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Part I: The Hard Hello


He was floating through the infinite void.

He was shapeless, without form, without a body, just pure, focused thought. And the space around him was devoid of any constellations or nebulae he recognized. It was a maelstrom of color and movement, the beauty of which mesmerized him while at the same time it threatened to drive him to the edge of insanity.

No mortal, he was certain, had ever laid eyes upon what stretched out before him now and had been able to keep their wits about them. Quite possibly, no human being had ever seen what he glimpsed now. There were no words in his language or any language to describe its sheer splendor and total madness.

Beings possessing power far beyond anything he could have ever imagined made this realm their home. He could only perceive them as indistinct shapes and blurry motions existing in the space just outside his own perception.

The entire universe bend to their all-consuming will and there was no force in all of creation greater than theirs. He wasn’t sure how he knew this, how he could possibly understand any of it, and yet he had no doubts that this had to be true.

He opened his eyes as if he had slept for centuries and it took a long time to shake the persistent cobwebs in his brain which struggled to interpret what his eyes were trying to show him.

He stood on a shimmering bridge of blue light with an endless pink depth below. A corridor stretched out in front of him, seemingly with no end in sight.

He had been here before, he knew.

He tried a few, cautious steps, not entirely sure if he could trust his legs to carry him.

He was alone but he could hear their sound.

The clicking noises were all around him, insistent and indecipherable, unrelentingly mocking his presence here, a place where he clearly did not belong.

He came to a room and the large window showed him nothing but more of that swirling salmon-colored mass.

Although he saw nothing there, the sight drew him closer until he stood less than an arm’s length from the transparent material.

Then he saw it. It was as if a thick fog had cleared suddenly. At first, it was just a small skeletal structure, not much larger than an orbital observation post but it grew quickly and he watched on as it expanded not unlike in a time-lapse, growing to the size of a starship, then a station, an orbital dry dock and very soon becoming a superstructure rivaling the size of a small moon. It took on a distinct circular shape as it became larger than a planet, then a star, then a Dyson Sphere. Looking at its rapid growth made him dizzy but he kept his eyes on the expanding ring shape. Not a moment after the ring had closed, it began to move, to spin on its own axis, faster and faster, and until he could feel the vibrations rattling his bones.

A bright flash, followed by a powerful shockwave forced him to stumble backward and he lost his bearings completely.

Once the room had stopped spinning the Ring was gone. And so, in fact, was the room itself.

He was in a cargo bay. There, beyond a force field, a reptilian creature with large, round eyes and clad in a long, hooded robe was writhing on the ground. A man in a Starfleet uniform was hovering above it. The dark-skinned Vulcan was shouting questions he couldn’t understand while the creature squirmed in agony.

Another flash and the cargo bay was gone.

A man walked toward him and he knew that face well, it was after all not so different from his own. The man was smiling and yet also frowning at the same time. His own senses told him that this wasn’t possible and yet the approaching dead man was showing him two faces at the same time.

The dead man reached out with one hand but no matter how close he came, no matter the shrinking distance between them, he could not reach him.

Another flash made him disappear and, in his stead, he saw another dead man. Somebody who had once been a friend and confidant to him but the bearded man was none of those things now. Instead, he snarled and growled at him, like an angry animal and then he too was gone.

He felt a presence behind him and it was her.

She smiled at him pleasantly as she quickly melted the distance between them. She pressed her lips against his for a brief moment he wished lasted longer. Then she reached for his neck, stroking lovingly at first but before he even understood what she was doing, she had a firm grip around his throat and squeezing it with such force, he felt his consciousness slipping away.

She was laughing maniacally but he couldn’t hear a sound.

Somewhere beyond her, a Vulcan and an Orion man were laughing right along.

The flash saved him yet again but this time it drowned his world into darkness. He fell to his knees onto a floor he couldn’t see.

Blind and with no notion as to where he was, he stumbled around helplessly on his hands and knees.

Then somebody grabbed his hand and pulled him roughly back onto his feet.

The face that greeted him out of the darkness was his own.

His twin looked him over for a brief moment, appraising his mirror image. He didn’t seem to like what he was seeing and he turned his back and walked away.

He tried to follow, to reach out for the other him but something unseen prevented him to make contact until he was gone as well, leaving him alone in the darkness once more.

A cold shudder came over him as he felt the temperature dropping suddenly to what felt like sub-zero.

A single, focused red light penetrated the darkness somewhere ahead. It struck him right in the eye, blinding him for a moment before he raised his hand to block it.

He slowly moved his hand and squinted to try and see.

A person, more machine than man stood in the distance, too far away to make out any features but he knew exactly what it was he was looking at and it inspired a primal fear within him, unlike anything he had ever felt.

He wanted to run, to hide, to disappear but his feet were frozen solid to the ground.

The silence all around him was pierced once more by that harrowing clicking noise. It started silently and subdued but it was growing more prominent with each second.

The machine creature was gone but in its stead someone, something else had appeared.

The darkness gave way to a lush green field and he was forced to squint and raise a hand in front of his face again as a bright sun had unexpectedly banished the dark and was now blinding him.

The robed, reptilian creatures stood all around him.

It took him a moment to realize, that it wasn’t him they were surrounding but the other man.


He had his arms raised, his palms facing the sky as he looked right at him.

The clicking sounds were becoming so loud they were booming now.

And all of a sudden he could hear what it was they were chanting with the kind of crystal clarity that had eluded him so far.

“World-taker, World-taker, World-taker.”

Bensu smiled. “Now it begins. Now it ends.”

He watched the man close his eyes and his body beginning to shift unnaturally, slowly turning into pure bright light.

He understood immediately what he was doing.

He was ending it all.

“No,” he heard himself scream as he began to race towards the bright light.

Even as he ran, he could see the world around him fall to pieces. The meadow, the sky, the clouds, the sun, they all crumbled, piece by piece as the chant grew louder and louder still.

The chant continued like the never-ending beat of a drum, but the words had changed: “Be-holder, Be-holder, Be-holder.”

The ground under his feet disappeared and he fell.

The voices were gone.

And he knew. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was all gone.

Everything that had ever been or would ever be.

He had failed.

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