In the blur of light that didn’t allow eyes to adjust quickly enough, they arrived. They fell from the stars in the most elegant flaming lines Tosin had ever seen. But then, he didn’t see a lot of elegant lines around here. Here in the colonies on Gliese 792d, the smoothest round lines adorned the bubbles of settlement containment perimeters crushed by the ammonia-nitrate atmospheres in the Gleisan Temperates – into perfect spheres. Just east of the rocky crag surrounding the landing crater of perpendicular cleavage, the Saggitarius Colony saw almost exclusively straight lines in every direction. Supposedly there was the planet itself, but anyone who could afford to go up to the station didn’t live around here.
Like angels they descended. Broadcasts said they sent delegates to each colony and made one hell of an entrance wherever they went with landing parties. But Tosin’s colony, the biggest, got the mother. In a burst of color, they solidified before the colonists’ eyes and docked outside. They didn’t need to touch the ground, but they landed on the cliff to conserve fuel. Tosin had heard rumors of Zero G streaming in on the satellite uplink. The shows and content had been at least 90 years in transit since the net uplink featuring the technology back home. But as behind the times as Tosin might have been, he had caught up just the same. This must still be it.
They extended girders and invisible fiber lines no doubt burrowing deep within the crust to solidify the upright vessel. The crust groaned and shook with the strain of being pulled upward. It took a few full hours before the monolith stopped humming and steaming and vibrating the walls everywhere. The view out the windows of Tosin’s hovel may not have been much, but everyone had that bright blue skylight with the smooth black thing of splender Tosin had to crane his neck to take in. Just past the Aerogel they arrived with the pomp and circumstance of the people 200 years the colonists’ senior. What could they do but play in the mud here on Gliese? On Earth, they built sails.
Besides the Tesla-esc lightning that seemed to crawl along the surface of an unrecognizable alloy, there was a perceptible darkness left hanging in the sky. “It couldn’t be,” Tosin whispered to himself behind furrowed brows. No one had even flitted about the possibility of – at long last – the Kugelblitz.
The Black Hole Engine. That thing needed to be parked with a wide berth and one of those fiber chains would extend up all the way to the orbiting harness. In the sky it competed with the suns. For a moment Tosin wondered if the thing cast shadows of light. But he didn’t see any below him. He supposed the thing only pulled. But pausing to consider, that wasn’t true. The Sailors had somehow managed to harness the Hawkings Radiation long ago to push that sled. “Actually, not so long necessarily,” Tosin corrected himself. “45% speed of 90 light-years by his people’s era – perhaps a few months by theirs. He started at the realization – “These people have seen home.”
These people were born on Earth. These people had seen its sun rise, its rain, its birds, its oceans, its skies, its cities, its tech, its culture, its art. The thought was almost more than he could bear. He’d dreamed of it for his entire life, and they had seen it. His grandparents told stories passed down to them of beautiful things. Perhaps he could go too. Perhaps he could.
But suddenly he was tearing up like an idiot. Thank Theorum no one was looking at him. The folk he’d known around here mining their ore, growing their vegetables, or harvesting their sunlight - were just as awed. But his hands were filthy from the garden and he had undoubtedly streaked shit across his face.
He rushed in to his house to wash it, then to put on his sun cape. He had to get to the docks. He had a crew to befriend.
He was scarcely out of the washroom rushing out before his mother stepped in front of him.
“You think them tomates is gon’ pick themselves, uh? You think you off the show. Boy I know you ain’t ducking your duties.”
His eyes found the packed dirt, and he tried hard to suppress his smile with his why-so-serious. He failed, his Mom saw and sighed something acidic.
“You scrubbing the tanks this fifth-night. You hear?”
“Aye, Momma. I hear. I gotta go though, you know I gotta go.”
She considered him for a moment, then rubbed his face briefly. He pulled away from her.
“Aye, you gotta go. Aye. Take your rake and shove it up your flower feeder, GO.”
And he went. The show wouldn’t wait for him.
With his satchel strap firmly against his shoulder and hood fully up he squeezed through the crowded markets on towards the tech districts. Long greenhouses whizzed by him and gave way to 6 and 7 storied buildings of adobe and iron alloys. Signs surrounded him with flashing lights and tricks with mirrors to make the movie ads seem to jump across the path. A floating pixie sized woman was advertising one of the oldie superhero classics. For some reason back then they thought it possible to shrink and grow to the quantum scale. It was absurd, but the satellite cinemas didn’t always have the best material coming in, and Tosin had seen it three times already.
He spun his way through the arcades and moved on to the base of the launch stations. Here it would be trickier. The greater facility was blocked off by high flat walls. But he knew the facility was built on a tributary and knew too the grated drain with a hole to squeeze himself into. It drained into a small water basin, so Tosin was reasonably convinced the drain-off could only be non-toxic chemicals.
Up a long corridor and a big jump to a ledge above, and he was in one of the abandoned lookout posts. From there, he needed a rinse and a jacket from the laundry building before he could convincingly wander into the viewing area. His ex had shown him the way in long ago, and it still made him think of climbing the release frames on the launch pad before being pressed up against the glass of stars. Launch didn’t have the resources to staff their security most of the time, and he’d even stole some lab grown food. He’d loved coming back since.
The craft had a number of cables attaching and disengaging from the massive apparatus at the perimeter. As Tosin slowed his half-run to a speedy walk he found others in coats eagerly rushing in the same direction. Some where pointing up at light rail emptying itself of foreign dignitaries and politicians no doubt. He looked around him and wondered whether he could pass for a gifted youngster with his whiskers just barely growing in. He pressed his luck.
“Excuse me,” he ventured at a trio rushing out of the Geology building. “You going the landing?”
“Yes, are you?” One of them replied.
“Yes. You know a good place watch from?”
A balding man with a clipboard smiled heartily. “Yes,” he replied and waved Tosin on.
In through a cafeteria, a dormitory, up to a large warehouse and down to one of the student viewing platforms – they had to run past several before they found an unoccupied telescope building. Tosin was glad for the wait though as he no longer looked through blue glass at the vessel. Here through the opening and around the edges of the massive lense, with only plexiglass between him and the vessel, he could see the color was closer to tan. He waited his turn passing back and forth a few binoculars until he got a chance with the viewing glass. He held the joysticks and swerved recklessly to find where in the sky to look.
“You were looking at the Kugelblitz a minute ago.” A curly haired woman chastised him. “Here, let me.” She pushed him out of the seat and settled again on something in the distance. “Here.” She attempted a smile but there was an impatience that told Tosin she knew exactly who he wasn’t.
He sat again without touching the joysticks and settled into the soft plastic face cushion. It took him a moment as he thought the line of sight must be wrong – all he saw was black. But then he realized it wasn’t only black. There was a haze of color stretch thin across the blackness. He hazarded a mild adjustment with his hands and saw the unmistakable reflection of the Gelisan double sunset around a spot in the sky. There were purples where there shouldn’t have been, and reds that should have been deep blue by now. He was looking a black hole in the face. Granted an incomprehensibly small one or the planet would be gone. But it was a black hole like he’d seen illustrated a thousand times in textfiles. They’d gotten it wrong. You can see the radiation through a dusty sky.
The trail was aimed downward to the vessel disappearing behind the disperser. From there arms reached out with impossible thinness to grip the outer ring which manipulated the time-space fold. Tosin realized the crew may not have been aware of the time passage of the trip. As particles accelerated near the speed of light, the pocket enveloping them would protect them from the cruel passage of time. Which meant…
Tosin angled the telescope sharply downward to find where the diagrams theoretically placed the resident transport facilities…
“There!” He called out excitedly.
“Hey, I said ‘don’t move it.’”
Tosin hastily got up and let the next person sit. “But look that!”
The bald man took a quick glance and corrected, “Look at that.” He the adjusted dials slightly. They’re bringing them out of gel stasis. I knew it! Acceleration and deceleration must be more Gs than we can comprehend. Only gel…” He murmured off enraptured by what he was looking at. Tosin had the binoculars and could just make out the unzipping-like motion followed by thousands of puffs of steam making its way down hundreds of viewing portals along the seams of the vessel. It slithered and twitched backwards and forwards with transport trains buzzing along traffic currents of well-lit carriages down, down to the ground.
Tosin was mesmerized by it until an elbow to his ribs told him it was his turn at the glass again. When he sat again he gasped into the face cushion. About 1300 feet up a projection belt had burst into motion. In vivid definition images of Earth leapt out at him. A small script of data rimmed the bottom edge and Tosin hastily shouted, “Does this thing have AV data translation?”
“Yes, Yes, Yes!” Several voices called back excitedly.
Someone was fiddling with nobs beneath him but as a dial turned, the sound filtered into his ears.
He caught “Sallutations” in a few languages from the procession as beautiful men and women danced before his eyes. Images of Deepsea diving chasms, scenes from a moon’s surface decked out in LED light draped sky-scarpers, scenes from unbelievably majestic looking Earth cities, food, people playing strange sports, mathematical charts and progressing lines, and…
“Quick hogging it, farmer.” The woman again. He stood up abruptly and puzzled at his outfit. He was clean and dressed appropriately with the correct badges, wasn’t he?
The smiling man smiled again and handed him a handkerchief before touching his chin. Tosin rubbed his own in the corresponding spot and found a thick smear of brown streak the cloth. He looked up crestfallen and apologetic, but the man smiled and motioned for Tosin to keep the rag.
He tried to calm the blood rushing to his cheeks and return to the vessel. He was fine on the binoculars again. He could see the message blaring out silently in a host of images and languages he didn’t know but nevertheless understood: “We’re here. You’re saved. Everything is going to be alright.”
The Collaborative Writing Project
This story takes place not long after the Third World War – the War they said would truly end all wars. The Earthlings had had enough of clawing for each other’s resources and agreed the rock would not contain them. They would need to pick the most likely spots in the sky and settle for our great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren seeing and surviving on the new worlds.
Tosin is one of many who call Gleise792d his home, but his society has been frozen in time with the latest and greatest of the 22nd century who arrived from there. But the new arrivals had been surviving and evolving for 2 whole extra centuries. They would have everything – the answers, the blueprints, the return tickets home for those who would seek them. Because the Kugelblitz meant that single lifetime interstellar travel was possible, and anyone with enough money (or a strong back) could travel the deepest dusts of space.
Yet these celestial beings carry with them a secret they’ll not soon tell of. The Kugelblitz takes a particular fuel and Gleisans may be releasing more than they’d realized from Pandora’s Box by welcoming these distant relatives. Such will be for the crew and colonists to discover in this Sci-fi thriller along with answers to questions like, “Can we ever really get along?”, “Is there any hope for our species?”, “What awaits visitors to the Milky Way?”, and “What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me)”
But I need your help to tell their stories. I’m looking for writers who want to stretch their Sci-fi wings to write the story of the colonists’ introduction to the colonizers in the rubble of our present-day society’s Golden Age. I want love, revenge, intrigue, comedy, satire, titillation, and so much more.
Interested parties should subscribe for free to EB Words and message me your intention to participate. No one will steal your works under EB Word’s name and contributors will be vetted before being granted access to the share folders (and jaw-dropping secrets of the series). Plagiarism will not be tolerated, and though I will keep © on this project, final contributors will receive a portion of the book’s royalties commensurate with contributions.
But get writing fast, because this Waixingren (Person from another star) is looking for 12 or 13 separate characters’ plotlines to rotate between for the final draft. 10-30 thousand words a person or storyline would be ideal (a trilogy or solid tome would be a very welcome end result). With our powers combined we can tell the story of our future and decide together whether it has a happy ending or a sad one.
Follow through to the Bookshelf to read more
Ready to Contribute? Head to the Forum and find the Relevant Collaboration post