The doors slid quietly behind the silent, pensive figure. He stood for a moment, barely framed in the arch of the in the doorway; a great mountain of a man. The neatly groomed head of white hair and heavy, gray brows that hung low over his deep, dark eyes were the only evidence of his storied years. Gentle folds in his skin at the corners of his eyes and mouth bestowed an added degree of warmth to his slight but inviting smile. His graying, aged dress coat strained to span the width of his broad shoulders and barrel chest. Around his solid but not protruding waist was a similarly gray and aging cummerbund. The pants of the suit, though wearing thin from years of use, were neatly pressed and draped gracefully from his waist to the well-polished shoes that completed the outfit.
This was the man known only as "The Big L," the man who more than 90 years ago had saved the human race from total annihilation at their own hands. This was the man to whom every living being that now orbited the planet owed their lives and gladly gave their allegiance. He casually placed a hand in his pocket, and, turning to the serving robot that stood waiting with the eternal patience one would expect of a machine, gave a nod to proceed with the serving of the meal. As the robot disappeared into the kitchen to bring out the rest of the serving droids, The Big L made his way to the seat that had been reserved for him, at the table where his council of leaders stood at attention, waiting for him to sit.
As he took the seat, the Big L slowly looked around the hushed room. After a moment, he laughed engagingly. "Please, as you were! I forbid you to be so morose!" he proclaimed, "This is feast, not a funeral!" The deathly silence broke then, and the room once more was alive with gaiety and laughter, and people happily engaging in lively conversation.
Madseu're however, kept an eye on the door from which the robot servers would be shortly entering with food and drink. A procession of droids came forth with all the pomp that the occasion could demand of them. Mechanical head held high, and steaming covered dishes held over these by delicate mechanical hands.
First the Big L and his entourage were served, and as these began to elegantly set upon their food, the robots came around to the rest of the tables that filled the starlit hall. Madseu're anxiously waited his turn, concerned to see how the food had turned out after he had left the kitchen. With a tentative stab of the fork, he took a bite. Not overcooked, at any rate, he thought as his teeth sank into the morsel. He chewed his mouthful for a few moments. Salty, he decided, a bit too salty. Not enough to ruin the meal, but it was definitely time to recalibrate some of the kitchen droids.
As the serving robots were bringing out the desserts, the Big L stood and calmly motioned the room to silence until all eyes were once more fixed on him. He said nothing for a moment, and from where he sat, Madseu’re could almost have sworn he saw tears winking in his eyes, barely held back even by the willpower of the leader of men known as the Big L. Taking a breath, the Big L spoke, softly, but in that silent hall, not an ear in the room could miss what he said.
“My,” he began, “My dear, dear friends; brothers; sisters; companions in exile; from your forebears you already know that for 92 years, in our ships, stations, and assorted satellites, we have circled a dying world- a world that was once our home- the only home we could ever have wanted. Through greed, hatred, fear, anger, evils all of our own design, our world was destroyed in seven dark days of unthinkably violent destruction. We have lingered within the pull of her gravity, searching the heavens desperately to find a new world that we might call home. Now, after three generations of searching, our telescopes and probes have found a possibility. The only thing that remains now is for a manned mission to explore this distant globe and to assess its potential as our new frontier home. The crew has been chosen, and I am to lead this mission.”
As the room began to stir in reaction to this announcement, the Big L raised a great hand to calm the crowd. “Do not be troubled. I go to prepare a place for you. You may doubt, or you may be anxious for yourselves when I leave, but be assured, I do not go forever. I shall return. I would as soon part from you as from my own children. But go I must, so in my absence, I leave you in the most capable hands I can find. A Council of Elders has been appointed to make decisions, settle disputes, and so forth.” He stopped. “But you probably wonder now, what assurance you have of my return. By now, each of you will have received a token, some possession of mine. I have divided everything I have among the crew of this station, to hold and look after while I am gone. You hold in your hands all of my corporeal wealth. Keep it well, and you will be rewarded upon my return. I leave in 12 hours on a ship, bound for the distant planet Terra Secunda. Until we meet again, remember me as I will remember you; my family, my children.”