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To much applause, Delegate Arthur Hall took the podium.

"Friends and delegates," he began, "we are gathered here tonight to celebrate the dawning of a new era. But before we do so, we must look back to the accomplishments and fears of centuries of humans; we must acknowledge that ours is not simply a victory of technology, but of ideology as well.

"Allow me to explain. From the dawn of history, we have lived in fear of our failure. No matter what our accomplishments, we were reminded that various cataclysmic specters would eventually bring about our total demise. These ghosts could be political -- Communism in the 20th century, terrorism in the 21st, the Nova movement in the 22nd -- or physical and scientific -- the hydrogen bomb, global warming, radioactive waste, and, most recently, entropic degradation. Writers from Karl Marx to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. to the late Marc Van Stollen reminded us of Armageddon -- and this is a practice, I remind you, older than the Bible.

"But those days are over. Because, friends and delegates, were we not the race that survived ice ages, wars, revolutions, and distasters, for over 2 million years? Just as we arose from the dying Earth to rise anew as diplomatic leaders of the galaxy, bringing the Pax Humana to over five hundred sentient species, so now we rise again. So now we rise again! The power of our scientific program has given rise to that wonder of technology -- the Leviathan drive, more powerful than a hundred reactors and a thousand warps! And today, and today, we have made contact with the Andromeda galaxy.

"Today is the day we acknowledge our victory."

He paused for a moment, breathing the mists of truth and legend, before slowly resuming his fever-pitch sermon once more.

"This is not a day of celebration for humanity alone. All species, all nations, may come forth and rejoice in knowing that our Presidium, the ruling body of this beautiful galaxy, has given us the will and the power to explore again. Yes, all species may come forth--"

One did so. Through the shadows cast by the room's Ionic columns, the Delegate saw that it had numerous feet, and was slightly blue. It began in an unintelligible gasp -- "Wahoudoukraalanbal..." -- but caught itself in time.

"Delegate Hall, I am going to ask you a few questions. Will the minority leader please join you on stage?"

Hall began to speak again, but his opponent, a Delegate Rosen, had already started out of his seat. After a brief stare-down, Rosen joined Hall at the podium.

"You may sit down."

And they did, in chairs that neither had noticed before.

"Now, Delegate Hall, you had been addressing your speech primarily to the concerns of the human race, had you not?"

Hall began, "Now I really must protest...," but the creature stopped him.

"If you will not answer the question, your opponent may answer for you."

This caused the delegate to immediately respond, safeguarding himself against the smears of the jealous. "I profusely apologize. I was unaware that this Delegation contained any non-human members. However, given our knowledge of other species' histories, I think it is safe to say that every point that I made applies to them as well. I was confident that I could give this address to this Delegation given the unique role of our race in the safe governing of the galaxy."

"Apologies are unnecessary. Next question. You put forth this Leviathan drive as a great leap forward for science. Yet surely the ideas -- spontaneous creation of exotic matter, Lorentz contraction as a motive force -- have been around for hundreds of your years. It is the ability to build these ships that is, to you, important. Would it be more appropriate to call this drive a great leap forward for the construction industry?"

There was a long pause: was the creature joking? Finally the Delegate Rosen replied: "This would be too great a distinction to make. To know that something can be practically constructed is also a victory for science. And, of course, contact with the Andromeda in a matter of weeks would be a great diplomatic victory..."

"For you or for the Andromedans? For you, who peacefully rule a galaxy and need no more 'victories' in a millenium; or for the Andromedans, who we are sure would never dream of wanting your assistance or questionable diplomacy? Why extend your desires to another realm? Is this what you call progress?"

"Yes!" cried Hall, animatedly. "The Andromeda has much to learn, and much to teach us! We can witness a new tomorrow through the extension of our humble Galaxy!"

"And yet it seems in the past," continued the creature, "that all you have learned from previous solutions has been in the form of better ways to accomplish those solutions. Had you not solved the questions in the first place, you would have no need of this education. Next question. Different subject. Why do you govern this galaxy through these two opposing parties? Would it not be more efficient if you governed it through one?"

Rosen was silent and annoyed; Hall even more desperate to get across seemingly obvious points. Hall began: "The Liberal-Earth party is here for a reason -- to preserve the future of the galaxy! Our children, and their children, will be sure of a happier life due to our remedies to--"

Rosen interrupted him. "This party, the Traditional party, attempts to preserve the values that have supported us for many generations, while keeping an eye towards future developments. In the face of degradation, we must raise strong ideals--"

Hall struck back: "We can remedy social ills: the government is for the people, and will remain that way!"

Rosen continued: "--strong ideals that will support our galaxy in times of duress. Governmental policy should be directed towards--"

And now both were talking at once. Sensing a dangerous look in the being's eye, Hall abruptly stopped, while Rosen, flustered, began again, as if from a script. "This party, the Traditional party, attempts to preserve the values that have..." He grunted.

The creature, glaring now at the audience, stated, "Much of what you have said is vague and identical. If both of you must create these plans, why stay divided?"

Rosen replied, "But our party works towards unification!" Hall, in turn, said that his party wished to accomodate and supersede the wishes of both.

And now the being said, angrily, "This is absurd. You humans are striving toward two concepts -- the monopoly and the duopoly. The first is illustrated by your thinly-veiled wish to conquer Andromeda. The second is illustrated by businesses and by governments. And the only way to alleviate it is through a merger, creating, once more, the first. Humanity must make a decision. Keep the duopoly, but make each side distinct. Or keep the monopoly and have one goal. Surely this should be understood by the two most respected men on the Presidium."

Hall spouted, "Why are you even here? What gives you right to tell us what to do?" There was agreement from the audience.

This was quickly stifled when the creature pulled out a large, transparent pistol of some sort. There was dead silence. The creature said, "This gives me right."

"Do not be afraid; it is not a weapon. It simply... controls the universe. It has power to create, destroy, preserve, or change. It is an experiment."

The being pivoted to the horror-struck Delegates. "How would the humans like to control the universe?"

Hall muttered something about diplomacy, but stopped. Rosen, looking to the other Delegates and the audience for help, caught nods in the right places. He caught his breath, stood, and said, "We would like to indeed."

The alien thought, momentarily. "No, that is incorrect. If you controlled it, you would have no possible gain and none of your progress."

"The race calling itself 'human' fails. This experiment is concluded."

And it ended the universe.

Cheers to SciFiQuest 2106.

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