A small ping got the attention of the control tower of the Horizon.
This was caught close to Uranus in the very first place but it was moving inside the solar system.
A few months later it was around Mars and there, 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 say 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 the computer.
He##o! Creatu#r## ## t#i# s#…
Something is digging into the protocols for language
“Who?” Casimir asked while calling Martel.
I don’t have a guess, is trying to comun…
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”
Computer 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 our database but the complexity and variety of human languages is to complex to be learned in a matter of seconds” 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…”
The computer 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 one.
“When they’ll arrive,” Casimir asked
They’ll reach what you call Oort… fifty years from now.
“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 your 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 is 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” 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 as big as the moon, maybe bigger, 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 he could 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 lets you think a lot.
A long time ago in history, somebody told that if you lost the capacity to get astonished, you lost your humanity.
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. He was in an ambient that he couldn’t describe, it was like the time was really slowing down like it happens with certain animals on Earth, their life span is so high that time seems to pass slower.
The aliens were gigantic and probably, if he could stay there for thousands of year he could percept them moving around and doing stuff but it would be far beyond his lifetime
Something approached him, it was something he saw long ago, it was the alien probe.
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 what?” Casimir asked when a rec started.
In all this time, the planet you are trying to reach could not exist anymore or is completely changed. Are you aware of that?
“Universe is not static, it changes in time and in the millions of years of your travel, it 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 meaning of this travel
has clouded their mind.
“Too busy for the reality, 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.
We always do.
“Good luck” Casimir said while they sent him back.
In a generational ship, an early generation discovers they got deceived about the most important topic and they will have to decide what to do.
Another sci-fi short story really fast to read for pass the time during this lockdown. The dream of Mars is on the edge and a casual event will save it.