What on Earth is that jellyfish doing out there in space, a regular cnidarian out of water? Is it a B-movie monster? A tentacle-waving spaceship? A hyper-intelligent creature come to change our ideas about life on other planets? Share you story of this space-faring creature.
This digital painting, titled "First Contact," was created by Plymouth University illustration student Tom Harrison (via reddit). Harrison has his own description of the creature in his painting (which he calls "Object S31"), so you can check out his blurb for further inspiration. As always, we invite you to come up with your own story based on this image and post it in the comments.
When they crested the hill, Parker let out a gasp. "Wow! You can really see it from up here."
Jeremy grinned as he slipped out of his backpack. "I told you," he said. "You have to get away from the city lights."
Parker looked up and blew out a long breath, warm and white in the nighttime chill. "I've never seen this many stars. I can't believe it took a giant jellyfish to get us up here."
Jeremy pulled a tartan blanket from his pack and the two men spread it over the ground. As Parker smoothed out the last few wrinkles, Jeremy produced two peanut butter sandwiches and a bottle of pinot. He poured the wine into two plastic party cups and handed one to Parker.
"Do you think it'll hurt?" Parker asked, staring at the creature as it hovered like a living moon in the night sky.
Jeremy shook his head. "I don't think it's smart enough to feel pain. Otherwise I think it would know better than to slam into out atmosphere."
Parker hugged his knees as he took another sip of wine. "Maybe it's just attracted to all the water."
Jeremy gave him a soft smack in the back of the head. "It's not really a jellyfish, dummy."
Parker swatted him away. "I know. I just feel sorry for it. It's been traveling through space all this time, probably came from light-years away, and it ends up just another bug on our windshield."
"Hey!" Jeremy pointed toward the jellyfish. "It's starting!"
They watched as their living moon transformed into a dying sun, blazing with midday brightness. But before it faded into charred alien embers, Jeremy leaned over and planted a kiss on the corner of Parker's lips. Parker's gaze never left the sky, though, not even after the light died and the stars returned to the sky.
Michael Munro's story:
The following is a verbatim transcript of the exchanges between light aircraft pilot Eugene Michael Clements and Wellington City air traffic control, from the first three pages of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority report.
19:06:14 DSJ [Clements]: Wellington, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. Is there any known traffic below five thousand?
FS [Flight Services]: Delta Sierra Juliet, no known traffic.
DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, I am, ah, there seems to be a very large aircraft below five thousand.
19:06:44 FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, what type of aircraft is it?
DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, I cannot affirm, I'm seeing lights, and it seems to me like landing lights.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.
19:07:31 DSJ: Wellington, this is Delta Sierra Juliet, the aircraft has just passed over me at least a thousand feet above.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, and it is a large aircraft, confirmed?
DSJ: Er - unknown, due to the speed it's travelling, is there any air force aircraft in the vicinity?
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, no known aircraft in the vicinity.
19:08:18 DSJ: Wellington, it's approaching now from due east towards me.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.
19:08:41 DSJ: (open microphone for two seconds.)
19:08:48 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, it seems to me that he's playing some sort of game, he's flying over me two, three times at speeds I could not identify.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, what is your actual level?
DSJ: My level is four and a half thousand, four five zero zero.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet and you confirm you cannot identify the aircraft?
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, stand by.
19:09:27 DSJ: Wellington, Delta Sierra Juliet, it's not an aircraft it is (open microphone for two seconds) alive.
19:09:42 FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, can you describe the - er - aircraft?
DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, as it's flying past it's a long shape (open microphone for three seconds) tentacles (open microphone for one second) cannot identify more than it has such speed (open microphone for three seconds). It's before me right now Wellington.
19:10 FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger and how large would the - er - object be?
19:10:19 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, Wellington, it seems like it's chasing me. What I'm doing right now is orbiting and the thing is just orbiting on top of me also. It's translucent, it's huge, I can't tell how big (open microphone for three seconds) like an oil slick (open microphone for two seconds).
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet
19:10:46 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet (open microphone for three seconds) It's just vanished.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.
19:11:00 DSJ: Wellington, would you know what kind of object I've got? Is it a military (open microphone for two seconds).
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, Confirm the - er ~ aircraft just vanished.
DSJ: Say again.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, is the aircraft still with you?
DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet; it's (open microphone for two seconds) now approaching from the south-west.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet
19:11:50 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, my engine is rough-idling. I've got it set at twenty three twenty-four and the thing is (coughing).
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, what are your intentions?
DSJ: My intentions are - ah - ah - Wellington, that strange object is hovering on top of me again (open microphone for two seconds). It is hovering and (open microphone for one second) it's not an aircraft.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.
19:12:28 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet. Wellington (open microphone for seventeen seconds, loud ringing and metallic scraping sounds).
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, are you there?
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, do you copy?
END OF TRANSCRIPT
The International Resource Management stasis capsule popped open with a hiss, and using all of his remaining strength, Capt. Frank Marshall hauled his heavy body out of the chamber. He stumbled and fell to his knees with a slap on the cold floor as he struggled to approach the control console. It was only 10 or 15 feet away, but to him it might've well been light years. He broke into a coughing fit that forced him to stop for a moment. He finished and cleared his throat loudly before finally attempting to speak to the ship's computer. "AIMOS," He coughed and grunted, "date and location, please."
The computer chimed to attention before answering, "Good morning, Captain, the current Earth-date is July 18, 2247. We are presently in orbit over our final destination: The Neptune moon of Triton. Would you like further information?"
Frank coughed again and wiped his mouth, "No, AIMOS, that will do. Can you bring my chair over to me, please? I can barely crawl, let alone stand." The computer chimed again in affirmation, as the chair from the control console slid over to to where Frank was laying. He awkwardly hauled and clamoured his near-lifeless body up onto the cushioned seat. Immediately, the chair slid him back to the control panel, and Frank was greeted with all of his relevant current mission statistics. How long he'd been in stasis, the present date, and his location. "Six years?" He thought out loud. "AIMOS, what happened? Why are we behind schedule?"
The computer chimed to life again. "I have ran a full diagnostic report for you. It is presently on your interface screen." Frank rubbed his eyes and sighed hard. "AIMOS, could you please just tell me what I want to know? My eyes are blurry and my head is splitting. I just want to know why it took six years and not five."
"Of course, Captain. As you know, our coordinates were sent to us from mission control. They were remotely controlling the ship while you were in stasis. However."
"Yes, Captain. However, we lost contact with them approximately 13 months ago. When this unfortunate development arose, I then took over control of the ship."
"Okay, so? Why so slow?"
"Because, Captain," AIMOS chirped, "I am not programmed to navigate the ship at speeds higher than mk. 2 thrust. You can see on your screen that we have arrived at the appropriate time if this speed is taken into account."
Frank sighed heavily and slouched in his chair. AIMOS served him with a pouch of water (which he sucked back graciously), some painkillers and a mild amphetamine to shake the grogginess. After a short time, the feeling returned to his legs, and he decided it was time to finally stand and stagger over to the toilet. When finished, he stood staring out of one of the few porthole-like windows. Before him, the beautiful blue giant, Neptune rose on the horizon. It was breathtaking, he thought. But this was no time for sightseeing. He had to suit up and prepare the mission cargo for deployment. He was already running behind schedule.
He showered and climbed into a fresh navy blue jumpsuit, the IRM logo emblazoned on the arm. He then returned to his command chair and took control of the ship. It was time to head for the surface. He punched in the necessary coordinates and took hold of the manual controls. It was time to take the ship down to the surface and deploy the massive IRM teleporter rig.
The ship began the descent, rattling and shaking as it neared the surface of the icy moon. It would be a few minutes before he reached his destination, so he decided to suit up into an EVA suit. The teleporter wasn't going to set itself up, after all. As he suited up, he talked to AIMOS.
"AIMOS," He said, "is there any known reason why we would lose contact with Mission Control?"
The computer answered, "There is no known reason why we would have lost contact, Captain. Perhaps there is trouble? I don't want to worry you of course, Captain, but there is any number reasons why we could lose contact. This mission is a first for IRM, and therefore unforeseeable circumstances may arise...We will be arriving on the surface in 6 minutes, Captain."
Trouble? Frank began to worry as he grabbed his fishbowl helmut and locked it into place. With a quick twist, it clicked and hissed affirmatively. He was ready. Six years had been taken from his life, and he couldn't wait to set up the teleporter, and be back home in time for supper. He thought about his wife, and his daughter. She'd be, what? fifteen now, he thought. Too long.
"1 minute until we land, Captain," AIMOS announced.
Frank turned and walked to the airlock. He punched in a code and the door whirred open. He stepped in and sat on the cushioned bench inside. He'd be out on the surface of Triton in a few minutes. The first human ever. But certainly not the last, if IRM were to have their way. "Hey AIMOS, you don't think the war on Earth really broke out, do you? I mean, a lot can happen in six years, and there wasn't a whole lot of drinkable water left on Earth when I left. Do you think...?"
"I cannot speculate, Captain. Let us hope that whatever conflict may have arisen will be swiftly settled once IRM—once we—successfully begin transporting the rich resources of Triton's frozen fresh water ocean to Earth."
Frank grunted. There was some reason to be hopeful. The airlock door sealed, and the ship shook. The landing gear had made contact with the frozen surface of the moon. He was nearly finished. All that was left to do was deploy the transporter. He stepped out onto the surface, the frost crunched beneath his boots. There was some degree of gravity here. It was enough to keep his feet on the ground, but he hadn't planned on doing any jumping around, anyway.
He keyed in a command on his wrist module, and turned to watch the ship's cargo bay crack open. A massive metallic machine rolled out on wheels. Frank steered the machine about 50 feet away from the ship, and pressed the button to activate the teleporter assembly. It opened like a massive metallic flower in bloom. Hydraulic arms slowly pulled huge components from the opened storage container. It would take close to 30 minutes to fully assemble. He began to run the necessary tests to ensure that everything was operating accordingly, when something seared intensely through his mind. He dropped to his knees, and put his hands up to his helmut. The pain was so intense, he thought he was going to pull the fishbowl off of his head. He felt his nose trickle with blood. "What the hell is going on?" He steamed.
Just then, something indescribable told him to look upward. He did, and what he saw was unlike anything he had ever seen. Above him, floating in the black and starry sky, was a massive being. He could only describe it as a giant jellyfish. Whatever this creature was, it attempted again to speak to him, sending more head-splitting pain through his skull. Finally, it spoke.
"YOU WILL LEAVE IMMEDIATELY."
"What?" He didn't know what else to say.
"YOU WILL LEAVE THE SATELLITE YOU CALL TRITON. YOU WILL LEAVE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE."
"Leave?! But why? I have a mission to complete. After I deploy this teleporter, I'm out of here. But more will come. This is a passageway back to Earth."
"WE KNOW THIS. YOU WILL RETURN TO EARTH, AND THE MACHINE WILL BE DESTROYED. YOU HAVE NO OPTIONS."
"What are you saying? I just spent five...no, six years in stasis for this mission. I am completing it."
"WE HAVE READ YOUR MIND. YOU ARE HUMAN. YOU CANNOT HAVE THE WATER OF TRITON. HUMANS ARE A PLAGUE OF THIS GALAXY. YOU WILL RETURN TO YOUR DISEASED PLANET. YOU WILL BE GIVEN ONE CHANCE BEFORE THE MACHINE IS DESTROYED."
"No!" Frank shouted back, "I will not just leave! I have to get this water to Earth. People are dying. We need this water."
AIMOS announced into Frank's earpiece, "The machine is almost deployed. Are you okay, Captain? Your heart rate and neural activity have jumped rapidly. Do you need to return to the ship?" Frank shook his head. "There's something out here. It's trying to stop the mission!"
AIMOS chimed an affirmative, "Defence systems are being launched. Hang on, Captain."
A turret rose from the ship, and launched several small missiles toward the giant looming jellyfish. Within a few seconds, the missiles exploded in mid-space. Frank stood in hopeless awe of what was happening.
"YOUR VIOLENCE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED HERE. YOU WILL LEAVE IMMEDIATELY."
Just then, Capt. Frank Marshall's entire ship exploded, the shock sent him hurtling through the low-gravity space of the moon. He began to panic. Massive shards of metal and plastic flew past him, narrowly missing him. Suddenly, he was frozen in mid-space. He looked up to the jellyfish. "What the hell have you done?" He screamed upward. The jellyfish gently returned him to the surface of the moon. More debris flew outward. The teleporter was left unscathed.
"THE ASSEMBLY IS ALMOST COMPLETE. YOU WILL RETURN TO YOUR PLAGUED PLANET. YOU WILL NOT CONTINUE."
He was then taken to the teleportation pad, and the machine began its activation sequence. But he hadn't pressed any commands into his wrist module. The jellyfish must have been controlling this. No, he thought, it can't end like this.
Suddenly a flash of blue-green light surrounded Frank, and before he could blink, he was back in the familiar IRM Mission Control—back on Earth. The gravity was almost too much to bear, and so he found himself falling to his knees yet again. There seemed to be no one present in the room. This room that was typically filled with a hundred or more men and woman, toiling away at their research and duties. What had happened?
Frank crawled to a terminal and attempted to activate the interface screen. "AIMOS? AIMOS, are you there?"
The computer replied in its usual chime. "The AIMOS system is currently running on auxiliary power. Only basic protocols permitted."
"Dammit!" Frank said, as he finally got to his feet. He removed his helmut and unzipped his EVA suit. He climbed out and headed for the exit. He walked down an empty corridor, shouting for someone, anyone to hear him. There was no answer. He kept walking until he reached the front lobby of the IRM mission control. He passed the security doors in the foyer. They were left wide open. It looked as though the place had been deserted in a hurry.
When he finally stepped out the door of the mountainside complex, he could see over the city below. Everything in the city had been desolated. Plumes of smoke rose from fires burning randomly about. Frank couldn't believe it. The war for water had actually happened. This was the outcome. He was too late. He had to try and get home. Maybe his wife and daughter would be safe. Maybe not...Either way, he had to try to find them.
He began the long walk down to the city below, when he was stopped by a soldier. "Stop right there, asshole! Don't move." he said. He pointed an assault rifle at him. "Come with me." He motioned toward a jeep that was parked in the distance.
Frank walked with his captor, who, for as far as he could tell was just some American kid. Had the war been internal? Did tensions rise to the point that Americans were pitted against their fellow man? Frank was afraid of what the answer would be, but in that moment he couldn't help but think that maybe when that giant jellyfish confronted him on the cold surface of Triton, it had done the galaxy a favor by sending him back to Earth. He could see now that humans did not deserve to harness the resources of the Milky Way, when it was apparent that they couldn't even manage their own.
"They've traced it back. They're pretty sure it came from Jupiter. Got belched up during that giant storm." Matt said as he watched the thing approach Earth slowly. "They're still not going to tell the people?"
Tom sighed, "No. Not going to tell them. What's the point? Where do you go when something that big is about to... well..."
"Die, after detonating with the explosive force of a million-million Hiroshima's?" Matt noted, thinking about the strange and volatile cocktail of materials carried in the Jellyfish being's massive fuel sack. "And they expect us to survive? I mean why not just send it up empty?"
"As a testament, I suppose. We'll live long enough to describe the end. They figure that the blast will just fling us away. We're heading towards deep space, so if we aim just right we'll miss everything in the path. We'll live just long enough to steer to miss the bigger obstacles. We've got a bit of our civilization on here. A lot of data, according to the guys at JPL. Maybe, just maybe, someone out there will find it, and remember us."
What happened next was something nobody expected. Just as it seemed that the creature was about to enter its death-throws and detonate its store of Hydrogen and Helium 3, a voice rang out in their heads. It was words, but not words, feelings, emotions, but no sound.
"We have heard your song, for the last 10 cycles. At first it was just tones, harsh and unyielding, yet distinct. We listened as you gained your voice, and we grew quiet as you began to listen yourselves to the music of the stars, to allow you to hear its beauty unmolested by our song.
"Our voice, your voice, are the same... life is in the service of life. We offer you this greeting, and this warning: For those who can sing in harmony, you are welcome to our shores. For those who only speak discord, stay your distance or be destroyed. You have the ability to be a great people if you wish to be. Let our song of harmony guide you to the stars."
Without warning, the great being changed course rapidly, accelerating at a pace that was faster than anything human kind had ever seen. Until, with a wink of exotic energy, the being flashed out of existence.
Days later they would note that mere moments after the being disappeared, it reappeared at Jupiter... the light from the event reaching them a full 38 minutes later.. and proceeded to descend into the clouds.
Matt and Tom guided their vessel back to Earth, and secretly splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, a Navy submarine secreting them away and their spacecraft allowed to sink below the waves.
As for the being? The songs began just a year later. They were indecipherable at first, radio waves of odd harmonics, but as time went on we learned to understand and speak the language of the Oaan. They speak in mathematics and electrical impulses, and much of what they were talking about was the short period of silence they maintained to see what we would do. For them, 10 cycles of Jupiter is an eye-blink. They are an ancient species who have lived in the atmosphere of Gas Giants for countless millions of years. They were, for the most part, happy that we had not destroyed ourselves and pleasantly pleased that we had learned to speak their language in their medium. They had been so very alone, despite the fact that their race had spread across the stars.
They had no one else to sing with other than their own for a very, very long time. Oh, other species had taken to the stars, of course, but we were the first to speak in their language. It would seem that radio, while simple to us, was simply not often thought of by other sentient intelligences. Because of this barrier to communication, some of the Oaan were hunted by the races for their fuel-sacs. Others killed out of fear, malice, or ignorance. It had made them cautious.
In time they spoke of their method of travel, surprisingly similar to Warp theory and the ideas floating around at the time. They told us how they manipulated the exotic matter to shield their bodies from the radiation and to protect themselves from the stresses of the warp. They also taught us how to sing into the 'bubble' as they called it, to communicate faster than light using warp bubbles. And thus, we discovered that we were not alone, and that the reason for the silence we detected with our 'primitive' radio was revealed.
The Great Silence: because others simply didn't think like we did, or have the Oaan's natural affinity for the medium. And as we advanced and grew we introduced the Oaan to many civilizations. We took their words to heart, and left behind our hate, our violence, and our greed. We still fought, though. That was a sad truth of the universe that not all things are equal and not all relationships forged in trust are kept true. But between Humanity and the Oaan, there was a kinship that spanned the stars themselves.
Sometimes, there is a happily ever after. It is not without hardship or disagreement, but there is a bright future - if we are willing to reach for the stars.
We spotted her days in advanced. Them, only latter. We kept it a secrete because we wanted to surprise the world; not give the conspiracy theorists ammunition in their war against science and sense. We wanted to try and avoid giving them something to load the pseudoscience with so we hesitated until we knew we'd know more than they about them. We only wanted to name it, to name them, to secure ours as the first or true discovery. However I hate to spoil my own story yet nothing ever seems to run as programmed with out a bug first. No plan ever went as planned; to many variables. And alas, the credit was not granted
The "Star Nettle" Or the Stellar Medusa if you're european and convinced Wednesday happens before Sunday. There was little time to work whence they leaked it. We were hoping to turn it around. Afraid it'd burn up in the atmosphere. But it fell so slowly. It orbited so, slowly, for months now, people've been looking at them through binoculars. The first one, we named her Tera, since she was the first to enter the atmosphere. And safely too, others not so lucky.
We call her a she since as she fell she shrivled up. At first we were worried; however the jellyfish's life cycle is well studied. She was reverting to larvea and then back into a polyp.
Some think she's from Titan, or somewhere else in the solar system, but we're more skeptical than that. Knowing the life cycle and near immortality of the jelly fish she's likely from somewhere light years away. Judging by the size and age of Tera, the "mother" and largest of the "flock" of thousands of 6-17 foot jelly fish Tera spans over 35 feet and 11 inches.
I can't even begin to fathom where they came from, what this means for life in the universe and evolution. I'm a physicist. But I can tell you this. It doesn't take a genius to go outside and look up at the field of bobbing little lights that rival the majesty of the stars themselves. Casting so much light we can't see the milkyway and what were dark sky zones are lit by thousands of the star lantern jelly fish, even casting shadows. The pale bright blue glow meshes creating a small nebulous bobbing and shifting cloud slightly falling to the east against the rotation. They've stabilized at around 15,000 ft their decent being lowered it's clear they're lighter than air. Some think they're autotrophic, living on the sunlight. But whatever they do; whatever they want; whatever it is they need; they're welcome here; with us they have a home.
And after a few months. They left as mysteriously as they came. Never had I felt sadder in truth, it was bitter sweet. It proposes the question as to if they'll return, cycling around like a comet, perhaps once upon a time, they'll come back.
But their visit was not with out purpose, their departure not with out fruit; some how, either by design or accident, a few where left behind. Such as the one just to my left, one of Tera's offspring. Left behind from that little visit that was oh so many decades ago; from just a nomad's pit stop that changed my life, and the universe as we know it.
It was God, but in a strange, semi-gelatinous form. It had a brain bigger than Texas, and no discernible emotional responses. It ate whatever it wanted, and it shat blue lightning storms.
We prayed to it, until we came to understand that it was blind and deaf to all our signals. A few tried to kill it, to pull it from the sky; they were acting out of the primitive superstitious impulses that have always turned humans against each other. One rich man wanted to eat it. Another wanted to make sweet love to it.
But it wasn’t ours to be had. It was God. Our God. Their God. The God.
It hummed little songs that made the ozone shimmer.
And it watched over us all, even while we slept.
The first sensation was warmth.
Warming, streaming waves of light energy not unlike those it experienced so long ago.
When? At the beginning? It wasn't quite sure but somehow it knew that would gain clarity as the chill lessened. Instinctively a ripple pulsed through it's body, a convulsion that flared it's body out wide and then tighter, a sensation of movement it had not felt in an age and all because of that vague feeling of heat.
The convulsions grow more frequent as the sensation of eon-long forgotten muscles awake and the ice crystals that encrust it's surface crackle, liquify and stream off it's sides.
Urgency infuses it's motion as it passes round wide bands of solid objects to get to the source of the heat and the notion of time passing return from long lost memories. The warmth pulses through it's being as it observes more objects ahead. Regular, round and colourful objects. Not unlike itself? It's own kind? Gathered around that light giving disk of warmth.
Forgotten ideas awake in it's mind, as if the ice infused through it's tissues is releasing them as it melts, and drives it towards it's kin. Moving hard towards the cluster of objects they increase in size until.. until.. it sees they are not like itself.. just more hard, sterile and lifeless objects clustered around the giver of heat. The colours a cruel trick to a traveller observing from afar.
It slows, turning slowly as it moves past the surface of one of the inner objects allowing the reflected heat from the surface to warm that side not facing the heat. Like so many times before it sights a colourful patch in the far distance. Convulsing, languid movements propel it away until the chill returns, the ice crystals form on it's surface and the memories fade. Looking for its kin among the stars.
“Hypergnosis hovers over our planet in the form of a jellyfish.”
“Our thoughts, our ideas, anything the collective mind has constructed in the past and into the future, is transferred from the human brain into a quantum form of mesoglea, travels up towards the sky and out of the atmosphere. It bonds to whatever mass already hovers above the planet. It adds context to the Hypergnosis.”
After he finished reading the transcription aloud, Caius slid his chair away from the screen. He looked over at Osella. She shook her head slowly as she stared at the floor.
“This can’t be right. It shouldn’t read like this.” Osella’s voice was weak, as though her breathing was shallow.
“Os, it’s the third time I’ve transcribed this section. We’re almost there.”
Osella gazed into the floor. Her presence was brittle.
Caius rubbed his neck, wincing lightly. “Hey, did you ever render those glyphs into coordinates?”
“So now they’re coordinates?” Though exhausted, Osella tried hard to savor the jibe.
“Come on. Did you get anything worth taking a look at?”
“Here.” She briskly typed a command into her desk. Within seconds, the coordinates appeared on Caius’ screen.
05h 14m 32.272s, −08° 12′ 05.91″
“Let’s try it.” Caius felt a velvet anxiety in his chest. He was out of ideas.
“You’re not serious. You can’t be.” Osella wanted nothing but sleep.
“What’s there to lose?” It was as though Caius had been infected by an idea.
“Listen, anything we’ve transcribed from this ‘bible’ has turned out to be roachshit. They’re wasting our time.”
“Osella, you know that we’re onto something. You know what kind of things those Malconites have been saying lately; the predictions of battle outcomes, the—”
“OK, just because those old mole-men spouted some vague gibberish from the Malconium doesn’t mean they’re clairvoyant. I could pick up a cookbook, read you a recipe and transpose all of that nonsense into an apocalyptic sermon. Sacred texts are meaningless works written by illiterate peasants from primeval planet. We’re wasting our time.”
“Alright, OK. I’m just going to take a look. A quick look and then we’ll call it a night. Good?”
Caius punched in the coordinates. He waited for a moment, thinking to himself and laughing. He then slid to another part of the marble table. “Let’s bring it up on the primary monitor.”
Osella fiddled with her own screen. “Stop acting so optimistic. It’s weird and gross.”
Caius laughed again. “OK, OK, bring it up.”
A shot above Rigel appeared on the screen.
The two sat in thunderous silence.
Caius gripped Osella’s hand tightly. She squeezed back as they stared at a jellyfish floating in the sky.
Corpore Metal's story:
Gao, Gao Region, Mali, Tuesday, February 23rd, 2134: For Immediate Release to the Press!
Mali Mutagenics and Bioengineering (Mutagènes et Bioingénierie du Mali, SA. [MBMSA: NASDAQ]) is pleased to announce a new solution to the problem and expense of cleaning up space junk: Retrieval Jellies (TM)!
As is well known, debris leftover from nearly 200 centuries of utilization of Earth's orbital space poses a constant threat to both lives and expensive equipment. In the past, this space junk was gathered by dedicated human crews and robots, the labor costs of which have continued to mount as our use of space increases.
Enter Retrieval Jellies (TM)! These are synthetic organisms, originally tweaked from Lion's Mane jellies (Cyanea capillata) are designed to gather our debris for us without human intervention. These photosynthetic and radiotrophic animals require no water, air or heat. Regenerative and durable enough to survive a 70mm tank shell fired at 5 meters, they are solar and radiation powered and built to thrive in the harsh, radioactive vacuum of space and will not be easily shredded by larger pieces of fast moving junk! Constantly at work, gathering the smallest of microscopic paint flecks, metal shavings, and flash resins with their tendrils, they never get bored or shirk their duty. They need only be periodically checked to replenish their gas bladders (For reaction mass.) and retrieve larger pieces of debris from storage sacs.
With radio controlled central ganglia, technicians can set their browsing patterns and orbits as needed to ensure thorough scouring of the space lanes!
And those who are concerned with the environment? Don't worry! We've anticipated other risks as well! Retrieval Jellies (TM) are completely sterile, having no reproductive organs or tissues at all. Please visit our site to learn more!
We look forward to your business!
Oumou Traoré, President, Directing Officer General
Mutagènes et Bioingénierie du Mali, SA
Richard liked going into the aquarium section of the space station to watch earth. The refracted view through the glass and water gave the earth a soft look that gave him a temporary calm. They were studying the long term effects of space on aquatic species. So far the results were unremarkable.
Lately he'd had the sense that the jellyfish was trying to communicate with him. It would float in front of him regardless of where he was standing and it would stay in that one place until he left. The more stressed he was from dealing with the fucking obnoxious Dr. Thomsen, the more quickly the jellyfish seemed to rush in front of his face. Richard had the feeling it was starting to mock him. Like it knew how weak he was, and how he was letting that pig team leader rip his dignity and self-worth from him completely.
Richard smiled, as soon he was going make sure everyone knew who was really in charge of things. No one on earth would ever forget what was going to happen. He took particular satisfaction in picturing this smug invertebrate boiling in its tank when he soon made sure the entire million plus pounds of metal and wires they were all cocooned inside of was screaming back into the atmosphere.
At first we panicked. When we saw what looked like a giant jellyfish five miles across in the night sky, we got understandably upset. Riots, looting, mass power outages, fires, suicides. After the first few days of violence, the military quelled the riots and restored power and water. People locked themselves in their homes, their basements, their bomb shelters, their remote survivalist compounds and stayed glued to coverage, live on every channel, 24 hours a day. The religious leaders were calling it God's judgment, the end of days. Age old disputes were forgotten. The politicians and the military were mobilizing across national and ideological divides trying to figure out how to destroy it, the science community uniting across those same divides to prevent this. After a week, it did nothing. It neither attacked or retreated. Nothing happened. Debates raged on television. Was it the biggest threat in humanity's history or the biggest opportunity? At the beginning of the second week, some restaurants, grocers and hardware stores opened for a few hours a day selling food and supplies. People waited for hours trying just for a loaf of bread and some bottled water. By that Wednesday people were going back to work. By Saturday the local coffee shop had an alien jellyfish special latte. (Iced double ginger soy with tapioca balls.)
It's amazing how quickly life got back to normal. It became a piece of the landscape. The Israeli went back to killing Palestinians, the North Koreans went back to threatening nuclear war, the Republicans and Democrats kept on fighing over gay marriage and Pepsi went right back to its war on Coke. Three months later and only the Scandinavians are still paying attention. They keep saying that it's shifting .17 degrees northwest every day, a trajectory that will put it over India in three weeks. They say jellyfish are increasing in number along the shorelines of Texas, Norway, Brazil, Thailand and in the Mediterranean. A scientist from Oslo says it's started to emit beta radiation. All I know is that it sure looks pretty up there among the stars.
IF YOU ARE READING THIS STOP!!
This journal is property of James Lawrence of Wall, SD
February 9, 1942
Today went by fast! The whole country lost an hour today. It's because of the war and saving gas, Mom said. It also means I had to go to bed early tonight. That's okay, I wouldn't mind if we did this everyday. That way, Dad will get home faster. He's been gone over a whole month now.
Hey! I just saw a bright green light out the window, like something blew up! Didn't hear anything so I don't think it's a plane or a bomb. It's fading out now but I think it's way past the field, there's a little glow left on the snow out there. I'm going to look for it in the morning, between chores and school. Good night.
February 11, 1942
I found it yesterday - it's a huge jellyfish! I had to wait till after school, because I woke up late. Mom let me sleep in a bit, she says new things take getting used to. Anyway, I walked past the field and kept walking to the edge of the farm. It was hard to see because it was mostly clear, like the frosted glass I've seen in the city. It looked kinda gross and messy on the snow. I'd seen pictures of jellyfish in school but I didn't know they came this big! I was scared but I touched it. Something funny happened, it kind of talked to me without words. It was in pain and scared, and lonely. That's what got me - the lonely. I feel the same way since Dad left, so I took it home and hid it in the old dirt-floor barn. That was easy because it had enough strength to float in the air, which is how it gets around I guess. It's arms dragged in the snow the whole way, and when we got there it went to sleep. Mom's in the hall now and I have to turn off the light. Good night!
February 14, 1942
Today's been real good. Postman Walt came by and we each got letters from Dad. Dad sent them with a note for Walt to hang on to them until Valentine's Day. Mom sat at the kitchen table and cried while she read hers, but it was a good kind of cry I think. I read mine out in the old barn, partly since I was afraid I'd cry too and partly since the jellyfish was still sleeping and I wanted to check on it. In my letter, Dad called me 'his favorite son'. That's a joke he always tells because I'm his only son, and he usually messes up my hair when he says it. I usually hated that but now I wished he was here to do it. I'm worried he won't ever make it back. They all talk at school and I know that people are dying where Dad's going. The older kids are real nervous, though they try not to act like it. I was near the end of the letter when I felt something in my hair and saw there was a green glow along with the candle. The jellyfish had woken up and was floating, about halfway up the barn! The tentacles (I learned that word reading about jellyfish) were mostly floating too, kind of swinging around low and slow, all over the rafters and floor and one in my hair! I guess I should have been scared but I wasn't, and it told me that everything was going to be okay. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Dad once told me the President had said that and I never forgot.
February 24, 1942
Sorry I haven't written in a while and that I fell asleep last time! I've been very busy with Jeff. That's what I named the jellyfish - Jeff. Get it? If I'm not at school or doing chores I'm in the barn, and by the end of the day I am beat! We've been arranging things so Jeff has more room. Lucky it's the old barn and there's not much in it anymore. It's huge, too, compared to the new barn or most others I've seen. That's great, because Jeff is the biggest jellyfish in South Dakota! Without the tentacles he's about ten feet tall, at least - and the tentacles, well, let's just say I'm always tripping over them. I was worried about how to feed him at first, but he tells me that he can go a long time off little meals. I noticed there were less mice running around the rafters. Barn cat is gone, too. We didn't talk about that, though. Or the smell, like when you pass gas? Mom says polite people don't talk about that smell. Dad always said that was her defense against being impolite enough to make it, and he'd laugh. Mom would turn red for a second, but she laughed too.
Also, it's pretty cold in there. Jeff doesn't seem to mind, but there's a wood stove and I hang up blankets to keep in the heat and the light. I read to Jeff out of the encyclopedias from the study. He doesn't care what I read, he loves learning about the world. I do my best to say all the words right, and I learn stuff too. Did you know that the first Ferris Wheel was made in Chicago in 1893? That was a long time ago! I also learn stuff from Jeff, but I don't understand most of it. Jeff is very smart. He told me he left his own home a long time ago - before they built that Ferris Wheel, even - but I don't know if I believe him.
Bedtime already! Good night.
March 2, 1942
Grandpa is visiting from Wyoming, and we got more letters from Dad last week. In mine he joked - he was always joking - about how much he missed me, but that he was enjoying the peace and quiet of basic training compared to being at home.
Later that night I was supposed to be sleeping, but crept to the top of the stairs. I know which of the floorboards are squeaky, so it's easy to do. I listened to Mom and Grandpa. They were sitting at the kitchen table and talking about how scared they were for Dad and for the world. But then the talk came down to me - Mom said she's worried about me because I play alone in the barn so much, but that she gives me room to figure it out my own way, which sounds like stuff adults say. I feel bad that I can't tell her the whole truth. But I can tell her that I love her. That's true, and I tell her every day. Jeff says he's very lucky he met such a good person, and he tells me that every day.
March 5, 1942
Jeff is getting stronger, and says he'll be going very soon. I don't want him to go, but I understand. He has his own kid to get back to, a daughter who is the 'equivalent' of my age. I think I spelled that right. I opened the square vent door above the loft and sat there, half in the barn and half out. Jeff, glowing his brightest yet, pointed towards the sky. Then I closed my eyes and saw where he's going. It's as wonderful as it is strange, and full of colors I'd be lucky to see in a dream. Good night.
March 12, 1942
I'm sorry. I can't write for a time. The worst thing happened this week. The very worst thing. Everything is nuts around here now. I'll explain later, when I stop crying and my hands don't hurt as much.
March 31, 1942
This is my last entry for maybe forever. I'm just going to tell what happened and leave it at that.
I was in the barn with Jeff when the letter came. I heard Mom crying and shouting from the front door of the house. "James? James! Wonderful news - wonderful! Dad is going to be an airplane mechanic, and has six more months of schooling - who knows, James, the war could be over by then!" There was delight in my mother's voice. It had been some time.
Jeff had been teaching me mathematics. He'd told me I was good at them and showed me stuff that school hadn't. I was stoking the fire in the wood stove at the same time, and turned around too fast. The blankets caught fire and the rest just happened.
It seemed like the whole barn caught in a second. Everywhere I looked it was bright light and heat and smoke. I couldn't see the doors, much less get to them. Jeff had risen to the ceiling, the one spot that wasn't aflame yet. He tried opening the doors for me with one of his tentacles, and it practically boiled away right before my eyes. I could hear him scream in my head. It was the most horrible sound you could imagine. Then he reached out with another tentacle, and tried again. And then again. I couldn't stand the sound anymore. I fell into the dirt hard. Even over the fire, I could hear Mom and Grandpa screaming outside. My eyes were full of dirt and sweat and tears and the last thing I saw was my skin blistering.
I rolled onto my back. Right then I saw my Dad. I saw him real clearly. It didn't make sense, but there he was, right in the middle of everything. All the other stuff just seemed to go real soft, and fade. He reached out and messed up my hair. He smiled real gentle. "You know you're my favorite son, right? Remember, there's nothing to fear but fear itself." I grabbed his hand, but it boiled away. Then there was a deep screeching sound and a big rush of cold air. I opened my eyes wide.
Jeff was lifting the barn. Fire and all, he was lifting the whole barn right off the ground. He was right over me. I could see the good tentacles he had left, some snaking deep into the corners of the roof, some wrapped tight around the beams. He had it about 15, no, 20 feet into the air now. There was a slow, slight wobble.
I looked over. I could see Mom and Grandpa in the yard, standing perfectly still, looking up. It was dark out and the fire was reflecting off the snow, lighting up the house and the truck and the big cottonwood tree past the fence. I realized in that moment that all they could see was a floating barn on fire, not knowing how it was done. I saw Mom blink. Then she moved faster than I knew a person could, right toward me, scooping me up and holding me with a strength which did not surprise me. She took me back, back to the yard and back to my wits by throwing me down into the snow. She began to cover me with it while Grandpa ran to the truck. The barn spun slightly and crashed into fiery pieces, steaming in the snow.
Two days later I woke up in a Rapid City hospital. I found out I had been lucky. Or rather, I found out what Mom and Grandpa had done. They got me from Wall to Rapid City in the back of the truck, letting the March air cool my skin. It's an hour long trip. The jalopy made it in 37 minutes.
Mom said I was in shock and mumbling about Dad and FDR and some kind of math. She hasn't brought up what happened with the barn. She and Grandpa just say it's a miracle that I lived. I guess Jeff kind of was a miracle.
I don't say much. I sleep a lot and try to see those colors again, but all I can see is his daughter, hanging around next to the Ferris Wheel. She's waiting on her Dad but she'll never see him again. She'll never even get a letter.
Search Criteria - Near Earth Object, Europa, Lifeform
A series of classified documents pertaining to the rumoured NEO lifeform of 2021 have recently been made available to the public.
In February of 2021 rumours of a large Near Earth Object began to spread around the globe, with many amateur astronomers noting an anomaly in the night sky that appeared to be semi-transparent and heading directly for Earth.
Over several weeks, the rumours grew in detail, explaining that this NEO was actually a lifeform that would collide with our planet in less than 6 months, simultaneously confirming that we are not alone and eliminating all life.
Governments of the world remained quiet and guarded about the anomaly when questioned, and rumours of increased funding for space exploration surfaced.
The once classified documents, released by all participating governments under a decision from the United Nations, reveal that the NEO was indeed a lifeform, but that it posed no threat to Earth and lead to increased exploration of the Solar System.
It is thought that the lifeform originated from Europa, the sixth moon of Jupiter.
This timeline has been pieced together from the most relevant documents currently available to the general public, tailored to the search criteria. Many of the events in the 2020s were not revealed to the public until a much later date, but the events have been placed in chronological order rather than when they became widely publicised.
January 7th, 1610 – Galileo Galilei discovers Jupiter’s moon Io. Due to the limited ability of the telescope, Europa is mistaken for being the same moon.
January 8th, 1610 – Galileo Galilei discovers that Europa and Io are separate moons.
1892 – The discovery of Amalthea leads to Europa being pushed back to the third closest moon to Jupiter.
1979 – The Voyager probes discover three more satellites orbiting Jupiter, pushing Europa to the position of the sixth moon orbiting the planet.
December 7th 1997 to October 15th 2001 – The Galileo probe spends several years passing between Io and Europa, giving humanity their first detailed views of both moons, adding strong support to the hypothesis that Europa had a liquid ocean beneath the surface ice.
2020 – A brief flash of light and indecipherable noise are observed and recorded by numerous world space agencies, all pointing to Europa as the source of the unexplainable phenomena.
2021 – The NEO lifeform is spotted by amateur astronomers worldwide. In truth, this lifeform has been under surveillance by all participating members of the United Nations since discovery in late 2020. It is hypothesised that it originates from Europa and is the source of the mysterious flash of light and indecipherable noise.
late 2021 – After a worldwide increase in funding to space exploration and related fields of study, contact is made with the NEO lifeform, alongside clearer images. It is revealed to be similar in look to a common Jellyfish found in the oceans of Earth, but far larger.
In a deal that is still seen as controversial to this day, several trade sanctions are removed from North Korea in the agreement that they will begin to produce propaganda about the creature and announce an exploration program to send their people to make contact with the creature.
Due to the lack of public knowledge of the deal itself, when the program is announced and news reaches the internet, 98.7% of all rumours and enquiries into the NEO lifeform disappear or are simply marked as conspiracy theories. The general public reach the conclusion that the rumours, and all witnesses, are complete fabrications or gullible citizens.
November 17th 2021 – The NEO lifeform begins to orbit Earth. Its transparent nature causes a visual distortion in the night sky to those that pay attention. News reports begin to circulate of strange solar activity causing something similar to the Aurora Borealis. Rumours of the NEO lifeform begin to circulate again, disbelief declining to 98%.
November 18th – After brief contact with a select group of representatives for the United Nations, the NEO lifeform moves beyond Earth’s orbit and travels out of the solar system.
2022 – NASA’s Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE) is launched.
July 13th, 2023 – JUICE reaches Europa and begins orbit. Images received by NASA circulate amongst the United Nations, showing a large hole in the surface ice of the moon, still in the process of freezing over.
August 1st, 2023 – Information received from the NEO lifeform detailing quick, easy, and safe space travel is finally decoded and work begins on the first manned missions throughout the solar system. The breakthrough is said to have been from research by the LHC team. Disbelief in the NEO lifeform rumours declines to 56%, many begin to question the timing of the North Korean propaganda.
January 7th, 2025 – The first manned mission to Europa is launched, arrives safely after 12 hours of travel.
January 10th, 2025 – Exploration of the oceans of Europa reveal them to be rich in chemosynthetic bacteria. It is hypothesised that the NEO lifeform is one of several larger lifeforms that survived under the surface ice of Europa by absorbing this bacteria as an energy source.
2030 – Exploration of the solar system and beyond the oort cloud has increased the economic and cultural wealth of mankind. The technological breakthroughs discovered in the past 7 years is close to becoming common place for everyone, leading to the dawn of regular and cheap space exploration.
The fear of being uncovered leads the United Nations to release all documents pertaining to the NEO lifeform and its effects on humanity to the general public, hoping that the move will be seen as a positive step.
Up here on the plateau, far away from the city lights, the sky was crystal clear. In the night, it appeared as if nothing separated the crust from the cold space above. Everest let his son stay up late tonight, and had taken him about a hundred meters from their half-sunken dwellings so they gaze up at the stars.
The boy´s older brother had left in yesterday´s twilight on pilgrimage to the umbilical. They had been very close, and the brother had left without warning or farewell. The father could not even begin to think of an effective way to explain to his younger son what his brother was doing and why. Somehow, though, he thought it best to explain to him where their family came from. Maybe he could start there, start to give the boy the foundational ideas of the outside universe in all its vastness. Maybe soon he could begin to understand why his brother left, even if he didn´t agree with it.
Everest caught sight of the umbilical to the east, a faint, glittering scratch that reached up from the valley below the plateau up into the sky where it disappeared in the black distance. That was going to be a conversation for the boy another night. Everest returned his gaze to the myriad of stars above.
“See that there,” Everest said, tracing his finger along several stars. “That´s the jellyfish. And next to it is the reef. Can you see it?”
“No. I don´t see a jellyfish!”
Everest knelt down and positioned his pointed arm along the boy´s line of sight. “Here... here... here... and here. That´s the jellyfish.”
“That doesn´t look like a jellyfish! It´s just stars!”
“Well, those stars make up a constellation. That´s what a group of stars making up a pattern are called. Have you heard of that word before? In school?”
“Okay, well today you learned a new word,” he smiled, looking at his boy in the starlight. “Someone once a long time ago, maybe even the first people that came here, decided that the constellations looked like animals from the sea. It might have been before the first sea animals were brought here. The people then might have been homesick. You know there weren´t always as many animals as there are today.”
His boy turned to him with a cheeky grin, “It still doesn´t look like jellyfish.”
“I don´t think so either,” Everest agreed. “But that´s what it´s called. Now look again.”
Everest put his arm out again and pointed at the brightest star in the jellyfish.
“Do you see that bright star?” He asked.
“Okay. Do you see the other one here? Follow my finger. There. The one that looks kind of bluish when it twinkles. Do you see it?”
“That´s our star. That´s where my grandfather came from with his family. He brought his family here and his son was my dad. Now usually many, many people come at once from one of those stars, but not my grandfather. As far as I know, we are the only family on our world that came from that star. He took a longer trip than most did. But he still came on one of the starships, like the one we saw on the news the other day. Do you remember seeing it on the news?”
“Son, I just want you to know that people come from far away and sometimes they go far away too. They leave for many reasons, but often they do it to have a better life. I just want you to know that they aren´t gone, they´re just travelling.”
“Is that where Nevis went?” His son´s head drooped to the dry ground as he spoke.
“Yes. Somewhere up there. He´s not gone or dead though, he´s just travelling. But I also want you to know that they don´t usually come back. Or if they do... they´re the same but you´re totally different.”
Everest thought then of how his aunt had left with her own daughter, his cousin when he had been about the same age as his boy was now. They had left much in the same way the boy´s brother did, but for different reasons. Thirty years later, though, when Everest´s own children had been born, they returned. They had barely aged. A young mother with a young daughter, completely alien to Everest. Between relativistic speeds and hibernation as cold as the empty space around them, they had experienced only a few months, perhaps a year. Everest had experienced a whole lifetime. In the aunt and daughter´s frame of reference only a few months ago there had been family members alive and youthful. But here on this world they had lived a lifetime and died.
For everyone involved, the social shock was too much. They had not stayed for long.
His attention returned to the boy looking at the ground. “The last thing I want you to know son is that Nevis loves you and will think about you all the time, just as you think of him. No matter how far away he goes, or to what star, your thoughts of each other will keep you connected. No matter the distance.”
His son nodded and looked up at the stars again and gave a little wave. Everest patted him on the back.
“Let´s go back inside. Maybe we will come out here again tomorrow night. And then maybe every night.”
And for many years as they grew older that´s exactly what they did.
"It is not a jellyfish." That was the revelation that heralded the end of the world as we know it. Scientists from around the globe had been tracking the being for three years. The awe-inspiring organism, which was the size of five football stadiums, was first spotted by amateur stargazer, Zarathustra Magnus. It was not a jellyfish.
Scientists from around the world pooled their resources together, both monetary and intellectual, to construct a probe to examine this monolithic entity. The probe, crissened "Deus Ex", was a god of technology. At 99.7% the speed of light it reached the entity in six months. It was not a jellyfish.
The probe ascertained it was an entirely new lifeform made of unknown matter comprised of new particles never seen before by modern man. People on earth gave the entity a nickname: Cthulu. Its trajectory was Earth. There was no stopping it. No altering its course. Deus Ex passed through Cthulu like a phantom. This was no jellyfish.
The United States government tried to keep it a secret for fear of panic and hysteria. What a futile attempt. Instead of hysteria and panic there was worldwide peace and tranquility. Why fret over that which you cannot change?
It reached the Earth's atmosphere on Easter Sunday of 2013. Cthulu shapeshifted to become a mass that enveloped the Earth. This new belt that encompassed the Earth shone with a Heavenly light. It cured Earth of it's diseases and plagues. Three days later the inhabitants of Earth started to develop superhuman abilities. Intelligence and strength increased one-hundred times. Some gained the ability to fly. It heralded the end of humanity as we know it, and ushered in the days of The Reborn.
Jonathan Bloom's story:
The planet was much closer now. Its curvature had become visible. No longer was it a mere dot, a distant blue wonder, but real and tangible. It wouldn't be long now. A day, perhaps, two at most.
He felt a lingering moment of fear somewhere within itself. It had been so long and so cold that the thought of letting go of the anxiety felt alien to him. He felt it envelop his entire form. Why, he thought, was he not afraid of the vastness of the sea of stars, but of this tiny planet? What harm could the blue dot do to him?
The call seemed to have happened so long ago. If he concentrated hard, he could still remember the feeling of when it first happened. How his bell had hummed to the tone of the galaxy and how his entire nervous system had felt like it was about to collapse. He remembered how it had felt to break free of home and how the first gust of solar wind dried him from the warm waters that he had grown in.
He had lingered. It shamed him now. But the universe was vast and full of sensations and sounds he wished he could hold on to forever. His mind raced back to the fleeting moments that he had shared traveling alongside a lone shooting star, it too far away from home. He remembered the galactic lights. The horse head nebula exploding. A second universe colliding with another. His mind filled with color and fierce light, the kind he could not ever fully understand.
Then he remembered home. He remembered the low hum of the deep. The endless majestic call of every living organism in it. His sensors felt a charge run through them and he allowed himself to drift gently with the pull of the planet.
He listened carefully to the call of the planet. He could hear the distant crashing of the waves hitting the rocks of a newly forming continent. He heard the deep breathing of the planet core, pushing out hot molten lava through the opposite side of the earth. He heard the wind roar through the empty million year old canyons and the rustling of the trees that had seen the sun rise a thousand times over.
He heard the endless abyss and emptiness of the sea.
He heard the beginning of life somewhere inside himself. He had heard it's call light years away and it had brought him here.
To the beginning.
“TODAY: China readies nuclear arsenal for strike on Object S31, how will United States respond?”
With that headline, Steven laid down the paper and leaned back in his seat. The world seemed to be poised to destroy the entity above them and he was just along for the ride. As humiliating as it was, that was the reality. The door across the office opened and through it a tall, suited man entered.
“Mr. President, the Russian ambassador is waiting.”
“Thank you Tom, show him in.”
The man turned deftly on his heel and exited. Shortly after; a shorter pale man entered.
Steven stood respectfully and walked around the desk.
“Mr. Sokuv, welcome back to Washington.”
“A pleasure to return Mr. President, although disappointing that we must meet in these circumstances.”, said the man with a rather hefty Russian accent.
“Yes it is Mr. Sokuv. May I get you anything? A drink perhaps?”
“I am afraid not Mr. President. As you know we stand at a strange moment in history.”
“I do Mr. Sokuv. And I wish to reaffirm that the United States of America has no interest in attacking a possibly sentient being.”
“I understand Mr. President, but America has not been affected as wildly as the Russian Federation. Power fluctuations and discharges remain rampant across the nation. The People’s Republic of China and our other neighbors experience the same issues daily.”
“Mr. Sokuv, I’m truly sorry for your troubles, but you must understand that attacking a sentient being is against American-“
“I apologize Mr. President, but the Russian Federation has seen at least twenty citizens killed by this phenomenon. Whether or not you join us does not matter.”
“Mr. Sokuv, the United States will not tolerate an unprovoked attack on that being. We still have people on the International Space Station.”
The door opened again, this time a uniformed man entered.
“Mr. President, NORAD has confirmed that the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation have brought their nuclear arsenals to combat readiness.”
“Is this what you call a diplomatic meeting Mr. Sokuv? Jon, respond by bringing up our own arsenal.”
The uniformed man saluted and left the room.
“Mr. President, that is not necessary, our nuclear forces are undergoing exercises-“
“Save it Mr. Sokuv. As long as American astronauts are present on the International Space Station, any attack will be seen as an act of war.”
“Then I am very sorry Mr. President.”
Frozen for a second, Steven picked up the phone and started dialing the military liaison, but the door opened again. The uniformed man entered.
“Mr. President, the Chinese and Russians have launched 67 nuclear devices at the entity.”
Steven jumped to his feet and rushed to the window. Out there, in the distance was the object, barely noticeable if you were not looking for it, glowing in a strange blue light, and underneath… the lives of three Americans rested in the balance.
“How long?”, Steven said solemnly.
“Just under two minutes now Mr. President.”, said the uniformed man before leaving again.
Staring out across the sky, Steven said a prayer for the men aboard the station. Then suddenly the sky around the entity exploded in a brilliant blue light, long before the nuclear weapons would have impacted. The rings of the explosion slowly washed over the atmosphere, swirls of light following behind its wake.
As it washed over the city, lights across the mall flickered and died. Finally, the White House plunged into darkness. In the distance, the distinct blue light of the entity remained.
It was over.
"Are you sure the payload will survive re-entry?" He asks me again.
"My calculations are correct, if you grew your organic shielding correctly there should be no problems."
I look away from the screens, they are giving me the uncomfortable feeling of actually being in low orbit around the target planet. Most of the invited dignitories and scientists are all glassy-eyed, staring at the monitors, glasses of wine held neglected in their hands.
"Tell me, doctors, why did you design a totally organic vehicle for the Panspermia project?" Our inquistor is a sharply-dressed woman of strict-but-fair grandmotherly appearance, my memory feels she is a politician but fails to supply a name.
"The break-up in the upper atmosphere is more complete and the risks of contamination far less, plus, don't you think it adds a certain poetry?" The stock answer, it also conveys a better degree of invisibility to long-range sensors and plays better to many PR sensibilities.
"What effect would it have on an inhabited planet?" Her voice is level, mildly curious, almost as though the answer is of faint academic interest only.
"Why, Madam, one might presume you are thinking of repurposing our project as a weapon." We all laugh politely and the game moves a step further.
The engineers had built us to last. Our only purpose to exist was to chart all the possible wormholes between stars. This unit had been jumping from wormhole to wormhole for a 1000 years now , and had charted over 2000 systems.
2000 systems and NOTHING notable was found by this unit yet. The home system was exactly 1022.7 light years away. And this dual star system with 2 stars , one 20% more massive than the other was equally uninteresting. Then out of the blue , it was radio wave after radio wave. The kind that only a primitive sentient race could make. All the probe could make out was it was some kind of audio-video signal where bi-pedals would talk endlessly about nothing useful.
This unit triangulated the source of the transmissions within an hour and sent a gravitational pulse straight towards the home world. After 1 year finally the unit had located a wormhole towards that lone yellow star. Within 1 hour this unit had reached the other end. And it was a system even more gifted than the creator's. There was one small blue planet. This unit immediately started transmitting its message of peace and approached the blue planet knowing it had succeeded in its purpose.
The next few days would decide if this new race was worthy of contact with the creators or to be avoided at all costs.
The conversation died away as everyone became enthralled by the sight of the gargantuan, translucent form passing in front of the sun.
Jenna laughed. "See? I told you he was real!"
* * *
Ten minutes earlier, Jenna hadn't been doing so well. "Why won't you believe me?" she wailed.
"Why do you insist on living in a fantasy world?" her mother shot back.
"Honey," her father said, "we just think you should be prepared for the possibility that this online boyfriend of yours may not be what he says."
Lisa teased, "Sure he is. Who besides a space jellyfish would date Jenna?"
Terry stopped dead in his tracks. What the fuck, he thought, as a pointy metal object whizzed past his head at thousands of kilometers per hour. Not again, every time I wipe out life on this rock it comes back stronger than ever. They warned me pest control is a shit job out in the ass end of the galaxy.
Now what have we got, a fairly typical fleshy with fingers and brain type organism. Ive been gone, what? like 66 million years. The others wont believe how persistent these little bastards are getting. Ill have to go fetch a decent rock now, at least they havnt got asteroid defences yet, I got here just in time it seems.
"The good news is - you're a sci-fi fan, right, General?"
"I suppose. Read enough of it growing up at least. Why? Are you going to tell me that S31 is an invasion force of bug-eyed Martians here to steal our women?"
"The good news is that one of the more classic tropes from science fiction is true. Spaceis an ocean. The bad news is we didn't quite get the scale right."