By William Markiewicz
Robot X 13 once again was stepping onto an unknown planet. For far reaching explorations the robots almost always preceded humans and a human observer remained suspended in space, watching from the ship.
X 13 made a routine ground inspection covering many miles around. Traces of life; meagre fauna and flora proper to the cool climate of a very old planet. As to the presence of intelligent life, the observer, examining images transmitted by the robot, remained perplexed. Impossible to deduce whether they were the work of nature or of thoughtful beings. Valleys and ridges, covered with lichen, marked by erosion, extended everywhere. Still, the feeling of perfect harmony emanated from the ensemble. This planet was beautiful; its breadth, its mountains, formed a true artistic composition. As if this world carried the imprint of strange beings who had been able to shape it. Nevertheless, the planet "projected" void, like an old abandoned house full of reminiscences. The observer contemplated the irreproachable beauty which extended beyond sight and gave vertigo to his unprepared senses. And no trace of a civilization; just some animals of insignificant size to populate the decor. Mirage? Trap? The custom of using robots to explore the unknown gave humanity an effective substitute and shield against any possible danger.
Leaving the robot to move freely and at its own pace, the observer suddenly had a feeling that this one wasn't moving haphazardly. The robot had been created to direct itself, when not guided by humans, toward any source presenting some interest; precious minerals, the warmth of life, a wave of thought . . . The observer awaited the unfolding of events.
The robot swallowed miles, crossed waters, lifted itself into the air, to stop finally before a smooth platform surmounted by a pyramid-like shape. The robot approached and began transmitting to the astonished astronaut - a message.
"We dedicate this testimony to all those who are still at the stage of curiosity and necessity to study causes and effects. It has been created to be perceived in all languages and all possible manners: visual, olfactory, auditory, tactilely and in an infinity of other manners according to the nature of the beings who will come to receive it. It is indestructible, eternal. It will enlighten you on the disappearance of the dominant race which originated here.
We followed the evolution of all those predestined to evolve. This evolution guided us inevitably toward the summit, which remains unknown until the last moment by those who climb toward it. Along the way all the satisfactions awaited us in degrees as yet unknown to you. We tamed everything and understood everything, transforming any matter into any form of energy and vice versa. At one specific phase of our evolution, we no longer needed machines, or limbs or our bodies, because for all realizations the dynamics of our minds were enough. Our organs, unnecessary from that point were not lost - nothing is lost in evolution - but they transformed themselves constantly to become a source of always new sensations. The notion of Necessity and Useful became obsolete, to the profit of Freedom without limits. Finally we were all melded into one vast body which amplified everything.
We caught the signs of the past, fixed eternally on a thread of Time, and by a rigorous method, we predicted all possible happenings to come - we even know who will first read this message." The observer, surprised and terrified, read his own name. "We became like Gods, such as we conceived them. It was inevitable that we reached this state, as evolution consists in overcoming obstacles to the achievement of ultimate potential so human dreams are always realized. At this stage we inevitably had to vanish because disappearance is the destiny of those who arrive at the stage of gods.
We realized everything that was possible. We surpassed ourselves. Motivation, this motor of existence, having disappeared, we extinguished ourselves, as simple as that. We left existence, which, at that point became an unnecessary condition. We have joined in the nothingness, the eternal cycle of rebirth, in you, in others . . . So this message can serve as a universal testament about the ultimate stage of evolution for us as well as for you, and for all those who preceded and will follow you: it is nothingness."