The Ancients – Story #1

The Ancients.
1.

The light went on in the center chamber to signal the Ancients to reconvine. Each of the eight transported from whatever it was they had previously been doing in a cloud of replication nanos to reappear at the table.

The table itself was a deep cherry red with a million imperfections caused by the beings that had been using it as their meeting place for the last millenia. Deep gouging scratches were in front of almost every seat from one of them getting heated over a decision. An entire area was blackened with its sheen dulled from an incident where one of the Ancients had been implanted with an explosive device by The Problem.

The center was a manipulatable holographic map that each one of the Ancients could control as they needed. The entirety of man’s knowledge was stored miles below in hidden concreted bunkers and with a thought, an Ancient could produce pictures, maps, and recorded moments to appear in front of them.

After the last Ancient appeared, the Speaker stood. Each knew why they were there. It was the only reason they were ever summoned anymore. The Problem.

“I state that it has been a week since we spoke last.” the Speaker said in the cold aloof manner that was its way. “Ideas?”

A few hundred years ago, this would have started a loud and raucous discussion about the hundreds of ways they felt they could fix the Problem. Each of the Ancients had their sphere of influence so each got their turn to try their hand at removing the Problem from their way. Now though, after hundreds of failed attempts, thousands of hours wasted, they were all a bit grumpy.

After a prolonged silence that had been growing more uncomfortable with each passing moment, the Thinker spoke up, “I propose that we have all given up, Speaker.”

The Fighter snorted, “I defy that idea, Thinker. If only we..”

The Builder cut them off, “You will make some suggestion that all we need are more swords or weapons. How many of yours have been lost, Fighter? Perhaps more than any of ours. Can’t you see that the Problem is not swayed by combat?”

The Fighter didn’t retort.

The Liar spoke next, “We could decieve him?”

The Burner added, “Scald him.”

The Runner chimed in, “Chase him.”

The Destroyer next, “We could cut the shit…”

Silence overtook the table swiftly. The Speaker, his place to call things to order, spoke carefully, “I speak carefully, Destroyer. You have…”

The Destroyer interrupted the Speaker, “Broken this bullshit tradition. This is stupid and you’re stupid. Our naming convention is stupid. Our annoying use of verbs is stupid. Do you know how sick I am of saying shit like ‘I break’ and ‘You have voided’ .. we’re the most powerful creatures in the universe and we’ve hobbled ourselves by an idiotic naming convention.”

The discomfort in the chamber was palpable. “I ponder if..” the Thinker tried.

“NOPE!” said the Destroyer.

“This idea does ignite…” the Burner tried.

“NUH UH… NO.” said the Destroyer.

There was a tone of frustration in the Speaker’s voice as he tried yet again, “Destroyer, I ask tha–”

“WRONG!” the Destroyer yelled over them. “The next one of you that uses a synonym of their name as the action verb of your first sentence is getting decked.”

Nobody spoke. Each felt that if they did, they would be cut off by the Destroyer. None of the Ancients liked that at all. For the last thousand years they had all worked in concert to try and stop the Problem, yet here they were fighting amongst themselves… the Thinker raised a hand.

Destroyer rolled his eyes, “Thinker… don’t make me ruin you.”

The Thinker, not wanting to be punched, tilted his head to implore the Destroyer let him talk.

The Destroyer rolled his eyes, “Fine, but end it quick.”

The Thinker smiled, “I believe, Destroyer, that you are mistaken.”

The Destroyer snorted, ‘WHAT?!’ I WILL CRUSH YO–”

It was the Thinker that interrupted this time. “I know, and it is because you are the Destroyer. You will Crush. Ruin. End. Break. You may have the gift of some colorful choices of words, but you are beholden to the same limits that we all are..”

The only thing the Ancients could hear was the frustrated Destroyer thinking and rolling over the conversation in his head. “But I can dismantle that id…. no, dismantle fits… Quell? No…. Waste?! NO…. WRECK CRUSH TRASH EXTIRPATE KIBOSH… DAMMIT!” By the end of that, the Destroyer was breathing hard like the whole thing took extreme amounts of energy out of him.

The Speaker cleared their throat, signaling a change of topic, “I say thank you to Thinker for that… now. Any ideas concerning the Problem?”

The rest of the afternoon was taken up by an idea from the Builder to construct a cave so complex that the Problem would get lost in it for aeons. The Destroyer didn’t speak up throughout.


(image source: modified Gregorians)

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