(Author's note: this is one of the villains. i'm going to continue to use the model we have been, of giving seperate characters their own threads that occasionally overlap in each story. the writing for Kessler will be a bit experimental, so if it's hard to follow, bear with me.)

He is aware of himself. Fragments that still resemble something somewhat human try to tell him that time has passed, but he knows in his molecules that time is non-existant. All things that are will be, and all things that were no longer exist. He is of the now.

Physical form coalesces, giving him shape, filling space. He is human again. More fragments of a former being are screaming, a wordless, primal sound of pain and agony. Reconstitution is not a pleasant process; he has learned to divorce himself from the physical during such times. His mind is the totality of his Self. Everything else is illusion, unnecessary clutter. Even his gender is arbitrary; he remembers being human, and being male, and he considers himself "he" out of longstanding habit.

The other humans called him Kessler Merkz; but he knows now that he is just a gear in the great machine. He is the Cog. He is the center.

"Yes," the Builders tell him. "You serve us well. You drive the Machine forward, grinding reality to dust."

He nods, his physical reality fully formed.

"You have been Reconstituted for a purpose," they tell him. The words are unspoken, unsaid; they pierce through his consciousness as if they were molecules injected into his brain. "The Path-walker stands before us once more. You know him. You must remove him from this reality web."

"It is done," he says to them.

"You will go to the planet of Stryrrin, and you will remove the Path-walker. You will not fail." They are expectant.

"It is done," he says again. He steps from the reality of the Great Machine and into a more physical, chaotic place. It has been some time, his brain tells him. He knows, though. There is no time, and there will never be time again.

Part 1: ArrivalEdit

Kessler Merkz does not travel to a destination; he arrives. Space is a lie, a contrivance. Details like time and space are meaningless to him. He is the Cog, a small part of the Great Machine, and the Machine is all.

He is aboard what physical beings call a starship, passing through the dark matter of the Void. There are others with him, none of them real. They are all in varying degrees of brain death, robotic circuitry forcefully fused with the organic material ofwhat was once a sentient being. Some were human, as he himself was. Others are not, resembling creatures out of legend, giant plantlike monstrosities, and others less identifiable. Drones, molded for use on such a temporary basis that they will never achieve an identity of their own. Such a thing is a gift. The Builders have given him such gifts many times.

The starship passes through the outer edges of the Void and into the warm glow of a star system, and Kessler Merkz clenches his new hands, grinds his new teeth. The Builders grant him memory, so that he may know his prey. He remembers this enitity, this Path-walker. He remembers a name, a false title: Morgon Gedo, so full of lies and impure thoughts. The Cog has met this being before. The Path-walker is dangerous, unpredictable. Chaos. The Builders desire order, shaped by their design. The Great Machine must roll on, devouring the weak and assimilating them into the New Order. Kessler will do this; Kessler MUST do this. The will of the Builders cannot be denied.

Voices speak to him.

"On approach to planet Stryrrin," says one, insect-like, pulsing with strange technology.

"Begin the bombardment," the Cog commands, his every word fueled by the drive of the Machine. "Smaller settlements first, then the larger. Save the major population centers for last. They will need to be processed."

The drones do as he has commanded, as he knows they will. They are like limbs, parts of his own body, moving as he sees fit. On this day, at this hour, Stryrrin will burn. All will join the Great Machine.

The Builders' glory has begun.

Destruction and dissolution progress. A voice calls to him once more.

"Scanners have discovered the Path-walker," states a creature made almost entirely of right-angles.

This is the moment.

This is the glory of the Machine.

Kessler Merkz closes his eyes.

"Release the Vorg."

False-time passes, events move forward, backwards, sideways, in two dimensions, three, four. Kessler finds such thoughts tedious, and what is left of his mind wanders along pathways and roads and tunnels and shafts. Amidst the untethered, new sensations form. Pain. He falls to the deck of the ship he commands, convulsing.

"The Path-walker has eluded you," say the Builders, palpable condemnation seeping into his cellular structure. "You have assaulted this insignificant world in vain."

"The Vorg is still active," Kessler's mind says, pawing at the indescribable power berating him. "The Vorg will hunt him, and it will kill him. I will be there. I am your witness."

"Yes... yes, Kessler. We have found this to be an acceptable course of action. Prossess the inhabitants of Stryrrin until such things occur. We will need these.. people." The higher consciousness slips away, whispers remaining, guiding him, cajoling him, tempting him. He knows what he must do, and he will not fail.

"Begin subjugating and evaluating this planet's population," Kessler tells his crew. The appropriate drone will pass the orders along to the hands and fingers that will perform the work. He will not fail. He has served for two thousand years, and he will serve for another two thousand, five thousand, ten thousand more.