Dare to Ascend
Please note that this fanfic is based onThe-Void-Betweenby Dylonishere123. Go check it out if you haven't!
Two young men sat atop an alien building, looking up at the black expanse of the sky, and the stars that filled it. Strange buildings littered the horizon, silhouetted by the ever-densening mat of white pinpricks. The remnants of a small party were strewn around them, but the others who had drunk from the now-empty canteens and enjoyed each other's company had gone home for the night.
“Well. I guess this might be my last time seeing these stars.” Jason remarked absently.
Which, Stephen thought, wasn’t strictly true. Even if Jason did fly far enough away that the constellations didn’t line up in the same way, the same stars would still be shining on him wherever he went in the galaxy. But he didn’t say that.
“Maybe we should extend this visit for another hour or two.” Stephen said, adjusting his glasses to get a better look at Persephone's Bane.
“Well, not too much longer.” Jason said as he stretched his arms behind his head. “I’m shipping out first thing in the morning, and I need to be fresh or we might blow up before we reach orbit.”
Jason chuckled. Stephen didn’t. Like Jason, he knew the risks of venturing into the void all too well, and unlike Jason, Stephen was terrified of it to no end. That was why Stephen was the one who would keep his feet firmly planted on Safeharbor, and didn’t understand in the least why Jason would want to go out on some quest to find their long-lost homeworld.
“You ever think you’ve figured out what happened to earth?” Stephen sort of blurted.
Jason took his eyes off of the sweeping arms of the milky way for a second, one eyebrow cocked upward slightly. He quickly looked back so he wouldn’t lose his vision of the heavens.
“No.” Jason replied. “It’s maddening, really. None of the theories fit everything, and it doesn’t help that nobody even wants to talk about it. I have no clue what we’re gonna find when we get there.”
Stephen paused before speaking again. “You’re that sure you’re gonna find it, huh?”
“Well, maybe not me specifically.” Jason said nonchalantly. Then he smiled. “I mean, I’m bound to be the best oracle in the entirety of the wayfarers once I get up there, but some other guy might just get lucky and find it before I do. But anyway, what about you?”
Stephen was suddenly uncomfortable. “What?”
“Do you have any theories about what happened to earth?”
A long pause.
“Just one.” Stephen replied.
“Really?” Jason said, suddenly much more interested.
“It’s- kinda stupid.” Stephen said, trying to ward Jason off, but it only encouraged him more.
“Stephen, one of your ideas being stupid is a contradiction in terms. You can’t just leave me hanging like that! Spill it!”
Stephen thought about it until Jason started poking his face over and over, saying “Tell. me. your. Secrets!”
“Okay, okay!” Stephen said. then he took another moment to gather his thoughts.
“You know that saying our folks always give us whenever we ask them about earth?”
“We broke into heaven.” Jason recited.
“Right. Well, what if, metaphorically, or somehow literally, they did?”
Jason wore an odd expression. “I think a disaster on this scale would more closely resemble the other place.”
“Well, maybe.” Stephen said. “But, remember, we broke into heaven. We weren’t just let in by the front door.”
“And that makes a difference because…?”
“Because the angels didn’t like it, or, more likely, we found something that mere mortals weren’t prepared for.”
“Like… a global disaster?”
“No, that’d make it all an accident. ‘We broke into heaven’ implies something more intentional. like a weapon, or a tool that could be used as a weapon in the wrong hands. Something that, maybe, could do a lot of good if we were more prepared to use it. Hence, heaven.”
Jason thought about that for a moment. “Maybe.” he said. “But who would be stupid enough to unleash unknown technology on the entire earth? We were supposed to be smarter than that back then.”
“Yeah…” Stephen said. Maybe he didn’t want to go any further; But then… maybe he did. He continued after a few more seconds.
“...But the universe is vast, and we’ve only explored a tiny speck of it even these days. Is it so hard to believe that the consequences of using such a thing could be beyond our understanding? Is it so hard to believe that it may still be?”
Jason took a long, hard look at Stephen, and an equally long look into himself. “Guess not.” he said. “Could be we find the earth and we start the whole thing over again.”
“Then why are you going?” Stephen asked. “Why go out if it might be all for nothing, or worse, get you killed?”
Jason didn’t have an answer. He took another look at the stars, which slowly began appearing again as his vision adjusted. King Sapien winked into existence, and bit by bit, the answer came as well.
“It could be bad… but it could also be great. Let’s say your theory is true; The humans of the past found something they couldn’t understand. Maybe we still can’t understand it. Maybe it’ll destroy us all over again. But… maybe now we’re ready. Maybe we can control it this time, or… know enough that we don’t want to. Maybe we bring it back and suddenly, Safeharbor is the center of a new human civilization that actually stands a chance against everyone who wants to destroy it.”
Stephen sighed. “But… isn’t it enough to say we have what we have? We have a new planet; we have new traditions… We have new friends.”
Jason smiled. Stephen wasn’t exactly subtle.
“We could. But humans didn’t survive on earth by saying that they had enough. They always strived for more; when they should have been hunting for food or finding shelter, they looked up at the stars and wondered what it would be like to be there. When they should have been calculating how to be more efficient with what they had, they started wondering about fractals and imaginary numbers and useless concepts like the number zero. Instead of looking for a practical, known route, Columbus tried the weird solution. Was he crazy? Maybe. But if he hadn’t been the world wouldn’t have found something entirely new.”
“So… you’re going because you’re crazy?” Stephen said dubiously.
Jason winked. “You know it. It’s the one advantage we have over all the other aliens out there. Never leave home without it.”
Stephen was finally able to give a chuckle. He looked back up at the stars for a few more minutes.
Jason broke the silence eventually. “And anyway, we might not be ready for whatever we find at earth right now, but maybe the journey itself is worth taking; And maybe the journey is just what we need to be ready for whatever is on the other end.”