Okay. Sorry for the delay. I know time is precious to you humans from way back but i hope you will understand that it is really hard, even for me, to coordinate the tachyon pulse just right – particularly with the wonky way the wormholes have been behaving ever since the… well… who cares anyway? Let’s just say its hard. I know that patience is not yet one of your many virtues but hopefully in the process of evolving it you can cut this humble narrator just a little slack.
So. Where was i? Oh yes.
It was a Sunday. Now that’s a nice start. Of course it’s ridiculous but it was a sunday at least on one part of earth which is all that matters. For purposes of relative brevity it had long been decided that the regions of the solar system known as Gravity Wells (your science already knows about these things – you can look them up if you want to.) would correspond to the region of earth that was, at that time, the most important – by which i mean Florida of course. So, because it was Sunday in Florida it was Sunday at the Gravity Well where an enormous spacecraft hovered.
And what an amazing Sunday it was. Arrayed around the gigantic spaceship – which looked an awful lot like a giant rock – were millions of smaller craft, shuttles carrying multicolored banners, embarking craft, sleek and pointy luxury liners, zippy little speeders, boxy commuter craft. There were ships of all sizes, colors and nationalities. The entire population of earth and the surrounding planets were in attendance. Startled animals, left planetside, blinked around in stunned relief for a few minutes, sighed happily and began to behave as they always wanted to – not knowing that people would return after the festivities had ended.
The gigantic rock stood there, near the sun, it’s various embedded minerals giving it just the slightest shimmer. A gigantic diplomatic craft, dwarfed of course by the giant rock, unfurled a brilliant multicolored banner that read simply “good luck, colonists!”
Suddenly, over the loudspeakers and stereo systems of every ship in the flotilla, and therefore heard by every human in attendance came the unmistakable tune “Free Bird” preserved and handed down through the centuries as the quintessence of 20th century rock ballads. Every human stood and looked out their windows at the giant craft. There were many tears.
A brief announcement was made, given by the Glorious President of Florida who had just consolidated his power in time to lose 3/4ths of his population in one go. It was clear that he was sniffling through the speech. After all what was the use of power if there were so few left to wield power over? He wished them well. He wished them speed, which he knew they wouldn’t have, he wished them a grand and glorious trip of brilliant exploration – also not very likely given the direction they were headed. Then, in one last exercise of his now thoroughly whittled power, he gave the order to start the engines.
There was an all too brief moment of fanfare – every human in the solar system, except the incorrigibly grumpy ones, cheered. It was like the whole human race all polished off a shot of tequila in unison at the greatest of frat parties ever and then the great rock hurled itself out of sight in a blink.
Light speed is really fast as I’m sure you know. The colony ships, made of hollowed out asteroids and comets, carrying the incredible machinery of world building, moved at slightly faster than light. This would have been very inconvenient for time, as you know, had it not been discovered that a sort of gravity well was created around a ship whenever the engines were activated. It was a fortuitous byproduct of the faster than light engines and their combustion, what that meant was that time, relative as it was and indifferent to pretty much anything, stood still within the field. Whatever was within the field would stay relative to it’s original time. This made things very convenient for communication, not to mention calendars.
The ship blinked out of the system after several hours (even at faster than light it took some time to clear the vast scope of our local system) All along the route, ships from every planet came out to see the streak as it dashed by. They waved. They said goodbye. They teared up a little. The ship slipped past Neptune and out of humanity.
Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief, except – of course – the president of Florida. Three days later he would resign and retire to the underwater metropolis of Key West, to live out the rest of his days as a hermit on the Coral Reef. occasionally people would go out to visit him, seeking some wisdom of the lessons of power, but he would only mutter bitterly about dictatorships that should have been and would never be again. As it turns out this was his greatest gift to us. He was absolutely correct. Never would there be another dictatorship on earth. No one would ever replace the president of Florida, in fact – in the absolute vacuum of power humanity (or what was left of it) realized shockingly quickly that it had had quite enough of such things and unanimously voted to abolish every form of government, including voting.
The year was 2356. A sunday that would have gone down in history had people not decided, just as unanimously, that history was a huge mistake and they’d be much better off if they simply forgot about it.
The earth was in pretty sad shape. It had gotten fairly watery over the years, even more watery than it should have been due some unfortunate incidents with wayward comets who had become far too curious about how its gravity felt. It had groaned for a long time under the weight of the human race, who seemed content to beat the shit out of it. It had tolerated all of this with but a few fits of pique. Every so often it had stood up for itself, generated a plague, raised a sea level unexpectedly, shucked off a few million in a swath of destruction, but for the most part it had sighed, been patient and waited for this moment which it had known was coming since the first ape had picked up a bone and smashed it over the head of another ape. If anyone had sighed with contentment at the sudden vanishing of a billion of its former residents, it was the earth.
This time, however, someone was listening. Many someones. In fact, every remaining human in the system heard the earth sigh and that was what caused the universal sigh of relief as they watched the big rock hurl itself with finality into the vastness of space. Even the inhabitants of the rock felt it only they mistook it for relief from getting away from those poor backwards souls they left behind and the diseased battered watery wreck they once called home.
The small craft, shuttles, speeders, commuters returned home, contented. People parked in their old spots, looked down at the suddenly empty residential block, smiled and began gardening. The animals looked around, blinked, and went about their business knowing – somehow – that things would never be the same again and that wasn’t a bad thing.
Granted there were still billions of humans in the system. Billions is a lot. But stretch billions over ten planets and you can begin to imagine the vast deep quiet that settled like a soft snow on the human race.
100 years passed quickly, as it really does if you think about things in terms of galactic time. Beams of communication still went out into space, hailing the receding colonists with news of the day which they returned in greater and greater intervals, thinking of the humans left behind as one might think of a cousin on a distant branch of the family tree one wishes one could prune.
As it happens the last communication was received and sent on the same day, a monday. The Captain in charge of colonial communications, a bored and impish gentleman named Rowl, sat in the well decorated booth, looking out at over the gorgeous evergreens splayed along an Alaskan hillside which was finally recovering from thousands of years of collective abuse. He paged through a book of poetry written by a Scotsman in the late 18th century, not understanding a word of it but simply enjoying the look of the letters on the page. A fortuitous breeze blew in the delicate scent of fresh spring pine needles just as the monitor before him blinked red with an incoming message. He’d been monitoring the board mostly out of habit for about ten years, having little else to do but tend his bonsai, remud his palatial clay home, and watch whales pass happily by. He’d come to dread the incoming messages. When they came, which wasn’t often, they were terse boring unpoetic things delivered in the language of glorious exploration. They were the literary equivalents of a badly hewn figurehead cutting through disgusting slime but calling it a wine dark sea.
The message was simple enough. “Passed the colony of Altair Persephone 4. We press forward into the dark, known but to Emperor Floridius II where our path shall lead. May he speed us forever on our gallant journey.” Something in the captain snapped reading it. A whale blew off the beautiful rocky point before him, providing all the commentary and emotion he needed. He typed in the following broadcast known to us in what passes for history (which, by the way is absolutely nothing at all like your history – not even remotely) as The Monday War:
“Under attack by ancient race of interstellar elves! They have destroyed Mars and Io and are beating up Europa real good. Earth is next. Fleet is on the way. We’ll fight them off as long as we can but can’t hold out for long. This is the last message we can send. We don’t want them to find you so I am destroying the relay tower. Good luck brave people from Earth. Remember us.”
What sort of reception this got on the colony ship is not recorded, at least not that we have found yet. Probably the last colony ship, drifting through the Altair Persephone colony just looked at it and shrugged, as glad to be quit of us as we were of them. We do know that the other far-flung human colonies received the same message and, unexpectedly, did exactly nothing. No reinforcements were ever sent, no messages, no nothing, of course at the rate they travelled it wouldn’t have mattered if they had sent someone. They understood that it would take over a hundred years to reach what would be the empty husk of a once vibrant system. What they didn’t understand was just how grateful we were that they never tried.
The captain watched the spray of the whale caught in the late afternoon sunlight, heard a moose call somewhere in the forest, and relaxed back into his chair knowing he’d done the right thing. A few hours later he went downstairs to his wife, who was slapping a new coat of mud on one of the walls. She, like me, was a computer borrowing a synthetic body she’d named Margaret Berger to do some traditional human work. He told her what he had done, expressing just the slightest concern. She kissed him and that was that. The end of the Monday War. The best war humans had never fought.
Okay. In epilogue, before the wormhole hiccups again, I should apologize. I promised the travelogue. It’s sort of travelogue, but next time i promise – seriously – barring any unforseen circumstances like a skewed quark on the randomizer or something i can’t control like Ely taking a sudden interest in the World Cup – that i will tell you of The Baring Rift. It’s one of the most exciting places in the galaxy that i know of. You’ll love it. I’ll try to use a little less exposition again. It’s hard. There’s a ton of material to get through to get to the present. Maybe i’ll fhgguutt=zzt4888844444466666661111111….. Uh oh. 8888880000001111110000009999999…….