The Short Eternity: Prolouge
Posted By: Shurmanator<email@example.com>
Date: 2 March 2010, 11:25 pm
JUNE 6, 1944
1500 HOURS GMT
OBSERVER'S JOURNAL: FINAL ENTRY
We had to leave someone behind.
Everyone knew, from the beginning, but no one wanted to discuss it. How could they? The very notion was disturbing
to be chosen to stay, to be the last of an entire species. The thought floated in the back of our minds, haunting our dreams and unoccupied moments like an ethereal demon.
When I was chosen
The emotions, they were almost overwhelming. To this day I remember what I felt; dread, relief, despair, even honor. All swirling inside me, threatening to burst outward in an unprecedented display of violent feelings.
It has been over fifteen thousand years since that day.
As I sit here, on this cold and unfeeling sand, I ponder the worth of my existence. I do not have an answer. Perhaps this, perhaps what I am about to do now, will give me some closure. It will take some time, and only now is time something I do not have.
My name is Corporal Kevin O'Reilly. It is also Private James Wilks, Arthur Barrington, Jeremiah Jefferson, Duke Alexander Darmoth, Sir William Vanalot, Tigh Vhan, Cavacus, Eternus, and thousands more.
I am all these things, but above all else, I am the Observer.
The year, according to the calendar in place today, was approximately 5,000 B.C. Our vessel framed the horizon, resting serenely on a lone hill rising from the sun-baked savanna. Machines crawled across the grass, small ants among a colony of millions, each tasked with constructing a small part of the monolith that was to lie before us. I stood watching the spectacle from a hill opposite. As the sun set on the days work, I flinched at its brightness.
I missed the sun of my home world. At that time, I still believed I would see it again.
The Overseer climbed the rise to stand next to me. He raised his right hand and pressed it into mine; I did in kind with my left.
The old one clasped his hands behind his back and followed my gaze, his eyes shining with pride at the fruits of his labor.
"It will be glorious my friend," he beamed, looking happier than I had ever seen him.
"It is a pity we will not be here to see it activated, I'm sure such a sight would be magnificent," I replied.
I looked over to him, and witnessed with curiosity as his expression fell. He turned slowly to me, almost mournfully.
"Come, Follower, follow me to our vessel. The Committee has to discuss something with you."
I obediently followed my elder, walking casually across the massive plain towards our vessel. We reached it at dawn, a full twelve hours later.
I laugh at the irony, I had so much time to waste back then, and now there is so little.
Inside the vessel, the Committee of twelve stood at their podiums, discussing the semantics of construction that I had little need to concern myself with. As soon as I entered their chambers, a din of silence overcame them. I instantly understood that something was wrong, and that I was involved. I waited patiently for them to explain to me what was happening.
The Chairman was blunt. A trademark of all the elderly of my species; only at the end of their lives do they move fast, only then understanding how little time they truly have.
"You must remain on this world," he declared.
"For how long must I stay?" I inquired, as my mind still unable to grasp an eternity on this planet.
I have no time to waste explaining the details of their decision. I was finally granted my name-title, the mark of manhood and wisdom that all the young of my kind eventually receive.
The Observer, I was called. They stressed that point greatly, I recall. I was only to observe, not to intervene. If I wished, I could alter my appearance to fit into their society, I could, in essence, become one of them. But I was never to start a family, never to reach any positions of high political power, and never to make a decision that would greatly affect any of them. Seemingly innocent requests, but I knew not how restrictive they truly were.
Emotions went rampant inside me, but I knew not how to deal with them. After my task and name were given to me, I was dismissed as quickly as I entered, as if the Committee needed to get rid of me as soon as possible. Perhaps it was hard on them, giving me this task. I never knew, I never asked them.
I journeyed many miles across the plains. My trek lasted several days, but I felt no remorse at this wasted time. I wished to feel the grass on my feet, the air on my head. I loved this planet so, but an eternity here was still almost unknowable to me. I just wanted to experience it, to be exposed to the land and sky that would be my only home for the rest of my life.
I was at peace, but at the same time in deep sorrow. I sought company; I sought companionship; perhaps that is a trait shared by all sentient life, the need to be surrounded by others.
When I had volunteered to go on this quest, there had been only one condition.
"There shall be no interaction between any of our species and those of the local sentient population."
Conversely, I shared the purpose of hundreds of other young adventurers chosen to embark on the project; I was to study the local sentient population, and decide if they were worthy of the gift we were to bestow upon them.
For years us young ones, us Followers, watched from afar the beings that were to inherit this world. They were primitive, but evolved to an acceptable anatomical standpoint. They could shape fire and construct weapons, but there was no written language, and they were only united among small tribes. Nonetheless, we saw the potential for their kind, and decided that the project was to continue as planned.
The portal was to be constructed here. The portal to the Ark, the last bastion of our empire. If the infection were to ever spread again, we were placing our faith in this primordial species to activate the rings once more, and to banish the plague from the galaxy. It was a bold plan, and even so, only a back-up.
Construction was relatively quick. By the time I was informed of my new title as Observer, the portal was nearly complete. Preparations to return home had begun. But I was not to partake in them.
Yet my thoughts wander; I could spend days recording the details of the construction, the decades leading up to our discovery of this world, even my childhood recollections of the infection. I have no time to do so; my objective is not to determine the historical significance of my race, but rather my small part in this universe.
My memories return to those of my brief journey following my appointment. After days wandering the plains, I came upon the small village that I had observed for the previous century. I had watched children born, and those same children die, and their children die, and so on. I felt a true connection with these people, but they knew not of my existence.
Rage tore through my form.
How dare they? I seethed, How dare they banish me here? How dare they judge my destiny? Who are they to determine my fate? Damn them! Damn their laws, damn their plans, if they have doomed me to this world, then I shall do as I please! I shall no longer bow to their wishes, for is it not better to reign in this desolate land than to serve in their kingdom?
Among my fit of anger, I moved towards the village. I deactivated the devices that masked my appearance from their eyes, and I entered their presence.
I watched with joy as they screamed in fear and wonder, never having in their wildest imaginings seen something like myself. My white robes, my lightened skin, my elongated limbs, these must have seemed terrifying and alien to their eyes. Some of their warriors hurled spears at me, but I simply activated my protection-barriers, normally used to protect workers from falling debris during construction. The weak wood of their weapons did nothing but make me laugh.
Soon, after much attempts at destroying me, the villagers surrendered to my seemingly invincible form. They approached me, and to my utter astonishment, fell to their knees.
They are worshipping me
I thought, awestruck. I looked around at their blind, unyielding faith in my power, and was disgusted with myself.
Who am I to control their fates? Who am I to appear godlike to their eyes? I, the lowliest of workers among my kind, a mere boy among my kind, dare to view these as my inferiors? They are sentient beings, they are evolved life forms, and yet I simply view them as my playthings!
I retreated as quickly as possible, covering my identity once more.
Every night, as I sleep, for most of my short eternity, I dream about this moment. About the chaos I caused in my reveal to their primitive species. About the havoc this brief moment of stupidity wrought onto the race I was destined to live among forever. I weep at these times, I weep at all I have done to harm them.
But then, I thought not of these things. I ran as fast as I could, flying across the plains, tears flowing from my eyes. I did not want to accept my position; I did not want to live on this world. I raced back towards the vessel, dying to escape from my wretched fate.
I was too late.
I arrived in time to see my one last hope to flee this world fly off into the atmosphere. Dim ion trails lit up the cloudy night sky, weaving into shapes of beauty and wonder, mocking my wretchedness.
I stared at the dark portal's massive span stretching out towards the horizon.
A small wind blew around my feet. It began to pick up, and soon was blasting hard, coarse sand into my eyes. I winced and fell to my knees, covering my body. I squinted into the darkness and gasped in horror as millions upon millions of tons of dirt and rock swept in a whirlwind around the portal. Massive machines around its circumference unleashed gale-force winds upon the still plains, turning them into a hurricane around the structure. More and more sand was lifted, rising seemingly infinitely into the air, blocking out the moon, blocking out the clouds, blocking out the world.
I could almost hear the cries of my villagers echoing from miles away as they witnessed this terrible and awesome sight. Their shrill voices were drowned out by my own lamentation at my eternal damnation.
The cloud dispersed softly, not with a roar but with a whimper.
The dust and rock had settled, covering the massive portal, and leaving no evidence of our presence on this world.
Except for me.
One lone servant, doomed to live out his existence in as The Observer, as a caretaker of the species that may just be the galaxy's last hope.
I rose to my feet, my eyes widening in the darkness. It was cold. I looked down at my pale hands and feet, at my once glistening robes, now tinted brown with dust. The plains were quiet, the savanna still once more. I heard a bird in the distance.
I lay down in the grass to sleep. It was my first night as The Observer. It was the first night of my short eternity.