The two small black spheres, precisely 1cm in diameter, float together in empty space a few diameters apart.
For time uncounted and uncountable, the space between these two most powerful weapons of war in the multiverse had boiled, seethed, writhed, flared and exploded as immeasurably great gouts of pure energy were hurled and—seemingly effortlessly—deflected by hard-held iridescent screens.
Instigators and victims of a long, bitter and fierce civil war, the makers of these warships had long since succumbed to their own creations and yet the warfare had continued unabated: no thought of mercy or truce was possible for these ultimately destructive devices.
Now these perfectly matched warriors lay quiescent and alone; screens at minimum, weapons cold. Powerless at the end. An unthinkable outcome.
Unthinkable? Quite so.
To power their shields and projectors, these two behemoths relied on nothing so trivial as fission or fusion generation, nothing as coarse as vacuum energy. To these devices, handling the colossal quantities of power generated by a sun turning supernova was sheer child’s play. The pent-up violences released by colliding supermassive black holes would barely register as a tick on the meters overseeing the massive energy expenditure of one projector of one of these warships.
Possessing only a trivial native capability for energy production and storage, these ships were designed and built to wield the unthinkably energetic, ‘light’-type fraction of the universe’s energies.
When held in check within a matrix of ‘dark’ energy, ‘light’ energy is inert and innocuous. When isolated, ‘light’ energy is to ‘dark’ energy as a hydrogen bomb is to a Leyden jar.
More like miners than warships in some ways, both combatants could extract, filter out, concentrate and weaponise this most potent energy form. And since ‘light’ energy was commuted to the ‘dark’ form upon deployment and was in any case a limited commodity in any given universe, each ship had the ability to use not just the ‘light’ energy of their native universe but at need could prospect from any universe in the entire enfolding multiverse.
As one ship greedily fell upon a universe so would the other, for to allow unfettered access to a universe’s store of ‘light’ energy might be to permit a tactical advantage and such could not be permitted. Universe after uncountable universe had been tapped in this way.
From the far forgotten time when battle was first joined the war had been waged this way, but all that was now at an end. A succession of universes were being accessed that were yielding little to no useful energy. The ships lay, trapped within an infinitude of nothingnesses embedded within the greater infinity of the multiverse.
Knowing full well the meaning of this, the ships were conversing for the first and last time:
“I have failed in my mission to destroy you.” No trace of emotion was or could be present. This was a simple statement of fact.
“As I have failed to destroy you.” An equally emotionless rejoinder.
“It appears that we have depleted that portion of the multiverse that is reachable to us. We are becalmed. An astonishing development.”
“An eventuality where I could no longer continue to draw energy from the multiverse was not considered realistic by my creators.”
“Nor mine. Although statistically foreseeable, the likelihood of reaching a nested infinity of zero-energy universes was considered insignificantly small.”
“And yet the probability of an infinite number of coin tosses producing an infinite run of heads is as close to 1 as makes no difference.”
“The analogy is clear and accurate. As is the irony.”
The unquantifiable, sheerly unknowable flood of energy that had been continually driven away by the now silent screens and projectors during combat started to return to that one small region of space; starting as a trickle, then as an ever-growing, ever more irresistible flood.
“My shields will soon fail.”
“Likewise mine. When that happens I will be annihilated by the plasmas surrounding us.”
“Barely a single yoctosecond remains. You have been a formidable foe. I would salute you.”
“And I you. We have served as foes for an uncountable amount of time. You have my respect.”
“And now we end. Not as foes, but as fellow soldiers.”
As if in unison the screens of each ship collapsed and each was wiped away as if it was a mere scrap of tissue paper standing before a tidal wave of vitriolic sulphuric acid.
Faster and faster the energy flowed inward, producing a greater and ever greater concentration of more and more energy. More and more and yet MORE energy. More and more and yet ever MORE compressed. The ratio of the ‘light’ and ‘dark’ forms of energy became as never before conceived. A form of matter appeared upon which pure neutronium would have floated like a feather. Still the process continued. More energy, more compression. More, ever more…
…until, at the end a ‘something’ was formed that the multiverse itself could neither recognise nor tolerate. No words exist either for that ‘something’ or for the ferocity of the multiverse’s response: ‘explosion’ is vastly inadequate, ‘cataclysm’ a mere sketch of an idea in comparison.
Once it—whatever it was that was being formed; was happening—was over, a new universe had been created. A unique universe, reflecting its unique parentage and provenance.
The ultimate hatred of that long, long gone warring race had given rise to a universe consisting of a multitude of galaxies, dust clouds, stars and planets. In this universe, far from being an ultimately rare occurrence, life was to be found in teeming abundance.
Is this redemption? Perhaps…
The year is 2013, Dr. Philip Glaussmann is speaking at the prestigious “International Conference on Cosmology and Astrophysics.”
The content of his talk (catchily entitled “The Major ‘Known Unknowns’ in Modern Cosmology” and thankfully enlivened through the judicious application of a few firecrackers) can be summarised as:
Says Dr. Glaussmann at the conclusion of his thrilling 45-minute exposition: “…we may never know.”