Welcome to our re-read of The Evolutionary Void, part the ninth! This week we can experience Inigo's Last Dream and move Commonwealth events further towards their end game in Chapter Nine.
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Inigo's Last Dream
I wish to fly.
And so starts Inigo’s Last Dream. Following one of Edeard’s descendants a thousand years after the Waterwalker began his journey to the Heart, they take one last look at Makkathran, manifesting scenes from previous eras as they say goodbye to the existence they have lived, the pinnacle of life within the Void. And we finally say farewell to Inigo’s Dreams…
What is to come? I cannot know the most beautiful mystery of all. Not yet. It awaits us within the Heart of the Void. A song which grows stronger with each passing day.
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The Delivery Man has now made his way to one of the villages of the Anomine to talk to them.
“I greet you this fine morning,” he said, which immediately came out as a series of squeaks and whistles similar to dolphin chatter. “I have travelled from another world to visit you. I would ask you to share stories of your ancestors.”
Tyzak, the Anomine that the Delivery Man has approached, is happy to share stories with him, and wishes to correct him on the untruths that he has been told – like their aversion to technology. Tyzak tells the Delivery Man of their choices, to remain on their homeworld to live out the final days of their species, whenever that may come. Gore and the Delivery compared this to humanities factions. Tyzak and the Delivery Man talk much about the stories Tyzak knows, and that it is the story of the Anomine going post-physical that all visitors to their planet want to know. They talk some more and after asking further about this event Tyzak tells the Delivery Man that he will take them to the place where it happened, much to his and Gore’s surprise! Gore, of course, figures out where it is after something Tyzak says so rushes off to the city to look. Meanwhile The Delivery Man and Tyzak start their journey to the city.
Corrie-Lyn and Inigo are talking about the Last Dream, one which Inigo knows shows the futility of the Void.
“They reached fulfillment,” she said. “Their minds were so strong. Inigo, they flew!”
“But where did they fly to? What did they use such a gift for? To please themselves. Querencia became a playground for characterless godlings.”
Corrie-Lyn leaves the house to go for a walk, with Inigo trying to follow but stopped by Ozzie.
“Don’t do it, dude,” Ozzie said. “Let her work it out for herself. It’s the only true route to understanding.”
Ozzie, Inigo, and Aaron talk together about the Void and the Last Dream, about releasing it – which Inigo shrugs off – and Aaron still insits that he must get Inigo to the Heart, while Ozzie is trying to tell him that they must consider more, like Ilanthe. With more talk Aaron tells Ozzie to contact the High Angel, that the Raiel can get them inside the Void, and despite Ozzie’s protests he caves and does so.
While Qatux says that he simply cannot get them to the Void in time, he does tell them that a visitor is on the way to the Spike, and they should really wait for the ship to arrive. After the call they discuss the imminent arrival of Oscar and his guest, yet Aaron still insist on working out a way into the Void.
After the discussion Corrie-Lyn comes back, agreeing with Inigo that the Last Dream showed lives that were worthless. Ozzie tells Inigo to release the Last Dream, and Corrie-Lyn agrees.
“Yes.” Inigo rose to his feet. His gaiamotes opened, and the Dreamer gifted his thoughts once more. All of them.
The Delivery Man and Tyzak are making their way to the city, talking much along the way about the similarities between the Anomine and humanity. Gore is still trying to figure out what the zero width wormhole they discovered before meeting Tyzak does and where it leads, and not having much luck finding the elevation mechanism. As Tyzak and the Delivery man are getting close to the city Gore discovers that the wormhole lead to the local star, but that’s about as far as he’s got until he finds the elevation mechanism. The Delivery Man is disquieted by the alien city, the feeling of something lingering playing at the back of his mind, and as they continue onwards to Tyzak’s destination he opens his gaiamotes and feels something at the fear edge of perception, something alien, but there nonetheless. The Delivery Man and Tyzak end up at Gore’s location, where he greets them before asking his question:
“Can you tell us where your most sophisticated ancestors departed this world from?”
The Delivery Man almost winced at the bluntness.
“Right here,” Tyzak said.
Gore pointed a golden forefinger at the matte glass surface of the plaza. “Here?”
Gore turned full circle, almost glaring at the shiny surface of the broad plaza. “So we’re actually standing on the machine which changed them into their final form?”
Gore asks Tyzak if he will ask the AI to turn on, but he won’t – that time has passed for the Anomine. Gore then starts planning ways to subvert the elevation mechanism, knowing that there are plenty more on the planet now they know what to look for. And they also know that the zero width wormholes they’ve found are what powers the mechanism. Gore and the Delivery Man depart the planet to investigate further, asking Tyzak to wait and telling him they will be back soon. What they find at the star is a power station of some sort, and Gore tells him that they’ll need to hack directly into it.
The Delivery Man gave him a frankly scared look. “You’re shitting me.”
“Wish I were, son. Don’t panic. The replicator we have on board is high-order. We’ll have to churn out some advanced force field generators to upgrade the Last Throw’s defenses. Once they’re beefed up to Stardiver standard, we’ll drop into the convection zone and switch the power back on to the elevation mechanism. Well … when I say us, I mean you.”
As he’s arriving at the Spike Troblum has built himself a nice, big, and highly defensive suit for use:
But the defenses … He would be safe anywhere. In other words, he could even face the Cat and not piss himself as he had on Sholapur.
He contacts Oscar as he lands and tells him that he knows of the Swarm and may be able to offer help to Ozzie, Inigo, and Araminta.
There was a long pause. “I’m sure they would. We’ve already made contact with Ozzie. There’s a capsule coming to collect us from our airlock in ten minutes. Why don’t we fly over to yours straight after.”
“Okay. I’ll wait for you.”
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Aaron is dreaming again, memories coming to the surface of what happened in his past. He wakes with Myraian watching him, telling him he’s losing, that she’ll be with him soon and that he needs help fighting her. He then learns that Oscar has arrived and will be there soon, and heads downstairs to Ozzie and Inigo. They’re talking about Inigo’s ancestry, and the fact that he may be descended from the Brandt dynasty and therefore a link to a colony ship, though no reason how it ended up in the Void. They discuss how that happened, but nobody has a valid theory. They’ve been discussing this for five days in between Inigo trying to dream a Skylord, to no success. Corrie-Lyn tells Aaron of the news the Last Dream has bought:
“The Last Dream; it’s not popular. Living Dream’s new Cleric Council denounced it as a fake, but everyone knows Inigo’s thoughts. There’s some hefty infighting breaking out among the faithful. More than I expected have said they’re worried by the outcome of traveling into the Void.”
As Ozzie and Inigo continue their circular discussion on Inigo’s heritage, the Void, and all other matters, Aaron goes outside to wait for Oscar’s arrival.
As they arrive at Ozzie’s house and disembark the capsule, Ozzie says hi to Oscar, but it’s the reaction of the Knight’s Guardians that grip Aaron:
But it was Tomansio’s reaction that held Aaron. He was staring right at him, a look of incredulity on his handsome face. “You!” Tomansio gasped. “You’re alive.”
“Never better, man,” Ozzie said cheerfully. He turned to Inigo. “See, legendary genius trumps messiah every time.”
“Go fuck yourself,” Inigo told him.
“I don’t think—” Corrie-Lyn began as she looked from Tomansio to Aaron.
“The Mutineer,” Tomansio whispered. He still hadn’t taken his gaze from Aaron.
And Aaron’s true identity is revealed: Lennox McFoster, the son of Bruce McFoster, and one of the original Knights Guardians. Turns out they search for him for a long time and though he was dead, but Aaron doesn’t know what they are talking about. He asks what happened, and is filled in on the details:
“Pantar Cathedral,” Troblum said in a strangely neutral tone. “It’s on Narrogin. The Knights Guardian were brought in to help one of the local political movements achieve dominance over their rivals. The Cat herself took command in the field. There was a hostage situation. Demands were made with a deadline. Then she started slaughtering them, anyway. Including their children. You stopped her. You stood up to the Cat.”
“That’s when our whole movement changed,” Beckia said. “We finally acknowledged the Cat’s flaws. After that, we rejected her leadership. But not yours.”
They discuss Aaron some more, but he tells them that it’s his choice to be as he is, that his mission to get Inigo to Makkathran, or to contact the Heart, is his priority. It is then that Araminta-two introduces herself:
As one, Oscar and the three Knights Guardian looked at the Natural man. He stepped forward and put his hand out to Inigo. “Dreamer,” he said. “I’m Araminta-two.” His gaiamotes released a flood of thoughts and emotions, including the gifting from the observation deck on the Lady’s Light.
“Great Lady,” Inigo grunted.
“Oh, yeah.” Ozzie grinned. “That is so cool, man.”
“I’m here to help,” Araminta-two said. “The Pilgrimage has to be stopped.”
They discuss some options and Araminta-two asks the Skylord if the Heart will reach for them, bring them in from where they are, but they just get non-answers that are of no help at all. They talk some more before Troblum surprises them with a statement:
“I can get you there in time,” Troblum said.
He reveals that he has a planet-sized wormhole generator, but a nova would be needed to power it. Given that Troblum believes the wormhole could reach up to 30,000 light years, and putting them ahead of the fleet. With that said Ozzie bows out, his work done. Aaron lays out the requirements and everyone starts arguing.
“Seriously? Have you dudes even been listening to yourselves? The Dreamer. The Martyr. The Second Dreamer. The Mutineer. Jesus H, all you need is masks and some spandex capes and we’d have us a regular superhero convention going. At least Troblum’s got himself a costume already. Good one, too, big man, by the way.”
They come to an agreement on how they can all go, and while stasis pods are being made the continue talking, some conversations more friendly than others, until a Chikoya find them and emerge from a t-sphere.
As the attack begins Ozzie simply fades away, not taking part. The rest of them hunker down to defend until their starship can get there, though Myraian shows them that she doesn’t appear to be entirely human when she enters the fray, dancing in a way that causes everything to miss her, and then killing one of the Chikoya simply by kissing him. As the violence continues Cheriton is targeted by a group of Chikoya, and as he’s under attack a t-sphere takes him away. The rest of the group finally manages to get on the ship and Oscar asks if they should go after Cheriton:
“No. He’s true Knights Guardian; he’s not expecting us to. That would jeopardize the mission.”
“Jesus. What will they do to him?”
“If I was a Chikoya, I’d worry about what he’ll do to them. Human biononics are a damn site meaner than anything they’ve ever built.”
As they leave in the Elvin’s Payback to rendezvous with the Mellanie’s Redemption they talk of what Ozzie did, with some theories being thrown around, but no definite answers. They then set up in the Mellanie’s Redemption, preparing the areas for their journey to the Void and inside it, but are interrupted by a gifting fro Cheriton’s gaiamotes, revealing that he’s not with the Chikoya at all:
“Oh, bollocks,” Oscar groaned.
“Hello, boys and girls,” said the Cat. “I can feel you out there. How lovely that you care so much about your friend.”
They witness the Cat as she starts to torture Cheriton with false memories, the group horrified by what is happening but unable to do anything to help, and Aaron keep on telling Troblum to get them out of there:
“Do it, you motherfucker,” Aaron yelled.
The Mellanie’s Redemption flashed into hyperspace.
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That's us done again for this week. Join me here next time for Justine: Year Forty-Five, Chapter Ten, and Justine: Year Forty-Five, Day Thirty-One.