The tiny artifact of glittering hyper-matter drifted ever closer, closer into the gravitational embrace of an unremarkable pair of black holes at the center of an equally unremarkable spiral galaxy. Just as it was meant to. Its sensors registered the increasing tidal forces, forces it could exploit to fulfill its purpose, a purpose given it by the King of Shards.
After a seeming eternity of drifting, and finally spiraling inward, the tidal forces built past the artifact’s predetermined critical point, and it began to accumulate a charge. Somehow its mechanisms survived the hellish radiation given off by the superheated gas and dust of the accretion disk, and somehow it remained functional despite the tidal forces. Or perhaps because of them to carry out the reason for its existence.
As it approached the event horizon of one black hole, a mere multimillion stellar mass midget, hardly worthy of note, the final phase was initiated. The power of the tidal forces acting on it served as its fuel.
Protocols activated. It was time to act, before falling inward and time twisted beyond all sanity. So commanded the King of Shards, to this, the fourth Prime Shard.
A ripple silently roared outward, just outside the event horizon as the Shard fell inward, a pulse of radiation in the form of a signal, a signal meant to awaken the latent capacities of a species billions of years yet to even evolve.
Inward it fell, into and through a place where time did not exist, and space made no sense. There would be no way out but through the other end. Its artificial consciousness, of thoughts flowing along nonlinear hyperdimensional pathways pondered its situation. What would it be like? It queried itself. Will I be destroyed?
As it concluded that thought, after it suddenly found itself ejected, into…what? When the blinding radiation of the white hole had receded with increasing distance, the Shard’s sensors came into play, and it fell through time once more, just as it had when sent by its artificer.
The Shard realized that its usefulness was about to be greatly extended as a furry clawed appendage reached out and picked it up, turning it this way and that, as a catlike trilling voice called out…“Tempest! Tempest! Come here, girl! I’ve a fitting gift to match your stormy temper, for soon you will ride the winds of Time themselves!
…Hold still child! This will just take a second…”