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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Emperor's Escape: A Science Fiction Story

The Emperor's Escape
If you let me share your meal, I'll tell you the grandest tale you ever heard,” said the old man.

Joe Delgado had just cooked a nice meal inside his little blue recreational vehicle, about the size of a small truck. To take in some of the fresh New Mexico air, Joe had placed a chair and table outside the vehicle, and had put his meal on the table. Then some stranger had approached him, asking to share his meal. Joe was annoyed by the old man, and was in no particular mood to do the stranger a favor.

“Leave me alone, you old beggar,” said Joe.

“I may be a beggar, but I can tell you a tale better than any you've ever heard,” said the old man. “If you let me share your meal, I'll tell it to you.”

“OK, you can eat with me,” said Joe. “But this tale had better be pretty damn good.”

“Once upon a time far, far away there was a green planet named Coradon with three oceans,” said the old man, who bit into one of Joe's sandwiches. “On that planet there was intelligent life, and a great society that had been many thousands of years in the making. The planet once had many countries, but they combined into a single great empire that ruled over the entire planet. And one year a young person named Vorus ascended the throne as the leader of this empire.”

“Now the coronation of Vorus was the greatest event this planet had seen,” said the old man, enjoying more of the meal. “They built a walkway of 1000 meters, and they covered every inch of it with flower petals. On both sides of the walkway stood the ten thousand most important persons of the planet. Vorus walked down the walkway, hailed by all who saw him. When he reached its end he ascended 300 marble stairs until he reached his throne of solid gold, and sat on it the first time. Vorus was hailed as the Mightiest of the Mighty, the Seer of all Seers, and the Master of Destiny. He was given a genetic enhancement which doubled his lifespan.”

“The first mighty work of Vorus was to physically unite the continents of his planet,” said the old man. “So he ordered the construction of 3 great undersea railways, so that trains could travel under the oceans. Then he ordered the construction of a new floating city in the middle of one of the oceans. The world gasped at these marvels when they were completed.”

“So this guy really got things done,” chuckled Joe.

“But Vorus did not confine himself to his own planet,” said the old man, who ate some more food. “He turned his attention to the other planets in his solar system. His planet was the third planet in his solar system, but he knew the fourth planet also contained life. So Vorus ordered the construction of exploration spaceships and colonization ships. They traveled to the fourth planet, and colonized it. After several decades, Vorus was then the master of two planets.”

“The statues of Vorus were placed in every town and city of his planet,” said the old man, as he helped himself to a piece of pie. “Vorus launched plan after plan, scheme after scheme to remake his own planet. His planet was threatened by eighty huge volcanoes. Vorus commanded an army of scientists to tame the volcanoes, and to turn them into a geothermal power source that would benefit the whole planet.”

“And then Vorus looked further into the sky, and his attention turned to the second planet in his solar system,” said the old man. “His scientists had told him that no one could ever live on that planet, but Vorus said: my will shall be done! He commanded the scientists to come up with a scheme to terraform the second planet, to gradually change it so that people could live on it. Slowly the plan was executed at enormous cost. After a few decades, the second planet was colonized. Now Vorus was the absolute master of three planets.”

“So everything went his way?” said Joe.

“Vorus had the greatest luck for ninety long years,” said the old man. “He ruled as the greatest ruler his race had ever seen, as the great Lord of Three Planets. But one day the scientists came to Vorus with some very bad news. They told him the sun of his solar system was not as stable as they had thought. Vorus was told that within ten years his sun would flare up in a nova, and everyone on his planet would be killed by the radiation from the sun.”

“Ah, quite a reversal of fortune,” said Joe.

“Vorus then thought of a plan to save himself,” said the old man. “He commanded his scientists to put all of their efforts into creating an interstellar spaceship, one that could travel from his star to the nearest star. Vorus hoped that he could flee his solar system before his sun destroyed all life in it.”

“The scientists told Vorus that in the short time that remained, they could only build a small spaceship capable of taking a single person to the nearest star,” said the old man. “Vorus said that was fine. He would be the single person who would survive the fiery wreck of his solar system. The space ship was finished just in time, and Vorus boarded it. He stood in the spaceship and watched as his sun flared up, killing everyone in his solar system except for him. The ship took him out of his solar system just in time.”

“So, beggar, this guy Vorus was the last surviving member of his race?” asked Joe.

“Exactly,” said the old man. “For twenty years Vorus stayed in the slow-moving ship, as it took him to the nearest star. Then finally he reached a planet revolving around that star. He used a landing capsule on his space ship to land on the alien planet. He was happy to see that the planet did indeed have life. But after landing on the planet and doing some tests, the hopes of Vorus were crushed.”

“Why was that?” asked Joe.

“Vorus did biochemical tests which showed that the chemistry of life on the planet was totally different from his own,” said the old man. “Vorus realized that even though there was plenty of food on the planet, as soon as he ate any of it he would die.”

“So what did he do?” asked Joe.

“Vorus held out as long as he could,” said the old man. “But then he got so hungry that he gave up resisting, and decided to have one last meal, even though he knew it would kill him. So he found a man with a blue vehicle, who was about to eat a meal. Vorus told the man that if he could share the man's meal, he would tell the man the grandest story he had ever heard.”

Joe recognized the reference to himself. “You, beggar?” said Joe. “You are the emperor Vorus?”

“Exactly,” said the old man. “I am the last survivor of my race, and in a few minutes my race will be extinct.” Then he started to cough up blood. A few minutes later he died.

Joe was worried that someone would think he had killed the old man, so he decided to dump the old man's body where no one would see it, at least for a while. He took the body into his recreational vehicle, and drove a short way. Upon finding a suitable place to dump the body, Joe threw it out of his vehicle, and drove away.

And so ended the life of Vorus the Great (the Lord of Three Planets, the Mightiest of the Mighty, the Master of Destiny) : his body was dumped into a Santa Fe sewer ditch.