So this isn’t the final intro, and I’ve skipped a large portion leading up to this scene, but!
It gives a good look at the setting and the beginning of a plot that takes us to the end of the universe!
“This little light of mine… Oh boy, am I gonna let it Shine!”
[…A hole in my vision pierced through blinding flares of color and pattern, the abyss burning through like wildfire. This was not darkness, it was nothingness…
I was soon surrounded by it… ‘That’ place.
All in darkness, my senses again telling me I stood in a wide valley, strong winds blowing a few meters over my head. The sound of creaking, grinding, and an occasional long, slow scrape of metal on metal was seemingly carried by this wind. Above, three apparent stars in unending supernova, the light they cast filling the sky with a slight twilight, casting faint bands of red, yellow, and violet through the darkness above.
I’d been here before, having assumed it a dream and later hallucination, but how am I here? Why? My body must be lying limp on the floor by now, unless time has slowed even further… not that it matters. In a room full of thugs with a hole in my head, escape was beyond the realm of possibility… I was a dying man. I knew nothing else.
Soon the wind above stilled the lights in the sky faded, and all grew silent.
My sense of position was lost, I no longer had the sensation of having a body at all.
I had never been here for this long. In the back of my mind I wonder, “How am I still able to think?”
“I guess this is the end?”
How I wished there was something more, something other than nothingness; and how typical, had I just listened to Mom… Oh God… My family, my friends. Everything I was going to do in life… Marty… Maybe this is a dream after all?
A pinhole of light revealed itself far in the distance and immediately exploded to cover everything in blinding white light. Within moments this light faded, all again bathed in darkness. As a disembodied, thing, all there was left for me to do was observe until something else happened.
Within the darkness, points of light came into view, swiftly growing in number. Soon I was surrounded by lights unlike any starscape I had seen in my life. A warm glow came to fill the abyss, but just as quickly as they had come, those points of light would flash brightly before vanishing. I couldn’t help but imagine these as stars forming, dying, and being reborn. That would be something… Regardless of what was happening, I was still existing at least.
Over time these stars dispersed, many dying out while some grew brighter than all others, the warm glow dimming considerably. One particular star was closer than others, and the existence of a dust ring around it confirmed its existence as one.
“What is this? How is this happening?” filling the back of my mind as I watched the universe assemble itself.
As if time were a toy, it was being thrown before me. Planets forming before my eyes, barraged by impact, crusts cooling, volcanoes spewing insides outward. A thin atmosphere formed, steam condensing into water. Slowly the planet was flooded, shielded then by a thick blanket of ash, gas, and heat. One planet focused in view, and by the time the dust settled on its surface, plants and microbes were alive and well.
It wasn’t a moment before the planet was giving off light from its dark side, cities rising into the sky before being razed to the ground, bombs blasting, periods of peace, rinse and repeat. Getting a closer look, the surface was dominated by a war driven people, destroying and enslaving all others they came into contact with. The entire world was under their control so they fought amongst themselves with the advanced technology and tools they had focused on, those of war. Their home itself was a mess; blackened skies, craters the size of countries, the war raged on but the planet was already lost.
I have no reason to think this wasn’t the future for humanity.
That was not all to be seen though, as one people decided long ago to focus on other purposes. Motivated by understanding the universe they saw long ago the Conquerors successful domination over the planet, and the planet’s demise at their hands. They immediately focused on hiding at all costs. Without the numbers and against technology purpose built to eradicate, the only defense was for their existence to never be known. They dug deep, deep enough for the heat of the Earth’s core to stop them from going further.
It is there that they lived for centuries. Their power generated from the Earth, their life styles exemplifying self-sustainability. This highly educated people rarely had conflict, focusing together on the greater good of all. Without interruption or fear of danger, they were free to advance in technology at unyielding speeds. The ability to reassemble their bodies, to alter objects without physically touching them, they mastered any technology they could think to create, all within the slowly expanding confines of their subterranean hideout.
They watched the surface world with their superior technology, flying drones purpose built to be undetectable. They could see they would never have the numbers to fight the Conquerors, nor would the surface support life much longer. The Conquerors would either look for ways to leave for other planets or they would dig into the surface to avoid the ecological disasters to come. Either way, the Watchers had to keep themselves hidden while they looked for a way to escape the planet themselves without being followed.
The Conquerors began digging deep into the surface, starting on their final solution to survive and find a way to leave the planet. It wasn’t long before their scanners found the Watcher civilization. Genocide would be the end of the Watchers as their home was invaded, stripped of anything they found useful, and all life within was destroyed. To ensure there were no survivors, all external vents were stopped, a toxin was then introduced into the air. The Conquerors then continued to fortify themselves under ground in preparation for handling the end of the world.
It wasn’t long before this that the Watchers would see these events unfold, so they planned ahead. Knowing again that they couldn’t hope to fight, they had to hide, this time with nowhere to hide. Their technology had bridged the gap between mind and machine prior to the invasion. The ability had been gained to recreate a digital form of one’s own mind and have it persist within a digital environment, a copy of the person’s mind living on after the death of the original.
It was a hard realization for every member of the Watchers, that they themselves would be found and die, but their mental copies in every other way identical would survive them to finish carrying on their lives. When the Conquerors sacked their labs and supplies, they waited for them to leave, watching all living originals die. After a hibernation period, the digital minds mobilized. Using machines as new bodies, the digital minds were able to carry on much like before but without the need for food, water, air, or sleep. These new bodies also offered opportunities previous thought impossible.
The technology for digital life had been there for a long time, but the wall keeping the original organic from controlling the new mind personally kept it unused, no one wishing to hand over their lives to their digital selves.
They went back to work, looking for a new planet to call home and a way to leave their own. Bittersweet, their new bodies would make the trip magnitudes easier. Though primitive and relying on sight for most operations as other senses had not been built into the bodies, they could survive the cold vacuum of space with tremendous ease compared to their organic bodies.
With a ship built and a plan, they needed to dig to the surface in order to get their ship above ground. With the Conquerors mostly underground now with their new bank of stolen technology, seismic activity would be detected almost immediately. The Conquerors would destroy them before they left the surface and shoot down whatever debris made it further. Powered by external explosives, their ship design took this into account.
Having lived so close to the core for so long, the Watchers knew how to interact with it. With this knowledge they would leave the Conquerors a gift, turning the planet into a bomb. As part of the launching propellant, they rigged their home to explode along with the floor deep beneath. All minds accounted for and purpose build machine bodies on board they set off the charges and created the strongest volcano on the planet since its formation.
The pressure released from the magma chambers below propelled the ship upward through the crust as if it were intended as a barrel. The ship was sent skyward, the pressure so strong that magma never made contact as it spilled from the newly formed crater. Immediately, the Conquerors opened fire from miles away in all directions; lasers, bullets, missiles, flak. The ship bounced and spun as its boosters engaged, shooting it straight up with acceleration that would kill the Watchers’ organic bodies.
The Watchers disappeared as quickly as they had shown themselves. The Conquerors had space craft technology, primitive and unable to go beyond their home planet as the Watchers soared beyond the planet’s sphere of influence. While the Conquerors sounded alarms for the unknown dart screaming toward space, the artificial volcano erupted further, growing in size and violence. The planet from that point on was doomed, turning itself inside out and cooking the surface. The Conquerors would find a fitting end to their reign of power.
The Watchers now found themselves free of much more than the Conquerors. The exploration of space was nothing more than a dream generations ago, and now they not only escaped the planet, but also the limitations of their previous bodies. Open the doors to space exploration had swung, the first objective though being the rebuilding of an entire civilization. While safe within the ship, only a select few had physical bodies to use.
This new digital civilization was something they had come to expect, but would require generations to develop. Slowly, for a digital glitch could destroy everything, they explored the new options and capabilities available to them. Everything they had brought was all they had, having to repurpose metal and components from the ship itself, recycling the same parts time and time again into new configurations that made marginal improvements each time.
For centuries the Watchers focused on new discoveries, new technologies, and a plan to move into the future. Floating through space to conserve energy, they made use of the time it would take them to arrive in a neighboring planet’s gravity field. Having ejected from their home planet with such force, they had to complete orbit after orbit within the system in order to line up a landing trajectory on sister planet’s moon. Their deadline for impact was set.
After hundreds of years and a complete teardown and repurposing of their original ship to reach their destination with minimal damages, literally using a harpoon to anchor themselves to the surface, it was time to rebuild. The moon’s low gravity and rich metal contents made life relatively simple compared to where they had begun.
From there it was smooth sailing. Building a civilization with modern knowledge, along with uninhibited bodies, it took no time at all for their ability to traverse the cosmos to grow to interstellar ranges. Problems would arise only to be solved just as swiftly by a logic driven, digital people in unison.
A voice spoke, “This is what we understand of our origins…”
“We spread throughout the system and focused on developing technology for planet exploration and terraforming, the primary objective as always, not to be seen.
When we came across life forms, our talent for hiding would allow us to observe without interfering. When we came across threats, hiding kept us safe. In time we would grow and expand to encounter great threats beyond our system, overcome with well-placed effort.
We would reach a point where we began to resemble what you would call gods. Our technology allowing the building of incomprehensible constructs; godlike bodies to operate, invisible drones, orbital weaponry. Anything we could imagine was within reach. We had an effectively infinite supply of resources and energy.
There was one problem though, and it was one of the only problems we could not solve. By viewing neighboring universes, we learned much about our own, including its expiration date. At some point in time the universe was going to die. Everything would become so spread out and cold that the universe might as well just be empty. We theorize that at some point in the future, the universal temperature will hit the zero point temperature, and at this point physics will break down and the volume of the universe will swiftly come to zero where another will be born. We don’t know if we can stop either from happening, or how to survive ourselves in either scenario, so we looked for inspiration elsewhere.
Now spread across many galaxies over the course of a few billions of years, we visited planets with intelligent life and assisted them in becoming more intelligent. Trying to stay true to our observe without interfering we hid our existence as we were, and would build bodies like those of the life forms present and assist them as members of their society.
Once the planet was steered in an upward direction we’d take our leave for a while and let them develop. In time, we may visit a few more times to correct flaws, but at some point we must leave them be. Our presence becomes harder to hide the more developed a people become, to a point where we can do no more than observe and collect information until one of a few things happens.
The planet manages to get along until it reaches the ability to become space faring, where we’d introduce ourselves to a few that would venture outward, assisting them slowly over time.
The planet kills itself off, which happens more often than not. We sometimes intervene to spare the planet for future generation while at the same time culling and harvesting the intelligent lifeforms.
As well as exceptional circumstances such as catastrophic disaster, anomaly, or any other unforeseen events; we still spend a fair amount of time observing and interacting with native peoples, they just can’t ever know that we exist until harvesting time comes.
Harvesting sounds bad, but it’s the same process through which you came here. A scion, our multifunction drones, can scan three dimensional space and with this it scanned your brain, every synapse recorded mid fire. This data was then converted into a functional copy once it reached us here. While your brain died with your body, we caught your soul, held it safe, and here you are.
I’m sure you have so many questions. Don’t worry though, at some point in you time, you’ll know more about this place than I do now.
Now… While we do have some large problems to solve, there is much you need to learn before I can turn you loose. There is still much work to be done as well, exploring, terraforming, populating, you name it.
First, I must ask you. Will you join us?”
As if I was meant to say it, “Beats Dyin’!” I might as well had lost my mind anyway. I was glad as could be just to still exist, I could never have expected the future to come.]