clean and efficient. I wonder who does the dirty work. Son thought to himself. They’re about to launch the attack that ending my previous ride. The Bainari Yui doesn’t seem so bad. I can’t wait to watch this again. Son thinks gleefully.
‘Byte Mii.’ Lieutenant Alpho address him. ‘What do you mean by watching this again? This is the first time we will used this weapon in combat.’
Byte Mii looked around, lost for a movement. ‘What happened, Lieutenant?’
Before Lieutenant Alpho could answer, the pulse cannon fired. The bridge watched as the lighting struck the enemy flagship. The spider web shield absorbed the lightening attack. As they watched, the membranes between the webs started to violently pop outwards like dominoes. Once the membranes were destroyed, they watched the spider web shield explode outwards. Finally the energy from the pulse cannon struck the shell of the Lion’s Heart. The Lion’s Heart took some damage and started to drift out of formation, headed to the right and down in relation the enemy fleet.
‘Direct hit, Sir. The web shield has two layers of defense, it would seem. The other ships have defensive webbing proportionate to their size. Telling the truth, Lieutenant, I don’t think we have the firepower to go toe to toe with them.’ Byte Sei reported on what the sensors were telling him.
Forgetting his previous exchange with Byte Mii, Lieutenant Alpho gives his next order, directed at Byte Mu. ‘Contact the Ensign Cors on the Giga-Class Carrier Tengoku no mon. Order him to launch the Macro-Class Boarding Pods Kaiten. He is authorized memory storage. After launching he is to collect our cores and retreat to Chuo Komando and deliver all available intelligence we have acquired.’ Lieutenant Alpho turns on his command circuit to fleet wide broad cast. ‘Attention. Attention. Connect to memory storage center for identity download and storage. Then prepare for close engagement.’
As soon as the storage is completed, the Bainari Yui defense fleet accelerates to close with the enemy. As each ship leaps forward a small canister is ejected out the back, which thens activates and homes in on the carrier designated to collect the storage devices. The Tengoku No Mon starts to eject the Kaiten as fast as the launcher racks can fire, emptying its cargo hold completely. Its primary task complete it collects the storage canisters and proceeds to retreat, watching the battle unfold, collecting as much data and as fast as it can before it burns its Ramp Drive.
Memory storage. Wait. Wait. Wait. What? Interesting, they have found a way to obtain immortality. I can’t go into there. Son was careful not to let his emotions and thoughts reach the being he was riding, going by the name, Byte Mii. Byte must be come kind of rank. Both sides of this conflict seem to have an ordered structured to them. Focus. How do I…… That was Son’s last thought before he felt himself being sucked down a black hole.
Father looks through the Ocular Orb at the battle taking place, a battle his son was experiencing. He watches as the Bainari Yui fleet rushes to meet the Mutatio Empire. The Mutatio fleet fire projecties, which look like spines and barbs, they all miss the incoming Barnari Yui fleet, because the ships accelerate faster, have a tighter turn radius. As Father looks on, every Kaiten slams into the Mutatio fleet, imbedding themselves in the sides of the shells of the ships like a bad splinter. Father knew by the tactic that every Mutatio Cruiser-class ship and larger just received a party. A loud party. A surprise party. A boarding Party.