To Know the Stars

© 1998 by Lord Malachite


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Author's Note:

This fanfiction is set in the Silver Millennium, approximately 8 years before Beryl's assault on the Moon. The future Kings of the Negaverse, being nearly immortal, are full-grown, while the Senshi are still children. I have attempted to keep somewhat to reality, and thus the Terran Kingdom does not cover the entire Earth. It is comprised of South East Asia and Oceana. I have left the rest of history relatively alone, making the Terran Kingdom a contemporary of the Holy Roman Empire, Eric the Red, and the Toltecs.


To Know the Stars

© 1998 by Lord Malachite

I swirled my wine around in my glass before taking a sip and leaning back in my chair to watch the gossipers. I couldn't understand why Mal disliked coming to Court so much. Sure, the petty politics of the miscellaneous Dukes and Duchesses were boring, but the wine was excellent. It tended to be red, and I loved to watch the way it swirled around in the wide-rimmed glass before I drank it. This had the unfortunate effect that by the end of Court, my head was swirling just about as much as the wine was. Although I tried not to show it, I got just as drunk as anyone else, and I loved it. I thought it helped me communicate with the Stars, but thinking back it probably just made their messages a little fuzzy.

At court, I was flanked on my right by Jadeite, the Head Diplomat, and my left by Endymion's wife, Pearl. To her left there was Endymion himself, on his thronelike Court chair, Malachite, head of Terran Security, and Zoisite, head of the Terran Intelligence Bureau. Come to think of it, Mal probably disliked Court so much because he couldn't snuggle up to Zoisite without causing a scandal. The Terran Guardsmen just weren't supposed to have relationships with one another. The Terran Guardsmen were the four warriors chosen to act as personal retainers for the King, and I was one. Two of us had to remain by his side at all times. As well as our bodyguard duties, each of us was the head of a major function of the Terran Kingdom. I was the Head Astrologer, responsible for helping the King with any and all matters in which it might be helpful to know the future.

I took another sip of my wine. It really was quite good. Flavorful and full-bodied, like a good red should be. *I really must get some of this for my cellar,* I thought. I stopped drinking the wine. If I wasn't careful, I might get really drunk and embarrass myself, and then I might not get any more wine. *I sure have a one-track mind,* I thought. I laughed out loud, causing many heads to turn to me in interest. There was a rumor going around that, to assuage the boredom of Court, I used my powers to peer into people's bedchambers. I didn't like the rumor, but it was better than letting people chalk up the glazed-over look in my eyes to the wine.

I decided to leave the court and retire to my chambers. I had been there long enough to fulfill my unspoken obligation to attend, and besides, I felt tipsy enough to consult the Stars. I did not intend to spy into anyone's bedchambers, indeed, far from it. The only thing I planned to look into were the Stars, and possibly a bottle of good wine. I made two daily checks on the Stars, just a cursory glance to see if anything really big was on the horizon. It helped to be able to predict wars and assassinations in advance. Certainly, there was that incident three years ago, but that was magical interference, and, to be honest, I was especially drunk that day. I stood up to announce my departure, and teleported to my mansion.

I, unlike Malachite, took full advantage of the privileges granted me by my station as one of the four Terran Guardsmen, or Horsemen, as the more sarcastic nobles sometimes called us. I owned a mansion on a hill in the woods, set off from the city, from which I could observe the stars away from the glow of lamps and torches. It was terribly important that I be able to see all of the stars. I had constructed a magical artefact to help me in my observations. It hung suspended in the large, unfurnished main room of the mansion, the one that looked like a cathedral. It was to this room that I returned now, ready to make my morning observation.

"The stars know EVERYTHING," I intoned. It was this phrase that invoked the mana I had invested in the artefact, darkening the room and bringing the ceiling to life. Stars circled and sparkled slowly around the Earth at the center. While the Earth wasn't really at the center of the Universe, all my observations were made from that point, so it made sense to put it in the middle. I looked up, and I felt the symbol at my forehead begin to glow with a pulsing heat. That was unusual... It was usually warmer than that. I really peered at the Stars. "GAAH!" I exclaimed aloud, and completely forgot about wine. "Vega shouldn't be in Sagittarius yet! And what's Altair doing outside of the Summer Triangle?!? And I don't even SEE Sirius! What's going on?!?" I felt disoriented. Very disoriented. If some force was messing with my powers, I could have teleported right inside a brick wall instead of my mansion. And if someone was messing with the Stars...

I rushed outside of my mansion by the conventional method, not daring to risk a teleport. I looked up into the summer sky. Sure enough, I could recognize all the familiar stars, but not in their familiar places. And if I wasn't going crazy, both Scorpio AND Orion were in the sky at the same time! That NEVER happened! Something was wrong. Something was terribly, terribly wrong. I felt weak in the knees. If some force was messing with the motions of the Stars, I would be powerless, along with every other astrologer in the system. And an important diplomatic summit with Saturn was scheduled for next month. If something wasn't done, I would be completely unable to help my King during the summit, or during any war that may follow due to my incapacity. Someone would have to do something. And fast. I swallowed hard. I didn't need the assistance of the Stars to know that I was the man for the job. I decided to go back inside and drink more wine.

The following day, I decided to go down to the library and do research on any kind of artefact or scientific device that could perform such a feat as influencing the Stars. My killer hangover didn't help things any. After eight hours of fruitless searching and anti-headache spell-casting, I happened upon an ancient text on astrological artefacts. It was written by an ancient Egyptian astrologer, and detailed several complex and masterful artefact designs, and the magics to be woven into each. Included were an oversimplified version of my Star Cathedral, a device for travel between the stars 'faster than that which empowers the eye,' and a machine for adjusting the destinies of people. The Cathedral was obviously sensible, as I had built one myself. The second device was plainly impossible; the factor in the eye that went out and saw things was the fastest thing known to operate without teleportation. The third machine, however, was what caught my eye. It had a full set of physical blueprints, but the blueprints detailing the magic to be woven into the structure were half eaten away by time. I decided to take the papyrus back to my mansion.

After four more hours of translation work, I managed to read the hieroglyphics printed around the border of the blueprints. They were a history of the devices, and went something like this:

The first machine had been successfully constructed, and the workings of it were common knowledge today. The travel device was supposedly constructed, but destroyed during a slave uprising. Ha! I still didn't believe it. It was plainly ridiculous. The third artefact, it said, was half constructed, but never finished, due to the potential dangers it posed. It would work perfectly in theory, but the author estimated that it would take more than 1 million skilled Magi over a year to weave the magics to the perfection required. Without such an impossibly skillful construction, the device would do one of three things: work, but only very crudely; not work at all; or screw so randomly with destiny that the System as we know it would be completely annihilated.

I took another swallow of the wine sitting by my elbow. I had just enough time to realize that one of the primary reasons it was a dumb idea to drink wine straight from the bottle was that one tended to pass out, before I passed out.

The following morning, I resolved to stop drinking so much wine. After a breakfast of cold roast from last night's dinner and a glass or six of wine, I headed out into the city. According to the Egyptian blueprints, the Star manipulator would have to be an enormous object, perhaps the size of the Court room. It was unlikely that I would find any such object within the cramped city limits, but if I overlooked such a location, not only could the System be destroyed, but I would feel like such an idiot. Destiny, if there still was such a thing, was against me. Just as I suspected, there was no large, suspicious-looking object just hanging around the city. Neither was there any building capable of containing such an artefact. I decided to consult with Malachite. He was the expert at finding things out, when my astrology couldn't be counted on.

I decided not to tell Malachite about the problem with the Stars, or the potential of the machine. He had enough on his mind, what with preparing for the diplomatic summit.

Diplomatic summit! Now it wasn't just peace at stake, it was the entire System! I felt like some wine.

Other than that business about the destruction of the Universe, I told Mal everything. He sat upright in a high-backed chair in his quarters, and listened patiently to my information. When I had finished, he sat back in the chair, his cape making a sort of rustling noise against the fabric of his clothing. He sat there for almost a minute, thinking and twirling a conjured rose between his fingers. Then he sat up, and the rose vanished.

"You said that the machine was half built, but never completed."

"That's right."

"Well, do you have any idea where the remains of it are?"

"I'd assume buried beneath the sands of Egypt somewhere."

"Something even half the size of the machine you describe would be hard to bury, my friend. Unless it was deliberate, I doubt very much that it would have just sank into the desert."

"The Egyptians probably buried it when they realized how dangerous it was."

"Just buried it? I don't think so. It's hard enough to dig the hole, but actually moving this artefact? I find that hard to believe."

"Well, what then?"

"I don't know. You're the astrologer. But it seems to me that you ought to figure out where the old one is before you assume that a new one has been built."

"All right. I'll look into it."

As I left, I thought to myself. As if I could! How could I look into the matter of an operating, three thousand year old, stellar manipulation device, if I was unable to communicate with the Stars? Hmmm. Now where would the ancient Egyptians stick a 50-meter-tall, 50-meter-wide, 70-meter-long object of incredible complexity? And who would have the balls to excavate such an object from wherever it was, finish it, and start screwing with destiny? And why?

My self enquiries were rudely interrupted at this point, by the sudden arrival of a large cat directly in my path. A very large cat. A cat with orange fur, black stripes, and teeth to match its proportions. A tiger. An angry tiger. I summoned my Star Sword.

Little did Malachite suspect, but my ability to defeat him in sword combat was due largely to my choice of weapons. My Star Sword was my chosen summoned weapon, as Malachite had his boomerangs, Jadeite his pike, and Zoisite his darts / bow and arrows. The Star Sword had woven into it the rhythms of the Stars, and gave me an almost superhuman ability to anticipate my opponent's moves. I thought that the tiger would not be a problem, despite the startling mode of it's entrance. I was wrong.

Instead of a sword appearing in my hands, I found myself wielding a large orange spoon. Too startled to react, I didn't notice the tiger's charge until he was practically on top of me. I brought the spoon up just in time, and the tiger's teeth and left paw were blocked by the handle. The right paw, however, hit the bowl of the spoon and slid down to slice me a jagged cut across the cheek. Green blood dripped down on the white tiles of the palace floor. I cursed, and brought myself around onto the offensive, or as offensive as one can get with a spoon. I whipped the spoon around, and smacked the tiger on the head with it. This left the tiger somewhat dazed, but not so much that it forgot that it had an overwhelming advantage. It charged again, but this time I successfully caught it's teeth and claws on the spoon handle. As it hung there, I brought my foot up in a vicious kick to it's chin. Once again, the tiger stumbled backwards at the ferocity of my blows. However well the fight had been going up to that point, I was still worried. While I was certainly an accomplished fighter, the tiger had those claws, one square hit of which would lay me open like a melon. And, due to my disrupted Star-based powers, I would be unable to magically heal or protect myself. Just as the tiger was about to lunge for me again, I lucked out. It vanished as quickly as it had come, and the spoon changed abruptly into it's proper shape.

I unsummoned the sword. If things were getting to the point that large animals were materializing in the Palace at random, I would have to do something fast. Reality was simply coming apart at the seams.

* * *

I decided to go to Egypt to see if anyone from the Kingdom had excavated or bought anything the size of the Stellar Modifier, as I had begun to call it. After utilizing a small charm for the purpose I had bought in the market, (how embarrassing!) I teleported to the recently founded capital of Cairo. Less than a hundred years old, and already a major commercial center! Amazing. The citizens were, to say the least, surprised at my entrance.

I made my way to the bureau of Archaeology, a large, blue-painted brick building with double doors. Inside, I was quickly escorted to the office of a man dressed in what I assumed passed for formal dress outside of the Terran Kingdom. A paper-pusher. I inquired about any excavations of objects like the Modifier. After sifting through papers for a few minutes, he replied that nothing of that size or description had ever been unearthed. I left unhappily, only to be made even more displeased by the sudden disappearance of the selfsame building I had just exited. I walked through the streets in a blue funk, calmly ignoring the pandemonium around me caused by the sudden vacuum of structure. So absorbed was I in my gloomy ruminations that I failed to notice the cart until it was too late. I smacked face first into an odd-looking piece of machinery, and green blood dribbled out of my broken nose onto the sand. Several people fled in terror at my unusual coloration; the result of my close communication with the Stars or my drinking habits, I do not know. I fell flat on my ass, and looked up to see the who the idiot was that neglected to watch where I was going. I immediately recognized a piece of the Modifier. Whatever tricks were being played on Lady Luck around now, one of them had finally gone my way. Nursing my nose, I followed the cart through the crowded streets.

For hours, the cart twisted and turned, through tight alleyways, behind buildings, around corners, through crowds, into open-air markets, up slopes, down slopes, and finally approached a small, neglected exit to the city. If the cart pullers left the shelter of the crowded city, I would be completely vulnerable out on the open desert night. I decided to risk it, and hopped up on the cart, behind the machinery. It resembled a large, hollow globe, and had two holes in it, one at each end. Through the holes could be seen complicated machinery, gears and a number of lenses. I huddled in the cart as the drivers hitched two camels to the cart and headed off once more.

Riding through the desert, I looked up towards the Stars. They were just as twisted as they had been for the past three days. I sighed silently and sat back.

The drivers rode through until dawn, when they stopped at an empty section of desert. One of them dismounted and came around to the back of the cart. I managed to slip off just in time, and clung to the bottom of the cart by cracks in it's wooden floor. The remaining driver unhitched the camels, turned them around, and whipped them each once. They set off back the way we had come. I wondered if the drivers intended to die of exposure out here. I needed some wine. Then the driver at my end of the cart started pushing, and the driver at the front started to pull. As I sat amazed, the driver in front pulled open a wooden door in the ground, that had been covered by sand. We went down a slowly sloping passageway for about 15 feet, until we came to a long, paved, unlit hallway. The drivers pushed and pulled in darkness for the better part of an hour, when the passage started to slope upwards again. I could see light starting to filter down into the tunnel. We emerged on the other end into a large, sand-colored chamber, with four walls that tapered to a point at the top. In the center was the Modifier.

It was positively enormous. It resembled a large cannon mounted on a rotating base, with huge gears mounted on it for moving it's multi-ton bulk. Lenses and gyroscopes and globes and star charts protruded from the machine, in a display of arcane brilliance. All were positioned as to focus some kind of energies towards the front end of the machine. The rear end of the Modifier was finished, fully constructed if a bit faded from it's 3000-year nap. The front end, however, was obviously more recently constructed. The colors were brighter and the metal was less dented and dulled. Hoists and pulleys were strung across the room to and from the machine, keeping the machine in place, and holding several as yet unattached parts suspended in the air. Overall, it was easily the largest, most complex artefact I had ever seen, and I suspected the largest one ever built. It was a marvel of engineering, truly a stunning panorama of human ingenuity.

My cart was pulled out into the open, and I dropped off to hide in the shadows. The drivers walked up to a waiting set of pulleys and ropes where they were met by several engineers. With a bit of difficulty, they lifted the globe high enough for it to be lashed to the ropes, which were pulled taut as the sphere was hoisted into position at the front end of the machine. Several more engineers, climbing on the top of the Stellar Modifier, made their way over to the globe, and attached it to the rest of the machine. They checked and rechecked their bolts, screws, and gears, and then climbed over the globe to attach the very end pieces of the machine. As soon as they were done, the supports collapsed and the machine stood on it's own.

Suddenly, a door opened in the side of the ancient chamber, and out stepped a muscular man with intense, jade-green eyes. Antares. The leader of the Disciples of Jupiter, Antares was a zealot. Exactly what he was zealous about was unclear, and he had been thought to be an anarchist, an empire builder, a religious leader, and a terrorist, over the years. What was clear were his methods: ruthless, cunning, and shadowy. Malachite had met him during a murder investigation four years ago, about the time he first met Zoisite. He strode to the center of the chamber, and looked up at the Modifier.

"Marvelous," he said. "Simply marvelous." He turned to a recently constructed set of short pillars, over which floated three featureless black spheres. A control panel. "Turn it on," he said to the Mage at the pillars. The Mage moved his hands around over the spheres, and suddenly the Modifier came to life.

An immense whine began to fill the cavern. Energy crackled around the artefact, and light poured through the lenses. The gyroscopes began to spin, and the star charts glowed in key places. "Left forty-five degrees!" Called Antares. The gears turned, and the entire machine pivoted on the base. "Seventy-five degrees Z axis!" Yelled Antares. More gears ground away within the machine, and the various segments rotated about their centers. "Final adjustment!" The mirrors and lenses and other paraphernalia all turned slightly, to focus several thousand infinitesimal beams of light at varying angles through a star chart, creating a projection of the Stars on the wall of the chamber. "Activate the Reality Mirror!" Suddenly, the entire wall on which the projection was mounted shimmered, and became completely transparent. The beams from the Modifier went through the wall, and actually cast points of light on the sky! It was as if the sky were a black canvas, and with this unholy machine Antares was painting on it. The Stars themselves began to move now, each one shifting out of it's already warped position to overlap the points of light cast by the Modifier. Once each point had superimposed a Star, the machine went dead. I decided that this was the time for action.

I charged out of the darkness, summoning my sword, (this time a sword-sized feather), as I charged. Antares whipped around to face me. "Kill him," he yelled, and a number of burly men charged me. I whipped out my hand and flung several magical attacks, some of which exploded as fireballs should, others of which impacted as small pink rabbits. Fortunately, the velocity of the rabbits was enough to deter any more guards from charging me. "Fool! I'll destroy you myself," roared Antares. He pulled a small golden rod from the recesses of his robe, and pointed it at me. In a flash of blue light, I felt myself thrown against the opposite wall, a burning tingle creeping over my body. Lightning. I sat up groggily. Antares was aiming the rod at me again. I forgot about my own safety, and decided to destroy the Modifier. I flung a few more fireballs and rabbits at the machine, and it collapsed in an enormous cloud of fire and energy. Antares turned to look at the exploding machine. "No!" Antares turned again to me, and spoke in an unusually quiet voice. "No matter. I have made my modifications. When I am finished with the Stars, it will not matter if the Earth is a pile of ash!" Antares turned away from me, and teleported away.

I thought of trying to follow Antares, but the sudden collapse of the ceiling convinced me otherwise. It would take too long to trace his teleport. I jumped to my left, and narrowly averted being crushed by a two-ton block of falling sandstone. *Sandstone! A pyramid! That's where they hid the Modifier!* Not that it mattered. I ran for the tunnel, and took shelter near it's mouth.

About an hour later, after the dust had settled, I crawled out from under the remains of the pyramid. From outside, it's former shape was evident. Luckily, this particular pyramid was far enough away from civilization that it's passing shouldn't be a matter of national import. I paused to take stock of my situation. I was dirty, sandy, beat up, and bloody. I had a broken nose, and I still tingled from the jolt Antares gave me. Also, I hadn't eaten or drank in almost two days. I decided that it was time to take a break. I used the charm to teleport back to my mansion.

* * *

After taking a bath to rid myself of the unmistakable electric tingle, applying salve and bandages to my various wounds, and eating a heavy lunch, I returned to the Star Cathedral. "The Stars know everything," I intoned. The Stars lit up. I peered intently at them. A method was definitely beginning to appear in the madness. In fact, if the Cathedral's projections for the Stars were accurate, they would be forming an interesting pattern in about 2 hours. In fact, it would be an oddly positioned Formation of Power, those once-in-a-million-years occurrences during which all the powers of the Stars were focused on one geographical location or person. Let's see now, in 2 hours the formation will center over... Indonesia?

I ran to my desk in a neighboring room and pulled out a map. *Indonesia, there. Now, what island? That one? No, that one. What's there? A small town, but this map is a year or so old. Now what?...* Then I remembered. Antares' tower was in Indonesia. It didn't matter why he wanted a Formation of Power centered on his tower, what mattered was what havoc it would wreak. The great astrological forces focused on one point would ordinarily cause a stir, but out of rhythm.... it would break the world. The entire Earth would be completely annihilated, and the resulting energy release would destroy everything out to the asteroid belt, while the stellar repercussions would send the rest of the system into chaos. Despite Antares' careful construction, any less than perfect modification of the Stars would inevitably fail. And I had unknowingly made it worse by interrupting the process. I could have inadvertently caused the destruction of the System. I felt like having some wine, but resisted the impulse. I had to fix it. I couldn't fail. I would set things right.

* * *

I teleported to the outside of Antares' green, gold, and pink tower. Mal had told me how to get there, but Antares had obviously installed some powerful teleport wards, thus preventing me from going straight inside. I looked up towards the top of the oddly colored tower. Even though it was day, the sky immediately surrounding the tower was black, and the Stars shone through. A steady stream of energy was pouring out of the sky, to strike the lightning rod at the tower's summit. Energy coursed through and around the tower. Even with over an hour to go until climax, enormous amounts of energy were being released. I tried to approach the tower, but the heat and electric tingle became too much for me, even three feet away. There was no way I could make it to the doors. I cursed under my breath, and summoned my sword.

This time, it appeared as... a sword? The stellar energy gathered here must provide me with enough feedback power to overcome the modified positions of the stars. I lifted the reconstituted Star Sword, pointed it at the curtain of energy, and willed an opening to appear. Amazingly, it worked. A path appeared through the lightning, and I walked through it to the doors. I tried the doors, but, unsurprisingly, they were locked. Not a problem. I hacked at them with my sword, and they gave way with surprisingly little difficulty. I charged into the building, and found myself in an empty reception area. There was a door behind a secretary's desk to the left, and a set of impressive double doors at the opposite end of the room. I opted for the double doors. I flung them wide, and peered into the small room within.

What the hell...? Now I remembered what Malachite had told me. The elevator. I stepped inside, and immediately pulleys began to turn, and I lifted off. About 2 feet into the air I thought better of it and rolled off through the rapidly shrinking crack between the floor of the elevator and the ceiling of the main room. I landed on my feet in the elevator doorway, and peered downward into the elevator shaft. Sure enough, it was a long way down to a very sharp looking bottom. I pulled my head back just as the elevator came whistling down, it's ropes cut, to smash into splinters at the bottom. *So much for that.*

I turned to the door behind the secretarial desk. I opened this one cautiously, and peered in. A narrow, ill-lit passageway stretched back about three feet, before hitting some stairs and turning sharply to the right. It looked to me like the beginnings of a spiral staircase. I headed up. The walls weren't decorated in any way, in fact they weren't even painted. Or covered. They seemed to consist of tightly packed wires and flanges and gears and dials and things. The entire tower had obviously been built for the purpose of receiving and channeling all the energy that the Stars would produce. But channel it to what end, I wondered? Why go to all this trouble? I put my questions aside as I raced up the stairs. It was unimportant. What mattered was getting to Antares and making him tell me how to reverse the damage he'd done.

At the top of the maintenance corridor / staircase, I was once more met with a door. A heavy door. It was about 5 inches thick, and was solid steel. I tried hacking at it with my sword, but to no avail. The latch was just as indestructible. Well, maybe I could turn all this ambient energy to my advantage... "I call upon the power of the Stars!" I pressed the palm of my hand flat against the door. The Stars' symbol, like a modified Ne kana, glowed momentarily on the surface of the door where I had placed my hand, before gently unlocking it and swinging it inward.

Inside the room stood Antares, at a set of three floating black orbs suspended over short pillars, much like the ones in the pyramid that contained, or used to contain, the Stellar Modifier. He was understandably surprised at my entrance, sword in hand. He turned around and his eyes bulged, before he staggered backwards against the pillars to say,

"You're dead!"

I ran up to him and slid the blade of the Star Sword under his chin. "You will be too, if you can't tell me how to put the Stars back where they belong."

He bristled visibly. "You can use those globes there. This tower is constructed sufficiently like the Modifier that you should be able to make it work."

I slid the sword away from his throat a little. "How do I do that?"

He smiled evilly. "That's your problem." Without further adieu, he vanished.

"Damn!" I slammed my sword point first into the tiled floor, and then turned to the globes. *How am I supposed to do this? In the Stars' name, I'm no artificer...* I placed my hands on the outmost two spheres, and turned them slightly. A glowing image appeared in front of me, showing the positions of the Stars, the energy flows, and the tower. I rolled the balls around a bit, and saw the energy twist and change. The Stars stopped closing in towards the tower, and started to move off in seemingly random directions. I spun the balls furiously, and the energy distorted again. This time, a few Stars near the edges of the display zipped off towards the center. I brought the center orb into play, and a few more Stars moved lazily around. I thought I was getting the hang of this. I slowly manipulated the left and center orbs, and saw Polaris swing back into position at the North Pole. I shouted aloud. "Yes!" I twisted the right hand orb a bit, and Vega and the Castor half of Gemini moved into position, but Polaris drifted a little bit to the left. I rotated the center orb a little more, and Polaris moved even farther out of the way. I moved the orb the other direction, and positioned Polaris where it belonged. In this manner I slowly began to move the Stars back where they belonged. In the interim, I saw my sword turn from sword to spoon to submarine sandwich to chihuahua, and just about everything else under the sun. Finally, guided by my close, almost subliminal connection with the Stars, I had manipulated them back into their proper places. By that time it was the following day. I had worked for slightly longer than 24 hours, and Antares had gotten clean away.

* * *

I teleported (this time under my own, restored power) back to my mansion, and wearily trudged inside. It had been an exhausting week and a half, and I needed nothing more than sleep. Sleep and wine. I went through the main door, past the fully functioning Star Cathedral, and into my cellars. I grabbed a three or four bottles at random off the shelves, went into the dining room, and proceeded to get extremely drunk. I passed out more content than I had ever passed out in my life.

- End -


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