Author: Stephen Dougherty

The four-month voyage to The Mirror came to an end when the faintest light of the instruments filled Navigator TwoJade’s eyes with figures. The engines fell silent and a barely perceptible feeling of fulfillment bathed the deck of the Excitation. The other Jades allowed themselves to open their eyes but quickly closed them again at the sight of the instruments’ glow. Raised towards the only window of the small craft lay OneAngel, her hands flat on the communicators. It was her job to make the Excitation talk.
The trip from the Dark Earth was uneventful and seemed only a few hours to the crew who slept through it in dreamless suspension. The worlds and wonders passed them by until they reached a point beyond Pluto. Ten thousand miles ahead of them lay an object of unknown origin. Nearly two hundred miles across and forty miles high it was almost completely flat and just a few feet in depth. Its highly reflective surface had reflected the feeble light from the sun and caught the attention of the observatories on moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Just beyond the fringes of the solar system, it waited in silence.
The Excitation also now waited, tantalizingly close. OneAngel, lying before the long oval window, moved her head ever so slightly and thought “Run your preliminary checks before we move into place.” And the craft shared the thought instantly with the others.
Each touched their screens, imagined commands, and influenced numbers with their cool quick eyes. The machineries within the Excitation pulsed and breathed, the engines glowed, and the small dark ship started to move.
At the same moment, a flash of white light shone brilliantly for a fraction of a second from the surface of The Mirror. From its surface, thousands upon thousands of small spheres rose and moved slowly outward, like bubbles in water. The window on the Excitation reacted to dim the light and the crew moved quickly to respond. Once again, eyes darted, thoughts influenced, fingers danced. As they acted to understand this unexpected development the small spheres turned a deep green, stopped in their courses and started to vibrate violently. The crew of the tiny vessel fell unconscious. When they awoke, they found that the spheres had gone, and valuable time had been lost.
OneJade skimmed her instruments. Her sharp mind deciphered the data and projected her conclusion to the Excitation: “We have been unconscious for nearly twenty minutes. Scans suggest the vibrating spheres were a method of communication. She opened her eyes wide. There is a message.”
OneAngel looked through the window instinctively to see if The Mirror was still there. It was. Its liquid-like surface seemed to ripple and flicker. Connected together via their ship, the tiny crew all knew there was a message. And it was now displayed on their monitors:
OneAngel transmitted a thought to the Excitation and her eyes flashed around her displays invoking commands to the ship. The engines glowed once again, and it moved gracefully towards The Mirror. A few minutes was all it took until Excitation stared directly at the center of the giant instrument. OneAngel faced forward, lying flat in her berth, and gave the command to transmit. She looked on as the message was sent into the heart of the device. Her heartbeat rose ever so slightly. This message too was displayed across their screens. It read: