Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
It was a beautiful night to watch the stars go out.
The grass rustled softly in the wind. Small waves scudded across the pond as other families unpacked night time picnics. The clouds had been removed for the viewing so we could see the beautiful night sky in all its milky, glittering glory.
The man beside me is over 700 years old. He has two friends here that are the same age but they all look like they’re about thirty. I call him grandfather but I’m told there are a whole lot of ‘greats’ in there. He is a war hero. He is the reason we’re here. He speaks to me in ancient English. My mind translates.
“When humans discovered FTL travel, we came up on a lot of people’s radar. We had unknowingly joined a club and that club had enemies. Immediately, we were contacted and drafted into the conflict that raged across the stars.
We proved instrumental. In a strange twist of fate, our bodies were more resilient than most and our minds were able to withstand the chaotic dimensional tortures of n-space without the need for anesthetic. All the other races needed to go blind through the wormholes. Not us. We could pilot a course.
The shattering of reality outside the jumpships doesn’t squeeze the human brain. Being all meat and being stupid works to our advantage. When we see something we don’t understand outside the portholes and viewscreens, we can just shrug and go about our business. We can turn our inquisitiveness on and off. That is rare, apparently. Even automated ships can’t adjust properly in n-space.
So we were asked to pilot ships with sunkiller weapons to end the war once and for all. The good half of the galaxy depended on it, we were told.
We bent reality, folded space, and hopped in and out of the fabric of spacetime with technology customized especially for us. Zipping in and out of our dimensional plane, we supernovaed 23 suns and genocided 800 enemy races. We were successful. If there had been surviving enemies, we would be infamous.
But there weren’t.
The good guys won, kid. That’s why you’re here. And your mother and everyone on this planet and thousands of others.
Now look up.”
I looked up into the night sky.
“We jumped around an awful lot during our mission, kid. We bent a lot of light. For me, it happened a few weeks ago but those lights up there,” he motioned with his hand to one part of the sky, “Y’see, they’re 700 light years away. The light from our battle is just reaching your planet now. That’s how I’m 700 years old by your clocks. Now watch.”
My grandfather looked at an ancient chronometer on his wrist and then raised his eyes up to the sky. Everyone around us did the same.
It took an hour but I could see some of the stars up in the sky grow and fade, blooming and folding away into nothing. Constellations losing teeth and limbs.
It’s been peaceful for us humans and the other races in the coalition since the slaughter. Seven centuries of peace.
My grandfather and his fellow soldiers cheered and drank smelly liquids that came from their ship. I was told we don’t have any of what they were drinking here on our planet.
The rest of us just watched the stars go out like a reverse fireworks show, feeling sadness instead of joy.
My grandfather and his friends are laughing and crying at the same time.