Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer

The endless sea of torches before me is reminiscent of the once star-riddled firmament.

“Civilizations are like stars”, I begin, my message echoing and rippling endlessly outward through the crowd like some acoustic earthquake, my voice the epicenter.

“A star’s origins are buried deep within the annals of time. They begin as loose affiliations of individual elemental particles, “citizens” eking out a mutual existence, sharing “Neighborhoods”. Many “Neighborhoods” unite to form “Villages”, clusters of organized energy, which, in turn, grow and envelope other “Villages” until the star finally ignites into a power far greater than the sum of its parts.”

I can’t help but look upon the towering mountain of technological triumph dominating the landscape beyond the sea of humanity. All of the Human Race’s achievements have led to the creation of this colossal testament to survival. Humanity’s hope weighs precariously upon its success.

“Some stars are titans, cosmic dynamos whose influence spreads far and wide, their ambition often exceeding their limitations. While their “citizens” become innumerable, consuming vast amounts of energy, their cores become covetous, hording matter like cosmic skinflints. Uniting forces become unstable until the short lived star ends in violent cataclysm. The few surviving refugees are scattered to the cold, uncaring winds. Their ruins radiating strange energies for dark eternities.”

I pause to take a breath, the chill air burning my lungs and robbing my body of precious heat. Every second is colder than the last and as warm as it’ll ever be again for a long time.

“Other stars grow larger still”, I proceed, “until their woeful urge for dominion becomes an irresistible pull, a dark, oppressive force which draws all life, all matter into their illiberal folds; wells of consumption. As masses swell, depression reigns. Pressures mount. Centers cannot hold. Always, inevitably, there’s a quick, violent upheaval, a yearning for freedom, for liberty, but in vain – The tyranny of gravity prevails. Everything becomes lured inexorably into morbid, unknowable vortexes. Inescapable places. Lightless places. Places of death and futility.”

The silence of a million thoughtful minds fills the empty air.

“But smaller stars”, my voice now charged with pride, ”enjoy a long, prosperous existence. Their forces are stable, dependable, conservative. When the inevitable end comes, it comes slowly, predictably. The sun grows, reaches the limits of it’s resources, then, welcoming oblivion after a long life, it fades serenely into non-existence. Its “citizens” disperse, returning to a life of individuality within a universe of endless potential – Wanderers amidst the Great Unknown.

“We were both blessed and doomed. Blessed with a small sun, yet doomed to survive our own violent growing pains only to bear witness to the unstoppable heat-death of the Milky-Way.”

A low rumble shakes the ground, permeating my bones. Small stones tremble. Anticipation swells as I raise my voice.

“Just as we have watched, during the long life of our people, the stars in our galaxy die one by one, their energies extinguished by the brutal power of entropy, we have witnessed countless civilizations of our own become consumed by their own darkness.

“But we are, each of us, the inheritors of our own unique and ancient heritage. We are survivors and we will not wait for the end. We will not go gently into that good night! We will rage, rage against the dying of the light!”

The roar of the crowd is deafening, but the ignition of the World-Engine drowns all other sound. Slowly, relentlessly, we begin the dark voyage across the galactic gulf, searching for a new home.

We, the Sunless, shall endure!

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