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Book 6, Chapter 77 - The Cube

 While the Sarcophagus of Rebirth was in the center of the cube-space matrix, it was neither the heart nor origin of the pocket universe. This neat and regular collection of cubes was not natural and had been artificially created.

Wolfblade took them to a passage through the dimensional walls. Cloudhawk passed through a veil of pure white which again reminded him of when he teleported to other worlds. He entered into a relatively separate subspace and hung weightless within it.

This area was different from the others.

The next set of cubes stretching before Cloudhawk were all exactly the same. Six identical faces of pure white, making the space look clean and neat and spotless. Each one was limited in size with the borders roughly five hundred meters in length. Hundreds, maybe thousands of these pockets continued.

Then a shift.

Nothing. Darkness. Not even air - a total vacuum as far as the eye could see. It was like being caught in the center of an endless, empty universe.

The only thing that existed other than them was a suspended point of light. Around it reality swirled in a slowly moving vortex, like a tiny galaxy. Even the most clueless person could feel the energy pouring off of it.

"This is the heart of this pocket dimension. Take it, and this universe goes with you."

Cloudhawk didn't need Wolfblade's explanation, he could feel it. The power this heart released was suffused through the whole matrix, keeping it stable. It's what kept this place in existence for over a thousand years.

Cloudhawk reached out with his mind to communicate with the demon. "Why didn't you show this to me before?"

"I wanted to," Wolfblade remarked, "but do you think one can simply pick up this item and walk away with it? Even with the power you wield it will take effort. The vortex around the Cube is warped spatial power. Without sufficient ability to control space, you wouldn't even be able to get close. Try for yourself."

Cloudhawk floated over to the vortex. Immediately he sensed the unstable, chaotic flows of space swirling around him.

The vortex wasn't anything physical. As Wolfblade had said, it was the power of the Cube warping space around itself. The highly compressed spatial energy was more than the surroundings could maintain in a stable state, so this was the result. Anything that tried to move through the space would be torn apart.

Cloudhawk knew the only way to deal with spatial disturbances like this was with dimensional power. He phased into incorporeal space and approached. So far, so good...

But the instant he reached the border of the vortex, he felt simultaneous tearing and rejecting forces. This cube was integral to the existence of this reality, and as such it was constantly releasing spatial energy. In essence, it was in a constant state of expansion. Cloudhawk had to cover a far greater distance than he'd thought.

Even with his current powers, these flows were difficult for him to control. He felt them roar around him like a hurricane, threatening to overwhelm his phase state. It required total focus to maintain, Cloudhawk wasn't sure how long he'd be able to hold it.

A year ago a struggle like this would have spelled his end. He grit his teeth, focused his powers and pressed on. Like a man struggling against the wind, bit by bit he inched closer to the core. The closer he came the more intense these powers fought him. His control was slipping.

He considered backing away. It was too dangerous, there was no logic in risking it. But no - he fought passed the uncertainty. Perhaps it wasn't as impossible as he'd thought.

No one knew this place better than Wolfblade. No one knew Cloudhawk better, either. If the demon had brought him here, it was only after careful consideration. Wolfblade was not the sort to waste time, and he only acted when he was certain of success.

The pocket universe contained a wealth of knowledge, tools and clues. It had the potential to help the Green Alliance tremendously. With that in mind Cloudhawk pushed himself harder. Flames danced in his pupils and his mental powers surged. Heedless of the risks he forged ahead. Resistance gave way. He wrapped his fingers around the heart of this universe.

A smile touched Wolfblade's lips. "Old friend, I really did find you a worthy successor."

A wave of exhaustion came over Cloudhawk. The cube was possessed of an intense vacuum force, like a black hole. It ravenously drank up his mental energies until it seemed poised to consume him. Then, all at once the surroundings changed. The core of this dimensional pocket stopped the constant release of energy.

He watched as the universe collapsed into rapid constriction. All of the vast space they'd moved through shrank back toward the core, recycling all of that energy.

Two humans and one god were kicked out. They once again found themselves in the center of the ancient battlefield. Stormy winds that had roared when they entered were all gone, for the source of the spatial disturbance was no longer present.

Was it done?

Cloudhawk looked down and there in his hand was a small translucent cube. Each face of the crystal object was subdivided into six smaller cubes of precisely equal proportions. In other words, within the larger cube were two hundred and sixteen smaller copies. It reminded him of the old rubik's cube.

It certainly looked like the ancient toy. Where it differed was that the puzzle only moved on surface at a time. Cloudhawk's Cube moved in all sorts of directions.

Wolfblade spoke with satisfaction when he saw it in Cloudhawk's hand. "Most of the pockets we passed through are gone, but the ones that have vanished were on the peripheral. Empty and unimportant. The ones of use have been retained, to your benefit."

Cloudhawk recognized the cube as a very special spatial relic. Of course the real power came from its core, and the Cube itself was the ultra-condensed pocket dimension given physical form. He was reminded of the times he'd visited the Temple, where the interior seemed so much larger than it did from the outside. Spatial energy was several times more dense within the structure and that's how the strange phenomenon was produced.

His new item took that concept to the next level, compressing spatial energy around a dimensional core that held it all together. The result was a pocket dimension that could fit in the palm of his hand.

Cloudhawk lifted his hand. The Cube reacted, quickly shifting and spreading outward. The subspace dimensions were released and swallowed everything in the immediate area. Once again Cloudhawk was floating in an expanse of white emptiness. It was surprising to him that using the Cube would be so simple. Activating it required less mental energy than he was expecting.

He asked Wolfblade, "Is the time difference inside still the same as it was?"

"Every subspace dimension has its own rules regarding time. How different depends on the intensity of the dimension itself. Based on what I know of your power, I would say time is between one twentieth and a thirtieth of normal."

A thirtieth? In other words one day in the real world was twenty or thirty days in the subspace dimension. The Cube was a relic as well as a trap. However, there were several other ways it was useful. For instance, the time discrepancy could improve manufacturing efficiency by a huge margin.

This was one hell of a tool.

Cloudhawk cut off his mental energies from the cube and once more it all shrank away. He tightened his grip around it. Who could imagine, a whole universe right in his palm...

"This is very important to us. Make sure you keep it well." Wolfblade cautioned him.

Cloudhawk looked it over and nodded before slipping it into a pocket.

Most relics didn't mean much to Cloudhawk anymore, but this one was different. Particularly when he considered Wolfblade's Sarcophagus nestled inside, which made the pocket dimension all the more precious.

Wolfblade turned his attention to the Cloud God. "What do you think? Seeing this, knowing this, are you prepared to join our cause? The Green Alliance may not look like much now, but one day in the future it will mean the unification of demons and humans. It is the only way to combat the tyranny of Sumeru."

A pulse of mental energy bore the Cloud God's answer. "I must learn the ultimate truth."

"You will." Wolfblade understood the god very well. "You are not the first god to join us, nor will you be the last. The path of our revolution is long, and the path to truth is longer still. From now on, we will walk this road as companions."

At last Wolfblade got to the root of this whole excursion. If the Cloud God wanted to free himself from the gods, the only way was through the Sarcophagus of Rebirth, which Cloudhawk held in his pocket. The Demon King's successor was the only one capable of opening the way, thus to save his own life the god had to aid Cloudhawk.

In addition, the Cloud God had to know the secrets.

It didn't matter what he thought. The Cloud God had to give up any illusions of escape or neutrality. With the god's help, Cloudhawk had faith that they could combat the Avatar. Another important advantage was that their new ally still had access to part of his divine connection. The actions of the gods could be delivered in a timely manner to the Green Alliance, a fact which could not be understated.

Cloudhawk had come to possess his own universe in the form of the Cube. What's more, the Cloud God was now one of them. This field trip had proved to be very beneficial.

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