Author : J.P. Flarity

We were too busy planting flags and making speeches those first times our planet’s inhabitants touched the moon. But eventually, hidden in the crevasses on Luna’s dark side, we found it.

The first Tablet.

Made from a tungsten superalloy of impossible purity, it stands a meter tall, two meters wide, and only ten millimeters thick. Three words are somehow etched onto its surface, written in a fine, cursive Latin. They read:

Servare in ingressus.

There are many translations…to keep going round, to keep on entering. The most popular one?

Keep going.

How did it get there? Encouraging aliens? A humorous God? Or the most likely explanation–a monumentally expensive prank?

There were no footsteps or landing marks around it, as if a divine hand had wedged it gently into the dust, and its presence awakened mass hysteria. After years of suicide bombings by religious cults, censorship by scientific cults, and unbridled madness by alien cults, our society eventually stabilized, and heeded the tablet’s message.

We missed it on the first trips to Mars, and began to comb the planet’s surface with focused tenacity. Finally, in the crater on the peak of Olympus Mons, we found the next Tablet.

It was identical to the first, but with different words:

Modicum longius.

A short amount further. A little bit more distance.

A bit farther.

This caused the cultists to grow quiet with studious speculation, and aliens took the lead as the most likely explanation for its origin. We began to dream…

There was an age where satellite dishes grew like weeds from our planet’s surface, as attempts to communicate with the theorized aliens consumed us. But the universe was silent.

Only with cooperation on a global scale, we were able to successfully design a detector to locate the tungsten superalloy. Our ships got faster, and more efficient. But the area to search was massive.

Then, the breakthrough.

On Jupiter’s moon, Callisto, in the center of the Valhalla impact ring crater, we found the third Tablet. How long had it been there?

It reads:

Fere ibi.

About thereupon. In general therewith.

Nearly there.

And our attitude changed. We lost our optimism, experiencing ennui on a global scale. What were we, children? Why must they torment us in such a demeaning way? Were we so beneath them? After all, we were not a young race anymore.

At least we thought so.

Disdain for the supposed aliens grew into anger, and we forgot to search for many years. We do not heed the Tablet’s message. There was brooding for generations, until we remembered.

Hundreds of moons were meticulously probed until we found the last Tablet. Not on Pluto, but on the dwarf planet Eris.

It was a huge strain on our resources to travel so far away from home, but we finally arrived. Thank goodness somebody remembered Latin…it’s been so long. Would they have changed the language for us?

Now I stand with my crew on the planet’s icy surface, a glorious forty degrees above absolute zero. The Tablet reads:

BENE. Ingrediamur unum centum perfecta. Sepelivit est lumen celeritate machinam. Te ad proxima stella.

Our crew decides on this translation:

Good job! Step one of one hundred complete. Buried here is a light speed engine. See you at the closest star.

Our species celebrates its first birthday. They even got us a present. How thoughtful.

If we’d only brought a shovel.

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