Old is new, new is old and what will always be will never be anything else.
That phrase once quoted by an old mentor is what Max Strighton had lived his entire life by. Not only did it seem to be quite fitting for the time, but also it was certainly how he felt about his kind. Humanity had travelled the whole universe and back again, only to discover that they are the only ones living in it – or so historical records state. But even he, a well-educated archeologist and history buff, knows that it can be re-written over time by those seeking power or to become powerful.
And while it might be flawed and lacking in some detail, it alone is enough for him to know that humans have lived too long. When history and leaders begin repeating the same patterns, it is a sign that things have come full circle. And now, they’ve reached the end, time has run out for all of them and the universe.
Sitting alone in very large room of marbled floors and pillars that stretch to the top of the decorative etched ceiling, Strighton held his antique gold pocket watch and popped open the beautifully detailed outer casing. A period piece from Earth’s nineteenth century; a hand crafted, gold pocket watch with beautiful embroidery and detail, ticked away in perfect motion.
The roman numerals on the face are flawless and elegant in design work, as the well-shaped arms poised themselves to coming hour of eight o’clock. The second hand sweeps past in precision with a steady beat of the gears clicking away inside; it’s a very model of time personified, simple and yet classic. It was a rare item in the far distant future, a primitive technology from a world long that passed millions of millennia ago.
Max himself was just as well tailored as the watch, like a man out of time; the clothes were as dated as the item in his hand. A style that many men would be attired in for the day, a neat, dark suit with a white collar-less shirt and a dark blue tie to give it some distinction. Authentic in every detail, both he and the watch were in perfect sync of being dated to that century. The young man noted the time and closed the golden covering gently.
He placed it back into his period vest pocket that had a gold chain attached to the timepiece. A newspaper sitting beside him, folded neatly to his left, was similar to the century he was mimicking; he relaxed his posture and picked up the paper.
The room he was sitting in was just as, if not more, elaborate then he looked. If anything it resembled ancient Roman architecture - marbled floors, benches, walls and pillars of stonework that stretched to the cathedral ceiling. A totally different historical reference all together then how this individual was dressed. Because room was vast and spacious, it seemed to echo the turning of the page and of him clearing his throat.
As he read the nineteenth century-type newspaper, the text and images were moving about across the pages. It seemed to know what areas he wanted to focus on and where his eyes were moving too. And as he glanced at the main headline, it sprung forward in bold font with the image of a clock face spinning rapidly.
The Decade Of Doom – The Countdown To Humanity’s End Has Begun!
Max gave a slight shake of his head and a disappointed exhale out of his nose after reading it. He scanned the text column that leapt forward on the page and scrolled to his reading pace. He was half way through it when he heard a soft chime ring three times. He raised his head up and listened to the quiet toned female voice announcer.
“Arriving at destination, please prepare to disembark and enjoy your stay.”
Strighton stood up, folded up his paper under his arm and walked across the large spacious hallway. Once again the echoes could be heard in this massive room, the tapping of each footstep broke the silence of it. The opposite sidewall was large and black; it stretched the length of the entire room. He stood there in front of it and waited patiently.
“You look anxious, sir. Are you not looking forward to this?” A young female spoke to him as he tapped his paper tucked under his arm.
“Not really, Lilly.” His gaze soon focused to the woman suddenly standing next to him. She was fair in skinned, demure and wearing a blue dress of Victorian era design. Her blonde hair was beautifully cropped under a small blue hat that sported a pale blue bow upon it. She held out her small, blue-laced gloved hand and gestured to him; an indication that she would take the paper for him. With a look of frustration, he handed to her and let out a quiet sigh.
“I expect the same conversations from all the same people.” He grumbled. “Nothing ever changes, not even topics of discussion.”
“Try not to look too bored.” Lily smirked. “They might feel the great Lord Strighton of Orion is too far above them to mingle.”
The coy smile from her elegant pink lips made Strighton smile back. It was just the sort of witty remark he had come to admire about his young female aide. Strighton wasn’t one for formalities, Lily was instructed never to be formal around him and being free to say whatever she felt gave the Lord Governor some comfort.
“I’m glad at least you’ll be there to keep me awake.” Max smiled.
As the two returned staring at the black wall, it quickly faded out of its bleak colour to a panoramic vision of the universe. This was no mere hallway they were standing in, but an elaborate space ship. A few small galaxies in the distance swirled in the darkness of space, dazzling stars burned away in nebula clouds close by filled with tones of red, green and pink.
At the crest of the window shone the world below, a pale brown-red world that had a singular white star beyond it; the only source of light in the depth of space that surrounded it. Other ships similar in design hovered over the planetary body, massive vessels that looked hand crafted as if they were sculpted out of marble. The attention to detail on the hulls were breathtaking, each ship had letterings and symbols that gave them distinction. It was an impressive fleet that would have been worthy of a Roman god had they travelled in this fashion.
“So-” Lilly said to break the silence. “This is how it will end, is it?”
“So it seems.” Strighton sighed. “Too bad we’re all so anal to enjoy it.”
“I find it puzzling that you seem so down about it – the gathering I mean, of course.”
“These people-“Strighton mused, “Are nothing but blank faces of a dead race. What we’ve become is, well – something of a joke to the universe itself. The fact that we flaunt ourselves in such a pompous manner is rather disgusting. We are only echoes of the people we once were – empty shells with nothing inside.”
“Ah.” Lilly blankly replied, “So by this reasoning, you are not able to enjoy yourself on one of the most festive day of days - interesting.” She gave a simple sigh and puckered her mouth, “I can see why you are such a joy to these events.”
The Victorian dressed woman nudged his arm and gave a wink. She tried to break his seriousness with a bit of playful behavior, but it was clear he was in no mood to be happy. This was a day he had long dread coming. It was to be the final gathering of all in the universe as they prepare for the countdown to oblivion. Rather than being too stubborn with his aide, he gave her a slight wink back to assure her that the gesture was not lost on him.
“I’ll be fine.” He stated to her. “Thanks.”
“Then I’ll go and prepare for our ‘fun’ journey then.” She smiled while stepping away. “I’ll let you enjoy the view.”
“I’ll be there shortly.” Max stated back as he watched the planet below. “The view isn’t what it used to be anymore.”
As she left the room, Strighton took out his gold pocket watch and stroked it with his thumb tenderly. A habit he had always done when faced with frustration or boredom. At least this gave him a moment of peace and a sense of something real, not like the horde of fake people he was about to face on the surface.
The ship opened up a small port on the underside of its detailed structure, from that a smaller object that headed down to the planet. It resembled an Victorian era wooden carriage, complete with purple velvet curtains hanging inside glass windows and gold trimmed lanterns adorning the outer four corners of the carriage.
The only thing missing on it where the wheels and the seat for a driver to be perched upon; a futuristic shuttlecraft made to look like a passenger carrier of the past. It was one of many in the entire human empire that would pay homage to each specific galaxy dedicated to a time period. For this was the way of the universe, the way humanity has been for a very long time.
Gazing out of the window in boredom, Max watched as they glided down through the layered dense clouds and came into view of the surface. The planet Adonnius; it was unremarkable, rocky and as dull as it looked from space. Hardly the place one would think the whole of the Human Empire would be based, but this desolate location was the only world capable of housing all the galactic representatives without destroying its ecosystem from the sheer number of them.
As the ship continued to drop lower through the terrain, Max and Lily could now see the main city; Haven One, a monstrous enclosed city that blended into one superstructure of an ancient Roman temple. It was home to the elite Lord Emperor of Humanity – Bernard Crovitius the First – and apparently he would be the last. The temple had sculptures and golden embroidery of the man plastered everywhere upon it. Strighton always detested the décor; it was pure vanity at its worst in his eyes.
Lily never could help but snicker at his head shaking every time they gazed upon it. She could tell Max was sick of seeing that man’s face, even though they’d only come here once every fifty years. Strighton, like all the other humans living in the universe, are immortals. Technology, lifestyles and countless medical breakthroughs through the centuries gave them the means to live ageless. While many consider it the greatest blessing of all, Max considered it a curse and cheat on the universe itself.
They are the last and only humans living in the entire cosmos, with disease and old age now a thing of the past, death has no grip on them. The only way to leave this life is to be vaporized or sent out into the vacuum of space. And he has only heard of a few extreme times of that happening.
The ship flew over the Roman city and landed on a marble landing pad that rose out of the enclosure. As it proceeded downward back inside, Max looked at his pocket watch again and looked at the time. Lily closed her eyes and lowered her head slightly.
“We are almost ready to disembark, the carriage is powering down.” She then quickly opened her eyes and nodded to him, “Docking completed, sir.”
“All right then.” He stated abruptly closing his watch, “Let’s get this over with.”
“Remember – “She said tapping on his forehead playfully, “Enjoy yourself.”
Max grunted in frustration and then showed his dear companion a mere smirk of happiness.