Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Microstory 1492: Death of an Immortal

Life on Durus only got worse after the realization that no more paramounts were being born. People’s time powers started becoming less intense, and less reliable. By 2224, they were in the middle of their second orbital pattern in the 70 Ophiuchi system, and people were beginning to feel like they ought to be setting off for a new home. Perhaps another star system would be kinder to them, or maybe it was best to just not be orbiting a host star at all, and survive on what temporal manipulation abilities they still had left. Unfortunately, this was proving to be nearly, if not completely, impossible. Even collectively, the Durune were not strong enough to alter the planet’s pattern. It was one thing to stay as they were, but to try to move off in some other direction just wasn’t in the cards for them anymore. They tried to contact someone from the past to help, but their powers weren’t strong enough for that either. Something had to be done to drastically change everything about their lives, and they would vote for these contingencies during the 2225 round of elections. The experts writing up these proposals needed time to work on them anyway. Until then, a worldwide mandate went out, limiting people’s ability to manipulate time and space. Teleportation would be used only in emergencies, spatial locks were replaced with regular physical locks, speed school and other time bubbles were outright banned. All temporal energy had to be conserved, in order to have enough to maintain their world’s homeostasis. If they flew back off into interstellar space now, they wouldn’t be able to protect themselves against cosmic radiation, and the vacuum. For some, that didn’t matter anymore, because there was one essential time power that stopped working, even without the government dictating it. Based on one case, it would seem that they were no longer ageless.

Agelessness was a right that every citizen of Durus enjoyed, whether they were rich, poor, smart, or not so smart. It didn’t matter whether they contributed positively to society, or not. If they were alive, they deserved to stay alive forever. By whatever interference the Ophiuchi stars were giving off, people started aging again, and this all came to its inevitable conclusion when one of their older immortals passed away from age-related diseases. Of course, no time power was capable of eradicating a disease—congenital, or otherwise—but their youth made it a lot easier to treat just about anything without worrying about old age making them more susceptible. Now that that was gone, nothing was stopping the Durune from being wiped out. Almost literally everyone attended the first funeral in decades. The only people not there had to maintain everyone’s survival in some way. It was a frightening day more than a sad one. This wasn’t to say that no one cared about this individual, or that no one was in mourning, but it was becoming clear that everyone was doomed. If death was back on the table, their whole society could collapse. If they wanted to survive, physically as well as socially, they were going to have to change a lot more about themselves than they ever thought they would, and they would have to do it very soon. While the right people were working on a way out of this mess, others were making laws and policies to adapt to the ever-changing present, and to prepare for every eventuality conceivable. Through this, things continued to get worse, but the Durune continued to endure at pace. It was going to take a lot more than a little wrinkly skin to get them down. Unfortunately, fate did indeed have more in store for them, and their success was not assured.

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