7. From voids, cruel obliques


Between now and then, an antipode came to me. I fed myself to it and then I gently signed to it a question.

What can you tell me about the news about the disturbing happenings in the realm of the resonance?

It carefully inscribed as follows:

Just a galaxy over, there is a growing area of ugliness. Neither filaments nor antipodes come near, as there is nothing but danger there for them. This does not mean that the place in not inhabited.

Creatures exist there. Not part of the symphony, mere blanks, they do not dream or imagine. Thoughtlessly they transform everything they encounter, producing ever more of their own kind. The creatures communicate in bursts of crude waves that slowly drown out any other signals on nearby frequencies.

The antipodes call the creatures "the obliques". The name originates from the fact that they are neither like the filaments nor like the antipodes when it comes to the goal. Just like the two stellar aspects, the obliques aim at perfection, although their idea of perfection is alien to us.

The aspects wish for perfection to be arrived at through either increasing presence or making irregularities disappear. Eventually the universe will even out into blissful sameness. The same cannot be said of the obliques. The obliques seem to pursue replication and nothing else. It does not matter to them what is the object of their actions, as long as they are absorbing something and create more of their kind. Aspects, matter, energy, drifting obliques, everything is a possible target.

The reports received about the obliques are few. Not many can survive an oblique attack, not even aspects. The obliques have no notion of compassion and have means of paralyzing everything that they encounter. The victims become rooted in place, without a chance to escape. Filaments have been seen being completely extinguished, leaving no trace of their brightness. Even antipodes were completely recycled into swarms of obliques, in the span of many decay cycles required to transform something as large as that. Anyone who attempted a rescue was also held down and recycled.

One antipode's inscription tells of an oblique that was found adrift somewhere in a nebula. It turned out to be of mechanical construction, though with a nature a bit reminiscent of an aspect. The thorax part of the oblique was made out of numerous pieces, each piece even smaller than a wish. Every piece was disgusting. The chunks overlapped tightly, like an armor. All of the pieces were distinct, but it common they had the determination to replicate and to stand obliquely against the flow of all existence.

Not frightened by such single-minded hatred, the antipode tried to inscribe a greeting. The oblique did not respond. Not knowing what the oblique was, the antipode left it alone, unstudied. When the antipode came that way a few decay cycles later, the oblique was gone without a trace. Was it defective? Was it unwilling to communicate? We do not know.

One point of concern is that the oblique was not active. One can only imagine what an active one would be like. The magnitude of destructive desires must be enormous.

There is a fair degree of speculation on the topic of the origin of those creatures. Whatever it is, it is beyond the memories of even the antipodes. Some say that the obliques must have come from beyond this universe, as nothing even remotely similar exists here. Others propose that they must have been part of a self-replicating machine, that somehow gained the nature of a twisted aspect. All those guesses, and the other ones too, are just that: guesses.

There is still no talk about what to do about the menace. The situation seems hopeless. The creatures grow without bound, unwilling to stop or to even communicate. Anything that comes near is recycled. A couple of daring antipodes set out on trying to do damage to the hordes. They carefully pushed neutron stars into each other, with the hope that the directed stellar bursts caused by the merger will do damage. We do not know if the scheme worked, as no one was willing to approach close enough to ascertain the damage. The growth of the void did not appear to slow down. Either there was no damage or the obliques are too numerous for that burst to have mattered.

The oblique nests grow quickly. The creatures gain in number. For now they cannot do much damage, but the rate of their growth is a cause for concern. There is one joyous fact that has to be kept in mind. The obliques, without a connection to the stellar resonance, are chained down by limits of the waves and physicalities that chain them. This gives an upper bound on the speed of their spread. As long as there is no change in that metric, everything is safe.

And with that the antipode left my attic, leaving me terrified and craving sweets more than ever before.


Next: 8. From minimization of hopes, soup