Ascension Bends
rating: +19+x

Remember what it was like to have a case of the bends, Captain?

It was Operation Abyss Drop. The shrine invasion. Hopefully that part of your brain’s intact enough to recall what happened, when we jumped through the planetary mantle. Shoot yourself from the surface down at hypersonic velocities and you throw yourself through more pressure changes than our meatsack bodies were ever built to withstand. The shrine rattled off its missiles and you kept diving in and out of more and more pressure gradients to dodge, subjecting yourself to hard swings of physical forces, enough that I'm not even sure how you kept fighting once we reached our target. The experience was as much torture as it was combat. The pressure bends your anatomy in half. It breaks it.

Yes, I know you can’t reply. Trust me when I say that vocal cords will be little more than detritus once we’re done here. I— No, don't interrupt now. Trying to do a debriefing. Still alert me if Golden Thrones shows up, though.

Alright. Now, that is what happens when you push your biological form to the breaking point with physical changes.

So what about metaphysical changes?

Every god worth their cult knows that ascension runs into incredibly similar problems. Firing upwards with the dream of power in sight invites problems that, without the right precautions, will leave you splattered across the cosmos before you can gain a single follower.

First is sensory overload. Minds aren’t used to foreign geometries, having too much spatial screwiness screws your head over, yadda yadda it’s 4D combat training 101. I know that part of your memory has survived so this doesn’t matter. Moving on:

Dimensionality realignment. For anybody simply touring higher dimensional space without changing their body the sensory side is all they need to care about. But for gods, well, they need their body to be higher dimensional as well. Seeing a blinding ball of solar radiance descend from the heavens is far more impressive than seeing a single shmuck garbed in combat fatigues do the same. They need their body to match their new reality. They—

Could you not interrupt— Oh, that's good. Just keep on eye on the theonuclear waste valves. Our attack may have damaged the vents, and we can't afford for the shrine to blow this far in. Any signs of Golden Throne sabotaging and we shut it down. Make sure the life support is still being fed by the generator as well! Output level red!

Right, the alignment. Getting your body, corporeal or otherwise, to fit the new reality is crucial, but the moment you rebuild yourself to do so you’ll be met by all the new laws of physics the dimension has to offer. They’ll tear you a new one. If your brain doesn’t brick itself from sensory horror then a new gravitational direction is going to rip it from your cranium for you.

Obviously there’s ways to avoid this. After all, this shrine’s former guards wouldn’t have screwed us over so much if they weren't backed by Golden Thrones patrons armed with goddamn heavenly strike mechanisms. Instead of jumping from dimension A to dimension Z you crawl your way up. Ascend inch by inch, reality by reality. There’s a reason why so many mythologies have their idols take the longest paths up the mountainside, the hardest roads to divinity.

But that’s just history. Who’s ever learned from that?

Jalder the 8th flew himself on burning wings higher than the afterlives and fell back down on burning everything. The Watchers saw it fit that they would unite their minds with the Thrones they gazed upon in a single swoop, and when they arrived the sensory overload tore them apart with such force that it was a veritable fireworks display for any witnessing psionics. The Alkan Dynamo had its body so specialized for operation in its native spacetime that a single new law of physics kicked off an explosion that tore planets apart several dimensions down. And the Singer of the Birthright Riddle, well. To say I can still remember the screams would be an understatement.

NUL/000 was the saddest case. They deserved godhood more than any deity ever has. She put so much effort into organizing the prayer rites, into constructing shrines, into accumulating theophany engines across layers of reality above and below them that she deserved ascension. She put so much effort into planning how they'd construct a new afterlife where we could all be truly happy that she deserved victory. When the engines activated and her holy databases shot from our 3D space all the way up to 333D I was among the shrinegoers cheering them on.

We were on the verge of success. We wouldn't need the Thrones anymore. All we'd need is the world NUL/000 builds, and we'd finally have bliss.

It was a few hours later that we received signals about realignment failures. The new circuitry NUL/000 generated was twisting along previously unknown spatial axes, bending at unseen angles into her chassis and skewering herself. Eventually the servers warped deep enough in to crunch her biomechanical core into a 333-dimensional viscera slurry. The whole structure dissolved. If the stories are true then there’s still blood raining down and drowning stray planets. The sheer debris rainstorm that’s fallen through the lower dimensions is what got the Golden Thrones pissed in the first place—

Shrine’s accepting her soul? Good. We’re close. If the security archangel recognizes our intrusion shut the whole thing down. If she gets deleted roll out a backup soul and we’ll restart the rites from step one! Step one!

Now, the deities that aren’t idiots know to take this to heart, to take that heavenly climb with slow pace. You know what they forget, though? What every single one always forgets, every single time?

Ascension bends go both ways.

Going down is no better.

Hear that, Captain? That’s the sound of this shrine’s theophany engines rumbling, all 1111 rotors ripping at the boundaries of the heavens. If your eyes were calibrated yet you’d be seeing rainbows of radiation and angelic waste screeching into the night sky. The shrine's ascension rites are activating.

The life support system hooked to your cadaver is a mechanical seraphim housing your soul and seven backups of it. Once ascension boots you upwards the seraphim will automatically accumulate matter from the surroundings to realign itself, while redundant mental processes offload the sensory strain from your mind…

Wait.

That sound was…

Shit! We’ve got heavenly bombardment! All personnel to your stations immediately! Engineers, start detaching the engines and generators from the shrine. If the Captain can’t drag them along with her we’ll be dying here for nothing!

To make a long story short: we’re sending you to the Golden Thrones, the managers of our regional afterlife. Those jewel-encrusted fucks normally don't care about the realities beneath them, but every ascension disaster invariably sends debris raining into those afterlives, and with it comes impacts straight to the Thrones themselves. They’ve locked down on every ascension attempt from our spacetime and they’re willing to raze everything to the ground to ensure it. They're already doing so. It’s what you fought against.

All connectors disengaged! Initiating launch!

The engines are at 50% throttle. This is enough to boost you to 5D spacetime within tolerable bounds—

Fuck, bombardment’s getting closer. From 5D the engines will creep you higher, slow enough to prevent ascension bends, fast enough to ensure evasion of any attacks. You’ll figure out the onboard weapons systems on your own. And once you reach the Golden Thrones, well…

You’re going to cause a harder descension than the cosmos has ever witnessed.

Launch initiated! Brace for ascension!

I hope you enjoy your second resurrection, Captain NUL/001.

Try to survive the climb up.

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