I strapped myself in. Checking and rechecking all the links and connectors. I placed the mask over my face. I verified it was in place and properly seated as it melted and molded over my ugly mug. I had to be careful. I had to be prepared. I was going into the unknown.
The universe was, however, known. From Earth to the edges. And all between. Humanity flitted amongst the stars and quasars like so many butterflies amongst the beauty of the our reality. The wonder of our existence.
Yet, it was nothing new to be known. Not in the last thousand years. No really unique vistas to be seen. No new heights to clamber. No new permutations of life to find. No new depths of space to trawl. Humanity had seen it all. Experienced it all. Been father and mother and sibling to it all. And destroyer. And creator. There was nothing left in this existence for the explorer. For the conqueror. For the one whose soul yearned for more.
I imperceptibly nodded. The tube slid down and over me. It would place me in a no-entropy field for a time. For how long? Who knows. It was designed for eons though. To protect me while I ventured beyond, seeking that new vista, or more appropriately, that bleak blackness darker than space to trawl for knowledge.
There were four of us. A doctor, a xenologist, a soldier and myself. I would not face this alone. Or so I hoped. Would we be able to connect, meet, and band together in this venture like we thought, planned and hoped. There was only one way to find out…
My assistant stood beside my tube and gave a strange look. Neither hopeful, nor fearful. More like…enraptured.
"No one has ever done this before and come back."
"No one with a verifiable story that is. No one within the scientific eras."
"Then let us be the first. Begin."
She closed her eyes and seemed to arch in ecstasy but I knew it was not. She was becoming one with the machines around and they with her.
Then I felt it. My heart flatlined. My brain in its last moments within this universe, within this life, blurted out:
Daemons and angels!
Gods and devils!
Exalted and damned!
Prepare yourselves! For Humanity is coming.
Not the souls of the Dead, but the Living.
We are coming.
And we shall conquer Death and the Afterlife.
For we are hungry and shall know and have it all.
With that, at the moment of my last flickers of brain life, the no entropy field kicked in…and Death and I began our great grappling match.