The Legacy of Vashkin Voraskin, Chapter One
Many stars have died since the birth of the Vasari, yet we remember it as clear as the skin of the Kortul. At first we were nothing, we were less than nothing. We had Ba, but we had no Ka, and so we were nothing. I know not how we passed from the great Ba of the Dark Thought, but suddenly we were there, we were on a planet. We could feel the enormity of it beneath our feet as we stood firm against its molten surface. Yet we were in wonder at our bodies, and in fear. We were still Ba, and we had yet to find our Ka. We were living without Ka, without our life force, which was impossible. A Ba can only exist in togetherness with its Ka; there is no other way. Then the Lights of the universe came to us, and suddenly we felt Ka burst within us. The Lights had given us life, and had brought us out of the Dark Thought. We lay flat along the ground now, prostrating ourselves in honor of these holiest of Powers. They laughed at us, and the sound of their laughing was like golden music to our ears.
There was one Light, and it burned red in our eyes. It shone over us, and in that moment we grew. Not taller, but wiser. The eyes that had looked upon the Lights opened their eyes for the first time, and we realized we had been blind before. We thought we had heard the Lights' laughter, but for the first time music reached our ears. With that the Light gave off one more burst, and withdrew. The other Lights withdrew as well, leaving us in shadow. In Darkness. Then the Darkness wavered, it moved, it became a light like the other Lights, but different. It did not shine, instead it ate up the light around it. We were frightened, and clustered together. The Darkness slowly advanced, consuming us in its light that was not light. It passed over us, and we again changed. We did not open our eyes anew, yet we saw things differently. Our ears did not grow wider, yet we heard things we had not heard before. With that the Darkness also withdrew, and the light of our sun burned hot against our backs, and the heat of our planet returned, as it had been ice-cold inside the shadow. We looked at each other, and instead of laughing, we cried. Something was wrong, we thought to ourselves, something is not right.
The Legacy of Vashkin Voraskin, Chapter Two
There came a time not soon after our birth that all light was blotted out around us, and the four Lights descended from the sky. This time they had not come to greet us, they were charging us with a mission. The Darkness was gone, and it would not come back unless we let it. Faithful to the providers of our Ka we agreed, and the Lights promised us great books of prophecy and wisdom in exchange for cooperation for the rest of our lives and the lives of our children and the children of our children. We talked it over among us, and agreed. The women were hot-tempered, but the men calmed them down. And thus was the agreement written, and thus was the promise made. The Lights exploded around us, and from that light came worlds, whole planets for us to live on. And anchored to the shape of the planets was the prison the Darkness was confined to. We studied the space between the planets closely, as we were curious to see what could hold back such great Darkness that we felt on our First Day. We saw nothing, and we heard nothing. The powers the shadow and the red Light gave us were not great enough to see this. We slunk back to our planets, and waited.
Trial soon came to us, as we were not alone in the universe. There were two other planets orbiting our sun that held life, and they were of two different species. Kelvar, one called themselves, and the other was Numvar. These two species warred against each other constantly, and it was from their fight that the Vasari learnt and developed the tools of war, to protect and defend the hidden prison of the dark shadow that consumed all light and was itself light. The Kelvar and the Numvar fought each other for many many years, until eventually there were not enough left on either side to power a starship. The two species retreated to their respective planets, yet the Vasari did not breathe easy. Now, the voice whispered in their heads, now was the time to strike against both species and dominate them. Yet the Vasari had their prison to guard, and their promise to fulfill. They would not leave the pentagon sector to destroy the lives of other species, at least not yet.
The Legacy of Vashkin Voraskin, Chapter Three
The time came when the Lights descended on us again, and out of that brilliance came three large books. They were like no books we had ever seen, and I talk not about size. There are no words to describe the sight of these books. Taller than life they were, yet smaller than the knuckle on my finger. It was with these great books that the Vasari became the Vasari. The first book, called the Tome of the Warrior, was given to us by the Light that smelled of earth and growing things. From it we learned how to fight with feet and arm, with laser and gun. From that book we learned how to fight, and to win. The next book, the Prophecies of Reunion, came to us from the Light that seemed almost transparent, so that you did not know if it was in one place or all places. From this book we learned how to create in sizes smaller than size the Ib, the seat of will and intentions, of a person, and using this we could take another's Ba and change it to our own. From this we learned the impossible, from this, the greatest of all the books, we learned how we would survive. The third book, the Prophecies of Darkness, warned us in great detail of the consequences of freeing the shadow that resided in the center of our worlds. From this we learned fear and caution that kept us alive. As the three Lights withdrew, the fourth came down to us, but we were frightened. It came down in fiery red rage, and the ground melted beneath our feet. Frozen, we were presented our fourth book, the Downfall of the Empire. This served us no purpose. In the seconds in which the first page was opened, nineteen of us raked out our eyes. By the second page, fifty of us were dead by our own hands. We never opened to the third page.
There was a time when great evil came upon the worlds of the universe, and the Vasari were there to watch it happen. As with all turnings of the moon, the night when the moon hid itself from our eyes we turned our sights upward and gazed upon the Lights as they danced their dance across the universe, helping, creating, and guiding. Yet even as we watched on that fateful night, the Lights paused. They seemed to shiver. And from the Lights came forth smaller lights, sparks of the great Lights, yet the Vasari were not happy. They could see with eyes of the red Light and unhidden by the shadow of the Great Darkness, and they could hear with ears of the red Light and uncovered by the shadow of the Great Darkness, and they knew these sparks were not good creations. And soon our predictions came true. The sparks spasmed across the universe, unlike the grateful dance of the Lights as they made their way across the sky. The Vasari, unable to watch the spasms, withdrew their gaze from the heavens and looked no more at the Light's enchanting grace. So it was that the sparks blew more sparks over all the species of the universe, and the Vasari wept and their tears mingled with the tears of the Lights, for the universe would never again be whole.
The Legacy of Vashkin Voraskin, Chapter Four
In this great time of trouble, the Vasari toiled mercilessly, and forbade any species from entering the pentagon. Many fought futilely against the Vasari, and they were destroyed by the teachings of the Tome of the Warrior. Yet we expanded not from our borders in the pentagon worlds, for we had a prison to guard. And during this time the Lights came upon us, yet they were flickering about and would not hold still, and to our great surprise and horror we realized the Lights were frightened and unsure of themselves. They asked us for help with their problems. They asked us! Needless to say, the Vasari were astounded by the revelations spreading through us. Yet we noticed there were only three Lights, and that the red Light that had blessed us so many years ago was not there. We asked the Lights the location of the red Light, and suddenly in a great flurry the Lights had gone, leaving behind a mournful wail that slowly dwindled to nonexistence. When the Lights next returned, they had terrible news to tell us. The red Light had sunk into the Dark Thought, and it was the Lights' own forgetfulness to blame. At that time we wept with them, but our minds were churning. The Lights were not perfect. The Lights made mistakes. The Lights could be beaten. But we pushed those thoughts immediately from our heads. They were evil thoughts, and best not paid much attention to. So we told the Lights that they could solve their problem by drowning in a great flood all those who needed saving. They conferred among themselves for a time, and agreed. Suddenly among the Lights there was a new Light, a bluish essence that seemed fuzzy around its edges, and inside bubbles seemed to rise and burst eternally. The Lights disappeared, and from our ships we watched whole worlds destroyed. This is what the Lights really are, we said to ourselves as billions of species were wiped into extinction, this is their Ib. Maybe the shadow was right, we thought to ourselves, maybe the shadow was right.
Little did we know that the shadow had already ensnared our minds.
The Legacy of Vashkin Voraskin, Chapter Five
Much time passed, and the universe changed. From where once had been only empty space, whole worlds of ice had appeared, and new breeds of creatures as well. Yet our neighbors of old, the Kelvar and Numvar, increased their attacks on us as their curiosity and fury grew. We held them back, but they were steadily gaining ground. Frantically we sent out a plea to the Lights, and they came to us. We asked them for a way to travel through space better, so we could strike faster and more heavily on the Kelvar and Numvar fleets. The Lights were troubled by it, but they gave us the secret to phase space. Now we know you, we thought to ourselves as the Lights left. You make us promise to help you, but you are unwilling to help us even if it is for the task you had set upon us. From this discovery of phase space we created much phase technology, but that we hid from the Lights, and they never found it.
There came a day when the Lights came to us and told us they were departing from the universe for a time. That evening we felt the Lights leave the universe.
By dawn our fleets were descending on the Kelvar and Numvar worlds.
We took them by surprise, and by dawn of the next day our storm troopers had secured the major cities on both planets. The Kelvar and Numvar subjugated or destroyed, we turned our eyes on our nearest solar systems. With the departure of the Lights came the enstranglement of the shadow. We knew our destiny now. It was not to guard some invisible prison that none could discover, least of all enter. No, our true destiny was to establish such an empire that would last for a thousand generations, one that could never be destroyed by the Lights! The Vasari women stayed on Vasar, refusing to fight. That was fine with us men, we came to Vasar only to pollinate the females, and the females remained on Vasar, providing children for our empire. It was a beautiful relationship. Within a month the next two star systems were ours. Now we began solidifying what we had conquered, creating orbital structures to watch over the colonies of the pitiful survivors of the planets we now controlled. We established a hierarchy so as to make our armies more orderly. Yet even that was not perfect. As the Supreme Commander of our armies was assassinated over and over again by those who wanted the position for themselves, our enemies took our confusion for their own advantage and prepared a serious resistance to our advance. Normally we would have wiped them out to less than a single ship, but we were unprepared and bickering among ourselves, and our fleets suffered great losses as combined Ingbit and Uselage forces, two other species on the Vasari frontier, struck deep into our perimeter in several locations. They caught a dead asteroid we had never paid much attention to, and in that one fell swoop they cut the pentagon worlds off from the rest of the fledgling empire. As the highest officers of our armies were currently in the pentagon sector vying, and sometimes killing, for the Supreme Commander position, our leaders were cut off from us. Scattered and with no support or intel, the Ingbit and Uselage wiped out our major fortifications, confining the Vasari to the surface of their planets! To us, this was intolerable. To be confined to a planet just like those we conquered! Yet we could not communicate with the forces in the pentagon sector, and we could not construct orbiting factories to build our ships from the ground, and so we were stuck. Trapped on the very planets we conquered. We stayed there for many passings of the moon.
The Legacy of Vashkin Voraskin, Chapter Six
We managed to send out nanites into the near atmosphere to spy on the Ingbit forces currently circling our planet. They switched with Uselage forces every other week. We can watch them and their ships circle our planet endlessly, but when we try to send the nanites into phase space they are quickly shot down. The Ingbit and Uselage know not where the nanites are going, they have never seen phase space. But they will not let anything leave the gravity well. Yet one day our forefathers, the fathers and gods of the Vasari who have replaced the Lights in our culture, must have been smiling over us that day, as that day we were saved. As we watched the Ingbit ships, red blaring alarms began sounding in every command center. The Ingbit were in total confusion. We snuck a clump of nanites through one of the ships' hulls and saw what was happening. The computers were reporting a massive force phasing in towards the planet, yet it was not from either of the two phase lanes jutting from the planet. Though the Ingbit and Uselage could not themselves traverse phase space, not yet, they knew the paths we took that cut through normal space, and they knew how to recognize it. Yet what the computers were showing made no sense, not even to us. How could ships be traversing phase space when there were no phase lanes? Phase space was not like normal space, it did not exist everywhere where planets did not. There were only narrow corridors in the universe that was phase space: the phase lanes. So these ships were doing the impossible, or the computers were malfunctioning. Either way, our hearts soared. Something was happening, we thought, something will change. Only half an hour later three massive Vasari fleets phased into the gravity well! The Ingbit as well as us were frozen in shock. Even those of us manipulating the nanites stopped total surprise. An unthinkable offense, if any of us had cared to put them on trial.
Needless to say, the Ingbit lasted only minutes. When transport ships were sent down to the planet to collect the Vasari, how was on the lips of every one of us. But the transport ships were unmanned, as all are, and piloted by remote nanites except in the most extreme circumstances, and so our question could not be answered. It was my transport ship that first reached the Vasari capitals. We were piloted into the flagship's hangar bay, and there we were met by the commander, none other than the Supreme Commander himself! When we performed the necessary rituals and saluted to him by touching our forefinger to forehead, he laughed and said there was no longer a Supreme Commander.
"We are an empire," he said to us, "an empire of starships, and we will reflect that. From now on I am known as the Fleet Admiral Commander."
Of course we then reperformed the rituals, changing Supreme Commander to Fleet Admiral Commander. Only then did he tell us what we were dying to know.
"It is called the Kostura Cannon," he said with an evil grin that sent delight spiraling up our bodies, "and it contains the power to create a sort of phase node, a beacon to which we can travel, if we have a phase node at our location."
We asked if there was such a beacon in the pentagon worlds.
The Fleet Admiral Commander grinned again. "There is now. We discovered some lost technologies floating around from the Lights' purge of the universe. We can recreate them. They stabilize phase space around our planet, allowing a connection, or temporary phase lane, between that planet and another such beacon. Finally we can create phase lanes, or at least phase beacons. We will begin construction of a phase stabilizer in this gravity well immediately. Never shall what has happened here happen again. Welcome to the Empire, Vasari."
With that, the new Fleet Admiral Commander turned and walked out of the hangar.
The Legacy of Vashkin Voraskin, Chapter Seven
During the next hundred years, we conquered many star systems and created in truth the Vasari Empire that had taken root in our heads. This period of time was called the Revenge of the Righteous, as we well know. Our Vasari Empire colonized thousands of worlds, and our borders kept on expanding.
Then the Lights returned to the universe.
We felt them return, light spilling out across the dark emptiness of space, and we felt fear. Our fleets slowed down, stopped, and turned around. Our leaders congregated on Vasari with the females, deliberating on what to do. The Lights met them there, or at least, they arrived on Vasar. Our leaders and our women hid from the Lights, and would not talk with them. The Spirits in their wrath destroyed our four holy temples and from within their shrines removed the four ancient prophecies that they had given us so long ago. Our men were furious, and immediately our fleets relaunched, and expanded even more aggressively. Our women, however, were more devious, and being women, hid their anger until it was all that fed them, and they devised their plot against the Lights. For a whole year they built nanites, trillions and trillions of them, until the day when they sent them loose to create a planet in the center of the pentagon worlds. They called that artificial planet Kron, and they built a research station around it. All the women moved to Kron, and a select few were chosen to inhabitate the research station. They allowed no men on or around the planet, and would not speak of what they were experimenting inside the station. Angry at the Lights and now at our women, every single male Vasari launched into space, even those still too young to operate a simple control panel. We left the women alone on Kron, and set about solidifying our Empire. Then came the Incident.
We knew only this. One minute, we were traversing the stars, intent on defying the Lights and turning our backs on our women. The next, we were keeling over on the floors of our starships, screaming in a way no Vasari has ever screamed before. We the Vasari, in tune as we are with the homeostasis of the universe, felt the shadow flow back into the universe, and knew now what our women had done. Frantically we assembled the Dark Fleet all in one place and sent it back to the pentagon worlds to combat the shadow and force it back into its prison. From the few ships being constructed on Vasar, we watched as the shadow destroyed our planet and belched chunks of what remained of the planet out into the depths of space. Our home planet was no more, and our women were no more.
Yet still we traveled on, and one by one we felt the Lights dim as they fled the universe in the wake of the shadow.
Yet still we traveled on, until finally we came upon the shadow and we fired all of our weapons at it, hoping that somehow we could stop it. We failed.
In one moment, the Vasari fought valiantly against the shadow. In the next moment, the Darkness consumed them.
We felt our Ba disintegrate within us, and we went insane. Those of us who did not become Akh stood frozen, empty shells that the Darkness eagerly devoured.
And the Vasari Empire was no more.