George stared out at the burning ruins of Washington D.C., his face grim and pitiless. Behind him was Thomas, seated on an old coach, smoking and looking like an old European aristocrat despite his biker-like clothes. Unlike him, the latter had an ironic grin on his face that could scarcely be hidden by the smoke and dirty light.

Both were in an abandoned office building in the middle of D.C. The structure’s interior was bathed in darkness, save for those parts near the shattered windows and torn off doors. In the distance, the light of bombs and rioting filled the night sky. Street fighting erupted earlier when the “traitors” blockaded D.C. and besieged its utilities.

News that the White House has been attacked by a toxin device had been announced an hour before, and before that were battle tracking reports of dozens of anonymous partisan groups fighting across the DC area. And all that took place only in the capital.

The rest of the United States—the rest of the world even—was in a much worse shape, and have been that way for years.

With its water and electricity cut off, it took the city little time to descend into chaos. At that point, the city devolved into pure anarchy: pillaged, not by armed fighters, but by rioters.

George looked down upon the rioting capital, and his grim aquiline face became indifferent, almost at peace. Absentmindedly, he brushed his right hand over his close crop grey hair and straightened his brown corduroy jacket, as though preparing to meet important people.

Thomas, meanwhile, stretched on the couch, his leather coat and jeans ill-suited to his patrician features. His was an elderly gentlemen’s face hiding a hellion’s soul and the raider’s temper. He smiled at George and then promptly threw the stub of the cigar he was smoking out the window.

“Everything great; everything noble starts with violence,” Thomas said.

“So you’ve said countless times,” George answered curtly.

“And so have many others,” Thomas gestured to the burning spectacle in the distance, a vigorous smile on his face. “It has simply become old, that’s all. It has become powerful, but also old, tired and worn out, governed by bureaucrats who will justify the most obscene hypocrisies…”

“Some may say that we were not above hypocrisies ourselves,” George interrupted.

“Since when did we become the paragons of virtue? We fought for ourselves and our country. We don’t owe anything to anyone else,” Thomas scoffed, smoke trailing from his second cigar. “It’s all academic, anyway.”

“It’s always been academic,” George answered, “Academic until you actually have to stake your ground and fight for it.”

“I never liked your grimmer moods.”

“Frankly, I never really gave a damn.”

“Speaking of giving a damn,” Thomas said with a puff of smoke, “our guest has arrived.”

At that very instant, a thin, little man with glasses stumbled through the darkness and fell flat on his face. He was a short little thing, oblivious to real hardship, his mind filled with his own theories, his heart believing only in the abstraction that he created. He looked up, and something akin to wrath, grief, and contempt filled his features.

He quickly stood up and fixed his glasses, brushed the dust off of his bureaucrat’s suit, and did his best to look like some vaguely wise archetype from a beloved series. The Technocrat imagined himself an enlightened creature, credentialized and respected by the necessary organizations of his profession, so it is only reasonable that he be given his due respect.

Despite this, neither George nor Thomas spoke first. They simply stared at him, the former with stoicism, the latter with a smug contempt. The tiny little man—his pale face bright and sickly against the moon’s sun—had a thousand things to say: insults, excuses, explanations, platitudes, and the countless rhetoric that he has perfected in an entire lifetime.

But none came. Neither explanations nor apologies.

Then George spoke in a melancholic voice. “Your world is burning.”

Those four words pierced something deep in the Technocrat. Not the sorrows of those he exploited, nor the madness of those he manipulated, not even the hate of those whom he has wronged. No, the technocrat was enraged at the knowledge that this frail, imperfect world has failed him; failed his brilliance, failed his dream.

The Technocrat hurled insults at the two men before him, blamed them for their shortcomings. He insulted their parentage and cursed their children. Then, fully spent, he became quiet. He furiously straightened his suit, glared at the two men as though they were beneath him; uncredentialed hicks that they were.

“I suppose you think you’ve won,” he said in his most condescending smile, meant to (poorly) imitate a noble poise.

Despite this, the two simply stared back at him, without condescension nor malice. The men were what the Technocrat could only pretend at, and they looked at a lesser being with the temerity to consider himself their equals.

Anger gripped the Technocrat, and he would have explained how his vast ships, massive armies, gargantuan industries, wise intellectuals, and his vast wealth will crush the rebels. He wanted to say that he was a unifier of many different peoples, while the rebels sought division. He wanted to say that he was the herald of progress and rationality, while the two men in front of him were nothing more than anachronisms.

He had so much to say to explain why he would win. But George cut him off even as he uttered the first word, as though he was unwilling to hear more of what the little creature had to say.

“All ages bring something beautiful; something to aspire to,” George said, and his voice was that of a harsh judge. “You have lost that. There is nothing more from you. Now is the time to fade.”

And he reached his hand out to the Technocrat.

The Technocrat swatted it away, anger filling him even as his form flickered and pain wracked his body. “That,” he jabbed a thumb at the riots, as though dismissing them, “does not matter. I still have my institutions and when this little—“

“When this little war is over, you won’t be around anymore,” Thomas said.

“And neither will your institutions, policies, or treaties. They are obsolete,” George followed through. “You are obsolete, relics from a dead age.”

“My ‘obsolescence’ will lead to civil war! Destruction all across the world! Death and suffering! Is that what you want?”

“What we want is irrelevant,” George said. “Now, come along.”

The Technocrat’s face became furious as the two men approached him. Reality stirred as his grip on the world faltered. The end had come for him, and he could go either willingly and with grace or he could be torn off screaming. For the Technocrat, surrender did not even enter into his mind.

But the two did not approach as his jailors. They clasped gentle hands upon his shoulder, as though to steady him.

Soon, a fourth presence made itself known, something far more powerful, and it wrapped itself around him. This was Time, the Great Destroyer, and it would grant him the same gift it had given to all its predecessors. After all, it was only fitting that the passing age may glimpse its successor.

The epiphany came not as a singular image but as a direct knowing of things as though they were happening in the present, without the experience of locality. Emotions and passions mixed with data and numbers blended together, beyond the scope of human contexts.

For the Technocrat, whose very being was defined by context and fluid definitions, such knowing was anathema, evil even. Here was truth stripped of all care for human needs, and the technocrat was powerless to control it. As far as he understood it, all knowledge could only exist when contextualized and managed by his power, to strip it of dangerous essence and to transform it into something human.

But this thing was beyond human, and instead of stripping it of its power, he was stripped down to face it instead, powerless and without the will to resist.

Then the knowledge revealed the fate of the country; of how the Technocrat’s beloved institutions would crumble; of how the laws which he controlled would be discarded; of the desecration of his myths and of the extinction of his creations.

It was a terrible thing to behold the country gradually falling into disunity; the army becoming mercenary bands; armed militias marching across cities; the chain of command collapsing; and the industrial military bureaucracy hunted down and lined up in the firing line. The only bright side in all this was that foreign powers did not take advantage because they too were engaged in their own civil wars.

Gated communities were torn down as homes were looted and burned by maddened rioters; fathers buried their sons; daughters were lost to the darkness; chaos and anarchy reigned all over the nation as blood spilled through its streets.

The old skyscrapers still stood, but they were ultimately abandoned as people fled. Cities were gradually depopulated. The mass urban society which has defined the world for more than century faded, just as it faded throughout the world. But most important of all was the death of Pax Americana, as the world created after the Great War was swallowed up and devoured by a new war.

Amidst all this, they came.

The new virility. Men who created order out of chaos; men whose fists crushed the detritus of the old institutions. The Technocrat screamed wordlessly at them, for they came to replace him, the obsolete relic from a dying age.

They were mercenaries, militia leaders, modern-day warlords, pirates, and leaders of insane dreams. Chaos was their enemy and mistress. Their tools were IEDs, makeshift drones, DIY rifles, and pickup trucks armed with RPGs. They thundered across the country’s open fields, modern day Huns, Vandals and Goths tearing out the beating heart of the old regime.

The old, heavily-centralized military-industrial machinery was powerless to stop them. The machine worked well enough in times of peace and with a stable base of power to support it, but it could not function when its organs had been hollowed out by decades of corruption, complacency, and plain old stupidity.

The Technocrat saw all this, and he tore out his hair, yearning for some Adderall. He cried the old spells to cast away the evil knowledge.

“Fascism! Fascists!”

But those words died with the old institutions, died with the old version of the country. These men were the characters of a new myth, and from the bloody battlefields, they erected new institutions forged for a renewed nation and a different world.

The Technocrat felt the death of his beautiful world, becoming nothing more than antiques. All his ideas, his aesthetics, his creed, all consigned to a different age. For the men of vitality created new ideas, aesthetics, and creeds. By their actions, they were forging new myths, about themselves and of those who came before.

In the midst of destruction and loss, the new men of vitality were filled with the bittersweet joy of life. These men stood next to George and Thomas, for they were of the same kind: men who create by their very vitality, driven by purpose and creating through their will and valor what lesser men create by words and ideas. The world opened for these men, even as it closed for the Technocrat.

It was the final anathema.

The world that he claimed was and always his had abandoned him. History had abandoned him. The world of capital and mass institutions was gone. It was destroyed, not by communism or fascism or some other ideology, but by time, the destroyer of all things.

The Technocrat was filled with rage. He gnashed his teeth and would have also torn out his hair if he had the passion for it. The world had ended. Humanity had ended. For that was their fate without HIM. Only he held the salvation of the world, and now that his time has ended, so too must the world end—

“No,” George said calmly, and he came towards the Technocrat in a fatherly way, his elderly face filled with pity. Oh, he despised that face, despised everything it meant. “Your time has ended. It’s time to go. Come with us.”

“Never,” the Technocrat rasped. “Do you understand what a world without me will become?”

“Everything must eventually come to an end.”

“You came to an end! Both of you! Not I! I AM THE ARC OF HISTORY. My work is too important to end. It will mean the end of the human race and the destruction of this world—“

“Countless others have said the same thing,” Thomas interrupted. “Now! Come along!”

“You don’t seem to get it!” the Technocrat whined, his power now diminishing. “Human rights, civil rights, peace: all of that will die. Pax Americana will die! Can’t you see that!? The world will return to what it was before.”

“Yes,” both men answered as though that was answer enough, then they became silent. Both started to fade, becoming more and more distant as the seconds passed. The Technocrat felt it, too. He was fading quickly, a dying age slowly passing away, murdered by time.

The Technocrat’s final moments were ones of bitterness; bitterness at the age that was coming to replace him; bitterness at his own failures; bitterness at a world that did not even weep for him. As his creations slipped from existence, forgotten relics of a bygone age, the world turned and ushered in a new age.