Awake. Again. Or had she been summoned? It mattered little. Space twisted itself into the outline of a body, and then she felt the familiar pull. The Singularity was hungry, and she … lived to serve it. Alive? No. This existence was beyond that particular cycle. She was a gear in a much larger clock. Turning so that one hand chased the other away. Which hand did she turn for though? The Singularity pulled harder this time. Tendrils of light wisped from newly formed limbs, as if the starlight that they had been carved from had also set her ablaze. For the briefest of moments she glimmered brightly, but like a tightly held secret, the light shining her into this reality curled back in on itself. Collapsing. And as it crumbled so too did the lines of her body, gnarling the translucent curves into sharpened edges. The twisted light continued folding into itself. Somehow expanding despite the space that seemed to splinter and then slip into its centre. And then, finally, the Singularity gave one final tug and the abyss inside her split in two. Half pushing back behind her, pulling the warped edges of space and light that made up her body into defined shapes as it protruded from her back, before it settled. Silently ticking. Each rotation leaving fading trails that ebbed some type of … distortion. The other half shuddered in front of her, the core shrinking until only a small void was left before it exploded. Slowly. Nearby debris and light being pulled in once again forming a sphere. Her Ball. Its core came from her, as hers came from its. And when it came to life, she could hear its rhythmic pulsing. It soothed her. Cleared whatever it was that formed her mind. But in the background, she heard whispers. And as the beating of the Ball’s core faded, the whispers turned into murmurs. And the murmurs turned into chatter. And soon enough she could hear billions of voices screaming at her. Overwhelmed, she spun around, in a flurry of dark and malformed space. And then she saw it. A blinding cluster of rock that was screeching at her. Now the Ball was shrieking too. It violently glided over to the abhorrence. Engulfing it within its swirling centre, dulling the noise. The Singularity was whispering now instead. Words of want. Of need. Creeping into her thoughts as she approached the Ball, peering inside it. She could feel, rather than see, the thrum of organic life. Marching and crying incessantly on the rock. It stirred images. More from the Singularity? No. Were these were her own? No. They were given to her. The images were filled with shapes made of gleaming metal. Gleaming metal that was once her ski… A shard of light struck her Ball, blowing it wide open till it was dislodged from the shining screaming rock inside. The Ball spasmed, its shell shimmering as the golden blue obstruction began to fade. She pulled her Ball close and saw the outline of a feather before it dissipated into dust. She saw the next feather before it could hit, and immediately the Ball emanated a barrier of dark space. In the distance she could see something slip away into the light of particularly bright star. Games, she thought. This would be fun. Though she couldn’t see her attacker, she could see the slight glimmer of starlight that danced around her. A Cosmic Entity; beings forsaken by the Singularity. But it took two to dance, and she already had the Ball for that. She sent it curving out in front the assailant. Even before it would hit, she could tell she had landed her mark. She raised her arms, the Ball pulling in the nearby light, ready to shatter the space around it. But then a second feather struck, larger than the previous, and she stuttered. The smooth lines of her form wavering for a moment before the Ball was by her side again. Not before more feathers rained down on her. Each one splintering her body. Then they stopped. Dull thudding echoing around her as the Ball thrummed angrily. It was a short reprieve, however. She did not feel the feathers being ripped from her in beams of light, but she saw what had formed her arm cut clean off and then dissolve into the open space around her. The Ball thrummed gently now. The barrier wouldn’t hold for much longer, golden ichor dripping from the feathers littering its surface. The dull thudding continued, as if creating a rhythm for the two figures dancing outside. One seemingly chasing the other. And then the screaming returned. She shuddered, collapsing into herself as the abyss in her back began to flicker, voids expanding returning parts of her body to dust. However, with her form fading she was granted relief from the noise around her. Silence at last. Hungry! That was suddenly all that consumed her last thoughts. A bottomless hunger that seemed to afflict the Ball now too. It shook aggressively, as if in anticipation. And with the grace of some long-lost mortal instinct, she blew out the barrier, and sent the Ball hurtling towards the figures. Its swirling matrix colliding with one of them, before sending out a pulse of dark energy that eviscerated the assailant’s form. She was vaguely aware of the other figure calling out something. Xayah. In the other assailant’s shock, she was about to send them to a similar demise, but the tendrils of the light that had once made up the fallen Cosmic Entity slipped into the dark abyss of the Ball. As the last of the light was swallowed, a wave of energy poured out from the Ball. It bathed her. And for once, since the moment the Singularity had summoned her, she felt sated. But the energy continued to flow from the Ball, turning into violent waves as it echoed out. As it washed over the second assailant, it burned away their corporeal form leaving the flickering light that had once fuelled the Cosmic Entity. And as she absorbed their essence as well, she felt the pangs of hunger fade as she disincorporated from her physical form. This was unexpected. In a moment of clarity, she could see the entirety of the Singularity. She saw it blasted away by the blinding Light of the Cosmic Entities eons ago. She then saw it fester at the very heart of the Light that destroyed it, before collapsing in on itself. Space and matter corrupting and pervading the other until it formed a star. The Dark Star. Finally, she saw the Singularity wash out the very Light it had been born from. The same Light that it fought against. That it still fought against. And for once, since her binding with the Singularity, she contemplated her purpose. She was indeed a gear turning the hands of a clock; but like any clock, it could only go round and round. The cycle would continue even with the destruction of the Light. In a few eons, it would rekindle inside the Singularity, like a parasite, festering until it burst open. Once again banishing the Singularity away until it too would grow inside the Light. The cycle would never end. And as she stared into the dark star that fuelled herself and the Ball, she found herself able to reach her hands around not only the rock that screamed so loudly. But also the entire galaxy that burned along with it. What purpose was there in reading a story whose ending was already known? For now it didn’t matter, the Singularity has crying out too in anguished hunger. So she pressed her palms closed, and felt the Light within struggle before it acquiesced. Fading into her centre. Another meal offering for the Singularity. Orianna did live to serve it.
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