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  1. Prologue "Prayer"
  2.  
  3. From the moment I realized that I was pregnant, I knew it wasn't a good thing.
  4. The new life dwelling within me was not a blessed one. That hideous thing was not from the same side as me and my husband — that was what the Truth [Avesta] was telling me.
  5.  
  6. I felt so bad that I wanted to vomit. It felt as if there was a maggot whirling inside of me. And what was even more terrifying, it was feeding on my flesh and blood, and growing. That simple realization was terribly humiliating for me.
  7.  
  8. I wanted to kill this thing, but at the same time, I hesitated. I trembled — not from the maternal sense of guilt, but a single realization.
  9. That thing might not just obediently accept an abortion.
  10.  
  11. Since it was a being from the other side, the usual common sense couldn't be applied to it, so thinking that it was powerless would've been too dangerous. And if it felt the murderous intent, nobody knew what defensive actions it could take.
  12. So I had to calmly deal with it. Being emotional about it wouldn't help — instead, I had to make the right decisions, bearing strength and resolution to fight. I had to find the very best way to chase down and defeat the enemy.
  13.  
  14. And with that newfound resolution, I kept thinking, again and again.
  15. In the end, I found a single answer.
  16.  
  17. Standing on the terrace of the castle, I was looking at what lied below. There was a pitch-black abyss, akin to an opened mouth leading into Hell.
  18. I was going to jump down and be scattered far below — along with that thing, killing us both. The price for averting the calamity coming from that thing was my life.
  19.  
  20. Of course, I lamented my pitiful fate.
  21. The task of protecting our home left to me by my husband would be left unfulfilled.
  22. I'm your wife, so as you risk your life on the battlefield, I want to show my bravery by protecting the future.
  23. And one day, when we meet again at some wonderful place, I want you to praise me for it. I want you to be proud of me. I want you to embrace me.
  24.  
  25. — I love you...
  26.  
  27. Silently muttering that, I threw myself into the abyss. The thunderous sound of the wind filled my ears, before my eyes was naught but overflowing darkness.
  28. I was scared, insanely scared. But in just a moment, it was going to end. And that thing would never let out its first cry.
  29. But at the moment of my death, when I was convinced in my victory...
  30.  
  31. — Thank you, mother. For me, this would be my first kill.
  32.  
  33. The laughter in my stomach sounded endlessly different from me, but nonetheless I understood it.
  34.  
  35. — I love you.
  36.  
  37. Crashing into the ground, at the moment of the agonizing pain caused by the impact, I was thrown into despair.
  38.  
  39. =========
  40. =========
  41.  
  42. And then I woke up. I just experienced the end of my life, so is this the world of the afterlife?
  43. But I was perplexed by the situation I found myself in for a short while. It was certainly not an afterlife or anything like that.
  44.  
  45. I was born just a moment ago, and that woman before wasn't even me.
  46.  
  47. Once again I looked around. The landscape was, in fact, reminiscent of Hell, but I was certainly my own self. The length of my hair, for one, was different from that mother before, and the landscape around me was certainly real.
  48. There were swords. Spears. Other tools, mechanisms, ornaments, which I couldn't understand very well. There were also things in the form of living creatures, but were silent and unmoving. However, they didn't looking like corpses to me — rather than that, they felt more like thrown away garbage.
  49.  
  50. And among that pile of trash extending to the horizon, I sat alone.
  51.  
  52. And all that time, the garbage around me kept piling up. There were giant towers, or tornados, akin to constantly shaking obi connecting the earth to the sky. Actually, it would be accurate to liken them to waterfalls.
  53. There was something far in the sky — in the cosmos — vomiting various entities onto this land. And I could see that thing.
  54.  
  55. Huge... No, it was on a completely different level from being simply "huge". Insanely far from any common comprehension, almost caricatural in it's dignity, like an enormous star.
  56. And since this place was essentially a garbage dump for this thing, it wasn't that hard to guess what I was.
  57.  
  58. Either feces or the leftover of that giant star. Or maybe a child, but I was certainly not a corpse.
  59. After understanding this, I suddenly came to another realization: one of rules of this world, the way all things came to be, and what that thing and I were.
  60.  
  61. — So you've already read the Truth [Avesta]. Perfect, we won't have to go through any useless explanations then.
  62. — Thank you for such praise. How shall I call you from now on?
  63.  
  64. Eyes opened on the surface of the giant star, and its voice made the whole world tremble, but, strangely, I didn't feel anything at all. That thing was just another living being, not much different from me except for its size.
  65. And now it even opened its mouth and stretched out its tongue. It then proceeded to entwine the nearby stars with it and ate them, one after another.
  66.  
  67. Because the star I'm on right now keeps up with the giant star, it looks static, but in fact, it moved at an insanely high speed through space, reminiscent of a migrating fish.
  68. It seems that the more it eats, the bigger it becomes. A regular star would look like a small bug compared to that thing.
  69. For any regular living being, that thing is surely a terrible disaster. It's a tremendously huge evil star that devours anything other than itself.
  70.  
  71. — You are the being from the "other side", right? If, for example, I were to compare you to the left hand, then you would be in opposition to me, who belongs to the right one. And, in addition, you're one of the Pillars. There seem to be seven of them, and looking at you, you should have a rather high standing among them.
  72.  
  73. This world is divided between right and left. Light and darkness, black and white, like oil and water, those two sides would forever be enemies with each other. It seems that this understanding that I attained before was what the Truth [Avesta] is.
  74. I wonder if it's something like a subconscious instinct. It just felt very natural and unquestionable.
  75. I had to destroy that giant star and the same applied the other way around. A very clear and pure dualism — and I think it was the same for the other side.
  76.  
  77. — To put it simply, we are mutual enemies. But we have no reason to start killing each other right now. You said before, that you don't like useless things. I am the same.
  78.  
  79. I slightly waved my fist towards the giant star, but needless to say, it did not reach it. He had no intent, and I had no way to fight.
  80.  
  81. — So, if we're going to talk, names is important.
  82. — I'm not interested. Call me whatever you want. You're just my creation.
  83. — So you created me?
  84. — Precisely.
  85. — Well then, I'll call you "father".
  86.  
  87. I slightly bowed my head.
  88. I was just born, but I had no problems in finding the correct words or talking in general. I wondered if that was how he made me.
  89. I can't believe that it was because of the Truth [Avesta], so it's probably thanks to my father.
  90.  
  91. — Well, I do understand that parents and children killing each other is not something abnormal in this world. But I'm not sure why I was shown something like that.
  92.  
  93. Besides, I did not understand the reason father created me. Why give birth to a child that you will eventually kill? If I was just a failed creation, then I would've been erased immediately and there would've been no conversation.
  94.  
  95. — I do not know what you've seen, but reading others' memory and consciousness, and tuning yourself to them is your function. It might be uncomfortable to have it activate by itself, but you'll have to get used to it until you get your Commandment.
  96. — Tuning?
  97.  
  98. I understood soon after asking. In other words, I was attuned to the side and point of view of that mother. Because I wasn't used to this function, I was not able to accurately choose what to see and feel, and hence the border between me and that mother became unclear.
  99. What is the Commandment... well, I decided to put that aside for now. It's probably something related to the Truth [Avesta], so I'll understand it at some point.
  100. For now, there are other matters to talk about.
  101.  
  102. — Is that function of mine important to you, father?
  103. — Correct. That is the reason I created you.
  104.  
  105. He said that as if there was no other value in me besides that function. Well, not like I cared about it. In fact, I didn't think I could do anything aside from that.
  106.  
  107. — Recently, I destroyed some people from your side. To be precise, some got away, but not because of a mistake of mine or anything like that.
  108. — Of course. After all, you hate useless things. So there was a reason for it, right?
  109. — True. I could not understand them. And because of that, I want to understand them.
  110.  
  111. With the way father puts it, it sounds like something admirable. But in fact, it is pretty nonsensical.
  112. One side is different from the other. There's no such thing as understanding between them. That's how it was made.
  113.  
  114. — They said: everyone's prayers will create hope. With the light of hope, we will create a miracle, and we will certainly defeat you. I... don't quite understand. What is a miracle? What is hope? Exactly how much is "everyone"?
  115.  
  116. Father continued talking. The worries of the giant star made the world tremble, and the growling flames rise, swallowing heaven and earth alike.
  117. That scenery is akin to a workshop that forges destruction.
  118.  
  119. — Give me a precise number. How much of those "everyone" are needed to create a miracle? Prayers? Thoughts? Tears? That's all way too abstract. Show me the components that make bravery. Give me the numerical amount of resolution. I said that to them, but they did not understand me.
  120. — And what did you do then, father?
  121. — Well, there was no other way, so I counted it all myself. The territory they controlled, the number of stars present, the amount of life there... It ended up being about one galaxy. What do you think?
  122. — I don't really know. Pretty big, probably?
  123.  
  124. At the very least, I cannot call it minuscule. But even the embodiment of those thoughts would certainly not present a trifling power. At least that was what I thought.
  125.  
  126. — But up until now, I have destroyed around 500 galaxies.
  127. — Really?
  128. — I have no reason to lie. Numbers are important in what I do.
  129.  
  130. I didn't really doubt him, but father gave me an extremely serious answer. Even though his behavior should've been perceived as terrible, it probably wasn't like that simply because he was a living being of another scale.
  131. Even if for a human, something like galaxy was a huge thing, for father it was no different from a simple meal, and so he calmly perceived it as such.
  132.  
  133. — So, it appears that what I ate was much bigger than their "everyone". Although I do not intend to make light of their prayers, I would've liked them to understand my position as well.
  134. — But isn't this about the balance? Father ate their lamentation and became bigger. As such both hope and despair are balanced.
  135. — I completely agree. That's why my victory was certain, and their defeat was inevitable. Even though it was obvious, for some reason they refused to acknowledge it. Even though they were unreasonable, they accused me of being insane.
  136.  
  137. Father was grieving about them being so unreasonable. Although I didn't felt any wish to console him, I started to see where the conversation was going.
  138. But there was one thing I needed to confirm.
  139.  
  140. — So, does father think that the people on my side are fools who can't even count properly?
  141. — No. I am sure that they have their own logic. I do not understand it, but I'm not childish enough to just discard it. Although for me, their line of thought seems insane, I myself still remember the fear of facing an immeasurable threat.
  142.  
  143. Looking at that being as large as a universe, I doubted if that was even true. My heart trembled in both fear and awe.
  144. That's truly horrifying. With how that thing is now, simple competition wouldn't cut it.
  145.  
  146. — So... that's why you created me?
  147.  
  148. Let's sort it out now. My ability is to attune to other's consciousness, and to bring together everyone's prayers. When father crushed people with the overwhelming power of simple numbers, they refused to acknowledge it.
  149. Neither side could understand each other, and so they fought, and killed each other.
  150. And so, I was the embodiment of something they both wished for.
  151. I was to answer my father's question and to prove my people's rightfulness.
  152. Namely...
  153.  
  154. — You are to gather all the miracles. To reach for all the prayers, study them, and to tell me their nature. To learn if there is logic besides the material and numerical values, or if there isn't. I'll learn all about that when I eat it.
  155.  
  156. The giant star said so. And I answered.
  157.  
  158. — I understood. I accept this mission.
  159.  
  160. To meet people, understand them, collect their thoughts and miracles, and to derive a formula out of it.
  161. I do not know why my people denied the reasoning behind being defeated by the sheer force of numbers and physical power. I have yet to meet my comrades and don't know enough yet.
  162. So, I will look for them. And I will study them. I will look for the miraculous hero who will be able to kill a universe — literally. And I'll come back here.
  163.  
  164. — I will certainly destroy you, father.
  165.  
  166. And in that very moment, the world around me turned upside down.
  167.  
  168. — That's just perfect. I expect great things from you, my daughter.
  169.  
  170. With a tremendous impact, I was thrown somewhere along with a waterfall of junk. And in the next second, I found myself falling — floundering — in zero gravity.
  171. Stark naked, I was thrown into space. And there was one more thing I understood. Apparently, I had no need to breathe and had no problems with low temperatures or radiation.
  172.  
  173. A-a-ah, so that's how it is. I'm not even a living being. Not much different from the junk surrounding me, even if I have a human appearance.
  174. An artificial creature without life or soul, just a simple tool. Father just scatters around all of his works like that.
  175.  
  176. His way of doing things, his way of killing time, they were all following some logic I did not understand. There was no meaning in it, yet he kept making things and throwing them away.
  177. He doesn't care who picks it up. He doesn't care about what would happen to it. It's very irresponsible, but such is the path of those who possess strength. Because there's no one who could stop him.
  178.  
  179. The fact that I was actually noticed was pretty unprecedented. I said before that I'll live up to his expectations, but now I have even more motivation. My competition with father is decided by the fundamental rule of this world — so I will fight, and I'll aim for the victory.
  180.  
  181. He was already far away, and many other giant stars followed him. They were flowing around me at all sides, truly like a migrating fish.
  182. There was roughly fifty of them. Every single one of them was, by nature, the same as their lord, all of them endlessly expanding — the one absolute and ultimate monster.
  183.  
  184. The Star Cluster of Extinction — that is how I'll call this star-eating swarm.
  185.  
  186. And before this thing destroys the universe, we have to destroy it.
  187. My responsibility is a heavy one. But for now, the main problem is that I'm just drifting in space like this.
  188. I don't want to think about it too much, but it wouldn't be good to remain lost in space for eternity.
  189.  
  190. So, for now... I'll try learning how to use my function. Father said that it's an important thing, so I'll start from there.
  191. I'll try to search for sentient beings and their location by attuning to their consciousness. And afterwards, I'll try swimming to them somehow. I'm pretty strong, so I should be able to manage somehow.
  192. And since I had no time to waste, I started right away. I closed my eyes and started thinking.
  193.  
  194. — I am... Quinn.
  195.  
  196. The first important thing is to identify myself. Although there's no sound in space, speaking like this is still good manners.
  197. My function is essentially a way of communication, so I can't forget the basics. If your ego functions properly, you know yourself and can feel the Truth [Avesta] deep inside.
  198.  
  199. — That was the name of that poor mother. I may not be her, but I wish to take over her legacy. Because we are of one kind.
  200.  
  201. A child and parent killing each other... the previous Quinn lost, but I will prevail.
  202.  
  203. — Can you hear me, my brethren? Where are you, the children of hope? I wish to reach for your thoughts. I want to see the light.
  204.  
  205. Silently praying, wishing, and floating... I repeated those words over and over.
  206. I defined myself and conveyed the form of my prayer to a hero to "everyone".
  207.  
  208. — Pleased to meet you. I am Quinn. The one who walks alongside your miracles.
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