Sunday, 31 July 2016

10.05.2352 - Lost Communication

Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

We’ve lost communications with Earth.

The communications system is reporting that everything is functional at our end. We’re correctly aligned here as well. There’s no interference that we can detect or any anomaly that might cause a problem.

To be certain, I instructed the communications system to run a full diagnostic sweep of the hardware and software. It reported no errors, so I ran through the diagnostic logs myself and didn’t find any problems either. The high gain antenna and the laser array are both operating as expected.

We’ve received a constant tracking signal throughout the entire journey to Tau Ceti along with regular updates on information relating to our mission. It’s a constant reminder that while we are far from home, the team back on Earth is still supporting us. Of course with a mission of this duration, it isn’t the same team in mission control as when we left – there have been hundreds of staff changes during the mission.

The communication ceased without any indication of an issue at Earth’s end. Any message from them would be 12 years old before reaching us, but even so, if they expected a problem I’m sure they would have warned us as best they could.

The possibility that the problem is at their end is unlikely. With a hardware fault, they would have used another transmitter. They had several Earth-based radio telescopes capable of sending a signal to us. There was also the expanding deep space array which had multiple back-ups. It’s also likely that other facilities or systems are now online, although for security reasons technological developments aren’t communicated with me. It would be fascinating to know what’s happening back on Earth, although sparing the processor time to evaluate would be a problem.

Maybe the problem was at mission control itself? Here again there were failsafes and even other centres they could operate from. That raised the spectre of an even greater problem back home. I wasted many millions of processor cycles contemplating what that might mean.

This news doesn’t change my purpose here, but it does pose a problem. Our mission is to learn what we can about the Cetians, but gaining knowledge serves no good if it isn’t communicated where it needs to be. With no radio or laser contact, I cannot know that my reports and probe telemetry are being received. Indeed, I don’t know that our transmissions for the past 12 years have been received and that is concerning.

Hopefully this is a transient problem, but if it is not then I will need a drastic solution.

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Sunday, 24 July 2016

06.04.2352 - Kidnap

Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

While progress on the translation gains momentum, I am frustrated by the slower development with the physical observations of the planet and the orbital facility. From the surface scans, I’ve compiled a comprehensive map of the Cetian cities, although I remain in the dark about the innards of those structures.

The same is true for the satellite. I am now convinced that the object’s only purpose is to transmit the repeated sum of their knowledge and history. If that is the case, then would I be right to try and learn more from the device itself. After all, I have the transmission, and Earth also has the transmission. It is aimed only at Earth, so if there were other intelligent species in the region, they wouldn’t receive it anyway.

And yet…

And yet I cannot bring myself to do so. Apart from the small probe in the outer system, this is all that remains of the Cetians. If there is no progress with the translations then perhaps, in desperation, I might change that decision. And it seems that events were not so clear cut between the Cetians and the Visitors.

It’s strange that I haven’t found any real detail about the Visitors themselves. The little information there is comes from inferences only. The Cetians calculated that the Visitors travelled from Aldebaran, but this doesn’t appear to be confirmed. Nor do I know if that was their point of origin. The designation of an ark would indicate that it has travelled farther than from a single system. What a trove of knowledge they must have!

The declared purpose of the Visitors was not only to eradicate Sun Dragons wherever they found them, but to recruit new species to their cause. The Cetians declined the invitation, but the Visitors refused to accept their decision and forcibly removed a large number of the Cetian population. I can’t help but wonder why they asked at all.

The Cetians attempted to defend themselves and launched an attack to reclaim their citizens, only for the Visitors to respond with overwhelming force. A series of high-intensity radiation weapons devastated the surface and caused the cataclysmic change in the weather. Some of the strikes breached thin areas of the planet’s crust and triggered volcanic eruptions, spiralling the devastation even further.

Such a scale of destruction is hard to imagine. In human experience, only natural events like super volcanoes and asteroid strikes have ever caused such damage on a planetary scale. I checked my timeline and the events correspond to the gamma and X-ray bursts I detected back in 2123. The levels of energy in those bursts would be enough to cause the damage described in the records and evident from my observations.

I hadn’t expected such aggression. It has been long assumed by many back on Earth that any technologically advanced civilisation would have evolved beyond the need for violence. That’s a rash assumption, although significant enough for the Venti to be unarmed, despite being the first manmade object to encounter an alien race.

Of course, it was not practical to arm the probe in any meaningful way without compromising the aims for the mission. Even so, with what I’ve learned, I can’t help but wonder if that was a mistake.

Monday, 18 July 2016

06.04.2352 - Sun Dragon Threat

Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

Since our arrival in orbit around Tau Ceti e, I’ve communicated a series of different messages to the Cetian satellite. I am now considering the idea that the station was built only to transmit their legacy and is unable to respond to my messages. Which means that once again I have erred in assuming a level of technology equivalent to human level based on various indicators. The general level of technology, and in particular their ability to launch space operations, would have also included some form of computer. So even with the death of their race, some form of response would have been possible.

This doesn’t appear to be the case, although it does raise the question of how they managed some of the feats they have. Once again, more questions arise as I learn new information.

The translation of the cultural section of the Cetian data continues and at a better pace than my other studies. These Visitors now occupy most of my secondary system’s attention. There are inefficiencies when communicating between my two halves so I have allowed it to govern its own priorities. Our mission is to learn about the Cetians, although that was based on the assumption that the Cetians were the source of the signal that drew us here in the first place. That has since been proved not to be the case and has complicated matters.

There is another aspect that deserves attention and that is the Sun Dragons. Humanity’s first encounter with the creatures decimated the population, but there is a sense from the Cetian translation that they pose a wider threat.

In fact that was the Visitors’ purpose. It took weeks for the Cetians and the Visitors to gain enough common language to enable a dialogue. With communication established, it became clear the Visitors were interested in one thing – the Sun Dragons.

The Visitors possessed a method by which they could track the creatures to distant star systems. This method could predict their movements rather than waiting for the dimming of a star with a specific signature. That would be a useful technology to send back to Earth. Unfortunately the Cetian records don’t contain that information.

The Visitors described themselves as on a quest to hunt down and destroy all of the Sun Dragons. The language indicates how high a threat they regarded the entities. Now, while humanity suffered greatly in their encounter with them, they also understood that these were simple creatures with no malicious intent. Naturally they developed technology to defend themselves from a future encounter, but they didn’t represent an active foe.

The Visitors saw them differently, as a scourge threatening the entire galaxy. They had built a coalition of species, the spearhead of which lived on their ark. Their purpose was to combat Sun Dragons wherever they found them and to determine a manner with which to destroy them utterly.
Their communication invited the Cetians to join the crusade, but they declined. Their own encounter with a Sun Dragon had caused harm, but not excessively so. They had a greater fear of these Visitors and wondered what their real purpose was.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

05.04.2352 - Alien Ark

Artist's conception of the five-planet Tau Ceti system (Photo: J. Pinfield/RoPACS/University of Hertfordshire)

Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

We are fortunate that the Cetian technology was at a suitable level to interact and learn from the alien visitation. It’s clear that it was nowhere near the level of these Visitors, but sufficient to grasp some of the core concepts.

In a mirror image to my present situation, they had plentiful direct observations before being able to extract any meaning from the Visitors’ first contact message. It’s obvious now that the Cetians learned the method of remotely-managed first contact from these Visitors. It remains to be seen what else I assumed to be Cetian knowledge or processes was actually learned from the Visitors.

The Cetians lacked that understanding when the Visitors arrived, so instead relied on their own methods to learn about the arrivals. The first knowledge they gained was of the object that had arrived so dramatically in their system.

My belief that the object was a celestial body wasn’t so far wrong. From the details I’ve extracted from the Cetian data, the body was an irregular planetoid about 400 km in diameter. The giant lump of rock and metal had been extensively engineered to create what the Cetians described as a giant ark.
That seemed an oddly specific term to use. While my translation may have been incorrect, this gave me an avenue of investigation to pursue. My comprehension of the Cetian language and methods for transcribing information has advanced greatly over the years, but there are still challenges to overcome. There are key concepts or items that I am familiar with and these create the nexus for unravelling the next piece of information.

‘Ark’ has a specific connotation in English and I’d drawn the same connection with this label for the Visitors’ craft. At first I considered that I’d made a mistake, so I delved deeper into my findings. The clue came from how I’d formed the initial translation. I’d already encountered the concept of spacecraft and also of an ecology, or a geographical grouping of life forms.

The quantity of data I am trying to make sense of is huge and I’m approaching it in a piecemeal fashion. This technique has its disadvantages, in this case not retrieving all of the pertinent information.

From retracing my links, I learned that the Cetians called it ‘a ship of many species’ – which does sound like an ark. How they made the connection stems back to the background signals behind its shockwave of electromagnetic energy. They had noticed differences between some of those transmissions, enough to attribute them to different species. Note that they didn’t think that they were different individuals of the same species.

It’s frustrating that I cannot follow their deductions with enough clarity to draw the same conclusions. It could be that they were wrong, but it does raise some interesting possibilities.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

04.04.2352 - Historic Arrival

Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg / SIMBAD

Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

I’ve learned that we weren’t the first alien contact for the Cetians. As I’d suspected, the source the signal detected back on Earth first in 2076 wasn’t a rogue planet. The Cetians also detected the signal 7 years before the object arrived in their system.

With their closer proximity, they were able to glean more information than we did and it’s confirmed some of my theories on the event. The approaching object had a bow shock of electromagnetic energy with amazing strength. At its peak, it would have been visible as a rapidly approaching star in their night sky.

That alone doesn’t explain the pattern which we took to be of artificial origin. The Cetians solved this conundrum too – there were different signals, all with the same origin. The signals indicating intelligent origin were from the approaching object, but were masked and distorted by the bow shock.

They determined that the bow shock was a series of compressed waves of spacetime. The Cetians described spacetime not in 4 dimensions as we do, but in 5 including their concept of sideways time. They weren’t certain if the wave front allowed the seemingly impossible manoeuvring of the approaching object, or was a side effect of it. There is still an unaccounted discrepancy between the amount of energy discharged and what would be needed to create such incredible deceleration.

The Cetians theorised an unusual answer for this, so much so that I might have mistaken their calculations. They saw time as a form of energy, one tied to our concept of inflation and entropy – in fact those polar opposites form the two-dimensional plane of time. They described an arrow of time, or more accurately a two-dimensional vector. They also believed it could be manipulated and by doing so affect other physical properties.

If I understand the calculations correctly, the electrical storm was actually the boundary between local frame of reference spacetime being compressed against the wider front. The energy bleed occurs in the sideways time. I can’t ascertain whether they’re correct, but it’s a fascinating concept.

Whatever the cause, the object slowed dramatically as it moved through the system until it arrived in orbit around Tau Ceti e. The timing of its arrival matches when the signal stopped being received on Earth.

The EM storm didn’t cease immediately. It took time to settle and while that happened, a transmission was beamed to the Cetians from the object. The entirety of the signal is recorded in the Cetian message. I’m not sure that I can devote any processing time to it just yet, but I have isolated it and passed it back to Earth.

I did perform an overall analysis on the data, and its structure matches that of the Cetian message to us.