Final Resting Place
Vonab rolled from her ship onto the surface of what had been the core of a planet. All she could see in the dim light of the white dwarf star were a few undulations in the surface of the sterile landscape.
She rolled several terps from her ship and set a small caboph on the surface. With a flash, a hole ten terps deep appeared. She motioned to her ship and a pseudopod extended carrying an urn six times as tall as she.
Five cycles ago, while going through her family's archives, she had come across the urn. Imbedded on its side was a primitive holographic generator, which played a message when she touched it. A strange being formed in front of her, and spoke in a forgotten language. It took two cycles, and seven linked Speakers, to translate the message. It stated that the urn contained the remains 12,450,733,052 people: the last generation born on Earth. They wanted to return there for burial.
The only problem; Earth was only a myth. Billions of cycles ago Vonab's ancestors had lived on a planet, but no one knew which one, or what star it had orbited. The most common origin myth was that her ancestors originated on a planet called Earth. They had evacuated it when its parent star had evolved into a red giant. The planet was assumed destroyed.
The message stated that the last generation had predicted that the Earth's core would survive, and would reemerge after the outer layers of the star blew off to form a planetary nebula. It also said that they had made a deal with Vonab's distant ancestor, a Lakten Geroos, that once Earth's core had emerged from the outer atmosphere, and it was safe to land, Lakten's descendant would return the urn to Earth for final burial. Vonab had wanted to forget the whole thing, but once it got out that she was going on a journey to find their mythic birthworld, people became interested, and everyone would want to share her thoughts when she returned.
It had seemed simple enough, but after three cycles of pouring through ancient star charts, Vonab still did not know where Earth was. She had to concede defeat, but announced that she would bury the urn. Much to her annoyance, interest did not subside when she stated that Earth could not be found and that she would have to just picked an incinerated world at random.
She motioned to her ship again, and the urn dropped into the hole. The pseudopod retracted, then returned with a holographic generator. The message had stated that each of the Last Generation had made recordings of themselves – reading a poem, singing, blafting, etc. – and wanted these to be played above their burial plot. She checked the new power source, which would power their monument for tens of billions of cycles, and placed it above the urn. The being from the first message formed in front of her and began speaking. Even if there had been air to carry the sound she would not have understood what it was saying.
She looked around and wondered what they would think if they could return to life. Whatever world this had been was no more; all that remained was the metal core. There would never be seas, or mountains, or an atmosphere, or life. Looking up she realized that even if this was the remnant of Earth, they would not recognize any star in the sky.
Vonab returned to her ship. As it lifted off she looked out the window to see another being reciting a poem no one would ever hear. As the scene dropped from her view she thought, What fools.