Somewhere, outside the Universe
“Mothers, you promised you would take me out. You’re always reminding me how dangerous some of the recent cross-currents are and how it would be better if I waited for some adult supervision.”
“We did, and we’re sorry but we can’t get away from work right now. Ask your fathers, maybe one of them can manipulate the time.” They discorporated and vanished into a nearby temporal slipstream. It was always that way with them. No point in looking around for my fathers, they were equally involved in some research or crisis that would require their full attention.
My parents were always too busy. Half the time, I’m left raising myself. I don’t even know why they bothered to conceive of me in the first place.
The temporal floam around me showed their conversations with me about how important I was to them and how it was the best decision they ever made. It also reformatted and showed me all the times I was left to my own devices forced to find my own way of learning and entertaining myself in the quiet times alone.
I decided since I was nearly of age, I would exercise independence and complete my project alone. I could have used temporal shadows for company but the conversation is always so very similar to simply sitting and musing introspectively, I could hardly see the point. I could always reach far into the Omniverse for echoes of myself with differing opinions, but those conversations sometimes would be wildly divergent and often unproductive. Today I would need to focus.
I willed a preconception of a vehicle capable of weathering the cross-currents across the Omniversal Sea. Something sturdy, yet comfortable, something my eleven dimensions could manipulate easily, a vessel that would handle smartly, wending its way through the dimensional riptides where I would be traveling today. It was something I saw my fathers using and I was sure it would be adequate for my needs. I fit it with constants I was certain could skim any kind of reality I could possibly imagine and I set out on my own.
So dull. So utilitarian. So parental unit. It needed a personal touch. Its dull surface would reflect ambient radiation. Its skins would emitted energy wavelengths that would be considered vulgar by any scientist with more renown than my own. Yes, riding in a vehicle both garish and offensive, I set out to discover a new verse, far from home.
I checked the beacon and coordinated its location. I would be able to recognize it across every possible barrier between where I was going and where I started. These locations would have less meaning the further away I traveled, so I would leave, have left, beacons along the path, to return, be able to return home.
Where I will be going even causality may be, will be, most certainly be affected, I will have to contend with actions I don’t even understand until the result takes place. With my parents off doing work in a parallel time-streams, I was forced to alter several local constants myself until I far away enough from home to make more important shifts.
The first shifts were easy, the verses closes to home are the most familiar, they resemble the verse of our origin before we moved to living on the Omniversal Sea. Outside of any verse, we see the Omni, the all, as our home now.
We reckon by verses as numerous as stars, whose movements and relations are as similar. Slow, vast, strangely uniform, forming clusters and voids, the Omniversal Sea is as tempestuous as any ocean. Dimensional shearing, cosmic forces beyond description, whose energies are as great as entire verses, flow freely here. Under most conditions, shearing can be predicted with accuracy, but only a fool assumes they can with certainty understand those forces. I was headed beyond the our primary Cluster of verses. Beyond the outer rim. I was headed to the Dark Spaces.
My beacons dropping, I could sense their path to home, skirting verses devoid of life. These were deserts where nothing more than base materials exist, never forming even the most rudimentary of stars. Primal matter never sparked the connections, gravity never established, matter never formed, everything in these universe failed to thrive. These were the saddest of verses; a nigh-infinite space, empty of anything.
Eventually, I reached the boundary to the Outer Rim. I could feel the old verses here, their lives within, lived, civilizations come and gone, and come again until the universes were used up. Some filled with dead machines, turned into unliving monuments to their makers. Others were simply cold lifeless places filled with their longest lived form of life, a single Mind using dead stars as it neural matter. These places where a universe became a single mind, were used to store information by my families. They were primitive but plentiful here on the Rim.
I found an unused one and pulled it to me. The Mind slumbered, dreaming infinite thoughts of warmer, brighter days. I willed myself to its time, woke it, and bound it to my will. It would store my thoughts, my impressions of what I hoped I would find out here on the rim, a spontaneous birth of a new, untouched, unmodified verse.
With my memory verse at hand, I continued using dimensional shearing as my thrust across dimensions. They shimmered past me until I slowed the flow, spotting wild branes in a relatively uncharted part of the Omniversal Sea.
There. I could sense a very dense pocket of fluctuations conducive to the variable conditions I needed. Dispelling my conceptual vessel, I float unaided toward the inevitable meeting point of the two nigh-infinite branes. There were several tiny clusters of nonviable, multivariable interfaces, whose natures would never promote verses I needed for my study but they were quite beautiful, nonetheless.
They were filled with disconcordant energies, conditions which would produce certain kinds of life, but not what I was looking for. Entities in many of these would never be very complex.
I waited, allowing their time to flow over me, to prove my hypothesis. As I suspected as galaxies formed, an insufficient mass to their universe ensured their stars remained small and unable to produce heavier elements. Life happened but it was extremely simple, little more than single-celled organisms.
Other nearby verses, had similar constants, with the most viable awash in radiation level that would remain too high, for too long, blocking the formation of self-awareness within. These were verses so poor they didn’t spawn quantum variations. Nothing in those verses achieved enough awareness to blossom variations of their universe large enough to notice. Sad.
Disappointed I freed myself from their spatial variables, and washed away the flow of their local time from my person while I was within these tiny verses, I, then focused again on my rare event, catching a verse a-borning.
Then the potentiality occurred. Two wild branes coursing out past the Rim where verses were far and few, the shimmer of the branes far brighter than the anemic verses around them. They were drawn together, the process still unknown, I began recording my findings. My tiny verse, filled with its single and unchallenged Mind, woke from its millennia of sleep, yawned wearily and began gathering the streams of data, my higher cognition lobes formed from my observations.
The probabilities were high. I could see, have seen, the formation of a new verse. It will happen. The branes shear though several of the nonviable verses nearby and absorb their energies, their potentiality into them, recycling them for their inclusion into My Verse.
I steer clear of the two branes as they approached, their interaction would be brief, only one point along their infinite shimmering fields. But that one point would cause an entire universe to spring forth. Living on the Omniversal Sea, this event is strangely rare, where verses cluster, less formation is seen. We live in a part of the Sea where the energy of potential is spun off into quantum sub-realities. New universes form less there, as well established verses, take the potential energy and create smaller versions of themselves within or on the very edges of their reality when a significant species has realized travel between dimensions or master temporal travel, forming and erasing the possible futures. Managed carefully this does not harm the verse, only expanding it. Done improperly and verses can spontaneously collapse, suffer ruptures, or even discorporate, unmaking themselves.
All of this is studied in great length by people like my family and is the primary occupation of my people. They hoped to understand what our next evolution will be, from verse dwellers to inter-verse dwellers. I have no interest in that work.
Not one bit.
Settling back, I shielded myself from the brane interaction. I would hate to explain to my parents how I ended up with a Primal Burn while I was out verse-foraging. I stand in awe of this event and my protections hold, the primal waves causing tidal forces across the Omniverse. At the distance I have chosen to see the event, it was sufficient to disrupt even one such as myself.
It is rare to catch a verse a-borning even among our own kind. Verses formed all the time and with our abilities, we can attempt to perceive them but distance through dimensions can make our ability to gauge them and read them challenging so we miss vital clues, clues to our own existence, That is what we are seeking out here on the Omniversal sea; who we are and who we are going to be.
I was forced to turn away once the two branes intersected, their nigh-infinite energies focused on a single point. They disappeared from my awareness and their energies surged into the tiny verse at a single point. And I watched it expand. I subsumed myself in it and its non-temporal flow.
There is no time there, yet.
For a perfect second, that one point is all there is, all there was, all there would be for that fragment of a time period that does not yet exist.
I am perfect. I am singular. I am unique. I know all that there is to know. And yet I don’t. This question of what is to come, though I knew it once, it is mine no longer.
It explodes, silent, fast, there are no limits, there are no boundaries. I am light, faster than light, I am energy, more than energy, I am indistinct, I am without form.
I will be.
Then time begins and I flow with it, watching the primal matter cool, watching it take more coherent shapes, wrapping around each other in expected and yet novel ways, cooling enough for darkness to exist, the familiar darkness of a successful verse.
A new ‘verse.
From part of my perspective, there are ‘verses all around me, some larger, some smaller, some that can fit in my hand, others only bounded by my ability to conceptualize them.
But this ‘verse, new, freshly forming is mine.
I stay to watch the first galaxies form, massive filled with hydrogen and helium, they fill the sky with hot blue stars, who in turn, burn blue-white and explode in supernovas, so bright, they remind me of the first seconds of the verse itself.
These first stars, their quick-burning deaths, beget the second generations of stars born in their nebulous ruins. They too, die violently, but in those deaths, heavier matter is created in the crushing depths of these nuclear furnaces and the building blocks of life form between the stars. Ammonia seas as vast as entire star systems will form the chains of matter that will one day become a form of sentience.
They come, they are ambitious, they seek to know, to understand. They master their worlds, millions of them. So few come to fruition. Only one or two survive their infancy. If they do, the learn to bend their verse to their will. One of them becomes aware of me, a background sentience to the verse, he can neither explain nor convince anyone that I exist.
His people, nearly immortal, existence for ten million years and vanish. Other races find their bones and try to climb higher than the first races did.
Most fail. A few do better. All of this in the first two billion years of this verse’s existence. It is a gem. Fourth dimensional travel after only two billion years. Fifth dimensional manipulation after two and a half. The potential for dimensional sharding and quantum realities after a mere three billion.
How long have I been gone? A sudden sense of urgency came over me.
I should be getting back. I try to return, having never shared so much time in any one verse.
I’m entangled I can’t completely escape. My observations may have affected the very nature of this verse. I am having trouble extracting myself.
My interaction with the time travelers caused me to be bound within their space. I am forced to utilize their technologies to free myself. I am reduced to using the work of a tiny verse dweller who has yet to exist, already existed, to escape from my own hubris. But their work is spectacular, worth the effort to understand. My parents will be pleased.
I returned to the Omniverse and gathered up both my recording verse, which has held my lessons, my explorations, my suppositions and discoveries for my review. I cradle my still growing universe, barely three billion years old in my hand.
Only then, once they are both onboard a vehicle of my fancy, do I realize nothing around me looks the same. No verse is where I left them. A moment of panic before I remembered my buoys. I reach out to them, remembering where and when I left them.
There was no response.
I am not where I was. I have to strain to sense the shore of the Outer Rim. The few verses I can sense are unfamiliar to me. I have been caught in a dimensional riptide while I was verse-diving. I cannot find my way home from here.
Unlike space, there are no universal markers, no distant objects with which to mark great distances. I was careless. I was gone too long, my inattentiveness may have doomed me. No, not literally. I do not need sustenance as such. But there are no other like us. As far as we know, we are the only inter-versal life forms known. If they do not find me, I will only have my temporal selves for company.
With no markers, I head toward the nearest verses to me. They are all old verses with grumpy old Minds, some aware of a larger Omni, most too dulled with age to care. They are of little help.
I think about the Time Traveler and his machine. He was a three dimensional being whose mastery of fourth dimensional travel was unparalleled in his verse. I wake the old Mind who stored my data and I reviewed it again. The same way I found my way out of the Time Traveler’s verse, could work here if I account for the variables.
Spurred by fear and inspiration, I work the numbers, gathered the data and even verse-dived again and consulted the Traveler.
He refused to give me his name.
I suspect he knew I was more than I appeared but he was cordial and our conversations seemed to give him great amusement. We spent over a thousand years together.
I was saddened when I left him the second time. He was very lonely. I understood all too well.
I created a new vessel, whose makings would include some of the Traveler’s work, some of my own inspiration and the mumblings of my recording Mind, who decided to add his own opinion at the last moment. He said something about being too old to trust his safety to some eleven-dimensional schoolchild — his words, not mine, I wasn’t quite sure what a school was.
I threw the lever and the dimensions began to fold.
But this was not the gentle travel I knew. This was terrible, my vessel capable of living within an exploding sun, was buffeted in ways I could barely understand and I knew fear.
When the vehicle came to a conceptual smoky stop, I waited for the smoke to clear to see if anything was familiar to me.
I recognized not only my part of the Cluster, but the multitudes of verses whose arrangement I would call my home. Even more gratifying was the unhappy faces in the variety of forms of my mothers and fathers who were seeming to be mourning my passing, an uncommon thing among my people.
We celebrated my return and I was eager to show what I had learned.
I would have to tell the Traveler his design was a success.
A Laboratory in a Place that was not a Place, in a Dimension that was not a Dimension, watched the family gathering with much interest. Amusement was the general reaction as the young explorer showed off her new Universe and her discoveries to her family. Being scientists, they were forced to admit her findings were worthy.
A voice filled with derision could be heard from across the Laboratory that Wasn’t a Place, “Are you still studying that Dimensional Sliver? I cannot imagine those merely eleven-dimensional beings could possibly offer you any insight into the nature of the Multi-Omni-verse.”
“You would be surprised where one might find inspiration, if one cared to look. From the mouths of babes…”