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8 Higher Existence

 The Poseidon became a hollow cage to Ivan for months as he spent his days idling by. His days were spent idling by with meaningless tasks. The ship had an on-board database, but Mazur had filled it with research journals and other experimental theories, none of which Ivan could understand. He had hoped to watch some novelty shows or learn a little more about the current state of affairs in the human race, but the only thing he learned was just how terrifyingly intelligent Mazur was.

The Symbions were still alive in their holding cells, albeit all but forgotten by Mazur. Due to their normally sluggish movements, they had a slow metabolism and didn't require large amounts of food. The family of three kept in one group while the other was still treated as an outsider. Ivan took advantage of this to spark a friendship with the loner of the group. It would now be friendlier and more submissive to him compared to the other three. He even began teaching it how to understand some words in order to pass time.

One day when he was particularly bored, he intruded on Mazur's research to check on the progress.

"The barrier between a three-dimensional being and a four-dimensional one is an impossible bridge! It's not just a matter of physiology, but it's on the atomic scale!" Mazur cursed out in frustration and threw his journal to the side and shouted in frustration.

Ivan decided to leave him to this task as he couldn't even understand it, let alone help.

Another six months went by when Mazur began experimenting with some tissue from both his and Ivan's body. This trial and error continued for a year before Mazur suddenly exclaimed, "It's a success!"

Thrilled by his results, he obsessively dragged Ivan into his lab to show him the results and prepare him to integrate with the experiment. Ivan tried to fight back but Mazur's superior strength left him in a miserable state. He did however have Mazur agree to do it with him.

The two of them were stranded in deep space, and even with a fully functioning ship, they may not find their way back to any galaxy within their current life expectancy, let alone the problem of running out of fuel.

"So, what are the side effects of this procedure again?" Ivan asked nervously.

Mazur cleared his throat just as nervously. "Unknown. We can't interact with the fourth dimension at all. I have studied the atomic make-up of the fish, and the fourth dimension uses the same periodic table as the third dimension, only the atoms themselves have a four-dimensional construct. There may be more elements than we are aware of, but those we have access to from the fish corpse are enough variations for this procedure."

"The nanobots usually used for genetic scrubbing have been reprogramed to release a specially prepared compound throughout every cell at the same time. This compound includes a sheet of four-dimensional elements and a rapid growth solution with our genetic markers to avoid rejection. The nanobots will rapidly feed our body these elements and force the cells to replicate with these foreign elements repeatedly. There is also an acid agent that will target the old cells once they finish replicating with the new elements and the nanobots will remove this old waste from our bodies."

"This will stimulate our bodies to forcibly grow and evolve over the four-dimensional barrier. It is the only method we had available to us."

Ivan partially understood this but still had doubts. "What are the side effects?"

"...The genetic structure of the fish corpse was indescipherable, it was in a form not even I could understand. It is likely our DNA will be forced to grow a fourth dimensional attribute during the process. Our final figures should be practically the same as they are now, but rapid growth may result in some unexpected changes."

A bead of cold sweat ran down Ivan's forehead, but he still agreed to go forth with the procedure, although Mazur probably would have forced him regardless.

The procedure was going to take three months for the body to evolve completely, so Ivan had made sure that the Symbions had that amount of food in their containment cells and explained it for them to ration. The only one who probably understood properly though was the outcast Symbion.

Ivan and Mazur laid down in customized stasis pods full of nanobots and the fluorescent blue compound that would stimulate their evolution. They quickly fell unconscious as the nanobots invaded their bodies and the process started.

*****

Ivan had a long dream. He had been captured by the government back on Earth and was sent to a specialized containment cell. He was hung up on the wall and someone would come in every day to torture him.

During meal time, he was force-fed to the point he felt like he was going to explode. He wanted to throw it up but couldn't.

He was whipped until his body was torn and ragged, he was beaten until every bone was broken. He tried to scream in agony every time, but no sound would come out. His sanity was gradually lost and he would thrash like a wild animal in the chains.

The citizens who used to worship him for his medical products denounced him and would be let into the cell to throw stones in turn. At the peak of his torture, his eyes were gouged out, his tongue sliced away, and his ears forcefully ripped off.

Ivan wanted to die, but the nightmare didn't end, his vision slowly returned, as did his hearing and other senses. The initial process of torturing over and over again, in an infinite loop. During some cycles, he would curse and spit at anyone who entered, other times he would hold his silence and just glare. The most painful was at the end of each cycle, he would hear Alice's heartbroken voice blaming him, "You abandoned me! You left me behind!"

Strangely throughout this process, although there were times where he wanted to die, his will persevered above it all and he continued on, until one day everything around him began to drain away like the ink on a painting.

*****

Ivan awoke and sat up in the stasis pod. The original blue liquid had completely disappeared and was replaced by a massive pile of gray ash like powder. He tried to breathe, but the oxygen inhaled did nothing for his body. He panicked at first, but he eventually calmed down as the feeling of suffocation never came.

He looked around himself and felt a sense of incongruity. His vision had expanded greatly. Ivan looked around the laboratory and could see it all, but he could also see much deeper. The ship was like a flat surface and he could see everything beyond the boundary of the three dimensions and look into the 'depth' that defined the fourth dimension.

Ivan couldn't understand it before, but looking at it himself, his understanding of the fourth dimension instantly became clear. If the third dimension was a sheet of paper, the fourth dimension while like a massive stack of paper, except they were all joined. He instinctively knew could even move up and down through this stack of paper at will. The process couldn't be described in any existing word other than moving 'deeper' or 'higher'.

Walking out of the laboratory and into a nearby bathroom, he found the largest mirror to look at himself. His body had already grown beyond the concept of three dimension and the mirror could only reflect one surface of his body at a time, so he took his time examining himself.

Ivan's body was mostly the same, there were no extra appendages or anything that grew on his body fortunately, but his ears had taken on a slightly pointed tip and his eyes had changed drastically. His eyes, which were originally a dull blue, were now a radiant blue like the ocean. What changed though was his iris. The original circular iris had become a '+' shape. Depending on where his focus was, they would rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise to adjust.

Slightly more embarrassing though, was Ivan was completely naked not just in front of the mirror, but his entire four-dimensional body. As he returned to the laboratory to check on Mazur, he realized he wasn't walking on the Poseidon's floor, but on the third dimension. He adjusted his perception of it and started walking about a foot off the floor, yet it still felt solid.

Ivan was so caught up in the sensation he forgot to pay attention to the wall and in a panic, he 'ducked' under it. It wasn't a physical crouch, but moving 'deeper' and travelled under it. From the perspective of an outsider, his body appeared to fade slightly and almost become transparent as he moved completely through the wall. This was something similar to a reflection of him on the third dimension due to how close he was to the three-dimensional 'surface' of the universe.

On the other side of the wall, Ivan resurfaced in the third dimension fully and tried poking the wall. He just applied a bit of pressure and poked a hole through it like poking a hole through paper. Amazed at how week the reinforced steel wall was, he poked several more holes in amusement before returning to the laboratory where Mazur was still in the evolution process.

Two days after Ivan awoke, as did Mazur, both his and Ivan's body's now extended into the fourth dimension and could be considered as poking out of the ship from their perspective. Riding in the ship was like clinging onto a surfboard for them, dragging them along but incapable of holding their bodies within itself.

"So this is the perspective of a four-dimensional being," Mazur said in amazement after wiping the gray dust off his body.

Ivan watched him sitting up and although he had caught a glimpse of his fourth dimensional body, seeing him right in front of him was a completely different experience. While Ivan's body had minimal changes, Mazur's was much more drastic.

"You were human specie 'Sphinx' right, Mazur?" Ivan asked cautiously while trying to hide his laughter.

"Of course, it is a specific genome focusing on extremely high intellect and mental capabilities. What of it?"

Both of their voices had an ethereal sound to it, but this was mainly due to their voice penetrating through four dimensions. They could even speak in space, as their voice was transmitted through a form of quantum fluctuation. Of course, only a four-dimensional being would be able to pick up and hear this voice, but the fluctuation also disturbs any atmospheric particles so normal humans would still be able to hear their voices as long as they weren't in a vacuum.

"Well, you appear to have gone through some... changes..." Ivan couldn't hold it in and let out a mocking laughter, earning a frown from Mazur.

Mazur no longer looked like a normal human. He still had the basic shape of a human, and the '+' shaped eyes of a four-dimensional being, but his human genome had completely changed the rest of his appearance.

Two silver ears poked up on top of his head, and a thin silver fur covered his entire body. A long silver tail also extended from the base of his spine and moved about in the air freely. He had completely become a human-shaped cat.

Mazur's ears twitched as he calmly walked to the restroom to check his appearance. A loud crack of a basin breaking sounded before he returned looking somewhat annoyed.

"Don't be so down, I don't doubt you will be a hit with the ladies," Ivan burst out into another fit of laughter at this comment while Mazur clenched his fists(paws) tightly.

Mazur still kept his intellect, so he quickly overcome the frustration of becoming a cat and regained control over his composure.

Being more serious, Ivan asked, "So how much of a lifespan do we have now?"

"It is unknown, while the evolution created a rapid aging repercussion during the evolution, now that it is a success, my initial estimation is that it should be at least a hundred times greater than what it was. I feel younger and stronger than ever right now."

"So how do we get back now that we have the time?"

Mazur stared at Ivan emotionlessly with his blue and yellow eyes. "Didn't you notice?"

Unsure of what he meant, Ivan asked for clarification and Mazur pointed through the fourth dimension towards what appeared like several bright stars. Subspace was white in color, but the twenty or so of these stars shone a bright blue.

The contrast between the ink black space and white subspace brought about a sharp contrast, but it wasn't because subspace was filled with light, but an intrinsic difference in what 'seeing' was.

"What are they? Stars?" Ivan asked curiously.

"No," Mazur answered with a light shake of the head. "I would know this distribution from any star map. They are black holes. Or to be more precise, the supermassive black holes found at the center of every galaxy."