Previously on Star Forgers…
The Star Forgers are a group of individuals dedicated to the relighting and creation of stars throughout the multiverse. In the World of Data, a Lambda series anti-virus program has gained sentience as a result of merging with his Star Core. After a meeting with fellow Radiant, Wú Wěi Yuán, he joins him to learn about their power. Together they journey to the Starpulse, the source of their power and meet the leader of the Star Forgers Sorceress Udona…
l “Lambda” A.V/Junsui Envore
Anti-Virus program given sentience. Radiant
Wú Wěi Yuán
Grieving Warrior. Trainer of Radiants
“What do you know so far Lambda?” Sorceress Udona asks the young program.
“Um…uh…hmm…” Lambda blushes as he struggles to speak and not stare at Udona.
“Take your time little one.” she tries to comfort Lambda who only gets more flustered. “A little help?” she looks at Wú.
“Meh.” Wú drops to the floor, crosses his legs, and closes his eyes. “You can handle this.” he waves off Udona casually.
“Such a cheeky one.” Udona sighs. “I suppose I’ll do everything myself as always.” she glares at Wú who’s seemingly fallen asleep. “I suppose I’ll start with the obvious. I am Sorceress Udona, leader of the Star Forgers.”
Sorceress Udona began as she floats up to the star map that was suspended above her chambers with Lambda close behind. The star map covered the entire stadium-sized dome with barely any space to spare. It consisted of 9 massive blue see-through orbs. All but one was connected by a series of swirling intertwining paths that also lead back to the shimmering cloud that surrounded each of the orbs. Within the cloud a single light shined brightly.
“We travel the multiverse exploring and preserving it. Creating new stars and the galaxies that come with it. Relighting old stars and purifying Worlds are another of our many duties.” she looks towards Lambda as she shrinks the star map to a size small enough to fit a family sized table. “This outer layer is the Astral Plane. All remaining magic comes from here. Specifically the Starpulse.” she enlarges the star map to point at the light. “As long as it burns bright there will be magic in the multiverse.” she pauses when Lambda raises his hand while averting his gaze. “Um…yes Lambda?”
“How…um…how do we keep it alive?”
“With these.” Udona says after floating up to Lambda and putting her finger on his Star Core. “The Star Cores get their power directly from the Starpulse. In return, we Radiants travel the multiverse and create new stars or relight old ones. By doing this…” she enlarges the star map so it encapsulates both of them. She then points to one of the curving paths. “We connect more star gateways back to the Astral Plane. Giving fuel for the Starpulse and allowing us to travel further.” her voice softens as her expression becomes sadder.
“Is something wrong?” Lambda asks seeing Udona’s sudden shift in expression.
“You see the nine large spheres surrounded by the Astral Plane? Those are the Nine Realms, different plans of existence that for lack of a better term exist in their own dimensions. Six of these Nine Realms have Worlds, the Universes we lowly mortals call home. Yours was here.” Udona turns the map so the easternmost sphere is facing them. “The World of Data which is located within the realm Svartálfheim.”
“World of Data…” Lambda thought aloud to himself.
“There are countless Worlds across the six realms and one by one each is being extinguished. There’s only 108 Star Forgers in existence and if I’m being honest, less than a fourth of them are doing more than just protecting their one World.” Udona sighs. “At best we’re just delaying the inevitable…Eventually, the Starpulse will just flicker out and when it does so too will the Aether. Without that, we’ll have little defense against the Angels.”
“Aren’t Angels nice? Doctor…I mean my mom told me about them once.
“Real Angels are monsters not even reality wants.” Udona’s eyes go sharp and terrifying as if ready to kill. “You can’t see it here but like the Astral Plane, there is another dimension that permeates the other Realms…The Rift, a dark place of insanity and death. Without the Astral Planes light once it gets freed it’s darkness will consume everything.”
“The Angels are like a virus?” Lambda asks.
“Yes, the worst virus that’s ever existed.”
“Okay, then I’ll help out. If it’s a Virus I can take care of it.” Lambda says filled with determination. His eyes wide and hopeful to match his innocent smile.
“You’re not questioning any of this little one?” Udona asks somewhat confused. Her arms now held crossed against her stomach.
“Should I?” he asks back. “Before recently I didn’t know anything. I just had my programming to follow. But then I got the Star Core and began thinking about a lot of things. Meeting Wú and you too…there’s way more than me or my mom ever could’ve imagined. But these Angels sound like a virus infecting the universes programming. So as an Anti-Virus program I should be able to fix it right?”
Udona became speechless as Lambdas words. Such optimism towards their mission was rare. Rarer still was such a desire to help. “Of course.” Udona replies and returns to the ground. The Star Map returning to its massive size. “But only after you finish your training with Wú.”
“Y-yes mam.” he replies becoming embarrassed again.
“I’ll send him along shortly little one. Best let him sleep for the time being. You can explore if you’d like.”
“Oh, okay. Thank you.” he bows before flying off.
“He really is just like she was. You best keep an eye on him Wú.”
“He’s just like her on the surface. He’ll change his tune. They always do.” Wú scoffs having faked being asleep. “You’re real cruel you know that?” Wú stands and glances over his shoulder at Udona. “You didn’t tell him the danger of him using a Star Core. That it gains it’s power from the Starpulse but also drains the host’s natural stamina. He’s not real, so what do you think happens when he finally reaches his limit?”
“Since when did you care?” Udona replies coldly and turns her back to Wú. “You could’ve easily told him that yourself. But no…you’re only here because of your own guilt.”
“You bitch.” Wú hisses as his headband tightens and causes immense pain to surge through his body until he calms down.
“Call me what you’d like but we both know it’s true. If you want to make it up to her then start by making sure he doesn’t end up the same.” Udona’s words cut Wú far worse than any weapon could’ve. So much so he could only scoff and storm out of her chambers. Udona hated having to play the villain and acting so cold. But for the sake of reality, the Star Forgers needed a rock to lead them.
Beyond Udona’s palace, Lambda flew unimpeded and simply watched his surroundings. The way the Aether flowed freely. The way the Starpulse seemed to breathe and yet it’s light didn’t burn or harm his vision. In fact, it was comforting and welcoming. A stark contrast to the apprehension he felt seeing the debris that also orbited the Starpulse unopposed.
“Are you new?” a woman’s voice calls out to Lambda as it approaches from behind.
“Huh?” Lambda stops his flight to face the woman. She was a Star Forger of Asian descent who had straight black hair tied into a small bun at the base of her neck. The front of her hair held up by a slim gold headband. She had brown eyes and her Star Core was located over her heart. Her outfit consisted of a Chinese qipao dress worn over a tight sleeveless black full body uniform much like Lambdas. The dress itself stopped at her upper thigh and was a golden coloration with black trim, black fastens, and swirling star patterns near her right leg and around the Star Core. Her hands covered in golden forearm gloves and she wore golden knee-high boots. “Oh! Um…hi. I’m Lambda.” he bows politely.
“A pleasure Lambda, I’m Ester.” she waves and floats closer to Lambda. “First time here?”
“Uh huh.” Lambda nods.
“I had a feeling. I was like that too when I first got here.”
“Yup, I mean I’m still pretty new myself. But I remember that look.” she chuckles to herself.
“Is that bad?”
“Not even a little. I just wish more Star Forgers could see it.”
“Why don’t more?” Lambda inquires.
“Ester?” Wú asks as he flies lazily to join the pair.
“Long time no see Wú.” Ester smiles flying to hug him. Though he doesn’t return the hug. “How are you? Still finding new places to sleep?”
“More or less.”
“I see.” she glances at Lambda. “This explains how you got here. Don’t mind Wú, he only likes to act grouchy.” Ester winks at Lambda.
“Don’t go lyin’ to the kid.” Wú frowns slightly annoyed.
“See what I mean?” Ester snarks. “So you’re teaching again?”
“Only because Udona asked.”
“Really?” she raises an eyebrow suspicious of his reasons. “Anyway, since you’re here mind helping with a history lesson?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“Bah, fine whatever.” Wú crosses his legs and floats angrily in the air.
“Okay, so from what I know the Star Forgers used to be larger. A LOT larger, like at least 10 times as large. Each scouring the multiverse and well…forging stars. But something happened and they had to basically start over with only 108 members. Without any of the old leaders we kinda just fly on our own steam. Unless Wú or another Radiant finds them most Star Forgers never even know their true purpose. Sorceress Udona has been doing her best to act as a leader but it’s not easy. Too many don’t care to leave their homes and some just don’t care.” Ester sighs with face crestfallen.
“But why wouldn’t they care?” Lambda asks confused. “If you have the power to help others why not use it to do that?”
“Some people just only care about themselves. Even when it’s clear they’re meant for greater things. Kinda like the Inversions back home. Some people get really cool super powers but all they want to do is cause harm to others.”
“I don’t understand…” Lambda laments. The concept of selfishness being foreign to him.
“Me either.” Esther shrugs. “So how’d I do?”
“You got it…more or less.”
“Oh wow, that’s the highest praise he’s ever given me.” Ester smiles ecstatically.
“Don’t push it, part-timer.” Wú exhales. “I know you’re gonna ask Lambda so I’ll get it out the way. Ester visits her World a lot. Checking in with us every so often. She’s better than most but she’s still only doing her job half the time.”
“Sorry I still have a family back home.” Ester furls her brow annoyed. Her tone a mix of sarcasm and snarky.
“Can you teach me how to visit my home?” Lambda looks at Ester wide-eyed.
“Of course.” she smiles.
“Thank you so much!” he flies and hugs her without realizing what he was doing. When the realization hits he quickly let’s go and looks down. “S-sorry.”
“Apologize later, you’re still years too early to start picking out what World you visit and when.” Wú interjects.
“Buzzkill.” Ester pouts.
“Fine then part-timer. You’re officially helping me with his training.”
“Nope, you’re coming with me and that’s final.” Wú summons his cloud, wraps his tail around Ester’s waist, grabs Lambda with his left hand, and forces both to sit. “First stop, the World of Snow.” With his new trainee and assistant in tow, Wú flies them into a portal in the Aether. “Lesson 1, Worlds are divided across six Realms. Each Realm follows their own similar sets of rules. First, know the Realm. In this case, it’ll be Midgard. From there, figure out the World you want. Picture it in your mind and will it. You just go by the exit points along the way no telling where you’ll end up.” Wú explains as they exit a Star Gateway that leads them to a World containing a Solar System.
“Is that Earth?” Lambda asks noticing the familiar planet. But from afar he could notice a distinct lack of blue and an abundance of white along its surface.
“Earth, yes. But this one belongs to the World of Snow. You can guess what makes this one special.”
“It snows a lot?”
“No shit. Yes, it snows a lot. But unlike say…the World of Winters this snow isn’t going to outright kill you in minutes.” Wú takes the group into the atmosphere of this snowy Earth. Its skies constantly cloudy. The city and lands below covered in an expansive unending snow. Even the ocean in many places was frozen over. The people and animals that called this World home having adapted or evolved to withstand the intense cold and adapt to their new environment. “Lesson 2…” Wú begins after banishing his cloud. He glances at Lambda and quickly thrusts his left hand into the Star Core. It’s light going dark as his cosmic aura disappears. His powers gone, he plummets uncontrollably to the shock of Lambda & Ester. “Power Management.”
“Lambda!” Ester tries to fly to help Lambda but is grabbed by Wú. “What the hell Wú?!” She glares daggers at Wú who remains unflinching. But her rage turns to concern as she watches Lambda fall. His wings freezing as he falls. Leaving him at the mercy of gravity.
“I was being nice when I trained you. He’s getting the real deal. If he dies…well then I guess he should’ve stayed home.”