He looked at the war torn world, the lives lost and the fallen recycled to continue the destruction it was almost enough to make him despair.

His children had been content once, long ago, but free will was sacred and disagreement was inevitable. He could do nothing to stop what had become an endless cycle of hate played out across time, space and dimensions.

But life continued. With his guidance the world was slowly healing, it would be millennia before any progress would be noticeable but life and his children would return once more.

Until then he cast his attention out into the universe, all of them, looking for the Other or his servants while trying to occlude himself from their attention. Time was immaterial to both of them, they were a constant in all reality. In some they merely slept, gathering energy and in others they battled directly.

It was only by chance he saw the world die, engulfed in flames and the screams of its children.

Worlds died all the time, it was the way of things, but this felt wrong. The natural cycle broken in a way only the Other would wish.

The world had been young and its sun healthy, he looked through the different realities, starting with the nearest, the trail of destruction soon became clear, dead world after dead world and a wound in reality, a void used to move to another world.

He followed the trail from a far off galaxy to a small green and blue world.

That's when he found them, formless creatures drifting through space. They moved from world to world bringing chaos and leaving destruction in their wake, mindlessly repeating the same actions time and again, and gathering knowledge without wisdom.

His gaze again turned to the planet they had reached. He knew the planet well, one of him had passed it once, when it was still just a lifeless rock but now it teamed with life.

The children of the planet were an oddity, constantly poking at things, eternally curious and often getting caught up in events beyond them and yet surviving all the same.

His children often found their way to the small blue planet and their arrival would either brought peaceful coexistence, a golden age for both or his children unwittingly brought disaster, leaving scars that may never heal.

As he continued to watch the entities closed off the space around the world, to keep beings they could not contend with away. Beings like himself.

They were not servants of the Other as he first thought, but they aided his goal. The senseless waste, the constant death of the children grated against all of his aspects.

There were Rules. He could not interfere directly and should he try to send his children they would not be able to reach the world though the barrier the beings had erected.

But maybe there was another, more subtle, solution.

Carefully he reached out, all too aware of his weakened condition and need to remain hidden. A small sliver of itself was extruded, barely more than a thought it could only just be seen as a ribbon of light.

/go/ /watch/ /wait/ /learn/.

Another thought sent it across the galaxy, its small form letting it pass through the barrier unhindered.

The barrier had not been an obstacle but the distance had weakened the Sliver. Being cut off from the whole, it needed to find away sustain itself without causing harm.

Moving directly would burn too much energy so reaching out it felt the minds around it as it allowed itself to be carried on the wind, using only small amounts of energy to keep it near to the children around it.

As it drifted it began to learn, the physical differences between genders, how they thought and acted, how to read the emotions and thoughts that drifted through their minds.

A young man never noticed the tiny ribbon of light, no larger than a hair, land on his bare arm.

The Sliver entered his skin, drawing on the excess energy, careful not to harm him and connecting to his senses. He would never know as it shared his life, his thoughts and emotions as he grew.

To learn about the world, it would sometimes influence him. Nothing overt as free will had to be preserved, but it gave him suggestions or ideas that he heard subconsciously, to leave him free to choose. An idle suggestion to turn left on the way home one day resulted in him meeting a flag wearing ward again and through her he eventually met others.

While he stood there grinning, excited just to meet the local hero's, the Sliver was learning about the parasites they carried and how they worked.

At its encouragement, he kept in touch with some of them over the years.

When his father's boat sunk, claiming everyone on board, the Sliver calmed his dreams and occluded him from a parasite.

It shared Danny's joy when he joined with the woman he loved. It had watched their courtship, stepping in when necessary; he never forgot a date.

During the birth of their child, his overwhelming joy bled back into the Sliver who studied the child down to the genetic level. It traced what came from which parent.

The day they lost Annette it took a more direct hand, forced him to keep going, to focus on the daughter they shared.

They both felt concern when Taylor pulled away, becoming quiet and distant. She barely spoke now and never smiled.

Danny would never notice when the Sliver left him one night.

It watched through Taylor's eyes as her best, and only, friend turned on her. Using knowledge shared in confidence to hurt her and turning her fears against her.

It tried to comfort her as it had Danny. When the nightmares came, it showed her a world of metal shining in the darkness of space and a five faced warrior standing against the dark.

But as they shut the door there was nothing it could do. When she screamed and begged only for them to laugh, it could only watch as it all came to much for her to bear.

The Sliver had watched and it had learned but it was through waiting.