Author : Daniel Titus

Allan stood alone on the observation deck. He had been there for hours, looking down at the planet below. It was a breathtaking view, the clouds, the sea, the land, but the physical features were ultimately unimportant. What was important were all the people. Millions of them, each with a life of their own that was about to change forever. It was the stuff headaches were made of.

“They’ll be here soon.”

It was finally out in the open. Chuck had a tendency to be blunt like that, but in this case it seemed appropriate. He needed it too. It was the kind of thing you needed someone else to see, and none of the others had the knack for that kind of foresight.

“The real question is how bad it’s going to be,” Allan said. He shook his head. “We thought The Crisis was the last we’d see of this stuff, but now… war. I never thought I’d live to see it.”

“You’re of course familiar with Alexander Hawthorne?” Chuck asked.

“Yeah,” Allan said. “Probably the most underrated figure in all of history.”

“Then you know about his vision,” Chuck said. “And you know about history. Hawthorne saw the pattern of destruction woven throughout the ages, The Crisis was only part of that. He thought he had the chance to stop it, but the belief that civilization can break the cycle is ultimately flawed. Spreading out into space just added more variables to the equation, it didn’t solve it, and there will always be unknown elements interacting in ways that even an old A.I. can’t predict.”

“So are you saying he was wrong?”

“Not at all. The fact that he managed to bring about an age of peace and prosperity that lasted over 500 years speaks to that. His greatest success however is that the human race will never go extinct, at least not in any reasonable time frame. That is the main difference. No matter how many people die, civilization will continue unabated, maybe not as we currently know it, but even if all ties are broken between the worlds each will continue independently. That’s what makes Alexander a true visionary though, isn’t it? The man who saved humanity from itself.”

Allan’s morose expression softened a little. “You know Chuck, you seem to be making an awful lot of assumptions about the safety of the human race. How can you possibly have any idea what kind of troubles we’re going to have to face?”

“I’m not saying I have an idea,” Chuck said, sounding a little annoyed. “What I DO know is, that whatever problems there are to be had I will do my best to protect as many people as possible.”

Allan laughed. “Does that make you our guardian angel?” he asked.

The brow of Chuck’s avatar furrowed. “I think it’s obvious which one of us is the guardian here, and you know I don’t speak lightly.”

Allan was now fully smiling. “ I had no idea they programmed you with a romanticism subroutine.” He laughed again.

Chuck’s avatar smiled back at him.“Does anyone know what they programmed me with at this point?”

It was a good question, but at that moment in time, it fell pretty far from the top of the list of important things in Allan’s mind. He was done with his little pity party. The time for reflection had passed, at least for now. Now was the time for action.

They’ll be here soon…

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