The Star Eagle Adventures Quantum Divergence - Book I False Vacuum Author's Note: Welcome to False Vacuum, the first book in the Quantum Divergence trilogy. While previous reading is not required, it is encouraged, particularly the two Road to Quantum Divergence stories Civil War and Homecoming. Homecoming, in particular, sets up much of what will happen over the course of these novels. Quantum Divergence had been stuck in something akin to development hell for the last two years or so and I am almost relieved it is finally out here. I hope you will enjoy this journey. For more Star Eagle Adventures, including all the preceding novels and stories, please visit StarEagleAdventures.com The Star Eagle Adventures is a proud member of United Trek. For more stories from a whole cadre of talented writers, please visit UnitedTrek.org As always, comments and feedback are welcome. Somewhere, Somewhen All of reality was dying. That much had already been determined. The equations and calculations simply could not allow for any other conclusion. To deny this simple fact was tantamount to denying the existence of reality itself. And the study of reality was their entire raison d'être, their paramount purpose and their most sacred of responsibilities. Perhaps it had been different once. Before such considerations as the past, the present and the future had warranted separate and altogether different avenues of thought and philosophy. But once those distinctions had been left behind and deemed irrelevant when contemplating the total sum of reality, considered as too much of an impediment to fully comprehending and appreciating everything that was, is and ever will be, once they had reached that next stage of cognitive evolution, their duty had become inescapably clear. And who was there to say otherwise? In the age before this one, when linear thoughts about time and space had still prevailed, there had been other voices alongside their own. There had been such a time when life had been abundant within reality. Long before the great leap forward, before the vast obligation to all of the meta-universe had even played a role in their thoughts, there had been galaxies and stars and planets on which other beings toiled their daily lives away. And they had reached out to many of those, even if their inferiority had never been in question. There had been a community once, spreading across the galactic hemispheres. Not anymore. Other life had simply run its course over the millennia. Stars and entire galaxies had come and gone while at the same time they had grown and spread and evolved until they were all that remained across the universe. And once all of the cosmos was explored and understood and all thought and contemplation on a single universe had been fully and entirely exhausted, it was only natural to look beyond those feeble borders and seek out a purpose within the infinity of not just their universe but within all of reality. It was just around that time when the mere concept of time itself lost its consequence. And it was shortly thereafter—if one insisted on thinking about it all in linear terms, which they had of course long since abandoned—that they had arrived at their ineludible supposition as to the ultimate fate of all of existence. It is, it will and it has always has been dying. And it can be changed. But in order to do so, something drastic has to be done, something that in all of the endlessness of reality, in the countless number of universes had never been attempted or possibly even considered. It must end and it must commence anew. But what if there is a different way? A voice asked. This in itself was peculiar since discord and disagreement were not something they engaged in. The conclusion, after all, had been accepted as an inevitability as certain as that stars were born and died. Perhaps, the voice said, the conclusions are correct. Perhaps, the voice said, the solution is not. But this too seemed inconceivable. The end of reality was assured. Everything would perish, including those who had taken on the obligation to guard reality itself. This could not be allowed. The vastness of reality does not permit half-measures or minor corrections to the flow of things. No, such attempts, born out of ignorance and incompetence, attempting to corrupt the natural balance of space—and yes, also of time—have only weakened and in fact accelerated the ultimate demise of all things. Small-minded beings in countless universes, unwilling, but first and foremost, incapable of fully comprehending the impact of their reckless actions by meddling with the delicate fabric of space and time which holds all of the meta-universe together have also, inadvertently, lead to its doom. It was fully understood that the workings of linear time can be safely disregarded when it is a hindrance to appreciating the full scope of reality. However, it mustn’t ever be perverted in the manner it has been, by using it as if it were nothing more than a tool, an inconvenient barrier which can be broken down and rearranged at will with enough force and determination. Within those simple and inferior minds, the voice said, hundreds of millennia will come and go before reality will even begin to bend to such an extent that it will eventually break beyond all repair. Such thoughts were not germane to deliberations taking place outside of time, without beginning or end. The fates of lower beings, of single galaxies or even universes, simply warranted no consideration when fulfilling the enormous responsibility of ensuring the endurance of the entirety of everything. All that can be seen, has been seen, the other voices said. All that is, all that has come to pass and all that will come to pass has been seen, has been considered, has been understood. The fate of reality is incontrovertible. The panacea has been determined. And dissension is proscribed. So the voice was no longer heard.