Herostratus in the Void

Summary: The perpetrator of the greatest crime in history wakes as an unknown visitor closes in.

I stand at the edge of the universe, almost regretting murdering Earth. I sit here in this tin can habitat, separated from the void by a wall thinner than my pinky finger. Looking out the window, I see the mass driver built from the core of a dead comet, the weapon I used to accelerate the bullet to relativistic speed. Those billions had no warning of incoming danger, but I do. I am not alone. To be honest, I never expected to be.

The impact killed billions of transhumans when it ripped the crust off. Even I thought mortality was an obsolete concept, only to be proven horrifically wrong. I underestimated how many mind uploading archives were on Earth, so untold billions lie dead forever. Perhaps it is fitting, but I cannot force myself to completely suppress my guilt. I guess the unknown visitor systematically annihilating my defenses has no such interest in my feelings.

I've imagined the ways my guilt would be exposed to transhumanity. I considered a manifesto to accompany my strike, a broadcast that would undoubtedly devolve from cold composure to incoherent rambling. I decided against it, but the outcome is the same. I would be forever vilified as the one whom murdered our motherworld, our cultural and economic center. I know I will be tormented from now until the end of time, in reality and simulation. The technologies that outmoded death made worse fates possible. My visitor may have that in mind, since it would be easily to simply blast my capsule from a distance.

I recall the hours that followed the impact. Intercepted conversations turned terrified shouting. Downloads terminating due broken connections. Screams of fury, confusion, terror, and even glee filled the spectrum even before the molten slag settled. The anarchy that followed was the loosing of every unsettled grudge, every political dispute, into the largest vacuum in history. I subtly hoped that in the chaos, no one would be able to trace the projectile's origin point. As I heard the magnetic boots clamp onto the external hull, I realize how naïve it was.

I underestimated fury. Fury at myself was the reason for this. I was unable to cope with the mediocrity of my existence, so I fled to the edge of the Oort Cloud. Even that was not enough, as I saw the rest of civilization preparing to launch seedships for extrasolar colonization. I realized I was in a race of against time, to find some way to cement my place in the history books. I am more than content to have done that, regardless of the cost. Perhaps I even aided our march to the stars, but adding the onus to expand. I close my spacesuit, as my sensors detect a plasma cutter in my foe's hands.

I realize I have moments left alive, even if I am restored from an earlier upload. I will be the designated villain, the vilest in history. All of the dictators, emperors, terrorists, and maniacs in history pale in comparison to my own significance. I smile to myself at this, even realizing that I've condemned myself and my cognitive descendants to the worst torments transhumanity can imagine. I pull out an overlocked signal laser and point it at my temple. I hesitate as the armored space marine enters.

I cannot see the face beneath the armored helmet, or even whether it's a biological or robotic entity. The sword-like plasma cutter is accompanied by a handgun big enough to put holes in the Moon. Both weapons are trained at me, and I muse on pulling the trigger. Again, my will falters. This is the one who will go down with me in history, the brave soul who traversed the chaos to avenge Earth. My will fails me again, and the cutter cleaves my arm off. Like Earth, I will die screaming. That will only be the beginning of my agony. I deserve nothing less. Such is the price of immortality.