by Anna Hawkins

“Long ago, mankind walked the earth beneath a young sun, and we prospered. But no more.” The Emperor stared into a holocorder, his face expressionless. His image was being projected to every receiver on the planet.

“Our transports will be leaving soon.” The Emperor took a deep breath. He was helpless to save these people. The Council’s breeding programs would not allow it. He turned away from the holocorder, listening to a voice muttering offscreen.

“My Lord Emperor,” the voice said, “Your transport is waiting.”

I’ve betrayed them, the Emperor thought as he turned back to the holocorder.

rno via Creative Commons

“I am so sorry,” he whispered. A tear traced its way down his cheek. “I would not have it be this way.” He balled his hands into fists to stop their shaking. “I would take you all with me.” His tears were flowing freely now. Men and women across the Earth cried with him, in sadness and in anger. The offscreen voice spoke again.

“My Lord! It’s time.”

The Emperor’s face hardened, but his eyes remained wet. People from Council-approved genetic lineages would flee aboard their interstellar transport, leaving billions behind. They might find a new planet to call home, but was it worth this?

The Emperor stood and saluted as the broadcast ended.

Anna Hawkins is a graduate student at the University of Houston working on a Ph.D. in plant community ecology. In her spare time, she likes to write science fiction, fill her walls with her own paintings, and take care of her collection of weird houseplants. She’s currently working on her first novel.