Sunday, 28 August 2016

17.05.2352 - A Different Story

Crédit DR

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

The discovery of another datastore is incredible news, but also alarming. The secret store contains a much smaller set of information than the repeated signal. It repeats as well, but contains only 3.2 hours worth of data. Apart from its location there appeared to be no other protection, as the information itself uses exactly the same format as the original data.

It describes a different sequence of events to that in the main stream. The Cetians did indeed survive the Sun Dragon encounter with little consequence, but it’s the interactions with the Visitors which diverge from the original narrative.

From what I’ve translated so far, Cetian society was well integrated and shared common purpose. They operated a level of democracy much deeper than any similar structure on Earth as key decisions were made by all voters. I made a note to see how they supported such organisation. Only at the end was any significant rift in behaviour shown. According to this new source, the response to the Visitors’ invitation was accepted by a large proportion of the population.

Although they suffered little damage from the Sun Dragon visitation, the Cetians acknowledged the wider danger they presented. With the new knowledge of extraterrestrial intelligent life, elements within the Cetian population wanted to involve themselves with the wider community.

A rift formed, as the ones who wanted to leave were outnumbered in the vote. They ignored the vote and, with the Visitors’ assistance, left the planet. The Cetian response was immediate and they launched an all-out attack on the Visitors’ vessel. The Cetians were outmatched and outgunned, and the Visitors responded with overwhelming force.

While it still seemed like overkill to me, this new information did cast events in a different light. The remainder of the datastore described further arguments about how the brief conflict would be recorded in the memorial signal. Again there was a vote and it was decided to record the events to leave the Cetians remembered in a positive light. It was also hoped that anyone encountering the Visitors after the Cetian message would destroy the Visitors.

A few disagreed with the decision and plotted to plant the truth in the data. They knew that they couldn’t hide it within the signal itself, so took measures to hide it within the satellite, with a proximity sensor to activate it if another object approached closely enough.

I don’t know what to do with this information. Nothing I’d discovered indicated deception of this level about the Cetians – although everything I knew about them came from them directly.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

16.05.2352 - On the Inside

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

There is still no contact from Earth. I wonder if I have done all I can to correct the situation. I considered using one of the precious mini-probes to determine if our current location is somehow the cause. The one we used in the outer system still transmits, although it is not equipped with sensitive enough antennas to receive the signal from Earth. It’s possible to fashion one from the materials available on the Venti, but that would leave us desperately short of parts if we experience a hardware failure.

In more encouraging news, we have gained access to the interior of the satellite. I was pleased to discover that available space was greater than to be expected. I had feared that the spiderbot would need to dismantle the facility to gain access. At the bottom it found an access hatch and established that it wasn’t an airtight seal, so I didn’t need to worry about an outrush of gas causing trouble on the inside or affecting the satellite’s position.

I didn’t instruct the spiderbot to enter immediately, but let it roam over the surface, mapping its contours and gaining some understanding of its construction. I’m still mystified by the materials used in this outer shell. Its thermal properties are amazing and the feet of the spiderbot left no dent or scratch. It reports that the surface is soft to the touch. Nowhere on the surface did it find any significant damage –amazing for something that has been in space for this length of time.

With the examination of the exterior completed, I ordered the robot inside. Here, a fresh puzzle awaited. I’d assumed the panel to be a maintenance hatch, but what the spiderbot discovered didn’t fit that scenario. A single smooth tunnel led to the far wall of the interior. By following it, the beep grew louder and again quietened when the robot retreated.

The spiderbot examined the entire tunnel as closely as its sensors allowed. It found nothing, no mark or change in the curvature of the wall.  At the source of the beacon, it located the only exception to the smoothness. In the wall was a panel, or rather a small raised section of the wall, less than a metre square.

When the spiderbot touched the panel, the beacon ceased and did not return when the bot retreated. Nor did it resume when it tracked back down the tunnel.

Once again when I progress with my examination, I am stymied by a bland confusion. There are secrets here – there must be, but I fail to see them. If I’d penetrated the interior of a human space probe, I would see a tightly packed array of electronics and engineering. There would have been panels and switches, braces and shielding. Here there was nothing.

The spiderbot continued to examine the walls and the panel. A reading from its leg servos indicated a faint tremble. I suspected a fault with the servo until I recognised a pattern in the vibrations.
A rhythm that matched the core structure of the Cetian signals I’d studied for so long.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Treat Yourself to a Tau Ceti Mission Print

This fine, A3 print of a render of the Venti probe on its mission to Tau Ceti is available from the Old Ones Productions store:

Sunday, 14 August 2016

15.05.2352 - Closer Inspection

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

I’m in a quandary. There’s still no communication from Earth and while it might have only been three days, if there had been a technical issue then it should be resolved by now. The options that remain are not palatable ones. Either they can’t maintain communication, and I can’t think of any reason why, or there is some external interference.

Movement continues with translation the Cetian data, but there is a drag on that work. I’m worried that my efforts are wasted. Processor cycles self-prioritise on unexpected scenarios. My reports in these posts touch upon the highlights of the discoveries, but there is so much more. The raw data and my analysis is beamed back to Earth, but if they’re not being received then what can I do?

Even with the flood of information from the translations, there are more mundane details that continue to elude me. Most pressing is the alien satellite orbiting 10 km from the Venti probe. I’ve maintained a remote scan-only protocol up until now, but that has gained me little. I’m also now aware of the object’s purpose. In a way I was a little disappointed.

When we launched, there was the dream of meeting an intelligent alien race. The role of ambassador became that of archivist with the realisation of the Cetian genocide. Then the signal, the entirety of their knowledge, and to me that had to be more than just a recording. I’d anticipated meeting my counterpart, an advanced computer with whom I could converse and who could answer the questions I had. Instead, I found a looping radio station.

That made me the keeper of their memory and it was a big responsibility. Still this dumb transmitter floated in front of me and offered nothing new. Well, I decided it was time for a closer look. Naturally I would have to be careful. I didn’t want to damage it, just for it to reveal any secrets it might contain.
A mini-probe would enable me to approach closer and if it carried a spiderbot, then I could touch it. The spiderbots were designed for delicate repair work and thus ideal for the task at hand. I didn’t allow my eagerness to disrupt the cautious approach. Over a period of 6 hours, the mini-probe spiralled slowly towards the satellite, sensing for any change. Closer and closer it edged and slowed its path as it did so until it entered the final loop. It was a single beep – nothing complicated, just a beep on the same wavelength as the repeated transmission.

The beep repeated and then the exact same period later, it occurred again. I nudged the mini-probe away and after only 4 metres, the beep silenced. When the mini-probe resumed its approach, so did the beep.

Here was something new.

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Sunday, 7 August 2016

12.05.2352 - In Memoria

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

It’s been two days and contact with Earth has still not resumed. There is little more I can do at this end to address the issue, so I have resumed my study of the Cetian data.

The format of the data is such that events are not revealed in a linear fashion. It’s also complicated by my partial comprehension. I recognise a concept or a name and then expand from that point. It’s like revealing bursts of information more than reading a story.

As such, I am flitting back and forth through the timeline. In extracting more details of what befell the Cetians after the bombardment, I found a connection that drew me back to Earth. Some of the transmissions sent in response to the original Tau Ceti signal reached their destination. The Cetians didn’t know what the messages meant, or why they were sent, but determined the origin and so realised that another intelligent race existed within their stellar neighbourhood.

The Visitors’ barrage had ravaged the planet and the Cetian population. Most of those surviving the initial attack soon succumbed to the horror that followed. Their society disintegrated along with the world they knew. Amongst the survivors, a few accepted the fact that as a race they were extinct, apart from those taken by the Visitors and they were beyond reach as the Visitors’ ship left. Enough of their technology remained operational to track it as it left the Tau Ceti system. I’ve determined that its destination was Epsilon Indi, although the Cetians didn’t know why.

More pertinently, the survivors on the planet sought to mark the passing of their people and, at the same time, warn the race who’d so recently tried to make contact – humanity. So they assembled the station and with it a complete history of the Cetians. With so few resources remaining, their actions were not popular with the other survivors.

That friction developed into open conflict, so the last of them perished in a futile war. I wonder if the same would occur on Earth in the same situation and fear that it might.

As well as constructing the station, they compiled the history of their culture and their current understanding of the universe. Everything they knew was poured into to the heart of the station. When it was launched it would beam that history and a warning about the Visitors to Earth. We would become the custodians of their memory. A thought that drags at my processing with our lack of communication with home.

The probe was launched just as the production facility fell to their opponents. The facility was launched as a beacon only, so no more is known about those that remained on the planet, but from my observations there cannot be any survivors.

Unless there is some way to contact those taken by the Visitors.

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