James spent the next several weeks much as he had his whole professional life, in meetings, and he was always aware of the irony. He was more invested in the goal this time, but he couldn't rouse himself from the stupor that had taken over him after those few words whispered into his ear. In fact, when he wasn't in meetings, James was much like anyone else, he was glued to the news. He watched and read every scrap of it, and had people monitoring it for him while he was in those meetings. The only reason he didn't have feeds wired directly into the conference rooms was because he wanted some semblance of focus.
He thought about the empire he'd made for himself, how it was basically meaningless now, except for the last practical measures he could derive from it, how all of it came down to basic survival, exactly what he had always told himself he was far beyond, that he was shaping the future, creating a world that no one had ever seen or even dreamt of before, a vision that had once been so clear. Now there was virtually nothing, and he found himself thinking instead of what lay ahead, after all of it was finally gone, when not just the earth but the whole empire no longer existed. There would be so few people, and though he planned on spending the time in the fleet of humanity among his fellow luminaries, what did that ultimately mean? That one wasn't even his idea. James found it absurd, even, the thought that those he had once casually considered his kind were somehow better off removed from the rest of the survivors. Those people, who would now outnumber them by an even greater margin, would have their first taste of life not just after the planet, but outside all that influence. They would realize the same thing James had, that it changed nothing, and everything.
So when the time came and he boarded his frigate, and set off into space, watching the hundred ships of the fleet around him, he finally let off a laugh. It was the least he could do. Then someone started singing, and he lost the train of thought.