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Acheron I

Everything is a question of survival.

How do I live?

How do I satiate my hunger, my thirst? How do I protect myself from predators? How do I shelter from the storm? For a long, long time, our people asked only this. We fought to separate life from death by as great a span as we could. Even when we had made our homeworld a garden of peace and plenty, the question of survival never ended, only changed. How do my genes, my works, even the memories of me, live on? The same question as always.

How do I live?

We solved the problems of deprivation, disease, age, memory loss, death. We weren't the only ones to find these answers, of course. Others followed in our footsteps or blazed their own paths. If that was really the answer to the question, we wouldn't be here now, and neither would you.

You're still trying to solve the problem, after all. You fight and build and live and die, and always you struggle against your opposition. The predator, the parasite, the illness, the chance storm, the slow collective forgetting of your art and history, the death of a star, the heat death of the universe. You must live longer, be stronger, think quicker, and still there is something waiting to take everything from you, always. Always.

So you have to keep getting better, and better, until you are perfect. Until you are, and cannot be anything else, because there never was anything else. Until you, inevitably, are the final shape.

We didn't come to destroy you. Those poor, short-lived sisters—we did try to explain, you know, but they never grew past thinking of finality as a game where only one could live. A misunderstanding, as useful as it was foolish. We see the universe more broadly. The final shape is more than a single life, a single thought. It is all-encompassing, all-embracing. It is everything. You are part of everything, are you not? So now we have come to ask you for your answer, the only answer to the only question.

How will you live?

Category: Book: The Rubicon

Acheron II