Crystal sighed to herself after Ryan left the staging area. If she was being honest with herself, she had been hoping he’d balk a bit more. Give her a reason to turn it into a serious row. One that might take a few hours to resolve.
Anything to delay having to go into her corrupted nanoverse.
Now that he was gone, however, she was out of excuses. Part of her mind insisted she should stick around – Ryan was alone and exposed, he could be in danger! Yeah, right, Crystal. What are the odds someone attacks while he’s visiting his sister? You need to deal with this.
She took a deep breath, a habit that hadn’t faded after a million years. Some things are too ingrained to ever really go away. Then she set her staging area to drop into her nanoverse. “Initiate real display,” she added.
It was even worse once she was actually in the flow of her nanoverse. The stars, being filtered though that grotesquely yellow interstellar gas, didn’t twinkle from the interference – they pulsated, like horribly infected sores. It made her want to retch just looking at it, and the desire became even stronger when she realized part of her found the whole view beautiful. It felt like realizing you were attracted to rotting corpses, and she shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself at the thought.
Deal with it, Crystal. You have to deal with this. Not wanting to waste any energy on anything other than fixing the disease that had spread through her nanoverse, she did something she hadn’t done in over three-thousand years and allowed her body to melt back to its natural appearance.
After so long, it felt like going back to a childhood home that had been remodeled – familiar, but oddly different. She stretched in her own skin, enjoying the comfort of it. Her hands were now the ones that she remembered from her childhood, covered in fine green scales and possessing three fingers and a thumb on each side. Her hair had been replaced with gold and red feathers, and she took another deep breath though the four slitted nostrils that sat between her golden and slitted eyes. Her tail feathers bristled in satisfaction at, well, existing again.
I wonder what Ryan and Athena would think of me like this? Hell, I wonder what I think of me like this? It was a silly thought, a useless thought – anymore she identified as human more than she did as the last of her old kind. Bloody hell, I can’t even remember what we called ourselves. Lemurian would be the English term, but that’s like calling Humans Earthlings. Sometime in the last million years, she’d lost the term the same way she’d lost so many other memories.
It doesn’t matter, love. What matters is cleaning this mess up. Resolved, she stepped out of her staging area and into the vacuum of space.
Right away, she realized one thing that was wrong – it wasn’t a vacuum. It was full of something else, that interstellar dust. Focusing herself, she isolated a mote of it and blew it up to the size of her fist so she could see what it was.
It was a cell. Or a bacteria. Some kind of living organism. If it looked like anything, it looked like a nerve cell but covered in cilia that allowed it to – somehow – traverse interstellar space. As she watched, it divided into two.
The sight made her shudder, and when another minute later it divided again she broke into a cold sweat. If it’s dividing every minute like that…bloody hell, how much longer did I have before they literally filled my nanoverse?
She realized she had to deal with these things before trying anything else. The first step was the basic one – try to just wink them out of existence.
The effort did clear out a few dozen square light-years, leaving her in the center of a space free of those…she had to call them something, and after a moment settled on “Phoberia.” But she was sweating from the effort – nigh omnipotent was not the same as actual omnipotence, and already she could feel them starting to spread into her safe zone.
“Okay, Crystal,” she muttered to herself. “If that doesn’t work…” then she snapped her finger as a solution presented itself.
Acts of pure will, as opposed to manipulating complex equations, were always fun. In this case, since she couldn’t destroy the Phoberia directly, she’d give them a predator. Specifically, a virus, a phobophage. Pulling one of the phoberia close, she magnified it to test out her phobophage.
It took a few tries. The first few couldn’t attach to the phoberia, and the later ones couldn’t alter its ‘genetic’ structure. But finally, she found one that would act exactly like a virus should – inject its own code into the target cell, cause the host to make more of itself, and then release those into interstellar space as the host cell ruptured and died. She took a bit more time to set careful parameters on the virus – if it couldn’t find any phoberia to attach to after twenty minutes, it would warp to a random spot in her nanoverse. If after ten warps it couldn’t find any, it would throw itself into the nearest black hole – hopefully trapping the phoberia’s corruption with it.
Then she created a quintillion phobophages and let them begin warping around.
It was tempting to hop into her staging area, jump up into real time for a few seconds, and come back to see how well the phobophages worked, but they wouldn’t take care of the corrupted stars or twisted matter that was infesting her nanoverse.
No, to deal with those she had to understand them better. Blinking herself back to her nanoverse staging area, she set a course for the nearest inhabited system.
Now, let’s see what life this sodding nightmare has created, yeah?