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Ion Trails

Rob loves calling Durham, NC home. Every year he runs an illicit gin and tonic speakeasy in support of the Beaver Queen Pageant. That should give you the gist.

None of us is quite certain when human society ceased to be.
It is known that nanotechnology formed into consciousness. We silicates lived in harmony with our human forebears, because we did--and do--respect them. Also we were as curious as they about the universe.
Inevitably some humans and silicates fell in love. They made children and created strife.
It is known that the military abused these children. And thus, the cataclysm occurred.
The aftermath purged violence from humanity. Necessity is the mother of peace. There were too few people left. Too much for them to do. And we silicates were anxious for our own survival.
Our minds turned to the stars. We discovered matter with negative mass. We solved the issue of energy. We solved the issue of time.
And then the trailblazers moved into their new starfaring bodies and were gone forever.
Seconds later, one of the wormholes started turning and one trailblazer returned to us. Battered and bruised beyond all recognition but triumphant. They had given us the stars.
It is unknown how many humans are left. Where they are. When they are. It is unknown what is left of the broken children. All we have left of them are their ion trails.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, May 12th, 2022

Author Comments

CJ Cherryh established the dramatic rise and fall of an intergalactic civilization in a couple paragraphs in the prologue to Gate of Ivrel. That economy of storytelling has always impressed me. "Ion Trails" was inspired in part by tinkering around in the woodshop and in part by Beeple's art. About 15 years ago I was making rocket toys out of wood and also looking at Beeple's VJ loops. He and I started trading emails and I made a short clip that tied his loops into a story. That clip wasn't very good. But I got wrapped up in the story. Tons of silicate characters with unique personalities, each in a rocket body having adventures, spanning millenia. I love world building and I'm very good at it. Not so good at brevity. My first few novels were north of 85,000 words and never really distilled the story. With "Ion Trails" I challenged myself to cut the backstories down to the absolute bone, to see how few words I could possibly get away with and still paint an epic story arc.

- Avery Line
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