The war ended in April.

I was standing there on Wilke's Star when the war ended.  The grey sky covered all of us as we stood there watching the horror come to an end.  The representatives of five nations, the ones that were left after this catastrophe, were there to sign the peace accords.  None of the actual leaders could have been bothered to attend.  Clarke was too paranoid, Horrath had some internal problems, Guo claimed sickness, the Pyek gave no reason at all, and Arikel was coming nowhere near Modred... besides her nasty aversion to sunlight.

All the generals and admirals standing there wished they had been somewhere else.  No one wanted the war to continue, but no one was happy with how it ended.  All their little ships and armies had been crushed to the point where none of them could fight any more.  The war was over and there was nothing any of them could do about it.

I tried not to laugh.  This wasn't peace, this was a twenty-year truce.  The universe had come so close to the edge of chaos that one wondered how much more it would have taken to send all those worlds toppling off.

I could have told them.  I tried to warn them... but no one listens to a tired old man.  So I do the only thing I can; sit here, waiting for the next disaster to engulf the universe.  There's always something lurking just beyond the rim of what is known.

History truly repeats itself. I was there when the first civil war ended on the Napoleon.  Then, like now, a handful of people saved us from the brink.  This time, though, they hardly knew it.

Erich Von Shrakenberg, that rusty old spacedog, fought back the darkness with everything he had.  A mind filled with images of glory and honor to the Federation.  I really liked him.  He'll never know how much I enjoyed his company, how much... how much he reminded me of myself, before I lost my faith.  He never gave up, never stopped believing in the dream that was the Federation.   Quite touching... and quite sad.   He got what he wanted, a hero's death.   Rest, admiral, your duty is done.

Andrea Treschi... I suppose, in a way, he helped to save the universe as well.  Someone is always there to work behind the scenes, manipulating, scheming... I think he caused more damage than any other person alive in the war.  In a way, we should be grateful.  He managed to cram years of bloody conflict into a few short months.  Sometimes it is more merciful to cause great pain for a short moment, then to let it linger for eons to come.  It's like pulling off a bandage before the scabs have time to heal.  It hurts, but only for a little while.

Alistar Dimiye, lost in amnesiac dreams, hounded by warlike spirits, he finally escaped the madness.  Much like the good admiral, he fought and fought until he could fight no more.  Then he woke up and realized the dream he'd been living in.  I wish him luck on his new life.  I fear, though, that the memory of what he's done will linger, torturing him for the rest of eternity.  Brave men deserve better than this.

Xavier Polios... Mark Smith... I don't know if he ever knew what he wanted.  Blood and revenge filled his waking thoughts, a consuming fire that burned up all in his path.  When he finally quenched his thirst, the void in his soul filled up with the desire for power.  Through Kuar, that thirst finally consumed his spirit.  Now AI-Hazen runs around, a charlatan in someone else's body.  I suppose he'll have to be stopped someday, but may the universe forgive me, I don't know how.

Damien Richter, the soulless warrior trapped in a configuration of bioelectrical circuitry.  I think that it's good that he died as he did, under the claws of Clarke.  I don't think he would have wanted it any other way... if he wanted anything at all.  Of course, perhaps a clone of his is still out there, spawning a new race in our universe; a cyborg race that could be as deadly as the Bugs ever were.  Perhaps that is the next great tragedy to occur.  It would be ironic, would it not?  Humanity destroyed by its own creation... no, I think humanity deserves something better than that for a gravestone.

Zechariah McNeilly... well, what can one say?  He was fulfilling prophecy.  With Shannon trapped in the clutches of Vin Dane... I hope he got what he wanted, revenge.  The Resistance was smashed, his enemy's child captured... it probably wasn't enough, but at least, he's among his people now.

Hex, always searching for meaning, finally found it in the blur of non-existence.  I wish I could leave it all behind like he did, swirling around in the warm comfort of nothingness... but I can't.  He was designed to be the perfect soldier, and ended up being the perfect martyr.  I am neither.  Perhaps he will find the peace in that strange netherworld that escaped him in this life.

Xinjao O'Reilly, always avoiding responsibility, cocooned in his comfortable little world, was forced out of it by the war.  He was never the crusader or glory-seeking type.  He simply wanted to be left alone, by a world that couldn't leave him alone.  I fear that he will never recover from the fame he has inflicted upon himself.

And the rest?  Most have died; a few are worth mentioning.  For instance, Miro Creed; he's disappeared on us.  Perhaps he is still longing for his Priscilla, lost among his own people, who've trapped him in a cause not of his own choosing.  Who can say? 

Herbert Gergenstein is a survivor.  One should expect a traitor like him to show up sooner or later.  Then there's my old friend, Arthur Clarke, I suspect he should be most happy with where he is.  Absolute power over a decaying Federation—it's what he's always wanted.  I fear he may be the loneliest creature in the universe.

As for myself... I shall probably retire to some green planet on the rim, sipping back exotic drinks as I watch the universe come to an end; front seats on the giant celestial screen.  You might think me callous… and perhaps I am.  There is a natural order at work here, individuals, nations, universes... the size does not matter, all things are born, mature, and die.  The end is here, my fellow brothers and sisters, the universe simply doesn't realize it yet.

So ends our story, not in a blazing fire, but in the dying of the light.  Perhaps we should have raged more, but I fear the Author of All would not have permitted it.  Perhaps I shall meet Him someday, when my usefulness has expired in this universe.  Then I can tell him what I really think of this dark future he has given us.

Patience, my fellow travelers, the candle has not quite burnt out, and we have far to go before our journey is complete.


Sicut Transit Gloria Mundi,


Marshal Lwan Eddington, Tl (ret.)

April 7th, 2244





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Text Copyright (C) 2000 by Marcus Johnston. All Rights Reserved.