P’lar fought back the tide again and again, and again and again it had crawled forward, crushing him and his ship. He didn’t know how many times the battle had raged since he’d first arrived in whitespace, but he now knew that it kept happening — that every time he pushed the wave of black energy back, it rushed forward. And every time it overcame him, he too flew back into the scene and went back to battle.
Over and over again, this had happened. And his enemy, his companion, his opposite and common warrior, whatever it was had been with him.
It taunted him sometimes, speaking in a voice that struck through to his core, that seemed to know him and possess an alien sense at the same time.
P’LAR, I KNOW YOU, it said, but just as often, it spoke of DEATH and COUNTER ATTACK and DESTRUCTION.
Again and again, P’lar played out this battle, fighting as hard as he could, but always losing. Again and again, he died, and came back, and fought some more, and died again.
CAN YOU FEEL THAT, P’LAR? the voice asked him, once. THE BATTLE IS STEADY. IT GROWS STABLE. And though this was the foe he’d fought against for so long, P’lar reluctantly agreed. The black and white in front of him had grown constant, perhaps even comfortable, to P’lar’s tired eyes. He knew how the energy voids would move, he knew when his ship could catch and return them and when it could not.
YOU MAY FEAR ME, said the voice to P’lar. IN FACT, YOU SHOULD. And P’lar gritted his teeth in silent, calculated rage. BUT EVEN MORE, said the voice, FEAR WHAT COMES NEXT.
It didn’t come, then. Not right away. There were a few more battles to play, a few more cycles to defeat and a few more deaths to be had.
But a few more battles in, a few more times around the horrid astral racetrack, and then …
P’lar first saw it as a flash, and then felt it fly through his ship and then his very being. It was as if the universe in front of him had split, like a cloth dress rent down the middle by a seamstress fed up with the design. There was a rip of sound — or was it sound? It felt for a moment as if the very essence of reality was splitting, was dividing.
IT’S HERE, said the voice. THERE ARE FIVE NOW.
And just as his head recognized what the voice had said, P’lar saw it too. Five realities, five existences. One was familiar — it was the same whitespace he’d entered into however long ago, and the same black energy he’d been fighting for so long.
The second was musical — notes played out across its surface, and tones spread through the vacuum around him in some unexplainable way. The colors — colors! — were subdued, shades of azure in various tints. The third flashed wildly, dynamically painted an insane canvas across creation. It was almost too much for P’lar to even handle.
The fourth was a strange place that rang with sounds P’lar didn’t recognize, and … well, it tasted metallic and spicy, of a flavor P’lar didn’t know. It splashed and spread, oozed and smelled inviting. Baked. Cheesy. P’lar didn’t understand it, but he felt drawn to it anyway, so much so that it echoed in his brain long after he realized it was there.
And the fifth — the fifth was beyond explanation. P’lar didn’t know what to make of the last possibility. It was too much for even P’lar the wide traveller, the battler of the black energy, to comprehend.
Five universes, spun out from each other, in which P’lar would battle against his enemy across possibilities for all time.
GAME ON, the voice said.
Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 at 1:45 am. Filed under general.