The stars sang to him.
He mused over the fact that most people didn't really understand that. Most people, even his closest friends, did not have a true understanding of just how his powers worked. At best, they believed he used a magic ring to make green stuff out of willpower.
He chuckled, spinning gracefully through the glittering vacuum to avoid a small asteroid field. What did that even mean, "make green stuff out of willpower"? It meant nothing. It was a false assumption made after watching him use his powers.
The ring was a lens, a means by which he could focus the Song of Creation into pure malleable energy. With his "magic" ring, he reshaped the very fabric of reality itself. Of course, it wasn't easy. The universe has a will of its own, so the will of the ring-bearers must at least be equal in strength.
And his most definitely was. He had proved as much on countless occasions. Since the day a dying alien gave him the greatest power in the cosmos, he had been proving that strength.
But now he wondered, for the first time, if his will was equal to the task before him.
He was among the last of the mighty ring bearers, remnants of the once-vast Cosmic Order of the Ring. The Custodians of the Cosmos, the mysterious ancient aliens who crafted the first rings in the early days of a young universe, had vanished. The cataclysm that followed claimed the lives of many ring bearers, until only he and a few others were left. Far too few to fulfill their duties as galactic guardians. And the universe tumbled into chaos, galactic civilizations falling, star-spanning empires splintering as lawlessness spread unchecked throughout the infinite reaches of space.
So he and the others had abandoned a duty that was increasingly becoming an exercise in futility. Instead, they set out in search of people to replenish their ranks; to find those with the strength of will and purity of spirit to wield a ring of power. He had found a few in his travels thus far. He had equipped them with rings, taught them the rudimentary skills they needed to use them and sent them back to the Custodians' homeworld, where they would meditate on the Song of Creation until they knew its melodies and harmonies, and could write their own verses at will. When they were ready, they too would take up the search for others, and when enough ring bearers had been found, the Cosmic Order of the Ring would return to bring justice to a desperate universe.
But he had begun to despair. It had taken untold millennia for the Custodians to build the Order initially. Though the rings extended the bearers' life-spans considerably, they were not immortal. Eventually those who wielded the rings of power would die, and he feared none would rise to take their place.
He thought then of days long past, of a time soon after he'd been given his ring, when he still lived on his homeworld, and shared in the adventures of his colorfully costumed colleagues. He had been new to the power then, and believed nothing to be impossible with sufficient application of will.
But then his friends had started dying, losing their powers or simply disappearing altogether. His homeworld grew increasingly grim and dark, and eventually so followed the universe at large until all hope seemed gone and life was mired in tragedy and misery. He had not felt joy in over a century, and he despaired of ever feeling it again.
A strange harmonic entered the Song of Creation then, and he felt himself drawn to a tiny planet orbiting a white dwarf star. He landed, and was immediately put at ease. Decades of weariness and trial fell from his shoulders and his spirit brightened. There, on that insignificant planet, far out in the uncharted reaches of space, the Custodians of the Cosmos still lived.
"Greetings, ring-bearer of Earth," they said with one voice. "We are not surprised it was you who found us. Of all who have wielded the rings of power, you are the greatest."
"You do me honor, Masters," he bowed. Then, he looked up, a desperate plea in his eyes. "Will you return with me? Will you take up your place in the universe, quelling the storm of horror and chaos that spreads like a cancer across infinity?"
There was a long silence.
Then, "We will not."
He was taken aback. "But..."
He was dumbfounded. "Masters?"
They made a negative gesture. "No. We are not your masters. Not any longer. We have nothing left to teach you, no further wisdom to share."
"I... I don't understand."
"You do," they replied, smiling. "Or you would not be ready for the task which lies before you." One of them held out its hand. "Remove your ring," they said.
He did as requested, handing it over with some reluctance. He could not remember the last time it had left his hand.
But then, he noticed something odd. The stars still sang to him. He could still hear them, even without the ring. He felt himself become part of the Song. He did not try to bend the Song to his will, or to reshape his local reality to suit his needs. Instead, he joined the Song, adding his will to that of the universe until the Song of Creation echoed around him in a glorious fanfare. He knew then what his task was, what he was to become. The rings were merely tests designed to reveal the one being capable of becoming what he was.
He opened himself to the Song, letting it fill him, until infinity was at his fingertips.
Then God looked out over Creation, and worked his will upon it.