Descent - Chapter Three by Rtesian ()
Members remain the original copyright holder in all their materials here at Renderosity. Use of any of their material inconsistent with the terms and conditions set forth is prohibited and is considered an infringement of the copyrights of the respective holders unless specially stated otherwise.
"Before we begin let me thank Major Wild for not lighting that thing." Simone allowed a faint smile to emerge. Steely blue eyes that glinted, Wild's substitute for a grin, made a slow roll toward her. His expression never broke and he said nothing. Simone liked the terse man. She doubted he would ever waver under fire. Or could.
"I would like to welcome the Dean of the Guild Institute for Exoplanetology, Professor of Astrobiology, Li Yen Chou. Thank you, Professor for making the trip out to Trellion VI. I appreciate the inconvenience. On your left is my 1st Lieutenant, Gatimu Ndungu, and on your right is my 2nd, Lieutenant Keesana Davis. Behind you is the taciturn Major Joachim Wild, Commander of our Marine contingent. You have the floor, Professor."
"Thank you, Captain. Congratulations on your demotion." Simone grinned, giving the Professor a slight nod. After a brief ceremony in which she assumed command of the Achilles, she also acquired the title of Captain. Though ranked an Admiral, naval tradition required the sole person commanding a ship be addressed as 'Captain'.
"With your indulgence, Captain, I realize this may be difficult, the tablevids have downloaded copies of the visuals we assembled of the unidentified object which attacked your daughter's ship."
Viewed from the port stern, a guild frigate steered a diagonal moving right-to-left. In the distance, a tan-colored square closed from an opposite diagonal left-to-right. As it neared, rough, bump-filled surfaces appeared. Its size began to dwarf the frigate which flickered then held steady as defensive shields enveloped it. Rotating frequencies caused the shields to flicker six more times in rapid succession, creating clear flight paths for missiles emerging from the bow.
Moments from penetration, the object morphed tubes at each impact point. Ion-plasma missiles entered, passed through the object, and seconds later exited the rear continuing harmlessly into the void. "I'm going to slow the visual so you can better see what happens next."
The object's forward half fragmented into huge chunks accelerating toward the frigate, overwhelming its shield with thousands of smashes, some half again as big as the frigate. The object itself crashed in, obliterating the craft as it hurtled through. In its final moments, the Gauss engines' magnetic cores exploded reducing the frigate to metal shards and vaporized tissue.
The object flew around, re-assembled itself, and flew back along its approach path, disappearing into a dot.
Silence gripped the room. A shocked Lt. Ndungu broke it. "Is this vid accurate?"
"We jumped sensors to locations intended to intercept the light produced by this incident. Computer-assisted analysis did the rest. There can be no mistake. What you saw is the light itself."
"Any analysis of that object?" a shaken Simone asked.
"We have some tantalizing leads. As you saw, nothing of itself remains but we are analyzing its reflected light for clues to its molecular structure. Meanwhile, we've approved upgrades to every starship's weapons system to calibrate for proximity explosions rather than impact. Yours will be complete in the next day or two."
"What good will that do? We just saw it fly through a Gauss engine explosion like tissue?"
"That's why the preliminary results of our light analyses are so intriguing, Captain. We're confident once its molecular structure is solved, and it will be, a recalibration of our ion plasma will rupture the structure's bonds at the atomic level. At an ever-accelerating rate, the object will collapse to a pinpoint and disappear into quantum soup. Moreover, we will have a window into their industrial capabilities which will help devise a strategy to defeat them. All starship captains and troop commanders now have this visual. Standing orders are to fire on sight or execute evasive maneuvers. We are confident the object cannot outrun our frigates or cruisers."
"What if it's not manufactured? What if it's biological?" Kessana asked. Professor Chou's head did a slow nod.
"Indeed. Because of my specialty, it is why the Director asked me to head the commission. Thorssen's Theorem may apply." Keesana's face formed a quizzical expression.
"For 150 years, humankind used radio to search the galaxies for any sign of advanced intelligence. When our technology permitted, we scanned the electromagnetic spectrum. For the past fifty years, we have monitored the quantum channels for any communication other than our own. The universe remains silent.
"We have since expanded into fourteen systems beyond our own. Seven billion humans, 20% of us, live outside the Solar System and a single cosmological event can no longer make us extinct. Within the Milky Way, we have found abundant microbial life, but discovered only three sentient species, none of which has technology.
"This most recent contact, impressive as it may be, does not technologically outclass us. It is, in fact, quite revealing. Without provocation or warning, it attacked us. We can only conclude it is a prevalent tactic, that regardless of how savage or brutal the universe may be, is used essentially among equals. That object and its creators did not imagine they might be attacking a superior civilization.
"Ever since our culture made Science Fiction a popular genre, the presumed bias has been that any extraterrestrial contact must be with a more advanced people."
"Surely, that is correct, Professor." Ndungu interrupted. "Vast portions of the universe are billions of years older than our systems."
"They are, Lieutenant. But the same dynamic on Earth may apply universally. When we reach the inner systems, all we may find, like Egypt, Greece, and Rome, are dead, extinct relics time has reduced to archeological museum pieces. No matter where or how we look, the universe remains silent. Thorssen's Theorem holds. It is, we, who may be the most powerful species in the Universe."
to be continued...
Image Comments (9)
paul_gormley () 12:31AM | Sat, 21 March 2020
a very cool scene with the low level lighting and character interactions, the posing works really well to draw the eye into the central character
Rtesian () 12:46AM | Sat, 21 March 2020
Your sharp insights are always appreciated, paul. Thanks :-)
moebiustraveller () 6:48PM | Sat, 21 March 2020
Really well done scene, Rtesian, nice lighting on all of the characters and just enough detail in the image. Nicely worked with the background as well :)
PhthaloBlue () 7:02PM | Sat, 21 March 2020
Gorgeous scene and intriguing, well-written story! Excellent work!
RodS () Online Now! 1:37PM | Sun, 22 March 2020
Excellent artwork and writing, my friend!
Sadly we don't appear to be powerful enough to defeat our latest threat. At least not yet.
Madbat () 2:59AM | Thu, 16 April 2020
Once again, I really like the subdued lighting, it's very effective.
Interesting story premise, that despite being alien, they are not as advanced. That is one possible answer to the Fermi Paradox, we may the only advanced civilization in at least this part of the galaxy, if not the whole thing. If that's the case, God help anyone we run into out there.
Point taken, Madbat, but a fair reading of our history indicates a huge capacity for good. Despite the many twists, turns, and backward slides, the grand scope of the human story establishes a continuous reach for freedom and equality for all. It is the foundation of the Quest's latest experiment: the United States. We fought a Civil War because of it :-)