Author: Glenn Leung
The night the stars spoke; I was listening. It was not light they sent us, but a series of electrical pulses in M code picked up as instrument static. They sent it all at once, bypassing the lightyears through what we now call Hyperspace. They have been watching us through the ages, across the infinite expanse, taking notes.
“It is time. We should talk,” was the message from three hundred thousand stars.
Many in power were sure about what it meant. We had just celebrated Pax Centennial, a hundred years without any type of regional or global conflict. We were finally deemed mature enough to get invited to a galactic fellowship. What else could it be? Beings that could send simultaneous signals across several hundred lightyears must no doubt be enlightened.
It fell on me to send our reply. I did not write it; that was something the politicians wanted credit for. I was just in charge of translating it to M code and transmitting it towards the North Star, which sat at the center of the three hundred thousand. We have no Hyperspace technology, but we were sure the stars could pick it up. There is no way they would send us a message expecting a few hundred years of wait time, would they? I learned to question my many assumptions on this job, so I wasn’t as sure about this as the politicians were.
“We are here and listening,” was to be our reply.
Hardly anyone knew M code in the 25th century, or what the ‘M’ even stood for. I could send cat pictures in binary and no one would know to stop me. I wasn’t going to do that obviously, but I felt I needed to take responsibility somehow, being the original receiver and all.
Remember I said I learned to question assumptions? Well, one of the assumptions I’ve been questioning is the nature of this hundred-year peace. You have mentioned how many things in this world don’t seem to make sense, and I agree. I don’t believe the Pacific ruins were part of a failed habitat experiment. The designs don’t look at all like they were made for housing people underwater. There are also those mysterious books that were written in a language no one remembers, and satellite images of run-down buildings near the equator. Near the equator where barely any life exists! Let’s also not forget the strange skeletons that were dug up last month. Were there more than fifteen known species of animals sometime in the past?
Naturally, I questioned the stars’ intentions as well. If they have truly been watching us, they would have the answers to these puzzles. Many of us choose to ignore the obvious, but the stars probably would not. Of course, these are just more assumptions, but I think I’m justified in making some. After all, I need to mitigate risks.
“Give us more time,” is what I sent as a reply.
We have not heard back. There are too many possible reasons why.
This is where I need your help; you who dabble in ideas shunned by polite society. There are gaps and lies in our knowledge of the world, and I want to uncover the facts. It is our best shot at understanding the true intentions of the stars. I know it’s a lot to ask, but we are dealing with a very uncertain situation here.
We need to know how much we messed up.