She was a starship, but not according to most standard definitions. She was relative-capable, heavily armed and armoured, and possessed of a unique and darkly quirky personality, but none of these specifications corresponded to any Corporate or known Alien technology. She travelled the trackless emptiness of Dimension after Dimension by a whimsical itinerary of Her own.
She was the Majarthian, and She was unlike any other vessel in the known urverse.
Her very construction was part of what set Her apart. Technically Divine, a supernatural life-form rather than a ship, She nevertheless manifested as one. Where She’d come from, who or what had built her, whether or not She’d even been built at all, nobody could say. Her origins were ancient, references to Her existing in the earliest writings of the Elder Races. Back before there had been any Gods but the Firstmade ones, the Majarthian had floated in the darkness. Waiting.
Some said She was a rebellious offshoot of the Leviathan’s dominion, a lost shard of the mysterious objects that had formed the Dark Realms and the Gods within. A sixth Dark Realm, in fact, a wilful Being that had long since separated from Her fellows. This was fanciful and compelling but unfortunately impossible to verify. Of Her power, however, there could be no doubt.
The Majarthian’s sole purpose was the safe transportation and storage of dangerous Gods. And She did it well.
The ultimate authority to which She answered was the Corporate High Council, although they did not often dare to invoke Her name. Nor had it always been the case. The Corporation, after all, was a relatively new arrival on the urversal stage. The Majarthian had been flying from place to place, gathering up Gods and delivering Them to Their assorted places of imprisonment and torment, for a very long time.
In form, She was immense. More like a growth than a vehicle, the Majarthian was some thousands of kilometres long at last sighting, dark and craggy and slicked with the thin, turbulent atmosphere-pockets that clung to parts of Her hull like lichen. She was, for all that, very clearly a formed thing, not a naturally-occurring object. Whether She had a crew, or builders, or was entirely self-determined, nobody knew. On some stretches of Her great grey-black hull, lights like windows ran in rows. Of Her interior, endless theories abounded.
She was not without followers. The Majarthian flew through a wide range of Dimensions and environments, and even along the Highroads from time to time, but one thing remained constant: where the Majarthian flew, Gods crept away and kept silent. A certain type of nomad – one without a strongly developed sense of irony, for example – found that absence desirable. And so a travelling flotilla-city of assorted creatures followed in the Majarthian’s wake … but not too closely.
Because sometimes, whether by coincidence or design, things happened among the nomads who lived in the Majarthian’s shadow.
She could be spoken to, although even the highest mortal powers of the Corporation seldom dared – and the immortal powers not at all. She could be appealed to, in times of desperation. And She might, just maybe, turn Her great battered nose in the direction of the complainant’s home world. But if She did, there was no knowing what decision She might make upon arrival. And Her followers were deeply strange.
She’d been smaller, once. To hear immortals tell it, the Majarthian had once been little more than a strange monolith, an extrusion of some unidentified but presumably God-adjacent matter into the mortal sphere. With each new prisoner She took in and carried and – usually – released, however, She had grown and changed. Each inmate, each impossible containment of sentient power wreaked bizarre alterations on Her substance. Shapes decorated Her hull, like growths or reliefs, buttresses and carvings. Things that, it was said, could sometimes detach and go among the mortals. It was theorised that, when Arbus Rosedian began work on his deadly defence platforms and the autonomous weapons they carried, it was from the Majarthian that he took his darkest inspiration.
Indeed, if Rosedian’s Daughters were the fangs of the Gods, the Majarthian was the beast in the maw of which they should have rightfully resided. The historical irony was that they had never, as far as the official records showed, spent any length of time in the same Dimension as one another.
The official records were, in this noteworthy case, incorrect.