“Well, these are the coordinates,” Monsele said to herself as her ship exited the FTL travel. “No sign of the planet though.”
“It’s somewhere further down the orbit,” a voice spoke as a familiar lime abilno appeared in the ship. “It’s hard to predict where it’ll be exactly when you haven’t visited it for centuries.”
“I see,” the nycomb spoke looking through the control panel. “This ship doesn’t have any scanning apparatus, mind leading the way?” The abilno disappeared for a short moment before appearing back, right besides Monsele.
“Here,” he said, pointing at the galactic map. Monsele nodded and set the course, letting the ship slowly move forward.
“Do you know how long it’ll take Krestean to get to us?” Monsele sat down on the floor to pass the wait of the trip.
“Probably a few hours. She went to get Drakian, so I’d suggest waiting for him to appear before deciding what to do.”
“Why would she do that?”
“She thought he’d be useful here.”
“No, I mean, why would she do that? I was always the one to go.”
“She thought you’d be useful here.”
“Couldn’t she have then sent you out? You can travel instantly, can’t you?”
“I guess she didn’t think about that option,” Charles reached out for the throttle level, pulling it a little to slow the ship down. “Or, most likely, had an ulterior motive I am not aware of.”
“What could she have wanted from Earth? There is barely anything worth of interested there.”
“Perhaps the purification machine?” The Type 0 turned off the engines, letting the ship drift towards the slowly growing globe. “She didn’t say, and didn’t let me see.”
They continued in silence, drifting through space towards Thera. “We’re just stalling right now, aren’t we?” Monsele asked, not finding any other reason for the slow approach.
“Maybe… I think it’s a good idea to wait for Drakian to come.”
“What about Krestean? Are we not waiting for her?”
“She said not to as we would have to wait even longer. She can’t come here instantly like Drak.”
“Should’ve figured,” Monsele walked over to the controls and situated the ship in orbit of the slowly turning planet. “This one, too, looks like Earth. That’s no coincidence, is it?” She asked, sitting down comfortably.
“We can only speculate, but there definitely is some connection,” Charles shrunk himself down slightly, gently floating up and down just above the floor in front of the nycomb. “Our best guess is that Thera and Threa were both copies of Earth, since that’s where the machinery is. Don’t ask me how though, we know little to none about what and when caused the split.”
“But neither of these planets are on any of the galactic maps, this had to have been recent,” Monsele paused to think, “Neastia’s disaster prevention unit had regular scans for any rogue planets and asteroids that could cause havoc were they to enter a star system. There is no way they would’ve missed a planet orbiting a star, even if it had the weird barrier around it.”
“You’re right, it’s odd. But the planets did exist here during Neastia’s existence.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“We found both of them shortly after the disaster. Both of them already had barriers, and a single triplicate on each. The abilno that destroyed your kind had to have made both of the planets decades before he destroyed Lednah. To create this much matter it would take any of us a long time by mortal standards.”
“But the Beast isn’t just any of you, it’s clear that he has much more power thanks to the artifacts of his.”
“No, not really,” Charles said casually, causing Monsele to give him a questioning look. “His scepter only magnifies the power he already has, he can’t-” he stopped talking, simultaneously freezing in place, stopping his bobbing up and down.
“How… How do you know that?” Monsele asked in a carked tone, standing up and taking a step back, away from the energetic being.
“No, no, it’s not like that!” Charles flew slightly up and in an attempt to calm the nycomb down, he waved his tentacles, that ended up looking as if he’s flailing them wildly. “That’s by no means a concrete description of the archtool’s abilities, it’s just what we extrapolated given… what you remembered and… our studies of the other archtool’s…”
Monsele squinted at the Type 0 “You sound like you’re hiding something,” she said, relaxing her stance a bit.
“Many things, but did we ever give you a reason not to trust us?”
“If by ‘we’ you mean your race of energetic gods then yes, a particular untrustworthy one comes to mind,” Monsele crossed her arms. “Why hide things in the first place? Do you not trust us?”
“If by ‘us’ you mean your race of mortal beings then yes, a particular reason comes to mind to not trust you lot with knowledge about things beyond your scope of comprehension,” Charles’ tentacles sagged to the ground in a resigned manner. “I’m sorry it’s just… the information we hold back are for the sake of your peace of mind. We want to help you. Why else would Hiamora help contain the Heart that you exploit for energy?”
“’Exploit’ is a harsh word…” Monsele looked away from the abilno and at Thera.
“It’s what you were doing though. Not that the Heart minds, it’s about as sentient as a tree, but still.”
“Fine…” Monsele took a deep breath, turning back around. “Give me one thing you’re hiding as a sign of trust, and we’ll forget about the entire thing.”
“One of your many secrets. Something you, or one of your piers, conveniently omitted with this whole debacle. Can be anything, I just need a sign that you trust me so that I can trust you.”
“Why should you not give me a secret of your own?”
“Because I’ve got nothing to hide.”
Charles paused, bringing his tentacles closer to his main spherical body. “Alright, fine.
“The archtools… They’re old. Older than anything you or I know. Older than it’s physically possible… Just as we said, they have been made by some civilization. An extremely advanced one. And one that never existed in the history of time as we know it.”
“And so were we. Most of the atoms in the universe will, given enough time, decay in one way or another. Some naturally, some with the help of a chain reaction, others by stumbling into some stray radiation. Especially the heavier elements are prone to this.
“The archtools however? They’re the least radioactive things in the universe, made of incredibly stable alloys. We have blasted a cube-shaped one we found with everything we could think of: matter, waves, energy; and after all assaults, it still came out unphased. The forces keeping them together are something stronger than even those inside of a neutron star. Quite incredible.”
“And how does that relate to their age?”
“If they can survive being thrown into a star’s core, what else could they survive? A supernova? A black hole? Collapse of the entire universe?
“You see, we have tried to track down on the origin of those things. The oldest we could go was a little over 13 billion years. In case you’re not aware, that’s around the time the first stars formed. Aside of us and the Hearts there was no other life in the universe, as it was quite literally impossible for any biological life to form at the time.
“And yet, these existed. They were clearly made by someone with certain goals in mind. They all brand symbols that Tresno decoded, coming to the conclusion that they form a speakable language. Whoever made them had others to communicate with, and was in contact with abilno’s, since some of the archtools are clearly meant to be used on us.”
“Amongst others. So here is where the information ends. We know there were sentient beings that had contact with us, or a version of us at least. Because no abilno remembers it, the only two options are things leaking into our world from other universes, or our universe is just a continuation of another one that came before us. Now I can tell you with certainty that there is no such thing as a multiverse, which leaves only one option: the archtools are from a universe that was before this one. Maybe even before the one that was before this one. Maybe even further down the line. We don’t know how long this could’ve been going on for. There is no way to know.”
“How would they survive a rebirth of a universe though?” Monselse sat down, trying to wrap her head around the whole thing.
“We can’t say. But then again, it seems we are able to survive such an event. We can’t look at it deeper without actually knowing how the process takes place, and in case you couldn’t tell, the universe hasn’t ended yet. This one at least.
“But this had to have been a conscious decision. You can’t convince me that a civilization just randomly came up with technology that can survive a universal reboot. No, they had to have planned for it. And that means that there may be an archtool that counts how many restarts it went through. I’d love to find it, but it’s very unlikely.”
“At least its existence sounds plausible. And that would explain how all those ‘archtools’ are so powerful.”
“I mean, to survive being put into a new universe, they have to be the most powerful of the ones originally created. The civilization would probably have created uncountably many devices, but only those powerful enough to bend the rules of existence would stick around until today.”
A short silence proceeded Charles’ response. “Yeah… that seems like it may be the case.”
“All in all, this turned simple things I thought I knew into questions…” Monse spoke in a somber tone. “Are all your secrets like that?”
“Some are worse, some are simple gossip level things, but you can see that the secrets we keep, we do so for your, or at least someone’s, peace of mind. I can’t speak for all abilno’s but most of us aren’t malicious most of the time.”
“With emphasis on the ‘most’s’.” Monsele stood up and headed to a container, taking out a hard plastic cup from the spot where it had been securely strapped. “I wonder if Krestean will make any more of all this,” she said to herself looking at the cup as water magically appeared inside, manifesting from a small white cloud.
“I’d rather you not tell her about all this.”
“What? Why?” Monsele paused as she was about to take a sip. “She doesn’t have any malicious intentions either, you can trust her.”
“I do… to an extent. Drakian chose a smart one for his link, and I’m worried that were she to know more, it could become dangerous to us. I already said too much about what we have on Threa, and if she were to try and get hold of the archtools we located, she’d find a way to do so.”
“But she’d only ever want to research them and figure out how they work. She wouldn’t want to pose any threat to you, she knows she stands no chance.” Monsele raised the cup, drinking its contents as Charles responded.
“With her own archtools she would. But the issue isn’t what she would do, but rather what it could entail. I do not want to put too much trust into any being – mortal or immortal – with the knowledge of how to craft things that could be greatly problematic to my kind.”
“So…” Monsele started, quickly finishing up the drink and draining the cup of any leftover water. “You’re not worried about her specifically, but rather that the technology could get into the hands of some… less trustworthy individuals.”
“Especially with the way abilno’s are perceived in the Milky Way.”
“That’s fair. I’ll trust you on this one and keep it to myself.” Monsele smiled, extending out her arm. “I trust your judgment, and you can trust me.”
Charles looked at the extended arm in silence before wrapping one of his tentacles around the nycombs palm and wrist, lifting them up and down slightly. The two proceeded to wait for another hour before an amber glow appeared on the ship, soon followed with Drakian’s full form – with two purple circles made mere moments before by Bast.
“I hope you did not have to wait too long,” he said as he looked around. “Shall we descend?” Monsele nodded and turned on the engines, pointing the ship towards the planet. “Krestean said to keep the ship’s beacon operational. She will get here as soon as she can, but I see you do not have to be convinced not to wait.”
“I know her, and I know what she’d say,” Monsele smirked as the front of the ship received a bump from the barrier around the planet. “Already had the beacon up too,” she added, pointing at a small switch below which a tiny white light was lit. “And we’ve been waiting for you for a while now. I don’t want the Beast to leave again, at least not without our knowledge.” She stopped the ship above grassy planes, their dry yellows stretching endlessly in every direction. “So where to now?”
She didn’t get a response until a longer moment later. “How shall we do it?”
“I’ll stay with Monsele here, you go alone. We’ll meet up as soon as possible.”
“Wait, what are we doing?” Monsele asked worriedly as she watched as Drakian phased outside of the ship, before quickly turning straight down, disappearing into the ground.
“There are two abilno’s on the planet. Two triplicates to be exact. One is on the other side of the planet, the other just so happens to be near us.” Charles straightened one of his tentacles, pointing in a direction no different to all the others. “Somewhere there.”
Not wanting to question the sudden plan, Monsele turned the ship so that its front aligned with Charles’ tentacle – which seemed to ignore the ship turning altogether, like the needle of a compass. She then proceeded to move the ship forward at a steady pace.
“There,” Charles said after less than a minute of flight. His tentacle has lowered slightly, now pointing on a white spot in the grass. Monsele steered the ship towards it, simultaneously lowering altitude.
“What’s that?” Monsele asked as they approached their target. On the grass, a white being was sitting, watching the ship come down. As they came closer Monsele could make out a smooth, scaly surface that covered the beings body. Its blue eyes carefully watched the ship land, as the tail went off to one side, laying beside the entity’s hind legs. Being so close, Monsele started to be able to make out the shape more clearly, noticing that the being’s front limbs, currently supporting its weight, had large membranes sticking out of them, which could no doubt be spread out into a magnificent pair of wings. “Or who, I guess,” she added, seeing that the dragon-like creature in front of her was no doubt their target.
“Her name is Asteeva,” Charles explained. “I’ll introduce you, but you can come out yourself too. Atmosphere is breathable and all.” The Type 0 flew outside of the ship, pausing in front of the white dragon.
In an odd way, she kinda resembles Drakian. Monsele thought to herself Then again, she’s only the second dragon I’ve ever seen. If she even is one. “Good to see you too, it has been a while,” The words appearing in her head surprised Monsele as she looked around for any other abilno’s in the ship. “I’ll explain, but if you could switch to universal speech, that would be appreciated. Got someone with me who won’t understand you otherwise,” Monsele took a sigh of relief, realizing that she was simply hearing Charles through the ships hull.
“So that is why you came in on a ship. I was wondering about that.” Monsele could hear as she landed the ship, turning off most systems so that the ship wouldn’t burn through its energy while parked. “How did you know I learned how to speak?”
“I didn’t,” Monsele opened the hatch that led outside. “I forgot you didn’t know how to last we met. But with your curiosity, it would’ve only been a matter of time until you figured it out. You may not remember it, but you come from a knowledgeable being.”
“I know,” Asteeva responded, her gaze straying off into the horizon. “He has been here very recently you know.”
“Has he really?”
“Yeah, he needed me in patching up a mess he made-” the dragon paused as she noticed Monsele coming up to the two beings. Standing up, the nycomb was barely a third of the size of the white dragon, and even smaller compared to Charles, whose energetic tentacles stretched from the ground well above Asteeva’s head. The dragon gave the abilno a quick glance before she spoke again. “You are one of the… How did they call themselves again?”
“Nycombs,” Charles responded before Monsele could as much as open her beak.
“Yes. One of the nycombs…” Asteeva went silent as she stared down at the nycomb, her snout showing emotions Monsele could not read. “I am sorry.”
“Huh?” She blurted in surprise. “You’re… sorry?”
“I am. I never meant for the events to go as they did. We noticed we were being watched quite quickly, but father said it would be fine. He created valuables for a payment and said that everything will work out.”
“Your… father?” Monsele looked at Charles with confusion. “I thought you don’t have families. Does she mean the Beast? Raphael?”
“The Beast, yes,” Charles spoke, Asteeva turning her gaze towards him. “He existed before her and has helped her learn, hence the name. There is no biological relationship though.”
“The Beast is a harsh name…” Asteeva winced at the term. “Although I guess he has only himself to blame. When the group of your… hunters? Military? Whoever It was, when they came in and tried to get me to come with them. He lost his cool and, well, I am sure you know the rest.”
“You were the kid…” Monsele spoke under her breath, piecing the security footage from earlier with Asteeva’s story.
“I was a kid, yes,” the dragon nodded, the lines along her snout forming the equivalent of a slight smile. “And he was an overprotective father, still is,” she paused, noticing that a handful of white dots of energy started to appear on the ground, forming a perfect circle beneath the dragon. “Uhm… Charles?”
“That’s not me,” he responded, shrinking slightly as he neared the ground, pushing the nycomb outside of the ring. “It’s white, but it can’t be natural…”
“What’s going on?” Monsele asked as she kneeled down to have a look herself. “Pure energy,” she stated in a matter of fact tone. “It can’t come from a Type 0.”
“It may come from the hearts themselves? Trying to balance themselves after your brother’s death.”
“I don’t have a-” Monsele started before realizing the abilno was talking to the dragon. “Wait, you mean the other triplicate died? Aren’t you all immortal?“
“We are, but Astorok has… issues. He has actually been going through the whole rebirth pretty regularly until when he decided to seal himself away.” Asteeva paused, looking at the circle below her starting to rotate at accelerating velocity. “Goodbye I guess. Do not wait for my return unless you must, as I do not know how long it will take,” with that, the circle quickly shot up from the ground, covering the dragon in a cloud of white gas. As it cleared, Asteeva was gone, leaving behind a burnt circle on the ground.
“What happened?” Monsele asked carefully stepping on top of the still-warm scorched ground.
“She’s on Threa now. But this shouldn’t have happened, Shzer-l’amrel is in the vault with Tresno, and I just set up the new guardians…”
“So this was…” the nycomb started speaking after an extended pause from the abilno. “A portal leading to that base of yours on Threa?”
“Not necessarily to there, it can be activated anywhere on the planet. It’s based on proximity to the presumably split Hearts in the center of anomalous-” He paused, his form starting to take solid form. “Go into the ship before the shock-wave hits.”
“What shock-wave?” Monsele asked in confusion, when all of the sudden a short and powerful tremor shook the ground. “What’s going on?!”
“I don’t know. You have a couple of minutes. Get to a high altitude.” Having said that he disappeared, leaving Monsele alone with a creeping fear of what could be going on.
She hastily headed over to the ship. On the outside it handled the quake well, only a single support beam having snapped. The inside was in a poorer condition, however. Anything that wasn’t strapped in tumbled and fell out of their compartments, cluttering the floor. The nycomb carefully stepped over the mess of papers, containers, and tools; heading straight for the control panel. She strapped herself in, closed the hatch, and gently lifted the ship into the air; heading straight up.
She expected that the low pressure of the stratosphere would’ve been enough to stop any incoming “shock-wave”. She wanted to go up, watch the wave pass underneath, and then wait for a possible aftershock. She thought she could then plan her next step this way, high above the ground.
She did not think the violent gust of air would’ve reached her right after take-off.
The ship tumbled in the air, despite the engines feeble attempts to keep it leveled, and everything that landed on the floor during the earlier quake was now flying from wall to wall. Monsele steadied the ship manually, albeit it ended up hovering upside down above the ground. She reached out to turn on the rotational thrusters, when another wave hit the bottom of the ship, pushing the angled vessel hurling towards the ground, crashing into the grassy plains.
Thank goodness for high quality manufacturing, Monsele thought as she rubbed a spot on her arm, hit by one of the many flying items. She focused some energy on the spot, healing the minor internal bleeding before she took off her safety strap, falling clumsily onto the ceiling of the ship. Miraculously, nothing’s broken, she thought after examining herself, simultaneously straightening her untidy feathers. She pulled the emergency exit switch, allowing the manual opening of the air hatch, which was thankfully not facing the ground.
She left the wreck and stepped onto the dirt outside, greeted by another ship that was quickly descending towards. As it was landing it opened up the back hatch, revealing Krestean holding onto a handle so that she wouldn’t fall out. “Are you alright?!” Krestean shouted, waiting for the ship to get close enough to the ground so that she could jump off, letting the autopilot do its thing.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Monsele said, approaching her friend. “I’ve taken care of the minor injuries already.”
“Good.” Krestean responded, double checking the nycombs body for any damages. “I saw what happened, was a very clean crash.”
“Thanks, I guess?” The two immortals waited for Krestean’s ship to finish its landing procedure before entering. “Do you have any hooks to raise my ship with?” Monsele added after she entered Krestean’s ship, noticing the state of disarray it was in. “I don’t ever remember you being this messy…”
“Had to quickly remembered how to make something,” Krestean responded, closing the door behind them. “We’ll get your ship later,” she said seeing Monsele’s questioning look. “By the lack of two Type 0’s that were supposed to be with you, I’m guessing they’re somewhat related to whatever caused this shock-wave.”
“I’d say that’s very likely…” Monsele spoke, looking at all the cables and plates spread around the tables. “I don’t think it’s safe to go anywhere near whatever caused that.”
“Probably not,” Krestean agreed, going straight for her console and lifting the ship. “But I’ve got something that they may need,” she pointed at a box in the corner, “One’s a present from Bast, the other is a present from the past. I’ll explain my plan, just let me configure the navigation,” she said, heading over to the control panel and ordering the ship to go to the other side of the planet.