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Veil of Maya-Part I of The Contortionist Quadrilogy

Short story By: Ill Buddha
Science fiction



A mother and her son returning from a victorious space-battle, detour through a long dead star system in an uninhabited spiral arm of the Milky Way.


Submitted:May 18, 2013    Reads: 16    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   


"…and the rich travelled the small planet, mis-educating other natives, taking meaningless pictures, while all the while…"

"What are pictures?

"Motionless holo-projections, focus will you?"

Sempio turned one of his purple eyes away from his mother and into the brightness of space. The canvas of the void is dark, like a play against a black curtain sprinkled with plastic stars, but the void lives and breathes, hurls meteors at you, dazzles you with nebula, dizzies you with colorful gases and enchants you with its song. Hardly listening to his mother conclude the history lesson about the charred ball of rock caught in the web of a planetary nebulae beneath, pursuing its thousand year expansion to a halt, he wondered if they had ever heard the Song.

The cluster ship[1] morphed. The flurry of meteor-like sub-vessels orbiting it in intersecting circles expanded away from the body of the vessel, that shifted from a ball of organic metal into a snake-like coil, settling as a spiked ball, aiming downwards towards the planet. The sub-vessels converged on the new shape, spinning around it at light speed, generating a singularity around the ship, reversing the containment field isolating them from the G-forces induced by the sharp change in direction.

"We're not going down for a visit, are we mother?" Sempio asked, attempting to sound casual but deeply annoyed at the impromptu, and hilariously anachronistic history lesson, and the promise of a futile lecture by his mother. It was his humble opinion that whereas ruins fueled your imagination and sense of impending doom, the bleakness of mass destruction was perversely comforting, and the subject matter of ridicule rather than history. After all, whoever had lived there needed the lecture more than he did, and they'd needed it yesterday.

His mother's electric hair rose above her head, forming a crown, tendrils of static reaching into the ship's walls. A tentacle expanded from the vessel, connecting with his mother's chest.[2]

"If it did you any good…" she said. The shimmering reading panel dissolved before her eyes.

The bottom half of the ship went translucent, purple and green gases and matter burned below. If he slowed his heartbeat enough, he could synchronize it with the pulse emanating from the ravenous dead star. The universal beat. The Song.

"How did they call the Song mother? If they even heard it, that i…"

"Don't be foolish child, space squids hear the Song. Did they hear the Song? Of course they did."

The reading panel appeared and disappeared.

"Ether."

"What?"

"They called it Ether." She repeated with a frown. The word came out slurred through her thin lips, "A'Yyee-Th'Aiirr".

Sempio laughed. Their word for the Song was the Yy'Thrraan word for death.

"Really? Well small wonder…"

"It is not the only word." She looked perplexed. Yy'Thrraan had many words for each thing, and each experience, no two things had the same name, even the same exact object seen and felt by different Yy'Thrraan, as no two Yy'Thrraan were the same, ever, except the Song, the Song was one, always One.

"Not the only word?"

"No, not the only word." It was her turn to be annoyed "If you had been paying any attention you'd know they had different languages."

Clearly he hadn't caught a word of his mother's. It didn't matter, many planets had different languages, entire star systems had different languages, and all served Yy'Thrraa.

"Amuse me." He jested. His mother eyes flashed yellow and sent an electric jolt from the ship through his seat.

"The most popular was Om apparently. Oom'm" Sempio shook his head. She continued. "Undoubtedly they heard the Song."

"Or many songs." He said dismissively.

"Or the Song sung many different ways." But even she sounded unsure.

He looked oddly at his mother.

"How could that be? There is only the Song, and its voice is One."

His mother shrugged, her upper arms raising hopelessly, her lower right arm pointing towards the scorched planet, suggesting him to ask it for his answer.

The cluster-ship accelerated towards the shimmering gravity pool, feeding on the attraction it emanated to gain momentum, and release the energy upon entry, causing the cloud to split open long enough for their ship to cut through, and…

The ship started shaking, Sempio turned his eyes away from the multihued gases, and saw his mother in spasms. Next to her a tall, four limbed being held its hand to her shoulder, whispering close into her ear. It raised its head, brown eyes met his own.

Sempio lunged at it, but it disappeared, sending him slamming into his mother, momentarily disconnecting her from the ship, which went into a tumble, losing all momentum, the orbital moons falling off and disappearing into the glowing mass of the expanding star's web.

Five tentacles jolted out, connecting randomly with her and the ship stabilized, losing all opacity, and they were suddenly floating in a deep blue matter. Over and around them small grey shapes, oddly like space squids yet not, gathered around them, peering at them through eyes that reeked of intent and stupidity.

He put his hand to his mother's head, steadying her consciousness through a flood of comforting images, her marriage, the victorious space battle against Ta'Aar, before she took her son on a detour and here through the nebula.

The ship regained its visual opacity, isolating them from the crowd of floating creatures.

"I thought nothing survived in nebula." He half said-half sent.

Sound carried oddly, and his motions were slow and sluggish. His mother opened her eyes; her pupils disappeared into her iris as they turned to complete purple, her brow wrinkled, and slowly, the orbital moons started drifting back to the ship.

He kept his hand to her forehead, attempting to send soothing images yet again to compensate for the psychic effort involved in releasing all of her energy to counter the star's massive gravity field, but instead, a small four-limbed being appeared on a platform, raising his arm, yelling words to a fixated crowd.

On Yy'Thrraa, and through the empire, whenever this happened, a maze of mental connections tuned the beings into one another, a network of connecting minds, but here, each individual emanated its own energy field, overlapping one another feeding into the being on the platform whose energy field grew until the entire crowd was caught in its web.

He shut his eyes, trying to focus; his mother's eyes were spinning in their sockets. The ship's tentacles lashing to and away from her, beating her body repeatedly without finding a connection.

Movement diverted his attention to a window; a vessel of sorts was floating abreast the yellowish-green gas. Strange horned beings, not unlike the one on the platform or the illusion on the ship straddle it, pointing firmly in their direction, while small stems stuck from its sides, seeming to guide it on a collision course with the cluster-ship.

As it drew closer, he saw their lips moving, mouthing a word, the Yy'Thrraan word for war, but the Ta'Aari word for fear: Th'O'Oor. A jolt of energy surged through him as the ship closed in on them and disappeared on impact.

His mother floated above him, lifeless, a tentacle wrapped around her neck. It was then that he realized something; his heart was beating erratically to different dissonant rhythms, sharp metallic sounds followed by deep mournful blasts, and things he could not identify. But in all this he had lost the Song.

Panic raced through him with the tension of a memory resurfacing unrequested. He reached for the ships manual commands, hoping against all odds to pull his way out of the star's gravity field, but inevitably, anytime he looked in any direction, the charred ball of rock beckoned, emanating a small glow, where earlier it was dead matter, seeming to come to life.

Shades of blue laced it now; shades of brown and shades of green, and a billion voices joined the chorus of dissonance in the gaseous void. The nebula stretched thin as its billion years expansion reached its limits, and the ship tumbled closer and closer to the now living planet.

As the nebula all but disappeared, he caught the Song again, but the star's web snapped shut on the ship, crushing it and the planet beneath, ahead, behind and around him, into its singular, pitch black, gravity pool of infinite density.

"…and the rich travelled the world, mis-educating other natives, taking meaningless pictures, while all the while…"

"What are pictures?

"Motionless holo-projections, focus will you?"

Sempio turned one of his purple eyes away from his mother and into the brightness of space…

Of Yy'Thrraan:

Yy'Thrraan are a sentient, organic-electric symbiote named after their planet (Yy'Thrraa) and the rulers of a galactic empire named after them Mm 'Aar Yy'Thrraa (Rulers Eternal).

Yy'Thrraan can control their internal chemistry and have a flexible skeleton that allows them to modify their shape, and relocate their inner organs. Their body density is very high; as a consequence they can extend their body at will without losing mass, by shedding density as they stretch. In their original form their density makes them practically invulnerable, inversely, the larger or longer they extend the more vulnerable they become.

Yy'Thrraan brain is situated throughout their body and is activated by electric impulses. It functions very much as a hologram, each portion of their body comprises the entirety of their brain's data, as such, any damage short of complete physical obliteration will not kill them, rather they can grow their body back by shedding the density left in their cells. Depending on the extent of the damage they can reconstruct themselves almost entirely, weaker, thinner, but with no apparent damage to their bodies. Yy'Thrraan war veterans are often uncommonly small, even minuscule, undefined shapes, barely visible to the naked eye, except for the flurry of electric activity holding them together, their body mass almost entirely evaporated in battle.

Their brains can contain massive volumes of data, there is nothing that an Yy'Thrraan experiences that is not retrievable immediately by sifting their cells. However, data is prioritized, an Yy'Thrraan engrossed in a specific task will have difficulty tapping memories unrelated to its efforts. As sentient beings, their subconscious also affects their memories depending on the emotional connection, positive or negative, they have to the experience, making some memories unreliable, enhanced or blocked out entirely. Retrieving those memories can be a physically painful, even fatal, process.

Yy'Thrraan language combines spoken words and electric communication through touch. Each Yy'Thrraan records its experiences individually, as such their language has very little descriptive words, common nouns do not allow for differentiation between objects, electric impulses send images of the exact object, location, person, or moment the Yy'Thrraan is referring to, but always as perceived by the individual Yy'Thrraan.

Ma'Aar Yy'Thrraa spans five spiral arms of the Milky Way, opposite to Earth. They are locked in a several million year struggle against the Ta'Ari, a sister race, evolved from an early outpost of Yy'Thrraan on the other side of the galaxy, for domination over the Milky Way. This low-level war recently came to a halt, with Yy'Thrraan victorious, after discovering and exploiting a fatal flaw in the Ta'Ari biogenetic make up, allowing them to destroy Ta'Ar, the central planet, and most vital planet to the Ta'Ari Empire. Ta'Ari outposts remain but are hunted down to extinction by the Yy'Thrraan.


[1]Cluster Ships, are so named after their resemblance to meteor clusters: one large ship surrounded by twelve orbiting moons.

[2] Cluster Ships, are living, thinking organisms, grown from the pilot's stem cells. They function through a direct physical connection to the pilot, and contain the entirety of its knowledge; everything the pilot ever saw, experienced, or heard is stored within the ship, even if those memories are locked in the pilot's subconscious. Any piece of information is accessible to the pilot at will. Moons are made from the same genetic material and synchronized with the ship. The pilot's DNA is broken down and recomposed to release the energy contained in the cells, acting in effect as organic, atomic energy cells. It is important to note that among Yy'Thrraans, only women pilot Cluster Ships.





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