Author : Cesium

When the food ran out, we all responded differently.

The Cythalans engineered themselves into cold-blooded pygmies, with slow perception and quiet metabolism, tending their meager crops with careful patience. They lay on the hills and watched the sun wheel about the sky, and sang songs that lasted for months.

They’re all dead now.

The arcologies of Hongdao were unroofed, and their occupants became photosynthetic, living off water, earth, and sun. Their buildings were wonders of glass and carbon, full of light and air, and the people’s skin was resplendent in all colors of the rainbow.

They’re dead now, too.

The people of Tashpan downloaded into mechanical bodies, powered by the tiny sparks of nuclear engines. They lived mostly as they had, their factories precisely calibrated for a sustainable rate of growth, and their science flourished like none before them.

I don’t yet know what happened to them.

The Stennish went further, and sealed their minds in blocks of computing machinery deep underground, powered by the heat of the earth. They lived in a shared fantasy, refugees from a physical world that could no longer support what they had once been.

They’re still around, I think, in some form.

I, the groupmind of Emnisi, I chose a different path. My 46,228,901 constituent humans boarded a ship, and in the outermost reaches of the system I created a tiny black hole. Safeguards were in place; it could do no harm to anyone else, but it was perfect for my needs. My ship was to slingshot around the singularity, approaching close enough for the time dilation to become enormous, and then drawing away. Two hundred years would have passed in a day, enough that the crisis would have been averted.

But there was a miscalculation.

I’ve spent a long time pondering where exactly the error was. It could have been human error, or a gap in my understanding of physical law. I hope it was the former, but I don’t have enough data to tell for sure.

When I escaped the pull of the black hole, I found the orbiting instruments and monitors long since ground to dust by micrometeoroid impacts. I had come forward in time not two hundred years but two billion, to a sun too hot and bright, and no sign of human life. The ship began its return journey down the star’s gravity well, but I found nothing to assuage my worst fears. I sought the children of Staenn and Tashpan and Ishiko, but I fear they have forgotten those ancestral names (and, indeed, the communications protocols).

After several minutes of shared thought, a shipwide referendum was held. By a 46% majority vote of my members, with 19% abstaining, I have decided to alter the ship’s trajectory and take it directly into the black hole. In a short while, we too will be gone.

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