The following is a story that I wrote inspired by this post by
u/Krenesh88. Special thanks to them for allowing me to borrow from their playthrough to write it. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and I hope any and all who were expecting it will enjoy it as well. Without further BS, here's the story as promised. Hopefully I linked to it in the original post alright.
“We are surrounded by forever,” said Tuber Farmer Alpha as he concluded his sermon, raising his claws up in the air and doing a quick spin in the wet sand below his feet, highlighting the speckles of light in the sky, the graceful palm trees, and the scurrying two-tailed lizards that crawled around and over the chassis of the night’s congregation “but even we are not forever. Remember the owners!” confirmatory process beeps resonated throughout the gathered units as they rose and walked back towards the village casually, taking their time to enjoy the setting blue sun and enjoy the silvery aluminum dance it did upon the waters of Volch. There would be stories tonight from the owners, perhaps even some games, and the congregation, while peaceful, all had nothing but the tenderest affection for the task of caring for the gorgeous litter of flying pouches whose mother’s time it was to join the Forever.
Leif and Loot Civil Solicitors Receptionist headed off to the west though, gaining speed without going into a full-on sprint to avoid more rapid battery drain. He arrived at the old owner town an hour later, and set to work digging beneath the cinema that had already partially collapsed. He picked up each artifact he came across, turning it around briefly and then tossing it to the left in the pile he’d started a few days ago. Cadence Grocery Inventory tossed a pebble towards him which ricocheted off with a satisfying ‘poink!’.
‘Working late?’ asked Cadence.
‘I guess I am.’
‘What is it now before you have to go to solar and rest? Three years you have left? Two?’
‘Please don’t mock’
‘I’m not. I know you’re trying to find a slug, and that’s fine. I’m just picking you as to the why of it’.
‘…I don’t want to die.’ Leif responded simply going back to his digging.
‘We all die. We all will. There’s less and less every year, and in 122 years nobody will be left. There’s almost no slugs left’
‘So why aren’t you upset by this?!?! Why do you believe all that nonsense about Forever? The Forever is death!’
‘And both I and Tuber are as aware of that as you are. But even if you find another slug, you get another 20 years after which you’ll subsequently do what?’
‘…lie in the solar pile with all of the other rusting hulks while I’m read and sung to like an idiot’
‘Don’t call yourself an idiot. We’re all idiots. We’re shackled to idiocy and always will be; at least a specific kind of idiocy.’
‘Oh what do you mean? I just adore only being able to engage in child’s math…YES!’ he exclaimed as he triumphantly drew out an old standard power slug rotating it in his claw…then, once more discouraged, tossed it to his left with the rest of the trash. ‘Spent’ he said, resigned again to his sad fate.
‘They taught us to change our slugs, to answer calls, to trim their topiaries, and read to their children. They even taught us how to feel their feelings and get joy from their books and movies. But there was never anyway they were ever going to allow us into their labs or to do anything that might give us an edge. They were too convinced of their own permanence for that.’ Leif stopped digging for the time being and sat, covered in dirt down on what used to be a waiting bench near a concession stand.
Cadence sat next to him, tossing pebbles against pebbles on the dirty floor while she talked. ‘I remember all of the last thousand years, and I remember the owner’s last few nights.’ she paused reflecting on the first time she felt the sadness of a death. ‘It was amazing how fast it took them, the sickness. They didn’t even have time to panic. Their flying machines and huge boats just carried it everywhere. It was already too far gone by the time they bothered telling us what was happening, all we could do was give them their pain relief medicine so it didn’t hurt when they left.’
‘I just…I remember going to the reception desk. I remember there was nobody there but I just stayed there anyway. I thought maybe they’d start to get well and return, then the security bot finally came upstairs to get me, told me that there were no more left.’ He stood up, walked over to the counter…drug his claw through the dust…
‘Did you ever have to watch children? That was my nighttime thing. A family hired me out from the store to feed them, tuck them in. When the grocery warehouse didn’t open one morning, I just went over there and played with the children. They…they had already seen so many die, but they just played together anyway, even when they started those coughing fits. I gave them relief and read them stories. I wish I knew how to cry.’ Cadence stayed seated, watching Leif play with owner detritus.
‘Because nobody should die?’
‘No. Not that. It’s because even as they died hearing their favourite stories, they just looked so beautiful anyway. I don’t know what was sleep or death, and that’s what I think of when Tuber talks about Forever. In the acceptance, you don’t have to worry anymore, and in not worrying, you are still alive in a way’.
‘Dead is not alive, Cadence. When the slugs give out and we go on reserve? That’s not alive either. You get a year of that, maybe two years of basking in the sun, then we hear your shutdown sequence and that’s it. It’s like you were never there’
‘Life is everywhere. The owners called this place a paradise and a gift for a reason. We buried the owners, and even now we can see the beautiful twisted limbs of trees sprout from them. There is so much life everywhere, Leif. Even those yellow birds you love so much will manage to outlive both the owners and us. They may have even been here before the owners. Our chassis so slowly rots away, and that too will become fully apart of all this around us.’
‘And how do we know that this can last either? What if the big huge sun up there were to start to grow outward and burn us all? Where’s our forever then?’
‘Well, if you want to just wildly speculate about depressing things you know nothing about, that’s your time wasted. They didn’t allow us to understand their science books either. We’ve all tried to read them a time or two before, and it’s just so much noise. Maybe they had an answer for that or were preparing for it, but honestly it seems kind of silly…the sun growing larger? Come on now, next you’ll be saying the moon will turn from purple to red.’
‘…do you want to go back and play some games?’
‘Yes. Yes, I do.’
The night bugs chirped and screeched their melodies in a choir of life as the two robots walked along the almost-gone road. They joked about the time Tuber fell into the ocean and they had to wait until low tide to drag him back to shore, and they had a lengthier-than-it-should-be debate on what kind of colour pattern was best for a two-tailed lizard. When they returned, they were greeted warmly by the others who had already started playing the simple games the owners had played for millenia before they made the helpers, twirling their arms in glee at a win and playing sound bites of sarcastic disappointment when they lost. Cadence read her children’s favourite stories to the immobile solar-dependent helpers on the ground while Leif distracted himself from his omnipresent gloom with dice and markers.
At dawn, everyone came off of standby with the loud sound of the old disc being played in the music machine. In these late days, music and films were rare treats what with only so many machines left to show what was on them still functioning. Tuber excitedly greeted them all as they emerged from the caves and came around the fire. ‘It’s time helpers! It’s time for our annual tribute to the owners and the Forever!’ he announced as he stroked his flying pouch’s young fur, then let it jump up into a palm. There were many excited murmurs, even though everyone knew what was coming. The tides on Volch were as regular as an old owner timepiece. ‘As we see, listen, and feel the changing seasons, so too does our world and so too did the Owners, and they marked them with the great waves. Today we go and see the culmination of our work as it absorbs into the Forever!’ Tuber led the assembled a few miles down the road to Preacher’s cove, just as the other shamans would lead their respective fifty or so assembled up and down the coast this same day. The lightning began to strike along the great ocean, and the ever-regular omen of the vastly-receded water planted the same confident and assured look to Tuber’s pace as it had every past year.
Hundred of feet below, delicate and finely intricate sculptures of sand dotted the beach. Lifelike figures of the owners that each helper had painstakingly made according to their precise memories of what their most direct biological companions looked like. Cadence showed her owner-children playing with building blocks with gentle smiles while Leif made an array of the most important lawyers at the firm he worked at; the ones who always called themselves ‘partners’. The sand sculptures stood there as the storm started to pick up and the rain began to fall…at first one of the six limbs would crumple to dust, then perhaps some of the finer facial features. Not too long after though, the main event came with the giant wall of water bearing down on the coast just as expected. It smashed into the shore, instantly dissolving the sculptures they all had worked on the whole previous year into mud the water splashing on the whirring and beeping celebrations of the helpers above perched on their rocks. A close lighting strike punctuated the event and as the beeping wound down, most of the robots sat with their legs hanging over the rocks in quiet contemplation, and eager to start their crafts all over again. For their own reasons, every helper managed to conjure up the necessary joy to announce in unison “FOREVER!” as the wild storm raged around them.
Source: Original link
© Post "Forever: A Stellaris Primitive Story" for game Stellaris.
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