To destroy a planet, you don't need enough energy to reduce it to rubble. That is a dozen orders of true magnitude over what is needed to make it inhabitable, and to remove any troublesome hardware that might be on the surface. By the time most civilizations have the power and desire to destroy planets, the exact method doesn't matter too much. For the planet I was to spend so much time sleep on, they used a lot of overkill, but not as much as they could have. Rather than just scouring the surface, they used mass drivers capable of melting into the mantle and flooding the surface with an almost uniform layer of lava. What gasses escaped during this procedure formed a new, thin atmosphere, and even shallow pools. Total destruction of a planet like this seemed extreme compared to what came before, but compared to later epochs, when weapons would remove entire clusters of stars from existence, it was almost nothing. And yet, this would be my place, enclosed in an impenetrable dome at the bottom of one of those shallow pools. My captors were humane, and didn't attempt to punish me, except in one way: they wrote the terrible words I had uttered, the words that were responsible for starting the war, on the wall of the main room.

But they gave me everything I could want. Their art was advanced enough that I could summon anything and experience anything, other than my freedom. The computers almost responded to thought, providing me with any food and any record from history, and I watched it in my salon, the words on the wall looking down on me. But I couldn't leave, and I also had no way to know what was going on outside. My structure was not invulnerable, it could be that the war would begin again, and I would be destroyed. I didn't think about that, as time passed. After a while, I realized that I must also have been made immortal, my lifespan extended beyond even the normal absurd lengths that my civilizations technologies had provided. And I found that they had even provided for this, giving me a suspended animation chamber. I used it for years, decades, centuries...time became meaningless as I slipped into an almost dreamless sleep, but always with the shadow of the words I had spoken, and the destruction it had caused, hanging over me. And finally, one day, I was woken up involuntarily, and when I came to light, there were forms moving over me. I had been discovered, maybe even rescued. My awakeners had forms like mine, but it seemed to be purely a biological relationship at this point, and even that as stretched. From what I could glean (and I was an intelligent person, especially with millennia to dream), the universes situation had moved on, beyond any type of clash of civilizations to a new physics. And I thought that would mean that I would be absolved of the war. But when they finally translated the writing on the wall, a sharp susurru went through them, and they melted away, again without any type of punishment.

My next visitors, uncounted time later, were shadows that moved across my dreamless sleep. Deep within my dreams, it took me a while to realize that this was not another dream, but a visit. These visitors were perhaps the final stage of what was once my own biology, or perhaps something else, something that came from truly outside. And from them, I learned rumors of the last and final wars, and learned that even at a time when physics itself was no longer comprehensible, cruelty and ruin continued. I never learned whether I had their anger and contempt as well, and without explanation, they faded away, leaving me to wonder if anyone could ever take away what I had done.

My final visitors, the ones I am with right now, came in a physical form, because as powerful as they were, they delighted in their traditional form, soft and supple but full of power, moonlike faces with eyes perfect for seeing in the dark of the ending universe, forms that they suggested were developed now and seeded back in and out of time. They told me that things were going to end soon, that they would slip out of time, and I would be the last alive here. The five words on the wall that I stare at as they tell me this can not leave me, and yet there seems that there may be a chance that for the first time in a very long time, I will not be alone, that the dreams will have both an edge and center. I think about it, but right now I also want to fall back into sleep.

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