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When Requiem woke up, he was alone in the bed. The previous night came rolling back to him and he immediately sat up.

“Clippy, report, how much time has passed?”

Clippy appeared right next to his desk and she gave him a sly look as her cheeks blushed slightly. “Yes, Master has been asleep for 10 hours, 32 minutes. Daylight on this moon broke 2 hours ago.”

“So, that was sleeping…” Requiem shook his head in agitation.

It seemed like a very wasteful act. His mind still seemed groggy from the night before. He did a quick diagnostic and cleared a few memory caches, causing his mind to clear up rapidly.

“Did master dream?”

“Dream?” Requiem shook his head. “No dreams.”

“…oh.” Clippy seemed almost disappointed.

Requiem’s body felt clammy from the night before. Although he had shut off any temperature sensor, he decided to turn them back on, only to find the room a tad bit chilly. It might be dangerous to treat this body as anything different than human for the moment. He brought every book he had on human health out of his memory stores and stashed it into active memory for quicker access.

The new information reminded him of something he had felt the night before. He reactivated the centers to his stomach, and gnawing discomfort surged back up in his stomach.

“Hunger…” he gave a frown.

He left the small room and headed out into the main bar. The inn was empty, and Ginger was behind the bar. Was Requiem the only customer that she had? He sat at the bar and a few moments later she left to the back. When she came back, she was holding a hot plate. She put it in front of Requiem and opened the lid to reveal a plate full of food.

“There you go. Breakfast comes with the room, as promised. It’s not the finest food on Chryos, but it’ll fill you up.” She looked down at Requiem’s arm and grimaced. “How’s the arm feeling?”

Requiem followed her gaze and shrugged. “It’ll heal.”

He was more worried about trying the food. Of course, he knew how to eat. He’d even manufactured prosthetic tongues and tried tastes during some point in his life. The meal before him looked to be simply potatoes and eggs.

He cautiously put a single morsel in his mouth, and the taste exploded on his tongue. His mouth involuntarily let out a moan. As if his body had a mind of its own, he immediately began to shove more food in his mouth. He barely gave himself enough time to swallow before taking in another bite. The sensation was far different than he remembered from the taste sensors from the past. The smell, the taste, the mouth feel, all seemed to add up to give him something that flowed pleasantly down his throat. He ate rapidly, and when he was done, he wasn’t aware he had a pleased grin on his face.

“Wow. I’ve never seen someone like my eggs this much…” Ginger wore a strange look on her face.

“They’re very delicious. You’re an incredible cook.” Requiem lacked the experience to make that call, but his memories told him cooks liked compliments, and for Requiem right now, his first meal was remarkable in more ways than one.

Ginger blushed at the compliment, once again struggling to meet his eyes. She seemed to remember the previous night, and her misinterpreted words as well, which caused the shades of color on her cheeks to become even darker.

Once again ignoring the human oddities, Requiem decided to change the conversation. He brought things back to what was going on with the town right now.

“I’m a historian. I’m interested in gathering information on the 112th exodus.” Requiem lied.

“Oh? Is that it? That sounds really tough, considering. I mean, since everything keeps getting left behind.”

Requiem shrugged. “Why don’t you describe to me your version of history? I mean, I like to hear how others describe things. It gives me ideas on how to better write things.”

Even Requiem thought his excuse was flimsy, but Ginger didn’t mind. She immediately launched into the story of humanity as far back as she knew. According to her, humanity had a vast empire that sat at the pinnacle of technology and control many years ago. An alien species known as the Prax suddenly showed up and began killing humanity indiscriminately. They had weapons that could obliterate planets and their ships were invincible to anything humanity could throw at them.

The war that followed lasted millennia, with humanity constantly being pushed back until the quadrillions of humans were reduced to a few billion. Desperate to survive, the royal family built 50 colony ships and fled their home world just as the Prax fleet approached. They left the galaxy, heading to a place far away. This became known as the 1st exodus.

It was a hard and brutal time; supplies were limited and more than half of those who left on the exodus died before reaching a new galaxy. However, the remnants of humanity landed and began to recolonize new worlds in an alien space. It went fine for some 500 years. Then the Prax showed up again, and again began to slaughter humanity. They fled again, starting the next exodus.

Humanity never stopped. They became more and more skilled at it. They’d arrive at a new location, strip mine for resources for a few hundred years, then flee once the Prax showed up. Every time they left, billions would be left behind or die. Entire technology trees became lost, as well as innumerable resources. The earliest time after the exodus that the Prax showed up was 472 years, the longest was 1285 years. Humanity had done this 211 times. The next coming of Prax shouldn’t be for a few hundred years yet.

Requiem fought to keep his face from showing disbelief. This world he had woken up in was considerably different from the one he had originally come from. He did a quick calculation. Each exodus took anywhere from 50 to 200 years. This would mean that humanities been on the run for well over 100,000 years. Since Requiem didn’t believe he’d be able to slip through the multiverse, his only assumption was that this was the future. Over 100,000 years from the last time his program was active. Probably closer to millions of years, since Requiem mentioned the 5 galaxies and the Great Calamity and she gave him a completely blank look.

“The only Great Calamity I know of is the coming of the Prax.” Ginger nodded resolutely.

Requiem gave her a smile. “Thank you, for the information. It’ll help.”

“So… where are you off to now.”

“I heard about some kind of tournament. I’m interested in signing up.”

Ginger’s eyes flashed with surprise. “The Chryos tournament! But…but… why?”

“It seems like an easy way to make 50,000 credits. Since I’m new to the area, I could use the money. They also offer a slave and an exodus token…”

“An exodus token!” Ginger yelled that out in shock, before slapping her hand over her mouth, her face turning red once again. When she spoke again, her voice was quieter. “Does that mean… you’re going to use an android… or… or… a slave?”

Requiem waved his hand. “No. Nothing like that. I probably wouldn’t even accept a slave in the first place. It’d put a bad taste in my mouth. I already detest the idea of forcing AI to serve humans, forcing other humans against their will just seems equally wrong.”

“Oh…” Ginger let out a breath of relief, and then her eyes widened again, and her hand shot out, grabbing Requiem’s arm. “Wait, you don’t mean that you’re going into the tournament, are you?”

Requiem shrugged. “It’s the easiest way.”

Ginger shook for a moment, and it almost looked like she might start crying. “No, don’t. You can’t enter yourself into that tournament!”

Requiem frowned. “Why not?”

“You don’t know? That tournament… they call it that, but that’s not really what it’s like. It’s brutal. It’s savage. There is a better word for it than a tournament. It’s a death match!”

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