Variation on a Theme

In a room, in a laboratory, in a fortress, in a realm out of time and space, three alien figures sit in a circle.  To an uneducated eye, quite an exotic trio:  anthropoids with vividly-colored hides and a mishmash of reptilian and oceanic features, clad in otherworldly armor so thin and flexible it looks like simple cloth.  Circled around a holographic map of planets, they seem as generals, drawing campaign lines.

If they ever had the chance to talk to a human, they would assure them that a more motley crew of their race would be hard to find.

Join the wargame, they said.  It’ll prove your worth, they said.  It’s for the good of the empire, they said.  Of course, they wouldn’t say that it was the final solution to the overpopulation problem.  They wouldn’t say that they were systematically weeding out any juveniles that didn’t meet the arbitrary genetic requirements to NOT be drafted into the games.  And of course they’d make sure that by the time any of them figured it out–provided they even survived that long–they’d be so many universes away there wouldn’t be a floppy thing they could do about it.  Which is not to say that the games were completely pointless.  Which is to say, their opponents could theoretically become strong enough one day to theoretically challenge the empire, provided they A, managed to find it and B, cared to challenge it at all.

Seeds.  Seeds packed into a machine by the billions, by the trillions, and scattered across an expanse of farmland so vast its edges cannot be seen.  The operator of the machine could care less about the fate of any three seeds, or any three million; a crop will be produced either way, strictly from the sheer volume of potential plants so scattered.  And this is just one operator in one field in an empire with thousands more operators and millions more fields.

Define “insignificant”:  Three helpless children dropped onto a hostile planet and instructed to “Climb as high as you can” just like endless legions of other helpless children, who eventually become living gods of the entire universe after an eternity of fighting only to discover that there’s an infinite number of other universes we have to become living gods of as well before we can stop fighting.

“Kraaaaaax, Jelk is becoming existential again.”

“Jelk, I swear to whatever gods are still stronger than us if you keep writing in that floppy journal of yours where we can see it I am going to damage you, harshly.”


{A variation on a theme.  Because you don’t know what it’s a variation of, it sounds interesting right now.  If you did know what it was a variation of, you’d go “Aaugh, another one of these again?”  It’s interesting how our perceptions of originality can change our opinions.}


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