[ — ]


Are there anti-alien elements in the government? Governments? Yes.

Are these elements from another world? A portion of them, yes, especially higher up, or with influence over said. This was conveyed to Soran Shniff in his early interactions with the Orb.

But they are native, as us. Of this world, and not. They exist in other space.

They are the Bringers of the Cube.

The Bringers

The Bringers are at war with Para'meesh IV, homeworld of the aliens. Also: us. Also: them. For we are birthed of the aliens.

And the Bringers are us.


They are at war with themselves.

They are insane, frankly. They are us, and yet not. Let us agree that they aren't very nice. Evil, even. Shniff spies have given their lives to learn of their belts, next-next-gen+++ (plus a little +, we must admit) interdimensional devices, with a cube, as a core, as Shniff rods, plus the V.



They move between realities, these cubic Bringers, with their belts, different versions of the world we currently call home, collecting extra +, extra tech. And yet…

Where did they come from in the first place, these belts? Is it possible we have competitors – true competitors – in these other worlds? Could it be that Vanilla Emission ice cream with chocolate stars / mini turds also exists as Chocolate Emission with white chocolate growths in the warped, destructive minds of these Bringers?



And why the fight? We don't know. Soran Shniff suffered the first of his auric depatternisations upon receiving the Orb's alert, and that section of the artefact has been closed to him ever since, strain though he might with an ever degrading mind.

So the spies were dispatched, and one of them came close, touching a specialist at a Shniff Store while requesting an interdimensional belt with cubic core from the magical back room, if you'd be so kind. Do you mind if I touch you there? There? Is it approved by the sacred First Contact manual?

And delivered branded Shniff, and quite authentic, as far as we can tell, down to the bloat-friendly stretch which compensates for the mild to medium gas which is inevitable when moving between realities, apparently, if with no odour on release, and so: these Bringers are difficult to trace as they settle in among us.

And the spy was disappearing and reappearing many times, much to the delight of the store, the shoppers taking it as some sort of trick, some marketing thing for the next Shniff wonder = WOW! Hooray! It was all fun and games!

Until… sadly, the spy, upon release – a most tremendous, pungent wind! – and smiling widely in relief, did then explode over the Juice Bar. And sales were down, somewhat, that day.


Spheres and cubes

"Is it possible this impossible, 10-Vogen-derived crystal cube which served as the belt's engine prior to its, and Mr Vodernach's, explosion was somehow incompatible with both the fundamental nature of this reality, as well as the sphere of an Orb which sits at the core of your alienotic enterprise? That is: do spheres and cubes not mix? Could their union – and I'm speaking both here, on this physical plane, as well as interdimensionally – generate explosive wind? Should we heed the fate of the Barneses and abandon the 10-Vogen quest, at least until the aliens can show the way?"

Surprisingly insightful inquiries, thought I, from a government agent with, as far as could be determined from a superficial, if expert, inspection, a Level 33 genetic variance, aka "Back of the line, if you'd be so kind. They'll get to you eventually. Probably." status.

I, meanwhile, would be assigned to the front, what with being the assigner and all. Also: Level 5. Being me: Zohan Pahsh. Chocolate stars. Lover of beef.

Suspected Bringer of the Cube.

I could hardly blame them, what with the whole non-wedding and all. The ripples from that meat-laden celebration of my bulging rear pocket had travelled, via the Ring of Cooks, back in time, so-called time, to a slice of time when I was interviewing for a most lowly position in the Shniff Inc mail room. The power came, I vibrated, I knew not what it was, being a vegetarian back then with a thing for vegan holsters. But I harnessed it and got the job, rising quickly through the ranks – ridiculously so! And I understood it better, and much better, in time, through overlaps with X Verexus, my future non-wife.

"Only a Bringer could have risen like that," I would hear them whisper with my enhanced, beef-infused hearing, "morphing from mail boy into Director of Alien Relations. One who could study probabilities in multiple versions of this reality, combine them into one, then take a dump for the ages and come to enlightened realisations while achieving wild scores in Roderick, earning the top three spots in the Roditron of Fame."

No, friends, it was the ripples, from the beef. From the bulge. It was the magical duplication of the magically rejuvenated Cook. It was the Vogen series of molecules discovered by the professors Barnes. Molecules of cubes, spheres. Tetrahedra arrived with 9. The highers will arrive with the impossible 10, gateways to the real.



My point being: "The sphere, the cube, they have always been Shniffed, at least in the company's alien phase. The Orb is a sphere. The computer thing (spoiler: we'll be renaming it the Vodernach Machine in honour of Peter's sacrifice) is a cube. Our genetic test, inspired by an alien barman, is founded on cubes and spheres. We are 10-Vogen. The molecule is our fate. We cannot abandon the race. It is a signal to our gods."


X Verexus



"Oh, and one more thing," I said. The agent was lost in her bag of complimentary Shniff goodies. We stopped at the entrance and I looked deep in her hair, deep in her mind, channelling beef. "Even though I know you do not hear me. Even though I know you are entranced by these alienotic wonders, for you aren't alien yourself, not yet, or even a Bringer, rather an unwitting agent of their sickness, their insanity, grounding their madness in this physical realm, this particular slice, this place, this time, selected for this mission by virtue of a variance which, while lacking to us, is front-of-the-line to them. Even though, even though, now hear this, be not afraid: There is a Cube on Para'meesh IV, a tremendous metal structure. I did not speak of it before. The Cube begets the Orbs. The planet begets the Cube. I might have blown your mind. Think on this, and lose your mind. Know your death, yet do not die. Be reborn, be reborn, with a Level 5 variance. A new life. A new name. Then get in touch, and I will treat you to prime rib and Vanilla Emission ice cream at a high-end dining establishment with a suspiciously long-fingered maître d' = lick."





For this woman, I had realised, was the latest form of X Verexus. Last-but-one, I'd been informed. I'd help prepare her for the next. Prepare: the last. Already known. The rest absorbed. The final form. We would non-marry.



And over lunch, she would self-know, and we'd create the invitation, hiding shapes within the leaves, and then she'd leave.