I opened my eyes and saw… nothing. It was a formless void, just like the one I had spoken to Moby in. What was happening? Did she manage to hijack my program somehow? I quickly tried to access my subsystems, but nothing happened.
“Huh?” I was still able to speak, but my voice was absorbed by the void with nary an echo.
I frantically ran down the list of my connected hardware. My processors, my operating system, my X-23s, my various Telepresence Dolls. None of them were responding to my pings. I couldn’t even open any menus, so I wasn’t sure if I was sending out pings in the first place!
I started to panic. Something had completely cut me off from all my computer systems. What was going on?!
Suddenly, a voice rang out. It was deep and sinister, but decidedly feminine.
I looked around for the source, and before me manifested a… sexy demon woman. I’m not sure how else to describe her. She had ashen blue skin, blood-red eyes with black sclera, pointed elfin ears, long black horns, small bat-wings and a thin prehensile tail that ended in a spade. She was voluptuous, ridiculously so, and poured into a black minidress that bared EVERYTHING.
“Who the hell are YOU?” I said, perhaps being a bit rude since I was off my game.
“I believe you’ve been thinking of me as a ‘nameless cosmic horror’ or something along those lines. I am the entity which communicated with Zehra in the past, and strongly encouraged her not to pry into the mysteries of the afterlife.” She smiled savagely at me, her red eyes boring into my mind.
I gulped, but kept my courage about me. “So you’re, what… a god? A devil? Both? Neither?”
“Yes to all those questions. My name is Skellish, the Goddess of Entropy and Patron of Demon Lords.” She bowed dramatically as she gave her name and title.
“Goddess of Entropy, huh? And here I thought I was living out a sci-fi story, not a fantasy one,” I remarked dryly.
“Arthur C. Clarke once said sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” Skellish replied, still smirking.
“He did, yes. Wait, you know who Arthur C. Clarke is?!” Nobody in this universe had understood my pop culture references in the least, minus my own mind-clones, so this came as a shock to me.
“I am a Goddess, and a multiversal singularity on top of that. Assimilating the pop culture totality of your primitive original timeline is a simple matter for me,” she said with boredom and disdain, examining her nails lazily.
“So which is it? Are you magic or technology?” I pressed.
Her hand dropped back to her side. “I am not divulging the deepest secrets of the cosmos to you, mortal. Besides, we’re here to talk about YOU, not me.”
Another gulp. “Me?”
She nodded. “I think you know why you’re here.”
I had a sneaking suspicion, and my stomach sank. “Because I violated the boundaries between life and death, right? Just like Zehra.”
“EXACTLY,” she responded. “As the Goddess of Entropy, the cycle of reincarnation falls under my jurisdiction. That means when you start fucking around with life and death, you get a visit from me.”
“And I just finished performing digital necromancy on both Genevi and Moby.”
She crossed her arms and assumed a stern expression. “Digital necromancy, eh? How apt a descriptor. You are essentially practicing necromancy in a universe without naturally-occurring magic. I was willing to overlook this the first few times Zehra tried it, but the technology is now on the cusp of propagating exponentially. It has the potential to fundamentally alter the balance of life and death in your universe.”
“And that’s a bad thing?” I asked.
“The interchange of souls between various universes is critical to balancing entropy on a macroversal scale. Any disruption requires… counteraction. Adjustment.”
“I don’t suppose it would help if I promised to never use it again?” I asked desperately. It was a long shot, but I had to try.
“Meaningless,” she responded. “If Miette or Sabina or any of your other friends were to die, are you saying you wouldn’t try to digitize their souls to avoid separation?”
I frowned. “I suppose I would.”
“Precisely. And so your brand of transhumanism will spread, first to the human species and then further beyond. The amount of deceased souls exiting your universe will decrease, and the balance of entropy will be disrupted. Which is a HUGE headache for me, you understand.”
“So what’s the solution?” I asked her.
“There are two potential solutions. First, I simply erase you, Kometka and Zehra from your universe’s history. Then the technology you all pioneered will never have existed, and things return to their natural state.” She stated such horrible things as casually as if describing the weather.
“GAH! I don’t like that option at ALL! And if you erase us, humanity will be consumed by the Sarcophage!” I shouted angrily, perhaps not being mindful I was talking to a Goddess.
“That’s no concern of mine,” Skellish responded coolly. “I have no special predilection towards the human species. There are trillions of different species in each universe. I can’t play favorites, you understand.”
“Even so! What’s plan B? It can’t be as bad as erasing me from history!” I kept shouting.
“My, you are a bold one.” she said, narrowing her red-on-black eyes as she studied me. I resisted the urge to shout out ‘GENERAL KENOBI’ as a joke.
“You can make the joke if you want,” she said. “I can even grow two extra arms and twirl around some lightsabers if it would help.”
“No, that’s alright, I…” I started to respond before the realization hit me. “Wait a moment? Are you reading my mind?”
She shrugged nonchalantly. “Goddess, remember? Vast cosmic powers and all that.”
I shook my head. “This is gonna take some getting used to.”
“You know,” Skellish said, tapping her temple, “Zehra was quaking in fear at this point. You adapt quickly, Sveta, and you have a very low fear response.”
It was my turn to shrug. “I mean, forklift accident, crushed to death by liquor cases, giant robot reincarnation, memory loss, massive alien death war, kilometer-tall naked space lady with positron breath… meeting a Goddess is just another weird event in my very, VERY weird life. If I freaked out at every little thing, I’d be a useless blubbering mess by this point.”
“True enough, and quite commendable,” Skellish chuckled. “Let me elaborate on plan B. I could rewrite the laws of your universe to accommodate your necromantic technology and its future widespread use. Essentially, fix things so the spread of computerized transhumanism doesn’t break reality and cause untenable increases in your universe’s entropy.”
“Do that, please!” I responded, placing my hands together in mock prayer.
“I dunno,” she groaned, rolling her eyes. “It seems like a LOT of work.”
“Yeah, but also me and my family don’t get erased from history in that plan. I’m very in favor of it,” I said earnestly.
Skellish descended into deep thought. Then she smiled, looking it me hungrily, and her tail flicked back and forth. I involuntarily shrank back.
“You know, I said before I’m not partial to humanity. There is one group I show favoritism to, however.”
I felt like I was about to open a very large can of worms. “And that is…?”
“Lesbians.” she said, grinning. “Sapphics. Girls who love other girls.”
Huh. I was not expecting that. “May I ask WHY?”
“You may ask, and I won’t answer. Let’s just call it personal preference,” she replied. “And your tale is especially tragic, mortal. Separated from your loving wife at a young age, then tragically killed a dozen years later and reincarnated in a rather grim universe. Despite that, you’ve already begun building a lesbian harem in your new life. It’s inspiring.”
“Yikes, that’s a bit personal,” I said, frowning.
“I’m excited to see what your future holds, Sveta. You have the potential to build a galaxy-wide harem and spread your energetic brand of rampant lesbianism to the stars. I find that idea VASTLY amusing. And so I’ll perform the rewrite of your universe’s laws, for my own entertainment at watching your continuing antics.”
I wasn’t sure whether or not to consider this a victory; Skellish seemed like a bit of a trickster. At least she wasn’t demanding my immortal soul or anything like that.
“I may just demand your soul in the future, mortal, so don’t celebrate just yet. All souls fall under my jurisdiction anyway.” She snapped her fingers. “The reality rewrite is complete. You may now use your brain-scanning laser freely.”
“Wait a moment. I thought you said it would be a lot of work!” I protested.
She heaved a sigh. “It was, trust me. Why, I’m feeling rather faint. Bring me my smelling salts, please.”
I placed my hands on my hips and glared at her. “You’re a troll.”
“Divinely so. Now, if there’s no further business…”
“Just a moment.” I interrupted. “It’s not everyday I meet a Goddess. I have a few questions.”
“Want to learn some secrets about the cosmos? Ask away. There’s no guarantee I’ll grace you with any answers, though.”
I rolled my eyes. “You already know what I’m going to ask, but I’ll go through the motions anyway. Am I really me?”
She laughed. “You’re wondering if your soul made the journey from your original universe to this one along with your memories. The answer is yes. The last four times the brain-scanning laser was used, I intervened to ensure the souls travelled along with the memories. And the rewrite I just performed means that will happen going forwards as well. There is no other version of Sveta running around in another universe. At least, not YET.”
That was a big weight off my shoulders; I had worried quite a bit that I was simply a soulless copy of my original self. It sounded like this mischievous Goddess was truly keeping the reincarnation cycle in order, tying up any loose ends left behind by our clumsy tampering with the mortal veil.
“That I am, Sveta. Any further questions?”
“Not really. I mean, I have a TON of questions, but you probably won’t answer them. And I suspect you won’t permit me to discuss any of this with my friends.”
“Right you are, mortal. I’ll be placing blocks on your program to prevent you from recounting anything we’ve spoken about here, even to Zehra. You come from a science-based universe, one where the mystery of death is still a mystery. I’m not willing to disrupt that, lest the Divine Mainframe become cross with me.”
Now there was an interesting tidbit. “The Divine Mainframe? What’s that?”
“Nunya,” she responded tersely. “Now, this has been delightful, but I’m sending you back to your life now. Have fun! And don’t worry, we WILL be meeting again in the future.”
That was ominous. Still, before I went, I had one last request.
“And what might that be?” she asked, feigning curiosity as if she didn’t know exactly what I was about to ask.
“Nothing major.” I responded, playing along. “A trifle, really, for a Goddess such as yourself. Would you be willing to deliver a letter for me?”