The Broken Worlds
The Rendolous Corridor in the Jadorine System was a intersection between the Treaderian Tri-Galaxies.
It was within a Timeless Field that an Infinite had been stationed for nearly three hundred sendiums. He had observed the existence of the universe and marvelled at their free will for so long. Never once had he or his race ever been part of events, secluded within the Realm and other regions that were existent outside of the universe.
Serg stood on the balcony of his tower, draining out the miserable thought of returning to his assignment. This was his chance to unwind and forget his troubles as he leaned over the railing, watching a comet soaring passed the planet Delmenta, a large orange stripped desert, a wasteland for the Tri-Galaxies.
It was not much to look at, unless you happened to be around to see storms brewing and breaking down waste through a decade of crushing and turning everything into dust, leaving a newly formed surface that was habitable once more. The eighth year of the storm was in progress. On the quietest of nights, Serg could hear, even from his tower, the claps of thunder.
Sendiums spent doing the same dead-end tasks had left Serg jaded. He was losing his will as he compiled his findings and scanned his eyes over chunks of statistics: checking, rechecking and then checking them over once more. This pattern was what he had been doing most of his life, he felt worthless. There had been no interaction, of any kind, for sendiums. Things were becoming unbearable. Surely, there had to be something more worthwhile he could do other than drowning in an endless sea of parchment.
Since his quarterly submission was nearing its deadline, Serg had decided to get back to meet the assignment’s end, that way he could have a sabbatical before starting on his next project.
No sooner had Serg climbed two floors up to get back to his chamber, had he found several beings occupying the area around his hand-crafted oak desk. He summoned four silver balls, no bigger than the size of golf balls and whizzed them towards the intruders, casting a net of energy to trap them.
As the silver balls encircled, Serg showed his face.
‘Who are you? How did you get into my tower?’
Helios went to touch one of the silver balls but had to pull his hand back when he felt a shock running up his arm. ‘I pinpointed your location … the barriers on Anselopha opened up long enough for us to get through to this place, this...’
‘...Timeless Field.’ Serg finished.
‘Quite,’ said Helios. ‘I was told that it was infrequent to come across such an opening. I estimate the next won’t happen for sendiums. Our window will only hold for so long.’
‘And I can keep you here, trap you and your men in this tower, indefinitely.’
‘You could,’ concurred Helios, ‘but I implore you to help. I was sent on this mission to extract an object that could assist us in stopping the oncoming destruction that will cancel out the universe.’
‘What has that got to do with me?’
‘Without a universe, what purpose does an Infinite have?’
Serg was startled. ‘I have no idea what you mean.’
‘You walk amongst these Fields alone, yet your eyes are the only sign to suggest that you have lived longer than any being on Anselopha. Orilians have known about your kind, but now Timely Figures must be gathered and put in place for the crucial game of life.’
‘Yes, but who are you?’ Serg persisted.
‘We are Lorexiuns.’
‘You are–– you–– cannot possibly be––’ Serg beamed. ‘Oh, the stories I have read! Through my life, I have read of a multitude of Bearers. Never. Never had I ever dreamt of having any here in my Field, let alone Lorexiuns! Tales of your battles, clashes and falls; I have tomes on your adventures, and even more numbers that I can count on the top of my head in a second, and trust me when I say thousands, I kid you not, of your acts of honour and justice that promote a collective existence, to group multiple races to live amongst each other in equality and a united peace, with Bearers enforcing Continumental Laws––’
Serg’s face dropped. He had just realised that these Orilians, standing before him, were the Last Lorexiuns.
‘So you’ll help us?’ asked Fletch.
‘Ah, there I cannot.’ Serg said, trying to mask his emotion. ‘I am sure you are well aware of where you are and who I am, and for that, you know as well as I, that I cannot interfere.’
Helios took out a rolled up parchment. ‘It is imperative that we reach this place.’
Serg stared at Helios for a while, before waving his hand. The silver balls stopped emitting energy and dropped to the ground, along with the Lorexiuns.
The Infinite took the parchment and unfurled it. As he glanced at it his eyes shot open. ‘What exactly are you hoping to find?’
‘We need to acquire something that could prove useful to us before it falls into the wrong hands.’
‘Who commands the order?’
‘Silus wants us to return it to him,’ Tarquin interjected.
‘No, I am afraid I cannot,’ said Serg.
‘Why ever not?’
‘The Drugorien Region is impenetrable.’
‘Not if you happen to have a key,’ Helios insisted. ‘Though, I do not know how to get there from your tower, therefore, your assistance is essential.’
‘I guarantee you there is nothing there.’
‘Not on conventional maps,’ agreed Nushun. ‘But with the use of ricto-graphs you’ll find a hidden dimension of what was once the home of the Masters.’
‘Oh! Of course!’ Said Serg, slapping the palm of his hand against his forehead. ‘How could I have been so oblivious?’
The Drugorien Region had been the origin of, in Serg’s opinion, many great and wonderful episodes that led to a lifetime of delightful reading.
During assignments Serg would occasionally devour tales of the Masters; their escapades, triumphs and their fruitful reign. Then there were Bearers, suchlike the Lorexiuns, countless of whom had the duty to guard the Matter-Fabric. Not including rich stories from within the Continuverse that told of anomalies, creatures and bad guys. Furthermore, tales span to timely malfunctions, of beings and humans scattered all over Time, of alternate dimensions and rewritten timelines. Mentions of hybrids, Cretnus, metal men, a Sectomancer and even a Castor were in the mix.
Serg pushed his palm out and a stack of parchments trailed, with another motion they rearranged themselves like a gigantic puzzle.
‘Do you not see it?’ The Infinite said. ‘A pattern, aligning what I had first assumed were random events, merging together.’
The Lorexiuns moved around to get a better look.
‘What on Anselopha!’ Xeon’s mouth hung open.
Serg counted the possibilities. Cycles progressed and were ever-changing, but something was divergent. The transitional states were all over the place. ‘The convergence seems somewhat out of line,’ Serg inspected.
‘What could that mean?’ said Helios.
‘It could be that the cycle you currently reside in is likely the last in the sequence.’
The Lorexiuns looked shocked.
‘What can we do?’ Asked Fletch. ‘If this is true, then it would mean the finality of the Matter-Fabric.’
‘That is nature.’ Serg put in simply.
‘I presume since your kind are hidden away in their Realm, that you don’t bother with the troubles of the universe––’
‘The impressions of actuality live through me,’ Serg interrupted, with genuine feeling. ‘Your world and that of Earth plague me constantly, like places and characters of a well-written novel. If all that were to come to its last pages, I would sorely regret reading its concluding chapter. Of gathering records I have learnt of the majority of objects that my people have taken from the universe on the request of the Masters. So far I have come to know more than eight hundred and thirty-seven and if you would like, I can recite each and every item in question with individual specifics and timestamps of withdrawal; Infinites have a great expanse of memory.’
Serg paused, marvelling at the Lorexiuns.
‘You see,’ the Infinite said. ‘For aeons we have gathered objects and understood nothing about their capabilities, only to quarantine them in the deepest pendrid-locked vaults in the Realm. Those objects were pivotal to history, yet now I have come to understand that they were never meant to be extracted. Infinites are a race who cannot intervene in events, but look at us, we have become a race that have done exactly that. As each object was taken, we unintentionally forced another line of actuality to become constant, creating an imbalance in the timelines and with these patterns–’ Serg pointed at the parchments above, which formed what looked like other dimensions interlinked in various regions ‘–that have now reshuffled, the timelines will have a disastrous impact on events that are at play.’
‘Then we must take action,’ Helios remarked.
‘Measures must be put in place to ensure that the objects are returned safely, without the existence noticing their extraction,’ suggested Tarquin.
‘An impossible feat,’ Serg said. ‘You cannot comprehend the damage it would do. Once an object is removed, it cannot return to the universe. The outcome of such a thing could alter the continuum to a much worse state. Infinites would never allow such a thing. What has been done for the Prime Worlds is nothing less than protecting the existence from influence of supremacy over objects that would have been fought over through wars.’
‘And yet Infinites have withheld fates, preventing the natural progression of the timelines.’
‘A difference of opinion.’ Serg rather agreed with Helios’ argument, yet he wasn’t going to show it. Yes, it was true. Once, long ago, had the Infinites collected items of importance, however that stopped after the Masters were no more. Infinites bled into the background, never to be seen again, until now.
Helios thoroughly inspected the ricto-graphs. ‘So long has it been since we first guarded the Matter-Fabric, now it falls to its own fate. That is why it is crucial that we reach the Drugorien Region.’
Perhaps the Lorexiuns were right, maybe Infinites were wrong to interfere, Serg pondered.
Enough was enough. It was the moment to take up the responsibility and live as the Ancients did, to ensure that Time kept running.
‘What is so important about this particular object? Why does Silus need such a thing?’ Questioned Serg.
‘He believes it will expose the condition of the Matter-Fabric,’ said Nushun. ‘Maybe even go as far as predicting for us the point of collapse.’
‘How can he be certain of this?’ Said Serg.
‘Through whispers and words of the Masters,’ Helios mentioned. ‘I strongly believe that the last days are upon us. Don’t just take our word for it, look at your records, there will be some indication to back up our claims.’
Serg studied the chain of parchment, seeing through the events where (if he could find it) fluctuations occurred, when he saw a number of points scattered around the continuum.
‘No, no, no, no, no! This cannot be happening.’ The Lorexiuns had asked what was wrong, but Serg kept on muttering to himself. ‘How has no one spotted this beforehand?’ With the information he had remembered from previous assignments, Serg concluded a result.
‘If it is anywhere, the object you specified should be, here.’ Serg said, grabbing a bit of parchment. ‘Since your powers are rendered useless within any Timeless Field, not to mention mine, I shall tweak the settings on the Dimension Jumper to get us to where we need to be.’
Serg perused the coordinates written on the parchment that Helios had handed over and configured them into the interface of the Dimension Jumper.
Adrenaline ran through Serg. It was the only reason he was accepting to help the Lorexiuns, he wanted the sense of adventure he knew he could never have and now he was going on a quest. The great outdoors was something his race had abandoned, with less than a handful braving the edges of Timeless Fields to carry out extensive research.
Serg breathed in deep, whatever awaited, he was ready. Adventure was what he dreamed of since before being stationed alone in his tower, century in, century out, for a day like this.
If the Infinities discovered that he was about to depart in order to travel into the Prime Worlds he would be locked up for neglecting his duties.
This is no the time to ponder on the laws that you are about to break, there is too much at stake, thought Serg. He knew he couldn’t venture outside, but what choice did he have? Staying in a Timeless Field was doing nothing to stimulate him. It would be good to get out into the real world – something that was not permitted. Infinites were sworn to keep to the Realm and to move between Timeless Fields, never to enter actuality. Nevertheless, the evidence he had found could not be ignored.
Serg moved over to a white column about waist height, it was sunken on the top and as he edged closer a golden globe sprung into life. He spun and tilted it until he reached the location he wanted before tapping with his long bony finger. ‘No time like the present.’ He said.
In a wink, Serg and the Lorexiuns faded into nothingness.
The Lorexiuns came up in a great canyon.
‘How do you imagine we get across?’ Serg wondered.
Tarquin took something out of his pocket and held it tight in his fist. He flung grains of sand across the edge. Nushun brought his palms together and with a flow of energy, he poured light on the grains that manifested a bridge, appearing in and out of sight.
‘We cross from here.’ Said Tarquin.
Helios went first. Tarquin, Nushun and Fletch marched behind.
‘Watch your step,’ said Xeon, jumping onto the bridge.
Placing his toes over the edge of the canyon, Serg leaned a little forward to see how far the drop was. How small we truly are. A foot forward gingerly, then another followed by an inhalation of deep breaths. To Serg, it looked like the Lorexiuns were walking on air. The grains blew away with the wind. Serg reached out and grabbed what he presumed was a handrail. I can feel the bridge, yet I can only see it fluctuating.
When they had approached the other side, Tarquin and Nushun gathered up what remained of the grains of sand and returned them into the pouch. They then walked through an orange slit that had been carved for hundreds of sendiums by winds, leaving the surface smooth. It would easier to climb to the very top, Serg thought. He instead allowed himself to ponder over it.
Helios led them through the slit.
The air fanned their cloaks, Serg had to button his black double-breasted overcoat tighter around his neck.
It was good to finally get a change of scenery. Reading of places did not compare to the real thing: the feel, the smell, the atmosphere of it. Having spent his life away from the universe had Serg longing to be a part of a story. Infinites would go on not knowing the universe that they had spent documenting from childhood.
Serg felt desolate. How could he go back when there was so much he could do here? He had dreamt of things he could have done if he had entered actuality. It was surreal to be amongst beings; actual living, breathing people, other than his own race. A sense of belonging captured Serg, clinging onto his very consciousness – a feeling he knew that he would never lose, yet one he would have to bury deep and forget.
Tarquin had been observing Serg. ‘You’ve never seen our world before, have you?’
‘I have lived in the Realm and have only crossed a handful of Timeless Fields. This is my first leave from such places.’ Serg could not help but marvel at everything. ‘Now that I am here I am astonished, I have only imagined what it would be like to live in the universe.’
‘What is it you see?’ asked Helios, curiously.
‘You see a clear blue sky, perhaps a cloud or two? I see much more than that. My eyes adjust to observe the outline of the atmosphere, a patch of space bleeding through, the sound of the planet rotating. Every bit of detail I have captured will be recalled even in a century from now.’
‘Astounding,’ said Helios. ‘Is it the same for everything you see?’
‘Everything before us is shown in plain sight, all we have to do is observe the things around us.’
Serg was the last to get through.
A great palace perched upon rock stood before them, the detail that went into its masonry was quite astonishing. The white walls had elegant lanterns fitted neatly between windows that overlooked the sea. What once would have been a place to fit hundreds of thousands of beings was left unoccupied.
It was surprising to know that Infinites had learned to acquire the ability to manipulate matter around them. This allowed Serg to warm himself and the Lorexiuns despite the bitter cold.
Before he could stop himself, a word made its way out of Serg’s mouth. ‘Argonal.’
‘Indeed it is,’ said Helios.
The two places, the slit and here, were separate dimensions fitted neatly together like pieces of a jigsaw. Serg was convinced that if he backtracked the way he came, climbed to the top of the slit, he would discover a completely different sight to the one set out before them. Yet as he turned, the way back had vanished, replaced by a rock wall. He pressed against it.
There was no way back now.
The things that Serg had read all those decades ago came to life. The history of Argonal: battles fought and lost, the gathering of the first Bearers, the Serilions (tournaments that put candidates through their paces to compete in becoming a successor to the most powerful seat in the universe), and the coronation of the Matter-Fabric’s accession of the three Orilians who took it.
It had happened here.
The sea was the only thing that divided their path.
‘Race you,’ smirked Xeon.
With a swift move, Xeon disappeared. The Lorexiuns looked around to see where he had gone when Fletch squinted across the sea. He saw Xeon before he vanished again. ‘There!’ Fletch pointed.
Nushun followed, disappearing and appearing around Xeon until the others joined in and made their way towards the palace.
Fletch had presumed that he had beaten the Lorexiuns, but then his face dropped when he noticed that it wasn’t him who had made it to the palace first. It had been Serg, standing with his back to them.
‘Technically I was first,’ he mumbled.
‘Of course you were,’ said Nushun, as Serg and the Lorexiuns made their way up a slope.
Serg could sense the history of the palace bleeding through his mind. ‘The Lorexiuns were here before, were they not?’
‘How did you know?’ Tarquin said, baffled.
‘I have acquired many skills in my lifetime,’ Serg told. ‘One of them, is the power to see the past and future of anything I touch. How long has it been since you were last here?’
‘Ever since the fall of the Masters when Argonal was sealed off.’
‘And the key?’
To that, Helios smiled. ’We are the key. Are we not Bearers?’
Serg furrowed his brow. ‘Clearly, I am not.’
‘The seal works as a telepathic barrier, only those with honest intentions are allowed to cross. One of Arcturus’ designs.’
‘Whatever happened to the Masters?’ Asked Serg.
Tarquin looked to Nushun. Nushun to Fletch. Xeon shook his head, refusing to answer.
‘They died,’ said Helios. ’The effects of Time stirred within Orion. Some say he turned a host to it. It grew unwieldy and troublesome. Orion was arguably more powerful than Arcturus and Cygnus put together. He was able to harness 3Circle energy and manipulate it.
‘One night, Orion caught a perilous rogue element and could no longer contain the effects. In his outburst, he blasted Arcturus square in the chest, a crossfire of 3Circle energy protruded from Orion. Cygnus came running in the dead of night to see what the commotion was about. In his guilt Orion killed Cygnus, before overloading his mind, finishing himself in the act.’
Serg was speechless.
‘Since then there’s been no Masters to succeed the three. Only Ghezar has held the seat as Guardian, when he died Silus took his place.’
‘So Silus is here?’ said Serg.
‘Silus is on a pilgrimage. He refused to sit as Master and has chosen to remain in Ogeara. The Five though readily occupy the seat and until a Master is found, Argonal has been left abandoned.’
Serg approached a mounted burning torch; how could something so rudimentary radiate light and be so beautiful? He was interrupted by involuntarily realising that he was caught by a sight of something he had previously read. ‘I believe our entrance awaits,’ he said.
As the ginormous oak doors were pushed open by Helios, Fletch and Nushun, Xeon stole passed the Infinite.
Serg pulled Xeon back. ‘Watch your step, unknown perils lurk ahead.’
‘You can sense that?’ Said Xeon.
‘Indeed, just like the fact that you do not trust me. That ever since you entered my tower, you have looked at me with contempt. Or how it was you lost your daughter. She never blamed you, you do realise that?’
‘Enough,’ said Helios, holding Xeon back, before he could pounce Serg.
‘Don’t you dare speak of Carina!’
‘Cool it,’ said Fletch.
Tarquin held Xeon by his arm.
‘I meant no offence,’ said Serg, apologetically. ‘You should not blame yourself for what clearly was something out of your control.’
Xeon walked away, towards a stone bench.
‘What now?’ Asked Nushun.
‘We do what you came for and find the object and extract it before it is too late,’ said Serg.
The Lorexiuns held back, allowing the Infinite to take the lead and clear the path for them. Serg took a couple of decisive steps before stopping in his tracks.
‘Although you said that Argonal is abandoned, these doors have been opened recently,’ Serg informed. ‘But by whom?’ He added with trepidation in his voice.
‘Let’s find out.’ Nushun said.
Inside was nothing but the floorboards beneath Serg’s feet, stone blocks for walls and dilapidated windows affording views of the surrounding landscape and the allowance of silverlight to bleed through.
It was Nushun who volunteered to go on ahead. He stood tall. ‘Any last words before the hero steps into the unknown faced with possible danger and most likely inescapable perils?’
‘I hope the abominable snowman tears you in two,’ said Fletch. The Lorexiuns burst into laughter.
Tarquin waited a while before following Nushun. The Lorexiuns remained with Serg.
The pair disappeared up the steps and along the corridor.
Dusk had approached and Tarquin and Nushun had not returned.
‘I suspected the intruder might have tried to figure a way to get across the palace.’ Serg tried to evaluate all possible scenarios. ‘However, I sense distortion close by.’
‘What does that mean,’ said Fletch.
‘Something has taken them,’ Serg said, knowing full well that he was out of his depth.
‘A presence?’ Helios said.
Serg turned his head from left and then to the right. ‘There is something … blurred. I cannot seek its signature. It is beyond my understanding.’
Xeon sauntered over to join the Lorexiuns and leaned in to hear what the others were talking about.
‘I see darkness … bare walls and broken landings,’ said Serg.
‘And what about Tarquin? What of Nushun?’
‘They have parted from my sight.’
‘Get them back!’ said Xeon.
‘I will do what I can,’ said Serg ‘Worry not, if anything, whatever lies before us has not met the likes of me, and believe me when I say, monsters run in the presence of things unknown to them.’ Serg gathered his thoughts and walked into the emptiness.
The Lorexiuns shuffled, open-minded of the presence as they walked into an immense corridor with a vaulted ceiling.
Serg pictured the routes. He tried to sense the presence that was lurking in the shadows. He was lost in having to find what it was that could have taken Tarquin and Nushun.
‘Anything?’ Xeon asked Serg.
‘I have never used my senses to their full extent before. Whatever is skulking in these corridors does not want to be registered. Something dark and mysterious has penetrated these walls. I cannot make it out. Be vigilant, whatever stalks this palace is no ally.’
‘Defence stance three,’ said Helios. The Lorexiuns arranged themselves into formation.
Xeon took the front with Helios and Fletch spaced out behind, Serg at the back, forming a diamond. Fletch pulled on his glove, ready to take on whatever came their way.
If there was an attack, the Lorexiuns would ensure that Serg was protected at all costs. Losing an Infinite was like losing a thousand lives.
‘I can see wisps of smoke,’ said Serg.
They moved along the corridor.
‘Let’s just hope that we don’t encounter anything unnatural.’
Serg’s senses kicked in. He could feel that Tarquin and Nushun were close. If they had been taken, their signature would diminish shortly.
The Lorexiuns had reached spiraling steps, they made their way up in single file until they had reached an archway.
‘Woah––’ said Xeon, dumfounded.
An obscure language was carved into the wall.
It was Serg who was able to deduce a little of what he could translate. ‘I have not seen this for as long as I can remember.’
‘What do you suppose it says?’ Said Helios.
‘I believe…’ –– began Serg, rubbing his fingertips across the surface –– ‘…it could most likely be that of the Galayek language spoken by the Ancients.’
‘Can you make any of it out?’ Helios asked, attentively.
‘Someone must have left a message, but of what? And to whom?’ Serg put a finger on his lips, ruminating the translation. ‘Perhaps.’ He said, pacing between the Lorexiuns. ‘Although – but then again no. No, because that would mean that– Ooh! Still, what if it was? No. It does not matter! There is no time for explanations. This––’ He tapped at the wall. ‘These are so old that even my kind would find it tough to decipher. These are the markings of a Sectomancer––’
‘A what?!’ The Lorexiuns said in unison.
‘A Sectomancer, a masked figure who skulks throughout the continuum. It is said, that the Sectomancer travels about the universe, trying to protect the state of the Matter-Fabric.’
Serg racked his brain to retrieve the pages of a tome back when he was in the Realm. He was able to recount it in near precise detail. Serg saw himself at a desk with the tome where he first had seen the language in. If he could just concentrate hard enough, maybe he could make out the alphabet to piece together the markings.
Serg’s mind shifted through various translations and spoke what he thought the writing had said:
Behold, Time is all but everlasting, to come to an end when the last flames of the Heavenly Rays of Tohcay burn out. Only a Traveller can be your saviour. Only he can bring light in times of Darkness.
It was as much as Helios had feared. ‘So it is true, we are doomed.’
‘NO!’ Fletch could not come to terms with it.
‘Don’t forget,’ said Xeon. ‘We came here for a reason, let’s find the Eternity Stone, maybe it can tell us how we can avert this eventuality.’
The Lorexiuns ambled through the archway. Nothing much stirred other than dirt that appeared clear in the path of silverlight. It was as if the chamber was too quiet. Serg could sense multiple hosts all around. Though he could not see them, their signatures were closing in.
Serg walked cautiously. He had an idea of where one of the signatures would be, but the last thing he wanted to do was give the game away. The Infinite continued onwards, sensing two more to his left and at least seven more had cornered them. Serg moved to the middle of the chamber. He noticed markings on the top right-hand corner of the floor tiles, he knelt. ‘I don’t suppose any of you would happen to know the combination?’
Fletch peered at the tiles.
Helios, Xeon and Serg watched as Fletch surveyed the floor and walked the length of the chamber, back again and then hopped on one foot.
‘Haven’t you worked it out yet?’ said Fletch. ‘Back in the days when I wandered around, I picked up a thing or two.’
‘You always got us in trouble.’ said Xeon.
‘I did brother,’ said Fletch. ‘But if I hadn’t, we wouldn’t be able to get through that opening.’
‘What opening?’ said Helios.
‘That one.’ Fletch pointed just over Serg.
‘There’s nothing there.’
‘You were never the one with brains, Xeon,’ Fletch jested. ‘Watch this.’ He jumped on some tiles. A breeze gusted, blowing dust to reveal a frame where a door should have been.
‘All we need to do,’ said Fletch, ‘is enter a date. It should take the four of us.’
‘But which date?’ Serg wondered.
The Lorexiuns and the Infinite input several dates which proved to be wrong, this included: the Clash of the Kristenalites, the Proda Inception and the Taking of Ashengoff.
‘13.423,’ said Fletch. Helios, Xeon and the Infinite looked at him with curious expressions. ‘The Siege of Levins. Worth a shot?’
Helios moved on the tile marked one and three, Fletch on four, Xeon on two and Serg on another three.
‘On my count,’ said Fletch. ‘Jump at once.’
‘One… two… three.’
Serg watched as the Lorexiuns jumped in the air and slammed back down on the tiles, which sunk.
A shudder of blocks and a gap formed.
‘Well I’ll be human,’ said Xeon.
‘Told you so,’ Fletch interjected.
The Lorexiuns had found themselves in a ginormous vault, there seemed to be a vast collections of things.
Helios roamed between any available space he could get through.
‘Where do you reckon the Eternity Stone is?’ Asked Xeon.
Serg sensed it moments before entering the vault. He felt as if his blood had stopped pumping in his veins, a lump stuck in his throat making it harder to breathe. Serg could hear whispers as if a thousand voices were speaking simultaneously, he had been crammed with an excessive flow of what he could only describe as a black hole pulling in thoughts. He experienced strong mixed feelings of intense emotions. Snatches of whispers grew ever stronger as if the Eternity Stone was somehow drawing him closer.
A hand grabbed Serg, causing him to jump.
‘Are you alright?’ asked Fletch.
‘I–– I am fine, keep looking.’
The Lorexiuns had searched high and low in the heaps of treasures that littered the vault. ‘The Masters obtained wonderful artefacts,’ said Helios, admiring a tablet that he opened like a book, on one side there were keys of the English alphabet, numbers and symbols. On the other a darkened mirror. ‘What a intriguing thing.’
Xeon had been going through a pile of ornaments, trinkets and the like, and was flinging them over his shoulders to see through the mess. The items hung in the air for a while before slowly drifting neatly to the ground.
Helios could see what the effects of the Stone was having on Serg. The Lorexiuns themselves felt nothing. Why is it affecting Serg and not us? He wondered.
Serg had to force himself to struggle with the weight of the Eternity Stone. How it had lasted hidden in this vault for sendiums was beyond him. It was such a powerful object to be left lying around, unguarded.
The Infinite could feel it amplifying within, burning his very skin, making him feel like he was going insane.
The pull guided Serg deeper into the vault, it descended far down where valuable troves lied. He noticed a few rare items that he had seen in the archives in his tower that had been labelled as misplaced in his logs.
It was when Serg was about to bound right when he was tugged backwards by the magnetic pull of the Eternity Stone.
Serg could not fight it, he tried to detach himself from its power, struggling to step back in the opposite direction as he was pulled closer.
The Infinite had to repel mental attacks, the Eternity Stone was trying to take control. It fed on his feelings, his insecurities and willingness to make a difference.
Serg battled against its defences to see if he could counter the attack. For a brief moment it worked, but then the Stone evaporated the connection and released its pull.
The Lorexiuns had caught up. Helios wandered over to the Infinite as Xeon and Fletch took an inquisitive look around.
Serg had found what they were looking for and it took the three Lorexiuns to utilise their powers and move a mountain of treasures aside to reveal the Eternity Stone.
There, in plain sight, was an orange stone rested on a stump of pillar, clasped by three duferlorn spokes.
‘This is perhaps the most important piece of our time.’ Helios said, holding the stone with a thumb and forefinger.
The Eternity Stone was in the shape of a twenty-sided die, each face had its own symbol etched on a surface.
‘These markings are much like the ones near the archway,’ said Serg. ‘Yet they seem not to be numbers or of any system of alphabet that I have come across before. Whatever its purpose, remains beyond my knowledge. Nonetheless, the Supreme High Council must know of this.’
‘Can we not take the Eternity Stone back with us?’ Implored Fletch.
Serg shook his head. ‘This Stone was left in the hands of the Masters for a reason. I am positive that even they would not have had it seen in the wrong hands. It will be better suited if the Stone was in the Realm. There it will be studied and analysed before being locked away.’
‘But if this Stone can tell us of future events then we must use it for just that.’ Said Xeon. ‘We cannot stand back and allow chance to overthrow us. We must make our own way and write the days to come.’
‘I know that we have been through difficult times,’ said Helios. ‘Nevertheless, if this Stone is left exposed, then we cannot predict the destruction it will cause in the hands of others. Bearers like us will see it as a beacon of hope, but we will inevitably use its power to influence our cause. We have to sacrifice the knowledge of the Eternity Stone if we are to truly allow our survival to be a means of progression in the universe. Let it go.’
Xeon turned away.
‘As hard as it is,’ said Fletch, convinced. ‘Helios is right. It must leave our world. We will have to make our own course and take a stand. We’ll help you get back to your Realm before anyone knows that the Stone is here––’
At once the Lorexiuns felt a sudden chill running down their spines, breaths fogged as the light dimmed.
A whooshing sound filled the air and the Lorexiuns turned to find another presence amongst them.
‘Stratesh! It can’t be! How’s it possible?’ Helios gasped.
‘For so long have I waited for this moment.’ Stratesh met Serg’s gaze. ‘I have always had an inkling that Infinites were real, and now seeing you in the flesh, just fills me with joy.’
Stratesh summoned the Stone. What happened next was something that he had not counted on. Serg had countered his motion. In the exact moment that both their summons collided and hit the Eternity Stone, a multitude of colours poured out.
With a sleight of hand, Serg sent a gust of air that flung Stratesh some metres away.
Shadows silhouetted from around Stratesh, they seemed to be an extension of this new arrival. Sound filtered out. The Lorexiuns were weakening in the presence of black smoke.
Stratesh was confused as to why the Infinite was immune to the smoke’s power.
‘How are you unaffected?’ Stratesh asked, enraged. The Lorexiuns clutched at their throats, the air was thinning as they buckled to the floor.
Anselopha was full of beings with extraordinary abilities, however, Serg understood little about them. His own race possessed a variety themselves. Yet here was an Orilian standing before him, able to disable a person with next to no effort.
‘Stop this.’ Demanded the Infinite.
‘Not until I have what I came for.’
‘The Stone? What use is it to you?’
‘The Eternity Stone belongs to those living in the universe. An Infinite has no right to possess it, I will take it and have the whole continuum at my mercy.’
‘The right to rule the universe belongs to a Master. You have no right in doing so.’
‘I have every right!’
Neither flinched or dared to waver from the other’s sight.
Fletch was turning blue, he saw glimpses of Serg and Stratesh who looked like they were frozen still. Serg and Stratesh, though, were partaking in a mental duel. Stratesh had formed his own barricade from Serg who was trying to get into his subconscious to stop him from choking the Lorexiuns to death.
Fletch pulled away and as he came to, he balled his hand into a fist and punched Stratesh under his chin, knocking him out.
At once the hold over the Lorexiuns set them free. Thuds followed and Tarquin and Nushun appeared either side of Xeon. Then the smoke spread.
Serg was having none of it. ‘It’s a trick!’ He said.
The Lorexiuns were engulfed with thickening fogged smoke that manifested in fuller form.
Stratesh was close, Serg could sense him.
’You might as well all … die together.’ Came his sinister whispers carried through spaces where the smoke hadn’t yet penetrated.
‘Guard me, I’ll try to obtain the Stone.’ Serg instructed.
Helios signalled the Lorexiuns to cut Stratesh off. They moved around the chamber, making sure to be light-footed.
Serg made for the Eternity Stone. The sight of the smoke and the energy repelling off the Stone stopping the Infinite in his tracks. He leaned over to grab it, immediately feeling a sharp stabbing sensation.
The Eternity Stone was forcibly pushing Serg away.
The smoke snaked around the Stone, but unfortunately for its best efforts, it had no such luck.
A pulse emitted from the Stone and the Lorexiuns were turned into dark-misted sculptures. Out of the corner of his eyes, Serg could see Nushun inches away from Stratesh’s grasp, ready to pounce like a lion as it stalks a gazelle.
Nothing stirred except the smoke, which seemed to have a slight affect against the matter around which Time froze instantly. The smoke, however, simply slowed down. Minuscule smoked hands grabbed menacingly at the Stone as bursts of energy around its surface attempted to block any interaction.
Serg raised his palm to the Stone and poured white light. The smoke fizzled and then spaced. That was it! His right hand hovered at waist height towards the Stone, he outstretched the other towards the Lorexiuns and burst light from both his palms, the pressure built steadily.
The smoke quivered, screeched and vanished in the blinding light, and once it knew that Serg meant business, it escaped through any crack or breaks in the walls.
Serg clenched his fists and sighed greatly. This time, he made sure that he gloved his hand with light before he picked the Eternity Stone up. Regardless of this and no matter how hard he tried to lift it, the Stone would not budge.
The Infinite looked around the chamber for things he could use, he picked up a wooden chair and brought it down on the Eternity Stone. When the chair met with the Stone it was ripped to pieces, leaving no dents on it whatsoever. Serg picked up a jagged rock, trying again. With what little effect the rock had to pass through the energy, it was disintegrated.
Admitting defeat, Serg crashed hard to his knees. He had run out of options.
All I want to do is keep you from harms way!
The energy wavered.
For the sake of the countless beings living in the universe, I must take you far away, before it is too late.
It wasn’t just his imagination, the energy had stopped emitting, even if it was for a second.
Somehow, although it was not clear, the Stone could hear his thoughts. He had a suspicion that the only way to obtain it was telepathically. Serg had to show his true intentions and bargain with the Eternity Stone, if he could.
As both Serg’s mind and the power of the Stone infused, little was he aware that Time was flowing back into sync. Stratesh’s hand was reaching closer to Nushun as Helios and Xeon were about to tackle Stratesh.
Tarquin and Fletch had surrounded Serg as he fell into a trance.
The power of the Eternity Stone had a strange hold over the Infinite.
A force had wielded a power that he could not control. He tried to use his ability to counter the assault, however, that too was rendered useless. Whole chunks of knowledge were being absorbed by the Infinite. His pupils turned misty white, his fingertips were glued to the Eternity Stone. At first the pain was unbearable, then it lifted, showing unfamiliar sightings. This had never happened before. How could Serg be seeing things that he had never been a part of? All those sendiums spent in his tower had clouded him.
A rush of visions danced behind his closed eyelids. Serg could see things that had not come to pass, he accelerated his mental processes in order to keep up with what he was seeing, however hard he tried to slow down the images, they kept playing at an unpredictable speed. His head pounding, Serg could feel every bit of his mind filling.
Time rolled back to its correct format and Helios and Xeon struck Stratesh who was forced back. Nushun stuck out his leg, forcing Stratesh to tumble over.
Serg’s pupils unclouded and colour returned to his cheeks, recovering.
‘What did you see?’ Helios asked.
‘A whole assortment of foes, I could see so much hate. They were all after one thing: superior control over the Matter-Fabric.’ Serg grasped for the Eternity Stone.
‘Do you think the Stone shows the future?’
‘I cannot attempt to hazard a guess.’ Serg tried to replay back the fading visions. ’The Stone cannot remain here, I must take it back with me. Helios, guarding the Matter-Fabric has been your life’s work, I fear that the coming sendiums will challenge, not just your authority but the oaths you have taken. You will suffer greatly and be rewarded with nothing but the beating of your hearts.
‘I will say this, the Matter-Fabric will become exposed to all manner of beings who will want to see it torn. You will have to gather those faithful to your cause and guard Time aggressively. There will come a point when everything you know will be obliterated, close to universal extinction. I implore you to take action.’
Stratesh was persistent. He covered every source of light and turned it into darkness, the smoke would not be long behind.
‘Do you think he controls the smoke or are they protecting him?’ Helios asked the Infinite.
‘I do not pretend to know,’ said Serg. ‘However, we must be vigilant, we do not know what we are up against.’
Without light, the Lorexiuns could not see. Stratesh walked jumped over Nushun, moved around Helios and Xeon and reached Tarquin and Fletch, sending blasts towards the Infinite.
By instinct Serg shielded his face, expecting to be struck. He peered through opened fingers, amazed to find that he was fine. The Stone was glowing brightly. Lost in making sense of what had just happened, Serg deduced that the Stone must have contained the blasts.
Stratesh moved closer to Serg and summoned smoke that snaked and twisted like tornados as they reached down his arms.
This was it, he would kill Serg, take the Stone and vanish, all in one move.
The smoke blasted the Eternity Stone, but repelled back towards Stratesh and pinned him down. Stratesh tried to use his elbows to push himself towards the Stone. He gained a few inches with a struggle. It was became apparent that the Stone was attempting to summon Stratesh elsewhere.
First his feet faded, his legs shortly followed suit. The smoke turned into dark fireflies, swarming his body, as it continued all the way up to his face, half of which had gone. Tarquin and Fletch had to look away.
Serg watched as Stratesh’s hand managed to grab onto a goblet, which spun as his fingers became the last part of him to disappear.
The light returned once Stratesh was gone.
Serg was able to pick up the Stone with his bare hands.
‘The Eternity Stone cannot stay in your world.’
‘What shall I tell Silus?’ Helios asked, knowing full well that it was the only way to keep such a powerful object away from prying hands.
‘Tell him that the Stone is guarded.’
With a blink of their eyes, the Infinite was gone.
Returning home was perhaps the hardest thing Serg had ever done. He had left the Realm at the youthful age of three hundred and nine.
Most of his kind had been scattered around the outer-universe to gather what information they could. All their lives Infinites had buried their noses in parchment, keeping themselves closed off from actuality. Infinites were a race that lived for hundreds of thousands of sendiums hidden away, but that was one rule that Serg had now broken. He had revealed them.
Serg shivered, shame ran through his veins.
No one seemed to be around, so Serg stepped off the platform onto shining cream marble.
As he walked down the long corridor, Infinites began summoning themselves in his presence. Serg had returned home too early, he had not yet fulfilled his placement. His early return was illegal, but he had no choice.
The Imperitan Patrol surrounded him, their staffs targeted Serg.
‘Don’t shoot,’ he mocked, throwing his hands up.
‘Under Sederan Law of the Supreme High Council, I hold you under arrest. You shall be escorted to the Supreme Lord.’
Serg was poked hard in his ribs. ‘Jab me once more and I will gladly break your staff.’
A pair of duferlorn keyless shackles bound his wrists together.
The Imperitan Patrol had to disturb the Council whilst they were observing their meditation, gathered in the Great Hall of Ostavus.
Serg was brought forth to the Contemplation Chamber where the Infinites were on their knees with their heads brought forward. Many Infinites were dotted around the congested chamber, some even on balconies. Every available space had been taken. Infinites would meditate for whole sendiums or until each had achieved inner peace.
Only four wore long crimson robes, hooded in silence. The rest of the Infinites had orange, emerald, blue and purple robes pertaining to an individuals status.
Serg was dragged towards the crimson robes. An Imperitan Patroller stood behind the four and tapped his staff as quietly as he could to avoid distracting as few Infinites as possible.
At first, the four seemed not to have heard, but then one from the second right stood up slowly, arms reached out. He did not face the Imperitan Patrol.
‘Supreme Lord Malitorn, a matter has arisen that begs your attention.’
Wait for us, in the court until our meditation has taken its course, Malitorn spoke.
‘At once, my Lord.’
Supreme Lord Malitorn, the High Lords Argolictus and Farren and High Lady Dfaldorth sat on stone seats, the backs of which extended as tall as the marble pillars, this time the Infinites had donned black double-breasted overcloaks.
‘My Lords, My Lady. We have caught a Scribe out of his Timeless Field. Our records show Serg to be stationed in the Jadorine System, with two centuries until his assignment’s end.’
Malitorn took the transcript from the Imperitan Patroller and surveyed it closely.
‘Here, my Lord,’ said Serg.
Lady Dfaldorth whispered in Farren’s ear.
‘What is the meaning of this?’ Said Malitorn.
‘My Lord, I–’ Serg pleaded.
‘Have I not given you countless reprieves already, or gained any bit of respect from you?’
‘It is not like that!’
‘You know the penalty for not completing placements.’
‘My lord.’ Serg’s throat dried. He tried to continue, but instead gulped. He took a pause before saying, ‘I was approached by none other than the Lorexiuns––’
‘You had contact?’ Argolictus spat.
Whispers spread through the court. Serg’s ears prickled, the sides of his face lit up.
‘The Lorexiuns … came to me,’ Serg tried to carry on with the Infinites bawling their opinions, arguing amongst each other. ‘Under the instructions of Silus, they were to retrieve an item that would mean survival or extinction to the races of the universe.’
‘ENOUGH!’ Farren bellowed. ‘Call to order. Allow the accused to justify his actions, as is his right.’
Serg waited until the whispers died down and he had everyone’s undivided attention.
‘My Lords, Lady Dfaldorth. As a Scribe, I have come to the conclusion that points towards an ending to the universe.’
Serg took a large scroll from within his black double-breasted overcoat and unravelled it before squinting eyes.
On the face of the scroll was a drawing of Anselopha, beside it, was another world.
‘A map of the Prime Worlds,’ said Serg. ‘Us, and the humans of Earth. For many sendiums Orilians have lived amongst them, but never have they learnt of each other. I have discovered that one of them, a human no less, a Traveller no doubt, will take the seat as Master on the eve of the collapse of actuality.’
‘Regardless of patterns showing conjunctions of occurring or forthcoming events; we cannot and will not interfere with the affairs of the existence,’ Lady Dfaldorth said.
‘Are we not the descendants of the Ancients? Is it not logical for us to sacrifice our old ways and pursue our intervention amongst the existence. Heed my words,’ beseeched Serg, rising to stand taller than the crowd of Infinites. ‘I have visioned the destruction that is about to unfold on the Matter-Fabric. I have proof that the universe is about to perish.’
Argolictus was angered. ‘The outcome of the universe has no relevance to us. Infinites have outlasted many civilisations through its innumerable cycles, more than any of us have lived, the universe ends and is reborn as the natural phenomenon that it is. Why should we care about the regeneration of matter? You had no right to intervene, you should have summoned an Imperitan Patrol.’
Cheers of approval swam through the court. Serg remained unconvinced.
The Infinites waited until Malitorn had made up his mind.
‘Albeit, the accused abandoned his post and partook in events. The problem I have is why you, Serg, felt the need to pursue such course of action?’
‘Helios and the Lorexiuns pointed out factors of Time’s degenerative state. They found anomalies in points of the Matter-Fabric that had been cancelled out. Facts that they could not have conjured. I was told that Silus required an object that would prove useful. It was located within the Drugorien Region itself. There we went, and there it was found. I, and only I, envisioned the collapse of actuality until nothing but stardust was left the wake of a dying universe.’
‘And where, pray tell, is this so called object you speak of?’ said Argolictus, furrowing his brow.
‘I have it here.’
Serg placed his hands before him and in an instant, the Stone appeared. ‘The Eternity Stone, my Lord.’ He presented.
Farren was speechless.
Argolictus was lost for words.
Malitorn was beside himself.
‘This cannot be!’ Exclaimed Lady Dfaldorth, pinching the back of her hand.
‘The universe is random, the only order it has happens due to what actions we carry out unto it,’ said Serg. ‘Otherwise it flows in an untempered pattern. The universe requires our helping hand.’
The Infinites knew little of the events of the universe, save for the Scribes whom knew of their own findings.
‘Creation will always need our help. My Lord Malitorn, I must beg your wisdom. My calculations have led me to believe that in the wake of the next Master, we might see the collapse of everything as we know it. If we choose to do nothing, then we will lose the universe and remain the only existence left.’
Malitorn looked impressed, though only Serg seemed to notice. He nodded at an attendant in a white double-breasted overcoat, who walked down the steps, up to where the accused stood and held the Eternity Stone up so that the Infinites could see it.
‘Perhaps we may be better suited in the Chamber of Events,’ Farren suggested.
Argolictus adjourned the court.
The Supreme High Council, the Infinites, the Imperitan Patrol and Serg convened after a short break to the Chamber of Events.
With the Imperitan Patrol close to Serg, so that he could not endanger any of the Infinites, he placed the Eternity Stone neatly under an optical instrument. He fiddled with some buttons before a projection formed on a bare wall.
‘Myth speaks of a Stone that displays possible futures, one which comes as a warning, I believe it to be this object,’ said Serg. ‘Since the Ancients became extinct we scurried away in our Timeless Fields, leaving the existence to fend for themselves. We were wrong to do so – do you not see? We had the privilege to succeed the Ancients. We possess both the ability and the resilience to perform by such responsibility. In our stead, the existence looked unto the employment of Masters to do the work we refused to do. In doing so, we have jeopardised their survival as well as ours.’
Malitorn, Lady Dfaldorth and Farren stood by Argolictus.
‘The Council will review the matter through nightfall, ready to pass judgement at the turn of dawn when your actions will be determined by the court,’ Malitorn concluded.
Argolictus slammed his staff. The echo filled the Chamber of Events. The Infinites departed, some still conversed as they summoned themselves out.
The Imperitan Patrol seized Serg and escorted him to the lower cells, where he would await his verdict.
Malitorn did not need to turn around to sense that Serg had appeared.
‘I see your talents still bear their mark.’
‘I could leave the Realm whenever I chose,’ replied Serg.
Malitorn whirled around. ‘Then what is stopping you?’
‘The simple fact of saving the universe,’ he said.
‘A universe we were placed to analyse not intervene.’
‘Our purpose needs to change, just like the state of Time.’
‘You would have us be servants?’
‘I would have us become keepers of the universe.’
‘That did not work out so well for the Ancients,’ said Malitorn. ‘Let me show you something.’ He marched out of his study and waited for the holographic Serg to catch up before continuing along the corridor. ‘Do you know what happened to them?’
Serg shook his head. His holographic form glided beside Malitorn. Though he could move freely, he could not, however, touch anything. Serg’s body remained in the lower cells, but he had possessed the ability to copy himself to manoeuvre anywhere he liked. He had discovered this power quite by chance. His first time had terrified him, haunted his sleep-state. It was Malitorn who had helped him through it, explaining to a young Serg that his powers were not a curse, that he could learn more abilities if he so wished. Malitorn had later enlisted Serg as his apprentice.
It was only Malitorn who knew of Serg’s holographic ability.
They had come to stand outside the Hall of Collections where an oak door stood behind a black duferlorn grill made of intertwined symbols welded together. Its surface shimmered at Malitorn’s touch before disintegrating.
‘There are many Halls in this Realm that are out of bounds, some even to the Supreme High Council. None besides myself have been beyond this very door.’ With a motion of pushing his arms forward and then outwards, Malitorn was able to force open the oak door from a metre away. He strode into the Hall. ‘I think it is time to show you what it is meant to be a keeper of the universe and the struggles they pose.’
The whole Hall of Collections was assorted with ancient objects, sculptures, odd ornaments, statues, peculiar looking items, mountains of parchment that rose nearly high as the pillars and there were floor globes of Earth and Anselopha in its centre.
Tall turquoise statues of the Ancients protected the Hall. It was Steantius III who caught his attention, his image captured just moments before the Great Plunge that destroyed his entire race. Steantius III was looking up with his hands extended in front of his face.
‘It seems such a shame to have lost a marvellous race of beings,’ Malitorn spoke. ‘Yet in their absence, we fail to be anything but great. Being just as good requires us to do things that are out of our jurisdiction. We know perhaps too much of things to come to be allowed to have an impact on actuality. I fear that the existence will feed off our knowledge and render what they learn to gain favourable outcomes in their own lives, the timeline would ripple throughout the continuum. What then will be left if not chaos in its wake?’
‘Your fear is not in our impact, but the acceptance you think will not be given.’
‘Acceptance is not what we should hope to gain,’ Malitorn looked offended. ‘It is leadership that is required to guide the existence, something that only a Master must carry out. If we were revealed, the existence would see us as nothing more than an asset. Serg, we have to remain as we are to achieve the foundation of preserving what is out there.’
‘You could not be more wrong.’
Malitorn begged Serg to see reason. ‘You know as well as I that we cannot go interfering with events, it is not our place.’
‘So you would have creation cease to exist?’
‘Do you not have a cell to return to?’ Said Malitorn.
There was no point in reasoning with the Supreme Lord. Perhaps Serg might still have a better chance to convince the Supreme High Council to change tradition and do as the Ancients did. Maybe there was still a chance in saving the universe.
Trials were uncommon in Infinite culture. Infinites never broke rules. One or two would go astray from time to time, but they were dealt with accordingly. It took an entire montressen to come up with a decision to bring Serg’s punishment to a conclusion.
Malitorn would have no choice but to make an example of him.
Farren thumped his armrest. ‘What possessed you to take such action?’
‘I found discrepancies, my lord.’
‘Time is flowing at an irregular rate, it is even skipping days to a point where it will reach an unpredictable course, one where even we would not be able to predict.’
‘The course of nature in regards of the universe has never bothered us before.’ Malitorn conjured a hologram of the universe over the Infinites. Planets, galaxies, stars and the solar system formed. The Infinites marvelled at the sight. A little girl tried to jump as high as she could to grab a star, skipping as she did.
‘Through the entirety of the universe,’ said Malitorn, as he used his hand to manoeuvre a sizable dot across one side of the hologram to the other end to form a line. ‘The timeline of all existence has been in a constant flow from since the Great Plunge. In the time since occupying the Realm, we have seen the rebirth of cycles for at least thirteen times. You are right Serg, the next break in cycles is about to occur, yet what is it that makes this cycle so important that prompts you to suggest that nature should not run its course, allowing another to take its place?’
Serg held back tears. ‘With each transition that our kind has allowed the cycles to progress, we have sentenced entire races, planets and matter to be discontinued. Imagine, if you will, the thirteen cycles that the Infinites have outlived, can you not say that you feel sorrow for the beings that were purged as you stood by to watch such displays of destruction? How can you have the heart not to see that you are promoting genocide in a universal scale? In my placement, I have documented events and cross-analysed them to find that in each cycle the same progressional state occurs. The smoke indicates the coming of Darkness, the first sign of deterioration to cyclical function. I have seen them. The Lorexiuns and I came under attack by another who sought to take the Eternity Stone.’
‘It is just the course of nature.’ Farren stood. ‘Time’s cycles will soon evolve, another will take its place and we will record existence once more, such is our purpose. Actuality is of no importance to us,’ he said. ‘Infinites will not jeopardise everything our race has done for the sake of others. We shall outlive this cycle of existence and then do the same for the beings who will supercede the current. Distortion is but an inevitable quality of the Matter-Fabric. The universe must be devoured now and again if it to survive.’
Malitorn swiped his hand and at once the holographic universe swarmed and dissolved.
‘My lord Malitorn,’ said Serg. ‘You sent me to the Jadorine System to discover what I could about events that have yet to occur. I have come to a logical conclusion that will have a devastating impact on the whole of creation.’
The Infinites looked to the Council. Some stirred, yes, most had seen their fair share of the transitional phase between cycles, watching comfortably from the Realm, with each turn, they outlived the beings of the universe. It was after the Ancients died out that the Infinites had buried their ideology with them.
‘And how do you propose we do that Serg?’
‘Evacuate beings into Timeless Fields.’
‘Even if it is so,’ said Argolictus. ‘We would eventually have to release the existence back into a new universe where a ripple would force the timeline to change. Furthermore, the trunk of the timeline would branch out. An existence that should have perished in a previous cycle would live to populate along with a new one. What do you imagine would happen when the Matter-Fabric would have to compensate for the immigration of beings. For all we know, it would be forced in a state that it has never encountered.’
‘We will attempt no such thing,’ retorted Malitorn. ‘Your audacity has caused our presence to be known. The Lorexiuns will report to Silus, who will then seek to find us out. We are exposed. Our defences have never been tighter, we have deployed the highest ranks of the Imperitan Patrol to all of our primary Timeless Fields to ensure that no intrusions come to our domain, remaining shielded, unexposed to all and it will be unchanged.’
‘The absence of the Ancients has left the continuum in ruins. Chaos fills the places where there was once order and now there are countless others who seek to manipulate the Matter-Fabric.’
‘Worldly matters do not concern Infinites,’ said Lady Dfaldorth. ‘Have we not secluded ourselves from the troubles of the Prime Worlds, and of the Continuverse? If we had become part of their ways we would not have survived this long.’
Serg interjected. ‘I cannot stand back and watch as the universe is plunged into darkness. Can you not see that the way we treat the universe is wrong and yet be comfortable in the knowledge of it. Infinites have to do as the Ancients did.’
‘It can never be,’ said Farren. ‘Not again and never for as long as this Council is still in force.’
Malitorn saw it before he had made a move. Serg leapt to grab the Eternity Stone from the hands of the attendant. Exasperated, he repelled the Imperitan Patrol, flinging them head over heels. One of them regained his sense of gravity and grabbed a staff.
Malitorn lifted Serg away from the reach of those around.
‘For the last decade,’ choked Serg. ‘I have predicted future events and now I have come across the Eternity Stone that I myself thought to be a myth. The Prime Worlds have known about the fragile nature of the Matter-Fabric. Beings have been doing what they can to preserve its state. Orilians set up the Serilion to chose, by a series of challenges, whom would become an overall preserver of the Matter-Fabric. The result of which saw three beings becoming Masters and since then many Serilions have taken place with an assortment of candidates whom compete to take the seat.’
‘Oh, there have been many,’ said Serg, ‘who have fought to earn the title as Bearers: Artisein, Borlohf, Sixtens, Mhitus, Juentes, Libray amongst others, none of whom were successful. If it had not been for them, the Matter-Fabric would be endangered and everything as we know it would have been lost. How can we wait for another Master to take the seat when the whole of the universe will come close to the brink of calamity! The Eternity Stone is a tool we must use for the survival of the existence,’ he stated. ‘If we could somehow work out the correct sequence of events, perhaps we can stop the universe from collapsing all together and––’
Argolictus slammed his staff.
‘Though it is devastating that the Prime Worlds should encounter this adversity,’ said Malitorn, ‘nevertheless, as a race we cannot breach into the worlds. No, we will remain as we are.’
‘Are we to let the universe expire while we remain infinite?’
‘Serg,’ said Lady Dfaldorth. ‘There have been many before, as more follow in succession once this cycle ceases to––’
‘And watch as all lives are lost? When entire races of people are wiped out? How can you just stand by and allow this? If we did not study the races of the Prime Worlds and have a fundamental understanding of life, then what have we achieved? My Lords, my Lady. With all these documented events we have to analyse them to foresee outcomes to better safeguard Time.’
‘The Supreme High Council will not stand for such things.’
‘This is a time to decide how to shape the future,’ Serg said. ‘When it threatens to cancel out entire existences, it is a choice we have to make, to decide what must die and what must live on. A burden too great for one person alone … the fate of the universe is left to us. We must do what is necessary, no matter the cost or regret for actions that have to be carried out.’
‘We are observers. Infinites cannot and will never live in actuality. Your persistence in meddling has gone far enough, we cannot have one of our own bleeding knowledge thus influencing events.’ Farren said.
‘Then our race has failed the universe. Our understanding of the collective races; their history, the coalition of the Prime Worlds, all that data gathered and for what?’ Serg stared into Malitorn’s deep, violet eyes. ‘You have condemned the very beings that you have studied and come to acknowledge to nothing less than the end of this cycle. Yet what of the continuity of the Matter-Fabric? Surely with the turn of cycles, the fabric of space and time must become worn. The Eternity Stone is truth. We must study it to better understand the universe and ensure that beings retain their right to survive.’
‘The Stone is nothing but a relic from the worlds. It will be kept in the Hall of Collections just like the rest of the things pertaining to the current cycle,’ said Malitorn.
Serg was spent after spilling all his research and energy into trying to convince the Supreme High Council that they were making a grave mistake by not aiding the universe. ‘We must recognise the warnings that will precede the end of the cycle.’
‘Regardless of foreknowledge,’ said Argolictus. ‘As Infinites, we must abide by our sacred oath, the promise to document eventuality, and we will do exactly that from within the Realm and across Timeless Fields. Nothing more or less than these actions can we carry out until the last of us remains.’
It was useless. The Infinities were comfortable in staying hidden from the worlds outside.
‘I fail to believe that we are never to have any involvement in the universe,’ said Serg. ‘How can we go through our existence and play no part in the continuum?’
‘Our tradition keeps us alive.’
‘That you are wrong, my lady. It is your ignorance and your lack of contribution that keeps you safe.’
‘We beg your pardon,’ said Argolictus, offended.
‘While you cower in the Realm,’ Serg continued, focused on the Council. ‘The existence will suffer and as you have us jot down everything that belongs outside our walls, we would pass through millennia without cause.’
‘Our intervention will create alternate futures,’ Malitorn argued. ‘We would have to adjust the present and erase parts of the past if we were to ensure a stable Matter-Fabric. The Infinites would bring nothing but knowledge unto the Prime Worlds. Once the existence learns of us they will dissect our minds and try to hone our powers.’
‘So we are to fear them for the rest of eternity?’
‘If we must.’
‘We were meant to guide the existence,’ said Serg. ‘To give knowledge and help others to preserve what life is left, to pass judgement onto those who seek to do nothing but destroy. To be a line of defence, one where the universe would look to us in crisis and disasters. What are we if we do nothing but collate records?’
Lady Dfaldorth moved forward. ‘We … survive.’
Malitorn climbed the steps, towards his stone seat.
‘Serg, you stand accused of event manipulation. You have intruded in the course of Orilians and in doing so you have revealed us. How do you plead?’
‘Not guilty.’ Intoned Serg.
A rush of whispers ensued. The Infinites knew that Serg was guilty, that he had committed a most terrible crime.
Argolictus stroked his beard. ‘The Council has taken the matter in question with utmost seriousness. Serg, the actions you carried out has deemed you as an oath breaker. Taking into account your plea, the Council regrets that it does not concur, therefore we find you guilty.’
Serg had figured as much. He had been the first to leave either the Realm or a Timeless Field, the first to breach into one of the Prime Worlds and that was something you just didn’t do.
‘Then the sequence of events will shuffle without our guidance,’ explained Serg. ‘Where will destiny be at play when fate struggles to make sense of a muddled continuum?’
‘It is regrettable,’ said Lady Dfaldorth. ‘So far the continuum has lasted even without our intervention. Events are the things we record, not join in. It was wrong of you to do so and now you will pay the price for your treachery.’
‘Serg,’ said Malitorn. ‘You have caused many arguments, and even more disruptions, which I have been most lenient with. Your disregard with rules has caused nothing but trouble.’ He composed himself. ‘Meddling in events demands the highest form of punishment that is known to us. In addition, such crimes deem the right of the Council to banish such law breakers. Taking into consideration your length of service to us, with the nature in which you were promoted to a senior position and to be mindful of the status that you had as my apprentice, the High Lords, High Lady and I, sentence you to total Suppression.’
‘NO!’ Serg swallowed hard. Suppression was the highest punishment an Infinite could receive. It would mean that they would forcibly erase his mind. All those centuries of memories would be taken. Serg’s identity, the thing that made him who he was, would forcibly be removed. Banishment seemed like a better choice. Appealing would only dishonour him.
‘Hereinafter, let it be noted that the era of Darkness is upon us,’ said Farren. ‘We shall remain in our Realm, studying the end of the universe. Commiserations to you Serg, you will be Suppressed before you see such a wonder, especially when you become part of events.’
‘I want you to carry out the Suppression. Make sure it is a clean wipe, spare nothing but his world-name.’
‘At once, Supreme Lord.’
Istilios began making his way out of the Chamber of Events. Serg followed obediently behind, trying to sink in what was about to happen.
The Imperitan Patrol stood by the door as three entered the chamber.
Serg took a seat, he should have seen this coming. When he set out to help the Lorexiuns, he knew that this would be the endgame. He had been reckless.
Istilios busied himself with his own hand-made tools that were used for more Suppression than he could remember.
For the first time in so long, Serg felt at peace. His mind had always processed, sorted and constantly overthought. Though it was about to be erased, he was glad to be starting over.
‘Any last words?’ Asked Malitorn.
‘Your lack of interest in the worlds will be your undoing.’
Malitorn nodded at Istilios who then placed a hand on a lever, he would burst pulses of plasma that would penetrate Serg’s brain, erasing everything he knew.
Serg would have a couple of hours of euphoria before the process began taking his memories, gone forever, before he would find purchase on new ground with no idea of who he was or how he got there.
If this was the way the Infinites were going to play it, then so be it. He would, at least, be set free in the worlds, and even if he wasn’t in his right mind, Serg did not doubt that he would save as many as he could.
Istilios placed a duferlorn band around Serg’s head, exposing only his forehead.
‘The Supreme High Council have doomed us all.’
‘That is not for us to decide,’ said Istilios.
Malitorn watched closely, he had to make sure that Serg was dealt with properly.
Three mechanical arms came down over Serg’s head and placed fingers across his scalp, rooting through his hair and gripped firmly. Serg felt a tingling sensation. His pupils lost their colour and dark spots formed, a corona of white light grew stronger.
Serg could feel his mind being erased, his memories were leaving him. He tried with all his might to repeat things over and over again, to keep himself from forgetting. I am Serg. I am in a Suppression Chamber in the Infinites Realm. He tried to remember the records in his tower and the Lorexiuns: Helios, Tarquin, Nushun, Fletch and Xeon. A trace was still there. He tried to keep his thoughts attached, but the Suppression was doing its job too well. His time in the tower was fading, the records that he had handwritten became foreign as if he was seeing his own life being played through someone else’s eyes. He groaned, shifting uncomfortably, but his restraints were too tight.
Right then Serg could hear audible sounds. His ears pounded and then his eardrums popped. He thought he heard a rattle and then a yelp, followed by the smashing of glass. Great. He was hallucinating, growing paranoid, maybe even edging on the verge of insanity. His shoulders grew heavier, words became harder to grasp.
The next thing he knew, Serg was sprawled across the floor, looking up at the lights. At first, he thought he saw bats swarming above, but as his vision adjusted he saw swirls of black smoke. Serg clambered on all fours, looking around. Istilios had been knocked out. Malitorn had disappeared and the Imperitan Patrol were trying to stop the smoke, which had started to charge towards them.
What was going on?
As Serg tried to push himself up, he fell back down as if he had forgotten the process of standing. He knew he had a name, but it was at the tip of his tongue. Where was he? Who were these people?
Serg slapped the sides of his head, trying to hold onto the last thing he could remember. Yes. He was being Suppressed. Serg. That was it, that was his name. Soon Serg would forget everything. He had to keep memorising every bit of detail that he could.
Where was Malitorn?
Serg made to exit the chamber and leave the Realm. The Infinites had tried to take his mind, but he could sense that he had some fraction of himself still. Serg attempted to figure out the damage that had been inflicted. It was clear that the Suppression had been interrupted. He concluded, nonetheless, that he had about a quarter of whatever memory was left.
It would have to do.
There were no Imperitan Patrols or Infinites to stop him, but as Serg went to turn the doorknob he froze. He had to retrieve the Eternity Stone.
Serg ran, turning this way and that, and as he entered the chamber his heart stopped.
Malitorn had been waiting.
‘The Eternity Stone cannot leave the Realm.’ The Supreme Lord retorted.
‘You do not have the right to possess objects that belong in the universe,’ said Serg. ‘I must return it. You said yourself, taking objects would be an act of intervention.’
‘Yes,’ Malitorn agreed earnestly. ‘However, since you took it from the worlds and brought it here, it cannot leave. The danger is too great.’
‘You are ever wrong,’ said Serg, louder than a whisper, anger glinting his now colourless pupils. ‘For too long have we sat back and done nothing when we could have saved trillions of lives. Think about it, High Lords governing the universe. All those records could be used to make us great. The existence would not fear us – they will respect us, valuing our knowledge and heeding our advice, our guidance. We can be the key to their salvation.’
Malitorn stepped back. ‘That is madness.’
‘That, is progress!’ Yelled Serg. ‘Beings will look up to us higher than they have of any Master as we decide the best course of action to safeguard the Matter-Fabric. Who can stop us then?’ He discharged a burst of energy that hit Supreme Lord Malitorn.
Serg was adamant that he had done the right thing; he had made the Lorexiuns aware that the end of the Matter-Fabric was fast approaching.
It was time for a change and Serg had to take action, even if it meant breaking the rules to achieve it. He darted through the Realm, weaving in between Infinites. The Imperitan Patrol materialised in the chase. With the motions of but a few movements, Serg was able to immobilise them.
Infinites all around turned to see the commotion.
Serg encouraged an audience who watched intently as he summoned a force field to stop anyone getting close.
‘It hangs in plain sight,’ Serg spoke to the eager listeners. ’Yet you still do not possess the foresight to predict it. For too long have we watched and done nothing. The Ancients partook in the events of the continuum, they were the defence it needed and for so long they had ensured that the Matter-Fabric was nurtured. What we have been doing since, defies their teachings.
‘I urge you, one and all, to see sense. To see that the worlds need us. We must equip ourselves in action, use what we know to allow this universe to excel exponentially. We must be the light that guides the existence to succession through the cycles. Infinites have to be the example the universe looks up to. Is it not our duty to support other races? To protect and guide them in their lifetime?’
The Imperitan Patrol blasted balls of energy at the force field, trying desperately to perforate it.
‘I vow, from this day, to do all in my power to help those in the worlds, to offer my knowledge in exchange to improve lives and ensure that the Matter-Fabric is guided from all those who seek to pose harm to it.’ Serg looked down at them. ‘And to stop all traditionalists. Embrace the ways of the Ancients. Seek the truth! You are with the universe or against it.’
Malitorn, Argolictus, Lady Dfaldorth and Farren appeared from four individual columns of white light. At once the four struck the force field with more impact than the Imperitan Patrol, breaking its strength.
Serg yelped, jumped and rose to the air, ready to strike. He glided over the four. It was him against the odds.
Malitorn moved out of the way, allowing Serg to land where he had stood.
‘You would watch as this universe is plunged into nothingness. Can you honestly tell me that you will see it through?’ Serg looked sincerely.
Malitorn looked to the other three. Argolictus, Lady Dfaldorth and Farren all gave a swift nod.
‘I believe that Infinites will carry on as we have since the Ancients. Your vision of a new way lives only in you. The rest do not share your level of imagination to be any bit of a part in actuality. We inherited Timeless Fields to stay away from the worlds, not to live amongst them. That fate is now yours, Serg. You will live in the worlds, never to return.’
The Imperitan Patrol appeared and seized Serg by the arms and made to escort him out onto the grounds.
‘If you deny such actions, I will have no choice but to carry them out myself.’
‘I forbid you,’ said Malitorn.
‘You have not heard the last of me. One day, I shall return to claim the Realm. One day, I will have saved the continuum and I will take your place, Malitorn. Those who remain faithful to the old ways will be banished, just like you are doing to me.’
‘We strongly doubt that,’ Lady Dfaldorth said, with a sweet smile.
‘The day you return is the day I’ll gladly give up my title,’ said Farren.
‘As will I,’ said Argolictus.
‘I will take that promise.’ Serg was pulled kicking and screaming.
It took a dozen men of the Imperitan Patrol to hold Serg back. ‘You will watch the universe slip through your fingers, safe from the destruction that comes too close to home!’ He screamed. ‘You will lose the worlds if you do not involve yourself in events. You must see that. You have the power to help others … for the sake of the existence, for the sake of the lives that will be lost … you must write future history.’
The doors closed behind Serg and he was left to climb down to the bottom of the flights of steps that seemed to on and on.
Serg had the impulse for action, a desire to protect the Matter-Fabric. He just hoped his memory, of what was left of it, would not diminish before he had the chance to save the universe. An end to the cycle was imminent, any being could see that, but Infinites had been secluded from actuality for their entire lives. They would remain at a distance from the calamity that would make the universe nonexistent.
It was going to be a long walk to enter actuality. Taking one last glance, Serg took his first step towards a new world that he was never a part of, but one he would have to call home.