Greetings Catherine, daughter of Brienne, of the house Gallant.
We need to talk.
“…I remember you. Why do I remember you?”
We met, once. It was some time ago, by your reckoning.
“The lake…I thought that was a dream. It wasn’t real.”
And why should it being a dream make it any less real? But I digress. I have important matters to discuss with you.
“Right. So ‘important’ that you needed to wait almost a decade to tell me about them.”
Do not jest, child.
Your brother is in grave danger.
“Bedivere? But what- Oh no. Oh, no no no no no, I have to go back. You have to take me back now, alright, Mom needs to hear about this, she can protect him-”
Calm yourself. He is in danger, but it is not eminent. For now, the curiosity of his creators outweighs their need to protect themselves.
“Protect themselves? From Bedivere?! You’re kidding me, right?”
I will explain, in due time. First, observe our surroundings. Do you recognize this place?
“Um, yeah. It’s the circle of standing stones, right? It was an old ritual site, centuries before SimNation was founded. People call it Sim Henge these days.”
‘Sim Henge.’ How quaint. Rituals were held here, yes-
-but they were for a very specific purpose, tied to the nature of the circle itself. There are countless similar circles, spread across existence. Each serves as a gateway…
…and if one has the right key, they are capable of using that gateway, exiting through the other side at another such circle.
Precisely. Stay on my back, child. Only one of my kind can set foot here without cost.
“Where are we? I haven’t heard of a desert like this before.”
That is because we are not on your world. To be more accurate, we are not even in your reality.
This is the landscape of another dimension. Appreciate the view: you are the first of your kind to ever lay eyes on it.
“Okay. Note to self, freak out about that later. Right. So, is this where Bedivere’s…’people’ come from?”
In a way.
“…Do you have an answer that isn’t irritatingly cryptic?”
“Fantastic. Could you at least tell me why you’re showing me this?”
Look at this world, child. What do you see?
“Sand. Weird, spiky rock formations, a few abandoned buildings. More sand.”
And what do you not see?
There is no life on this world. You can comb it from topsoil to core, observe every nook and cranny, and you will find no movement, no change, not a single living being.
“That’s awful. Then, the aliens are running from whatever did this?”
Their biology is very different from what your science tells you is possible. The beings of this world are not, in fact, beings: rather, they are one being, one consciousness, split into hundreds of individual bodies. Each pair of hands acts independently, but the mind which governs them is singular. And that mind hungers constantly.
“You’re telling me they ate everything on this planet?”
I am telling you that a being of psychic energy draws on living energy to feed itself. I am telling you that such a being would expand constantly, increasing its appetite as it does so. I am telling you that such a being, with no limits or restraints, would suck a world dry, and leave it a barren wasteland. And then it would sit there, in the empty desert of its own creation, and slowly starve.
“And then what?”
Come. There is something else I need to show you.
“Oh. Another weird, gravity-defying alien planet. How wonderful.”
This is the first place the creatures existed, and the first to be drained by their presence.
“But, the desert-”
Was one of many to follow. They cannot access the gateways as I can, but they have technology which allows them to step between dimensions to reach new colonies. Like our world.
“You know, I still don’t know why you’re telling me this. Mom would at least have some way of contacting the government to stop them.”
I have already ‘stopped’ them. My kind have enveloped the energy of the world in a magical bubble, one which even the creatures cannot break. I tell you this because you must know just what it is you are dealing with.
Every world they visit, they first scout. Because all of their kind share awareness of what each other sees, the simplest method is to simply implant a fetus in a creature of that world.
But, different worlds have different atmospheres, gravitation, food sources, and so on. In order to ensure that the child survives, they take a sample of the host DNA and adapt it to suit their needs. As an added bonus, the child is never fully one of their own, and so is incapable of accessing the psychic energy at the heart of the species. They can be observed, but pose no threat to the Greater Consciousness.
I suppose they never took into account just how contrary humans can be.
“So my brother is one of these…scouts?”
I believe they are called drones, but yes.
“And because he’s based on human DNA, he can pull energy from the ‘Greater Consciousness.'”
And now you understand. They are quite terrified of him, I must say. Generations upon generations of the same methods, on world after world, and now things have begun to spiral outside their control.
“What are they going to do?”
I am not entirely sure, but I doubt that it will be pleasant. That is why I have approached you now – I can extend my protection to cover him, even if he is not entirely of this world, but I require a favor of you.
“Riiiight, because that’s not suspicious at all.”
Have your kind not always trusted unicorns as creatures of purity and goodwill?
“You mind-wiped me when I was ten, I think ‘purity’ is out the window at this point!”
I swear upon my name, human, I have no ill intent towards you or your family. I will protect your brother until the day he dies, if you protect something of mine until that same day.
“That sounds suspiciously simple. What would I be protecting?”
You will find out when the time comes. Do we have a deal?
“You do realize how uncomfortable it is to accept a deal that vaguely worded, right?”
What matters to you more, Catherine Gallant? Your comfort, or your brother’s life?
“…Alright. I accept your deal.”
I swear, I didn’t mean for that to be as much of an info dump as it was, but it all needed to be said. (It’s quite possible that I’m going to go back and edit the hell out of this, but I’ve been staring at it on my laptop screen for the past few hours, so I’m publishing it anyway.)
Again, let me know if I’m being confusing and I’ll be happy to go back and edit to be clearer. Thank you for reading!