The Mother

From Zaori

0 - beginning

It began in darkness. She was alone, not quite there, not quite anywhere. There was a sense of space and a sense of being. Time, perhaps, was a thing.

There was no colour. There should have been colour. She had a vague concept of what such a thing could be, half remembered from a time... before. Bubbles of light trailed behind fingertips not quite there. Her fingers were everywhere. She had no fingers. The lights lingered, drifting, making patterns of glow, but still there was no colour. This wasn't right. It didn't matter. It was something, beautiful, pristine. New.

She danced with joy, shouting into the black, splattering it with lights, painting the void with brilliance even as it all went out all too soon, making more, and more, and more, and the space simply got bigger to hold it all. The patterns, too, danced. Lights interacted and gleamed, reflecting each other, almost, in their hearts. Almost.

She paused to look.

She hesitated.

One by one, the lights went out, fading away, a thousand and a thousand and a thousand little points blinking off.

Darkness closed in.

Light was fickle, transitory. There had to be more. So she made something else, something darker, sketched in patterns, infinitesimally small. There were patterns to the black, ways they wanted to be, to shape. She wrote them carefully, tweaking, watching as they played out, as the dust drifted and disintegrated, drifted and condensed. Some was too big. Some too small. Some too bright.

The explosion astounded her, taking her completely by surprise as the clumps burst into glow. She hadn't done this. Had she? But there was no time to wonder, no time to stop, to think, as the void sucked it back, extinguishing, hunger, until even the last little bit of glow was fading, fading...

There was no time.

The glow remained.

The void was still.

Everything was still.

She peered at the remainder of the glow with great curiosity, examining it from all angles, looking both closely and from afar. Had she done this? Was this what the patterns made? Could she do it again? What if she pushed it further? Why did it go out? Why did the void hunger?

Time was back. The hunger's pull resumed. The light went out.

There was only darkness.

What if there were no hunger? What if it were reversed?

She drifted, letting herself trail as the lights themselves had done, and idly drew a few behind her, already fading. She was almost afraid to try it. She was almost excited.

She gave it a little push, and the hunger pushed back. She gave it a bigger push and it subsided. She turned it about, twisting, reshaping, and the darkness, too, subsided, replaced with grey, a glow of its own. Now the lights she made remained, didn't fade. Grew and flickered, though they were dim against the grey. Nothing stood out. It was a world of light, empty, full of colour.

So she went back, sisdestepping into the blackness, and the void, the hunger, reached out to claim her, welcoming almost, like a flickering of a dream. Here there was nothing save for the dust she had trickled about, the laws of patterns remaining as they had been. She tweaked them further, pushing them, opening hold, moving the weave one way, then another. She had no idea what she was after. Some of it felt right. Some of it didn't. It could change itself.

The dust drifted and coalesced in eddies as she floated through it, adding more, painting it about like stars. As some flared up, others faded. It was all drift, all flow.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she felt the presence of the grey world, the world of light, still there. Waiting. There, nothing died. Here, everything died. Even the brights of the burning dust only flared for a moment before fading, singing their song so briefly before the end. She touched one to stop it, but it, too, hungered, so she fed it, and it hungered more, so she fed it more. Its brightness grew, and grew, until she could hardly withstand it, before she finally stopped, pulling away, watching. Always watching.

The star lingered for a moment and vanished, but a fragment of its hunger turned back, pouring outward. The rest... the rest was something else entirely, fascinating, pristine. Perfect. Hunger, but not. Black, but not. Its pull was irresistible, contagious, sublime.

A new thing.

And elsewhere, other new things. Flickerings of movement. Changes to the dance.

Rocks.

They crumbled when she looked too hard. They crumbled when she touched them. She tried to make new ones, but these, too, crumbled. She tried turning away, retreating into other versions of the world, the same sames, but different. Here none had crumbled by her touch. Here all were gone. Here they crumbled all on their own.

She made one herself, piecing it together, following the patterns. Dust, but not too much. Tight, but not too close. Fire, but not too hot. A little ball, rocky, full of intricate detail, full of heat and light, and other things, too, trickling along the surface. Potential.

She looked closer before she even knew what she was doing, driftingly, suddenly, subtly. It was different from the others. Its elements more complex. Its shapes more wild, softer and sharper. It gleamed in the light of the stars. It wanted to dance, and on it wild things formed, dancing too, but these fought the pattern, fighting against the flow, dancing their own dance, making their own light.

She had never seen fight before.

The fight turned out to be very, very fragile.

The world was just a rock. The gleaming was gone, the trickles stopped. Grim statues marred the surface as they withered away.

She didn't even know what she had done. Touched it? More? Less? She tried to bring it back, looking into the other versions for a recreation of this little world, but even as she found them, she knew it didn't matter. She had broken it. She would break it again. All she had was huge, and all that these were was so very, very small. Like the world, she was alone. Like the world, broken.

But she could make more, different, better. Break some. Keep others. That was it, her center, her purpose. As she trickled the little worlds out into the black, shaping them amongst the stars, molding others, already formed, she learned, and watched. The fight came back, now different shapes, different dances, but still the same fight, pushing against the flow, pulling back against the hunger, and this time she let it be. She had learned.

The largest of the fight were stars, strange and brilliant, with colours all their own. They spoke in sad voices, calling to each other across the black even as the void devoured their songs. The loneliest ones were sometimes the brightest, sometimes the dimmest, but their songs always went the furthest. There was strength to their fight.

The smallest of the fight were fragments in the dust, indistinguishable one moment, dancing the next. They had no voices, but their fight was all together, bolstered by all the ones around. Alone, they simply perished.

And in the middle was complexity, quick and fleeting. Interwoven chains of different things, unrelated, growing up against the black. These took root on rocks, building up foundations and crumbling them down, fighting each other and the hunger both. Some spoke in simple voices, some too quickly to hear, some as low as the ground. Sometimes the voices changed. Always they were silenced, only for more to take their place, but they all together made up the voices of the little worlds, singing out, much quieter, but not unlike the starsong itself.

She had no idea what to do with it all. Even as the songs went out, others rose up, mourning their loss, mourning their own.

So she did nothing. She let it be, remained alone, retreated into her loneliness. It didn't matter. None of it mattered. This was hers.

She was just so very alone.

It was just...

She didn't have to be alone.

She could make worlds. She could make light, and fight, and hunger. Complexity was a thing. Interactions occurred. She could do more, and less. She could make others. Others like herself, but smaller.

She could give them fight. Have them learn, and hunger, and grow.

1 - the stories

The stories, as they tend to be, were incomplete. They did not speak of the Mother and her strange creation. They did not speak of her children, the gods of men, as complex entities or of how they came to be, growing and learning in her stead. Instead, they spoke of stories of the sort that interested the common folk, the fables and the morals and the known, with the gods as the players. The strangeness and the debauchery. Warnings and comforts.

But then other aspects seeped in, and the myths changed over time. When the gods spoke, men listened. They spoke of the Mother, of her love, and her lessons, and how complete and unconditional her love always was. How they were hers and she was theirs and how, no matter how any of them might screw up, or how they might make their own paths, it wouldn't matter. They would always be loved.

This was what mothers did. This was how they were, what they were supposed to be.

2 - a moment

It had been a long time. It had been but a moment. Her children had created children of their own, and they had become great, these children of the gods, these men. They had spread across worlds, spanned the vastness of the hungering black to take root on other rocks beyond their own. They had heard the starsong and recorded it, and even, indeed, they had responded. And they loved their creators even still, after all these years, after all the pain of their own lessons, after all their learning, and all the greatness they themselves had amassed.

There was something special there, something unusual. Mortal men were so fleeting, and yet they managed so much. In them, her own children saw so much, reflected of themselves, back at themselves. A love. An understanding. Meaning.

She needed to learn.