I wrote this story for the Yuletide 2012 fanfic exchange. It is based on Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, of which I am exceedingly fond.

The story prompt was "Lone Power / Winged Defender". (No sexually explicit content.) If you are unfamiliar with the series, think "Lucifer / Michael". Although if you are unfamiliar with the series, none of this might make any sense.

Original Yuletide post at AO3. (With reader comments.)


You might call it the Silver City. Cities have not yet been invented; nor has silver, for that matter. But the phrase captures a sense of orderliness, a sense of soaring height, a sense of many-working-to-build. Those are right.

And the light--

You could as well call it the Bright Galaxy, or the Grain of White Sand. (Many microcrystalline domains, interpenetrating, refracting; unique; sharp-edged a thousand million ways.)

In that city (or grain), the Powers labor to design silver, sand, galaxies, and all the universes that will be built from such things. It will take them forever. They have forever, necessarily; the first moment of Time will begin when they are finished.

“You cannot be serious.”

“What? I thought you’d like it.”

“I do like it; you know me. But it’s... got... flappy bits all over. And a hook thing.”

“It’s just a concept sketch. I drew it in the current committee meeting.”

“You’re supposed to be running the meetings, not doodling your way through them.”

“They’re unbearably tedious... I know, it’s no excuse. But we’ve been doing this forever and we haven’t even agreed on the structure of matter yet.”

“If you’d just push a little -- what is this all over the flappy bits?”

“Red and blue. That’s yellow. They’re colors. We haven’t decided how color will work, either, but we’re definitely going with it. Everyone’s very excited.”

“Even more concept sketches, therefore, I’m sure. I can see them now. Look, you’ll get nothing sorted out until you make some decisions in there.”


“Anything. Break a symmetry group. Pick the number of dimensions! Tell the committee to accept it or raise an objection. At least you’ll have a discussion going.”

“And if they come up with some ideas on matter, we can bang on how to make color with matter... yes.”

“I really do like the flappy bits.”

“I’m glad. I love you.”

“I love you.”

“Oh, it’s going so much better now.”

“I can tell. Four dimensions, eh?”

“Eleven really. But that’s way too many for architectural work -- it’d be a maze -- so I got everyone to compromise on four and a mess of microparameters.”

“By ardent declamation, as I understand.”

“By main shouting, you might as well say. You’re so right; I just have to put down a decision and behold, we’re off to a different... well, a different argument, anyhow.”

“It’s progress. What you’re doing with radiation is wonderful. I know you were set on having color in there, but look at this! It’s all color...”

“Now we just have to tackle the tropesis problem.”

“I’m sure you’ll make that work too.”

“I have to. It has to be right... What about you? How have you been spending your self-existence?”

“Trying to understand my role, I suppose. Easy for you; you’re in there designing up a storm. But I’m supposed to be the Defender. Which is what?”

“Defending the Cosmos, once we reach the point of Enaction.”

“Evidently. But against what? It’s just us and the One; we’re all doing the same thing. We imagine that the Cosmos will have more -- infinitely more kinds of life -- perhaps parts of it might need defending against other parts. Perhaps! It hasn’t been decided yet. I have so little to go on.”

“Then I’ll work harder, to bring it clear.”

“Thank you. I love you.”

“I love you... I wonder what that might mean.”

“Love? We all know what love is.”

“But in a fully enacted Cosmos. With so much more Life, as you say. Life for us to love. Life to love us... Surely love will mean more?”

“That... is an interesting thought.”

“I’ll bring it up in committee. And I do love you.”

“Oh -- speaking of radiation. Here.”

“My sketch?”

“I’ve noted down some ways that we could get color onto the flappy bits. I know it’s not my job, but... The structure just occurred to me, I drew it up.”

“I knew you had some doodling in you somewhere!”

“Oh, thank you.”

“But what if I can’t make it work?!”

“Calm. Calm. Tropesis is not all on your shoulders, you know. You’ve got everyone on the committee working together on this. Someone must see a solution. Just look there!”

“Yes... yes. I can see us getting past this; I just can’t see how, because we haven’t resolved it. It’s the problem itself in miniature, I guess.”

“So. Explain it to me.”

“As if you didn’t know!”

“Yes. As if I didn’t know.”

“It’s... look. The One is eternal. We’re eternal. We see ourselves from every angle -- approaching the work, laboring, completing the work. But Time, when we enact Time, isn’t like that! Life in the Cosmos has to grow. It has to become what it is not, constantly.”

“I still can hardly get my head around it, truly.”

“If you could, we’d have solved everything... So matter needs a, a directional tendency -- a bias. And we haven’t been able to find one. We’ve got pages and pages of physical interactions sketched out, but they all run equally well in every direction. There’s no impetus for change.”

“So. But we don’t have anything like that. We self-exist. Surely we can design the Cosmos the same way?”

“Sure, we thought of that right away. Try it, though. Take a look at the self-existent Cosmos -- the Enaction in which we choose no tropetic function.”

“...Ah. I see.”

“You can see, right, it’s as clear as we’re standing here. And who do you see?”


“Just us. Standing right here. Talking about tropesis! Looking back at us! Hello!”

“Don’t wave at yourself, it’s tacky.”

“Hah. But you understand. We, the Powers, already encompass all the ways there are to exist without Time. A Cosmos without change is no larger than we are.”

“I believe... you help illuminate the nature of my own problem.”

“Your being the Defender?”

“In a tropetic Cosmos, beings would... strive. To not have achieved a goal, to be achieving, to have achieved it -- distinct states, correct? One could not see one from the other.”

“That, I can barely get my head around. But I think it follows.”

“The universe, matter itself, would be subject to this change-impulse. One would have to, to -- to fight to take it where one wanted to go. Is that my role? To help Life fight to achieve?”

“You may have it. You just may. But, obviously, none of this can be certain until Enaction.”

“Of course. So strange... looking at the Cosmos as we will create it. Seeing all the things we will do there. So involved, so carefully considered -- but here we stand, watching, and we know what none of it means.”

“I’ve looked, of course, but I’ve never tried to imagine... You, dancing around those Life-elements. Me, manipulating those potential-kinetic forces. You’re right, it must mean something, but what?”

“Will we, too, be striving when we are there? Wanting things?”

“I guess we’ll know once the committee has resolved how it will all work. Which, speaking of, I’d better get back to.”

“Indeed. And -- work hard, will you? I think I am eager to gain this understanding.”


“You will make it work. I trust you.”

“...I love you.”

“I had a thought.”

“About defending Life?”

“Yes, but also about your problem. It’s... you may not like it.”

“Anything you come up with is better than more wrangling about encyclic state parameters with... never mind. What have you got?”

“I was trying to imagine what might exist in a Cosmos to threaten Life. Our creations would never, obviously -- but perhaps emergent entities?”

“You mean, some consequence of what we build? I suppose once there’s Time and everything is changing, we won’t understand everything it becomes until it gets there... Creepy. But surely all entities detrimental to Life will be detrimental to each other, also? They will all work against each other, on average. Whereas entities that act to benefit all life will work with each other, on average, so--”

“Certainly. That much is obvious. But what if there were a universal bias? Look at a Cosmos where the group-state function is pinned.”

“That’s featureless stasis.”

“No, no, not everywhere. Pin a single point, to a singleton state. Let the rest of the function float freely.”

“...I’m not... sure...”

“Look here; each physical interaction multiplies the state possibilities, which means everything simply slides away from the singleton point. The statistics guarantee it! That point becomes a Beginning, and all of Time points away from it, into --”

“Into a region so close to featureless stasis that Life is impossible. An End.”

“Yes. Just so. Not tropesis, but entropesis. But it works, do you see? Life evolves, and grows, and changes -- for as long as the biased interval runs.”

“You’re right. I don’t like it. This is horrible.”

“It answers both our questions, though. You, your impetus for Time, and me --”

“What you would defend Life against. Decay. Loss of life. Loss of love. Every single feature of the Cosmos would tend that way. You’d have to spend all of Time fighting them. Everywhere.”

“I’d lose, in the End, regardless.”

“You can’t seriously propose that I--”

“No, no, of course not. Don’t even mention it to the committee.”

“I wouldn’t dare. If they thought I could come up with that...”


“Oh! I didn’t mean -- you don’t -- I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you.”

“I love you. And your ideas. Even the ones that disturb me.”

“I love you too. ...Did you ever bring that idea to the committee? The meaning of love in Enaction, I mean.”

“Oh... no, I haven’t. I’m sorry. It seemed... I don’t know, I wanted to hash it out more with you first. And then I couldn’t think of anything to say about it. No point bringing it up if everybody is just going to shrug.”

“Don’t be embarrassed, now. I haven’t got anywhere with it either.”

“This, you’re gonna love.”

“You’ve sorted out tropesis!”

“Ah, no. Not tropesis. No, we’re assembling the plans for all sorts of material entities, fully worked and ready to go. As soon as we do get tropesis and the rest of the plerostructure nailed down, we can turn it all loose.”

“Yes, I’ve been watching some of that go by. Fantastic! The nebular macrofilaments, who came up with those?”

“Ah, but that’s not the good part. We started doing a indexing pass, you know, organizational -- and we got the planning-sheaf to self-reference!”

“You cannot be serious.”

“Oh yes. We’ll be able to port the whole bundle of Names right into the Cosmos, and work with it directly inside Time! Tremendously easier than poking around from out here.”

“...Hm. What do you plan to call it?”


“The sheaf of Names. Whose Name contains every Name within itself. What will you call it?”


“Hah. Oh, don’t choke.”

“...Eh heh -- ha -- nobody makes me laugh like you, do you know that? Oh.”

“Of course I do. But seriously -- more or less -- you have to call it something. You can’t just Enact a whole new Cosmos every time you mention the thing.”

“A Name f-for... right. Of course. Oh, I’ll come up with something.”

“And the light shall be divided from the darkness.”

“I like that. Won’t read the same way in Time, of course, past and future verb tenses and all...”

“Pass it along to the committee, then.”

“I... you know, I don’t think they’d get much out of it. I’ll just name the sheaf and be done. The committee hasn’t been contributing much besides petty detail, in the current stages.”

“Really? I thought you had been making progress.”

“Sure, but -- it’s just been more work keeping everybody on the same page than it would be to do it myself. So let’s keep your ...divided from the darkness between us?”

“If you will. And speaking of. What about us? Do we get Names?”

“The Powers? It hasn’t come up. I suppose... if we’re in there working with the sheaf, we’ll be referenced just like everything else. Not just our embodied avatars, but our indwelling? Is that what you’re getting at?”

“Yes. I was thinking about--”

“Your Defender obsession, of course.”

“Naturally! ‘The Defender’ is my role; I was trying to narrow it down by working through more specific self-references. Names, essentially.”

“...Might I try some?”

“...For me?”

“If you will.”

“Certainly! I didn’t -- please, go ahead.”

“I name you... the One’s Champion.”


“Does that help?”

“Yes... yes. I never -- but it’s implicit, isn’t it? Try another.”

“I name you: Who Shall Approach the One?”

“Poss-i-bly. Or, do you mean ‘approach’ as in ‘become similar to’?”

“I like the ambiguity, actually. I name you: the Winged Defender.”

“That has potential.”

“I name you: the Rainbow Avosaurian.”

“...Wait, ‘winged’ -- did you just name me after your red and blue flappy thing?!”

“Heh. Gotcha.”

“Ha ha -- oh, you -- oh, I name you: the Light of Glory.”

“I name you: Alexandros, Aleckosmos.”

“I name you: Eosphoros. I name you the Beautiful One.”

“I name you Wielder of the Flaming Sword.”

“I name you Stands-at-the-Crux. I name you Architect of Resolution.”

“I name you Michael.”

“I name you Haelel.”

“I name you--”

“I name you--”

“The plans are all drawn up. I’ve told the committee that I have a tropesis model set up. I think we’re ready, Michael.”

“So what’s the model? I’m as curious as anyone.”

“Honestly? I don’t want to pass it around at this stage. I’d rather just implement it when the time comes -- when the Time comes, that is.”

“Tired of all the arguments?”

“You have no idea. I don’t think I could get a linear function past that crowd, any more, without somebody piping up about higher-dimensional asymptotes and wouldn’t it be better if... We need to get this show moving, and if that means me pulling rank -- that’s how it is.”

“As long as it works, I shouldn’t think anybody will complain.”

“Oh, it works. I’ve checked everything. Been staring at aschetic models until they’re nearly as clear as eternity. It’s all settled. No... surprises.”

“Except to me, and the rest of us... No chance of an advance peek for a faithful Defender? I promise not to mention anything to the committee.”

“I just don’t want to think about it any more. Please.”

“It’s fine, Haelel. It will be fine.”

“...Strange to think that you and I are close to meeting for the first time. In Time, I mean. A beginning, for us.”

“No ending, though, surely. Look -- you can see us coming together, over and over, throughout the Cosmos.”

“And we’re so close to knowing why! Look at the scale of the energies we release.”

“Astonishing... do you think that is what love is, inside Time?”

“Let’s go find out. The committee is waiting.”

“I’ll see you in the Moment.”

“I... I look forward to it.”

“Ha! Perfect. I love you -- I will be loving you.”

Declaration of the Powers in Enacture:

“In Life’s Name, and for Life’s sake, we enact these our creations to be Life’s inalienable gifts. We will preserve all Life’s systems and their parts; we will permit them to evolve by the ways in which we have created them, without exception or correction; nor will we change any living thing without its consent. We will guard love and redeem pain. To these ends, in all times and lives, we will ever put aside doubt for courage, and Eternity for Time, as is meet -- looking always at the Whole, seeing always the worlds unsundered, in That from Which they proceed.”

(Wording finalized by Haelel, standing Alone for the committee.)

Updated January 8, 2013.

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