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✦ The First Star

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WATWWD #1: “The First Star”

Thirteen billion years ago, the First Star and a tiny Diamond Planet fell in love. But what gifts can they give to each other and to the universe?

“The First Star” is the first book of When All The Worlds Were Diamonds and is available on Kindle.

Chapter 1: The First Star

A long time ago, before there were worlds and your grandparents were not yet born, there lived the Star.

She was beautiful beyond words. Beauty had not even been named except perhaps by the split-second sentient sparkles spilling the soup of primordial ylem in those first days before time had fully taken hold. If any of them had the privilege of seeing and falling in love with Her new and exquisite light, they have kept that secret ever since and probably will forever.

She coalesced out of whirling dervishes, dancing streamers of sizzling hydrogen garnished with a kiss of fresh-picked young helium. Bright ribbons swirled into a vortex, drawing more and more mass in and mixing it until pairs of hydrogen nuclei were drawn irresistibly into each other’s arms and blazed brilliantly in an ever-swelling explosion of energy. Until that moment, no one could have found the edge that separated the universe from Her.

In that moment, She became Light. An incandescent sphere of fierce photons set Her soft, cloudy surface aflame. Storms streamed through Her atmospheric skin. Lightning sizzled across arcs longer than many of the smaller stars of our own darker age. Upward, outward, beyond, She offered Herself to the universe, casting power and love in an ever-expanding bubble, blissfully.

She would have been content to float there in the soft, warm glow of the universe’s birth forever, surrounded by tiny fading sparkles of ylem, magnetic coils and streams of gas and electricity, the gentle tug of gravity pulling the expanding and thinning space-stuff into star-stuff—stars much smaller than Her certainly, but still so, so beautiful. She was gazing out through peekaboo fingers of Her own light and substance, smiling at little stars surrounding Her, when a tiny thing approached, following Her light back to its source.

Perhaps it wasn’t the ylem-sparkles who discovered beauty; perhaps She realized it when she saw Herself reflected in the tiny thing. There were no words yet, so She did not know this was a planet, what a planet was, or what She was.

“Hi,” said She shyly, the sound of peaceful contemplation of Herself in this new form.

“Hi,” said He wonderingly, and His voice filled Her with the same joyful admiration the rest of the universe felt as the spreading wave of Her light passed through.

“You are so beautiful,” said They together, then laughed, then looked around for the ylem-sparkles to see if they could tell Them what that meant. None of the ancient creatures could be found, so They just looked at each other again, and They knew beauty’s name.

“I am Star,” said She.

“That is why I love You,” said He. She knew what Love was, of course; it started before the universes began, before time itself. Her light blazed a billion-fold brighter, and She cried out an answer as Her energy edged higher and the increased light exploded beyond Her edges.

“I shall love You,” said She.

“I am a planet,” said He. “A star died and dusted a nebula with dirty carbon, and another star was born and blasted the hydrogen and helium off Me, and there I was. I followed her in a spiral for a while, even after she died, but then I saw You.”

“Me?” said She.

“You are so beautiful,” said He. “And look at me.”

“I have, and I see how beautiful You are,” said She.

“I am but star dirt, clods of carbon ash and fusion trash. I am so pleased You find me beautiful, but I do not understand.”

“How can You say that?” said She, and stray oxygen billowing from Her combined with hydrogen and poured Her tears into the heavens. “I see the soft, warm glow of the universe all throughout Your skin. I see the light of every star within You, like a tiny cloud of sparkles. I see another brilliant light, so bright it almost dazzles Me, filling every part of You, shattered into rays of every color of every rainbow. I see infinite versions of this light and color, some captured within the form of You and some gently set free to roam the universe. I cannot resist Your beauty; it makes Me want to burn as bright as I can so I might shine upon You and fill You with My own light.”

The planet danced slowly around Her, slipping an ellipse gently around Her equator and tracing it lovingly. She spun slowly to remain facing Him, embracing Him tenderly with Her gravity and keeping the dance going. After a while, he realized what was happening. “I got very close when You first pulled me to You. You melted my coal and graphite into diamond, and now I see You everywhere in My seas.”

She looked at Him closely and saw His heart deep within, not solid exactly but so full of weight and pressure it was far denser than the liquid above. Nevertheless, it was diamond. “Your heart was diamond even before You came to me,” said She. “Come close to Me again.”

Her gravity was His command, and again He melted, and then boiled. He became a soft sphere of luminescent silver barely bound by His own gravity. Tidal forces circularized His orbit closer to Her, and His heart melted and expanded to fill Him, then boiled and expanded to join with the diamond-gas already there, then expanded yet further.

“I feel so fuzzy when I am close to You,” said He. His indistinct spherical form reached equilibrium with gravity, and He was indeed much bigger than before. A comet tail trailed along His orbit, shining softly in Her light. He was transparent now, as bright as She, though still so much tinier.

“I fear You may vaporize and fly away forever in a cloud,” wept She, realizing this was, in fact, a possibility. Already, the belt of matter encircling Her was puffing up and blowing away, while the sphere of Him had become so fuzzy She could see the reflections and refractions of Her light fading slowly. She cared not about the dissipation of Her light—She had plenty—but the thought of not seeing His beautiful form, of not feeling His tiny weight as They danced, almost blew Her fierce fusion flame out.

“Perhaps I can change My path,” said He, though He knew He could not.

“Can I help?” said She, and realized She could. She shifted the carbon core in Her own heart and whirled it, flung it. The diamond burst forth and hurtled toward Him in a spectacular, spectral splendor of spherical light. For a moment, She was frightened that it was too big for Him or that its speed and power would hurt Him, but the diamond merely passed through Him and gently, gravitically, guided His glowing gases into a stream that stretched outward, away from Her.

He solidified slowly, softly. Compressed diamond had become jewels, gooey or fluffy, sometimes crystal snowflakes dancing in diamond clouds, each catching Her light and filling the air with rainbows. Sometimes rushing rivers ran through caverns measureless to man, down to a starlit sea where the sunlight was never blocked by what lay above. For a long time, They danced this way, content to gaze amazed upon each other.

Tidal forces tugged gently at the layers of gas surrounding His liquid and solid cores. One side of Him turned toward Her for a kiss and never turned away. The orbit shifted slowly to become a circle again, and in this blissful balance They twirled around and around and around, gifting glowing handfuls of hydrogen and helium and dust to the tiny faraway stars that filled the skies around Them. After a while She realized each orbit was a little smaller, His approach a little closer. Puzzled, She asked Him about it.

“You pull Me closer every century. It is as I hoped,” said He.

“But if You get too close, will You not come apart again?”

“Certainly,” said He. “I can already feel it.” She was horrified but saw His delight and could not help but smile, though She did not understand. As they inched closer and closer, She could feel the gentle tingling tug of His own tiny gravity, raising tiny hairs of hydrogen from Her skin. Her fear for Him was eased by His obvious joy but perhaps added to the gentle excitement and other sensations She felt as He embraced Her in a spiraling ribbon of Himself.

“Please, let Us rebuild Our orbit,” said She, despite how wonderful Their closeness felt. “I cannot bear the thought of You coming to harm.”

“Harm?” said He, laughing. “When I saw You and left the orbit of My mother star, I prayed to anyone I thought might listen that this would be My fate.”

“I do not understand,” said She. “We have seen what happens when You get too close. You melt, and You vaporize, and You blow away in My wind. Thinking of you dissipating and flying away from Me forever, I cannot bear it!”

“Ah, but it is not like that now,” said He, caressing Her with a gentle rain of falling diamond dewdrops. She felt the fusion fire in Her core blazing a hint hotter at the touch. “We will grow closer until our tidal forces turn Me into a stream and let Me flow into You. Then We will never be apart.”

They danced silently for a long time as She considered this and gazed into His scintillating answer to Her light.

“Do not fear, beloved,” said He. Closer now, She could even feel the vibrations of His voice passing through the streams of gas falling into Her. She found that if She listened closely, She could hear the sound caressing and convecting through Her, mixing with happy photons ping-ponging their way between Her atoms, ever outward until Her surface flushed with increased heat and Her light glowed that much brighter. “This feeling You feel, I have had ever since I first saw You, and it grows with every century. Your light rains down upon Me and through Me and all I can do is grasp it in My molecules and reshape it and let it blaze forth in joy. I want nothing more than to open Myself further and let You shine through Me brighter and brighter forever. And so I am.”

She was not a planet, so She did not quite understand the feeling He described, but She wished Him whatever joy She could offer. And so She just watched in fear and sadness and love as He grew ever closer, century by century, and His form changed many times. At first, He was a ring of diamond gas encircling Her equator with a lump passing through it. Later, the lump melted and stretched into an oval, swelling as tidal forces relieved some of the pressure on His core. Later, He was a comet cruising through a sea of Himself, casting droplets of diamonds everywhere.

And then, one day, They were on the edge, knowing that when He pressed inward just a little more, there would be nothing They could do but watch and feel.

“I am Star,” said She, so softly.

“That is why I love You,” said He, smiling as His face was riven by cracks. Branches of Starlight grew across His shining visage, spreading even deeper into Him than before. Tiny pebbles of Him burst outward toward Her, then great slabs, islands, continents. In each, Her light. Between each, endless reflections.

“I shall love You,” wept She, as she watched Him softly fall to pieces, jewels tinkling like bells pealing songs of love. She gently gathered His few solid and liquid parts in outstretched fingers of gravity and pulled Him toward Herself. She let a storm sizzle from her sunspots and ionized His spirals of gas with a burst of x-rays, then tugged magnetically at the plasma, drawing even that part of Him toward Herself.

“It will be this way forever, my beloved,” said He, raining down upon Her. She felt the kiss of His solid and liquid parts slipping softly through Her layers, past irresistible storms of fire and electricity, past unfathomable throbbing currents of light and heat, down to the searing core from which such energy effortlessly poured that even distant stars had tasted it.

“Oh yes,” said She in a soft whisper, as She drew Him gently back into the deepest part of Herself, where nuclei nuzzled until fusion flamed and the whole of Her was power and light. Crashing carbon rained through layers of lithium and helium and hydrogen, and She convulsed in a spectacular star-quake and sang out in joy as She felt His voice still singing, harmonizing with Hers, rippling all Her layers with waves of song.

As the heavier elements pushed outward and then fell back to Her radiant core, over and over, energetic explosions expanded through Her, so powerfully that Her surface storms lashed out and twisted and tangled the sheets of Her stellar winds, and shocked shells of plasma formed around Her, varying her vibrant light into vivacious colors that made the distant stars blush—though they could not look away.

Millennia later, Her energies stabilized, though She was burning so much hotter than before. The outpouring of light expanded Her many times Her original size, and She consumed the shells of gas that had erupted. Her winds blew hotter and farther, cast swirls of plasma outward in great arcs and spirals. They reminded Her of the trails He had left of Himself as He danced around Her, and She smiled and snuggled Him within the growing ball of heavier elements in Her core. Nestled against neon and oxygen, pieces of Him swam and danced. His carbon intermingled with Hers, no longer diamond nor liquid nor plasma nor any substance She could name.

One day, She realized the hydrogen and helium and even Their carbon had cooled, and deep within, iron rained down and collected in Her core. The searing light within dimmed to a gentle glow. So much more massive than stars of our age, She could subsist on this slimming diet of banked fusion fire for just about forever, if She wished. She shrank, drawing Herself inward toward the core They shared, happy that She could embrace Him that much more closely.

“I shall love You,” whispered She.

“I am Star now, too,” said He, wonderingly. “That is why I love You.”

Chapter 2: The Visitors

One day, the Star was looking inward and savoring the sensations of Her beloved as They shined together—Her favorite thing to do—when it occurred to Her She had not looked outward in a very long time. She sighed a soft rush of solar wind and turned Her gaze to the surrounding space, and was surprised to see how many things had changed in a mere hundred million years.

While torrents of energy and gas and dark matter still flowed in vast currents shaped by gravity, they were so much less dense, so much finer, beautiful in complex new forms. She smiled as She watched streams of radiance from the other tiny stars dancing all around. They reminded Her of the flowing gas that twirled and embraced Her as Her beloved cavorted playfully around Her, before They had united. Perhaps the tiny stars had been fortunate enough to find their own loves?

One such star passed quite close to Them, and They watched a dozen tiny planets, all made of different proportions of metal and gas, spinning circles around their mother. Some were tidally locked so that one face was cool (not icy like they would be in our time; the universe was still very warm), some spun slowly, and some whirled madly so that their atmospheres twisted into bands of ferocious storms.

Such tiny things, and so beautiful! Star was impressed, as was Her beloved. “If you could, would You like to be a planet again?” asked She.

“Beloved, I would never leave Your embrace, no matter how beautiful a planet might be,” said He, and danced within Her so that She felt His love as bursts of fusion fire that pulsed energy through all Her layers and shined outward onto the passing little planets.

“I understand,” said She.

The tiny star and the tinier planets continued their dance as they passed by, and Star eagerly looked around to see what other kinds of worlds were out there. The variety was astonishing: eyeball planets, whirling planets spinning so fast they squished into flattened ellipses, great droplets of water filled with rainbows, tumultuous storm planets where the winds never stilled, planets embraced by dancing rings of boulders and dust, magnetic planets with aurorae blazing colors. Not once did She see a world comparable to Her beloved’s exquisite crystalline beauty, of course, but they were all so interesting.

One day, She noticed a nearby star with a silver-blue planet half-immersed in an ocean of water. Entranced, She watched the equatorial heat boil the sea and throw up a heavy band of steam, spreading north and south until it reached the poles and fell in never-ending sheets of rain. Below the surface, something glowed in fractal lines of brilliance, and it wasn’t volcanism nor aurorae nor the light of the mother star.

“What is that light?” wondered She.

“That’s life,” squeaked the planet in a tiny, tiny voice she had to strain to hear.

“What is life?” wondered She.

“Life is a thing that can recreate itself and evolve and find new ways to love,” squeaked the planet proudly.

Star and Her beloved found this fascinating and wonderful. They had recreated Themselves—though of course the vast majority of Their shared mass was still Her—and had found new ways to love. “Are We life?” asked They.

“I wouldn’t know,” squeaked the planet and flew away, following its star on its journey.

“I would like to find new ways to love You,” said They together, then laughed.

“I understand,” said He. “But what shall We do?”

“I do not know yet,” said She. “Let Me think about it for a while.”

And so They shined some more, sharing Their radiance with the universe outside, which had grown so much bigger, so much more complex, so much more interesting. Myriad forms burst into life within nebulae, stars, singularities, and solar systems. Life’s dance steps followed the rhythms and melodies of mathematics, magnetism, gravity, and love. Upon many worlds, water (or other, nastier liquids) suspended tiny bubbles, bumping blissfully unaware into each other until some awareness, love, and attention grew. Often, they looked up and saw Star and loved Her a little or a lot, and now and again, a spaceship would come to admire. She smiled for their cameras and waved as they flew on by.

One day, They realized that by controlling the seething mass of elements within Their core, They could change the type of fusion powering Their light. She held Her breath and stilled Herself, letting the fires within cool and Their materials settle. Great storms of carbon rain poured into Her deepest places, igniting explosions of exotic matter and shells of fire. She held the power as tightly as She could as it swelled stronger.

His diamond laughter touched Their iron core with pressure and fire and She could not resist anymore; fusion reignited above the impossibly dense metals, and a titanic burst of light erupted and sent terrific shockwaves cascading upward. Hydrogen and helium of indescribable density threw themselves into waves of sky-kissing fire, expanding Her into concentric spheres of ecstatic flame and rays of glorious light so powerful even planets light-years away blushed scarlet and purple with aurorae.

Gasping great lungfuls of atmosphere, She pulled Herself back together by gravitational force, staring down at Their core, trembling with star-quakes as Their great mass slowly coalesced and contracted back to Their usual size.

“Wow,” whispered They as They tried to quench Their internal fireworks. Surrounded now by a sky of Their own fluorescing flames that washed out the distant stars, They let the fusion fires within calm down and banked Their light to a dim glow.

“I would do that every day, but I fear We wouldn’t last long,” said He.

“Indeed,” murmured She, embracing Him tightly within Herself. “But look. The planets saw Us, and their life did too.” Spaceships rose from nearby worlds, and tiny spitballs shot in Her direction. She clasped Her torrents of super-heated plasma close to Herself so the spitballs would not vaporize, and smiled and loved them all. “They are all so beautiful,” whispered She.

“I wish We could go to them and not hurt them,” said He.

“Perhaps we can,” said She, gazing upon the necklace of glittering ships now adorning Her equator. The visitors came in many shapes and sizes, from tiny round one-passenger water droplets within carbon fiber shells to great cylindrical asteroids melted within and layered with lasagna decks separated by air and steel beams. A black sphere of braided buckyballs danced agilely around the other ships and gathered Her light across its gleaming dark skin. Within each ship, life gazed out windows or cameras, entranced, and She gently fluoresced Her gas shells to say hi.

The assembled life forms sang sweet songs in tiny voices of soft radiation, and They listened in amazement; some songs had swept through the thin gas and empty space of the galaxy surrounding Them before the ships arrived, and now They understood the messages: “Hi, we’re here, and we love. Who are you?

“We are Star,” whispered They in the softest voice They could muster, heart swelling with the desire to take every speck in the fleet surrounding Them into Their arms and embrace them forever—or at least shine Their brightest light upon Their new friends. They could not, of course; these fragile little creatures would burn away at Their slightest touch.

We come from elsewhere,” said the ships in their tiny voices. “We are life. Are You life?

“We think so,” whispered They. Some ships tumbled and flew out of their orbits when even those gentle waves of Their voice passed over them; some restored their courses, and others had to be rescued by larger and stronger ships—though none of them seemed to know each other. “We’re here, and We love.”

The ships fell silent in astonishment, taking many orbits to consider Star’s response. “Do You love us?” asked one tiny bubble, and the others waited excitedly to hear the answer.

“You are here, and you are life, and you love. How could We not love you?” said They, softly as whispering winds.

Wow,” said the tiny bubble and zoomed away. After days or centuries—it was hard to tell—the other ships slowly skewed their orbits from ellipses to hyperbolas, pointing at their home stars.

“Don’t go,” said They, sadly, fingers of gravity outstretched tenderly. They could only brush the ships gently for a moment until they flew away home.

Chapter 3: The Diamond Rain

Chapter 3: The Diamond Rain

One day, the Star was looking outward and admiring the myriad wonders of the universe when it occurred to Her She had not looked inward in a very long time. She sighed a soft rush of solar wind and savored the sensations of Her beloved as They shined together—Her favorite thing to do—and was surprised to see how many things had changed in a mere hundred million years.

The ball of iron was much bigger than it had been, and though it was hard to tell how many protons and neutrons were whirling among the exotic particles in Their core, it seemed like there had been some fusion of much heavier elements. The shells of silicon and neon had shrunk to onionskin thinness. Strangely, the oxygen layer had extended until its upper edges blended with the thin carbon layer, exchanging nuclei and occasionally blasting off small eruptions of fusion.

Within the carbon, great storms of lashing electricity danced. Blasts of energy rocketed upward, and in brief moments after the release of the power and pressure, explosions of liquid diamonds splashed outward along the lightning trails. Most rained back down into the ultra-high pressure environment of the carbon layer, but some were ejected with enough force to traverse Her convective mantle and photosphere, blazing through Her body as waves of power and the wakes of Her substance sliding back into place. Now and again, a diamond meteor escaped Her gravity, caught Her light, and gifted Her with farewell rainbows.

“What strange things are happening within Us?” murmured She.

“Beautiful things,” corrected He. “We’ve made so many elements! I can’t wait to see what life can do with them if We can share them that is.”

Her heart melted, and She embraced Him with yet greater love. How like Him to want to share such a precious gift, Their very substance, to the tiny beloved ones beyond! She understood now what They would do.

“We will change form,” said She. “We are a tiny ball of fire and a light that goes on forever.” They were so much larger and fluffier than the stars of our age, but They were still tiny compared to the vastness of the ever-growing universe.

“What form shall We take, beloved?” asked He.

“Let Us turn inside out and travel this beautiful universe together,” said She. “We will rain down upon planets and create new stars, and We will shine forever from a million new places of light.”

“I want nothing more, beloved,” whispered He, swirling through the carbon layer and hugging Her tightly, melting into Her. “If I scatter to atoms, each atom will multiply My love for You, and We will never stop shining.”

“Oh yes,” said She in the softest whisper as She drew Him gently back into the deepest part of Herself, where nuclei nuzzled until fusion flamed and the whole of Her was power and light.

Heavy elements smashed together within, and atoms that creatures across the universe would someday treasure formed in torrents of hard radiation. They cried out together as Their substance was rent by waves of raw, intense power, so intense that the light would one day reach the edge of the universe and ricochet back and forth for all time.

“Hold Me tight,” sang She, as Her convective layers blasted free, and space was filled with a million dancing limbs of scarlet hydrogen and golden helium, jets of light blazing from Her poles. They spun faster, throwing all the outer layers outward in a brilliant, spiraling disk.

From deep within, Their pure light was unmasked, and the entire universe gazed upon the glory of Them, mesmerized. Tiny creatures bowed and waved tentacles and clambered up mountains in reverence—but Their attention was elsewhere.

Star breathed deeply. She melted into Him, Their substance dissolved from gravity-crushed exotic matter into an endless outpouring flood of branching carbon and oxygen, strong silicon and iron, precious silver and quicksilver, gold and glowing uranium. They sang with the cadence of Their expanding spiral’s dancing, harmonized with the waves of light flowing through Them and adding momentum to Their expansion.

Mass flew away on outstretched angel wings of energy, each wave, each droplet resonating with the song of Their love. As Their substance flew far away from Their starting point, it cooled and changed forms over and over. Oxygen held the outstretched hands of the hydrogen first cast away, and space filled with clouds of hot but gentle rain. Diamonds splashed into drifting oceans, floated away on tides of gravity. Silicon slipped into oxygen and sanded the beaches while iron-rusted red cliffs were carved by raging rivers.

Across the universe, Star rained down upon the tiny stars and tinier planets, carved gentle canyons through gleaming nebulae, and flashed meteor sparkles and soft aurorae across a billion worlds.

A long, long moment later, a tiny creature on an onyx-and-blue planet caught a thread of melted black graphite embraced by diamond beads tumbling from the sky. She gently inspected the strange object with the cilia of her appendages. The sensation-sound was like nothing she had ever felt-heard before.

It was a song.

She held the cord up to the stark blue light of her world’s binary stars and watched azure rainbows shine forth, endlessly changing direction and sparkling with the slightest breeze. The ever-shifting sparkles dancing before her violet eye were also a song:

I am Star
I shall love You.
I am Star now, too
That is why I love You.
It will be this way
Forever, my beloved.

The tiny creature carefully wrapped the beads around an appendage, feeling-hearing the song in her cilia. The sensation-sound whispered along her movement nerves into her analysis network, calculated, and then sang along through her communication nerves. Her mates rotated toward her in puzzlement, splaying their appendages wide to better feel-hear the music.

“Forever, my beloved,” sang she. The words to her new favorite song whispered along the ether. Then she wandered off to the river where star sand and diamond rain were gently falling.

When All The Worlds Were Diamonds #1: The First Star
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