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2: Beacons Lit
"Are we sure about this?"
That was Námo’s older sister, Nienna. The younger Ayanumuz were standing together watching their elders. Surrounding them were the Máyar, grouped together by allegiance to a particular Ayanuz. The largest group called themselves the Manwelië, the People of Manwë. Those who followed Varda were also numerous. The Máyar who followed Námo numbered the least. Even Irmo and Nienna had more followers. Námo tried not to think about that as he answered his sister’s question.
"Aulë and Ulmo went over the calculations twice before they agreed to this," he said, giving Nienna a smile. She had been unable to join in the Song to the very end, yet somehow she seemed stronger than he in many ways. "I don’t think Manwë would have allowed it if they had any doubts."
Nienna nodded reluctantly. One of her Máyar servants leaned towards her. "Your lord brother is correct, my lady," Tiutalion said. "Lord Manwë would not countenance the project otherwise."
"Look! It’s started," exclaimed Eönwë, standing nearby among Manwë’s People. He was Manwë’s chief Máya, often charged with relaying messages between the Ayanumuz. At the moment, however, he was just one of the spectators.
Námo turned his attention to where Ulmo and Aulë were standing, facing each other. Manwë and Varda were there as well, the four forming a square. Each of them was bathed in a corona of fire: Manwë’s was a bright blue flame, while Varda’s was a blinding white; Aulë’s was red-orange, but Ulmo’s seemed a mixture of sea-green, indigo and violet, blending in iridescent tones.
Then Manwë began to Sing, his light baritone voice joyous. Aulë and Ulmo joined him, their deeper voices a pleasing counterpoint. Finally, Varda came in singing the descant, her voice of pure delight sending a thrill through all who heard her. The Song was one of pure mathematics, for they were attempting to remold the physics of the space-time continuum in this part of Eä. As the four Sang, equations began to appear in the space between them, writhing in the flow of the Song, coalescing into a single mathematical point that suddenly exploded, momentarily blinding them all. When the light dimmed to more acceptable levels they were all stunned. Not even a flicker of thought marred the absolute silence that descended upon them. Námo felt himself shivering with awe at what his elders had wrought.
Within the space between the four Ayanumuz was a star, smaller than any Varda had yet created, shining whitely. It was also spinning so rapidly that Námo counted six hundred rotations in a space of time that the Children would some day call a "second". More importantly for their purposes, the star emitted a specific electromagnetic signal visible to them all that acted as a beacon. One other beacon-star was planned, its location set relative to this star to allow triangulation, the third vertex being the celestial point where Atháraphelun would be established.
Or rather, where it would not.
It had been Námo’s idea, offered somewhat hesitantly. "If we have Melkor believing that we are nearly ready to establish Atháraphelun in one part of Eä," he had explained to them, "he might not bother to pay any attention to what we are doing elsewhere."
Manwë had approved the idea, giving the younger Ayanuz an encouraging smile. Aulë and Ulmo had immediately begun working out the necessary equations, consulting with Varda as to the parameters of the beacon, and now they were seeing the results.
The Máyar cheered and offered their congratulations. It had been a tremendous achievement and they were all excited at the idea of seeing the other beacon being created. Irmo gave Námo a knowing grin as they listened to the Máyar chatter away and Námo grinned back. Manwë signaled to Eönwë, who nodded to his lord, then in a voice that all heard, gave the command for the Máyar to disperse, leaving the Ayanumuz to themselves. The thirteen of them circled the beacon, admiring their work.
"We will set up the other beacon after we’ve rested for a time," Manwë said.
"Seems almost a waste," Oromë commented, "creating these beacons for no other purpose than to deceive Melkor."
"Not quite a waste," Ulmo replied, sounding smug. "What the Máyar do not know is that we’ve set up the equations in such a way that by changing one variable the beacons will shift their positions so they point to the actual location where Atháraphelun will be founded."
"We have also decided," Manwë added, "that Námo will hold the key to altering the variable."
"Me!" Námo exclaimed in disbelief.
Manwë nodded. "This was, after all, your idea, and you forget nothing. At the moment, only Ulmo knows what the trigger to alter the variable is. Once he’s given it to you he will deliberately erase all knowledge of this from his mind."
"That’s insane!" Námo protested and one or two of the other Ayanumuz stirred at their brother’s tone.
"Insane or not, it is the plan, my son," Manwë said, the tenor of his words brooking no dissent.
Námo stared at his fellow Ayanumuz, hoping that this was but a jest, but the seriousness of their expressions convinced him otherwise. He sighed and nodded. "It will be as you say, lord."
"Come, Little Brother," Ulmo said sympathetically. "Let us find a more secluded spot for this."
Námo allowed Ulmo to choose the location and soon they were in the midst of a globular cluster overlooking the spiral galaxy that was their present home. Námo stared about, admiring the view of the galaxy slowly spinning.
"Is it my imagination," Námo finally said, "or is that hole in the center of the galaxy getting larger?"
Ulmo glanced incuriously to where Námo was pointing, automatically measuring the blackness where no light was emitted in the spiral’s center and mentally comparing it to the last time he had bothered to check its size. He grunted in assent. "Nothing we need to worry about at the moment," he said dismissively. Then he gave Námo a smile. "There’s no reason to be nervous, Námo. The transfer will be instantaneous."
"How do you know you can trust me?" Námo asked. "Melkor said..."
"Hush now, Little Brother," Ulmo said gently. "Have you forgotten what Atar told you before we left the Timeless Halls? If Manwë and I trust you, can you do any less than trust yourself? Or failing that, can you not trust us who are your elders?"
Námo stared across the space that separated them from their home. He remembered Atar’s words to him as the two walked through one of the gardens that were the delight of all the Ayanumuz...
"Thou art troubled, my child," Ilúvatar said to Námo as the two walked through the water-meads.
"Yes, Atar," Námo replied simply.
"Wouldst thou like to tell me?" Ilúvatar asked gently. He of course already knew what troubled the youngster, but wished to hear it from his own lips.
"I was standing near Melkor during the Song," Námo began. "At first I paid little heed to his... inventions, for I wished to remain within the Themes thou didst propound to us, but it... it was hard and I nearly failed... I..."
"My son," Ilúvatar stopped to embrace this Child of his Thought, who would one day have a heavy burden to bear, though he knew it not. "Do not overly concern thyself. I speak only about what is, never about what might have been. Thou didst not follow Melkor’s voice, but remained true to the Themes I propounded. That is all that matters between me and thee." He kissed his Child tenderly. "Thou hast much to accomplish in Eä, best beloved. I have every faith in thee. Abide thou in my love, Child, and all will be well with thee."
Námo nodded. "I love thee, Atar," he said simply, not knowing what else to say. Ilúvatar merely smiled, embracing him once more....
"When you are ready, Little Brother."
Námo shook himself from his reverie and gave his brother Ayanuz a nod. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do, but as it turned out, he didn’t have to do anything. At Ulmo’s signal he opened his mind to his brother. For one eternal moment their minds were as one and it was impossible to say where one began and the other left off. Before it became too frighteningly intimate they broke contact. Ulmo had a rather blank look to him as Námo tried to assimilate the knowledge that was suddenly his. His grasp of the mathematics was rudimentary but he realized he didn’t need to understand it to know how to set the trigger. He gave Ulmo a glance and saw his brother gazing about, looking puzzled.
"Námo," he demanded, "why are we here?"
Námo pointed to the galaxy spinning before them. "We’ve come to check the progress of the hole. Varda is curious, considering that it’s one of her... er... mistakes."
"Hmph. That’s putting it mildly," Ulmo grinned somewhat wickedly, his momentary confusion gone. "It has grown somewhat but it won’t be a problem for some time. Eä may well come to an end before we must deal with it."
"I hope Varda remembers what she did wrong in the first place," Námo said with an equally wicked grin. "We don’t want to have these black holes littering the universe for us to constantly trip over."
"Atar forbid!" Ulmo exclaimed with a laugh as the two launched themselves with the speed of thought to return home.
Note: The beacon-star which the Valar create is, of course, a pulsar or rotating neutron star, usually created as the endpoint of a supernova explosion. Pulsars are quite small, ranging from 10-15 km (6.25- 9.375 mi) in diameter. The typical pulsar rotates 1-2 times per second. This particular Valar-created pulsar is more unusual. To hear what pulsars sound like, go to: http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/~pulsar/Education/Sounds/sounds.html.
The explanation of the origin of black holes, and in particular, the one that supposedly lies in the center of our own galaxy, is my own invention. Even the Valar had to learn as they went so mistakes were bound to happen.
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