Q and A - With unexpected twist.
With some uneasiness he walked up on the grey steps of the University of Founders; the best university in Super City where every year, right before Christmas eve, the Emperors were offered to make a speech to the then current students. Some years it was just a representative of the school, but not now, not in 28975. The Emperors were encouraged to come and speak here all the times, or even teach, but that was highly unusual. Never less Smith had done it on many occasions... Felt it to be his duty to educate and do so properly, the future generation.
"...And it is my greatest pleasure to see more and more fine students whom decided to be the leaders, movers of the next generation!" The Ancient Man made a sweeping gesture across the endless rows, filled by students from across Down Earth.
He waited for the claps to die down. "Before I would finish I must mention that even I was a student among these great walls many hundreds of years ago and I wrote my thesis on the rate of the expanding universe based on the books of this fine university!"
He saw how the wave of enthusiasm swept across the auditorium. He smiled. They all heard it and the best part; it was true.
He knew, felt that Smith, his apprentice arrived to the building some time ago and turned to his left side just as the young Emperor walked up to the podium. The crowd went crazy seeing both of the Emperors at the same room. That didn't happen too often...
Evan Smith made one sweeping gesture to quiet the students and spoke toward the levitating microphones: "Just as the Ancient Man said, I was studying among the walls of this great university too. I even taught specialized subjects in one of the auditoriums, most notably of history of Klon wars and military advancement in the immediate end of the war. I was always humbled to walk among the future leaders of this world, knowing that you are just as touched by my presence as I am of yours!"
The hall exploded by joyful students and calming security guards. The people were on fire. They knew this was a special moment and they wanted to remember for it forever.
An older man walked up to the podium and after stating that he was the current Administrator, he said that the chosen students are ready to ask their questions as it was customary. He reminded the crowd that as always, it was the right of the Emperor or Emperors to decline to answer. Than with that he pointed toward the general direction of the student he knew well: "Student Deena of First Class!"
The auditorium went silent and one young girl rose from her seat. She was pale and sweating, never imagined she can ask her question directly from both the ruling Emperors.
Every class got together in a long battle to figure out the most relevant question of their year and chose a spokesperson to ask it. Usually the question went for the spokespersons of the Emperors; the PR Department or the Ministry of the Education... To see them both and ask the question suddenly changed everything. This was truly a Christmas treat for all!
"I... I would respectfully like to ask the Emperors how they see the past five decades within the walls of the university in regards to teachers and students. Whether it's a decline or quite the opposite?" Of course this heated debate was constant inside the university. Fifty years should've been no more than a blink of the eye for an immortal Emperor, but fifty years brought tremendous changes. The II Klon wars suddenly ended, peace settled over not just the planet but over the entire Milky Way...
The two Emperors turned to each other, than Smith yielded and the Ancient Man replied, with a hollow smile at first: "This seems to point to some sort of political issue within the University... However it has been always on par with the top ten Universities of the Galaxy. I would believe that it would remain so. The fact that the University is at the vicinity of such landmarks as the Central Supercomputer, the estates of the Emperors... The Temple of Knowledge ensures there is always plentiful of materials to scoop from..."
"I would add City of Bristol to the landmarks as well!" Smith abruptly added.
The Ancient Man nodded approvingly before continuing: "True. Archeology is one often overlooked and important factor."
After Deena, the Administrator also thanked the Emperors their reply to the question, then turned to a different part of the auditorium: "Student Malk'aa of Second Class!"
The young woman was tall and slender, her long black hair swept way past her shoulders.
She let out one nervous smile and quickly stated her question: "I would respectfully like to ask the Emperors if prosperity on this planet is ensured for our generation and for our off springs?"
Smith stepped forward and looked straight into the eyes of the student: "As long as we exist, the future of this planet and its citizens are our top priorities. We can never forget the first Emperors whom governed this land, and its citizens whom not just survived, but prospered as well. To honor their commitment and our heritage we continue their work. We have to look out for our allies in the galaxy, but our primary goal was and is as always to ensure the survival of humans on Down Earth. I know the future seems chaotic and bleak but know this: I will fight with my own life if I have to, to let you live!" Smith replied and then swiftly returned to the shadows.
"Student Harmin of Third Class!" The Administrator announced and pointed toward the man who rose from his seat and with a shrug, he asked: "I would respectfully like to ask the Emperors to answer to the question that's always in our mind: how come that our history is so short, especially before Down Earth times?"
The Ancient Man moved forward: "Those are long forgotten times, not important from our perspective..."
"...But we want to know..." Harmin said half loud and the nearby microphones picked it up.
"Harmin of Third Class!" The Administrator shouted. It was the rudest and most impolite move from a student to defy the Emperors.
Smith stepped closer: "The Ancient Man was correct. The two main part of our history consist of the Pre and after Down Earth times. What we have to concentrate is after 9732. Number one, history will always remain elusive and incomplete. Even current history would remain mum about how the clouds seemed to form over the great cemetery say exactly one year ago on this day... However I see the boiling of your mind, that you are not satisfied with our answer. Care to enlighten us what is it that is so unsettling?" Smith became a bit annoyed.
"I... we've thought that the Temple of Knowledge would answer this question, but we can't find anything in regard of that old history inside the vast building!" Harmin shook under the pressure. He knew he was way out of line.
"You are correct. The Temple of Knowledge wouldn't answer to that, but indirectly you would find clues. By examining the technology from different periods one would make some educated guesses of how they lived, but..." Smith smiled hollowly, than sadly. He looked over the crowd, whom listened in eerie quiet and gave in for the pressure: "You have to understand the fall of Earth, the minds of its then citizens to understand what the Temple of Knowledge is and what isn't. True, it was unearthed less than twenty years ago with big fanfare. Just as you said there are no history books or even mentions of philosophical achievements in that huge place. Simply put; to survive the enemy you needed weapons and not art and history. The Temple of Knowledge is a vast repository to teach anyone how to build machines, to build weapons and support life under any circumstances; to ensure survival of humanity under any conditions!
I know a lot about those times by learning bits of their history and it fills my heart with sadness and if I would have lived back than I would cry every night feeling the pain of the living souls under pressure of greed, politics and money. To be honest the answer that no one has come up is simple but profound and it just shows how far Down Earth has come since. And to remain at this subject that is exactly how they wanted it to be! The answer why there is no solid history of pre Down Earth time is that they were ashamed of themselves. They didn't want you to know that they were such bad people so they let time to wipe it away!"
"We are done on this subject!" The Ancient Man added before turning toward Smith who quietly nodded.
The Administrator waited for a bit longer, than announced: Student Helan of Fourth Class!"
The young woman stood from her seat and licked her lips to moist them. It was her moment. She was wondering for long whether she would be allowed to ask at all, but now her time came! She knew this will be the most controversial... "I would respectfully like to ask the Emperors if it is indeed true that the city of Bristol is a place of impossibilities; namely that its much older than what it supposed to be and also if there is a reason why the Emperors not visiting Bristol anymore. It was frequented by the Emperors in the beginning, but not anymore." She reminded everyone, than added: "Thank you!"
"It might be an impossibility, but that is true for everything after a while. We are done on the subject!" The Ancient Man replied.
Smith saw the students were expecting something better than that. Some were getting up to leave.
He stepped to the podium: "Wait!"
"What are you doing?" The Ancient Man grabbed his arm.
"Setting the record straight... er..." Smith added. While he could tell the Ancient Man disagreed, he withdrew, allowing Smith to expand his view: "Bristol has many secrets Student Helan. I still don't think it was meant for us to find it. We, the Emperors were there a lot in the beginning, but not anymore, however we encourage anyone to go there and visit, to learn and to tell us what they found. Simply put, the risks to go there are greater than not to go there... for us only... Now on the other question about what is older and what isn't I would simply remind everyone that an ancient city such as Bristol is built on top of different ages. It is not inconceivable that Bristol's origin lies at the pre Down Earth times, but we don't concern with that. Some would say Bristol is a dead city, but one can always find something alive there...or something that makes us alive?" Smith saw that light in her eyes: "I'll give all of you a Christmas present to mull about. It was Bristol that helped me to understand that our history was altered not just when it speaks the pre 9732 years but even after them. That is correct. Our history of 9732 and beyond is based on a lie. We were led to believe that twenty years later, in 9752 the decay began, the Second Dark Ages arrived. Now of course after the Emperors rose, history is what we know of, but to just mention one example and Bristol played a key role in that date it was 12214 April the 17th. It was the eight time Down Earth was shaken by a thermonuclear device detonated by humans as a way to decide the future of humanity!"