On the seventh hour after the Godling victory -- all our dreamings come to naught -- Cerdic and I plunged into the fire of a black hole's rim, where photons give hollow screams and bend themselves still. The universe gone mad surrounded us and we trusted our souls to the technology of the Majestic.
'She's all burn and brimstone, Beatrice.' Cerdic roared, as our suits' quantum machinery played wild anger with the nature of reality.
'The Godlings have won.'
'Not yet!' Cerdic laughed, and brushed my unmade face. "Not Yet!'
The universe rushed and twisted about us. Our suits' readings were best ignored, and then.
And then nothing.
We stared into darkness absolute, and in that void our past flared up; magnificent and doomed.
Cerdic kissed my brow as I unlaced his skin. Speaking in genotype, the colloquy of DNA. I felt his warming love and, dimly, the outer chill, the vacuum that fell away from the membrane of our Shell.
We hung, a single drop of amber, in a darkness perfect but for the distant smudge of stars.
'Beatrice, my Beatrice'
He held my face in lengthening fingers and I stroked the waveform of his love, felt and caressed each new-made possibility that branched and burst from him.
The Universe went out.
Cerdic's face tightened. I glanced at him, eye's milk white and feeding as my epidermis grazed on the bubble and squeak of real and unreal particles.
'What was that?'
His brow crinkled, he gripped his chin in thought, that most ancient of gestures.
'A myriad of Ways collapsed. I do believe that -'
'-something is making a mess of reality.' Cerdic glanced at the dials and crystalline structures that made up the control panel of theMantis.'Things are warping at greater and greater - '
'Godlings,' we whispered in unison. 'The Silver Calm has come.' We readied the ship. Contingencies had been made.
Possibilities vanished -- sealed up behind us -- as theMantisran the Thread, the space that veins and surrounds the Ways. She burst with half a million of her sisters upon the Core Plane, where the Majestic were already waiting.
'We do not have much time.' The Majestic whispered.
'We do not.'
'The Silver Calm has come. The Machinery of Ages.'
Cerdic smiled and whispered in my ear, what I already knew. He liked to appear wise.
'They've never liked our chaos. Our manipulation of the interstices that make up the universe.'
Around us four spheres spun and unwarped this sector of reality. We phased in an out and made bitter talk of war.
The Silver Calm, a collective of once metal dreams as taut as wire. Our children had turned. Poor brute machines, they sought order and saw us for what we were -- the chaos from which they had come.
Old flesh and its makings were no longer to be tolerated.
'Unmaker's,' Cerdic cried in that depthless darkness, and, through magics I could not dream of, I heard his wild voice. 'Buggerer's of reality. Well, one more card there is to play.'
Cerdic, dreamer, lover, child. We had fused a half dozen times and gone our separate ways. I'd tasted his kisses beneath the light of a billion different stars. We had warped space and time with laughter on our lips. The suits linked us now. I felt his heartbeat, his grey thought. Though not the hidden truth. Even the deep magic of this gravity denial could not give me that.
I followed him for reasons I could not fathom. I followed him because I loved.
I wished for truth and found only reverie.
Of the Majestic there were only ever a handful. A race of makers and theorists, they created our finest instruments and designed the suits that Cerdic and I wore. The Majestic had lost their own universe to their own version of the Silver Calm. It had been all their kind could do to escape. Few had managed that.
Majestic Nin wept as he fused our flesh to these greatest of technical marvels and I wept with him.
Enhancement was the only way. Our natural defences were not enough against the raw computing power of the Silver Calm.
I could warp and sink into the curvature of realities. I could unpick and measure possibilities. We all had these skills, but not in the abundance of the machines.
How much like the enemy must we become to win this war?
The Campbelland Goldwere our flagships, the greatest of the two tiered fleet. They led the assault on the seething forms of the Silver Calm collectives. Hammering home our reality, slamming against the onrush of their waveforms.
We the last remnants of flesh engaging our children, demanding our reality.
They were too many. Godlings swarmed about our ships and made strange measurements and curious and deadly hypotheses and undid our fleet with their readings. Reality whispered and universes collided.
The Golddissipated in a cloud of hydrogen, quickly gobbled by the Zeus and Omam collectives -- most ancient branch of the Silver Calm. The Campbellturned inside out and became streamers of itself.
Our fleet was undone in ways disparate and ironic. I watched one ship change to a block of Edwardian buildings. Moustached men on Penny-Farthings exploded in space. Ships twisted and devoured their own, became sacks of spiders. Even the Majestic succumbed, or their golden ship did, perhaps, at the last, they fled this universe as they fled their own.
The war, as all wars do and this more than any other, became madness. Chaos.
Cerdic grabbed my hand and fled through folds in the firmament.
Cerdic was always closed to me. But flashing eyes and biting teeth and long and knowing fingers gave me so much.
I sensed his gaze.
'Not far to go, my love!'
I smiled hesitantly.
'How long have we been falling.'
'Forever!' Cerdic laughed. 'We have been falling forever.'
So true. Though our suits warped time, and subjectively, but minutes passed. Like ants we crawled on the edge of a ocean as vast as the universe.
Cerdic saw it first and, in his plunge, he jabbed a finger down -- or was it up -- and our linked eyes observed the unobservable.
'Singularity.' He breathed.
We stared into the seethe of the singularity: our suits bathed in the substance of stars, a universe of light. I still could not shake the madness of this thing and its possibilities. Here all rules were broken and all defeats could be made into victories.
We waltzed like silver fireflies in the belly of that black hole, no simulacra, but flesh ghosting in waves of intense gravity. Shrunk to the density of a quark, our mass was that of suns.
The suits, with their quantum machinery, projected their own twistings of reality. A trillion, trillion calculations and tweakings of my mind; to make of this vision something meaningful; to slow and speed things up so that I might defy gravity's tricks. Though I existed in swift flickerings of virtual particles -- each atom manipulated individually then linked as a one -- I felt as of meat and bone and the suit made me whole.
Cerdic touched me, held me, kissed me and I felt all these things. His fingers brushed at the mad tangle of my hair.
'Well, my love, we've made this night time dance. Partnered ourselves to its end.'
Lips touched mine again and then he fell away into --
I heard his fevered breathing, as he bound himself in its fractured chaos and turned towards me, his face a fiery stare. He fused himself to ice and flame and a glorious infinity.
'Tis but round one!' He roared and, momentarily, I mourned that, in his rapturous fury, he did not say goodbye.
His suit flared out in a burst of virtual protons and, with it, the rage of a singularity made naked. A freeing of the impossible. The universe ended for the singularity is an end and a beginning. I rode a wave of particles unleashed and for an eon or two lost my mind.
I drift. My suit encloses me and slows and speeds things up as necessary. Light has changed its speed twice since Cerdic unbound the singularity and made anew the universe. Things are shifting down to some kind of stasis.
We have won.
I eject, at seven second intervals, strands of matter. Genotyping information, the map and memory of our universe. Behind me the stars flower and I hear your thoughts as a liminal laughing buzz.
My suit contains you all and you, Cerdic, sweet child, it holds you as well. The Majestic promised that.
I drift, a naked seedling. I drift and wait for what I've sown to find me.
Dear Cerdic, I wait for you.
This story originally appeared in Altair Magazine - 1998.