A new day. Light ebbs from the Star Station, blaring in the heavens, beating down onto the world below. This was a fairly usual occurrence, and usually went by without too many problems, settling down again for the night shift. But today something was wrong. The Star was broken.
As some of the astronomers could maybe see from the world below, the anthropomorphic personification of Pain was sitting on a bench. And he wasn’t happy. It was his job to work the Star. Pull a few levers here or there, twist some knobs, and there you go. He’d done this every day for the last five-million years, and by his memory he’d done it in exactly the same way. So why did he mess up now? Pain stood up and wandered over to the stairs that climbed the Star Chamber and led up to the Light. It was one small crystal, deceptive at first as your eyes adjusted to comprehend how bright it was. The Light shone onto small mirrors and through magnifying glasses in intricate metal wiring that grew like ivy around the Star. Attached to this hive of wires, mirrors and lenses were a confusing array of gears and cables, all controlled from two bronze levers at the front of the balcony. That morning, Pain had done what he’d done every morning – started the Star. He’d pulled the left lever forward a notch to open the Blinds. He’d then oiled all the little hinges and gears, and refitted faulty cables and polished lenses. He’d then pull the right lever, and the webs of wiring would rearrange themselves across the inside surface of the Star. However, only half the Star had lit up. The entire west side of the Dome was still in darkness. He could imagine it now – the children would be waking up to the Moon Station still mulling over the dome’s roof. What was happening? This star had worked perfectly for years, it was impossible for it to fail. Pain had checked everything – every gear, blind, lens and mirror, everything that could lead to a problem. But after all that he now found the cause of his problem. He stumbled from his platform on the balcony to the Light. The diamond just sat there, content in its innocence. In fact, he could see the small scratches, where perhaps some former handler had gone mad. Or a future one, you never knew in the Dome. Pain’s eyes had long since adapted to the Light’s blinding appearance, but even now it was strange that he could study it in such detail. The wave of realization came across him. It was time. The Light was failing.
Time is often described as an old man, watching over existence with a smug look on his face at how he’ll last forever and we petty mortals will only last for a few decades before meeting his Boss. Time saw this as an insult. While he could easily be described as “old” and “man”, that’s where any similarities ended. He strode across the main Hall of the Nexus, his dull silver robes brushing alongside him as if they were uncomfortable with being so close and just wanted some of their own personal space. The Nexus was, like many things in the Dome, deceptive in its appearance. While to an outsider the Nexus would look cavernous and extraordinary, what they failed to realize was that when a building is sat on a rift in space-time, you can fit more than three dimensions. Therefore, the builders of the Nexus had the opportunity to make it up as they went along, as long as it did its job and it wasn’t too big on the outside. Time didn’t mind the size of the Nexus. He liked the way that the builders had thought to include little statues and carvings of faces, and all the little signatures scratched onto the bricks. He could teleport through the Nexus, but he thought it would offend them. He couldn’t be too careful. He was setting off to The Platform, on the tallest room of the Nexus. Terrible business, this Star problem. The whole West Side was in darkness. Why did they come to him? Why not go to the person in charge, instead of bothering an old man? He knew why. No one wanted to see it. The only time they wanted to see it was when Time had let them run their course.
The Dome. It sits conspicuously on a rift in space-time, a rift that before the invention of the Dome was spewing every universe in existence into ours. And this is the job of the Dome. Instead of stars, galaxies and creatures with one too many heads coming through the rift, they were kept in the dome and made into humanoids. They gave themselves names, abilities, ideals. The most powerful of these was it. Death had often found that even when his intentions were good, the cloud of rags and smoke that accompanied his imposing skeleton seemed to unnerve even those who knew him best. So, he thought, he might as well be an asshole. Time entered its chamber. Draped on all surfaces were black and silver cloths, and in the braziers were curling black flames. Around it sat its servants – the Seven Sins. They all turned to stare at Time as he brushed past several imposing black curtains. “Yes?” it whispered. “I was hoping to inquire upon your opinion of the problems with the Star, your honour,” he said, doing a short bow. “What do you expect me to do? It is not my purpose to activate the Star. If you wish to know what has happened, use The Platform.” “Thank you sir. I was merely seeking your guidance and your blessing…” “Begone with you.” He moved with speed to leave the chamber, the Sins threatening to curl their bony fingers around his legs as he left. Phew, he thought. That was easy. He quickly ran down a level of stairs to the Platform door. It was less like a platform, more like a set of stairs that went up to the Moon and then the Star. Time opened the door, and set off.
Pain had long since resumed his vigil at the small bench looking out over the East Side. He’d never known what made it the East Side. Didn’t look particularly more “East” that the West. Maybe it was just for some order. That was it. It was always about order, structure, routine. It clicked that he’d need to tell the Moon Station workers about the faulty Light. They were so isolated in that station. They probably wouldn’t notice a ravenous lion biting their head off until they’d been fully digested and were mulling around in it’s bowels. He ran up onto the balcony and pulled open the glass doors to the corridor which ran precariously between the two stations. As he made his way across it swayed back and forth, but it was sturdy enough to give him safe passage. Upon opening the thick metal door of the Moon Station, Pain could feel something was wrong. There was something in the air. Something… stagnant. As if the air hadn’t been breathed for a while. Pain ran through the pipe-covered corridors of the Moon. It was like a maze of rooms with little to no significance, with clocks and machines that let off the odd tube of steam. What, if anything, had befallen the Moon Station’s handlers? Another thick door gave way to the main deck. What lay within held a terrible sight. The crew were all seemingly present, lying casually in their seats. Or they would be, if it weren’t for their quite skeletal appearance. Every member of the group was dead.