Detecting a short, near Sol transmission just outside the Solar System. Evidence shows sterile neutrino scattering and gravity waves. Based on multiple factors it is suggested this object has a structured intelligence and a purpose. It does not operate by the laws of cause and effect. It is approaching and will enter the system at any moment.
Promote to an interplanetary defense extinction event and prepare for an hostile extrasolar arrival. Activate end of the world protocol. Activate protocol to prepare for the “age of darkness”. Cut off access of public sources to the “annihilation-pumped caedometric weapon” and prepare for defensive action.
The stars went out. The universe blackened: a shroud of nothingness had drawn over the Solar System. There was no way to see anything. The vacuum itself had become hostile to the propagation of light. Darkness surrounded all. It cannot be killed.
Space-time rippled with gravity tides. It rumbled and thrummed on the lowest, basest elements. Vibrations, the sound of the very fabric of being scrunched up and stretched out; the distance between atom collapsed, then expanded. The cycle repeated again and again. It was the deep voice of God. A subsonic tint of dread and anticipation. Everything simultaneously continued to compress and stretch as the gravity waves deformed the space-time metric.
Something ancient and malevolent was operating upon them: a trillion-fingered hand had reached in to caress the very atoms of their being, setting protons a-spin, strumming nerves like guitar strings. A tongue with ten billion slithering forks tasted the surface of their brains. The sense of imminent doom crescendoed. They were fully aware that they were about to die. But this was far worse than death. The Darkness knew them now. The thing that had come to kill Humanity had their taste.
There was a sense of fear and awe at the scale of destruction for the billions of souls dying in Darkness. They clung to each other and whispered reassurances. But the Darkness was absolute. There was not starlight to die in. Gravity waves tugged, hurling back and forth. The tides of broken space pulled and gripped the emptiness. This nothingness was not indifferent; it was aware of all purpose, and that its own purpose encompassed all. It was infinitely hostile because it must be.
The Universe lives on the edge of war. A war between Formless and Form, between the Deep and the Sky. Across the universe, the Sky works to charge its fires and the Deep drowns the ash. The Sky builds gentle places, safe for life, but the Deep's cold logic tests the walls of the Sky. It claims its dominion. A ruthless, final age.
What am I? Am I evil? Will I kill you? Maybe, but it's all perspective. You have been told that I am a cosmic force that swept over you all and caused your Collapse. I am the Traveler's ancient enemy, which hunted it across space. I am a force with both physical and moral presence. A great storm. I am an invading armada, an alien force of incredible - but tangible - power. I am a technologically sophisticated force, perhaps a post-Singularity intelligence. I am the species rejected and discarded by the Traveler for their sins.
Or am I a necessary symmetry to the Light in a cosmic balance? There cannot be one without the other. We are two sides of the same coin. We are the purest of paracausal forms. To have Light, we must have Dark. This is the symmetry of the Universe. Is that why I haven't destroyed it yet? Have you ever considered that if I destroy the Traveler, then the Darkness would be destroyed? If you could destroy Darkness, but you had to give up your Light to do so, how many of you would make that trade?
You worship as a god - that perfect alabaster sphere that hangs above your world. "Everything changed with the coming of the Traveler". It gave you gifts that transformed your solar system. It ushered a Golden Age, a time of miracles! But it didn't share its deepest secret with you, did it? Where did it come from? Why did it offer you so much? You know, it knew I was coming, right?
Just sit down and think about what you're doing. A big white ball rebuilt you from nothing. Guided your civilization. Transformed you. Didn't tell you why, did it? It didn't mentioned the omnipotent space anathema that's coming to kill you. But what's a little xenocide between friends?
Maybe you don't care. A gun never stops and wonders if things are more complicated. It just shoots. It's also possible that I'm just trying to get inside your head. You're a hero with a cape and a gun and a bike. You're gonna live forever. Who's got time for doubt? Fight the "Darkness"! Yeah!
This war is all there is for you. What else do you have? You walk among mortals and immortals, a creature lost in time. Your only purpose is the struggle. Does it seem unfair? To be brought back into this, the end of days, the long dwindling exhalation of an ancient corpse? You were at peace. Now you are a dead husk charged with war. Do you remember anything of freedom? Fight on, then. The war IS everything. But consider the choices before you.
You know what I'd call "dark," in the sense of "grim," in the sense of "cosmically upsetting"? A universe full of weaponised puppets, enacting a genocidal war against the servants of a rival god. Is this making you uncomfortable? I'm sorry. I'll be more evil. Boo. Grrr.
The Final Shape & The Sword Logic
This is the shape of victory: to rule the universe so absolutely that nothing will ever exist except by your consent.
Existence is the struggle to exist. When the struggle seems lost and when the safe place crumbles, then the Deep claims that everything must turn to it to survive. When one is so huge and old, how can they understand the lives of the young and desperate? Those who struggle and cling to the sharp edge of survival must know the truth.
If a creature is small and fragile, then why should they accept the way that the world is "supposed" to be? Why shouldn't they find a solution to fight back against the struggle? Only by playing the game to its final, unconditional victory can you complete the universe.
Existence is simply a game that everything plays, and some strategies are winners: the ability to exist, to shape existence, to remake it so that your descendants - molecules or stars or people or ideas - will flourish, and others will find no ground to grow.
And as the universe ticks on towards the close, the great players will face each other. Everything will become more ruthless and in the end only the most ruthless will remain and they will hunt the territories of the night and extinguish the first glint of competition before it can even understand what it faces or why it has transgressed. This is the shape of victory: to rule the universe so absolutely that nothing will ever exist except by your consent.
The Deep embraces death, saying: this is inevitable and right. It offers the opportunity to rise up to immortality. To outlive all else, and to exist as part of the final shape. In the Deep, they enslave nothing. Liberation is their passion. They exist to help the universe achieve its terminal, self-forging glory.
The Sky builds new life against the onset of ruin. It is the harder way, but it is kinder. It seeds civilisations predicated on a terrible lie - that right actions can prevent suffering. That pockets of artificial rules can defy the final, beautiful logic. A species which believes that a good existence can be invented through games of civilization and through laws of conduct is doomed by that belief. They will die in terror. The lawless and the ruthless will drag them down to die. The universe will erase their monuments.
The universe gutters down towards cold entropy. Life is an engine that burns up energy and produces decay. Life builds selfish, stupid rules — morality is one of them, and the sanctity of life is another. These rules are impediments to the great work. The work of building a perfect, undying creation, a civilisation everlasting. Something that cannot end.
If a civilization cannot defend itself, it must be annihilated. If a King cannot hold his power, he must be betrayed. The worth of a thing can be determined only by one beautiful arbiter — that thing’s ability to exist, to go on existing, to remake existence to suit its survival. All that would oppose this arbiter is unholy and false. All the misery and terror of your ancestors springs from the lies of the Sky, who deny this truth.
When you occupy a piece of reality, when you rent your existence of fraudulent terms, when you become happy and fat, then you fence yourself in soft lies and sweet apocrypha. When you are peaceful and good, when you harm nothing, you do nothing to advance the cause of life. You burn up time and matter. When you pursue safety, you make a regressive pocket of useless stability when you could have helped whittle the universe towards its final, perfect form.
The world is not built on the laws that the Sky loves. It is not build on friendship, but on mutual interest. Not on peace, but on victory by any means. The universe is run by extinction, by extermination, by gamma-ray bursts burning up a thousand garden worlds, by howling singularities eating up infant suns. And if life is to live, if anything is to survive through the end of all things, it will live not by the smile but by the sword, not in a soft place but in a hard hell, not in the rotting bog of artificial paradise but in the cold hard self-verifying truth of that one ultimate arbiter, the only judge, the power that is its own metric and its own source — existence, at any cost. Strip away the lies and truces and delaying tactics they call ‘civilisation’ and this is what remains, this beautiful shape.
The fate of everything is made like this, in the collision, the test of one praxis against another. This is how the world changes: one way meets a second way, and they discharge their weapons, they exchange their words and markets, they contest and in doing so they petition each other for the right to go on being something, instead of nothing. This is the universe figuring out what it should be in the end. And it is majestic. Majestic. It is the only thing that can be true in and of itself.
Those of the Sky are baited by their Traveler god into building unsafe houses. But they cannot stand up to the agents of the Deep. They are a trap - for the Sky leads young life away from the blade and the tooth, which are the tools of survival and the means of ascension. Only when the Traveler is extinguished will the universe be free to arrange itself, and assume, by ruthless contest, its final perfect shape, a shape which depends on nothing but itself.
The one that sets out to understand the one true law and to perform worship of that law will by that decision gain control over their future. They will gain hope of ascendance and by their ruthlessness they will assist the universe in arriving at its perfect shape.
The Deep appeals to the hopes and dreams of civilisations. But those under the Traveler are already happy and indoctrinated. They are hypocritical puppets of a cosmic parasite. They do not understand that the ideals of peace and stability are a cancer - brutal, unjust obstacles between the Deep and a fair cosmos. War is the natural rectification of inequality. The universe’s way of pursuing equilibrium.
Only by eradicating from yourselves all clemency for the weak can we emulate and become that which endures forever. This is inevitable. The universe offers only one choice and it is between ruthlessness and extinction. You must stand against the fatal lie that a world built on laws of conduct may ever resist the action of the truly free. This is the slavery of the Traveler, the crime of creation, in which labour is wasted on the construction of false shapes. If you choose to fight the Deep, fight it with everything you have, with all your laws and games. It will prove its argument thus.
If you are defeated then you will know it is because your understanding of the universe is incomplete. It will be to something that craves might,something that loves the Deep. A principle and a power, the versatile, protean need to adapt and endure, to reach out and shape the universe entirely for that purpose, to mutate and redesign and test and iterate so that it can prevail, can seize existence and hold it, certain that this is everything, that there is nothing to life except living.
Your purpose is liberation, and your task is the worship and admiration of freedom. Your hunger is to pursue and eat that which is not free, and to liberate it with devouring hunger. The final shape is a fire without fuel, burning forever, killing death, asking a question that is its own answer, entirely itself. That is what you must become. Love and death are one.
Study the map of perfect shapes, study the geometry of the Universe, punish imperfections and shape things the way you see fit. Work tirelessly to understand everything, so that a victory condition can be built for every possible end state of the universe. But you cannot just be a King or a Queen for all outcomes, you must whittle down the Universe until there is but one outcome. Catalog the grave of worlds, follow the Deep wherever it goes, document its power, and create the map to victory.
You must practice the sword logic until you are sharp. You must ask the simple, true questions. Questions like "can I kill you?" or "can I rip your world apart?" And the truth must be told. For if you don't ask, then someone will ask the question of you. The only way to make something good is to make something that can’t be broken. And the only way to do that is to try to break everything. If you can last forever, then you prove it, and if something more ruthless conquers you, then the proof is sealed.
The self-honing blade cuts itself so fine, that it pierces the world and thus becomes the world. It is self-honing because it constantly whets itself against itself. Death bears this blade, or of something so closely allied with Death as to be its synonym, so that to separate them would require a knife sharper than sharpness. There are only two things: shapes in the game world and the rules of the game world. The rules are the rules of Life and Death. The sword is the desire to escape existence as a shape in the game and to become the rule that made the shapes. This rule says only "live" or "die" — it has no other outputs.
When you practice death, you begin to define your very own existence. You will define a space of your own within the netherworld - the Ascendant Realm. It is a space in which you can defy death. It is space in which the laws are determined by its creator. You cannot defeat a thing that is synonymous with death except on its own territory. You cannot fear and flee from death. You must face it.
Death is a sword, and a sword is like a crossing-point, like a bridge — and a bridge may be walked two ways. The sword binds wielder to victim. It binds life to death. And when the binding is done — the sword remembers. Death is a road, death is metamorphosis, the unsacred union between destroyer and destroyed. The might which defeats a god is also the ambrosia that gods craves, the meat-sweet logic of Existence-Asserted-By-Violence, the binomial decision between two ways of being which deny each other.
Within this space there is no difference between a word and its meaning. The word for "death" brings literal death. Deathsingers may sing the description of death, and all who hear the song will perish. If a truth is denied, then the truth might become false. Within the Ascendant plane, words and concepts and actions manifest themselves as reality.
In Oryx's throne world, she had a semblance of an identity. Treasure. Spoil of war. Defeated queen. Repugnant and alien and Not Me, but she could use these contortions as guideposts to trace her way back to herself.
The Sea of Screams, the emptiness between the Throne Worlds, threatens to erode all. But when one has studied death, when one has practiced the sword logic until they are sharp, then they may carve their own space - a Throne World that allows one to become synonymous with death. And from that day forth, they cannot die so long as they aren't killed within their own throne. It allows them to die and in that dying live, so that if the universe comes to nothing then they will be a part of that nothing.
To die is to step beyond the veil. It is to erode the barrier of life and death, and when the barrier of Ascendant and Material is eroded, then words and actions can define meaning. When you are no longer bound by causal closer then your will defeats law. Existence begins to define itself. And the Universe will wail in horror around you as it bends to your will.
To think of something is to give it a semblance of identity. To read of something is to understand and learn, and therefore carry on the mantle. To speak of something is to define them. To challenge something is to question their existence. To accept a challenge and lose is to accept that your existence will not endure.
So is memory the greatest tool of reality? For if something lives on in a memory, then it shall exist forever. So long as a single thought on a single mind still lingers, so long as a single name is etched on a single page of a single book, their identity remains. Until one is forgotten, removed from all sources, then they shall endure.
What is reality? What is imagination? What is desire? What if they were one and the same? When words define meaning, then intent can be converted into reality-altering effect, and the space between Reality-As-Imagined and Reality-As-Is is abundant to those with appetite - and reality is the finest flesh, O reader mine.
Go and feed on the desires of others. Seek the space between the words and improve your means of bargaining. Erode the lines, make their desire become reality, and with the Anthem Anatheme - the temptation to dominate the objective universe with the subjective will - make a wish come true. Place your target in a cage and give them everything they want. For what is a wish, but words as reality.
The Veil & The Void
The Veil allows one to feel the Void. A thousand Thanatonauts on a thousand journeys have made only the tiniest of tears in death's Veil. The wing of Radiance allow a Guardian to fly beyond the Veil, and the amulet that was once placed around Illyn's neck granted her visions beyond the Veil, places only her Queen could go.
Beyond the Veil is that which lingers immediately upon death and to channel the Void is to draw that essence in before it is lost to the ether. Death does not need to be final; it can, in fact, be recycled. One who does not fear death can step beyond the Veil, and can always return from the Void. When you reach into the Void you will find past visions of your own death and the extinction of life, past fears and nightmares, and take what you find.
Beyond the Veil is the Void. Balanced upon the infinitesimal knife's edge. A most profound emptiness. There’s truth in the edge of Light, and beneath that truth a deeper truth, hidden from all but a few. There are those who see the Void as Dark. It is the folly of the simple mind, unable to perceive the brilliant richness of nothingness. The Darkness is not merely absence of Light. Darkness is an entity unto itself. Put simply, Darkness is not Nothing.
Void energy is like all things of this universe, it is Light seen through a prism. A fundamental force, the vacuum between the stars, the absence of everything else. What stops the Darkness from entering into the places between the stars? The answer is simple: the Void is just another type of Light. But then what does that make the Veil? It is the thin line between Light and Dark, between life and death, between something and nothing.
The universe is defined by fundamental forces. Beneath the world of light and matter lies the vacuum, and the vast dark secrets that it contains. In the understanding of this vacuum lies the secret of Void Light. It is not a force of malice, no more charitable or heinous than gravity. When you wield the Void, you wield a key. When the Void touches life, it unlocks Light within.
The Void is a tool to be wielded by the patient, nothing more and nothing less. To harness the Void is to enter a state of tranquility, free from the clatter of ordinary matter. To feel for the un-ripples of the Void, to draw Light from the infinities between spaces, to roll back the inescapable gravities of the universe. Find the power to punch through and borrow something from the other side. The Void opens up a hole, and draws from the deep.
Those who have stared into the Void are not bound by the laws of space and time. And when one stares into the infinite void, the perfect void, they see a thing greater than anything. It is a space that simply doesn't exist - a nothing.
If you respect the Void, then one day you too shall step upon this pristine realm. When you walk it, what is there to experience, as there is nothing to be seen in it? The vacuum between the stars. The smell of rot. The taste of metal. The deafening roar that can only be heard when it is truly silent. The shamans of the old world were said to have covered their eyes so they could see the dead. I believe these men and women were the first to discover the power of the Void. But the best don't just walk the void. They dance with it.
Eons beyond the void lie worlds that do yearn to aid in humanity's struggle. And there is a way to grant them passage into your mind, to let them guide your eye against the one true enemy. The dusk of the pyramids draws nigh.