Author : Tristan Krahn
It was a miracle of science, a triumph of the Human mind over nature that allowed them the chance to be gods, but it was careless hubris that destroyed them.
The Large Hadron Collider, the largest particle accelerator on Planet Earth: ten billion dollars worth of high energy hardware; the world’s most expensive science project. It was here that the most cutting edge physical breakthroughs in Human history became realities.
It was here, one hundred meters below the Earth’s surface, in a twenty-seven kilometer circular tunnel, that Humanity’s brightest minds verified a generation-old prophecy. First described by the luminary of particle physics, Peter Higgs, the discovery of his namesake field was a crowning achievement, not only for particle physicists, but Humanity as well.
The Higgs Field: the field underlying the entire standard model of physics; the field that gives particles mass by interacting with and slowing down these particles each to a point where their wave function no longer vibrates at the same frequency as light and other mass-less particles, allowing them to interact with each other and form the basic elements. This field, finally discovered by a machine that smashes particles together so hard that the resultant debris actually mimics, for a brief nanosecond, the conditions present just after the Big Bang.
The Large Hadron Collider had, in short, succeeded in creating tiny short-lived universes, thus bestowing godhood on the Human race. For, with each collision that resulted in a momentary Higgs Field, a new universe was born and lived out its natural progression in the fraction of an eye’s blink. To the physicists, it was no more than a few nanoseconds to live and die; to the tiny universe, it took tens of billions of years.
This marvel of science should have bred humility in the physicists that represented the Human race but instead it bred a god complex. Now that Humans could create whole universes, they wanted to see if they could manipulate the conditions just enough that they could create a tiny fleeting version of their own universe. Not only were they playing god, they were trying to be their own creators.
What would they do when they succeeded? Would they build a shrink ray and draw straws to determine which egghead would play diminutive ambassador to a synthetic analogue universe? They would have to act fast, in the space of a few picoseconds, if they wanted to interact with the analogue’s Humans. Perhaps they could beam the universe into space using quantum teleportation and somehow expand the universe so that humans seeking a holiday in an artificial analogue universe could simply go into deep space, cross a barrier and be within a smaller but virtually identical universe to their own.
It was a miracle of science, a triumph of the Human mind over nature, but in the end their hubris did destroy them. For, as they had hoped, the physicists truly did create their own universe. Due to the infinite nature of probability, it was by mere chance that they created the exact universe they existed in. Before they even had a chance to examine themselves, the tiny universe annihilated, taking the entire human race with it, casualties of their own god complex.
Author : Justin Permenter
The Earth was silent upon the Last Day.
The Great Mother, once resplendent in the verdure of youth, now wretched and barren in Her twilight, shuddered and trembled as tectonic forces slowly rent Her to pieces from within. She had outlived Her children by eons, the last of whom abandoned their matriarch more than seven billion years before Her demise. These wayward sons and daughters of Earth were destined to inhabit more than a hundred worlds across dozens of systems, expanding ever outward until, at last, they perished, the summation of all their dreams and fears and ambitions consigned to a mere footnote in the incalculable history of the cosmos.
And yet for a time, the Earth remained, keeping Her stoic vigil over ancient battlefields and forgotten graves. Entombed within the heat-scorched shell of their former dominion, the conquerors and vassals, executioners and martyrs of bygone epochs found in death the kinship which had so tragically eluded them in life. Inside this ossuary the bones of mankind now mingled with the dust of empires and oceans boiled away into nothingness beneath the relentless expansion of the Red Giant.
So it was upon the Last Day when, for the first time since the age of the pre-solar nebula, the Earth and Her patron star, the former progenitor and sustainer of all life upon the planet’s ruined surface, were drawn together once more into fatal contact by the adamantine power of gravity. A searing burst of light heralded their violent reunion. Geysers of white flame washed across the glassy exterior of the planet, a tidal wave of heat so intense that even ghosts fled before its mighty and terrible fury. The brittle crust, withered and decimated by millennia of crushing temperatures, dissolved almost at once, exposing the viscous mantle beneath.
From this moment onward the Earth would be forever conjoined with the dying star which had already devoured two of Her sister worlds. Almost two hundred more years, a measure of terrestrial time whose meaning had long since been lost, would pass before the last molten elements of the planet’s core yielded to the weight of Her own mortal destiny. Then, having expended every last measure of resistance, She succumbed to the inferno with the groan of a great wounded beast, resigning the orphaned spirits of Her progeny to wander the vast and pitiless emptiness of space until the coming of the Cataclysm which would bring an end to all things.
Thus was another verse added to the elegy of the ages, the ghostsong which echoes throughout the chasm of the universe, the lamentation of races and civilizations displaced by the ravages of celestial time, and of the worlds which they once called Home.
Author : Lars H. Hoffmann
“And for the love of humanity, please come save me.” Concluded the video. Andie’s voice very nearly broke towards the end of the sentence, making the plea sounding as heartfelt as possible. There was a moment of silence before anybody spoke. Jason looked around the boardroom at the thirteen seated men. This moment was pivotal. Jason was convinced that each and every one of the board members were making up their mind right in front of his eyes. Had it worked?
“Thank you very much for this… this…” The chairman paused searching for words “…fascinating and moving presentation. We will of course need some time before we give you any sort of reply.”
“Of course.” Answered Jason. “We understand that a thirty billion dollars investment over ten years is not something to be taken lightly.”
“One final question: How certain are you that Andie is actually alive?” Asked the Chairman.
This was good, he was using Andie’s name anthropomorphizing the space rover.
“One hundred percent.” Said Jason without a moment’s hesitation. “The signal time to Titan is about an hour and a half from earth so she had to be autonomous. Her basic programming focused on learning from experience much like a child and at some point while driving around on Saturn’s moon she learned enough to become self-aware.”
He smiled his most charming salesman-smile and started collecting the materials he had used for the presentation. He stood up, thanked the board for their time and walked out.
Outside the building Carmen was waiting for him with an unlit cigarette in her left hand. When she saw him come out of the door she hurried over to him.
“How did it go?” She asked.
“I think they are going for it, they might actually fund the rescue mission and we can get her back home.” He said smilingly.
“Her?” Said Carmen disapprovingly. “It might have developed sentience and actual intelligence, but Andie is not man or woman.”
“Yes. Sure. I know.” Said Jason. “But the only reason why this meeting is different from the fourteen previous ones we’ve had with space operating companies is that I refer to Andie as a female and her voice was changed in the video.”
“Do you really think that is enough?”
“I don’t think the men in that boardroom will be able to ignore a damsel in distress.”
Author : Rob Francis
Hyenas owned the dry, dead city.
They watched as Abal guided the rover down the empty roads, rolling around and over the scattered debris of civilization. His home was gone now, forever. It seemed absurd. Ridiculous. Perhaps that was why he couldn’t stop laughing.
Static crackled over the speakers, and a wavery voice filled the vehicle.
“Rover 12, Rover 12. You there, Abal? Reached A.A. yet?”
H.Q. He slowed to a stop and pressed the comms switch on the rover’s control panel.
“Not a soul to save, brothers.” No sign of the living. No sign of the dead.
From the roadsides hundreds of black eyes mocked him. Mouths gaped, slick wet tongues dangling. An entire metropolis of scavengers.
That would explain the lack of bodies. Possibly the lack of survivors as well.
Abal bared his teeth right back at them. They grinned together.
As he completed his circuit of the city, Abal tapped the comms switch again. “Sweep confirmed. No clean up needed here. No evidence of survivors, diseased or otherwise. Returning to cordon.”
He turned the rover back towards the broken highway and the long drive to safety. From the rearview camera, he saw that a large cackle had gathered in his wake. Hundreds of the vermin, drawn together by his tour of the deserted streets. Abal put his foot down.
As the engine rattled and died, he found himself laughing harder than ever, tears hot on his dusty face.
He did not laugh alone.
Author : Beck Dacus
My team and I came to the exomoon Talursa expecting to find extraordinary things. Every new world was an exciting adventure for science– life, evolving completely isolated from the rest of the galaxy, making completely new life forms. It was expected to change exobiology forever, but no more than any other world had.
Instead it changed everything.
We came to this moon and found an abundance of plants, ones that photosynthesize and some that eat other plants. The ecosystem was so intricate and balanced, that we worried our mere presence may cause an extinction. But as we looked further, none of us were worried. Our impact was minimal.
For the first two weeks, it was your standard exobio mission. We all walked around and examined the plants up close. One thing we noticed was the ubiquity of asexuality; none of the organisms on the planet copulated to make offspring. Reproduction was restricted to cloning moonwide. And any organisms that randomly mutated were swiftly wiped out by the members of their own species.
This alone was spooky. We all wondered why such a tyrannical system would evolve among a whole biosphere. All our questions were answered at the beginning of the third week, when Tamara brought in the results of her genome sequencing.
“I found a message,” she said.
“Hmm?” Rick grunted unsuspectingly
“I did the genome sequencing on five of this moon’s species. Each one is a different message.”
“What!?” Perkins demanded. “Whaddaya mean?”
“I scanned the genome of five species, and each one had a unique binary pattern. I–”
“Computer code? There’s computer code in their DNA?” I tried to clarify.
“Yup. I plugged it in, and only got useful data out of two of them.”
“Slow down!” Dana said. “You’re saying something intelligent made all life on Talursa, encoding a different message into each species?”
“Yes. Their way of storing LOTS of information for a long time. Terabytes for eons. I looked over five, like I said, and only two registered in the computer. One was a video, and the other was a recording.”
“Well, what did they say?”
“I don’t know. The video was just a bunch of wavy colors, and the audio was garbled noise. But I saw patterns in them. They had information. We just need to send this to Earth cryptographers to decipher.
“Do we know why the other three didn’t work?”
“Not for sure, but I’m betting it’s because our computers can’t display smells.”
“Or taste, or a tactile interface, or an electromagnetic field. The aliens that found this world could have had any type or combination of senses– they had to try everything. The two I could use probably had wavelengths of light and sound beyond a human’s range of hearing or vision.”
“So… we’re standing on a time capsule?”
“Everything. All the information about, and ever collected by, some advanced race.”
“So, what do we do? Go back to Earth?”
“Right after we sequence the rest of the genomes on this planet, yes.”
“But that will take ages!”
“That is why you will all stop what you’re doing and help me.”
“Starting right now. There is no time to lose.”
“Hey, I’m mission command–”
“This is larger than us! This is humanity. Now everyone, to my lab. Lots of work to be done.”