Star Forgers #1: Radiant

In the depths of space, a lone figure traverses the stars. The figure was a short brown haired woman clad in what appeared to be a cosmic sailors uniform. The blouse, skirt, and knee-high boots were a golden color offset by the white trim. The forearm gloves she wore were a matching white. Embedded above her waistband on her belly button was a star-shaped gemstone. It, like her outfit, shone gold but would occasionally ripple with what seemed to be galaxies. As she flew through the cosmos wrapped in a golden aura she left a trail of light in her wake. Her name was Star Whisper, and she was a Radiant tasked with traversing the multiverse. Her job was to create and relight stars throughout her travels. Star Forgers worked largely autonomously which gave them the freedom needed to travel and gradually rebuild the multiverse as needed. She was originally from the World of Henshin, a World where Magical Girls and Magical Boys fought the ever-present demonic threat that loomed overhead. Despite her dream being to joining their ranks, she never became a Magical Girl. But now that she was a Radiant, she went above and beyond to do her duty.

“Okay, just one more star and then I’m heading home.” Star Whisper thought to herself. In the distance, she could sense a Black Dwarf star. It’s surface cooled and rocky. The light it once emitted now gone making it nearly impossible to find. “It’s okay big guy. We’ll get you shining again soon.” she smiles and lands on the surface of the Black Dwarf. The star-shaped gemstone on her belly button starts to glow against the darkness as she holds her hands above it. Her focus wavers when she senses that she’s not the only thing present on the Black Dwarf. But the realization comes too late when several razor-sharp blades pierce through her chest. Ignoring the Cosmic Barrier she constantly generated that allowed her to breathe and travel in the void of space. The pain was overwhelming and her heart sinks at the realization. She was now under attack by an Angel. The process of relighting a star was often a taxing process for even the most hardened of Radiants. In her overzealousness, she forgot this fact and a Lamina ex quod Vitae Malum took advantage of it. Now she was at the mercy of the unnaturally thin pale creature. Its fingers massive blades like swords and its head like a hound with an eerie thin membrane covering its eyes.

“Kekekekekekekeke.” the Lamina cackles as it draws closer to its prey. The sound it made was maddening and reverberated like a dark choir. It opens its mouth slowly to savor the moment. It’s jaw extending unnaturally to the back of its skull. It’s teeth so numerous they went into the back of its throat. Teeth that easily tore into her right shoulder as it bit through her barrier. However, while it failed to stop the Lamina’s bite it did succeed in keeping her from losing the arm to the creature.

“GYAH!” she cries unable to block out the pain from both the Laminas attacks. She wasn’t ready for death but there was no other choice… “Go…back to the…Rift monster!”

With all her might, the star gemstone surges with light and the Black Dwarf is given life once more. It’s cold surface igniting with energy and returns to its former glory. It’s rays shining throughout the system, the explosion in size and energy wiping out the old planets to create new ones in their stead. The Lamina that stood on its surface howls in agony as it’s incinerated. Even with all its durability and regenerative properties, it was no match for the newly born sun.

“I’m sorry Wú…” Star Whisper thought as she’s consumed by the suns flames. Her body was at its limits, the injuries and exhaustion began to take hold. Her already flimsy cosmic barrier began to fade. “I really did push myself too hard…” with one final smile, she closes her eyes and her star gemstone goes dark. Her costume and the barrier it created fades away. Without its protection, the moment her barrier drops she’s reduced to ash in an instant.

Elsewhere, a lifetime away from the cosmic battle that just unfolded lay the World of Data. Life progressed here as it did in many Worlds until the 2000s. With the rise of the internet came more rapid technological advancements. Virtual Reality became holograms which then became Augmented Reality. But it was never enough for mankind. That is, until the discovery of a Black Box. Only those closest to it knew where it came from originally or the knowledge it gave them. Knowledge to create a digital world where people could send their minds called the Nexus. But eventually it wasn’t enough and they used the Black Box to merge the Nexus with reality, blurring the line between what it meant to be physical and digital to create what they simply called Cyberspace. For years this worked out well until it had the unfortunate side effect of giving the Viruses that were created a new form of their own. In kind, the anti-virus programs used to stop them similarly got upgraded. One such program, the λ “Lambda” A.V, was part of the latest generation designed to deal with these Viruses. One, in particular, was located in Africa serving as the primary vanguard for an Entomologist. Along with viruses, animal life and in particular insects were greatly affected by the merging of Reality and the Nexus.

“Lambda, would you mind coming here a moment?” a scientist calls out. Despite having no need for them, she still wore her copper-framed glasses. Her hair was tied back to keep it out of her hazel eyes. She wore brown shorts, a white t-shirt, and brown boots. Ideal clothing for dealing with the heat that remained present despite the physical and digitals merger. The scientist, Doctor Deloris Envore, stood reading several hard light displays that floated in front her atop a balcony several stories below the top of a massive tower in a digital savannah. While her primary research facility was located hidden within the actual savannahs of Africa, her main work was done in her personal Nexus Access Point. A separate facility within the Nexus with well over 50 floors. Here she could maintain her research without directly interfering with the local fauna. While the physical and digital did merge, the original Nexus was still fully accessible. Albeit as a sort of mirrored layer with its own sets of laws and physics. “Lambda?” she asks once more but gets no response.

Doctor Envore sighs. She closes her displays and opens up a new one specifically for communication. The call begins and after a few minutes a second display opens up next to her personal Lambda A.V. A young man with shaggy brown hair that sat in the skies above her tower. His blue eyes youthful and full of life yet oddly cold and lifeless. He wore a jet black body suit that covered all but his head. Yellow colored padding adorned his forearms, calves, and his upper back. Wasp wings rested lazily from his shoulder blades and a familiar star gemstone, the Star Core, lay embedded in his forehead hidden beneath his hair. The side points of the star sat just above his eyebrows and the two points parted on both sides of his nose. His Cosmic Barrier kept him suspended in the air without needing to even use his wings.

“Lambda, I’ve been calling you.” Doctor Envore says once she gets a clear view of Lambda.

“I’m sorry Doctor.” Lambda apologizes in a gentle unimposing voice. His eyes unblinking yet somehow longing. With the merger between the Nexus and reality, programs began getting physical forms of their own. With the global popularity of anime and manga being even more readily apparent, most were designed specifically to evoke their common design choices. User each getting a level of personal customization. The personalities, however, were largely standard across the specific models. The Lambda series was a gentle and soft-spoken anti-virus program that acted as a companion first and defender second.

“Are you okay Lambda?” she asks concerned.

“Yes, I was just…watching…” While programs did gain physical forms thanks to the Black Box, their personalities were just pre-programmed with a near limitless amount of options to give the appearance of sentience. This particular Lambda, however, was the only one with true sentience courtesy of the Star Core that was embedded within him. He knew he had a duty to protect his master, but having feelings was an unusual sensation. “Did you know that the Nexus synchronization rate with Cyberspace is near perfect? Things look different and the weather is consistent across both, but they feel and interact differently.”

“I did actually.” she replies gently. Although she was technically his owner, their relationship was one more like a friendship. “When you have a minute would you mind coming down here?”

“Yes Doctor.” he says as the transmission ends. He takes a deep breath and continues admiring the landscape. Remembering how he was before the Star Core found him and embedded itself in his forehead several days ago. He was programmed to simulate the act of breathing but now it felt like something he needed to do for survival. Even though he knew it wasn’t necessary. After a minute, he flies down to the 63rd-floor balcony where Doctor Envore awaited him. “Hello, Doctor.”

“Had fun Lambda?” she asks as he lands.

“I guess” he replies lowly still caught in his own thoughts. “How may I assist you?” his right hand held atop his left as his arms hung in front of him meekly. His default stance that he hadn’t quite grown out of despite having more freedom.

“I wanted to know if you detected a Virus to the northeast of here.”

“A Virus?” Lambda pauses briefly. “Beginning quick scan.” his voice says somewhat mechanically as he begins to scan as far as his effective radius would allow.

“Some local message boards were giving a warning that one’s been spotted in Cyberspace. But for whatever reason, nobody has sent their A.V to investigate.”

“Do you want me to investigate?” Lambda asks while maintaining his scan.

“Please, if it turns out to be true that new upgrade of yours might be needed.” she motions to his Star Core.

“Will you be okay without me?” Lambda asks concerned. His body glows a faint gold as he floats gently off the ground once more.

“I’ll be fine. I can have Phi cover while you’re away.” she smiles to try and ease his concerns. “Be safe.”

“I will Doctor.” Lambda waves goodbye and summons his helmet that emulated a wasps head. The Star Core remained visible with the helmet forming around it. The black color that now outlined the Star Core matched the black oval eyes that sat between the side and bottom points of the star. Two short black antennae extended from opposite sides of where the center point stopped and extended to create the side points. The mouth guard emulated a wasp’s mandibles and could retract as needed. Though it currently covered his mouth. Once the full helmet forms, he flies off. His wings being largely redundant to flight thanks to his Star Core. Several minutes pass before Lambda finds himself above a lake where a swarm of Viral Locust sat consuming the lake itself. Their data corrupted and glitching constantly. The greatest danger of the new Viruses was that the damage they caused transcended both Cyberspace & the Nexus. “Viruses detected.” his Star Core begins to glow. The yellow parts of his uniform turning gold and shimmering with galaxies. “Quarantine commencing.” With hands held in the shape of a triangle, his creates a hard light pyramid around the Viral Locust.

“Chechechecheche.” the Viral Locust click in unison. They realize they are now prisoners and fly feverishly against the pyramid to try and escape.

“Firewall stability at 87%.” Lambda puts his wrists together with palms open and facing the pyramid. “Target locked. Preparing Deletion.” cosmic golden energy begins to concentrate in the palms of his hand. After a few seconds of buildup, it sends an unseen surge of energy to the pyramid. Ignite its insides in a golden explosion. “Deletion complete. Assessing damage…” With the Viruses purged, he begins scanning the area. “Damage level, moderate. Repairing damage…” Lambda holds out both hands towards the damaged lake and begins the process of rebuilding. The damaged data being erased and replaced with new data. Yet some of the data remains unaffected by his efforts. “Unknown damage detected. Reinstating quarantine.” Having no other choice, Lambda reforms the golden pyramid around a portion of the lake. The black data he couldn’t repair remained pulsating as if it were alive. “Doctor, I’ve located and purged the Viruses. They were locust but it felt…off…The Locusts were corrupted but I don’t know what they wanted.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Whatever they wanted, you stopped them.”

“I guess…” he replies hesitantly. “There is damage I am unable to repair. I’ve put it back under quarantine until local authorities can assess the situation.”

His job completed, Lambda returns to his home. Unaware of his greater role in the cosmos or the significance of the threat he just eliminated…

Star Forgers 7.0

Next Issue

Star Forgers Chapter 2- Loss/Gain

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