I’ve been expecting you. You’re going to ask me if I’ve heard what the Fleet of Ages found on their return trip. I have. Wasn’t surprised when I heard it, either.
I never could wait. That was my problem. That was a failing we all shared.
I used to think that, more than any man, I understood the consequences of what those ships were supposed to bring back. When they launched I remember writing how I had a sense of apprehension; fear, but also pride. “Much the same way a lifelong gem miner must feel as he watches his sons go down that selfsame shaft.” Those were my words.
So I suppose I had no comprehension at all.
When I started mining the future, did I ever expect this? What could I have expected, if not this? You cannot take from the future and be ignorant of the past. We learned that now, too late. And we will pay the price of that lesson soon enough.
The Fleet of Ages, the Ships of Tomorrowall those other wondrous names your colleagues gave them. Not even when I brought back the technology that would allow such a colossal expedition into the future, did I imagine this. It’s just there were no signs. Not until it was too late.
Taking from the future seemed to be the one thing that defied the law of diminishing returns. Indeed, it seemed to flaunt it. Each time I traveled and looted, things would be different, though my destination time never changed. The future would always be brighter, more wondrous, filled more technological marvels for me to take back. We were able to progress without the work of it. After each trip, the present started further ahead.
Naturally, the Fleet of Ages was developed. It was the equivalent of strip-mining the future; we knew that. But we were certain that the advances we brought back would make the future more fertile. It always had before.
And such wonders the Fleet brought back! Such treasure! Such amazing advances! We were so proud of them, weren’t we? So proud. We were going to be gods before our time.
I never could wait. As soon as the Fleet came back, I had take another trip. I had to see, as soon as possible, what kind of fruit our actions had produced.
So I knew before everyone else the barren horror that is now the future.
We will not learn the lessons necessary for the proper use of what those ships have brought back. And we will misuse them. We are children playing with grenades; our destruction is inevitable
So concerned were we with what the future could give us, we lost sight of what we had to do in the present, to prepare. Because we couldn’t wait.
And now our time is past.
A professor of mine once said that creativity was the last resort of losers.
That it was an evolutionary quirk, of no more merit than a giraffe’s elongated neck or a platypus’s duckbill. That from an evolutionary standpoint, creativity was not worth mentioning, and worth even less compared to something like flight.
Speaking of which, here. Take this. Remember to breathe deep.
You’ve imagined what it would be like, right? Sure, we all have. What it would feel like to be up there. Unencumbered by some claustrophobic airplane. To be actually flying.
Yeah, no, man. That’s perfectly normal. Just breathe deep. It’ll pass.
But, yeah. We’ve all thought that. Like we belong up there. Like the fall from the Garden of Eden is more literal than we ever thought. That flight is really just an evolutionary step away.
You’re feeling it now, aren’t you? Move your arms. Isn’t that amazing?
What my professor never understood is that evolution is slow and random. That its approval is not something we should strive for.
Not when creativity can grab evolution by the balls.
Your system should have adjusted by now. Welcome to a whole new point of view.
Ready for lift-off?
“I don’t understand you Earthans at all,” Jaeg said, inflating a third bladder in order to rise up to the spaceship window. Earth was still in view, though it was slowly shrinking amongst the black. “You have one of the most gorgeous planets in the galaxy, yet you all are constantly wandering away from it.”
Lucky allowed himself a chuckle and stepped closer to the bundle of flesh and tentacles that was his co-pilot. He placed what he hoped was a comforting hand on Jaeg and watched her soft flesh change color at his touch. “We often don’t understand ourselves. You’re one to talk. I hear the Ithilpods are notoriously agoraphobic. Hardly the stock I would expect the best co-pilot in the sky would spawn from.”
The viscous outer skin on Jaeg’s face took on a purplish hue, which was the closest she ever came to a blush. “What can I say? I’m exceptional.” A balloon of skin billowed out from a crevice in her side, and she was looking Lucky directly in the face. “You, however, are not answering my question.”
Lucky could see himself mirrored in Jaeg’s multiple eyes. Each one was about the size of his head, and the collection dwarfed the body behind them. “You don’t get a lot of light from your sun, do you, Jaeg?”
“No. And you’re stalling.”
Lucky watched several copies of himself look incredulous. “I am not. There’s a point here. See, our sun’s only medium-sized, but we’re close to it. It provides us with a lot of light, so much so that we’re lit longer than we aren’t.” Jaeg cricked her neck; Lucky was used to reading that as a nod. She wasn’t so fond of the tinted suit she wore on Earth’s surface that she forgot why she put it on. The ship was no longer lit with light in the UV spectrum so that she wouldn’t have to wear it while on board, either. “So, darkness, darkness is unusual. And most of us, well, we feel the need to go into darkness, to find out what’s in there. Space is the largest patch of darkness we’ve ever seen. So naturally, we have to go see what’s out there.”
“Even if you don’t know what could be out there?”
“Especially if we don’t know what’s out there.” Lucky shrugged, and wondered if his movements translated as easily as hers. “That may not make much sense…”
“No, it does. I understand completely, Lucky,” Jaeg turned away from the rear window and floated toward the cockpit. “I’m a romantic myself.”