[Fan Fiction] Predecessor, pt 4

Korvax Traveler

I found myself staring at the security feed for far longer than was reasonable. While exploring a nearby system, I received a message from my Vy’Keen Weaponsmaster that there was a visitor to the base. This was nothing out of the ordinary; the base was open to everyone. The Colonel insisted that this one was different, and they were forwarding me the live data.

As far as I could recall, I had never met this Korvax before. They were wandering through the base, using my equipment. No, not wandering. They moved through the hallways and ladders with familiarity. They knew exactly where they were going, and precisely what needed. And yet, this was the first time that his base staff had felt the need to alert me.

As I watched, I noticed that the visitor didn’t move like a Korvax. There was a smoothness to their gait that implied an organic body. I’d only seen that in Apollo and Null. And, now that I was thinking about it, in the Korvax Travelers on the Anomaly station. Ever since it had changed, it was always full of all manner of beings from across the multiverse. And they all moved in the same fluid way that singled them out for what they were. So, our new Korvax friend was a Traveler.

Their multi-tool was low-end, and their ship was that little red and white fighter that I’d spent so long using. How long had it been since they’d awakened on a hostile world, with no concrete memories, a broken ship, and an exosuit computer that had just enough information to give them a chance of survival? It couldn’t have been that long, but they hadn’t come here first. They’d had a chance to customize their gear at a station Appearance Modifier. And what they’d chosen made the situation stranger yet.

If I had been a Korvax, rather than, well, me, I would have chosen nearly that exact configuration. Alternating purple and black, smooth armor rather than the leathers I wear now, compact and efficient armor rather than sturdy and obvious. Had the Atlas spawned another iteration of… me? Was it betting that a Korvax would be more compliant? Or was a new iteration another bug, another sign of the simulation falling apart at the seams?

Of course, there was no way to be sure. On top of that, none of this was this new Traveler’s fault. I immediately resolved to do what I could for them, and to ensure they did not suffer the same fate as Artemis and Apollo. They would know they weren’t alone, and that there were Travelers out there that would help them.

I closed the security feed and opened a communication channel to Elearu.

[Fan Fiction] Predecessor, pt 3

No Mans Sky Atlas Interface

I boarded my freighter, loaded in the coordinates that Polo had provided, and told the navigator to engage when ready. The data insertions began in that very first system. At every jump, I was being fed both a portal glyph and the coordinates for the next system, leading ever-closer to the center of the galaxy. Who was sending me that data? Who would be able to? Was it something about being a Traveler that triggered all of this? Was someone watching me and my crew? No, they were bread crumbs, left by the Atlas itself.

I followed them, and they led to another Atlas interface, like the one I’d found when searching for Artemis. Metal that was not metal, lights that held words like the Knowledge Stones, and a smell like rotting faecium and burning silicon strong enough to coat the mouth. As I approached the massive, pulsating red orb, I felt… too many things. What it wanted me to do, in a desperate attempt to keep its experiment going, was unthinkable. Its need, its magnitude, and its pain sent me reeling. I could not contain any of it. I lashed out, told it no, and staggered backwards. It was not angry; it didn’t attack or threaten. It spoke to me, in words, and said it would be waiting for my return.

I found myself on the surface of an uncharted planet. I stumbled back to my ship, only to find it showering sparks and in need of repair. Inside the cockpit, I tried to ignore the burnt-hair smoke and begin repairs, but my mind raced. The pull to the center of the galaxy had been manufactured. Apollo and the strange base Overseer were planted to ready me for this. My memory-less existence as an anomalous Traveler, alone even among others of my kind, was purpose-built as a safety valve in the Atlas’ great machine. Its grand, multiverse-spanning simulation.

When I returned, I told Nada and Polo. Time was finite, and would run out. There was no way of knowing how long we had, but I had cursed us to that end, because the alternative was worse. I would not do what Null had done. They took it as well as they could, and I returned to Akrodne X, doing my best to ignore what had happened.

As far as I can determine, the painful discorporation I experienced when attempting to enter Nada and Polo’s station was just another symptom of the simulation breaking down. The broken freighters, drifting between planets, infested with dangerous… something… is more evidence to throw on the pile.

And yet, Polo’s hope may not be unfounded. I’ve seen an entirely new type of ship, one that seems to be alive. It pulses with a kind of inner light, and is made of an organic material like nothing I’ve ever seen. I’ve also heard stories of a new kind of exocraft – a mechanized suit for operating with more dexterity in extreme environments. Elearu has even mentioned new Travelers building bases, right here on Akrodne X.

Is this some sort of desperate, creative spasm by the Atlas? Some last-ditch attempt at changing the inevitable course of its experiment? Or has something truly changed for the better?

I guess I’ll find out for myself.

[Fan Fiction] Predecessor, pt 2

No Mans Sky Atlas Rises

Sixteen. Over and over and over. Through finding Artemis, putting up with Apollo, getting my footing with Nada and Polo and their strange space station, it’s always been sixteen. Across the worlds and systems of the Euclid Galaxy, that number has shown up everywhere. Gek and Vy’Keen never remembered speaking about it, though they did, and with voices not their own. The Korvax never spoke of it, but they were closer to the Atlas than anyone but the Sentinels. And I’ve found no evidence that the Sentinels have ever spoken to anyone.

Since my last communication, I’ve made it back onto the anomalous station. Something drove me to keep trying, despite the threat of painful discorporation. It wasn’t the blueprints, and it wasn’t the frantic hustle and bustle of all of the Travelers. Maybe it was Nada’s sad acceptance of the multiverse’s fate. Maybe it was the rich, chocolatey scent of Polo’s continued hope. Ah, I’m skipping ahead.

I couldn’t shake the pull. I hadn’t seen any other Travelers on Akrodne X, except for Elearu, in ages. They could have left for other systems, or perhaps they’d slipped out of our reality, like Artemis had. Who could know? I’d find myself staring out through the glass of my grow domes, at a countryside littered with abandoned bases, slowly being reclaimed by the environment.

I could no longer find the solace in building that I once had, that Elearu still did. I had put so much of myself into creating these sprawling pods, glass-filled corridors, and underground concrete. I had built something beautiful, but it was complete. My compatriots, Gek, Vy’Keen, Korvax, and whatever the Overseer was, could operate just fine without me. They had their own project and own lives, despite Attendant Eil’s implications.

I looked to the stars next. I’d explored several nearby systems, but each was so like the last. There had to be more. There had to be.

There was. I had been told that many Travelers had ventured toward the center of the galaxy, in search of the Atlas itself, but that few returned. Perhaps they’d found renewed purpose, a place to call home, or something more sinister had happened to them. Nada had expressed their misgivings about seeking it out, and I’d put together some of the why. The Atlas was tightly linked to the Korvax hive mine, and Nada had been split from it for a very long time. Most didn’t survive that sundering, let alone thrive. Nada was afraid of being forced to rejoin, and of losing their individuality among the many. And they were right to fear.

The Sentinels were designed to answer directly to the Atlas, and they had wiped out entire universes of living beings. The ancient Gek had been punished by the Atlas, reduced from a mighty empire to trade-obsessed merchants, for their transgressions against the Korvax. It mercilessly hunted any being that rebelled against it or sought to escape it. Fearing the Atlas was wise.

And yet, the visions I’d received from the ruined monuments told me that there was more to it. The appearance of shattered worlds told me that something was wrong. And Null had said the Atlas was in great pain. Were we, the Travelers, not the Atlas’ way of knowing itself? Were we not its curiosity? Its drive to understand? That’s why the Gek fear us. That’s why the Vy’Keen aid us. That’s why the Korvax revere us.

And maybe that’s why I had to know for myself.

[Fan Fiction] Predecessor, pt 1

Three switches was all it took to relinquish control of my faithful ship, the Crystal Song, to the station’s auto-docking system. Once again, I flipped them, the motions burned into my brain from what seemed like years of piloting. The ship and station seemed to spin as they negotiated a common horizon. I focused on slowing my breathing and keeping my muscles relaxed. If it happened again, it was likely to hurt just as bad as the last several times. Unfortunately, the Anomaly, as it was commonly known, was the only place in this universe or any other where I could exchange the salvaged tech I’d dug up for blueprints. And I REALLY wanted those blueprints.

The outside doors opened, and the Crystal Song was through. Incomprehensible machinery moved, switched, and rotated around the ship as I slowly drifted forward, toward the inner doors. Maybe this time would be different. I’d gotten in once since this had started happening, but I didn’t have anything to trade. Of course, now that my hold was full to the brim, as they say, I couldn’t get in. And each attempt was more painful than the last.

The inner doors cracked open, spilling out warm, intense white light. This was it. Moment of truth. The doors slid all the way open, and the Song’s instrument panel faded to the light filling my vision. So close! Just one more second, and I’d be through…

The warm white changed to a cold, harsh blue. Every nerve ending lit up in pain. It felt like being torn apart and being pulled away, like every atom in me screaming away from ever other, but I was still alive enough to feel it. Then all I could hear was my own screaming voice, and my body was rebuilding itself inside my base on Akrodne X. It took only a moment, and then the pain was gone as if it had never been.

I was breathing so hard that my faceplate was fogging up. How many times was that? Five? Six? I haven’t tried it again since. The Anomaly hovers there, hanging in space next to the system’s station, taunting me. But I’m not risking it again. Not for a long while.

[White Wolf] Phil’s Journal

This was written after the 11 June game.

Mei Ling kept talking about the “puppy pile”, and how it would make me feel better. I have to admit that she was right. I was moping in my room in the house, wondering if they’d order me to strip when they came in (and gearing up to get all petulant about it, honestly) when there was a soft knock on the door.

They were polite. They didn’t push me. They were there to listen. They were patient, waiting for me to open up in my own time. Despite being the one that did most of the talking, I feel like I am infinitely closer to these two than I intended to be.

I was worried that I was going to lose Ling after I told her about the Quiet. Instead, she came back with an entire Cabal that she wanted me involved in. There’s so much that we’ve all talked about… I can’t write it all down…

[There’s a darker spot on the paper, and some smeared ink. The text starts again below that.]

Rapid-fire. This is how it was in the Quiet, or in that time that I remember as Quiet. Revelations and understandings would come in spurts, and so fast that I could only react for fear of drowning. My fortune in a year’s time is to be in California, fighting what seems to be Nephandi. If I still have no avatar, I will still fight. If I do have an avatar, then I will have succeeded where others have failed, if they have even tried.

The Weaver’s Song. The Dragon’s Song. An avatar that is of the Weaver, but not mad. One who serves balance.

Weaver affiliate Phil is off to The Well, somewhere in China, to meet his fate. See you soon.