Author : Pete Clark
In the vast, senseless void of space, a new star appeared.
Darin watched from the observatory with wide eyed wonder at the glowing orb, reflecting on the War, the unknown enemy. The unseen enemy. He trained his telescopes and tapped keys to optimise magnification. His hands shook, then steadied as he increased his adrenaline levels with a thought to a hormone implant at the base of his skull, inserted painlessly into his spinal cord. He maximised magnification and shut his nictitating eyelids, minimising glare.
It was innumerable miles away, this orb. Its light came in steady pulses, of every known wavelength and, Darin noted, searching the databases, some new. His excitement grew with each pulse, and as he watched, it moved subtly in his viewfinder. Impossible. He looked again, using a thought-controlled drone to connect more computer power. He gained another power of magnification and the orb filled the viewfinder, strange swirling clouds scudding across its surface. Instantly, Darin knew this was no star. He chilled.
He quickly patched into the communications network and tapped a message out on the keyboard that lit up on telescope’s base unit. Its soft glow illuminated his fingers, and turned the complex recognition circuitry embedded in their tips into a sparkle of fingerprint fireworks.
His message read, simply:
UNKNOWN STAR / CRAFT. CO-ORDINATES 1955:1565 b-SECTION. MOBILITY LOW ALTHOUGH MEASURABLE. SIZE INCALCULABLE. SUGGEST SENDING CRITICAL RESPONSE TEAMS 4 AND 6. WILL CONTINUE MONITORING AND REPORT AS NECESSARY.
He tapped the key that added his details. He paused before hitting send. He re-read his message and thought of the panic that might ensue. It was war time, sure enough, but to add to the confusion? He could be hailed for securing the nation and for doing so without causing panic or fear. He sent his message to one of the numerous storage files that he had secreted around the communications network, and gathered data.
The final pulse of energy that Darin registered was not light as known to him, but rather its inverse, invisible dark energy that reached Earth in a stream about as wide as a human hair. It punched through the focusing lens, taking microseconds to travel through the length of the telescope and out of the eye piece. Darin grunted in surprise as the energy pulse seared a path through his brain, cauterising a worming scar through his tissues. He fell from his chair, his final thought not of love or family, but only a nagging regret that he should have risked the panic of the nation and released his message from its secure folder after all.
Innumerable miles away, against the textured velvet backdrop of space, the orb winked out of existence, appearing seconds later, to those who cared to look, light years closer to Earth. Its surface boiled with energy, as if it was alive and the taste of death on its tongue had piqued its curiosity just enough for it to want to try again, perhaps on a larger scale.
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