The Kaos Orb

The Kaos Orb

image Xanthus Jedicke Nyakris Zenon was born during the middle years of the Age of Degeneration on Acadia Minor. Completing both his primary and secondary studies at Aarnaxis Lake, he graduated with special honors and went on to teach part-time at the Rhetlan Learning Center. A student of cosmic studies, Xanthus had spent his youth training to work on the academic side of the elite Universal Watchmen. His job was to study - in excruciating detail - the timelines of different realities, and to determine the proper sequence of events that should take place within each one.

A few lyren into his term serving as a Watcher, Xanthus came across some disturbing evidence of a impending cosmic catastrophe. The Xilon System's Rift Nebula had drifted too close to Daxxus during its latest cycle, triggering the creation of a large orb of energy, almost a miniature version of the Aeradisphere itself. Through extensive research, Xanthus determined that the orb was spanning mutiple realities, existing in more than one place at the same time, which was a dangerous paradox. It had captured a reality called Universe Zhet, a dead inversion of Universe Prime, the core reality of existence. Anything that the orb came into contact with would force the two realities to collide and cross over with each other, converging them into a single dimension and killing everything in the process. Worse, the orb was slowly making its way across space, straight towards the central planets.

Acting quickly, Xanthus organized a team of the best scientists and engineers that the Xilon worlds had to offer. They gathered information from tests on the Aeradisphere shell to construct a large containment block in an uninhabited region of Terra Firma. The building was created from elements that they they believed would be capable of isolating and controlling the immense power of the orb's transdimensional energy. Xanthus then tracked down the anomaly, which had already reached the surface of Acadia Minor, and began the brutal task of containing it.

image The damage that had already been caused was disastrous. Everything that the orb had passed over had been captured, merged and reduced to wasteland. With no time to lose, Xanthus used his internal energy to halt the orb's movement, and then slowly, patiently, directed it up into the sky and across space to the containment unit on Terra Firma. Once the Kaos Orb, as he called it, was safely locked within the construct, he returned home, feeling much more at ease.

The devastation, however, did not end. Acadia and Terra Firma, which had both been caught in the orb's path before it was locked away, continued to decay as if Universe Zhet was still seeping through. Despite the orb's static position, some transdimensional residue had been left in its wake and was continuing to draw power from its source, furthering the destruction with no end in sight. Upon careful investigation, Xanthus learned that the orb had continued to grow within its cell, feeding off the imbalance it had created across the Xilon worlds. More and more villages and their inhabitants were disappearing, wiped out by the paradox of conflicting realities. And with its unexpected increase in strength, no one could get close enough to the rift to figure out how to destroy it.

Granted immediate access to the Book of Xilon, Xanthus desperately consulted the ancient text, pouring through its pages for days until he found what he was looking for. Just as he had hoped, there was indeed mention of the orb hidden within the age-old document. The Book referred to the anomaly as "a destructive child of the Aeradisphere itself" and claimed that the only way to prevent the entire universe from falling apart was for someone to physically enter the orb and, if they survived, to drain it from the inside. The process required an object known as the Arkfel Projector. It had been built by the first Xilon engineers during the Early Days and was capable of producing the strongest and most scientifically advanced forcefield known to exist. By activating the object in the center of the orb interior, there was a high probability that it would separate and cut the two realities off from each other, causing a chain reaction that would undo any existing damage. The task was unimaginably dangerous, however, and there was a good chance that whoever chose to enter the orb would be torn apart along with everything else.

image Relating what he had found to the Council, Xanthus insisted that he be the one to enter the orb. It had been he who had first discovered its existence and directed the building of the containment block, and it was therefore his responsibility. The others were not happy with his decision, but Xanthus was adamant. The following morning, he was presented with the Arkfel Projector, wished the greatest success, and set out for the heart of Terra Firma. He flew to the containment block rather than jumping, concerned that the orb's residue might latch onto his own energy and use it against him.

It didn't take long to reach the isolated construct. From the outside, Xanthus was surprised to find that the site looked perfectly normal. The building exhibited no strange coloring or voids, and the surrounding landscape was peaceful and quite mundane. So when he mustered the courage to actually enter the chamber, what he saw nearly floored him. The orb had tripled in size, and its bizarre effects had turned the inside of the building into a massive collision plane - a storm of energy set on another plane of existence, which often surrounds powerful rift openings. The moment that he had entered the room, he had left his own universe behind. The orb had created an entire transitional reality around itself.

image It took every ounce of willpower within him to move towards the massive sphere, but Xanthus knew that there was no turning back now. Reaching out, he touched the rift's shell and instantly felt himself being pulled through its pulsating walls. The next thing he knew, he was inside, stumbling through a hellish weaving of live and dead pieces of his two most precious home worlds. After determining the exact center point, the Xilon pulled out the Arkfel Projector and thrust it into the soil. A magnificent forcefield shot upwards and out, cutting a line straight across the orb's interior. The ground shuddered and groaned as the two realities were yanked violently apart, separated and thrust back to their individual sides. Caught dead in the middle, Xanthus felt like he was being torn in half. His body seemed to be splitting into two different dimensions, one filled with life and the other made of death itself. A blinding light forced him to close his eyes and he screamed as the orb imploded, collapsing in on itself. The two realities shot through the sides like a massive tidal wave and everything went dark.

When Xanthus awoke, he found himself lying on the soft floor of a Terran forest. He wasn't sure how much time had passed, but he knew for certain that this region of the planet had been engulfed by the rift days before. Yet there he sat, surrounded by lush plantlife, high-growing trees and a menagerie of curious animals. All life seemed to have returned when the sphere had self-destructed. A quick survey of the nearby mountains revealed nothing more than an empty building and the Kaos Orb was nowhere to be seen. When it collapsed, the rift had likely erased itself from existence altogether. And, miraculously, Xanthus himself was still alive. But something still felt wrong.

His questions were answered upon his return to Acadia Minor, where he drew more than a few disbelieving stares. The coloring of his hair had been dulled to black and white, and the texture was course and limp. The energy that normally radiated from his body was completely gone as well, and he felt strange, as if he were fading in and out of consciousness. He also found that whenever he tried to warp through time or space, the only result was an intense pain, stabbing through his body like lightning. Later studies conducted by his peers revealed that when the dimensions had broken apart, each one had taken part of his own personal existence. Pieces of him were literally scattered across the two realities, which meant that he could not leave either one.

image The effects of Xanthus's encounter with the Kaos Orb were to last for the rest of his life. He could not move through one time, even by way of another Xilon taking him. He was stuck in one place, because he had been divided into many places. Although he was alive and in decent health, Xanthus was never quite right from that point on. He came to be known as a bit of an eccentric, existing in multiple dimensions but unable to wrap his own brain around it. His condition forced him to retire, and his remaining life was restricted to the Aeradisphere interior, but Xanthus dealt with it well. His actions had saved the universe - many universes, in fact. And as far as he was concerned, in spite of the consequences, it was a perfectly worthy sacrifice.

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