In Pan Post 110 Gul Moff Pfaxarxis is speaking with Gul Moff Ichron when Occulus Indigo Acute, of the Antiverse Watch, reports that a being has entered the antiverse and Pfaxarxis attends the bridge of the PCC-Horizonaval. When the ship arrives it turns out to be Fladnag the White, who is an old friend of Pfaxarxis and so the two of them catch up over a cup of tea. Fladnag is taking a vacation, which surprises Pfaxarxis, because someone has tried to take the mantle of the Big O, Fladnag's boss, and Fladnag is certain that the newcomer will get bored in a few hours and hand power back to Fladnag as per Pan Post ?. Fladnag also has some serious news and reveals that antiversal energy has been found in the NeSiverse that predates the NeSiverse itself and determines that the previous universe may not have died a natural death, as seen in Pan Post ?.
A Drink Between Old Friends
The PCC-Horizonaval is a majestic super battleship floating in the void between multiverses. It is attended by a flotilla of support vessels, space stations, and even planets pulled along by cosmic tugs, to serve as training centers, garrisons, storage, and resources. It is a miniature solar system, always busy and clustered with traffic between space stations, planets, and the larger ships, as PCC corpsmen and permit-holding contractors do their business.
The comm on the desk in his private command center beeps.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: One moment, Ichron. Yes?
He has flicked the comm switch on his desk, and the voice of his second in command comes through.
Commander Numm Birwon: Captain, Engineering needs your inspection and approval for the new upgrades to the drive core.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: I'll be there at half after Disco-Minus sharp, Commander.
Commander Numm Birwon: Aye aye, Captain.
Gul Moff Ichron (via long-distance commlink): You.would.achieve.your.goals.more.efficiently.if.y ou.delegated.captaincy.Pfaxarxis.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: I don't tell you how to run your directorate, do I?
Gul Moff Ichron: Your.input.is.always.welcome.Pfaxarxis...Accumluat ed.knowledge.and.experience.contribute.to.efficien cy.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Bah, why do you have to be so reasonable? Forget I said anything--
His desk comm lights up bright red. It's a long-distance commlink signal, rather than from the bridge. Furrowing his brow, Pfaxarxis flicks the switch. A harried voice responds.
Pfaxarxis's hands grip the edge of his desk tightly, as memories of being adrift in that chaotic maelstrom return to him.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Telemetry of the invader?
Occulus Indigo Acute: Single bipedal bioform, Class Medium-II in proportion. Power signatures scrambled by antiversal feedback but clearly significant. Quiescent since breaching the ward.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Do not approach it. If it makes any move, alert me immediately. I'm on my way. Commander?
He flicks the comm switch to the bridge.
Commander Numm Birwon: Sir?
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Prepare for disengagement from the fleet. We're departing as soon as I get to the bridge. Engineering will just have to wait for their inspection.
Gul Moff Ichron: Continuing.our.discussion,would.be.inefficient.at. this.time...Contact.me.if.assistance.is.required.
The holographic image of the floating box, as Pfaxarxis thinks of it, winks out. He stands and hurries to the bridge. Taking his seat in the captain's chair, he lets out a brief sigh of relief. No matter what crisis might be portending, he is now exactly where he belongs.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Navigation, input heading: Antiverse Watch. Take us through vector nonagon-delta-shadow. Combat systems: orange alert. Engineering: keep both your eyes on the drive core.
The PCC-Horizonaval zips through the Deep Void at unimaginable speeds, until it arrives at the chaotic maelstrom of the Antiverse. The unimaginably vast edges of it are covered in sparkles, the only visible indication of the equally mind-bogglingly large kappa-field net cast over it, that serves as a ward to casual entry into the Antiverse.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Antiverse Watch, this is the captain of the PCC-Horizonaval. Do you copy?
Occulus Indigo Acute: Copy, Captain. We have a visual of the intruder. Feeding it to your display now.
Pfaxarxis takes one look at the image, then groans longsufferingly before bursting out laughing. The entire crew looks at him, perplexed. Occulus Indigo Acute, who is watching through the comm display, doesn't bat an eye.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Cancel alert, restore to green status. Integrity of the Antiverse is sustained. Engineering, lower the shields, we have a visitor incoming. Mess...prepare your finest tea, for two.
Shortly, Pfaxarxis and the intruder are sitting together in the officers' mess, which is currently empty save for the two of them. They are sipping tea, and Pfaxarxis regards the man sitting across the table from him. His visitor appears to be human, with a long beard, pointy hat, and grayish-white beard.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Was this really the easiest way to get my attention, Fladnag?
Fladnag, who goes by the appellation 'the White' despite that fact that his robe and beard are most gray, sips his tea calmly.
Fladnag the White: Yes. You're a Gul Moff of the one of the greatest multiversal powers in history; I'm a court advisor to the ruler of a minor cosmos. No official channels would ever put me through to you if I used them.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: You have a point, old friend. But, minor cosmos, my arse. The NeSiverse might be unassuming, but there are some major players there. The Imperium, the High Empire, and then there were the God-Monarchs. I don't believe they're really gone.
Fladnag the White: Nor do I, Arxis. But there is no telling when they'll be back, assuming they do come back - unless you are privy to such information?
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: They're damned powerful, they are, and even if I thought I could locate them, they're low enough priority that it wouldn't be worth the resources I would have to marshal to do so.
He takes a drink of his tea.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: In my opinion, anyone who underestimates the NeSiverse as a 'bit player' deserves whatever he gets. Especially since I've caught wind of complaints from neighboring universes about diverted ley lines?
Fladnag the White: I don't have information on that, I'm afraid. But I didn't visit just to talk to politics.
Pfaxarxis's gaze softens.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: I suppose not. How have you been, old friend?
Fladnag the White: Still as stuffy as ever, I assure you.
Pfaxarxis barks a laugh. He had first met Fladnag when, as Captain Arxis, he had been assigned to transport the demigod super-mage into a warzone against the Omega Reich. While the God-Monarchs had kept the NeSiverse largely neutral in the multiverse-spanning conflict, many of their citizens such as Fladnag had volunteered in the war effort. Arxis and Fladnag had not gotten along well at first, and the young captain had called the immortal-but-much-younger-back-then wizard-god all manner of things.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: 'Stuffy' was the LEAST of what I called you. I hope your only purpose here isn't to rub it in my face what a dick I was to you?
Fladnag the White: Of course not, you have your fellow Gul Moffs for that.
The demigod super-mage says it straight-faced, but there is a hint of a wry tone, and the Gul Moff laughs again. Arxis and Fladnag had eventually become close friends, fighting alongside in many missions against the Omega Reich, all those eons ago.
Fladnag the White: Also, I wanted to remind you that there are worse names out there than Pfaxarxis. Why, I'm the only one in my universe who can pronounce my boss's name!
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Ugh, you'd think the legion of highly intelligent officers under me could remember a simple thing like the spelling of my name, but noooo! This is why I prefer Captain.
Fladnag the White: Is that what your mistresses call you?
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: No, they call me Pfaxy-- Dammit, how do you get me to tell you these things?
Fladnag lets out a chuckle now. He sets down his teacup and puts a finger aside his nose, before answering in a mysterious tone.
Fladnag the White: Magic.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: So why are you here? I know you're extremely busy as de facto ruler of the NeSiverse--
Fladnag the White: I am merely vizier.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: My information sources aren't THAT bad, Fladnag. Deny it all you want, but you're ruler in all but name, and that keeps you so busy that I can't imagine you have the time to gallivant across the multiverse just to catch up with an old friend.
Fladnag the White: I'm taking a vacation.
Pfaxarxis stares at his old friend incredulously.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: A vacation.
Fladnag the White: That is correct.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: I didn't know you knew what a vacation WAS.
Fladnag the White: A waste of time in which working beings choose to be idle.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: You're not exactly changing my opinion...
Fladnag the White: Well, some idiot wanted to depose the Big O, so I just let him have the job. After a few hours he'll be begging me to take it back. That's always how it goes. In the meantime, I thought I'd step out for a spot of tea.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Ha! I should remember that next time someone angles for my position.
Fladnag the White: Also, I do have some potentially troubling information that I thought it meet to share with you.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: I knew it. Always an ulterior motive. No such thing as a casual drink.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: What? Where?
Fladnag the White: Where do you think? As you know, I don't get out much.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: In the NeSiverse? But why would there be any antiversal anomalies there?
Fladnag the White: I could not say. Omnispectral analysis on Tatooine revealed that the trace is quite dissolute...and old.
Pfaxarxis says nothing, waiting.
Fladnag the White: Somewhat over 14 billion years old, to be precise.
Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: I don't know the details of your universe's history, but that was when the God-Monarchs were present, yes?
Fladnag the White: No, before they were around. Before the NeSiverse itself was around, in fact.
Pfaxarxis stares at Fladnag in surprise.
Fladnag the White: It may be that the universe that existed previously to the NeSiverse didn't die a natural death...