CLASH OF EMPIRES

“I don’t think this is a good idea,” Civilization said, nervously looking around the empty chairs. The room was huge, but would seem small very shortly. “You know how the empires fight when they get together.”

“It’ll be all right,” Technology replied absently, stirring his coffee. He sat to Civilization’s right, dressed impeccably, as always, in a suit and tie.

Civilization stared at the door, a pensive look on her face. “We called this meeting so that we can introduce the Present to his Past, right?”

“Yes,” Technology was still stirring his coffee, thinking about nothing so weighty as the meeting that they were about to conduct. Rather, he was concentrating on creating a small whirlpool in his coffee mug, wondering if it would be possible to make a mug that would stir itself.

“Well, then, why did we have to invite everyone? Couldn’t we have left out the marginalized empires? You know how testy they get when someone brings them up.”

“We couldn’t have left anyone out, Civilization, my dear, because they would be insulted and probably ignite a revival. That would be a headache, for both of us.”

Civilization nodded, still deep in thought. So deep, in fact, that she didn’t notice when the door opened and Sumer walked into the room, taking a seat across from the two inside.

“Hello,” he said quietly, tapping his hand on the table.

“Oh, hello, Sumer,” Technology replied. This was one of the marginalized empires, so he didn’t say much more than ‘hello.’ If it had been Rome, however, they would’ve had a good chat.

The Hittite empire opened the door, and sniffed disdainfully at Sumer. Then, snubbing done, she sat in the far corner. Hittite didn’t like to associate with other marginalized empires.

Sumer, however, took offense. “What was that?” he asked, losing his normally quiet attitude.

“You know exactly what it was,” Hittite replied, her voice like the screech of a harpy.

“You owe most of your legal ideas, your council, your literary style to me,” Sumer snapped.

“No, Sumer dear,” Hittite waved her hand dismissively. “We improved on an existing, lacking culture.”

Civilization broke in before it could get more violent. “Hello, Sumer and Hittite. Please, save the arguing for the actual meeting.”

“At least I wasn’t brought down by infighting,” Hittite muttered.

“Better than drought and earthquake,” Sumer retorted.

Phoenicia had entered the room, unnoticed by the combatants. He was a little embarrassed about the creation of Carthage. It really had been an accident.

Hittite laughed when she noticed him, but fell silent when Minos came in. It was no secret that she was afraid of him.

“Hey, everyone,” Minos said, sitting near Civilization.

“Hi, Minos,” Civilization was already nursing a headache. Technology had finished his coffee and was wondering if he could create a mug that would refill itself.

“Hi, Civilization. Hey, Phoenicia! How’s Carthage doing?”

“Leave him alone, Minos,” Sumer told him. Minos was a bully, but he only picked on Phoenicia because any other empire could’ve stomped him with their military.

“Hello, everyone!” the present empires turned. Babylon was in the house. He sauntered in like he owned the place, picking the seat to Technology’s right. Technology still ignored him.

“Babylon!” Minos said, a smile playing across his lips, “How are your gardens?”

Babylon stopped in his tracks. “What did you say?”

“You know, Babylon,” Minos was actually smiling now, “It’s hilarious that you were great and mighty and all that, and what people remember of you is your gardens.”

“They were very nice gardens,” Babylon said quietly, taking his seat.

“Lots of invention in them,” Technology said. “Civilization, why did you invite Minos? He didn’t come up with anything awesome.”

“I had to,” Civilization replied.  “Headaches for us, remember?”

“Right.” Technology took out his phone and began to design his self-stirring, self-refilling mug. Babylon and Hittite stared at the device as though it was a gift directly from the heavens.

The door opened again, and Persia came in. He took the seat beside Sumer, not drawing attention to himself. Babylon spotted him and sank down in his chair.

“You put up a good fight, Babylon,” Persia said. “Don’t beat yourself up over it. Maybe if the fight had been on my land, you would’ve won.” Persia was like that. He liked to put everyone else at ease, not trumpeting his victories as many did. His nature was a reflection of his first emperor, Cyrus the Great.

“You empires,” Technology muttered. “Always so bloodthirsty. Must you all be built upon the corpse of the one that came before?”

Civilization scoffed. “You’re a fine one to talk, Technology. Remember the 1900’s?”

“That was necessary.”

The empires began to talk amongst themselves, the hum of conversation rising.

When the door opened again, the talk immediately fell silent. They were all scared of Rome.

Rome and Greece came in together, Rome’s arm draped over Greece’s shoulders. Both empires were very handsome, losing the pointed beard that had been the fashion in Persia. Rome was clean-shaven, muscular and tall, reflecting the values of his culture. Greece looked much the same, and the two were so similar they could’ve been brothers.

“You see, Greece,” Rome was saying, “I saw your culture and that it was superior to the one that I had at the time, and I borrowed it. Then, by combining it with the elements of mine that were better, I created the perfect culture.”

“It was still just a copy of mine,” Greece mumbled.

“No, it wasn’t!” Rome exploded, pushing the smaller Greece away from him. They took chairs on opposite sides of the table.

Technology, who really hadn’t been paying much attention up to now, sat up straighter. “Civilization, you didn’t invite the Middle Ages, did you?”

“Of course I did. Can’t leave anyone out, Technology.”

It wasn’t really a secret that Technology hated the Middle Ages. He had become a baby, as the people forgot their technologies and returned to primitive ways of life. It was only after the Renaissance that he had started to grow up, and had only during the Industrial Revolution become an adult.

Middle Ages, Renaissance and Industrial Revolution each came in, quietly taking their places. Renaissance was ashamed that her ideas had brought about so much death in the human world, so much revolution. It had probably been for the best, but no one could tell.

Middle Ages was fascinated by the pen before him, staring at it like it was the Holy Grail. He had never seen such interesting technology, and couldn’t fathom what would be done with it.

Industrial Revolution worried that his technologies would only lead to more hurt and pain, as they had in the 1800’s. He hated that children had been forced to work in his factories, often getting hurt or maimed there. That was a horrible blot on his otherwise golden record. Well, that and pollution.

The door opened one last time, and a young boy walked in. He was the Present, or the era that would become the 2000’s. So far, he didn’t believe in truth, law, responsiblity or anything like that, he was a firm believer that he was the epitome of the eras and he didn’t believe in getting married.

“All right,” Civilization said, after he took his seat on her left. “Is everyone here?”

“You forgot China, the Goths, the Huns, the Japanese, the Americans, the British,” Technology began, but Civilization cut him off.

“One thing at a time, Technology. Is everyone I invited here?”

“Why do I need to know them?” Present asked, before anyone else could reply. “They’re all dead. They can’t teach me anything I don’t already know.”

Civilization and Technology, indeed, all the empires and eras, stared at him in shock. Never before had an era been so prideful, so self-centered. Not even Rome had dared to ignore the past.

“I don’t even think that I need to be here,” Present continued. With that, he stood up and left the room. Shocked quiet reigned for several minutes.

“This is bad,” Technology said, breaking the silence.

One by one, the empires and eras nodded.

“Yes,” Civilization replied, feeling a sinking deep within her. “Those who don’t remember their past are bound to repeat it.”

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