ASCENSION

An artificial world without end must begin again.

fiction by Christopher T. Shields



Thrayshl was an artificial world, a shell constructed around a manufactured star. Its inner surface was the size of nearly 400 million Earths and it was to be the ark which carried its builders from this dying universe into the next.

But something went wrong… and the builders disappeared, leaving only their ancient machines to run the world, a world inhabited only by the myriad of collected and created animals, flora, and insects, creations which long ago escaped their containment areas and are now rapidly repopulating the inner surface of Thrayshl, turning it into a garden ruled only by the laws of nature.

Now, as the universe begins to close, one type of animal struggles for supremacy, for knowledge, and for dominion over all else. A slave race of humanoids, created and bred for labor under harsh conditions, a slave race who now struggles to understand their strange world, and to achieve ascension over all other forms of life.

Can this race of humanoids learn of their destiny, discover their future, and take the builders’ place as the rightful rulers of Thrayshl and use the powerful tools that have been left behind to escape the closure of the Universe?

Perhaps.



ASCENSION

The Sodohanhi were an ancient race, born in the time when the Universe was still young. A race so highly advanced that long ago they had conquered the elemental basics of travel between the distant stars. In the generations that followed, they spread out from their tiny home system and rapidly filled the stellar area around them, seeding their race on a myriad of worlds and taming the stars. The technology of the Sodohanhi knew no bounds. Worlds they found that were not to their liking, they remade in their own image, changing the very environment, sculpting the land, air, sea, and mountains into works of staggering beauty and grand design until each world was a paradise for their race.

So prolific and adaptable was this race of enigmatic beings that several millennia beyond their initial steps into space, the Sodohanhi had already started to colonize other galaxies. So ambitious and far reaching was the very nature of their racial drive to conquer and succeed that the Sodohanhi saw a myriad other sentient races rise from the stellar nothingness, make their insignificant mark on galactic history, and then fall back into extinction. These lesser races would become nothing more than archived entries in the artificially sentient historical texts, carefully preserved racial memories, images and DNA stored in the vast vaults for study and reflection by later generations.

During the time of Ahm Ghy Mhal, the science and technology of the Sodohanhi advanced to the point where their genetic racial template could be stabilized, effectively secured in its then current form against random change. The last billion years of the Sodohanhi reign saw that highly conservative restrictions were placed upon any natural evolution or random mutation that might be experienced as a byproduct of the race’s further development and expansion. The racial genome-template had been accepted as sacred in their religious views long millennia ago and now the enforcement of that template became paramount to the longevity of the race. Their religion and their science were based on their deep intrinsic desire to keep their species pure and unchanging and to seek immortality, whereby they could control the very nature of the cosmos. Genetic mutation and physical defects were eradicated from the racial template. The genetic blueprint of the species became the focal point of their beliefs and their worship. Abandoning all gods save those they created in their own image, the Sodohanhi truly approached omnipotence.

Modeling their bodies, minds, and souls on artificially manipulated perfection and a quest for universal dominion, their science became their religion, technology their scripture, both intricately woven into a fervent racial devotion bordering on fanaticism and the dark desire to be greater than any other species. The Sodohanhi remade themselves racially as gods ... self-created individual deities, perfectly formed in the image of their own incarnate and learned conception of omnipotence.

For over a thousand generations, the individual life span for the Sodohanhi had been measured in hundreds of years. With the joining of their science and technology into a religion, the life span of the individual Sodohanhi went from hundreds of years to thousands of years, then to tens of thousands years. Their bodies and minds adjusted to the greater longevity, growing in power and maturity. The collective racial sight of the Sodohanhi moved to long range plans, goals measured in centuries instead of months, grand scale engineering. Their advanced science and technology went far in presenting a myriad of miraculous medical technologies and practices, eradicating all disease, discomfort, and disability. The Sodohanhi mapped their genome, made improvements to their species gradually under carefully planned integration of genetic reinforcement practices along generation lines, and unraveled the complex mysteries of all living things around them. Nothing eluded their scientific and religious curiosity that went far to blend the two areas of study into one conformal practice.

In the time of Fhramahyl, under the guidance of Syrn Jhvahk and the Mhym Vys, there came the advent of artificial immortality, the ultimate gift of their pious devotion. By manipulating the already sacred genome template slightly on the fifth Jhavyl of the third Thramen, it was found that any effect of aging in the species was eliminated completely. This incredible breakthrough in genetics was administered as a gift, freely given to each individual member of the race at their conception, a gift that could not easily be taken away.

Artificial immortality alone was responsible for the radical reshaping of the entire racial thought process. The Sodohanhi moved from thinking and acting on a short-term, self-centered basis into the truly godlike philosophy of the Universe as a whole, specifically with regard to the structure and composition as such related to their race. Such a paradigm shift was to be expected from a species that no longer had to fear time or disease or deformity or sickness and could control all the forces of nature through their manipulation of physics and even, to a large degree, various forms of reality.

It was during the time of DyMhahk that the Sodohanhi first learned of the one event in the life of the Universe which even they might not be able to shape, affect or redirect. At the epoch of their advancement as a race, automated long-range scouts intent on mapping the tenuous edge of the Universe made a startling discovery. Irrefutable evidence validated the fact that the long ago prophesized Closure had already begun, possibly several milleniums ago.

The Closure.

At a handbreadth from the End of Time, the Sodohanhi watched as the Universe began to grow dim and slowly die around them. The Universe was collapsing … its long expansion had slowed, stopped, and at some time in the last five milleniums, the Universe had started to collapse, falling in upon itself in a complete reversal of the once spectacular creation process. The long speculated and now proven effect was gaining momentum as it fell inwards upon itself in an accelerated act of final death. Soon, the Last Great Darkness, as foretold in the Sodohanhi religious texts, would cast its cold shroud over everything leaving a complete emptiness not seen since before the birth of the Universe, a perfect vacuum where nothing would or could exist. All matter would rush back, finally collapsing to an infinite mass and weight in an impossibly small amount of volume, bringing complete nonexistence to everything beyond the radius of the surface of the mass. Everything would cease to exist in the greatest act of unstoppable natural chaos imaginable. Fear coursed through a race that had not known fear for many long aeons, their fate awaited them, but could the Sodohanhi, wise and powerful as they were, escape even this event? The unfolding catastrophe was watched with cold, pale calculating sentience as it drew ever closer, devouring the edges of the Universe, and anything not fast enough to escape its horizon of effect.

The last fundamental order of nature moved with a violent, tempest-like fury as supreme entropy asserted its undeniable effects on all elements in the onrushing collapse. Impotent before its unstoppable might, even the greatest works of the Sodohanhi could not stand intact.

The impending Closure was watched closely by the Sodohanhi who carefully determined the remaining time left to their race. Plans were made, designs drawn up and implemented. The long-range scouts who had first detected the effect now raced ahead of the collapsing edge, constantly monitoring the progress of the Closure as it happened and relaying that critical information back to the Sodohanhi core galaxies. There, amid the millions of terraformed paradise worlds circling long ago tamed stars, the collective wisdom of an entire race began to prepare for their continued survival as a species.

First would come the impending destruction of this Universe and all matter within as it spiraled down back into nothing, followed by an instant of nothingness after which the glorious birth of a new Universe would begin, the waves of creation expanding outwards in all directions once more. There was a split second, when the old Universe died but before the new Universe was born, when the Sodohanhi might cheat all natural laws and escape the Closure. If the Sodohanhi could survive that instant in time, they could also be reborn into the next Universe, unchanged from their form in the old Universe.

It was long ago prophesied that any race that managed to escape the Closure of this Universe and survive into the birth of the next Universe would become greater than any of the gods of legend in the time to come that was beyond now. At long last, the Sodohanhi were faced with a challenge to their evolution and development, one that they could not ignore, and one which promised them power beyond imagination and racial dominance beyond scope. The Sodohanhi had, collectively as a race, become as perfect as they could imagine. However, if they were to allow themselves to follow this wondrous rebirth, this glorious chance to renew, then they would become greater than even they could imagine.

The Sodohanhi were determined to make that transition from perfection to something beyond perfection, something beyond even their greatest dreams. Their racial domination as a species in the time thereafter at the dawn of the new Creation would allow them to shape all that was to come in the new Universe from the very beginning. They could mold the next Universe in their own image, to be used and played with as they desired, sculpted as they saw fit, made in a likeness unto their selves.

The primal survival instinct, long an intrinsic part of the very genome of the primitive humanoid species from which the Sodohanhi had so long ago evolved, was a trait that had allowed the Sodohanhi such a large amount of divergence and success during its long expansion throughout the Universe. Now, as the Closure drew near, the Sodohanhi called upon their beliefs and their religious science to save them. They prayed and worshipped their religious technology with fervor, as a race, all in order to find a way to survive the coming time of chaos. Time, measured as such by a race that wielded power on a god-like level, was running out, slowly but surely, and they saw their extinction, an extinction that they sought to avoid.

The discussion on how to escape the Closure went on for millennia as the Sodohanhi studied their data and all of their scientific and religious techniques, seeking answers, searching for the path to salvation. Their technology and science gave them only one small opportunity to avoid their fate, and it would require a monumental engineering project the scale of which could only barely be adequately described in scope and nature. For a race as advanced and as old as the Sodohanhi, the means to escape their collective fate was just barely within their technological grasp to undertake.

Data from the returning scout ships racing ahead of the Closure indicated that the speed of the effect itself depended directly on the amount of matter in the Universe at any given instant. The massive black holes that were forming were acting as drains, speeding the natural process by acting to remove matter from this Universe. In order to counter this loss of matter from the Universe, the Sodohanhi began to construct a series of gigantic rings that would house artificially created, reverse charged, positive singularities at their very center. These massive rings, once in place and fully operational, would bring into existence specially created white holes, each of which would stream new proto-matter into the Universe. The rings were placed so as to be able to be maneuvered ahead of the effect horizon of the Closure.

These positive singularity constructs were called Yihnarh, named after the mythical fountain of racial lore that could drastically slow the natural aging for all those who tasted of its milky white, nectar-like flow. The rapid but carefully controlled and maintained influx of new proto-matter into the Universe via these positive singularities would work to offset the vast amount of matter that was leaving the Universe through the naturally forming black holes. The influx of new proto-matter could be adjusted as required to match the demands of the instant. Even with the Yihnarh in place, the overall effect was that the speed of the impending Closure could be slowed. Initial reports from the long range scouts proved that the Yihnarh were working. The speed of the Closure slowed dramatically. The Sodohanhi had not stopped the Closure, only delayed the inevitable, but it was enough of a delay to insure the survival of the species.

Using all the knowledge, technology, and science that over two hundred thousand millennia could encompass, the race of Sodohanhi adopted a bold plan and began to construct its greatest engineering feat…

The Tyukmha.

The Tyukmha were a series of over a million enormous artificially constructed shells, each a tenth as thick as the original home world’s mantle, and all constructed of a material known as Yyithyna, an alloy whose inherent strength was as great as the basic elemental force that bound the atomic bonds. The shell was constructed to provide an armored, buffered surface for a portion of the race and to house an artificially created star, perfectly sized and tamed to the exact needs of the Tyukmha.

The last of the Tyukmha to be constructed resided near the center of the Universe. It would be the final base which the long range scouts would return to before the Closure. Those who built this Tyukmha named it Thrayshl.

Thrayshl.

The name itself drew from the dark ages of Temyha and had a myriad of meanings; fortress, sanctuary, sepulchre, shield, hold, brace, womb, … tomb. One translation remained the same through all the meanings; resting place and final home.

Thrayshl would be bound to Nthlia, a medium sized yellow star perfectly constructed and tuned to the needs of those who would call Thrayshl home. Nthlia was to be a life giving, life sustaining free floating, self fueling nuclear pulse reaction that would be crafted by hand and ignited with the spark of science and technology. It’s birth would be blessed by a dark religion that long ago had done away with weak gods and notions of anything existing that was more omnipotent than its own practitioners. Nthlia would be the power source for Thrayshl, which would draw all of its energy requirements from solar shunts, thermal collectors, ambient light reactors, and a host of other feed-through, store-all devices. The star would shine against the entire inner surface of the shell, where the race of Sodohanhi would find refuge against the coming chaos.

Thrayshl was to be the last home of the last segment of an ancient race who had survived to the very end of time, but it was to be far more than a home. It was to be their salvation and their protection. An ark, unlike any ark built before, large enough to carry the last of the race, beyond this Universe, through the Closure, and into the next Universe as it sprang forth from the chaos and death of the old Universe.

Thrayshl took the singular combined and coordinated effort of the last remaining members of the Sodohanhi race to construct. It required knowledge, technology, religion, devotion, and science that blurred the already thin line between insanity and god-like stature. The unimaginable amount of raw materials required for the construction of Thrayshl were taken from the closest seven neighboring star systems, including the outer planets of the host system itself.

Foylt, Amstylyr, Jherya, Hylynth, Syol, GiJhyr, and FhyGhiJah were all systematically disassembled by the Sodohanhi and their legions of mass created mechanical labor. The component elements and materials of each piece of matter carefully cataloged, broken down by atomic weight and number, processed, and stored efficiently in vast pocket Universes, pre-made artificial storage chambers that existed outside the realm of reality and physics.

The primary stars of each system were carefully extinguished in a controlled manner, their nuclear reactions stilled and their hearts allowed to grow cold to the touch. Their exotic natural fuels were then siphoned off, funneled into artificial pocket realities and sealed off again for later usage. These pocket realities would provide the necessary fuel reserves for Nthlia, several life times of fuel.

The contents of the asteroid fields were collected and processed, the volatile atmospheres of the gas giants were drained away until all that remained were their rocky cores, and even these were in turn disassembled and processed. Every bit of physical matter down to the last free floating atom was removed from the seven neighboring star systems and used in the construction of Thrayshl.

The intricate engineering and construction arrays and scaffolding were assembled to form the structure of the shell that would be the frame of Thrayshl, existing in this dimension, and in other dimensions as well. Soon, the final home of the race of Sodohanhi began to take its basic shape, its vast skeleton floating like a delicate gleaming wire mesh among the black of space. The first generation of Rhamhayl started construction of Thrayshl and the sixty-fifth generation of Thastukyl saw its ultimate completion.

Nthlia, the artificial star at the center of Thrayshl, took four generations itself to carefully fuel to a sufficient mass and density to meet the power and life requirements for those of the race who would finally call the great artifact ‘home’. With a brilliant flare, Nthlia was brought to life in the soundless vacuum of space by the eighteenth generation of Fhrys. A yellow star, wholly and artificially constructed to exact specifications, Nthlia began to warm the inner surface of Thrayshl and supply the power required to finish the inner surface. Nthlia would draw upon its own dedicated reserves of fuel, reserves that were originally siphoned from its long cold, natural sister stars, reserves now stored in dedicated pocket realities and carefully injected into the heart of the artificial star via a series of dedicated monomanipular reality shunts. Nthlia could last for the life of ten stars of its size and temperature, longer with the addition of more fuel. Plans were already in place to siphon at least five more local stars of their fuel, to act as reserves and emergency power taps when the output of the star might have to be increased to meet unforeseen demands. Such was the control of Nthlia that its output could be adjusted, dimmed or brightened, the temperature increased or cooled, through the machines of its creators.

Thrayshl and Nthlia were built to endure not only the long, uncertain aeons ahead, but also the Closure of the Universe, the End of All Time, the Fall of Everything and the rebirth of the next Universe. A complex set of shutters and solar shields, ranging in transparency from opaque to clear, were set into orbit around Nthlia, moved in and out of interstitial space, alternating the reflected energy of the sun, collecting it on the near side, and giving darkness and shade to the far side. This array, ingenious in nature, complex in operation, self reliant, self repairing, was required to reproduce the effects of night and day within the inner surface of Thrayshl. While some areas were covered in darkness, others were being slowly lit. The speed of the transistion was limited only by the transparency of the shutter material, itself designed to slowly phase in from darkness to full light. The shutters were as efficient as they were impressive, with the inner surface of the shutter acting as a thermal sink, absorbing the energy of the star and re-radiating it to attendant devices which stored the power. No amount of energy was wasted, for all was precious.

The shell of Thrayshl was armored and buffered, protected by powerful screen generators and an arsenal of embedded and mounted weapon systems. Approaching Thrayshl from space was a task that was impossible to any who wished to intrude. Thrayshl was protected again by three concentric orbiting shells of ‘scales’, each scale was itself a massive fortress, flattened, which served as both a staging area for repelling attacks as well as a buffer to absorb damage. Approaching Thrayshl from space, a vessel would have to weave its way past three layers of the floating fortresses, each layer of which gave the inner shell the appearance of writhing on the surface. Hostile elements would be attacked on approach, during fly through, and from behind by the array of defensive countermeasures. Each fortress scale was an independent installation, under the joint control of decision centers within the inner shell itself. Each fortress scale was independently maneuverable, yet followed a carefully programmed orbit around the inner shell. In extreme cases, the fortress scales were designed to maneuver close to the surface of the shell, dock, and overlap, forming another three layers of attached buffer from attack or damage.

The outer surface of the inner shell was itself armored and buffered from damage. Thick energy screens and force fields, projected in unison with the floating scale fortresses, overlapped into an impenetrable and impregnable layer of quasistential defense. High energy weapons systems were carefully arranged on the surface to provide maximum coverage.

Careful adjustment of the primary shell in orbit around the star was handled by a vast network of reaction control units, which worked, when required, to maintain the shell at the optimum distance from the star. The surface of Thrayshl also housed the massive variable extension domes that were the static mounts of the interstitial field generators which would allow the massive constuct to fulfill its mission.

Massive docking bays embedded in the surface of the outer hull allowed the starships of the Sodohanhi to find safe refuge behind gigantic armored space doors and layered energy fields. A vast network of carefully controlled space locks, massive matter teleportation grids, and heavily armed security stations could rapidly move whole starships and entire fleets from the outer surface to the inner surface in a very short time. Large numbers of vessels were thus kept stored in isolated locks and service bays, the only way that they could exit or enter the sphere was through select paths of matter teleportation emitters. The outer hull also contained not only starship and spacecraft docking and repair facilities, but also supply and restocking installations, dedicated living quarters for the crews, as well as elaborate and extensive starship construction facilities. Almost everything was automated, with labor being performed by an endless collection of mechanical labor units which ranged in size from microscopic to gigantic.

The machinery of Thrayshl ran continuously, never stopping, constantly adjusting to the needs of those who designed it.

The technology of the Sodohanhi made the inside surface of Thrayshl a veritable paradise where every element of the ecosystem was governed by science and regulated by self adjusting, self repairing and self reliant technology of a scale that seemed almost magical.

As the primary shell did not rotate, the only force of gravity was exerted by the yellow star itself, causing all materials to fall towards the star. This effect was solved by the integration of artificial gravity generators within the surface of the shell itself, capable of generating a standard gravity field which was comfortable to the members of the race, and which negated the pull of the far away star. Magnetic field generators projected a protective envelope at a predetermined height to keep the solar wind and harsh radiation from filtering down into the inhabited areas. Any excess temperatures were handled by active cooling systems which used the thermal energy either to recharge batteries and capacitors or to power other systems.

The seamless integration of nature and science was evident to all as far as the eye could see, along the curve of the artificial world, past the clouds, the crystal clear seas, and the carefully sculpted mountains and terrain, many of which carefully hid the equipment necessary to maintain that area in such perfect beauty.

The race of Sodohanhi grew in number and wisdom, multiplying, aided by genetic birth accelerators and advanced cloning protocols, soon they covered the inside surface of their new home, 2,400,000,000,000,000 members of the race, building their structures as they went, sculpting, designing, mastering. Blood lines were reinforced, strong social units formed, merged, and reformed. The socio-political elements of the race adjusted finally into their last seats of power. Faster than light communication systems kept all members of the race informed via full sensory stimulation, and instantaneous matter teleportation systems allowed any individual or piece of material to be transported to any part of the inner surface of Thrayshl in short order when required. Distance between points in the sphere depended on mode of transport and urgency. Slipcasters were set into place, linked tunnels through interstitial space that connected one doorway to another, regardless of distance.

Great silent vessels moved through the air, up and down the curvature of the shell, both controlled and remote controlled as well as fully automated. Leisurely trans-hypersonic flit-tubes connected far away structures in local regions, adjacent locations, important political and social blocks, and even ran from high overhead to far underground, under the deep oceans and vast seas. The flit tubes, all sizes from personal to mass transport and heavy cargo, even allowed access from the inner surface to outermost skin.

Sprawling cities grew within the shell, lining the inner surface in a carefully planned web of perfectly ordered civilization, their byproducts endlessly recycled to be used again and again as needed, where needed. Great monolithic towers of science, towers of industry, towers of education, towers of devotion, and towers of pleasure rose high into the sky, reaching toward Nthlia, some vanishing into the clouds above, some to the edge of the atmosphere and even above, beyond the magnetic field that protected the inhabitants below. High above, starships and spacecraft could dock on the upper levels of the mightiest of these towers. Tower after tower, connecting physically with others of similar height like a vast network until the greatest cities existed at all levels in all forms, their roots plowing deep into the surface of the shell, and their branches reaching beyond the blue sky, through the clouds, and even into the blackness of the bubble of pure space beyond.

Beneath the inner surface the machines that controlled the environment and supplied the power were built and maintained. Below the inner surface a vast network of underground service and maintenance tunnels existed, equipment bays, storage areas, and emergency shelters ready in the event of a disaster. All along the access ways were kept the automations and artificial servants that labored to maintain Thrayshl, served in turn by their own dedicated support equipment and service tiers, ready to respond instantly to any circumstance or need.

Such was the power of the Sodohanhi that even their greatest and most massive structures were mobile, self governing, self repairing. Supported on artificial gravity, some structures could move for economy, others for effect or need, and still others simply because of boredom. Even small personal structures were capable of moving from one location to another, interlocking in new areas vacated by other migrant structures, for the simple reason of aesthetics, for no other reason than of being somewhere else at will. The inner surface of Thrayshl was immense, and the nature of the Sodohanhi race was that it was migratory and proud, such were two elements which were integral parts of their architecture.

The Sodohanhi were masters of all forces of nature, especially electromagnetics and gravity. Their architecture knew no limits, no boundaries other than the imagination itself. The inner surface was modeled from collected genetic racial memories; crystal blue seas, long white beaches, deep scented woods, custom colored skies, tinted clouds, green rolling hills, tall waving grasslands, all tended and sculpted by an infinite number of artificial servants and devices.

Thrayshl was more than a home, it was a fortress, a great impregnable shield repelling countless assaults by the myriad of species who had not had the forethought to build for the coming End of All Time and the great death of the Universe. Defeated races were subjugated and used as slave labor until they, like any other resource, were completely expended. The outer surface housed the great anti-spacecraft batteries, airlocks for the largest ships to pass from outer surface to inner surface, docking bays for the starships of the Sodohanhi, and the various types of field generators which protected their home. Deep within the shell of Thrayshl stood ready the weapons and armor of the race, the barracks and bunkers of their soldier caste, the tools of conflict and destruction, nestled safely in the armored layers of the outer to inner surface boundary, cushioned from force, isolated from attack, ready to assemble and equip an army the likes of which the Universe had never witnessed.

The Sodohanhi became as a race like only to a god, weaving the threads that were the tapestry of the cosmos to its needs and desire. The hands of the race of Sodohanhi could create or destroy planets, breathe fire to the very stars or extinguish them forever and siphon their unburned fuel. The race of Sodohanhi could give life to others or take life away, create life from long extinct species, or create new species entirely from samples of genetic material. They could turn a barren rock into a paradise, or a paradise into a barren rock. There were no limits to what the race of Sodohanhi could do, a race who long ago mastered how to recycle everything and shape the very folds of space and time to their desires. A race who long ago learned how to master completely the complexity of matter and antimatter, and to bend the Universe around them to meet their every whim.

But the Universe was dying, the End of All Time was fast approaching, and not even the great works of Sodohanhi could delay or stop that event. But the race of Sodohanhi would survive the Closure of this Universe and the birth of the next Universe. Thrayshl was the artifact that would insure that.

Many alien species teetered on the brink of extinction while others had already become extinct, all having exhausted their science and resources in various ways to hold off the inevitable Closure. They failed. Only the race of Sodohanhi was resourceful and ingenious enough to build a final home that could protect it and all of its work. What an ingenious home Sodohanhi had built!

Thrayshl!

At the last seconds of the Universe, as the Final Darkness was closing in, the Sodohanhi and their fortress home would effortlessly slip into a pocket Universe of its own creation, in order to escape the last dying gasp of the Universe. Once the Universe had Collapsed and been reborn, Thrayshl would re-emerge from its self generated pocket Universe, to ride the expansion outwards again and take its rightful place at the forefront of the birth of a new Universe, a new time, a new everything. Thrayshl would emerge again in the next, new, young Universe, a stronghold for a race who survived to the End to Begin again.

But something went wrong…

The interstitial field generators that would project the warp bubble that allowed Thrayshl to slip effortlessly into its dedicated pocket Universe drew their power directly from the enslaved star Nthlia and the power drain proved to be more than the star could provide. The star became unstable, consuming over half of its first life of fuel, flared, and almost all of the race of Sodohanhi died on the surface in the radiation bath. Thrayshl was polluted and diseased, stricken with natural catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Solar fire swept the inner surface of Thrayshl, erasing generations of work. The hot winds of the sun spun half spent fuel around its core, and the star dimmed, bringing a chill to the interior. Those who did not flee were driven into shelters deep within the skin of the artifact, fortresses and emergency bunkers that either were proof against the howling solar winds that swept the surface above or provided ready made tombs when they were not.

Thrayshl changed forever.

The surface fell to terraforming systems that were out of control. Machinery failed or became defective. Animals became monsters, vegetation evolved, mutated, even became deadly. All forms of life were affected in some way. Thrayshl hung there in space, wounded, self repairing, but there were no hands on the controls. Those who were its masters were long dead. On the inner surface of Thrayshl, new races developed. Mutations and genetic adaptations appeared in response to the vastly changed environmental conditions. Those who had not fled or could not find shelter devolved, entire bands of Sodohanhi lost technology and knowledge. Most fell to a tribal level of understanding and survival, becoming nomadic in nature just to survive, moving around the vast surface of the interior. The inner surface of Thrayshl became home to many empires and political powers which fought and expanded and collapsed and died, all the while the Great Darkness approached outside, drawing closer with each new millennia.

The children of the Builders are scattered among the nearby stars, waiting for the signal to return home while all that is left of the original Builders lie deep underground in dark, majestic vaults, guarded by incredible machinery. The Sodohanhi who managed to survive the catastrophe sleep a dreamless sleep, tucked away in timeless stasis, under the watchful eye of their unseen spirits, animated servants, their dark science, and their mystic technology. One day the Builders will reawaken, the signal will go forth into space, and those who first called Thrayshl their home will again return to reclaim it.

 

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