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5: Collision Course
They arrived at Manwë’s coordinates in time to hear Varda screaming.
"What’s he doing? WHAT’S HE DOING!?"
Námo looked to where Varda was pointing and gasped. They were all congregated at the edge of the last spiral in the Children’s galaxy, looking towards another spiral galaxy. It was one of Varda’s earlier creations and most of the stars were red giants now. It was smaller than the galaxy that would some day become the habitation of the Children, but size was not the deciding factor. Momentum was. The galaxy was clearly heading for a collision course with the Children’s galaxy, of that there was no doubt. It was also approaching at a speed Námo didn’t think was possible. How Melkor had managed it, none knew, certainly not Námo, but Manwë had warned them that the First in Ilúvatar’s Thought might have powers that exceeded even his own.
Looking at the fast approaching galaxy, Námo had no doubt about that. He quickly calculated the speed of the approaching stars and shivered. At the rate it was traveling it would literally plow through the larger galaxy, disrupting its structure beyond repair. The tidal forces between the two galaxies would seriously warp the space where Atháraphelun was destined to rise, making it impossible for them to bring it into existence. It was obvious that Melkor meant to destroy the galaxy that had been consecrated as the home for Ilúvatar’s other Children.
Ulmo and Aulë were quietly consulting with one another even as Varda continued screaming invectives and the others simply stared at the oncoming galaxy with fascinated horror. Námo moved closer to the two older scientists, hoping to hear something encouraging while trying to make it seem as if he weren’t really listening.
"Even if it does breach the galactic core," he heard Aulë mutter, "it’s not likely to do that much damage. There’s too much distance between the stars."
"True," Ulmo agreed, "but that is not to say that it won’t do such damage to the internal structure of the galaxy that it would make it nearly impossible to create Atháraphelun or seriously delay its creation. Either way, it could well doom the coming of Atar’s other Children."
"Which is what Melkor is hoping for," Manwë said, joining in the conversation. The Eldest gently embraced Námo without seeming to do so, drawing the younger Ayanuz closer to him. Námo did not protest, though he also did not contribute to the conversation between the three older Ayanumuz. He was simply content to be included in their presence and felt safe. He found he did not really want to be out of Manwë’s sight for very long.
"Any ideas?" Manwë asked the other two.
Aulë sighed. "The rate of momentum is beyond anything I thought could be achieved," he said. "In the normal course of events, that particular galaxy might well have intercepted this one, but at a much slower pace and at a different angle, so it would not come close to where Atháraphelun is to be. Also, being so much smaller, the gravitational pull of this galaxy would have simply ripped it apart, absorbing it into itself. We allowed for that sort of thing when Varda wanted to form the galaxies, especially this galaxy. Interceptions were planned for, and all of them such that they would pose no danger to Atháraphelun."
"As it is," Ulmo added, "Melkor has set this galaxy on a path that will bring it much further into the spiral arm where Atháraphelun is to rise and at a speed that will preclude its natural absorption into the larger galaxy."
"But he doesn’t know where Atháraphelun is to be created," Námo interjected in spite of his earlier resolve not to contribute to the conversation. He was not a scientist, certainly not on par with either Ulmo or Aulë, never mind Manwë, so he did not feel he had anything worth saying on this subject. Yet... "Is he just hoping or...." He paused, trying to think things through. He turned to Manwë.
"Why were the guards gone from the star nursery?" he asked. "Oromë and I saw Melkor doing something to the stars in the nursery, but..." he stopped, not sure he wanted to bring back the memories of what happened so soon. "There were no guards," he reiterated, sounding pale even to himself and silently berating himself for being so weak.
Manwë nodded. "They were lured away by the unexpectedness of that galaxy," he pointed to the fast approaching spiral, "suddenly moving towards this one."
"Then this is all meant to distract us from his real purpose," Námo said.
"Destroy the star nursery, you mean?" Oromë asked as he approached their group. The others greeted him with a nod.
"What would that accomplish?" Námo asked. "Destroying the nursery won’t affect what happens here, though that certainly will if we don’t do something about it." He pointed to the still fast approaching galaxy.
"We should send the guards back to the nursery to stop Melkor," Oromë said but Manwë shook his head.
"I meant what I said earlier... it will take all of us to divert this disaster. Varda’s nursery will have to wait."
"What do you propose?" Ulmo asked thoughtfully.
Instead of answering, Manwë looked at Námo. "What do you think should be done?"
Námo gave Manwë a startled look. "Me? I’m no scientist... I..." He started to back away, his emotions still raw from the earlier incident with Melkor. Manwë asking him to determine the fate of the galaxy where the Children were destined to be brought into being was too much.
Unfortunately, Oromë seemed to know his intent and blocked him. "Nay, brother," he said compassionately, "do not flee from this but confront it. You will only hate yourself even more if you don’t."
Manwë nodded. "Oromë is correct, Námo. You are needed in this, for you often see things in a different light than the rest of us."
Námo looked at the others. There was nothing but deep compassion in all their expressions, though Námo was certain that neither Ulmo nor Aulë knew what had happened with Melkor... yet. He sighed, feeling suddenly weary. Looking out over the edge of the galaxy to where the other galaxy was approaching he wondered how they could stop it, but even he realized that was impossible. There was no way to stop it, but...
Something from deep within him seemed to float upward towards the light of reasoning and he felt himself in the grip of prescience. He barely registered that Manwë, recognizing the signs, even if no one else did, had moved closer to him, giving him support, support that he gladly welcomed. He allowed himself to sink into Manwë’s embrace and tried to calm himself enough to allow the images that were overtaking him to come. He had learned not to resist when such images came, though he still cringed somewhat when they did.
He slowly came back to himself. *What did you see, Námo?* Manwë sent a whisper of thought to him, not wishing to startle the younger Ayanuz from his trance.
Námo did not answer immediately, remaining in Manwë's embrace, for he did not wish to engage in conversation yet. He still needed to come to terms with what he had seen first. After a time though, he stirred himself and stepped away from Manwë to face them all. By now the other Ayanumuz and one or two of the more powerful Máyar had joined them, waiting for Námo to speak.
"We let the galaxies collide," he said, keeping his gaze resolutely upon Manwë, ignoring the outcry from the others.
There was a swirl of noise about them as each Ayanuz tried to outdo the other in voicing their protest, Varda especially, but Manwë and Námo, their gazes locked, never moved. Finally, Manwë gave Námo a nod. "Then that is what we will do," he said and all protests stopped, everyone staring at Manwë in speechless surprise. Finally, Varda shook off the shock and confronted her spouse.
"Are you insane?" she nearly screamed. "If we allow this, Atháraphelun will never be created. Why are you listening to this... this child? He can’t even resist Melkor’s allurements without help and you’re letting him decide the fate of Atháraphelun?"
Námo felt himself grow faint at the iridescent flame of Varda’s ire being directed at him. He felt rather than saw Oromë and Irmo bristle at her words, but had no energy himself to offer a protest or even an apology or explanation. Manwë remained imperturbable before his spouse’s anger, his expression cool and remote and Námo suddenly was aware of just how much older Manwë truly was in the Thought of their Atar and felt himself shivering at the thought.
"We will let the galaxies collide," Manwë reiterated, "but not the way Melkor intends."
That shut Varda up and made everyone else blink.
"What do you mean, brother?" Ulmo asked respectfully.
Manwë did not answer Ulmo’s question directly. Instead, he gathered them all into his thought, sending them certain coordinates. "Come. I will show you."
Then the Ayanumuz were gone, leaving behind the Máyar to watch the approaching collision in wondering dread.
Námo found that Manwë had led them into the heart of the smaller galaxy. When they were all gathered, he spoke.
"It will take all of us working in unison and we will need the Máyar for this too, but I will show you what we must do." He pointed to the galaxy’s center which was dense with red giants. "We need to explode those stars."
Varda started to protest but Aulë forestalled her, sounding excited. "Yes, yes... it just might work. Ulmo, set up the equations while I study the space-time continuum to see if anything else will be gravely affected by the explosions. No sense doing this just to find we’ve made things worse, not better."
Irmo turned to his older brother. "You saw this?"
Námo's aura indicated denial. "No. I only saw that the galaxies will collide whatever we do to prevent it."
"Their collision is inevitable, but not to Atháraphelun’s detriment," Manwë said then. "That is what I saw." No one was foolish enough to dispute his words, not even Varda, who was looking less belligerent, though she was by no means entirely appeased.
Meanwhile, Ulmo and Aulë were consulting one another, bringing Manwë into the discussion at one point. The other Ayanumuz waited, some more impatiently than others, until the three scientists were satisfied. Varda glowered at them all, muttering, "But they’re my stars. Don’t I have a say in this?"
Námo saw Manwë draw Varda into his embrace, though she tried to resist, still angry at her spouse for supporting Námo, but some kind of communication passed between them and the younger Ayanuz saw her acquiesce and for a brief moment as she and Manwë kissed, their aurae blended into a harmonious shade of iridescent blue.
Finally, Aulë spoke. "We can do it if we explode the stars in this sequence." He showed them all what sequence would be necessary. Námo scanned the information negligently, confident that when the time came he would be able to bring it all to the fore of his memory. He did not need to know how the explosions would be done, he only needed to know what his particular part in all this was.
"What of the Máyar?" Yavanna asked. "Manwë said we were all needed in this, including the Máyar."
Manwë nodded. "And I spoke truly. However, we will merely use the Máyar as back up to provide us with additional energy. Melkor is not the only one who is capable of altering the physics of stars to effect a supernova."
Several of the Ayanumuz nodded, though Námo still had his doubts. He did not voice them however, recognizing that part of his reticence was due to recent events. He still was not fully recovered from Melkor’s... attempted rape. He found himself shivering in spite of his best intentions and felt Oromë and Irmo embrace him in an attempt to comfort him. He appreciated their concern even as he was convincing himself that there was no comfort to be had.
Manwë must have perceived his distress for suddenly he was there before Námo and was gathering the younger Ayanuz into his embrace, sending calming thoughts to him alone. *You are safe now, my son,* he heard the Eldest say. *There is nothing to fear. Do not concern yourself with Varda’s words. She spoke them in anger, but already she regrets them... though you might have to wait a while before you get an apology from her.* This last was said somewhat wryly and Námo found himself snickering, knowing full well what Varda was like. Manwë gave him a fierce hug and then released him, satisfied that Námo would be fine. He turned to the others.
"Summon ye your Máyar," he said formally and each of the Ayanumuz bowed to the Eldest and in the space of a single thought all the Máyar were there, grouped around their masters. Without further explanation, Manwë, Ulmo and Aulë began to Sing the equations, joined first by Varda and Yavanna, then each of the other Ayanumuz in the order of their Becoming. When all the Ayanumuz were joined in harmony, starting with Manwë and Varda, each of the Ayanumuz then brought their Máyar into the Song. It was not as glorious as the Song of Creation, but there was a beauty to it that gave them all joy in the Singing.
Námo noticed that some of the other Ayanumuz were keeping their Máyar firmly reined in, not allowing them to wander from the main theme or attempt to alter the equations. Námo did not have that fear for his own Máyar, for they were few and for some reason intensely loyal to him, though he had yet to figure out why.
The Song swelled to the first crescendo and suddenly one star contracted, then exploded. The Song went into a decrescendo and Varda Sang a second set of equations alone. Námo felt the Power of her Song flow through him and he was hard pressed not to allow it to overwhelm him. He vaguely was aware of one of his Máyar, Tindomerel he thought, give a gasp and instinctively reached out and embraced the now trembling Máya and supported her through this part of the Song, never letting go of the thread of the equations even as he comforted her.
Then the second crescendo came and now several red giants began to contract and explode, setting off a chain reaction as stellar matter spewed out of the center of the galaxy, disrupting the nearby stars in the inner ring of the spiral. The next decrescendo came and now it was Aulë and Ulmo’s turn to Sing the equations for the next part. Námo took hold of all the Máyar under his rule and kept them firmly within the Song. There could be no deviation at this point or everything would be ruined. He was thankful that none of his people resisted him, but trusted him not to let any harm befall them. That was not the case with all of the Ayanumuz and he noticed that Aulë in particular had to clamp down hard on Aulendil and one or two others. Even Irmo had something of a struggle with one of his Máyar and that surprised him.
The third and final crescendo approached and Námo unconsciously drew his Máyar close to him, gathering them and comforting them as best he could, for this part of the Song was dark, even frightening to some degree. For a split second that seemed eternal nothing happened, then, suddenly, the entire galactic center exploded. Dark matter was suddenly limned in starfire as the explosion ripped its way through the galaxy, sending shock waves plowing through the spirals.
Námo watched dispassionately as the galaxy began to alter its form, becoming more diffused, the spiral shape weakening, becoming more elliptical until it was nearly irregular in shape. He sighed as the Song came to an end with Manwë Singing the final equation that would slow the rate of momentum within the galaxy itself. A collision was inevitable, but it would not happen for some time yet and when it did it would not adversely affect the other galaxy. Atháraphelun was still safe and the absorption of the smaller galaxy into the larger one would ultimately lead to the creation of newer stars, stars Námo knew would be needed for the sake of the Children.
When the final note of the Song was Sung, Námo released his hold on his people, silently sending them apologies, which all accepted, though Maranwë voiced their thoughts. "We are thy servants, Lord. Do unto us as thou wilt. We gladly follow thee and want nothing more than to serve thee in joy."
Námo felt humbled by the obvious love and trust that his people had for him and vowed to himself never to abuse it. The other Ayanumuz and Máyar began to stir and with a single command they all followed Manwë back to the other galaxy. They gathered again at the spiral’s edge and looked out. The smaller galaxy’s momentum had definitely slowed. Aulë spoke then.
"Ulmo and I estimate that the actual interception between these two galaxies will not occur for some time, but well before Atháraphelun will be brought forth. We will keep an eye on it just to be sure but I don’t anticipate any real problems."
Manwë nodded, smiling. "That is well." He turned to all of them. "I am well pleased. Go now and take what rest you may."
"What of the star nursery?" Varda asked. "I must see what Melkor has done."
"Then go, beloved," Manwë said solicitously. "Take your guards with you as well as some of mine own."
Varda nodded and between one thought and the next she and several Máyar were gone, leaving the rest to watch the smaller galaxy continue to explode. Námo stood there with Oromë, Irmo and Nienna. Vairë was there as well, though not really a part of their group. Námo moved closer to her and whispered a thought.
She looked at him in surprise. *For what?*
*For not laughing.*
She seemed to consider his words then she smiled slyly. *And I forgive you for thinking I’m just so much moondust.*
Námo stared at her in confusion. *Moondust? I never thought of you as moondust...when did I call you moondust?*
Vairë hugged him. *Hush now. I am only jesting,* she whispered to him. *I would never laugh at you Námo, no matter what. Believe this.*
Such was the strength of her words that Námo had no choice but to believe her. He smiled shyly at her. *And I would never think of you as moondust.*
Vairë laughed. *That is well. I might never forgive you if you did.*
Manwë came to them at that moment, hiding a smile at the sight of them "whispering". He thought Vairë would be very good for Námo, for she was obviously fond of him and did not shrink from him, as others might because of the darkness that they all sensed resided within him. It was not the darkness that surrounded Melkor, but it was unnerving to many nonetheless. It was a darkness born of future knowledge, a burden that Manwë could only help support but never share. The onus of prescience made for a lonely Ayanuz and Manwë grieved that his younger brother was so burdened, but rejoiced that Atar had foreseen this and had provided his Child with a helpmeet who would support and comfort him.
Now, if only Námo recognized Vairë for the gift from Atar that she is, Manwë thought to himself wryly.
Námo straightened when he saw Manwë approach, wondering what the Eldest would require of him. Manwë took them both into his embrace. "Well done, both of you. I think you should go and find rest, Námo. You have had a trying time of late. Go, both of you, and seek the pleasures of Eä. If you are needed I will call for you."
Námo hesitated but Vairë smiled. "And I know just the place."
Before Námo could protest, Vairë sent him the necessary coordinates and they were gone, leaving Manwë to wonder if he and Varda had ever been that young when they were courting, long before they had Sung Eä into being.
Note: There is evidence that collisions (or more properly, interceptions) have occurred between our galaxy and other galaxies in the past and that they are still occurring. Scientists believe that the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies are on a collision course, though it will be another three billion years before that happens.
I’m sure those readers who are astronomers and physicists are tearing their hair out at how I’ve written this chapter, but as I said in the Prologue, I reserve the right to twist the physics to fit the story and not the other way around. After all, this is supposed to be fantasy, not fact.
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