In orbit above the planet - Part 2
The vessel rang from her boots hitting the titanium floor. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, couldn't quite explain in what way the sounds differed from those on Earth. Every minuscule noise seemed to run laps around the ship, reminding Alla of her solitude, serving as a drum … (read more)
The vessel rang from her boots hitting the titanium floor. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, couldn't quite explain in what way the sounds differed from those on Earth. Every minuscule noise seemed to run laps around the ship, reminding Alla of her solitude, serving as a drum of war for the mission that lay ahead.
"Alexey..." She whispered the name, reluctant to grant it even the life of an echo. What had happened to her brother?
Alla traveled through the Fold for three years. Her communications with the home were sparse so the questions were all that kept her company. Questions that made no sense, born of a message that made even less sense: "It has arrived, Alla. It... It is beautiful."
What could Alexey have been speaking of? There was nothing out there. Nothing. The realization that drove humanity into despair. Technology had pulled them out of the gutter Earth had become. Pulled them out and set them to conquer the cosmos. But the further they went the more the unspoken fear had become a reality. For so long they feared the first contact with other life. Feared it and prepared for it. But nothing could have prepared humanity for the most grim truth of all. They were alone. In this vast and endless galaxy, they were truly and utterly alone. No benevolent ancients to explain untold truths or beings set on a warpath against them. Nothing. Just the empty void into which this civilization, still taking its first steps, could pour their despair. There was nobody to save them from themselves.
Her ship stood in orbit above the planet that had been assigned to Alexey. His off-world lighthouse. One of millions upon billions. She watched, through the giant circular window, deep in thought. She had put off scanning for Alexey's life signs. She delayed and delayed some more but the ship was prepped for landing and the time had come.
"Mira, scan for Alexey's light." The AI obeyed and a holo-screen formed in front of the window. And then a small dot appeared near the location of the lighthouse. Alla's stomach turned and contracted. She had not allowed herself any hope. None. For so long. And... And he was alive? She raised her hand towards the small dot that represented her brother's light but then another dot appeared. And then another. The holo-screen lit up with thousands and then millions of lights. She felt her mouth go dry, her tongue feeling swollen as she tried to speak. Tried to instruct the AI to rescan. But no matter how many times it would restart the scan, the conclusion was the same.
She bent over and threw up after the fourth rescan. The conclusion was undeniable...
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