Gabriel Franklin the 9th looked out over the 5th moon of the planet he called home.
Well. The orbital station above the planet he called home.
“Daddy, are you sure?” He daughter wasn’t pleading. But it was close. She had tears in her eyes and her voice hitched every now and then. Gabriel hated making her sad, but he had made up his mind.
“I’m sorry, baby girl. But it’s my time.” He slowly crossed the room and held her hand. “I’ve had a good innings. I mean – look at where I am? I’m in another galaxy, light years from where I was born. You’re an alien! I’ve seen first contact. More than once.” He grew silent, as he looked out of the viewport.
He smiled, took a deep breath and let out a long sigh. “And I miss your mother.”
Gabriel’s wife had made her decision 6 months earlier. They were to go together, but he wanted to see a nearby star go Nova. He had visited her every day since she had gone.
They had lived a triumphant life. Lives. Before they had changed bodies, he convinced her to try the moon colony. They needed to renew for that. By the time they had to decide if they were to renew again, she had insisted they visited Mars.
They were three bodies in when the chance to leave the galaxy had come up. Had that not been an option, they probably would have gone then – but with so much more to see, they couldn’t pass it up.
“Come on, let’s go pay her a visit, yeah?” Gabriel’s daughter held out her arm, supporting her dad as they walked form the room, down to where her mother, his wife and companion for nine generations, rested.
It hadn’t been all fun and games. More than once they had been in courthouses, demanding their marriage be dissolved. Other times they just separated. Which, for them, meant living in different rooms.
She always insisted that there was no such thing as everlasting love.
He kept on pointing out that he was still there.
She countered with the same question: “Oh, so it’s me that makes things so difficult, is that what you’re saying?”
Which is when he stopped playing.
They arrived at The Sim. The room was bare, respectful. In the middle was a flat table. They sat opposite each other, Gabriel pulling out a cable. One end he fitted into a table leg, the other went into his left temple.
In the middle of the table a screen burst into life. On it was a beautiful woman, a quarter of Gabriel’s age. She looked round, and did a double take on seeing her daughter.
“Oh, hello Andrea.”
“Hi, mum.” Andrea started crying again.
“What’s wrong?” The woman on the screen looked concerned. “Is everything ok?”
Gabriel walked in behind her, young now, matching his wife’s age perfectly.
“Everything’s fine, Ri. I just told her it was my time.”
Ri turned and hugged her husband. At the table, his body twitched.
“How was the nova?”
“Glorious. You should have seen it.”
“Gah – I’ve seen them before. I don’t know why you’re so interested in them. Oh..I’ve leveled.”
“WHAT? When? How many now?”
“Well, what was I supposed to do, in here on my own? I’ve only gone up a couple and now I’m waiting.”
Gabriel looked out at his daughter. “You see what I have to put up with? Do you see now?”
Andrea laughed, a great sobbing laugh.
“I’m going to say Goodbye, Ri. And then we can go. One last time.”
He kissed his wife and walked out of the image.
Gabriel’s body stood up, and he pulled the cable out.
“Well, my love. This is it. You’re ok with this, right?”
She nodded, tears and snot streaming down her face. “Oh dad. I didn’t think you’d every go. Either of you.”
He was crying now. “Neither did I. Who knew, huh?”
“Here.” He reached behind his neck and pulled off a necklace. On it were two clear gems. “Just in case.” He winked.
“We’d like to stay in orbit, but you can turn the power down. Just enough for the sim, and to keep us up. If you’d rather not deal with this.” He pointed at himself, “Call one of the nurses. You just keep those jewels safe, you hear?”
“Right then.” He took his seat once more, and slotted his cable.
Gabriel Franklin the 9th looked up at his daughter. “Goodbye, love. I’ve always been so very proud of you.”
On screen, he walked up to his wife. They kissed once more, and waved.
“So, where are we off to? The Forests or the Beach?”
“I want palm trees,” his wife replied.
Andrea watched her parents armour up, and ride off to face some new adventure.
At the table, Gabriel’s body – just a shell now – slumped, as he stopped breathing.