“Alpha…Klingelt…high prio..the…echtarch…taken over Zana…” a frantic, static-riddled voice message echoed about the silent, anxious halls of Starship Bernkastel. The 21st Lambdadelta battalion huddled around a radio-like contraption– that could only be described as a quantum transmitter– with bated breath, awaiting the inevitable conclusion of the brute-forced retaliation by the enemy.
“C295-A, come in. There appears to be significant interference on Starship Klingelt’s side. What’s the status out there?” asked a stone-faced Colonel.
“Colonel, the Wrechtarch Empire has captured Zanarkand. ” uttered an audibly dejected general through the transmitter, “It seems they are likely to advance towards our territory shortly.”
“My sources tell me that the Wrechtarch army has allied with the Nerevarine factions of Altair XIV. Their forces now outnumber us five-to-one.” said another general aboard the battle-tested starship. “What’s our next move, Captain?”
The dull murmur around the hall dissipated. Time itself stood still in anticipation. Amidst the scores of veterans and decorated officers that populated the starboard, a lanky figure emerged from his seat. His steely gaze disclosed none of the infinite calculations playing on inside his brain. After what seemed like an eternity, the figure revealed his ultimate conclusion:
“It is time … to fight.”
Thus spake the Legendary Captain Kylian von Zahard III, the Commander of the Anarchist Rebellion Forces and the–
“KYLE!? Are you listening? What have I told you to do just now?”
Kyle, having been dragged from his Galactic conquests back to his day job at Infotech Solutions on planet Earth, grunted, “Uhh…the…um..expense reports?”
“I need them on my desk by 3, got it?” exclaimed a particularly peeved superior. “Your unenthusiastic attitude will get you into trouble if you don’t wisen up.”
“Absofruitly, Chris,” said Kyle in a strikingly lackadaisical fashion while munching on a freshly peeled banana.
“And yeah,” said Chris. “The new business cards are over at the reception. You should get yours.”
“It seems it was inscribed into the scrolls of providence that we meet, ” bellowed an ostentatiously dressed individual who had no business visiting a seemingly nondescript prison cell on a wayward planet– that is, until it housed the most dangerous rebel in the universe, “I must commend you for your strategic adroitness during our little contest, despite having been thoroughly outmanned.”
Kylian stared at the tall, imperious figure and whispered, “This is far from over, Wrechtarch.”
“Indeed!” exclaimed Maximillien Wrechtarch, the Paramount Emperor of the Wrechtarch Empire and the most powerful entity in the universe, “It is true that I will not stop until I have destroyed the Anarchist rebels. But you can help stop this onslaught. Join me, Captain Kylian, for should the two of us join forces, we shalt unite the universe under the might of the Empire!”
“Hold on, that bit sounds rather … derivative. Also, why am I the Emperor in this scenario?”
It was a silent night, if not for the ambient chirping of crickets and the occasional hoot of an owl somewhere. Two friends sat under the dark sky, illuminated only by an endless canopy of stars.
“Hey, it wasn’t that bad!” piped Kyle, sipping on a glass of Yerba mate, “Although, I do concede that I’ve been watching a fair bit of Star Wars lately. On the other hand, I’ve been watching tons of Monty Python– so I’m certain you wouldn’t complain if that somehow trickled into my stories!”
“It’s alright, I suppose.” said Max, “Anyway, the sky looks absolutely gorgeous today. How many stars d’you reckon exist in our universe?”
“One billion trillion”, said Kyle, gazing at the starlit sky, “Astronomers state that there are over one billion trillion stars in the Universe. Think about all those unseen planets, undiscovered alien species, unexplored societies, untold stories– stories of war, peace, love, politics, or aspects to life that we cannot even begin to comprehend– lost in the annals of time.”
“And here we are”, he continued, “Stuck on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe– as Carl Sagan put it. It’s quite sad.”
Max paused in contemplation.
“In the 1800s, there was a young bloke somewhere in Nantes, who wanted to travel the world.” said Max, “He ran away from his home and tried to hitch a ride aboard a ship bound for the Indies. Right as he arrived at the coast of Nantes awaiting the ship, his father showed up and dragged him back home. The young bloke then proclaimed that he would never travel but in his dreams.”
“He went on to write a bunch of books about daring adventures, faraway voyages and exotic locations that quite a few people liked.” he continued, “You must’ve heard of him.”
“Only, the guy happened to be one of the most read people in history, having absolutely redefined the genre of science fiction.” snickered Kyle, “Good ol’ Jules Verne. Sure, I’ve heard of him.”
“That story is probably apocryphal,” added Max, “but the point is that there are more ways to travel to distant lands, than, you know, travel–if you catch my drift.”
“You know”, said Kyle, “This reminds me of the times we used to write those space-themed stories as children. We could never seem to complete any of them, and they almost always turned out to be terrible.”
“But that was the most fun I’ve ever had!”, said Max, who couldn’t stop a wistful smile from curving his lips, “The Adventures of Kylian and Maximillien across the Observable Universe!”
“Travelling at the speed of light, fighting intergalactic crime, through space and through time!” sang Kyle cheerfully.
The two chattered on for hours, reminiscing about their shared past– treasures that they would cherish for the rest of their lives.
“Oh bother!”, said Max, glancing at his watch, “It appears that my bed beckons me.”
“Before I forget”, said Kyle. rummaging through his pockets, “Here’s my new business card. Don’t forget to call if you happen to encounter a certain empire from outer space.”
“You’re still working at that horrid place? You clearly hate working there,” asked Max as he put on his coat.
“A man’s gotta eat, you know.”, smiled Kyle. “Anyway, wanna stop by to watch Arsenal demolish Tottenham tomorrow?”
“Always ready for an Auba hattrick!” replied Max.
“And why should any of us consider you to lord over us?” asked Kylian spitefully.
“Is it not obvious?” replied Wrechtarch with a hint of pride, ”I was born under the fourteenth star of the divine constellation of Lanesra. It is, therefore, not a surprise that as I exhibited my militaristic finesse during the twenty-one-year war, I was bestowed upon the legendary battleship Bobby by the council of–”
“Listen up, bucko,” said Kylian, “Strange councils distributing battleships is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some … farcical intergalactic ceremony–”
Kyle’s train of thought was rudely interrupted by the Legend of the Galactic Heroes theme song that he had been using as his ringtone since he was a child.
“Sir, Is this Mr. Kyle Smith?”
“Are you acquainted with Mr. Maxwell Jones?”
“Why yes, I’m his friend. Who might you be?”
“Mr. Smith, I’m speaking from St. Thomas Hospital. We happened to find your business card–” “What’s going on?”
“I’m sorry to report that Mr. Jones was killed in a car accident over at 85th Avenue. Could you provide us with the contact details–”
A week or so had passed since that day– Nay, time had ceased to make sense to him.
Kyle arrived at his day job, not having completely gotten over the shock of his friend’s demise. “Hey, I heard about Max”, said Chris, “Devastating stuff. Are you okay, Kyle?”
“I’m alright, thanks”, muttered Kyle, “Actually, I’m here for something else. Could we speak about it in your office?”
“What do you mean you quit!?” exclaimed Chris. “Think about it for a minute before doing something you’ll regret tomorrow. Why would you want to quit?”
“I’ve come to realise,” Kyle paused, seemingly in an attempt to search for the words that best explain his decision. “That there are more important things that I must do in life than working nine hours at a job that I don’t particularly enjoy for the rest of my life. Consider it a shift in priorities, I suppose.”
“That’s still a life of hardship. Are you ready to give up on a steady paycheck and a decent job?” “I suffer no illusions that this will be easy, Chris. But I’ve made my mind up.”
“I see,” sighed Chris. “So, what are your plans for the future?”
Kyle smiled and replied, “I’m gonna write a bunch of books.”
As we attempt to navigate our way through the tempestuous forces of conformity that we face every day, it is perhaps worthwhile to rekindle those long-forgotten embers of that which excites you, enthralls you–
And of that which makes you, you.
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