[MV] The Super Wizard From Space #69: Taming Power Of The Small, part 2

wilalambre at gmail.com wilalambre at gmail.com
Tue Jan 23 15:27:02 PST 2018



"These are incredible!" Melisende calls out as she weaves in and out. "Do
they cover the entire surface?"

She'd become more enthusiastic 'bout these trips when I finally convinced
her that, yes, she did have wings, like _all_ Monster Bees do, and yes, she
_could_, in fact, fly. The first few weeks of this'd been tedious. And
slow. Now, everywhere I take her, she's a firecracker, wanting to see
everything from on high. We've only just got here and she's already off
like a shot, admiring all the towering, uniform pillars.

"They ain't all as orderly as this, and they ain't all found this
plentiful, but otherwise, yeah, on the whole planet. On every continent, on
every landmass, all the way around." Playing tour guide's certainly been
more agreeable than playing babysitter. As far as pointless distractions
go. If nothing else, its been interesting visiting old haunts, if only to
see what's left of them. "They're made of a unique alloy unique to this
world. Sort of like a silver grown like pearl. Its what gives them their

"What are they used for?"

"Terraforming." I tap my ear. "That sound ain't the wind. Its the
inhabitants. They're living music."

She lands with a stumble. I can't figure out if she's having balance
trouble - the weight and shape of her carapace - or if she just don't care
to learn how to land properly. Once her wings've stopped beating, the
accordant whistling in the air's easy to pick out. Aa smooth refrain that
resonates metal pillar to metal pillar. Her face breaks out in a grin as
she follows each individual melody. "I can _hear_ them! There's so many!
Can we communicate with them?"

"Not anymore. There was a shift in their orbit an eon back. Not a massive
one, but enough to alter the pitch of the pillars. The octave changed
downward and they devolved with it." I shrug. "They're little more than
herd animals now, moving in migratory symphonies."

Her smile goes sad. "So much beauty... just ruins and ghosts, then."

"They ain't _all_ gone." I wave up into the night sky, where some of the
system's planets are near visible to the naked eye. "Many escaped the
apocalypse, travelling up through space in glass spheres, cryogenically
preserved in frozen harmonics. They don't build terrestrial instruments no
more, but they thrive. A far-flung race, colonizing planets in over a fifth
of this galaxy."

"But they're not a _super-race_."

Ah, here we go. She's been building up the courage to bring up _something_
for a while now. "They ain't a super-race, no. And they will never be."

"You don't think they're good enough."

"I _know_ they ain't good enough. Neither were the violet fungi. Or the
nixie shoals. Or any of the lumasi seminaries before them. Look, I believe
_everyone_'s got the potential for greatness. That don't mean everyone
makes it. Most fall short. Because of circumstances. A lack of support.
Some failing on their part. Or just plain bad luck. And even those that
manage it, those that _rise above_, they don't always _deserve_ it. Isn't
anything fair 'bout it."

"And this is when the rest of you step in? SZzzuper machinez and sZzuper
monzterz and sZzuper wizardz... you get together and have a vote to let the
lucky few join this _clique_ of yourz?"

"There's a matter of some colloquial acknowledgement, yeah. But if you
looking for the _official_ definition of a super-race, its when every
member of a given species is capable of unaided intergalactic travel."


"The grown-ups play in a _big_ universe." She's still processing the
_scale_. The Monster Bees _elevate_ their leadership from outside; the rest
of the super-races choose from within their own groups. Means there's a
steep learning curve for queen bees, especially the temporary sort. It
makes them naïve, though I suppose they don't usually  last long enough for
that to be a problem. 'Til now.

"And the universe is your playground."

"Frankly, yes."

"And the rest of us are just... children underfoot?"

"The rest of _them_. Don't get confused, Melisende. You're one of _us_,

- - -

Its a couple days later when she finds the nerve to prod again.

We're on a sandy moon, one of a hundred moons around a red-pink gas giant.
The magnetics of the giant interacts with the  electrified atmosphere,
making for a ghostly light show. The visuals flow 'round us in hypnotic
patterns. Poets've claimed that, if you know how to look, the entire
future'll be seen drifting in the swirls.

I'm not watching the future. I'm barely involved in what's happening in the
_now_. From here, I can see constellations moving - Super Wizards piloting
stars in formation, like battleships in fleet. Off to face Maws Holloway
and his war titans on the front, no doubt. Every once in a while, a point
of light flares and arcs, lashing out with solar flares.

"Why are we fighting?"

Sigh. "I'm not _wanting_ to get into an argument with you."

"I don't mean you and me. I mean your war." She looks up into the night.
Her vision ain't good enough to see the solar systems that've been flung
apart. She can't see the galaxies that've been ground down into nameless
nebula clouds. But even the simplest of creatures recognizes a wounded sky.
"I know what the General'z zaid to me. I want to know if he'z zaid the
sZzame thingz to you."

"I... ain't _happy_... having to turn on my own people, siding with old
enemies 'gainst them. A couple people I know are going die. A whole lot
more are going to be prisoners forever - solar batteries for the Mummy
Machines." I can't hold back a shudder, thinking of those poor souls.
Scared and screaming in the dark, their tongues torn out. "But my people
are _sick_. They've sicken themselves. We were once the guardians _and
physicians_ of the cosmos, damn it, that's how we saw of ourselves. That's
what we were supposed to be. It _disgusting_ what's happened to them...
what they've done to _themselves_! If they won't willing rid themselves of
space-greed, we'll have to force the cure down their throats."

"Szoundz like sZzzeriouz sZztuff."

Not so serious that I'm needed for it. I should be up there. I don't want
to die. And I don't want to kill anyone. I should be up there. "This war's
for the greater good. Its for their _own good_."

Melisende tapped a long black claw to her chin. "And here I thought
sZzpace-greed waz incurable."

"The only known vaccine's _nuclear_. So yeah, technically there _is_ a
cure, but only a Super Wizard From Space can _survive_ it."

- - -

I bring her to the cathedrals of the tiger-people. Large structures made of
bones, built during religious ceremonies when a tribe recognizes they're
dying out. The final generations would be used up making these grim
buildings, hoping their solar gods'd find them and carry their names to the

Melisende finds something painfully devotional 'bout the whole affair. She
prays for an hour at an ossein altar, and when she's done, she's in a
carping melancholy. "You did the same thing here as you did on my world."

"Hmm. Its an operational research method. Developed by our philosophers,
then standardized by the political class. The younger the civilization, the
easier it is to embed ourselves into their mythologies."

"You don't even _see_ it anymore, do you?" she says. She waves an arm
around at the cathedral with a visible frustration. "Everywhere we've been
is wonderful and beautiful and special. I used to dream of the stars. And
everything you've shown me is... is _so much more_. And it just doesn't
_register_ with you! You have incredible power, but I don't believe see the
_damage_ you're causing."

So, what, this has all about _judging_ me? Judging all of us, I suppose.
This is nearly funny, coming from her. "We work on an entirely different
level. Don't get snippy 'cause you're still playing catch-up to the rest of

"You brainwash civilizations into thinking you're _gods_."

"We don't convince anyone of nothing. _We are gods to them_. We've been
here long before their planet first spun up, and we'll still be here long
after it crumbles apart again. We stride 'cross their night skies for
exercise and we hollow out their suns to live in. We _literally_ bring them
fire and language and law."

"You take everything they could have been! You take away their choices and
replace them yours."

"I don't weep no tears for how we choose to help. We come with traditions
and we leave as stories; _they're_ the ones making up the religions. We
teach them about the heavens; _they're_ the ones that make their hells."

"You enslave worlds."

"And you think you _don't_?" I admit, I'm losing my patience with her. Bad
enough I'm benched. To hell if I'll put up being lectured by the peanut
gallery, too. "How many ants you step on, climbing your holy mountain every
day? How many goldfish you keep in glass bowls, just to have some
companionship when you got home? You think you robbed _them_ of glorious
development? Of spiritual advancement? Should you've given them a choice in
the matter? Waited 'til they developed the capacity for informed consent?
Course not, that's insane. That's not the way it works because it _can't
work_ like that. _This_ is the way it is. This is the way its always been,
everywhere. Hell, you're _still_ doing it, even right now, out there. The
only difference - the _only_ difference - between you _then_ and you _now_
is scale."

"I'm not..." The lie catches in her throat.

"You're head of a _super-race_ involved in _super-war_. That's not
hyperbole. The collateral damage is _literally astronomical_. We're
fighting over the fate of _galactic superclusters_. A whole lot of people
are being wiped out, and they don't understand why any more than their
goldfish do. But, hey, at least _you_ got a good reason for it."

"That doezn't make any of it right."

"Yeah, actually, it _does_. Its one of the perks of being at the top."
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