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A Hollow Victory [CWC]

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posted on Mar, 3 2012 @ 12:39 AM
It was a day like any other; blue, serene, and cold. From an orbital outpost far above the planet Earth I could make out the early morning stirrings of nearly countless billions. A morning cup of coffee, the sound of birds singing in slightly damp A.M. air; The rush of the day anew.

I have often thought of being back in the grip of gravity, feeling hugged to the ground, feet planted- my body an emerging stock of easy, fragile flower, springing up to touch the yellow sun. I can almost smell the dirt and smog, convincing myself that the tang of ozone is really fresh breezes off of the Pacific Ocean. Ten years, anniversary today. Ten years 27,000 miles high, watching a screen click over with numbers, numbing and useless.

I can remember the day, amused that I had actually lived to see it happen. The newspads refreshing almost every thirty seconds with updates from a solar system forever changed, forever different. The trans-Plutonian wastes far off near the Oort cloud gave a tremble, enough for the ESA gravity wave detector to, well, detect. When NASA's Webb telescope managed to take a photo, the object’s shape and size had been determined from radar observations.

Unbelievably, it was over five thousand feet in length, emitting radio static and featuring a high albedo, gravimetric readings having deduced it to be primarily hollow and heavily segmented. It was traveling slowly, but not slow enough to deny its trajectory-it wasn’t a long period comet. Earth was about to make its First Contact.

While the television and Internet news plied comparisons from everything including Arthur Clarke's Rama to Dyson Spheres, the Webb photos showed something vaguely arrow shaped, extremely bulky towards the middle section of what was quickly being called the Object. Looking at the images up close one could determine that each segment was tinted a different primary color, some as shades-others far more muted.

As the Object passed the orbit of Neptune, it was decided by the UN Security council to make all possible peaceful overtures to who or whatever was aboard it. Many supposedly ‘intelligent’ scientists, including one Nobel laureate, cautioned against these efforts. I was totally confident that if anything was alive on that thing, they sure as hell didn’t come trillions of miles through the cosmos just to eat us. In my head too was fear. Stupid, wasteful, ancient fear of the unknown.

Near the asteroid belt the United States Deep Spaceship Sagan made its final systems checks before clamping on to the Object. I was unbelievably lucky to be on board for this historic mission. NASA was running one of their periodic “____ in Space” programs, this one for artists. I got my own tiny cubicle with an even smaller transparent aluminum viewport. How could I complain-here I was sketching Jupiter’s cloud tops; now sketching an alien spacecraft of unknown origins! The crew had been sending greetings in a special mathematical language in all known frequencies-even sending out laser pulses and sequences of colored lights (Close Encounters anyone?) I talked to the captain about approaching with a crew member standing on the manipulator arm, hand outstretched in friendship. His laughter sealed that thought right up.

My most vivid memory from the actual docking was the loud, heart stopping crunch of our ship’s outer hull making contact with the Object. On display viewers I could see flakes of dull silver metal and bright orange tumbling out into space. After the noise-an incredible stillness filled the ship. Here we were, 300 million miles from Earth, representatives for 8 billion humans. All I could think about was embarrassing myself. The scientific crew, much better trained than I, told me latter that was what they were thinking too.

We had to cut into the metallic flesh of the Object. Analysis showed the material to be tungsten, then a layer of carbon nanotube composite. I think that our mineralogist/geophysicist had the most fun ripping through the hull. As we broke through the aperture, ahead we could see pitch darkness; darker I felt than the space around us. Temperature inside was -250 degrees Fahrenheit. I could not imagine what living creatures that could exist in such mind numbing cold. Our suit lights illuminated a small area ahead of us; circles of light pooled upon a large artifact shaped like a chair. The closer we got, the more like a chair it looked. It stood about waist high, had a flat seat and a curving volute backing. In keeping with the outside of the ship, it was a primary red.

The room we had broken into was a perfect square ten feet by ten feet. Beside the red chair the room was not furnished. The perimeter walls were a dull gray finish and the bottom and top of the area were white and black, respectively. Talking amongst ourselves, we felt that it was probably color coded to help with orientation in zero g. If only the rest of the ship were that simple to understand.

Floating in this alien room, the five of us considered our next steps. Penetration of the ship was top priority, though we decided not to tear through anymore bulkheads to get there. Around us was mystery. Around us was strangeness. Around us was the most exciting thing I had ever seen. I noticed after being awoken from my reverie, that a portion if the inward wall was indented. Inside the indentation was a latch that was just large enough for the suited hands of the captain to grasp. Pulling softly, the whole wall twitched; then resealed itself. Obviously we had created a pressure differential by decompressing the chamber we were in. I don’t remember anyone checking the PSI as we broke through-probably forgot to from the thrill of being here. I doubt that I would be approving if an alien tried to probe through the Sagan’s hull; bleeding our precious oxygen out to infinity. How thoughtless explorers can be, exploring.

After a hasty patching job, the room was sealed tight. The captain tried the handle again-this time with luck. A loud whoosh of atmosphere filled the chamber and the door slid up out of view. Our suits tasted the brew around us. Trace carbon dioxide, trace methane, mostly nitrogen and phosphorus compounds. No oxygen. A nonreactive gas at low pressure. I asked our doctor of medicine if she knew of any life forms that survive on this kind of atmosphere. Outside of theoretical discussions, there were none she knew of. I am determined to find these beings and get a good look at them. Their evolution must have been radically different from our own. As an artist, I am literally salivating at the chance to see their own art, music, study their ideals of beauty. So many things I need to know.

Inside the next chamber was more empty space, gray, mostly featureless. It went forward a few feet then turned to the right to a corridor-about a thousand feet long, with one of the ‘chairs’ we found sitting at even intervals along its length. Black, white, gray, red: The color scheme was monotonous and I could feel my eyes growing tired from the low light and sharp contrasts. When we got to the end of the corridor, we were confronted with something totally unexpected. The wall portion that stood at the end of the corridor had a small panel with a hinged door. Playing our lights over it, the captain reached out and forced it open. There was a light.

posted on Mar, 3 2012 @ 12:40 AM

Amber light glowed where the panel door had been. Our five faces looked at each other, searching for a decision as to what this piece of providence might be. I figured there was nothing to lose, so I reached out and tapped on the lit up panel. Instantly the light reactive films covering our helmets darkened in response to the rising lumens coming from the walls all around us. The previously gray surfaces had become a riot of colors, pulsing squiggles, and arrow like symbols. It was breathtaking. The black and white areas did not change, but the chairs ‘unfolded’ into tree like shapes…their volutes uncoiling into long tapered tendrils and the seat surfaces inflated like balloon bladders, rising and lowering. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were breathing. The doctor approached one and placed her hands on it- “It’s warm” she said in stupefied tones.

The chairs were more like trees, at least to my eyes. They seemed to be respiring in the atmosphere and our sensors indicated that they were exhaling more phosphorus compounds and enriching the nitrogen around them. I believe now that they were components of the ship’s life support system. The light show around us had diminished to a muted cascade of green and blue symbols over a deep purple background. It was beautiful, but I could not grasp the language structure they were displaying…today, I think it was a ‘systems’ update-trying to tell the Object’s crew vital information about their vessel; information that we should have been paying attention to.

The initial impact startled us due to its unnecessarily sudden occurrence. The Sagan’s computer alert system was supposed to chime in incase of a navigational situation, yet the system records indicate that the collision detection radar showed nothing approaching us. Our suit alarms were ringing in our ears as the Object’s display system switched to showing an exterior view of our two combined vessels. As unlikely as it was, two unchartered asteroids collided together 2000 miles from our location, sending spinning towards us hundreds of iron rich fragments. The first pieces that hit the Sagan were small enough to be deflected off of our Carbon-Carbon hull panels. The Object’s surface, either through age or design, crumpled under the first barrage that impacted upon it. Looking towards the captain, I could see the fear and momentary indecision in his eyes. Should we abandon this treasure, make our way to the safety of the Sagan? “We’ll come back after the debris storm passes!” We turned back up the corridor, heading towards where we came. The red trees looked distressed, their airscacs caving in upon themselves. It was at that point I realized that the Object’s hull had been breached. The impacts continued and our beautiful lights began to fade and go out.

Plunged into sudden darkness, we became disoriented, until we remembered that the white and black meant up and down. Grasping at the red trees we were able to launch ourselves to the chamber we came in through. The welcoming lights of the Sagan glowed through the dark and we packed into our airlock chamber. Through the rush of recompression the captain barked orders to the ships computer to get us the hell away from the Object. All I could do was watch as a chunk of asteroid the size of the Empire State building slammed into our mystery ship. As the Sagan sped away at high velocity, I could see the mid part of the vehicle explode-and an enormous expanding bubble of superheated plasma consuming everything in and around the Object. There was nothing we could do.

I felt after my encounter with the unknown that I needed to be a part of the scientific process searching for their point of origin. So, here I am. Floating in a research station orbiting a fair distance around the Earth, monitoring signals from the solar system’s edge for any more vehicles approaching our stellar neighborhood. Yet, when my eyes blur from staring at my report screens, I pick up pen and paper to sketch out vivid memories of red trees and green squiggles.

edit on 3/3/2012 by NuminousCosmos because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 3 2012 @ 07:18 AM
Wonderful! Immersive. Technical, but I as a non-scientist could understand it. I enjoyed it very much. Good luck with the contest.

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