On a considerably larger scale, the researchers had located several possible plasma- and energy-source realms for the Midnight Gardener project – although it might be necessary to design a specialized realm for the final source. Someplace where machinery the stations could be enchanted to be self-repairing or some other method of defying entropy indefinitely was available.
The stations themselves were ready, or at least the basic frameworks were, and they could be expanded on site.
It was time to open the gates and place them, to staff them with some Thralls to maintain the overlay zone and secondary gates, and to start the plasma-feed tests.
The positioning would be anything but exact, and it would take millennia before the new nebula and stellar nurseries glowed in the skies of the galaxies worlds – and half a million years before the plasma-feed and forming stars began to drift into and feed the outer spiral arms of the Milky Way – but the pilot project and proof-of-concept would be underway. What was the expansion of the universe for if not to provide room for it’s inhabitants to build?
There was plenty of space between the galaxies for new ones to be constructed – but that was a project for the future. For the moment, Kevin would settle for beginning the long-overdue maintenance of the Milky Way.
The Core Universe could not be allowed to die. The number of human souls – and, for that matter, of new alien souls and races (and young souls to Enthrall, and let adventure while it would be most fun for both them and him) – had to increase perpetually. At least according to the Ouratha, none of the other races of the galaxy were yet thinking on that kind of scale – and SOMEONE had to do it.
Besides… if he could persuade the people of Core that the Core Universe need not ultimately die of energy-starvation, it might weaken Famine – who was probably drawing strength from that belief.
And it would send Ryan though the roof, which was always fun!
He’d want a prepared statement, and to invite some reporters, to witness the first full activation.
For project Midnight Gardener, the classic “Cosmos” look – a semi-cathederal, an image display behind him, and a podium – would do nicely, as it had for so many centuries.
The future has always lain in darkness. With the growth of science, humanity peered into that darkness – and saw the coming fall of night and the end of all things. The bright youth of the cosmos would pass. The final brilliant blue-white giants would flare and die. Their light would be a distant memory as – in five or six billion years – the nebula of the galaxy, the nurseries of the stars, would be depleted, and the ever-slowing formation of new stars would grind to a final halt.
In that future, in twenty billion years, the last of the sol-type stars will be dying, fading into dim and slowly-cooling embers. The light of creation will fade into a dim red glow of long-lived red dwarves and the galaxies beyond our local cluster will have passed beyond the observation limit due to cosmic expansion. The long twilight of the cosmos will have begun, with nothing to look forward to except a night which will never see another dawn.
Entropy and death would triumph, as the cosmos faded into a random scattering of particles adrift in a lifeless void.
With the Opening, Humanity saw an escape; the Core Universe might be doomed – but the ability to call new realms into being, and the ability to reset old ones, meant that the Manifold was as eternal as anyone could want.
But it soon became apparent that the Manifold too had limitations. True fertility – the ability to bring new Souls into the cosmos – waned with time away from the Core Universe. The Manifold offered individual continuation, but the slow drift into ever-more scattered fantasies across the ages still meant the stagnation – and the eventual end – of the human race, as it meant the end of all races.
But there is another path. A choice of futures. With an Opener and enough Gatekeepers, the limitless resources of the Manifold may be imported into the Core Universe. New stars can be set alight, to hold back the infinite night. New worlds can be born – and burned-out and unstable stars can be removed.
Today we are taking the first step upon that path. Today we begin the cultivation of our Cosmos, the beginning of it’s transformation from a wilderness into an eternal garden of light, set to shine forever against the darkness.
It will be a hundred thousand years before new stars begin to form in the nebulas my feed-stations are creating, and perhaps half a million before those new stars will begin to be assimilated into the galaxy – but the project is underway. I have enough Gatekeepers in my service – and I will not permit either the Core Universe or the human race to die.
I invite those who wish to examine, or participate in, that project to do so.
What is the expansion of the Core Universe for if not to allow room for it’s inhabitants to build?
There… That should get some reactions.
It did indeed draw quite few varied reactions, with a shotgun-load of varying perspectives on the idea – and his implementation of it – even from the initial reporter-audiences (along with some annoying comparisons to a certain supernova event and a few “hubris” and “arrogance” comments). Oh well. That had been sort of inevitable. Save for a planet moving or two, that supernova had been the most notable example of a human making changes to the stellar environment since the Opening.
The Core military and Governments, of course, got even more nervous about Kevin when their sources among the reporters passed the recordings on to them. Help move a planet, move a planet on his own, decide to rebuild the galaxy without really consulting anyone… What were the limits? What would he be trying to do next? Even if he really was benign, could any youngster be trusted with that much power and influence?