Short story #2 – The errants

A small ping got the attention of the control tower of the Horizon.

This was caught close to Uranus at the very first place but it was moving inside the solar system.

A few months later it was around Mars and there, the humanity understood that was something artificial due it used a gravity assist from the red planet.

Nor the space control on Olympus town, neither the Watney space station was able to intercept it due to its great velocity but something happens. The probe released a great amount of information to the Martian space station and, at the same time, entered in the main computer looking for something.

In the later months, it used all his propulsion system to decelerate. It was looking for the Earth.

Now! After two months it was inside one of the hangars of the Horizon with scientists and engineers trying to solve his puzzle.

<So! What is this? Any idea?> Igor Martel asked.

<We don’t know, is releasing a huge amount of information inside a single server. Arcas 4 is trying to elaborate it but our linguists in London says there is something more> Casimir replied looking at the alien wrench lying on the floor.

<Did Mars got a bunch of data too?> Martel asked.

<Yes! They sent them to us. They look like maneuvers. Around the Sun and even the Earth but we need to wait for this data for a whole comprehension>

For days everything was silent until a day, while the whole crew was studying the probe. A voice came from the coms. It was a computer generated voice… But it wasn’t Arcas.

He##o! Creatu#r## ## t#i# s#…

Something is digging into the protocols for language

[Arcas says]

<Who?> Casimir asked while calling Martel.

I don’t have a guess, is trying to commun…

Hello! Creatures of this sphere

<Hello to you!> A woman replied <Can we try with… Don’t know! Habitants of this planet>

Yes. Is mejor

<It seems like you shout Arcas down. He won’t like>

Arcas will be dobrze. After I’ll deposit cosa ho rinneadh…

<What’s happening> the man asked while Martel arrived.

<It seems like is mixing languages together, is learning from the Arcas mainframe but the complexity and variety of human languages is to complex to be learned in few time> the woman said.

<Chen. You are a linguist. Any idea what it said>

<No!> she said <I recognize Spanish, Italian, polish and something in the Gaelic area but…>

Arcas will be good! After I’ll deliver the message is with me,
he will be able to speak again.

<What message> Martel asked.

We will use the Earth for a gravity assist, then the Sun again…
Then in a few months, we will leave your system.

<Here we are! It learns to speak> Chen said

<Who is going to use the gravity assist of the Earth?> Martel asked.

I’ll ask you. Chen to not refer to me like it.
But as he or she how you prefer.

<This is really creepy> she said

<Who is coming> Martel asked with an impatient tone

Who built me. They are traveling through galaxies for the new planet
and they’ll just pass close to this planet.

<When they’ll arrive> Casimir asked

They’ll reach what you call Oort… fifty years from now.

<Oh! Ok cool. I’m lucky, I’ll miss the real-life independence day> he said.

<How long are they traveling?> Chen asked.

In your reduced vision of time, Eighty-five million years.

None of them spoke

They send me on every planet that could be scared from their passage
So I forecast their coming and you won’t be scared anymore.

<Amazing> Chen replied

<You came here to deliver a message and you just think we are not even trying to study the ships? Or even worse. Most governments on this planet will try to attack you>

You can do everything you want. The hull of the ships is unpenetrable
to scans and tools. And any weapon or technology in your possession can even make a small scratch on them.
You can waste all your resources and arsenal but you will never damage them
I came here only to forecast their coming.

<What point of you travel are you?> Casimir asked.

We are almost there… Few millions of years to go

<In all this time, the planet you are trying to reach could not exist anymore or being completely changed. Are you aware of that?>

Yes! We are aware of that

<Thanks a lot. We are going to…> Martel didn’t finish the sentence that the probe activated itself and phased outside the station departing for the infinite space.

…icate with you.

<Welcome back Arcas> Casimir said.

—53 years later—

In all this time, humanity was waiting for the coming of these ships. They call them the errants.

Few months before they entered the solar system with an astonishing amount of velocity, now they were there visible from the planet.

Six gigantic ships that didn’t send any message. They were just passing.

As imagined, few governments had the thought to attack them but everyone understood that they were just passing. But due to a small conversation 50 years before, somebody needed an answer.

Alexander Casimir was looking at the ships from his studio onboard the Horizon. He hoped for all his life to can witness that moment, a civilization too busy in such travel that didn’t even care about contact with another amazing species such humanity is something that let you think on what you accomplished so far.

A long time ago in the history, somebody told that if you lost the capacity to get astonished you lost your humanity, obviously humanity in the in his wide concept because they weren’t human but what they are losing in their travel?

He didn’t even have the time to finish his thought that a strange feeling hit his body. A tingling, light and then cold and darkness.

He wasn’t on the Horizon anymore. In front of him a creature, not earthly for sure that was looking at him.

Four tiny and long stick-shaped limbs allowed it to walk around under a rudimental body that probably contained organs, then a neck and a big brain with two eyes.

Damn! Were five meters high at least.

He was divided by Casimir due to glass. Not really solid from what he could understand, partially liquid but he supposed was for a confined atmosphere.

Explain!

A voice said from everywhere.

<Who – Who – Who are you?> Casimir asked.

You know me. Fifty years ago, I told you about the coming

Now Casimir remember the voice of the alien probe <A lot of time>

Explain!

<Explain what?> Casimir asked when a rec started.

In all this time, the planet you are trying to reach could not exist anymore or being completely changed. Are you aware of that?

<Universe is not static, it changes in time and in the millions of years of your travel, is even possible that it is not like you knew when you left. A planet can meet any sort of catastrophe in a blink> He answered

That is inconvenient

<You travel in space, you don’t know this?>

Probably they know. But the target of this travel
has clouded their mind.

<Too busy for the reality outside, maybe we are not different after all> Casimir said <What will you do now?>

Coming back is unthinkable
We are too fast, we are too far and due to your explanation
I don’t know what they are gonna find.
But we will find a way.

<Good luck> Casimir said while they sent him back.

Both of them learned a precious lesson that day…

-ldmarchesi

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