Book One: The Empire's Wasp
Blackness over and about her. Drifting, dreamless, endless as the stars themselves, twining within her. It enfolded her, sharing itself with her, and she snuggled against it in the warm, windless void that was she. The blackness was all, and yet, beyond the comfort of her cocoon, dimly perceived, the years drifted past. They were there, beyond her sleep, recognized, and yet not quite real.
Deep, deep at the heart of her the fiery coal of purpose still glowed, but dimly, dimly. A once-fierce furnace, drowsing its way towards ultimate extinction.
A tiny fragment of her being watched sleepily as the white-hot coal cooled into a dimmer, fading red, and under the thick, soft blankets of blackness, that fragment wondered if she would ever be called again. Those she had once served were long vanished, she knew without knowing how she knew, yet every once in a while, floating in the dreams, an echo summoned her close, close, to the surface of her sleep. They were few in number, their existence fleeting and flickering like tiny mirrors of her own fiery essence. Not so many of them, perhaps, and yet, in so many endless years, the numbers were enough to trouble her slumber.
There. Another one flickered on the very edge of her dreams-another tiny flash of potential, of possibility. All the myriad futures in which she and that echo might meet, their purposes become one, shifted and shimmered about her, like the floating constellations of the zodiac … and so did the futures in which they never would.
Which would she prefer, her sleeping mind asked itself drowsily? To rouse once more-perhaps one last time-or to sleep, sleep, until there were no dreams, no echoes and mirrors?
She had no answer, and so she snuggled deeper under that soft shroud of non-being, and simply waited for whatever would be.
Or whatever would not.