Ascendant/Twilight of the Immortals

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The last light in the universe glowed dull red.

The being that had once been called Eric, Ascendant, Emperor, Traitor, Savior, and thousands upon thousands of other names, stood on an airless asteroid a half lightsecond outside of what he predicted would be the blast radius. It didn’t matter, really, he had stood within the hearts of suns before; no nova could or would threaten his life. However, he felt he owed it to the last star in the universe to watch it expire from the outside.

He had seen more than enough stars die to know that the last sun would expire now, and had contemplated building a repository to store the final star’s energy, but ultimately abandoned the idea. What good were a few more years of light to someone who had already existed for billions? So, he stood on one of the last illuminated rocks in the universe and waited for the inevitable.

The universe was dying, and this was its final death rattle. It, like so very many other things in his long, long, life, would die, and, unfortunately, it seemed he would not be dying with it.

The Others were in attendance, too. The Immortals, the Pantheon, the Fragment, the handful of gods lucky enough to survive the Faith Wars, even the Miscreated. He detected all of them within the sphere of his senses, but they held their distance, from him and each other. There were too many betrayals, too many alliances built, torn down, and built again, for there to be even a pretext of civility among them. Besides, this was The Last Star. After it was extinguished, everything would change, for one last time. So, they all stood, in the silence of the void, beings of unimaginable power, and waited for the end of everything they knew.

She didn’t appear so much as just suddenly was, as if she had always been there next to him. He had no idea how she did it; of all the mysteries he had solved over the eons, he had considered hers off limits, preferring to be mystified rather than informed. The important thing was that she was here with him. It was vitally significant somehow, but he had long since forgotten why. She was, he knew, making good on a promise neither one of them remembered.

The last star exploded on schedule. It was nothing short of spectacular, if for no other reason that there would never be another star to follow it. The ignited hydrogen strands thundered throughout the long dead system, and the last flames of the last star burned for weeks.

They stood in silence and watched it all. They had nothing better to do, after all.

When the final light was extinguished, she upheld her vow; one so old that it had long outlasted the world upon which she had made it. In that last and final darkness, she found his hand and held it, as she had promised millennia ago. In the darkness she smiled, and gave a squeeze. He squeezed back. For those last fading moments of light in the universe that had once belonged to humankind, she studied his face, the last thing she was likely to see. There was the hint of a smile there, and a face as familiar as his could hide no secrets from her.

He has a plan, she realized as the last light faded.

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