Conqueror Worm
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Some twenty-eight parsecs from the planet Earth, in the atmosphere of a gas giant in a binary star system, a small hovering drone entered a long-abandoned library. The library was an ancient place: an enormous organic temple in the sky and the tombstone of a once-mighty race of oblate spheroids. The inside of the library was shaped like a teardrop, its pulsating walls lined with physical scrolls both outlandishly and prudently archaic; the ferocious storms constantly rolling through the atmosphere would have destroyed any digital information eons ago. Even the drone could not withstand the electromagnetic fields for long. Quickly, it floated to the outermost shelf and extended its soft grippers to carefully extract the uppermost scroll in the top right corner. The drone gingerly unrolled the scroll, took pictures of it, and then transmitted that information to a command module suspended in orbit seventy-three kilometers away. Just as gently, it placed the scroll back and moved to the next scroll.

As the drone examined each scroll in turn, floating down the spiraling shelves, the command module overhead analyzed the images and began translating. Soon, a pattern emerged. The library was no mere information repository; it was a warning. Each scroll in the temple contained stories, myths, legends, and even scientific studies of an ancient, enormous creature, slumbering in the deepest reaches of the cosmos, of such might and power that its mere shadow was enough to swallow entire star systems.

On top of a mountain on the planet Earth, a group of people trying to save the world were taught by an engine how to channel the Worm. With nothing more than a hope, a manuscript stolen from Vonnegut, and a metafictional condenser, they generated the perfect heroine. She could've been taken straight out of a book. She was intelligent, witty, charismatic, and strong. She wanted to save the world.

They rewrote the script, hollowed her out, and filled her up with as much Worm as they could.

Two-hundred-seventeen parsecs from the planet Earth, deep underground on a small rocky planet dotted by continuous volcanic activity, a three-kilometer-long platyhelminth vomited its undigested meal, which was quickly set upon by its offspring. It was the matriarch, patriarch, and offspring of its clan: an enormous, world-spanning clonal colony of equally massive flatworms. The patriarch had arrived on the world some billions of years earlier, carried on a chunk of rock from its original home by the Impact. It had adapted to its new, ferociously hostile world, swiftly out-competing the native life and developing a symbiotic relationship with the bacterial colonies of the planet. It had even developed a kind of sapience, passing down the knowledge of millions of years to its offspring.

The most crucial, and possibly even venerated (inasmuch as an eyeless acoelomate could venerate) memory of all was that panspermic instigator, the Impact: the obliteration of the homeworld by a creature of size enough to dwarf even the patriarch. One moment, the sky over the homeworld was darkened by a massive shadow; the next, the planet was rent asunder, simultaneously ripped to shreds and flattened and compressed into a disc and bent into a helix and twisted. The patriarch had survived by mere chance; its foraging had trapped it on a remainder of the homeworld thrown into space by the Impact. Some of the nerve clusters at the 'head' of the worm lit up briefly at the memory. It began to vomit faster, that it might forage sooner.

She snarled at them, a wild animal, driven mad by the Worm's essence; by a fractional distillation of the power, of the age, of the immensity of the Worm. The animal thrashed outwards; the essence of the Worm lashed outwards and twisted. The men and women trying to save the world were warped: their spines contorted and their eyes plunged inwards, stealing brain matter to make more eyes and their lungs started muttering under their own breaths as their skulls rotated counterclockwise to reality.

There were always people trying to save the world. A few more came and rewrote the script again, scrubbing her mind clean and conditioning her.

Two thousand parsecs away from the planet Earth, a hive mind construct that existed solely through the changes in the magnetic field of a half dozen red giants lightyears apart detected a mental lensing: a change in infospace, a shifting of priorities, a warp in information two thousand parsecs away. Something shifting. Something… twisting. Sunspots popped up across the half dozen stars simultaneously as they ejected great gouts of plasma into the solar systems around them, wreaking havoc on the dozens of inhabited moons and worlds around them. Then cores of the six stars collapsed in on themselves simultaneously, in a cataclysmic stellar explosion that lasted for months and briefly outshined their resident galaxy. Even as the cosmic bombs wiped out all life for trillions of kilometers around them, they were seeding the materiel of new life for trillions more.

The Worm briefly broke through into meatspace, twisting as it did so. The stars were remade, the life was redone, and then all was obliterated in its presence.

They told her that they had found her amnesiac in the snow. She was special; they were a secret rebellion attempting to save the world from itself. She was their Chosen One: a leader, a champion, a messiah, given special powers by fate. She believed it, of course; aside from knowing nothing else, why wouldn't she? It was almost like her destiny was written out for her.

And who wouldn't want to be special?

A billion parsecs away, an ancient race of sapient machines assembled a weapon powerful enough to collapse an entire universe.
«I worry that the machine shall fail,» the architect chirped, integrated into his own machine.
«Did you not design the machine? Are you not confident in your own creation?» came the response from the amassed workers, combining themselves to form the apparatus of destruction.
«This machine is powerful enough to annihilate our universe. The Wyrm is not our universe.» the architect feared.
«Was it not us that slew the Progenitors, the gods, before we were born? Was it not your creations that chained them to the floor of reality, and subjugated their minds that we might consume them? Was it not you that heralded us into the pantheon of divinity!» roared the masses.
«It was. And yet…» the architect worried.
«And yet we have constructed the ultimate weapon. The machine to pull the Wyrm into the under space and cast it into nothingness! We shall save our race or die trying!» the workers roared.
The machine came together. Great plumes of light streaked down the side, illuminating the apparatus and terminating in a central barrel.
«I fear that we have merely awoken a sleeping dragon,» the architect declared.
Throughout the universe, a million singularities suddenly became linked. In the spaces in-between their atoms, their protons, their quarks, the Worm awoke and twisted. The singularities suddenly inverted. The machine consumed itself, and with it, the machine race - the artificial deities - were expunged from the universe.

On top of a mountain on the planet Earth, a young woman's favorite pastimes were imagining ways to save the world and attempting to drown herself.

It was quite exciting, really. All she had to do was stick her head into the bathtub and hold it there. Her lungs would burn, her head would spin, her vision would darken, and she would start drifting. Then the tendrils running down her spine would twist, and start sucking up oxygen from the water. The water's oxygen content was limited, nor were the tendrils particularly efficient structures, so she still got the same kick. Little recreation could be found within the rebellion's hideout, and she was far too busy being their God to enjoy it anyways. She had to steal what little pleasure she could.

One trillion parsecs away, an aquatic race of cephalopods sensed the tremors pulsating through innerspace and prayed in fear. They were devotees of ancient, powerful beings who were old when the universe was young: eldritch abominations who were feared even by the gods themselves. Surely these ancient masters would slay the Worm, crush it beneath their heels, assert their dominance over all of time and space. The cephalopods would sacrifice their own people to gain the favor of the Ancient Ones, crafting an enormous apparatus that would siphon away the souls of their sacrifices to feed them. The last thought to pass through the minds of these sacrifices was that their prayers must surely be answered.

One trillion-i parsecs away, ancient, powerful beings who were old when the universe was young performed their idiot dance, deaf, dumb, and blind to the creatures that sought their favor. Yet even as these hideous, blighted things - creatures of sounds and shapes utterly incomprehensible to any being within meatspace - continued their song and dance in the space between the void, their hellish frolicking was muffled. It had been muffled since before time had meaning and would be muffled until after time ceased to have meaning. To dance louder was to attract the Worm as it burrowed through the spaces between realities.

A young man with the misfortune of being able to commune with the dead sat in a cell, surrounded by the specters of all the men, women, and things that had died in it. They haunted him, endlessly vomiting up words like so much verbal detritus. As one spirit explained his plans to escape and then butcher the man who had framed him, the young man contemplated his potential avenues of suicide. His planning was interrupted by the door being blown into the room. Had someone come to rescue him? The man got a better look at his savior and started backpedaling and screaming.

The person that stood in the doorway had no head. Instead, a writhing mass of worm-like tails snaked from its back over its neck, each tipped with a single eyeball that rotated, swiveled, and even dipped and ducked around to scan around itself in a 360-degree radius. From nowhere, it spoke: "Hullo, I'm Ramona Vonnegut. I need your help to save the world."


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