Wars are easy in the beginning and tougher after the first year. My land broke war down to an exact equation. They fight, conquer, build, and live peace. They punch the numbers and find the next area for processing.
It seems easy in the beginning because it’s formulaic. But it’s bloody. Every time. Even when I see peace, watching the lights below like I was trying to discover their secret, I expect to see red.
I never do.
The first decade was the one that dragged. I got bored. When ten years flashed past, I was still fighting a pointless fight. The weight on our shoulders didn’t seem as important. The one on mine left around the twentieth year. The idea started to become a burden.
We all die. But not in this universe. We are recycled to fight again. Every day we die. Live again. Fight. Die. Live. Fight. Die. Forever. Each time we are cycled into the stream and spit out at another string of cities, we integrate, we break, we live–
The Gresh, the Cranes, the Inks, and the Others. They mixed themselves with the general population. We find them and perform the same duties. As we were made.
We all strive to survive. To dominate. To take and submit. When I first woke up, I learned quickly how to survive. Then I died. Sliced in half by a Cranes’ prism sword.
I awoke again. Then was crushed by a falling ship. Damn, Oliths. I awoke. Died from a stray shot.
I awoke over and over. Each time losing myself more and more. I dreamed occasionally. Dreamed of strange worlds all across the galaxy, hidden behind time and rip for exploration.
There was a world carved out of diamonds. One that had both green and blue plants, side by side. Several were evolved, calm societies, dotted with pets and zoos.
One world had people called Asura. Another had Fiends who wielded beasts with wings. Each one yielded people fighting but nowhere near the galactic scale of our own.
I died again. Decompression from a nearby stellar missile.
My dreams felt different. There was a world of no war. A universe at the edge of the multiverse strung together with fresh atoms and primal worlds. The world still contained warriors. Called Tens. Their powers were wonderful, strange, new, and beautiful.
So many worlds had warriors. Sometimes heroes, sometimes combat specialists. Universes that hadn’t even invented war birthed fighters of incredible strength.
So, where were ours?
There were no factions to unite the galaxy. There weren’t whispers of a secret society building their numbers to bring peace. Where were our warriors? I died again. Saw another world of a woman with white hair. She commanded monsters who ravaged a castle. I felt the waves of a burning ocean.
And she told me to find them.
Find them all. Create them. Become one of them.
I woke up. I was changed. No, not changed.
I was finally ready to leave this deceptively gorgeous city behind.