The Form of the Founder
What almost no-one would realise is that almost every active being within the Seraphormer is the Eldritch founder.
The Founder is a multdimensional hive mind, the visible projection of which in our reality is a vivid-blue Cuttlefish-like creature roughly the size of a loaf of bread.
These super intelligent Cuttlefish build for themselves mechanical or magical bodies, which they inhabit, each different according to their purpose and intent, called Agents.
Though they come in varied kinds, no two bodies are exactly the same and each bears the crazed and slightly haphazard sign of the Founders personality.
Incorporated into each Agent body, often at the centre, sometimes hidden by armour and robes, but sometimes very obvious, is a globular fishtank full of glowing hyper-energised cosmic fluid, in which the true Founder swims and operates the mechanical form with its tentacles through haptic controls.
The Prime-Founder, (if there truly is such a thing) the one operating the Soul Foundry at the core of the Seraphormer, is a huge, multi-limbed semi-mechanical being with a hooded face but octopus-like metallic tentacles hanging from it. But the body is simply another such construct; the largest and most potent of its kind, made to survive the insane cosmic energies of the Soul Foundry.
The degree of unanimity amongst the Hive-Mind is totally unknown. But the different elements do seem to have different personalities, the Rocket-Angels being intense, driven and dutiful and the Founder-Prime being brilliant, maniacal and gleeful. The ceramic hyper-body in the Core of Possibilty is inhabited by another such expression, this one calm and philosophical, the giant tadpole creature bound in the Delusion Engine is another.
Perhaps these are all simply concentrated expressions of particular thoughts and processes in a mind existing beyond reality. Perhaps they do sometimes argue with each other, hide information or intent from each other and may know, or not know, what the other does.
Each expression holds, as in a holograph or a cell, a plan of the whole, and if every expression were destroyed but one, the Founder would still exist and could re-grow all that had been lost.
No thinking being, and no being at all, except perhaps the Lords of the Lichejammers, will ever know that all the creatures in the Seraphormer are construct bodies, that they are driven by Blue Cuttlefish or that all the Cuttlefish are in fact one hyperdimensional mind.
It is a level and a layer of deceit and subterfuge which boggles the mind with its impracticality, signalling deeply prescient paranoia, a truly alien mindset, low-level insanity, or all three.
Outside the Seraphormer
Think of somewhere dark and dead.
The dark side of the Moon, or industrial ruins at night. A place defined by absence. Somewhere so chewed over by time that even Entropy has lost interest.
But just, just slightly, only by a hairs breadth, just within sight of the core, the centre of all things, the fading spark of life and light. Imagine standing in a dark and ruined factory and seeing in the distance, the lights and movement of the city.
Here, assembled from the relics of impossible empires and detritus taken from the invaded dreams of sleeping gods, is the Seraphormer, the Factory of Souls.
Even if you are looking for it, you won't find it, for a key component of the Seraphormer is its mighty Delusion Engine, perhaps the greatest of its kind ever made or sustained in any of a thousand parallel eons-long histories. This Engine keeps the Seraphormer hidden.
More than hidden; not even suspected.
The pale field of the Delusion Engine reaches out to brush the edges of the cosmos, tangling with errant thoughts, twisting, gently, the minds and perceptions of all that think, turning them away from even conceiving of the Seraphormer, from even considering the idea that such a thing might be possible.
What the key or pass to this Engine of Lies might be, only one being can guess and, it is said, even they sometimes forget for a while should they pass outside its core, not remembering exactly who they are or what they do until some trick of time reminds them of the code, whatever it is.
Should you pass within the Engines field, you will see;
A crackling maze of dimensions on an inconceivable scale.
A void, or something like a hollow moon filled with things stolen from the dreams of sleeping gods and recovered hypertechnology from forgotten stellar empires. A scrap machine, full of strange energy and incalculable workings; something clearly botched together by a lunatic.
The void-maze is lit by the contrasting glows of small, imaginary suns, by multicoloured fire bursting from barely-controlled realm-tears, by the glitched sigils of the language of angels orbiting post-singularity space-hulks, and by the lightning, plasma-venting and sparks of its own titanic energies.
|J Otto Szatmari|
From each tear, sun or engine, vast cables the width of skyscrapers plunge down through the light-spattered void, some black, some radiating solar energy or leaking fire, all joining together in the Core, the centre of the Seraphormer, an insane mass of machines, energy and detritus from a billion years of dead civilisations.
The great mass of the core itself split by a single barrel-spike, itself encrusted with umbral shrouding and Mistake-Generators drawing Pneumo-Mystification from the Delusion Engine. This is the Noumenon-Cannon, a Soul Accelerator which both fires the completed souls out into the Cosmos on questionable trajectories, and also cloaks their vectors. A silenced weapon on a cosmic scale.
Between the titanic cables fly flocks of insectoid, semi-mechanical, rocket powered angels which blast about in swarms. Each angel is perhaps twenty feet high but in the distance they seem like birds, or insects. They hurl themselves about the Outer Engine, constantly repairing, altering, fixing and containing, struggling to keep the great machine functional and stable.
You may glimpse for a moment, a white ship of bone. A cylindrical craft with gossamer black solar sails, drifting through the void. Constructed of mortal bone, crewed by radiation-blasted skeletons and captained by the greatest of the Undead, these are the Lichjammers, the only visitors the Founder allows, and even they must be mind-wiped after each journey.
The darkest things in the Outer Engine. Giant post-singularity mega-machines. Ruined space hulks, abandoned starship cores. All made by different cultures, different races and societies.
Surrounded with electrical Halos of the Enochian language of Angels. But glitched. As if the sacred language of the creation had been projected as a hologram, but warped and twisted slightly with some transmission problem or signal fade.
These halos orbit around the dark industrial hulks, twisting and shifting like neon signs against a black techno-industrial background.
Gigantic mega-cables lead in like spiderweb strands, black and dark against the fire and eruptions. Leading up to each Engine from the Core of the Seraphormer, humming with power and broken up with huge scavenged transformers and data-mills, the cables momentarily split, sending arcs of electrical energy out into the void.
The cables carry glitched rivers of sigils and penumbras of strange sacred data which spills from them in ribbons and blotches of light, flashing and flickering.
As power flows up from the core, data flows down.
These are the Atman-Engines; lost digital heavens. The data cores of forgotten civilisations holding engram-heavens; virtual worlds where the engrams of scanned populations can live through eternal second lives, watched over by algorithms and A.I’s. Some are parts of refugee craft for entire civilisations, others the creations of Hyper-Noble Pure A.I.’s, still others the brain cores of lost super intelligent god-machines.
All were rescued from the deep void by the Founder and hidden here.
Here they perform the calculations of the soul.
So indescribably complex is one, single, mortal soul, that to build its detailed, flexible, recursive and semi-divine CODING, called by the Founder its ‘ATMAN’, requires all the combined power of all these hyper-intelligent minds and hives of minds.
It cannot be done by unconscious unthinking machines, it can only be a product of individual will. Soul-to-Soul.
So the divine calculations flow down into the core. Delivering ATMAN.
The Imaginary Suns
Between the tethered megatech orbit imaginary suns.
None are as huge or as a real as the sun known to us on Earth, They are more like painted or imagined images given a half-life; Stylised, each differently, like tarot-cards, paintings or hieroglyphs. Some are chariot wheels, others engines themselves, or great burning palaces.
Each sun is tethered to a Solar Collector, which absorbs its magical energies, like a cone, scoop or shade on an enormous scale.
Each Collector is stapled together at an insane scale from interstellar, techno-jink, post-industrial megastructures and magical spell effects sustained by small para-libraries of auto-incanting sorcerer-golems. More giant transformers, tubes and cables, channel the magical light into massive bound fibre-optic cables which lead down to the Core.
The Soul energy of the dreaming suns pulses in a continual dawn-grey, summer-yellow undulating river of inexpressible energy down the titanic conduits. Thankfully, the energy of the Imaginary Suns is largely stable and continuous (especially compared to the usual works of the Founder) but like everything in the Seraphormer these regularly flicker and vent energy and need to be repaired with interstellar detritus.
These are Suns stolen from the minds of the Dreaming Gods. The Founder snuck psychically into the profound somnolence of those sleepy deities and took from the greatest of them, their own conception of The Sun. Gods both ancient and alien, proud and long forgotten, were robbed in their eternal slumber and their meta-real conceptions brought here to the Seraphormer.
The energy they channel is called by the Founder; LOGOS. The light of reason, structure, clarity and divine order.
The Prismatic Fire
Between the tethered Imaginary Suns and the dark industrial Atman-Engines are tears in the substance of the Real only barely held under control by hyperactive angel swarms working jury-rigged unshielded space-warp drives and hyper energised gate-spells.
From within, roars incandescent prismatic fire, raging like tornadoes, tangled in a thousand colours and forms, like a rainbow or kaleidoscope of fire.
Massive turbines, engines and funnels suck in these raging firestorms and, roaring themselves, pipe them down hyper-pressurised ceramic-layered pipelines and conduits, wrapped in venting cooling systems glowing furnace-white with the impossible forces they contain.
Through these momentary tears in space, blink infinite reptilian eyes.
Within this roaring, ultra-dense dimension are Infinite Dragons. For this is the Dragon Dimension, where space and time do not exist, but only dragons. Where they writhe around each other like worms in a bucket and react violently to any tear in their sub-realm, which allows brief snatches of time and entropy to enter that bound yet infinite space.
The prismatic annihilating fire channelled down into the Core forms the basis for what the Founder calls NEPESH – the breath and life and animating force of a mortal soul.
The Bone Ships
These are the Night-Clippers, the Lichejammers. White ships under black sails.
Relics of many realities, often the first and greatest mortals to achieve magical immortality, and the first to enter interstellar space, riding ships constructed of human bone, crewed by skeletons and golems, simply waiting out the vast reaches of time between stars.
Even in the slow Death of Esh, the Licjammers persisted, and still persist in the ruined intra-realm Greyspace that remains.
Mighty spellcasters, the greatest of their kind, each totally indifferent to mortal life on a scale of planets and civilisations
Yet here, they are employees.
The Seraphormer requires one last substance for its work, for each soul must have a catalyst, a shadow-self within itself, an other and a mirror. The central conflict/relationship which sparks a being into true self-awareness and spiritual existence.
QUILETH – The shadow. The necessary toxin. The Catalyst.
Out in the varied Cosmos of Uud, the Lichjammers drift, seeking the Quileth, the sleeping, dispersed and forgotten Deamons of Esh. The Ejecta and Refugees of its collapsed Hells.
Only the Lichejammer Captains are powerful enough to hunt such beings, capture and transport them. Only they are cold and indifferent enough to attempt the trade.
And even they must submit to memory-wipes on receipt of each cargo. When out on-mission they know only that the details of their memory have been altered, and that any attempt to recover them will voids their deal. They know only what to hunt, and where to take it, and even that is a potentially dangerous breach in the security of the Seraphormer.
So the cylindrical, slowly rotating bone Lichejammers drift in the space between reaching cables, passing lightning, coronal ejections, glyphs, prismatic fire and rocketing Angel swarms. Circling down towards the docks of the Demon Engines in the Core, where they believe they will discover who their employer truly is.
The Outer Core
In the Outer Core a staggering exchange of energy takes place. The impossible super-materials harvested from the Void are channelled, altered and transformed, while the enormous energies required to balance and empower this near-planetary Giga-Machine are transmitted outwards. Here are huge industrial transformers pulled from ancient space ships and forgotten world-engines - these pulsing power outwards through scavenged materials to wherever it needs to go.
The Demon Engines
The Lichjammer Docks, together with the statelike reception areas for the Lich Lords, and the means of controlling and mind-wiping them.
The captured Quileth themselves are taken to the Demon Engines to be processed. Black iron mills full of soot and howling metal. Terrible soul-pistons, compression machines and prisons for the Quileth who are fed through the process, crushed, spiritually melted and extruded as a pure, black, ultra-dense liquid.
the Agents who oversee this part of the Seraphormer are blackened, apelike constructs, heavily armoured and often with shoulder-mounted pulse-weaponry scavenged from futuristic battlefields. The dark iron of their bodies carved with mandalas and pentagrammic wards to protect against the vile energies of the processed Quileth.
Here if nowhere else, the Seraphormr would seem like a kind of hell.
The Burning Turbines
The Prismatic Fire harvested from the tears in the Dragon Dimension is funnelled here, carefully slowed and cooled, driven through gigantic turbines, reducing it to a manageable form of plasmic fluid (itself insanely hot and potentially destructive).
Everything here is based on shielding and cooling in massive degrees, (even the cooling systems have cooling systems). Vast towers vent steam into the Void, the air pulses with energy, alarms keep going off. Ceramic shielding blackens. The Nepesh Energy Warning Signs [Maybe have a designer come up with an equivalent to the 'radiation' warning sign, but referring to too much Nephesh instead?] themselves are blackened and curled with the ambient heat.
The place feels like a Russian power station.
The Agents here look like octopi, Cephelopods and Gibbons and they run around fixing stuff like the place is Chernobyl. Despite the overwhelming danger the Turbine Halls are quite cheerful and the Agents here positive and optimistic. Maybe too much as they sometime hover on the edge of delusion.
The Solar Reactors
Here the Logos-light of the Imaginary Suns is drawn from its massive Fibre-Optic caballing, bounced through huge reflection traps, mixed in titanic solar condensers, fractionated through spectral analysis, slowed by Shadow Engines, then channelled into pulsing diamond-bright projection crystals for the next stage.
These crystals ultimately shovelled like coal into the intakes for the Soul Forge.
Things here are radial and symmetrical; clean corridors, crystal displays and robed Agents calmly observing light. The agents are quite elegant and well made, (for creations of the Founder, which are always a little janky.)
The Comprehension Organs
the angelic calculations of the divine hyperminds in the Atman-Engines must be comprehended before it can be transmitted on to the next stage. Mechanical reproduction or analysis will not suffice.
The Agents here are all spindly-bodied creatures with giant fishtank heads bulging where the brain would be. Inside each ‘head’ are four or five Founders, swimming about and operating the controls, a massive overengineering of mental capacity, considering that asingle Founder is effectively a Genius-level intellect.
Yet it is required.
The raw Enochian info-stream from the Atman-Engines is fed into sealed chambers with hooded and warded displays. To view such a density of sacred information for even a moment would drive any normal mind utterly insane.
The Agents dip their heads into the sacred data-stream. Halos of glitchy enochian glyphs orbit in halos around the agents as they comprehend the Atman-Spike.
The Agents then move to the Soul-Organs; pipe-organ / typewriter / Apollo shuttle capsule / Tardis-console input boards, each individual (like everything the Founder makes).
There, clacking, typing, and sometimes glitching and freaking out from the info-spikes, they translate the comprehended and recognised hyper-data and ultra-crypted soul-cyphers from the
Atman-Engines into a more pure and compressed soul-song which provides the informational structure of the soul to be constructed.
As they do this, the glyph-halos around them dissipate and disappear as they play out the chords of comprehended music of the Soul.
These four processes, along with the enormous transmission of energy outward, making a fifth, are the prime elements of the Outer Core. (Though of course there may be much more hidden in its hyperdimensional passages and jury-rigged systems.)
The Demon Engines producing pure QUILETH-Quintessence.
The Burning Turbines creating Plasmic NEPESH.
The Solar Reactors forming crystalline LOGOS.
And the Comprehension Organs forming a song of pure comprehended ATMAN.
All these Substances are brought down, deeper into the Central Core.
Here all the aspects of the Seraphormer are combined and its central functions take place.
The Delusion Projector
A massive and contained pressure tank, held in the centre of a sphere of psycho-reactive materials.
Accessible by walkway and tended to by robed and sorrowful Agents who pipe in nutrients, remove terribly dangerous waste from the tank and watch over the multidimensional charts and ever-printing graphs which indicate the state the dreaming mind of the Ultra-Deluder.
All the Founders here are trained to think only in code, repeating their own thoughts in multiple languages and re-translating them within their own minds. Only with this constant meta-translation keeping the information of their own thoughts current, active and fluid, can they maintain consciousness. Otherwise, the strength of the Delusion Field might simply wink them out of existance.
In the tank, dreaming intensely of its own non-existence, is a gigantic, fleshy form of a Founder. Not an adult grow large but the natal form, a child, a little like a tadpole, but swollen massively in size without aging physically in the normal way. Its bodyshape like a child of its kind but its flesh meaty and wrinkled, rather than translucent blue. Huge out of scale eyes, completely black, blinking and shifting in eternal sleep.
Around it, hidden by its dome, giant psychic engines and projectors focus, manage and blast out the Delusion Field that keeps the Seraphormer Hidden.
The Core of Possibility
The incredible machinery of the Seraphormer requires power to run, and the faded cosmos of Uud is not rich in energy, and certainly not in any form that might be harvested without Yggsrathaals notice.
All of it comes from here, the Core of Possibility, and its transmitted out through cables and mandalas of magical and literal power.
Within the Golden Core, a singular Agent meditates; calm, and sitting in lotus position. A body of pure ceramic, coated with liquid nanotechnological diamonds and etched with sigils of balance and ultrafocus.
Beneath the Agent spins a projection of the Vespershard. Only a version or a facet of it, yet real enough, for the shard absorbs and represents all versions and projections of itself.
As the shard spins it tunnels through time and raw Possibility, piercing a single pin-prick hole through which gous torrents of golden energy; enough to power the Seraphormer.
This hole pierces a distant future cosmos. A future where Reality does not die, where Yggsrathaal is defeated and the cosmos is reborn. A Future the founder keeps open purely by daring to imagine it, and by doing so creates it.
A tenuous, impossible, daring future kept open by imagination and raw effort of will. So lives the futures last, best hope, empowered and energised by the possibility of its own existence.
A relatively simple device, notable for its gigantic scale and its integration with the Delusion Engine.
Essentially a huge, spiritual Rail-Gun, the Noumenon Cannon channels raw new souls from the Soul Forge and fires them out into the Cosmos of Uud.
In doing so it draws Umbral Energy from the converters of the Delusion Field, projecting shadowy misunderstanding along exactly the same Cosmic trajectory as the new soul. (At least that is what it is meant to do.)
The Master-Ballistae of the Soul-Gun is known to be one of the more radical and rebellious of all the fragments of the Founder. Inhabiting a multi-limbed brass construct designed to hold its Cosmic Reticule, intended to mesh with the systems of the Cannon and to pierce space, energy and time and so place each soul in one exact moment in one particular place in causality.
The Founder-Prime and the Master Ballistae often have intense and violent arguments as (in the opinion of the Founder-Prime), the Master likes to dick around somewhat with the intended targets of the fired Souls, dropping them into random or unlikely lives and into apparently impractical times and places.
This could well be yet another subtle layer of some hyperdimensional scheme, or the Master-Ballistae could just be dicking their boss around.
The Soul Forge
Overseen by the Founder-Prime (who may be in charge, or may simply be an aspect which the Hive Mind allows to think it is in charge) who wears a body designed to survive the mind-crushing energies of creation required to construct even one mortal soul.
Here the code music of the ATMAN Engines, carrying, and being carried by its Enochian Angel language forms the code or substrate of the Soul. Here cooled NEPESH plasma is injected to whirl and mix with burning light from LOGOS crystals shovelled into the Reactor.
Every process is unique, each requires insane energy funnelled from the Core of Possibility, each needs both insane levels of planning but also the touch of a Genius to guide and improvise the process as it develops.
Even this mixture of ATMAN, NEPESH and LOGOS burns with a blinding energy and writhes like something half-born, or some reaction between life and death waiting to burst out.
The Founder Prime cackles and works their hyperdimensional controls. Sometimes screaming “SHOVEL MORE LOGOS YOU FOOLS”.
They truly love their work, for each soul is a piece of art to them, entirely unique. The process is insanely dangerous but the Founder is of a mind that, if you are going to build something, why wouldn’t you crank the power ALL THE WAY UP just to see what it did?
Anyway, the Founder does not make normal souls. We are not building accountants here. He makes HEROIC souls. Souls shaped to shape the world. Creatures of unique and vibrant individuality, with strange fates or unalterable freedoms. These are the poison of Yggsrathaal, these are his weapon to destroy her.
Then, the last level is pulled and the black ichor of QUILETH extrudes into the chamber.
|Not sure where from|
The reaction is chaotic! Utterly unpredictable! The Quintessence held within the incredible fields of the Soul Forge whips and blasts like an exploding sun. It burns like a poisoned world and changes form, expanding and compressing, forming texture, colour and shape. Half-thoughts form in the ATMAN, a dream of consciousness is born and semi-visions of possible futures flicker in the air.
Then, at exactly the right moment, at the point of cohesion, but a second before LIFE, the Founder cries “FIRE!!” and pulls his null-black lever to eject the Soul into the breach of the Noumenon-Cannon.
For a second, all the Seraphormer falls silent and dark, still as the Delusion Projector and Noumenon-Cannon draw all possible power from every system.
Then the roar of a titanic God as the fresh soul raced, cloaked and hidden, out across the Cosmos, into time and space, into Udd.
“AGAIN!” Cries the Founder.