It was old, but not as old as the mode of travel they were now employing. The portals were actually controlled wormholes, artificially created by a race of beings that strode the spaceways eons before the Conjoining. A race that had left civilization in a great exodus to explore the far reaches of the universe, beings whose name was so ancient it is no longer remembered. However, despite the fact their name was forgotten, their exodus was not.
Many extreme elder races recalled the time when the unnamed left the Galaxies of the Local Group for places unknown. Departure took many a year. Some of their kind were rumored to still abound in quiet corners of the still vast and unexplored regions of the Galaxies. For even though the universe beckons, there are still places far beyond the view of great sentients. It is from just such a corner of the Milky Way Galaxy the new race with which Shirra was negotiating had come.
As he spread his tentacles against the supple walls of the wormhole, hard mathematics given physical form, he wondered if the Humans had retreated to such a corner.
He thought not.
A race in exodus does not simply vanish overnight. It isn’t possible, especially not for a race as pervasive as Humans. There was a Human presence on a majority of the worlds in almost all of the civilized Galaxies.
They came into galactic prominence about the same time as the Trantken. Though the Trantken had not struggled so much to achieve as had the Humans, they felt a mutual kinship with each other, as the youngest races on the Galactic scene at the time. Over the past millions of years that relationship had not changed, which is why Shirra would find it so hard to believe Randolph would not have told him of such an event. They were like brothers.
Shirra looked down on the point from which they were ascending. The majesty of the Nexus lay before him. The sentients of the Milky Way Galaxy had come together at the Great Galactic core to create Nexus-Septum, in accordance with the Trans-Galactic precepts of the Conjoining.
It was the seat of governance amongst the member races of the Milky Way Galaxy. However, all races did not belong. Some were not yet advanced enough, others simply chose not to be a part. Rather, they preferred to remain totally independent, dealing with the sentients of the Conjoining at their leisure.
Those who did participate enjoyed membership in the most profound union of sentients among the many Galaxies of the Local Group. It made races like the Trantken, Haossus, Umiate, and Human quite proud, but not arrogant. All truly advanced species knew the universe was still a place of wonder and mystery.
Apparently in response to this belief the universe had seen fit to present the Conjoining with the greatest mystery of all time.
Shirra watched as his beautiful home receded and the wormhole carried them far across intergalactic space. Though gated travel was very routine, it would forever hold a wonder for him. He never tired of the awe-inspiring view. The tremendous distances covered in hardly any time at all translated through the physics of the gate to be perceived by the mind as a relatively short jaunt.
Ahead of him his destination came into view. The supposed sister galaxy of his own, but one that had spawned galactic governance far before his. It was the true seat of power in the Local Group. The place his friend Randolph had referred to reverently as Great Andromeda. To Shirra it was simply the Great Galaxy. His race attached no mythos to their ancient name for the wondrously bright collection of stellar matter. At the core of the Great Galaxy was a governing capital much like the one he had just left. It was there to which he was now speeding.
As he entered the Great Galaxy, passing the stars of Andromeda at the speed of thought, the capital came into view. It was much larger than the capital of the Milky Way simply because it came before. It was not the first and surely would not be the last. But for now it was the center, that which held the rest together.
It was Nexus-Prime.
A collection of star systems filled with the million million accomplishments of billions of sentients, worlds crafted in between worlds, tying worlds together in a majestic work of art that could be seen light years away. The wormhole angled towards this regal place, towards the grand capital of the Conjoining, the center of the Great Galaxy in Andromeda, and all her sister galaxies.
The bright, bursting light of approach blocked all vision. When next he opened his eyes he had arrived. Nexus-Prime greeted him with surreal majesty. He looked up and the conveying wormhole was vanishing off into space. Nexus-Prime looked much like his own home Nexus-Septum, just larger by many orders of magnitude. It too was constructed according to precept.
Before him, off in the distance, a silver sphere the size of a city loomed. Directly in front of him was a glowing disc of light, a gateway of a different sort. Two guards, humanoid in appearance, stood watch.
“Minister Shirra of the Trantken,” one of the guards said. “We welcome you.”
He bowed deeply and gestured towards the gate. Shirra bowed back, as did Kantootha. Then, Kantootha grabbed the minister’s tentacle and urged him on.
“Come Minister Shirra,” he whispered. “They’ve probably already started.”
Shirra walked with his aide into the disc of light.
“Patience Kantootha. Representatives of our race are no doubt already in attendance.”
“Yes Minister, but you must be there as well.”
Shirra smiled as they appeared on the other side of the light. Transport allocation and planning was down to the last sentient. After a voyage from one galaxy to the next, the system controlling the wormhole provided a dimensional thruway to the meeting hall inside the sphere. Shirra and Kantootha appeared in their waiting room, right behind their allotted spaces in the Great Hall of the silver sphere.
“Come Kantootha,” the minister gestured. “We are finally here, you may take your seat.”
Shirra heard the younger Trantken sigh, a very humorous act, something not customarily done among a race so old. But Shirra did have to concede that it was a time for sighing. The mystery before them was great and he had no idea how ardently it would tax them all before revealing its truth. The walked from the waiting room into their assigned slots for the hall. Kantootha took his seat behind the minister. The minister sat on what appeared to be a glowing patch of light and his mind went into rapture.
“THE GALACTICUM IS CONVENED!” Came the booming voice of the Galacticum AI into the mind of every sentient there gathered.