by Maurice X. Alvarez
Copyright © 2001 Maurice X. Alvarez
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Modern telescopes and probes have allowed us to peer through time to areas of space born seconds after the Big Bang and even estimate the age of the current universe since the Big Bang. What all this technology is incapable of showing us is how the physics we hold as law breaks down proportionally the closer one comes to the point of origin of our universe. Nor can it show us that life exists even amidst all that entropy.
But these lifeforms are not like anything we can possibly imagine for our perceptions are limited by the dimensions which dominate our region of the universe. These lifeforms are capable of traversing all the dimensions as easily and as naturally as we move through our small subset. As such, they are capable of feats we would consider magical, or even godly. It could very well be said that their imagination is the limit.
One of these ancient races—and as they do not think like we do, they do not name themselves—was exploring the curvature and anomalies of space when they discovered a place that they had never imagined existed before. In their insatiable curiosity, they tried using their imagination to reach this place, but found they were hampered by barriers. It was as if they were being forced to compress themselves into increasingly smaller spaces in order to proceed further. Having never encountered such boundaries before, they could not immediately comprehend what they had discovered. But they were a very old and very intelligent race, and they soon realized, much to their surprise, that there were other regions of space in which the various dimensions were curled into impossibly small structures. They tried uncurling the dimensions, but their efforts were fruitless. They had no power in these regions of space.
Since the dimensions compactified gradually, this race was able to travel some distance into the new place by compressing themselves. In so doing, they discovered lifeforms very different from themselves. They observed these lifeforms, watched as they struggled with devices they created with their physical forms. The devices were used to perform tasks the beings could not do on their own with their limited physical forms. They called these lifeforms beperket, confined. And for the first time they came up with a name for their kind so as to differentiate themselves from the beperket. As the name conveys the lack of limits by which they had lived until then, it would be impossible to reproduce here. In essence, it amounts to Dominators, for they believed that since the universe began nearest to them, the rest of the universe flowed through their space and outward.
The Dominators returned to their region of space with this knowledge and, working in groups, used their imaginations to design what would best be described as a machine. Their intent was to be able to destabilize the fabric of beperket space enough to unwind the dimensions so that they could explore further. As this was their first attempt at designing a machine, it did not have the desired effect. Instead the machine acted like a hole puncher on the fabric of space, punching holes into a new and unexpected place. The openings to this place glowed with a light that pulsed in tune with the universe itself. However, when the Dominators passed through the newly created holes, they felt as if that pulsing energy was tearing their essences apart. They had to retreat, or they were certain they would perish.
Using the knowledge they had gained from observing the other physical lifeforms, the Dominators formed containment barriers around themselves that completely sealed them from outside influence except for mental communication. Thus they were able to enter the new space and discover its timeless, limitless expanse. They were immediately aware that there was more to this new space than was outwardly obvious. Moving about within their enclosures, the Dominators found that unlike normal space, this new space had no curvature. It was a flat plane with no apparent beginning or end. They also found out quickly that the plane was impervious to their imaginative manipulations. It was greater than them, older, they got the impression, much older than the universe itself.
But if they had been able to punch a hole to get in, they could probably punch one from within to get out somewhere else.
After some modifications to their machine, the Dominators were able to punch a hole large enough to fit the machine through. For reasons beyond their understanding, the machine was able to pass through the hole without need of an enclosure. Once inside, they punched a hole randomly and found they had exited into a region of space half the universe away from where they had entered.
And they had only moved a few planet-widths within the plane!
The possibilities were immediately obvious to them. Instead of expending large amounts of energy to travel through space and deal with all the compactified dimensions, they could now move through the plane for a fraction of that energy and cover the same distance. Immediately they set to work perfecting the 'hole-puncher'.
The Dominators were hindered by setbacks, including the loss of lives when their random punches opened into hostile environments like black holes or the surface of a sun. The project was soon deemed too dangerous to continue and halted.
For several rotations of their galaxy, the Dominators found other curiosities to pass the time. All but one. This extremely curious Dominator put personal safety aside and continued dwelling on the design of the machine. The being realized that the reason for the casualties had to do with their inability to see through the punched holes, another, never before imagined limitation of the universe. Try as it might, however, the being could find no way of overcoming this limitation.
Instead this unique being did something that none of its race had ever done before, it thought up a workaround. It created its own machine with a safety-sensor that would alert those within the plane if an environment hostile to life existed through the punched hole. With this new design, the being was able to persuade others to take up the project once again.
The new cube-shaped design went through many changes after that. The most significant change was the introduction of a mental-command receiver/translator/actuator. This design change could receive the mental-commands of the Dominators, translate them into time-space coordinates and punch a hole precisely where intended. This change also reduced the size of the cube-machine considerably and increased its operating speed.
The beings were content with this design for many rotations of their galaxy. They traveled to all the ends of the known universe broadening their knowledge of the space in which they lived and the plane through which they traveled.
They soon made another great discovery. After all that traveling, some beings had realized that the punch-points always corresponded to one of the tiny points of light that filled the plane. In their rush to get the cube-machines working, they had ignored these tiny points of light. They now investigated them and found them to be weaknesses in the barrier between the plane and normal space. The beings decided that there might be a more efficient way of punching through the barrier using these weak points. After several design sessions, they invented the portal.
The portal was very much like punching, except that instead of forcefully tearing through the barrier, the portal located the appropriate point of weakness in the barrier and smoothly expanded it to form a clean hole. This procedure expended less energy than punching, and not long after led to the realization that the portals could be sealed without having to shut the cube-machines off. In the past, the holes had remained open so long as the machine was on, which is the way it was designed to work. The machine would hold the hole open until the traveler no longer needed it at which point the machine would be shut off, and the hole would collapse. Now, the cube-machine could interpret a mental-command that would seal the portals without having to shut down.
The last giant leap in the Dominators' design came as the result of a lost life. As plane travel became commonplace, the Dominators turned their attention to the plane's “pulse”. They had long determined that this pulse could be a source of free energy, but they had not applied themselves to tapping it. One curious being decided to try communicating with this energy as it would with one of its own kind. But upon tapping the source, it vanished, despite being within its protective enclosure.
The Dominators approached the energy more carefully following that incident and were eventually able to channel the energy into the cube-machines. Until then, the beings had had to expend some of their own energy to power the cube-machines. Now the machines were essentially powered by the universe itself.
After many more galactic rotations, the success of the cube was widespread throughout the Dominators' worlds and those of their equally-ancient neighboring races. Their civilization was at the height of its knowledge. The sudden flare of various suns in their galaxy dampened their excitement. They realized that their ancient galaxy was witnessing its last rotations, and despite all their abilities, they were powerless to stop these forces of nature.
Many of the ancient races fled through the portals to other galaxies in the same regions of high-entropy space. But being the oldest galaxies in the universe, the majority of these were experiencing the same solar collapses. Countless lives were lost in the search for new homes.
The survivors collectively agreed that the best place for them to continue their existence would be within the plane. They spent so much of their time passing through there anyway that it was like a second home already. And so it was. Their suns continued to expand and consume their planets until they collapsed in silent explosions. The beings sadly watched from their safe new home as their galaxies grew colder and colder and finally fell dormant. They were all Dominators now.
The Dominators had observed the beperket lifeforms for much time now. They felt a kind of pity for them, for their limitations. Because of this, they collectively agreed to distribute modified cube-machines to the beperket. For the first time in their existence, the Dominators copied the methods of the beperket and assigned each other specific tasks. Some would distribute the modified cube-machines and others would keep track of each one and decide if it was doing any good. If it wasn't, it was to be collected for redistribution. In this way, those who needed it most would have it. And so it was.
Very quickly, the Dominators realized their mistake. The physically-bound beperket had never learned mental discipline. Though some used the cube-machines in ways acceptable to the Dominators, many abused them using them to alter time or for profit at the cost of lives. The Dominators decided to immediately collect all the cube-machines before any more harm could come from their use.
Before the Dominators recovered all the cubes, however, many lives were irrevocably touched by their existence.