A portion of empty space bubbled and bulged, like plastic melting in a fire, then peeled away to reveal the spitting green end of a warp tunnel. Wrapped and protected in a cocoon of pale starlight, the Super Wizard From Space blasted out of the tunnel opening at incredible speed. The wound in black reality mended behind him with a practiced flick of his hand.
He had arrived deep in a trinary star system. Two large suns with a smaller red dwarf that arced around them in an elliptical orbit. No other planets. No belts of rocky debris. Just a lonely small corner where the weight of bright compression had collected everything and squeezed them into these three spheres.
Approaching the larger, yellow-white sun, he slowed enough to watch the surface activity. Vast fields of heat so intense that it was barely given the chance to become flame, burning away every spare atom. He looked for bending swaths of magnetic fields penetrating the photosphere. When he found a ripe enough spot, he did some quick calculations in his head and pushed against the field, causing the corona to link with the solar interior. The result was a bursting flare of liquid fusion, of radiation and plasma squeezed from the star and flung out into the surrounding darkness. A curving snapping arc.
The wizard outstretched his arms, hands clutching, half-closed, dragging the expelled powered into himself. He caught fire. His suit glowed a pure hot white. Gravity collapsed into him.
He drank deeply. Drank until he was sated. Then reluctantly released the flare, to let it fall back down into the field of heat. A hand over his eyes a moment as he fought a shiver down his spine.
After a troubled sigh, he checked on the companion star, the second large sun. It was smaller with an oily orange tinge to it, and was emitting significant amounts sour radiations. The wizard bled out a portion of his extra gravity against the star, nudging against its trajectory. He hoped that it would eventually ripen like the primary, but so far had been unsuccessful in finding a fertile orbit.
Eventually he moved away, making a tight arc toward the red dwarf. It had a pleasantly wide course around the two suns, providing a good vantage point over the yield while being far being far out enough to still have an unobstructed view of the outlying universe. When he had originally found the dwarf, it had been of poor quality. A sad little thing clinging along due to unfortunate circumstances. With cleaner fuel and a tweaking of its magnetic field, he had managed to make it welcoming. He had even given it a pleasing pulse, its brightness increasing dramatically to the beat of a half-remembered song.
The wizard flew underneath the dwarf star, to the bottom of its axis, and used the remainder of his collected gravity to open it. At first, the surface spit and jumped like an aggravated animal, then a swirly dark spot appeared in the center. Holding his hand out, he turned his palm slowly, causing the black spot to become a black iris. Splitting, widening, the surface spiraled open, petals made of crimson fusion. He let himself fall into the open door, the photosphere collapsing closed again once he was inside.
Because of its low mass, the interior of the star was completely convective, meaning the wizard fell against the outflowing movement of plasma all the way to the core. Pulled upstream and downhill at the same time, a warm fiery rush sweeping past along his skin and uniform. The dull red washed into a bright orange washed into a blinding white, waves of intensifying heat and light. Pulled and pulled, down and down, distance stretched by gravity layered upon itself, diving deeper than the logical radius of the star itself, until he finally reached the thermonuclear core he called home.
Here, fusion acted directly against a super dense sea of hydrogen, atomic nuclei being fused and immeasurable amounts of energies being released. Here, a careful state of hydrostatic equilibrium keeps the exploding energies balanced between inward gravitational forces and outward pressure gradients. Here, unbound power is crushed and released, the very laws of the universe are defined and defied.
Here, the Super Wizard From Space finally let his shoulders sag. Here, the wizard relaxed.
The science-sorcery of his great race had long conquered the core of stars, transforming the tremendous energies into a power that could be wielded and molded. An unreachable mysteries to others, this was a vast plane of private existence open only to his kind. The ongoing fusion created a near blinding effect, creating a field of fierce contrasts. An unending white light in all directions, with only jagged black shadows of shapes and structures fading in and out of view; at one angle, a shadow that could be a fortress, but with the turn of the head, it melted away behind ever-present glare.
Half a millimeter and a million miles away, geometric blacks shapes unblended from the waves of blindness. Positioned with efficiency, kept at optimal running conditions, this was his stellar laboratory. Each inky shape a machine made of nuclear activity, maintained by math and mind. They all viewed outwards, their sensors the solar winds and broadcast energies of the dwarf itself. They watched the system, they watched the galaxies, they watched the universe, and they watched beyond the edge of even that. He checked each one of them with a habitual motion.
A tilt of his head and the shapes changed. Tall pillars of darkness, turning the plane into vertical black and white stripes. Here he kept his specimens and samples, all arranged with the same frightful efficiency as everything else in this solar realm.
In one empty pillar he placed the cosmic crown he had taken from the Infinite School. Their mad champion gone, they themselves aimless, they had drifted off to more abstract regions to look for a new teacher.
In another empty pillar he placed the cosmic crown he had taken from the Invisible Monks. The family Dharma seemed relieved to be free from the burden, able to focus on matters closer to them.
Over his head, his own cosmic crown buzzed with anticipation. The challenge remained, and with it, a compulsion to complete it. The other space-champions had scattered as soon as the grey lizard lost the douli. A gritting of his teeth at the thought. They did not come after him eventually. This tournament they designed trapped them as much as it did him.
He felt a fluttering at his feet. Looking down, he saw a flash of folding red, the only true color in this colorless place. It was a dress, a ruby red shade, caught in the motion of hydrogen being smashed into helium, drifting along it as if it on a sea breeze.
He shifted and the specimen room was erased into the white glare, but the splash of red remained. He narrowed his eyes and the blindness let him into his laboratory. The clothe slid and settled, following. He slowly lifted his foot. It caught a nonexistent gush and finally tumbled flatly away, hiding in the white light.
It wouldn't take much to let the fusion have it. It took more effort to keep it from being vaporized in the core. He stared at the spot the dress had disappeared to, and though he knew it was there somewhere, he could not see it again.
He closed his eyes and let the bursts of heat and light and radiation push against him. Pressure became energy became plasma. Gravity became a conceptual thing again. Distance unstretched, the everythingness turned orange and then red and then suddenly the emptiness of space; with a smooth splash, the surface of the red dwarf released him.
Super Wizard From Space paused there. The dwarf star pulsed with light. To a pattern he set, to a tune someone else once hummed to him. Resolved, reaffirmed, he picked a point in the dark universe and departed.