Every once in a while, David Ransom Porter thought he could remember what it was like to be human.
He missed it.
In another life, Porter had been a soldier and, in time, commander of his own Vanguard military starship. Now, he dwelled among the cloistered Kamir on the dusty gray world of Nocturn, gateway to the multiverse.
He had ascended. He hated how that sounded, as if becoming a Kamir somehow made him better than other life forms. They weren’t. In many ways, they were among the worst. In their most powerful days, the Kamir had tampered with reality, manipulated alien races, and wiped out entire civilizations. They had created the technologies that made possible the worst disasters known to the Orion Arm and beyond.
But now that he was one of them, he had a voice that could be heard. Porter took advantage of that every chance that he could. They had acquiesced to his call to convert other “mortals” into Kamir so that they might have more weapons in the battle to control the destructive multiverse rifts. They had listened when he promoted Zanen’kamir’s cross-verse stabilization theory, which had led ultimately to the release of rift drive technology to the Thul and Zar Hideg Fekretu.
Risky business, that, but it had worked. Now, the multiverse remained a shattered mirror, but it would get no worse.
He found the elder Kamir, Morden’kamir, waiting in the highest room of the black stone tower that overlooked the wastes below. The squat, bald old man had once been Mordecai, second fiddle to Eye Balthazar of the Shohobian Mystics. But it had been Mordecai who led the expedition beyond the multiverse nexus to find the means to “ascend.”
“I have considered your request, David,” the former Mystic said, turning to smile faintly at Porter as he stopped beside him. “Are you sure about this?”
The human-Kamir shrugged. “Sure as I am about anything. I’ve done all I can here. The rift situation is stabilized. I want more than this.” He glanced up at the sky through sea-green eyes. “I belong out there.”
Morden’kamir nodded his head in acknowledgement. “As you say. But are you prepared to accept the cost? When you accepted Ascension, you were imbued with powers and energy beyond anything a normal person could possibly contain.”
Porter gave a tired smile. “I think I’m screwed either way. If I stay here, I live for millennia feeling like a prisoner. If I leave, I’m a candle burnt down to a nub, but at least I’m free for those last flickers of light. I can make the most of what time I have left.”
The elder placed a hand on Porter’s shoulder and said, “I will miss your counsel, friend.”