16 August 2016

We lived forever, and would live forever.
So we had concluded.

We didn’t know, of course, because none can predict the future. But we had attempted everything, and still, we lived. We had watched, in the meantime, people come and go, countries come and go, peoples come and go. Some of us helped, to make them come, or to make them go. We clashed, albeit rarely one against another; such conflicts rarely went how we wished. It would not be accurate to say we warred: we made war, but we didn’t hurt ourselves. Rather, those we lead and guided were hurt, and made hurt, and did hurt.

It took us a century to meet again, all together. And we stayed together for almost a decade, casting off from the world, metaphorically. We made peace.

The world outside raged on.

In all reunions going forward, we regretted, all of us, for that first moment of selfishness. It had taken us a century to make peace among ourselves, at little cost to us, given we would live forever, and at excruciating cost to everyone else, given that they didn’t. It took us, to our eternal shame, one other century to not only repair the damage we had sown, but to help all of them, all mortal people, to make peace. Now, they lived longer.

We split in four: some worked on prosperity, to make the world the best we could, not for us, but for them; some worked on space, to explore and move there, to make inhabitable, to help prosperity; some worked on knowledge, and foremost, on understanding why we lived, to perhaps reverse it, or to perhaps share it; some worked on the past, to find why and whom made us live forever, to study their history, to help them remember it, such that both us and them would endeavour not to repeat it, or at least not the bad parts.

As of this day, three score centuries on, before I leave for the stars, uncertain to come back, we have not finished our work. Humanity has almost forgotten us, all according to plan. They live, they think, forever — we know otherwise, but still, we hope. Soon I embark. You who reads this, tell me:

how is Earth?

— Found in the Sechura Desert, Earth, in the hand of The Owlman, 9387 CE.

P.S. Shortly after leaving, I made a discovery that let me finish my part of our research: The Understanding. I came back here to leave you copies of my notes and conclusions. Go find Jiang Maze, last I heard they were living in the Phæthontis quadrangle on Mars. They are in charge of the relevant part of The Past, and will find these notes interesting, as well as provide you, most probably, with a cup of the finest tea in the Sol system, as dusk falls.

— Found in a decaying ATHENA ΑΘΕ telescope, in L2 orbit, Earth, 9411 CE.

I hope you’ve found the previous stashes useful, although there was something missing, an unexplored thread in my research that will prove critical both in the understanding and application of, at least, the last five stashes, and, perhaps, a few more. While waiting on this rock, I have also branched off into improvements which affect me directly, and will field test them soon. If you’re interested in a potential 3% efficiency increase in FTL Type C drives — and let’s be honest, who isn’t? — come find my next stop. If you can.

Nyctimene is bringing me away from the hubbub of the main elliptic plane of the Sol system, perfect for a quiet and discreet jump. How was Maze’s tea?

— Found on 2150 Nyctimene, Sol system, 9436 CE.

I thought I would spend an entire orbit here, on Dagon. I only lasted 400 years before fancy made me take flight again. I have to say, as impressive as it was to approach the Eye of Sauron, only to settle within its edge, it was nothing compared to centuries of perpetual meteor showers. As usual, you’ll find my notes and research here. There’s a lot; take your time. I endeavoured to keep linguistic drift low, but I cannot control for how the common tongue will have evolved while I was alone here, so I wish you luck, dear reader.

I have left a clock zeroed at my time of departure, for your information. It should be precise for two millennia, beyond that, well. You’d be lagging anyway.

— Found in a shielded structure on Dagon, Fomalhaut system, 9520 CE.

As mentioned in my last few notes, being around people once again has quite well increased research avenues. Not only that, but I went and got up to date with the current state of everything, and I even sent a few messages to my colleagues of old, which prompted an impromptu reunion with those that happened to be nearby. As a result, this stash is special! Sure, you’ll find the usual, but there’s also a record of said reunion, and notes on those I met, along with historical observations, recollections, and even archives dating back all the way to my first millennium. I do not have the hubris to write conclusions and analyses of that data, that and my colleagues might just take offence, but perhaps you or yours will want a stab at the matter.

At my great surprise, although in hindsight it was inevitable, I found I liked interacting with people, especially those younger than me (there’s a lot more, and they’re not all people who have tried to kill me at some point; it was a long time ago, and we’ve all moved past it — so we say). A bright new world this is, after being alone so long. So, at my great surprise I started getting attached to a few. As I write this, I know I’m leaving; they know I’m leaving. And yet I also know I might come back, as my missing them will gnaw at me.

My destination is Antares, perhaps detouring via Betelgeuse, there’s a very interesting research group drawing parallels between native species of the two systems, hinting at another species being capable of space travel — now that would be the greatest discovery, the crowning of a career, wouldn’t it?

When you stop by, do make contact with my local fellow ancients, they’re intrigued; and your news from Maze are the freshest they’ll get. Bring them some tea, too, you know the one. Does it still have the scent of the moon?

— Found in a beach mansion on Aldébaran-4, Aldebaran system, 9566 CE.

This is the last note there is. As of writing this, I have finished my era of research and study and travels. Well, maybe not travels. I have made friends here, and on Aldébaran-4, and around Betelgeuse, and elsewhere. I’ll have to keep traveling, if only to visit them all. But my pursuit of knowledge and understanding is well and truly over. I have, long ago, finished my portion of the work assigned to me, and more. You’ll find next to this the last details and conclusions regarding that and all other threads I was exploring.

I find myself wondering if I’ll go back to Sol; probably not soon, but it’s a possibility. One I would have never imagined when I started on this trip, this exile, if you would. I have lived a very long while, and I have regretted a great many events; it is only recently that I have been able to finally face them, to forgive myself in a way; it is only recently that I have opened up about them to another.

Perhaps, had I continued on my lonesome, you would eventually have heard these grievances against myself… but these notes feel much too impersonal now. I cannot help but feel incoming loss at stopping there, yet it is smaller than the relief, and smaller still than the joy at being able to dedicate more of my life to my friends, my precious people.

You should know what I look like, nowadays. I’ve included a picture, probably not the first you’ve seen, though, as I’m sure you’ll have talked with my fellows on previous stops. But if you see smaller versions of me around, don’t blink — say hi. I’ve at last managed to acquire some decent tea.

You will not find any further note. Don’t try. Leave this to be my final one. I have been following your progress, lately, as your search coincided with my travels. This last stash should satisfy you for a little while, Otto, and then it’s your turn. A millennium of research and travel, two centuries of chase. Go forth and make it all your own, from now on. And thank you.

— Found in the Rehua, a citadel-station orbiting Antares, 9570 CE.