In The Beginning
The vast cloud of single celled organisms had been traveling through the void for eons. Each was enclosed in shell of carbon atoms packed as densely as diamond, but arranged to reflect every trace of electromagnetic radiation back inside. The outside surface of the carbon was the absolute black that only the crystalline form of diamonds could have. The effect wasn't just to reflect light back inside, it also absorbed all radiation coming from outside. For them to continue and grow, the microbes had to catch and hold every photon and every trace of matter they encountered during the millennia between stars.
Even though they caught and held every trace of energy and matter they encountered, the cloud was not dependent upon natural resources for their survival. By manipulating electric charges, they had formed a very intense electric field that held the cloud in a very precise formation. At the center, they had formed a core of heavy iron atoms that were continually being ionized to maintain the field. At the edge of the cloud, individual cells would capture electrons flying off the core, gradually building up a negative charge until they were drawn towards the positively charged core.
Before reaching the core, they would internally accelerate electrons pushing them at high speeds through a hole in their shield aimed precisely at the core. The core's positive charge would continue to accelerate the electrons until they collided with the momentum of a sledge hammer. At the core, the energy of colliding electrons would push atomic nuclei together with enough force to fuse them releasing the enormous amounts of energy that powered the whole cloud. Anything blown away from the core that was larger than an electron would be struck by incoming electrons until it was pushed back into the core. The electrons being blown away would evade those accelerating inward because of their small size and the repulsion of like charges and would continue outward at a decelerating speed until caught by one of the microbes.
Each time a cell made the inward journey, it would pick up a few oxygen, carbon and nitrogen atoms to use in growing new cells. The constant movement inside the cloud produced what astronomers in the distant future would call a nebular caldron of churning particles.
The entire process was not the effect of random chance, nor an accident of nature, it was a mechanism the cloud had learned long before beginning its journey. It was capable of learning because it was sentient. Actually, it was more than sentient, as it possessed the resources, intelligence and information processing capacity to build an object the size of a star by manipulating single atoms to precise locations to achieve a perfect star-sized nano-structure.
Though it had the ability and capacity to build anything, it had no interest in doing so. It would have thought the process as interesting as a man, if man had existed back then, would have considered the digging of the panama canal with a teaspoon.