I have been watching since the Phovan universe faded into emptiness, waiting as its remaining particles decay and eventually bloom into something new. These blooms grow into new universes, each governed by new rules, somewhat related to their mother universe but different enough to be new entities of their own.
The Artikai universe is one such universe.
This universe is smaller than most. Much smaller. A little child, a baby almost, recently split from its dying predecessor. Only a billion years old, yet past its mass expansion. A tiny universe, limited in size due to intruding siblings. Despite its size, it has huge mass. Gravity is strong, expansion is slow. Every star is heavy and made of iron, slowly churning away to itself. Every planet has a simmering metal core, coated in a hot, dense, rocky surface. There are no gas giants here. It all condenses and collapses.
Even under such pressure, life has formed. It is not like life that most would understand. It is tough, vicious and cruel, much like the universe that spawned it. More surprising still is how quickly sentient life has formed. Strange, dense creatures, with heavy metal bones, creating equally dense machines to assist them in their brief lives. Standing out among these early intelligent beings are the Lania and the Thanai, the former an anthropomorphic, partially mechanical race, the latter a varied race of large-jawed, reptilian carnivores. Despite their closeness, these beings mostly live peacefully.
Life for these beings is simple. They live their days farming and herding, occasionally hunting for more exotic tastes. War between sentience is not present in their minds. Instead, they wage battle against the monsters that plague and pester their peaceful lifestyles. Gigantic beasts of many sizes roam both the planets and the spaceways, pushed back only by the unity between sentient beings.
There are no gods here. They have not had a chance to come into existence, this time round. The rules of this universe simply do not permit their existence. Not only that, but there is no desire for external Deitics to visit and attempt to exert their influence among the innocent beings here. The only beings considered eternal here are the entities of life and death, yet more children from their predecessor universe.
But the beings of the Cycle are not in complete harmony. While they may have been the perfect union back in the Phovan universe, here they both love and disagree with one another, overwhelmed and confused by the responsibility neither of them expected to have. They are children who do not know their way. They have learned though, learned from the mistakes of their Mother Death, splitting their duties between each other, rather than dividing themselves into many mindless forms. The Cycle continues, slow and steady, with the bright, white being known as Photar ruling over the birth of life, and the dark yet warm being known as Skotar ruling over the end of life, cleansing and renewing it so that Photar may birth it once more, elsewhere in this little universe. Both push away the mortals and their tendencies to try and worship them. Only time will tell whether the beings of this Cycle will continue to ignore so many prayers or succumb to their worship.
But something has clawed its way into the Artikai universe. Something cold and horrible, that exists only to destroy. Hopefully this universe will survive the Devourer…