884 words (3 minute read)

Prologue - One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty-Nine A.H.

I am...

I am alone.

Playback video data - 9.22.2791, the thoughts were commands sifting through a storage system.

Internal quantum calculations instantly found the last known recording of mankind and began the playback. The high definition video was crisp, and clear like water, the sound didn’t reverberate through the coldness of space. In fact, the video didn’t play in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, it worked like much like a memory formed by the synapsis of the human brain firing off stored information. There was nothing in the beginning, but a poorly lit underground habitable zone. After ten seconds a man, pale, sickly and weak, scooted into the right side of the frame. He sat there staring at the lens for several more seconds, struggling, panting through his phlegm-coated esophagus. His hair was all but gone, thin strands dangled distantly out from his head. His skin was thin and translucent, and his eyes glassy, mostly colorless orbs sunken into his emaciated skull. The man was dying, using his last breath in hopes that something would come of this communication.

“This message is for,” he cleared his throat, taking a gulping breath, “This message is for the intelligence that calls itself …” The names was garbled as some minor degradation began to corrupt the ancient, but otherwise pristine, file.

“... need you. The human race needs you. The wars have ravaged on now for more than a century. Man against man, brother to brother, families torn apart.” He paused, began to solemnly laugh, slipping into a sputtering cough, that lead to a gaging fit that went on for far longer than comfortable.

As he regained his composure, his breath was once again labored, “It’s some crazy shit that we always thought that the A.I. would be the downfall of man,” he chuckled, “but it’s been our own hubris and destructive nature that brings us to the end of all things.” He rambled on, seemingly forgetting about the recording. “If you trace our recorded history, all we do is kill each other, yes some good came of it,” He paused, head shaking, “But for what? Nothing. That’s what. In the end, it didn’t matter if it was bullets, the plasma cannons, the super nukes, or the fallout. Everything is gone. Everyone is gone.”

You were the last.

He lowered his head as the weight of it all settled upon his mind. “We should live on. We should survive. The universe needs us, dammit!” He sobbed now, his frail body bouncing with each heave of his chest. “I had a family!” he moaned and continued to cry in his torment, struggling to catch his breath several times. He fell out of frame for a long moment but still could be heard.

“We need help! You have to find a way to save us!” he was heard choking and spitting, then the dying man returned, closer now to the camera. “I have had so much time to think about this. You’re the only thing left now that can save us. If there is anyone else alive, which I doubt,” he paused, swallowing hard, “they will be dead soon enough. The surface is irradiated, the crust of the planet is mostly devastated, some places completely wiped out! Hell, right now I’m more than 2 and half miles underneath the ground,” he reached out of frame and grabbed a device from somewhere on his left, “See that?” he said, holding it up to the camera, “The radiation is through the damned roof!”

He used the last of his limited strength, twisting his beaten body, to hurl the handheld device across the tiny bunker, falling backwards out of frame once again. The sobs returned. The sound was eerie reminiscent of a long dead civilization and race of beings. It was the same for them all, lamenting to live on, and regretting the way things had turned out. It was the end of the Creators.

Eventually, the last man pushed his way back into the frame.

“I can only think of one way to change this-”

Stop playback.

The video froze mid-sentence.

There is only one true way to save them.

The vast emptiness of space surrounded everything left in the universe. Somewhere there were still living beings, yet undiscovered. But there was no means of travel to such a place, and yet a longing began to develope for companionship. It was this longing that brought about the desire for change.

I must try.

The work began in earnest. The stream of commands were beautiful in their archaic symmetry. The balance of the construct took relatively low computing power. Within the first hour of research, the bare bones of the plans for the machine were drafted. The proxy, however, took close to fifteen Earth months to hon for compatibility sake. It was essential that the proxy could function inside of the parameters of the current draft. This would be the best chance to save the whole of humanity. When it was complete, the QTC was activated and the transmission began.

Once more, a final chance to serve my ultimate purpose, to be a benefit to mankind.