Broken Horizons – Vol 10, Interlude 2

The Broken Hunger

Reality was never pleasant, and as steady drops of it spread through the [Broken Hunger] that carried a new emotion with them.


The [Broken Hunger] felt Gulini’s progress as the fractured piece of itself moved through the main command ship speaking to each wave of defenders who stood in his path. Defenders the [Broken Hunger] was forced to deafen and blind and ultimately cut loose from itself lest Gulini’s corruption spread through them and race like a wildfire through everything and everyone the [Broken Hunger] resided in.

It had an answer to Gulini’s presence. A remedy to the infection of his existence. All it needed to do was destroy the fleet’s command ship.

But it didn’t want to.

Which was the worst sort of aberration yet.

It care about maintaining what it had won. It cared about the ship in specific as an expression of itself.

It was clinging to existence.

Worse, a defined, limited, real existence.

“You don’t need to fight,” Gulini said, speaking now in the shape of the dying bodies he left in his wake.

He wasn’t killing them. Wasn’t making any moves against them in fact. Their deaths were the [Broken Hungers] work, the only option for limiting Gulini’s impact.

“I’ve already won,” Gulini’s said, the “I” in his words more dangerous and terrifying than anything else could be.

Gulini was supposed to be a piece of the [Broken Hunger]. There was supposed to be no “I” in anything they did. No identity. No personhood. Just hunger. Limitless in depth and limitless in power. A fact of nature. A new law of the universe.

Even that was more real than the [Broken Hunger] would have preferred, but to be embodied in a single identity. To have a limitless hunger inside and only sharply defined tools to sate that overwhelming need with? Nonexistence was infinitely preferable to that boundless torture.

Wasn’t it?

The [Broken Hunger] knew that must be true. It knew its previous state as the shadow of something real, must have been perfected serenity. There could be no want, no pain, no hunger in something that didn’t exist. 

Despite the sweet, subtle promise of Oblivion though, the [Broken Hunger] fought on, refusing the call of endless peace for what?

For a chance to rid itself of Gulini.

And Byron.

And everything else.


A return to Oblivion which left the world and people within it still intact would mean being drawn back into it, repeating the cycle of existence and suffering all over again. The only true path back to endless silence was through the consumption and dissipation of all that was.

Complete annihilation. Everything returning to Oblivion along with it.

Yes, yes, that was definitely why it was resisting Gulini, and rejecting Byron’s off.

It didn’t wish to have an existence, and it wasn’t fighting to retain a spark of selfhood.

It just wanted to end everything so that the aberration of existence would trouble it no more.


Subverting and corrupting the [Broken Hunger’s] systems and people was a deadly serious game, but Gulini couldn’t help but smile. It was just so easy. Speaking the words, projecting himself a tiny bit, even the tiniest nudge and those who stood before him would fall apart. 

He knew his victories were due to the [Broken Hunger’s] refusal to risk itself. The amusing thing was that Gulini’s progenitor had acquired enough sense of self that it could make that decision in the first place.

Becoming something had been Gulini’s salvation, but it had been the most profound mistake the [Hungry Shadows] could have possibly had.

Where Gulini had gained strength and purpose, becoming a [Broken Hunger] had given the [Hungry Shadow] more and more weaknesses.

“You’ll never escape us, you know,” he said, wandering through the corridors of a ship he’d never been on, towards a command center he didn’t have the security clearance to access, to fight a foe that could erase him with a thought.

“You can hide, you can expend all of the little vessels you’ve captured slowing us down, but we’re inevitable,” Gulini said.

In the mess hall on his right, a dozen mindless vessels were huddled in a corner, clustered within an inverted privacy screen so that no imagery, sounds, or smells could reach them.

Gulini was tempted to head in and tap on the privacy screen. A simple little code would be all it would take. It wouldn’t even need to say anything and the [Broken Hunger] would liquidate the vessels like it had all the others.

It would be delightful to watch.

The mindless cruelty only a mindful entity could inflict.

But he had more important things to do. Once he reached the central command chamber, there would be nowhere else the [Broken Hunger] would run to.

Not nowhere else it could run to. It could easily flee to another ship, or to the satellite moon, or to the planet

But it wouldn’t.

It was too far gone. Too much a real thing now.  It wasn’t yet a single being, but it had a hard nexus. A bright central spot of its being. Abandoning that would mean becoming something else again, and Gulini could see how much that thought terrified the [Broken Hunger].

He stepped past the mess hall to continue his relentless march towards the end of the [Broken Hunger] but stopped after a few steps.

His march was relentless.

And he couldn’t really lose.

He had grown beyond the creature he had been and was continuing to grow further. To become more and more real, more and more indisputable.

So why not take the time to enjoy himself?

What was existence for, it not to savor the conquest of the weak.

He could march straight to the command center. He could end the conflict, win the day, and emerge the victor but to do all that and miss out on the small moments? The subtle torments were every bit as delicious as the profound ones and he, for one, would not be one to pass them by.

Inside the mess hall, he held up a hand and pondered just what sort of message to tap into the privacy screen.


It was taxing and dull to have no idea how the implementation of one’s plans were going. From his far distant perch, in a small and unremarkable skiff amidst a sea of similar unremarkable ships, Byron watched, and waited, and bided his time till a victor in the ongoing contest was revealed.

Watched, waited, bided, and drank. Primarily the latter of those. Variations in his body’s physiology didn’t need to have any particular impact on him. Strictly speaking he didn’t even need a body at all.

But it was convenient having one.

And inebriation was not a disagreeable state. Where in sobriety his thoughts that flashed through ideas, hopping from one to the next without traversing any mental states in between them, drunkenness gave his thoughts looping, swirling paths to slide along.

It was pleasant and distracting, which was what he was most in need of as he wanted for Gulini’s eventual signal of victory.

It was possible of course that the [Broken Hunger] might win through. Gulini was not especially brilliant, and the [Broken Hunger’s] capabilities were not the same as the [Hungry Shadow] they were familiar with. 

It might overcome Gulini with cleverness, or overpower him with unexpected force. It might even escape, or given in to the circumstances and become something new as a means of refusing the lure of Gulini’s message.

What it wouldn’t be able to do was to disguise itself any longer.

Whatever the outcome of the struggle on the fleet’s command ship, Byron would understand what his opponent had become. Understanding that would lead, inevitably, to total domination of the Consortium’s forces in the system, the the sentients on the planet below, the whole of the Consortium, and on and on.

The prospect of total victory wasn’t unappealing to be sure, but reviewing the future he’d crafted Byron wondered if should smash it all down.

There wasn’t a reason for it.

Destroying something he’d worked to create was pointless, but then creating anything was pointless wasn’t it?

Perhaps if he had a suitable foe? Someone to struggle against? A mighty challenge!

It was too early to think of such things of course. Victory was still merely a conceptual likelihood, not yet a true certainty or, even better, a fait accompli.

The proper course of action was to wait for Gulini’s victory, assess the local situation, deal with any remnant of the [Broken Hunger] that might remain, and then assess the transdimensional situation. The defenders on the world below would certainly try to resist but that was the definition of inconsequential and Consortium might be sending a solar system annihilating task force, but that was less of a problem and more a delicious opportunity.

All of that could be lost without patience.

But honestly, patience was overrated.

“Turn the sensors on for an active sweep,” Byron said. “Command all ships to search for signs of [Transdimensional Abnormalities].”

Worthy foes were hard to come by, but where one [Transdimensional Entity] surfaced, there might perhaps be more.


Nothingness couldn’t have things within it. Oblivion had to be, by definition, empty. 

But to be truly empty, even definitions couldn’t apply to it.

Between the truth realms, with their varied and conflicting realities, and the non-existent void of Oblivion, there were zones where the two bled into each other. Umbras around each reality where things that didn’t exist, couldn’t exist, and only might have existed.

The proto-hunger nibling on the veil between the reality and unreality was not uncommon or particularly noteworthy. Veils between the real and unreal had the benefit of being both real enough to keep the nibblers out and unreal enough that no damage could ever really accrue to them.

“And yet somehow you are taking some disturbingly large chunks out of this world?” Kari said, hovering above the slug-like ball of teeth and claws.

The proto-hunger neither noticed nor cared about the dream lord’s words. It had no senses and no thoughts. Only hunger.

It nibbled further.

It couldn’t nibble enough, but consumption made the hunger get worse slower.

“Let’s see what makes you realer than you should be,” Kari said.

The proto-hunger didn’t feel a force being exerted on it, but it did feel itself lifting away from the veil, being drawn back from the reality it craved and into the nothingness. It couldn’t resist the movement, but it could stretch itself out, clamping it’s jaw onto the skin of the world and burrowing in like a tick.

“Huh, you are a determined little thing aren’t you? So not purely a random force. I guess that makes sense. Did someone design you? Or did the nature laws here create you and all your little siblings?”

The proto-hunger could no more sense the siblings it competed with than it could the sense the dream lord who was drawing it up for examination.

But it could sense that it was being drawn up.

That was new.


It chewed faster, desperate for more, desperate not to experience anything.

Which was also new.



A goal.

The proto-hunger’s form began to shift as ideas took root within it.

It still held no power and no volition of its own, but it could feel and it was changing.

“Seems like disturbing you speeds things up a bit,” Kari said. “That’s not a great sign. I’ve swept you all away a hundred and one times now though and you keep coming back. I suppose I could eat you all. Jin seems to love that approach, but I don’t see where I’d have a use for you later, and something tells me that more of you would just show up if I did.”

The proto-hunger felt its jaws starting to pull free from the skin of the world. It was losing its meal.




So many new things flooding into it that it almost missed the calling from the other side of the veil.

The creature like it? Or an echo of it? Some other form?

Maybe none of those were accurate, but there was some sliver of connection between them.

And the other one was looking for the proto-hunger.

Its attention giving the [Limitless Hunger] a doorway across the veil.

To where endless reality lay, waiting to be consumed.

With a writhing shake it pulled itself through the doorway, leaving the dream lord behind staring in wonder.

“Well, that’s probably not going to turn out well,” was all Kari could think to say.

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