Omnia mutantur, nihil interit. – “Everything changes, nothing perishes.” – Chapter 2

From the Story Arc: The Fading Flame

Previous Story in the Arc: Fortis et Liber – "Strong and Free" – Chapter 1 by John Murdock (Saturday, March 31, 2007)

Next Story in the Arc: Quis Contra Nos? --"Who Is Against Us?"-- Chapter 3 by Seraphym (Saturday, March 31, 2007)

(posted Saturday, March 31, 2007)

A dormant laboratory, buried under an abandoned building just outside of Aeon City, crackled to life. Silent machines and blank computer monitors came awake, bathing the rooms of the basement facility in a sickly green light. Unlabeled gauges and meters measured unknowns, printers whirring out the results. In the second deepest room of the facility, a controlled portal into another world opened, the blue white swirl of energy from the event horizon overpowering the soft glow of the monitors and electronics. An armor clad figure stumbled out of the portal, tripping slightly on the grating of the ramp leading up to the miniature wormhole. Less than a second later, the portal collapsed in on itself, vanishing and once again casting the room into semi-darkness. The machinery was designed to only allow a few moments of operation before automatic breakers engaged; the system drew off of the PTS, and the laboratory's owner was certain that Arachnos and Doctor Aeon wouldn't have been pleased to discover the source of the power drain.

The armored man removed his helmet, revealing a bald and corpse-white head, wrinkled with age and seamed with scars from sickness and abuse. Setting the helmet down on clear table, the man sat down heavily into a nearby chair. His bulk, massive from the contraptions that were as much a part of him as his remaining organs, made the chair creak. The man sighed disgustedly; he hated that sound, but never could tear himself away from his work to bother with it. His arms, skeletonized and wholly mechanical replacements, vibrated audibly as he removed a small pod from the shoulder of his suit, manipulating its controls. He plugged the appropriate cable into a port on the device, then attached the cable to the recessed computer in the table. Text, readouts, and images began scrolling down the screen. For the first time in at least 7 years, the man smiled.

The dimension he had just made an excursion to was perfect for his purposes. The denizens there were of just the right nature and inclination; response time to his trespass into their world was surprisingly quick, denoting at some technological sophistication. While he was able to evade them to gain more data, they were surprisingly vicious and adept at tracking him down. Given time, they would have had him. Only through his keen planning and preparation, which included a legion of specialized devices and even distasteful "arcane" protections, enabled him to see his goal to the end. For this particular phase, anyway. Beyond the inhabitants, the metaphysics of the dimension were exactly what he needed; it had taken him numerous trips to other dimensions, as well as captive test subjects of a peculiar sort, in order to confirm this.

There was very little left for the man to do. He had spent the last four years building up his resources, selling off minor gadgets and inventions to those willing to pay his prices. Usually he created what he needed to sell himself, but he was not averse to stealing when necessary. Thus one of the chief benefits of operating in the Isles; unless it directly affected the local government, few people other than his unwilling benefactors and donators noticed. The rabble that comprised the "gangs" of the area weren't any real threat; most of them could be bribed, and those that couldn't would easily be taken care of by the very folks he had already bribed. It was an interesting social drama that occured on a daily basis; worthy of sociological investigation, if only he had the time. Such a study would only be a diversion, however, something that would demand more of his talents and distract him from his ultimate purpose.

This man believed that everyone had a purpose. Nothing so fanciful or infantile as a "divine" or superstitious explanation for why one would go on existing. Something more utilitarian; everything fulfilled a function. Things that did not were eventually weeded out, trimmed off like fat from a piece of meat. The man believed in his purpose, and believed in the tools he would use to achieve it. Everything that he was hoping to achieve would be the culmination of his entire life's work. In the end, it would reshape everything everyone had ever known. It would enable mankind to transcend its current pathetic state, and become something more. Something better. Driven by this surety of purpose and a self-loathing for his own biological condition ---the fact that he was merely human, not simply his deteriorated and patch worked body---, the man knew that he would succeed. He was important only as a means for the end he struggled to see become reality. He had no delusions about that, at least that he was consciously aware of. He would be lauded, in history books, for his innovation and willingness to do what was necessary for the betterment of all, for his determination and effort. But that was of little importance; it was a consequence of the astounding implications his work would have. People noticed big changes.

At this point, all that was needed was for him to set the final piece into motion. Everything else was in place, including the most important part of the equation. That one breakthrough that had exceeded all of his expectations, even though it had ultimately cost the man years of research and almost his life. That puzzle piece didn't know what was about to happen or even necessarily for what reason, but that would change. Everything changes, everything moves in cycles. Everything his predecessors had sought, he would succeed in. He would break the cycle, and free mankind from everything that plagued it. Elevate existence itself to a higher plane. It would be glorious, and horrible to behold. The man spied a symbol that had come to represent many things to him over the years, inscribed on a scrap of paper. He had a habit of drawing it endlessly whenever he was trying to figure out a solution to a problem, or brainstorming for some new idea. A snake eating its own tale, an ouroboros.

Doctor Jacob Garvey smiled, his heart warmed at all of the wonderful and terrible things yet to come.