Eden Avatars

Gods made flesh

"Viritine?" I say aloud. The translator struggles but the meaning pops into my mind like recalling a fond memory. It's a name but also a title, "The Goddess of Stellar Waters."   She's beautiful. I've never seen an eden ship this close before. It's more rounded than eden ships tend to be. A faint aura of countless colors radiates from the hull, reflected starlight interacting with the Prism used in its construction. The hull itself is white, a pure shimmering white accented with gold.   It doesn't just look regal. It feels regal. The ship is covered in embellishments. I see gold filigree and other useless adornments on its frame. It bleeds decadence and flaunts eden superiority. It's a shameless display of their power, but also their grace.   I would jump at the chance but something holds me back. I can't scrap it, I'd be killed on sight if caught. I can't leave it here either. Maybe the eden pay those who return what's rightfully theirs? I wonder if it'll still sail. Then again, maybe I'm just curious. Humans rarely get a chance to venture aboard an avatar.   Entering the ship takes little effort and I'm not sure if that's good or bad. The doors fly open as if welcoming me inside. The air is fine but most systems are offline, including the higgstech. I activate the magnetic seals to keep me down. I step lightly, careful not to touch anything that looks valuable. That's easier said than done. Everything about this ship is valuable. I can't help but feel like every step is a desecration.   Despite having no power, the inside is made bright just with the headlamp on my suit. Every surface seems to reflect the light. The walls are white and gold, much like the outside. I look up and realize how open the ship is. Most ships are compact, the corridors long and cramped. The ceiling here must be over 50 meters up.   It makes me uneasy. I'm used to being cramped. This is too open. It feels like being planetside. Am I Kenophobic now?   It isn't just an open space, it's blatantly designed in a way that would seem irrational. I stand at the bow, but I can see the stern easily through a series of massive golden rings that separate sections of the vessel.   From bow to stern, each ring is a massive opening that prevents sealing off hull breaches. The eden aren't giants. Why would the rings be there? It was one thing to blend function and beauty, but this seems out of character.   I take a few cautious steps and suddenly hear the sounds of water splashing. The magnetic seals on my boots keep me on the ground, but a wave of water rises from the floor and into the air. The entire ship is flooded, not with standard water but a thickened solution using water as a base.   Scans reveal large amounts of copper, silica, and other conductive materials. I hear a scratching, tapping sound, a warning from the Geiger counter in my suit. The whole area is heavily irradiated. I kick myself up from the floor, the magnetic seals deactivating. I float quickly to the roof above, where the radiation sits within acceptable levels. The suit would probably be fine, but I don't want to take any chances. I guess The rings may prove useful after all. I can move through them to reach the bridge.   A feminine voice, bubbly and bright calls from all around me, "Ravye, illr taeuh."
What's an Avatar, I hear you ask? The eden have a navy much like everyone else in the void. They regularly produce these ships, but some ships are older, aged like wine. The older an eden vessel gets, the more it learns; the more it knows. Eventually, it may get a chance to become more.   The eden are the oldest species in the galaxy. They see their ships as priceless works of art, and the oldest vessels are even more significant. The eden believe avatars to be the will and physical manifestation of their gods. They claim their gods walk among them in the halls of these ships, surrounded by their saints and soldiers. I don't believe it either.   The eden are notorious for their contradictions. They claim to be in the company of gods yet also claim to be atheists. Something isn't right. It could be a linguistic error, or perhaps we just don't understand what a god truly is. Either way, if you meet an avatar in the void don't shoot at it.
   

Myth and legend

Space combat is a game of rock, paper, scissors. You want to have what it takes to win while countering what your opponent can use to even the odds. Avatars fight dirty. They can throw rock, paper, and scissors at the same time. They always win. They break the rules.   They can do things other ships can't, regardless of size and limitations. They can keep up with most corvettes, pierce through any defense, and have a range of defensive capabilities themselves.   The eden are at the top of the totem pole for a reason. While few, the avatars are a major factor in why. They are cutting edge, despite being thousands of years old. People tell stories about these ships, a vast mythology steeped in truth. This fame spreads to the ship's crew as well. They're treated like celebrities.

Skeleton Crew

Avatars are supposedly operated by the god they're named after. They need far less in the way of engineers and officers. Everything is automated. The few who make up the crew are chosen by this entity, who will be their patron for the rest of their long lives.   There are less than 50 eden crewmen on an avatar, including those kept in cryo. Avatars are usually the size of a cruiser. eden cruisers require twice or even three times as many to operate. Those who make up the crew are more specialized as well.   Avatar crewmen tend to be saints and elite soldiers. They're there to repel boarders and nothing more. There are usually one or two mechanics as well in case something goes wrong that can't be fixed by the ship itself.
I jump at the sudden breach of silence but see nothing as I turn and scan the room. What's going on? The scans showed no life signs. "Hello? I'm here to help. I don't want any trouble."   "Human? You're a long way from home."   Home? That's a matter of perspective. "I was conducting a salvage operation and found this ship. I aim to take it back to eden space."   "Not possible. Warp drive is non-compliant and unreasonable; highly unstable."   "Why are you still here then?" I ask.   "I don't understand."   "Why didn't you abandon ship?"   Silence followed for several agonizing moments. Finally, the voice gave a radiant burst of laughter. "Apologies. I'm not myself. I understand the confusion. I couldn't leave with the crew. I didn't abandon ship because I am the ship. They call me The Goddess of Stellar Waters."   "Well met, Viritine" I began, breathing a sigh of relief. "My name's Amber."   "Amberlie Hurst, Wayfarer alias: Pariah. Daughter of Deidre Hurst, the war criminal known as Invicta."   I cross my arms and narrow my eyes, "How do you know all that? Are you the onboard AI? Can you help me get this ship going?"   "No."   "No? To which question?" I ask.   "I am not an AI, nor can I assist in repairs. The medium lacks form. I can't even leave the room below you."   "The medium? Do you mean the flooding? How-"   "The warp drive must be repaired, all power is being used to maintain stability."   "Okay, Where is it?"   "Two doors away…" she pauses to think and continues moments later, "forward… portside. I do not believe you're qualified to repair it, however. Only a trained crewman may attempt repairs.   "You never know. I have some training in ship maintenance. Let's get you out of here first." I orient myself and drift down from the ceiling. The door is sealed. Without power, it won't open. "Are there manual controls to the door?"   "Yes, side panel. You'll find a lever that should open the door enough to slip by." I struggle to find the faint lines in the wall. I press down and the panel swings open. Within moments, the door opens enough for me to slip through. It's a tight squeeze. The water joins at my feet and the Geiger counter ticks violently. I prepare to push myself back up when something brushes against my leg.   "What was that?" I shout.   "Me. Nothing to be frightened of. Next door, if you please."
   

"Gods"

The entities aboard an eden avatar, the ones they call gods, are unlike any form of life in our archives. They come in all shapes and sizes but don't seem to look like anything at all. They're between states; formless.   Each is unique, and Viritine is a prime example… also our only example. She is a she, which is weird. The eden rarely identify themselves with gendered pronouns and I'd assume the same of their gods.   Through her, I can assume many things about the other gods. They're incredibly intelligent, know far more than they let on, and are well beyond life as we know it. At first, I thought they were AI, but they aren't. They're not artificial, but not biological either. They're like a happy balance between the two. We don't have a word for what they are. No wonder the eden call them gods.
 

A Baptism in Stellar Fire

Avatars are not built, they ascend. There hasn't been a new avatar in eons. A ship becomes an avatar by being chosen. A ship must be tried and tested before housing the very essence of a divine being.   When chosen, the crew and vessel are slowly retrofitted to suit the entity's needs. This process takes a while, a human can be born, live their life, and die before its completion. It sounds like an awful lot of work for a fancy ship. Don't ask how it's done. No one knows, not even among the eden. They have black sites all over eden space that handle this kind of thing.   Once a ship is officially declared an avatar, the naming conventions change. Normally, ships have highly conceptual and poetic names befitting a work of art. Now, they are called by their rightful title and have complete autonomy. You don't tell an avatar where to go, you ask politely and hope they say yes.
       
When we reach the warp drive, I stare in awe. The sheer size of it is striking, but the golden decor and beauty of the room make it even harder not to stare. I notice the silence. Viritine's been quiet since I opened the door.   "Viritine?" I whisper. She doesn't answer.   I approach the drive, a massive octagonal structure with a frosted window allowing one to peer inside. I've never seen a warp drive this complex, this powerful. Everything's stable, the power of the ship dedicated to keeping it that way. I open panels along the base and try to find an operational console. I stop my search when the problem reveals itself to me.   On the far right side of the drive is a panel, behind which is something that I can only assume functions as a relay. The drive isn't broken at all. The power can't be restored because the part responsible is fried. I assume the backup power failed during the battle.   Somethings off here. In my haul of salvage alone, there must be a dozen parts like this. While they come in many shapes and sizes, one is bound to work. The crew could have easily salvaged the part themselves if they didn't have one. Why did they abandon the ship? Did they abandon ship in the first place?   "Viritine, I don't know if you can hear me but I think I can fix the problem." My voice shakes as I speak and I'm certain it's enough to pick up on how suspicious I am. She doesn't answer but I hear footsteps from the room beyond. Whatever it is, its feet drag along the floor. It stumbles and flails about.   I reach for my rifle and aim down the sights. I can't control my breathing, my heart is pounding. As I try to control my mind, I lose control of my body. My finger twitches and a white flash erupts from the barrel of the rifle. The round hits the wall on the far side of the room.   What if it's another scavenger. Maybe it's worse. Did I just fire a gun at an eden god? I panic, desperate to hide or at least find cover. I see the silhouette and pause. It looks human.   I hold my breath as they step into the light, their hands raised to shield their eyes. I lower my rifle. An eden stands before me, gaunt and frail, yet still as beautiful as the stories say, like art in motion. Their hazel eyes glare from gaps between their fingers. Their hair is white, long, and drenched in the irradiated fluid that floods the ship.   Their breath shakes, their knuckles cracking as they clench their hands into fists. Their posture is hostile, like a wounded animal backed into a corner.   I reach for the headlamp and dim the light to make it easier for them to see me and their posture shifts. They squint at me as if trying to get a better view of my face through the visor.   Their eyes go wide. "Ehnri um res?"   I shake my head in reply.   "Ophivyn. Deh ho. Oia se lon Fraeia."   "Fraeia? It's a pleasure. My name's Amber."


Cover image: by Adobe Stock

Comments

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Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
6 Dec, 2021 15:29

Fascinating, we now know so much more but at the same time— so little— about avatars here. Glad you're keeping some mystery to them! Wild that they're between biological and mechanical, but it sounds like they're not quite biomechanical either?

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
6 Dec, 2021 19:02

Ooo yes. I didnt want to reveal too much with them and I'm glad the mystery is appreciated. Also yeah. Not quite biomech either. Imagine an artificial organism that evolves naturally. They aren't built but clearly don't follow nature's rules. Imagine if nature invented the wheel, and creatures evolved with wheels. It's really abstract. It could never happen, which is the point. They're impossible organisms, a biological paradox.   Thanks so much! I'm glad you're enjoying it thus far.

7 Dec, 2021 13:07

Beautiful and creepy. I love that there is still a sense of mystery to the avatars.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Dec, 2021 18:48

Ooooh! this is such a fascinating ship! I'm very curious to learn more about them and the Eden :D

To see what I am up to:WE list of articles and goals.
12 Dec, 2021 06:50

Sentient ships SENTIENT SHIPS   I love them! Omg, so much mystery and intrigue. The story is getting juicy too. Why did Viritine go silent?? What's with the Eden suddenly in here??   As always, more excellence, Dyl. I can't wait to keep reading <3


Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
13 Dec, 2021 08:49

I love this concept for a ship!

Check out my world World Behind the Veil!
28 Dec, 2021 21:40

I—This—They sound so Beautiful and that must be a horrifying thing to come across in the middle of a battle field. The way you/Amberlie decribes the ship in the very beginning was absolutly tantalizing, dripping with glorious imagery that almost had me reaching for a pencil to draw it before i remembered I was reading and really wanted to keep reading. Besides, I don’t think anything I could produce could do one of these ships justice.

I think The ship has chosen Amberlie. I mean, with all the info about how ships choose people and how the Eden kill people on sight then the ship Not killing her, what was i supposed to think. Guess i’ll have to keep reading to find out. :D

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
13 Jan, 2022 22:16

What the ***! Is up! With avatars!!! Aaaah! God this is beautiful. I love how you keep giving me answers that just lead to more questions that I know will never have answers, because otherwise that will ruin the beauty of it. But also *** man I wanna know.   This is just another beautiful example of worldbuilding. The fact that this is about a ship is just a beautiful example of "outside the box" worldbuilding if that makes sense? I often get locked down by templates and fixed categories, and this just transcends all of that stuff and is one beautifully intriguing piece of lore.

Author of Arda Almayed - check out my SummerCamp articles here!
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
14 Jan, 2022 01:40

Thanks so much my friend. I cant express how much I appreciate the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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