Story:Swan Song

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Swan Song
Main author(s) User:Krayfishkarl
Genre {{{genre}}}
Timeframe Era of the Republic of the Omni
Era {{{era}}}
Story arcs Corrupted Light story arc
Wordcount Unknown
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Swan Song is set during the time of the Republic of the Omni taking the point of view of an old priest named Akhir.

Prologue

An old, aged Omni sat with his legs crossed in a quiet room with scented candles burning. The sounds of gushing water from two adjacent fountains helped him concentrate. Before Akhir stood the brass statue of a depiction of a strange, god-like figure. Meditating. Thinking. But he was interrupted, two young white robed Omni entered the room carrying datapads that contained thousands of pages of holy texts. Ushers, assistants to the priest. The slight creak of the door was just enough to get Akhir's attention.

"Master, are you ready for your next pilgrimage?" one of the young ushers asked. "We wish to hear the next tale you have to tell."

"I've gone on many pilgrimages throughout my lifetime," Akhir said. "I've grown tired from all my travels throughout the galaxy, and my Easing[1] draws near."

"But Master Akhir, each pilgrimage brings new knowledge and stories to our people! Please, there is one location that we wish for you to visit," the other usher said. "Your followers want you to make a pilgrimage to Novarckas. No one has ever been in the main chamber and actually seen the legendary Na'zrah itself."

"As I've said," Akhir explained. "I am too old now. Exploring Novarckas is for another generation. There are many bright minds out there to see it for themselves."

"Please, Master!" they both begged. "No Omni in the universe is wiser than you are. We may find this new knowledge, but we will not know what to do with it!"

Akhir sat for a few moments pondering. Not long, he came to a conclusion. "Oh, alright. One last, final pilgrimage before I am Eased. My swan song."

Akhir stood up from his meditation spot and the ushers led him out the door. It was time to pack. Make this pilgrimage good. Make it the best one for many generations to tell.

Chapter 1

After some preparation time from a small crew, Akhir was escorted to a docking bay. A tiny, not quite glamorous warp drive vessel stood before him. Humble, but just what was needed.

Only moments after stepping inside the ship, it had already disconnected itself from the dock and positioned itself near a jump gate. Out the viewscreen window lay the blue, oceanic planet of Kollha with the three moons. While marveling to a first time viewer, Akhir was no longer surprised. For a long time, he would always compose poetry just by looking outside the window to provide inspiration for others of the artisan caste - those who would write themselves. But he had gotten tired. Seeing the same view hundreds of times. It was mundane. During these journeys, his followers would expect sagely wisdom and brilliant epic poems to go with it[2], but he got nothing else to describe the view. What else was there to describe that he hadn't already?

As the ship jumped to warp, he grew more and more concerned of disappointment. In himself and his followers. This meeting with Na'zrah. What would he get out of it? He had already meditated on all there was to know. Mastering enlightenment to the extent an Omni was capable. Being an enormous scale Matrioshka brain, could Na'zrah even speak to him? In his eyes, Akhir would be hardly anything more than a prokaryotic life form.

Yet, as the ship continued, he reminded himself. He was only as good as his last story. This swan song. It must top everything he did before. But how? Maybe it will come to him.


The ship arrived in a distant orbit of Novarckas. Akhir didn't know how long it actually took to get there as he stopped mentally keeping track of time long ago. To him, it was now meaningless especially having been in deep space far longer than most Omni seeing the long term effects of time dilation.

From the viewscreen, Novarckas seemed like the size of a planet from the distance they were, but in reality, it was larger than even the most massive of gas giants. A Dyson sphere built around a red dwarf of a binary MM pair. No way they were going to approach it directly. The solution to getting inside: simple. Just use a wormhole to get down there. What about the gravity though? Wouldn't they get crushed? But actually, whoever built the cities of Novarckas was a mad genius.

The Dyson sphere was visited many times before by drones that took scans of the world. The empty cities on Novarckas's surface were massive feats of engineering, enormous rotating structures that essentially neutralized the gravity. Somehow, they were still working long after the original builders vanished.

The pilots pinpointed a spot where the most electrical activity took place - likely where Na'zrah lay hidden. They read traces of an atmosphere breathable to Omni as well as gravity similar to Kollha. What a strange cosmic coincidence. As if Na'zrah were inviting Akhir. The pilot tapped a few buttons, generating a wormhole for Akhir to walk through. The pilots would wait until his pilgrimage was complete.

Only a short time later, Akhir found himself in a grand, magnificent chamber at least one hundred stories tall. It seemed stationary, but it was actually rotating against the Dyson sphere's natural gravity. High above, but not at the ceiling, floated a collection of swirling golden shards. Some kind of relic resembling Na'zrah.

"Hello?" Akhir called out. "My name is Akhir, and I have come to see you, Na'zrah. Where are your creators?" But Na'zrah did not respond. Seeing as how it was a Matrioshka brain, he wasn't surprised. But then, something happened. Electromagnetic activity skyrocketed and Akhir begun to see strange images in his head. Flashing colors. Foreign sounds echoing within his head like white noise and beeping. What was going on? Whatever it was though, it relaxed him. Soothing him like a gentle, warm touch.

"Akhir..." A voice in his own head. "Akhir..."

"...Na'zrah?"

"Akhir..."

"Is that you, Na'zrah? Are you saying my name?"

"Akhir..."

Just as he thought. Na'zrah probably was incapable of conversation. This was not like Antocula who was actually designed to speak to organic life. Did it even know that he was intelligent? But just as he was about to shrug it off and call the pilots, the images and sounds in his head enveloped him as his surroundings faded away from view. Everything turned black as vibrant, colorful sine waves circled around him like dancing wisps.

"Marvelous," Akhir remarked. "Like the ancient screensavers that used to be required on the first computers."

"Does Akhir understand this one?" A voice said. "Does it understand?"

"Na'zrah? You speak my language. I don't even need a translator!"

"Apologies. Very long time since life form entered this complex. A few bugs recovering in process of fixing. This one's primary purpose is not for language communication. It had to momentarily synchronize with Antocula to retrieve communication preferences."

Akhir was still perplexed by Na'zrah's strange speech. Antocula did not have this problem when he visited it some years after a certain autopath beat him to it. "If Antocula is your speaker, then what do you do?"

"Na'zrah serves as deity for its creators. It is a computer system downloaded from a Boltzmaan entity called a Titan. Titans used to work with creators on daily basis before everyone vanished. Akhir is the first life form Na'zrah sees in millions of years."

Botlzmaan entities. Another theoretical life form. Exceptionally intelligent creatures that were only hypothesized, but this computer system, it was one of those in physical form. "So you're essentially a god?" Akhir asked. "But our people have long since dismissed superstition in favor of spiritual enlightenment.[3] You're just a machine after all, correct?"

"Creators believed that scientific origin was irrelevant. Na'zrah delivered wisdom and provided hope for creators."

Akhir wondered. Imagine the possibilities. In a future generation, could something like Na'zrah watch over the entire Omni Republic? An actual, living god? It was all theoretical until now. "My people want me to return with a good story. What sagely wisdom do you have for me, Lord Na'zrah?"

"This one can show you. Possibilities are limitless in the organic mind." The images morphed into the shape of a single, lone galaxy amidst a black, starless void like a single, tiny light. Akhir peered at its center, entranced by it. A calming, soothing melody sung throughout, echoing across and infinitely shifting pitches. An otherworldly sound that could never be heard in the real world. An unhearable sound only possible in the mind. "How much does this visitor know of us?"

Akhir, continuing to stare into the galaxy, softly replied. "Only whatever scans we have from orbit. We suspect that you were created millions of years ago by an advanced race, but I'm the first Omni to ever speak to you in person. I didn't even know you were capable of communication." And even so, Na'zrah's strange speech all the more confirmed that he was not meant for direct communication anyway.

"You seek a good story? It has concluded that an encyclopedic entry is unsuitable towards your needs. Interpersonal module Antocula has informed me that a parable would be far more fitting."

"Can you tell a story?"

"Na'zrah is not designed to generate fictional tales. But it has a possible way of sharing knowledge. Titans can manipulate their quantum state and view alternative universes. Na'zrah can compute and project copies of said universes a theoretically infinite amount of times."

Alternate universes? What more did Na'zrah know? It was once proposed that the warp drive could travel to parallel universes to ultimately end the need for interstellar travel. But for some reason, it didn't work when all the theories said it should have. Something stopped them. But what? Maybe Na'zrah knew. He just had to keep asking and searching.

"Show me one of these other universes," Akhir said. "I would like to see what they're like. Imagine what our people could do with that sort of technology."

The galaxy quickly grew in size, and in greater detail. Though they were microscopic by scale, Akhir could somehow see all the individual planets and stars, innumerable. "Titans revised this universe many times. Previous iterations still exist as alternative quantum states. What this one is showing is the first iteration."

Chapter 2

Within the virtual planetarium, Akhir could somehow walk and fly around. As if he had complete control of his movements. Travelling lightyears within seconds. He could go anywhere. No limits. Total freedom. So many possibilities. He could visit worlds and planets that the Omni could never reach within the entire lifespan of their species. And that's what he did. He went to those worlds, since time was meaningless. Even though he was still technically just standing in the room in Novarckas, his mind processed information and data like a supercomputer somehow. Maybe because Na'zrah was putting it in symbols that he understood, but he was too lost in this strange realm to understand it at a technical level. It was pure, raw emotion and experience flowing in like a coursing river down a mountain.

What he found in this first iteration was particularly unusual. Sure, there it was. The Milky Way galaxy. His home. But every other galaxy in the universe he looked at. Completely empty. Blank. No signs of intelligent life or any life for that matter. Barren. Nothingness. It was as if they were just sparkly decorations in the background. Aside from the galaxies' natural drifting through the space, the only sign of any movement outside the Milky Way were swirling masses of electromagnetic energy. Titans in their pure form. More of these so-called living gods despite them being non-divine, totally natural life forms. Still, being more intelligent than any known being in the universe, they may as well be.

"In the first iteration, the Milky Way galaxy at this particular time period was the only interesting place in the universe. Essentially, it was the entire universe," Na'zrah's voice this time around was particularly soothing. As if he were watching one of those educational documentaries shown to school age children. "The Titans wanted to work with a small scale playground. At the time (in a relatively linear sense), they were just learning how to build universes and didn't want to let it get out of their control. They heavily enforced technological limitations and ensured that life developed the way they wanted to. They took a more active role in making sure everything was the way it was supposed. They even took physical forms and called themselves Titans whom the organic creatures actively worshiped."

"So these Titans created organic life as we know it? And then said organic life created you?"

"That's how it was in the first iteration," Na'zrah explained. "And the physical laws were different as well."

"What do you mean?" Akhir asked. "The universe worked off different rules?"

"Think of the universe as a large-scale computer system. The algorithms that determine the speed of light. The equations that determine planetary orbit. The entire way quantum physics worked. All are programmed into the universe's 'coding' per se. But in this iteration, those algorithms were different. They allowed for machines that were technologically impossible in the current iteration. Not to mention, there was no time dilation. Time itself was constant throughout the universe. In other words, it was less 'realistic'."

"Does that mean that the multiverse is a computer program?" Akhir asked.

"This one only spoke that way metaphorically to help you understand its differences. It is unable to determine whether or not the current iteration is in fact a computer program. Only the first Titan called 'I' knows whether or not it is true."

Curiously, Akhir wanted to see what sort of technological impossibilities there were. He flew in close to the Milky Way. And what he found, what Na'zrah said was true. The inhabitants of this first iteration worked off of implausible body plans. Like something out of a children's cartoon in fact. They had indeed built an intragalactic society, and despite how quickly they could travel across the Milky Way, they never bothered going outside the galaxy.

"I imagine this universe still exists as per the many-worlds theory. If my kind were to develop interuniversal travel, we may be able to see it for ourselves!"

"Indeed, it has existed and always will. Despite it being obsolete, it's taken its own path. It will always be remembered as the founding building block."

Akhir continued to watch this particular universe play out. His perception of time in the planetarium was also different so he could perceive events as happening either faster or slower than normal time. He could watch a one hundred year war in its entirety in the span of seconds. He could watch species rise and fall, appear and disappear. And he could go backwards, too. Without a doubt, what he watched was through the eyes of a Titan - or whatever equivalent they had for eyes.

As he watched the evolution of life go within this galaxy, he spotted some oddities. Impossible coincidences. Many alien species looking incredibly similar to one another. The progression of society. Akhir studied sociology intently in his younger days, and what he saw. It was unnatural progression as if planned by someone who had far less understanding than he did. Logic started to go haywire and surreal, but no one seemed to mind. Then, he remembered. This universe worked off of different rules. Of course.

"What would do the Titans do next?" Akhir realized the inaccuracy of his tense. For the Titans, there was no forward or backwards. "Well, next in linear existence terms?"

"Upon the creation of the first iteration, only a handful of Ttians actually governed it. It soon drew the attention of other Titans when they became impressed by its creativity, and they wanted to add their own things. Thus, it evolved. The Titans had to revise it and change it, thus leading to a second iteration." The planetarium changed slightly to reflect the universe that Na'zrah was talking about. Now, there were more inhabited planets, and even some of the galaxies had life forms.

"It's more densely populated. More civilizations," Akhir said.

"Things would spiral out of control. The physical laws that governed the first iteration begun to prove incompatible for the second one." And shortly, Akhir saw for himself what Na'zrah explained. The philosophical concepts of good and evil were particularly binary in the second iteration. Entire species were labelled as either good or evil. And the organics were changing themselves to adapt. Some were becoming incredibly powerful, superhuman, almost god-like. Coming very close to the strength of the Titans in fact.

"It's as if they're modifying themselves to become gods. Godmodding."

"Na'zrah was also different in this universe. Its role was more active, and it directly intervened to deal with the chaos. But other Titans found another, more extreme solution. To prevent themselves from ever being overthrown, they created an entity known as Vernietigen that would destroy the universe over and over in the event that too much chaos was caused. In later iterations, its name was changed to Suntsitzeagal." What Na'zrah described sounded almost mythical, like ancient battles in a time when superstition ruled. Almost fantastic. But at the same time, it was disturbing. To know that a universe-destroying entity was out there. But then again, he should not have been surprised. The many-worlds theory guaranteed its existence anyway. "The ultimate purpose of Vernietigen/Suntsitzeagal was to allow a means of clean slating and revising the then-current iteration rather than making a new one from scratch every time in order to better deal with the chaotic life forms."

"Does Vernietigen or Suntsitzeagal exist in the current iteration of the universe?"

"Antocula predicts that the current iteration will encounter it at some point, but is unable to determine where and when it will appear. But the rules of the current iteration are much different."

Akhir watched this particular universe for a bit. The model, as dark and disturbing as it was, seemed to actually work for at least some time. The Titans maintained control over their creations. Yet, they interfered more than ever.


Akhir watched and watched the universe play out - get destroyed over and over at least several times over in the span of trillions of years. Once again, perceived trillions of years as everything he saw was just in his mind. Though it was continuously being rebirthed, this was still technically the second iteration. A long time later (well, after losing track of how many rebirths he saw), he noticed the Titans arguing amongst themselves. Disagreements about the course of the universe.

"Some of the creators of the second iteration became dissatisfied when they wanted to change the physical laws to be far more logical. Some wanted to keep the chaotic unpredictable nature."

"But this is a multiverse after all," Akhir replied. "Couldn't they just have moved on to a different universe and worked separately?"

"That is exactly what they did. The third iteration was created. Logic and rationalism became more prevalent while the chaotic, fantastic elements were pushed aside into something entirely separate. This split is called the Omniverse Nexus, and soon, other universes would spawn from that same split. Ones with different rules and guidelines. Since Na'zrah does not exist in those other universes, it knows nothing of them. It can only project copies of universes where it has been to. Na'zrah is unable to visit all universes because of the very nature of the multiverse itself. By default, there must exist universes where Na'zrah does not exist."

"Why was the Nexus created, exactly?

"The Titans desired more creative freedom and abandoned the rebirth model of the second iteration." Akhir noticed that Na'zrah's speech was getting better and more natural. Perhaps it was busy fixing its own bugs while it was talking to him. "The current iteration is within the Omniverse Nexus, but not all universes in the multiverse are part of it. Titans from outside the Nexus continued to work off of their own rules, creating entirely new ones to work with."

"So we are the third iteration?" Akhir asked.

"The revisions are more or less nonlinear as each iteration is technically an infinite amount of universes on its own diverging from every possibility," Na'zrah said. "It would be inaccurate to call it the third."

"I see, now," Akhir said. "It's like writing a story. The iterations were previous drafts of a novel. The Titans tried things that didn't work the first time, then kept revising until they were satisfied."

"Na'zrah never considered it that metaphor. Or possibly, the bugs its been fixing have prevented it from thinking that way."

Chapter 3

"You've been of great help, Na'zrah," Akhir said. "I believe I've found the inspiration I need for my final story. But mere words cannot convey my thoughts and idea. I need a new medium to work with. Something far more abstract than anything my people have ever used."

"What do you have in mind, Akhir?"

"With your permission, I would like manual control of this quantum projection program that you're currently showing me. With it, I believe I can write my story."

Na'zrah paused for a moment to process those words. "A curious proposition. How exactly do you plan to use it?" Akhir stood mildly surprised that he got an enormous scale supercomputer to ask him a question. But then again, Na'zrah was polite and likely did not want to finish off his thoughts for him.

"In the same way Titans revise the universe to tell stories, I believe that I can do the same, albeit on a virtual scale. No creative tool like this exists among my scale, and only something true to life is capable of capturing the imagination so vividly."

"You wish to see through the eyes of a Titan? Very well. Na'zrah is curious to see what you come up with."

Only moments later, Akhir felt a strange sensation of lightness, even moreso than he was right now as power coursed through his veins. The images before him changed as he thought - commanding its shaping with only its mind. At the moment, much of the images were faded, blurred and chaotic as so many ideas filled his head at one time. True reflections of the limits of Omni perception. Slightly disappointing actually.

Akhir messed around with it more. He cleared his mind and reset the universe to the Big Bang. He tampered with Newton's Laws, altering some properties and directing the trajectory of the primordial galaxies before him.

"I want to challenge the limits of sensory perception," Akhir stated. "I want to be able to express unthinkable thoughts, unseeable sights, unhearable sounds and untouchable textures. I desire to create the greatest story to ever be told."

Akhir started small by working with one solar system in a single, lonely galaxy. After picking a nebula, he stirred it, spinning it into a protostar. He spun it and spun it, faster and faster until it accumulated into a yellow G-type star with a plethora of planets. Soon, the planets crashed into one another, obliterating into dust, leaving only four of them. The first one, a ball of rock. The second one, vast oceans. The last two, gas giants.

Next, it was time to add organic life. He seeded the watery planet with meteors containing organic material, and life was born. They stayed single-celled for a long time, before turning multicellular. Before proceeding though, Akhir paused for a moment. To this point, he'd controlled everything that's happened so far. What would happen if he let these new life forms evolve on their own? Reality and nature had a much greater imagination than he or any other life form would ever have. He had made life in the universe possible, but he waited to see what would happen next.

As he observed his new plethora of worlds unfold, he recalled his story ideas that stirred in his head when he watched Na'zrah's projections of the previous iterations of the unvierse. What would be the perfect way to tell this tale? It was impossible to capture with words. He needed more. Perhaps this should be a music-based story? One with multiple movements that tell different acts like a play? Yes, yes, that would be perfect. A fantastic tale that told the story of creation. An epic story that would resonate with everyone. A topic all could relate to. A question that Akhir himself could provide an answer given Na'zrah's resources.

So the first opening movement would be ponderous and peaceful. A quick opening that immediately soothes itself. He needed focus and scale. Sure, he had this grand universe to work with, but to describe all of it at once - it would take a million lifetimes. And that was barely a prologue. He got a solid foundation to work with, but now, he needed focus and scale. So he turned his eyes to the second planet - the one with the vast oceans. That would be the start, where the tiniest scale of this world's story would originate. He turned back time slightly to view it in a more primordial state and witnessed its evolution firsthand. This time, he would observe its formation more closely. And he was getting his ideas for the second movement of his musical piece.

The second planet. A primal, ancient world covered in spewing magma. The world's primitive atmosphere gave sound to it like a grand hymn sung by a choir of gods and goddesses. The volcanoes erupting with an earth shattering baritone. The shifting tectonic plates the bass. Wisps of wind the soprano. The spark of creation. Chaos and constant shifting. And Akhir. He watched. The chaos unfold. How could life possibly survive in a place like this? But the meteors crashing down to the surface like cymbals carried the alien travelers from other parts of the universe.

But as the sky filled with storm clouds, lightning crackled and rain poured. Water. The essence of carbon-based life. It had arrived on this planet. Hissing steam rose and the magma cooled. The primordial rage of the choir had faded with a solo - the singing, crying rain which filled the world with oceans. Waves that crashed, still stirring and restless. Shaken up by the previous molten fires.

Yes, yes. That seemed to do it. Akhir focused on a single planet this time and he could take in all the details much better. After all, he was no super-computer. He was still a mortal, and all this was in his mind. This timeless dream made real. And yet he wondered. Even though his work had barely started and it was unfinished, it had already trumped anything he had written in the past by a long shot. It would have taken him years to come up with everything he just did. How much time exactly had passed in real time? If he took relativity into account, Novarckas's gravity could have truly sent him forward eons had he stayed as long as he thought he did. But also, this whole dream could be happening in one single moment. One single second of Na'zrah imparting knowledge in an instant. Either those pilots had abandoned him, or he would be back minutes after he had left. But that didn't matter. Akhir's writer's block was gone. A wall shattered as he sunk into the muse engulfed in pure imagination. He thought he had written everything there was. No, he hadn't. Even someone like him had not even so much as scratched the surface.

Chapter 4

Akhir continued to keep his eyes on the single planet, but as he composed his story, he hit yet another block. Already? But he was on to something? But he figured out the issue soon enough. Though he scaled down, even that started to seem too large in scale. He was missing something else. Something easily overlooked. This whole time, he had been thinking big. But what about the tinier details? What made up the massive universe? He zoomed in closer. Closer. Even more so. A tiny spot in the shallow ocean. The tiny specks dwelling within. The microbes dancing about. And as he fast forwarded time, they steadily grew larger. Clumping together. Working cooperatively. Building larger and larger creatures. Towers of kelp. Schools of fish. Solitary arthropods. Trilobite and ammonite-type creatures scuttling across the sea floor. Preying on one another to gain more energy to grow larger. A steady, bubbling soup of life.

Of course! That's how he needed to properly convey this new universe. He introduced it with the Big Bang and the primordial volcanism, but now he had to show off the finer aspects. The seemingly insignificant elements that were critical to the bigger picture. Despite the scale of the gargantuan, massive universe, he could even make these little guys interesting. Scope. That was the key. And even back in the real world. Even in the presence of the god-like Na'zrah, Akhir could make his own ideas with scope. He had torn down the block again.

Even without Akhir's intervention, it was clear to him that the newly born aquatic animals were aspiring to be greater. As the ecosystem produced predators that devoured some of his lesser species, they managed to pull through. Evolving. Adapting. Avoiding getting eaten by getting bigger, faster and stronger. Admittedly, he had a few somber moments watching the last members of the trilobite-like creatures die off. But that's the cycle of life.

The planet was growing. Vegetation took hold of the land burrowing its roots into the soil giving oxygen unto the air. A few of the oceanic creatures clambered onto the surface, emerging from the shimmering pools like newborn children. Slick, slimy salamanders with wide black eyes. Taking that deep breath filling up their lungs. Of course, Akhir made a huge time skip, but in his head, it was if he watched all of it - every passing day. Every passing hour. Every passing moment. And yet it seemed so fleeting compared to the rest of the universe like a quick flash. Billions of years of hostility towards life, and from nowhere, here it was.

Much of what Akhir watched for the next hundreds of millions of years was remarkably similar to the primordial soup from before. Only this time, the scope increased. The animals were bigger. More complex. And with the increasing oxygen, they grew enormous. Titanic arthropods soaring through the sky, majestic giant reptiles trudging across the plains. And gentle behemoths cruising deep beneath the ocean's surface like submarines. Species constantly changing, appearing and disappearing. A few world-scale volcanic eruptions.

Akhir particularly took note to a pair of giants from two different species. Ferocious, dragon-like creatures armed with teeth and claws. Roaring, bellowing at one another. Clashing. Competing for tracts of land. Slashing, dismembering limbs. Making them bleed. The world endured its chaos, but in an almost beautiful way. After all, all these animals were programmed by their DNA to act the way they did. This was his creation. He made a world not of peace, but of bloodshed and violence. Did he really intend that after all? Or was this just the simulation producing something?

For millions and millions of years nothing really changed. Just more and more primal chaos and it grew tiring. The creatures knowing nothing but kill and eat. Why had no sentient life evolved yet? Nothing that would stop and ponder about their own existence? There was no time for that. And that lead Akhir to a grim, but necessary decision. It was time to put an end to the world and start over. Not from scratch, but have something more malleable.

Akhir reached from the solar system's asteroid belt, plucked a suitably sized stone and flung it towards his own planet. Tiny, like a pebble, but potent in destructive power. Not long after the pebble struck the planet, smoke and ash filled the air, blocking the sun choking the world of life. One after another, the majestic beasts disappeared vanishing from the gene pool. Lucky if they even left any bones as eternal relics. No. He would never forgive himself. This part of the song would be slow, somber and solemn. An obvious choice but none the more fitting.

The dust settled once more and millions of years went by. The planet had changed forever to a completely different world. But life still persisted somehow. Hardy, adaptable creatures. Those suited to survive any situation. Those were the ones who were left. The strongest and smartest. But even so, the planet was still violent, but only now, it wasn't mindless chaos. Only this time, it was the chaos that forged an entirely different world of diversity.

Chapter 5

Akhir took a moment to reflect his writings so far and all those carefully placed notes. The best he had ever written. Nothing could top it. Yet, the tale seemed unfinished. The world just ended taking the majestic beasts with it, but leaving the smaller ones. It was missing something. Undoubtedly, whoever listened to his song would crave more. Akhir needed an ending. A good one.

The next part of Akhir's song would be slow yet moving. As the planet quieted down, the magic and awe of the titanic forces at work seemed to fade. His world had stagnated, but he hand't turned to look at other worlds yet. Already, he missed his own epic choirs and he was tempted to start over again. Was this the right direction? Should he move on to another planet and start over? He wasn't sure. This time, Akhir took some time to rest. Brainstorming the next part of the suite while he left the planet to continue to run on its own.

But as it ran, something curious happened. Something peculiar. He took note at a new species that evolved. Swan-like standing gracefully tall with two-feathery arms and two long legs, but still tiny in comparison to the titans of the past. And they were numerous. At first, they seemed just like any other creature. Bickering. Arguing. Fighting among one another over tracts of land. But then, he caught one of them standing atop a starstruck hill gazing towards the sky.

"What is that creature doing?" Akhir asked himself. Then, the creature turned to stare upon him, intently and reverently. It kneeled to the ground whispering what sounded like a prayer. "Never before has any of these other animals done such a thing." And soon, more and more of the swans gathered at the hill kneeling in the same position, looking towards him. Of course. It was so obvious. Akhir had been looking at his world from a nonlinear perspective for so long, he had forgotten something so important. So crucial. Truly, he had perfected his creation.

But then, Akhir merely blinked and already his world had changed so much since the swans appeared. Billions upon billions of years he had seen his planet slowly take shape. But now the swans transformed it into something else. Cities with towering skyscrapers covering the world. Governments that ran them peacefully. A fully-fledged civilization. To be able to see how all of it appeared, he had to go almost second by second, frame by frame. Lower his scale again like he did for those microbes.

This new civilization. This tiny fragment of the planet's history, mere seconds on a billion year clock. This had to be its own segment. The story was far from over. But as looked closer and closer turning back time, everything looked so familiar. The entire history of these new people. It seemed like a repeat of the history of the planet he created. He saw them attack and kill one another for territory. Clawing it each other cawing out battle cries. Like those dragons of the ancient past. And the world soon drenched in their blood. Nearing extinction once again.

Yet somehow. Somehow. They survived. They survived to build the great city he saw before. After all that? What set them apart? Surely, they're animals, right? Then, he fast forwarded back to the moment of that kneeling swan.

"Perhaps I should take a closer to look," Akhir said to himself. "I shall appear before the swan as a point of light."

The kneeling, praying swan raised his head taking notice of Akhir muttering something in a language he had never before. Somehow he understood it. Perhaps in the simulation, without the constraints of a physical body, he could process information faster - just as fast as a machine. Far faster than these swans.

The swan grovelled before Akhir. "Are...are you God?!" Akhir remained stunned. It spoke. To him. The swans had intelligence. The capability of building functioning civilizations in order to adapt. But the truth was that the being kneeling before him was not any different. Only that Akhir was real and the swan, merely a simulation. Or wait. Was Akhir, too, in a simulation? That did not matter at the moment. He wanted to slowly introduce himself.

"What is your name?" Akhir asked in the swan's language.

"Discipulus..." The swan said. "That's my name O Great Spirit of Light."

"Why do you call me that?" Akhir asked. So strange. He was in Na'zrah's shoes now. "And please. Stand up straight so that I may see your face."

Discipulus was puzzled. But he obeyed. "I am swept away with emotions that cannot be described as anything else save for being in the presence of a divine. I have so many questions."

Akhir could play God if he wanted to. He could take advantage of this now and get everyone to crowd around him, praise him for all he is. He could invoke a reign of terror if he wanted. But that wouldn't be right. Though this was a simulation, it was still real enough. Somewhere, out there in the multiverse, this moment before him was real.

"In many ways, I am just like you, Discipulus. Here, I may be God, but where I come from, I'm just an entity looking for a good story to write about." Discipulus paused. Awed. Shocked. But disappointed. Not quite as grand as he thought Akhir would be.

"You are not how I thought you would be. You're just a writer?"

"Yes. I'm just composing a ballad, an epic tale about this world and the universe it inhabits. I don't require any praise or worshiping. I require nothing of you actually. Just being able to marvel at my creation is enough for me."

"But please, let us sing your ballad for you. In a great choir to show us our thanks for bringing us into existence." And wasting no time, Discipulus ran to the church nearby, digging out from great towering piles of ancient scriptures. And by coincidence, it was the song Akhir had written. Intentional or not, he had imparted his own knowledge into these people. Into the world.

After months of preparation, the symphony gathered to sing and play the epic suite: Swan Song. All the time Akhir spent composing, he saw it reflected before his eyes. Very long, detailed. Careful work. Everything he had written. All the details. From the booming volcanoes, the marching dragons to the soothing, graceful singing swans of today. Of course, it wasn't perfect. Some swans among the choir made a few mistakes, and some of the phrases were off, but this was an adaption of Akhir's work. But in this universe where his senses were not limited physically, he knew that it could never be recreated in the real world to its true extent.

After the several hours, the very last line was finally sung: "We're all glad to be alive. Thank you."

"No," Akhir said. "Thank you. You've fulfilled my final wish by bringing my swan song to life."

"Does this mean you will be going?"

"I'm beyond time and space here. Though I'll be gone as this point of light, my legacy here in this universe will remain imprinted forever." And in that moment all of the swans in the choir bowed and knelt before him. Though Akhir didn't like it, he did not object. It was their way of showing him respect.

Then, Akhir awoke from his extended dream into what seemed like another dream. His senses were dulled and his vision surrounded by a hazy color impossible to see in the real world. His ears filled with a void of white noise. He wasn't quite sure where he was, but he felt Na'zrah's presence somehow.


"Na'zrah?" Akhir called out. "Na'zrah, are you there?"

"Na'zrah is deeply sorry, Akhir. He should not have..."

"What are you talking about?"

"The universe that you once lived in has long since gone on without you. Long enough for your body to become fully decomposed and unusable. But your consciousness lingers on in the form of electromagnetic pulses within these quantum projections."

"You mean? I'm dead?"

"That's the best way to describe it, yes," Na'zrah replied. And he paused. "You lost track of linear time since you entered the simulation. Your body's senses could no longer communicate with one another as they were overwhelmed by the simulation. It killed you, and your followers in the real world have since mourned your death."

"You didn't kill me, Na'zrah. I went in prepared for something like this to happen. I've relinquished everything physical from the universe. I have no need of it anymore. My life was nearing its end, and now, I've found true peace. All of my final wishes have been fulfilled, and I've written my final story."

"Akhir...you are alright with this? Are you doing this of your own free will?"

"Yes," Akhir solemnly nodded. "You've proven to me that there is life after death. My body has been long dead, but this ethereal form is eternal, not bound by the physical laws of the universe. The story of Akhir will continue. Just not in that old world anymore."

"Akhir, you do understand that you will never again perceive reality the same? Your worldview has forever changed."

"Reality is merely an illusion," Akhir replied. "Albeit a very persistent one."

"Then, you've figured it out," Na'zrah said. "Haven't you?"

"Yes, it's so clear and obvious now." Manifesting around him, walls of white text scrolling around him. Recounting his entire tale from the time he left Kollha, to the moment he departed his creation. The Swan Song. And I was there reading it.

Footnotes

  1. The practice of calming oneself as one nears their maximum lifespan
  2. Omni priests communicated their preaching and wisdom via allegorical stories and parables
  3. Before the creation of VERN, the Omni did not worship any gods in favor of just seeking betterment within oneself.