Monday, January 28, 2013
D.S. Brown - AFTER THE LAST DAY CHAPTER 3
It was the call to join. At the center of the spherical hall was a smaller sphere, glowing with intense, alternating shades of silver and blue. It was the ancient Galacticum Artificial Intelligence, capable of displaying, combining, and guiding images of thought and reality.
Its systems tied the minds of each Conjoining Representative together. It sorted and directed every issue that was to be debated. It served as the impartial arbiter between the great minds of the great races.
That day, it began processing what was already being considered the most incredible incident in history. Shirra tied his mind into the joining, listening to the side conversations already in progress. They would quickly turn to him and his contingent, since they were widely considered the closest to humanity in dealings and endeavors.
“INTER-GALACTIC YEAR 651 PARA 9, CONJOINING DAY 120.”
Shirra listened to the AI announce the meaningless date. Even after millions of years of evolution, many sentients stuck to calendar structures. The Inter-Galactic year was built upon the physical center of expansion of the known universe. It was forever linear and even among the eldest races was considered to lack emotion and color.
It was boring.
“THE ISSUE OF NOTE IS THE DISSAPPEARANCE OF THE MEMBER RACE HUMAN. PLEASE BEGIN.”
Immediately the thoughts of one of the elder races from Nexus-Prime emerged.
“Humans have evolved to the level of Elders in the Inter-Galactic schema, Elders with considerable power and influence. They have been and still are involved in many of the most important matters of the Conjoining. Even now they and the Trantken are negotiating trade with the new race from the fourth quadrant of their own galaxy. Their sudden disappearance is a matter of the utmost importance. All the considerable might of the Conjoining should be put towards discovering what has happened to them. The Humans must be brought back.”
Shirra knew this one; she could be long winded, but her thoughts rang true.
“I have prepared to dispatch my races entire fleet in the search,” came the thoughts of another Andromedan, a sentient whose people could be considered middle aged, but possessed of the largest, and most powerful fleet in the entire Local Group.
The Galacticum agreed to this as one. Orders were drafted as soon as the combined thought was completed and the AI dispatched them to the appropriate destinations. The resources of entire star systems were being mobilized. Great Fleets were on the move.
It would not take long for them to report back with their first findings. In the meantime, the debate would continue in other directions. Shirra sat back and relaxed, letting his mind ebb and flow with the thoughts of the others. When the minds of the Galacticum were brought together in such a manner, there was no telling how long the debate might last. Shirra had been linked for months at a time, he and Randolph both. This Human mystery could go on for years. But of course, that would be totally intolerable.
As time passed, many questions were posed to Shirra. It was quickly being affirmed that he was the immediate expert on Humans. It was an appellation, which was probably not far from the truth. Humans were pervasive on a great many worlds. They had contact with almost every race in the Conjoining. In the time of their evolution they had mated with several other races.
The minds of the sphere quickly explored this avenue. It was just as quickly verified that no sentient born of a Human/Non-Human mating had been affected. They were still present in the Galaxies, many in Nexus-Prime. The Galacticum dispatched agents to question those that might have any pertinent information.
Many lines of thought were traced and discussed. At times Shirra felt the debate become unwieldy, which is when the Galacticum AI would intervene. The debates were toned down and the lines of thought showing promise, and consensus ushered forward. This was when an errant thought straying through Shirra’s mind was grabbed by the AI and brought to light.
“It has occurred to me a festival of Human passage was being celebrated in my own Milky Way Galaxy during this time.”
Thoughts bombarded him asking about the festival, wanting to know the importance of it and how did it tie into what was now being called the Great Vanishing.
“Please fellow sentients,” Shirra urged.
The sphere of the Galacticum AI toned down the tumult.
“I didn’t think it was of importance, but nothing should be left to chance,” Shirra said.
He paused to pull the attention of all minds upon him completely.
“My fellow representatives, among many of us our birth worlds have long been forgotten. Perhaps some members of our great races easily recall their planet of origin. The locations of these planets are of course a matter of record. But for sentients such as ourselves, who call the trillion stars our home, the birth planet is even less than a memory.”
The minds of the Galacticum listened to Shirra in earnest. He was well respected and many of them felt if anyone could solve this mystery he could.
“This was the case for many of the Humans as well. They didn’t know or care where their homeworld was. But this was not so for Minister Randolph, an integral member of this body who at this time is sorely missed, he knew of my fascination with his race, and often indulged my questions. Only now do I recall him telling me the star Sol was due to go nova. The birth world of the Human race, a world called Terra, or Earth by some, was to be or rather has been destroyed.”
The Galacticum measured his thoughts and then posed its questions.
“What is the importance of this event Minister Shirra,” asked a Trodosian of Andromeda. “Stars go nova. It’s a simple fact of existence.”
“This is true, but I feel it is something that should not be overlooked. Though Randolph and the majority of Humans felt no emotional ties to their race’s ancient birth world, some of their species did. As I recall, there was to be a festival among the worlds of the Sol sector. A commemoration to the star system that gave life to so much.”
Suddenly a physical presence appeared in the minds of the Galacticum. It was an avatar representation of an intelligence agent of the Fleet. He requested an audience and it was granted.
“Ministers, so far we have not found any trace of the Humans. Whole planets are devoid of them. There are no signs of their passing through any levels of Hyperspace.”
“Dimensional migration to an alternate reality?” Asked an Umiate.
“Not so far Minister. However, we have dispatched vessels to further investigate this possibility.
“I don’t think they would have gone that route in any case,” said another Trantken, who Shirra recognized as Doosa, his races’ transportation and navigation representative, a very capable and highly intelligent sentient.
“Why is that?” Asked the Umiate.
“We’re talking about the disappearance of an entire race. One hundred sentients, two hundred, even a thousand could escape our watchful navigational sentinels over dimensional bridge wormholes. But if anything above several thousand beings tried to jump through the multiverse at once it would create too large a disturbance. We would know of it instantly, violently.”
The Galacticum quickly agreed. However, the Fleet would continue to search along the many pathways to alternate realities. The Great Vanishing was an impossibility in itself, who knew what other impossibilities could have accompanied it.
“Ministers, I have one other item to report.”
The Galacticum gave its consent as one to proceed.
“There was a tremendous gathering in the Milky Way Galaxy near the Sol system, from where I have just come. The event is registered with administrators at Nexus-Septum as the Last Day of Sol. Sentients had gathered to observe the sun as it went Nova and many are still there.”
The thoughts of the Galacticum all directed towards Shirra. The timing of the agent’s announcement was lost on no one.
“What word from the sentients at the festival?” Shirra asked the agent.
“We are currently interviewing Minister.”
The Galacticum felt a decision being made in Shirra’s thoughts.
“I sense the death of the star Sol may somehow be involved in the mystery we now face,” he said.
An Umiate minister’s thoughts surged to the front. “Minister Shirra, I see no connection. What is to be gained by following this line of thought, by diverting resources to investigate with action.”
“Minister, we can rule out nothing at this point. Please bear in mind trillions of sentients have suddenly vanished without a trace, seemingly overnight. We must follow every thread of thought, no matter how dubious.”
Consensus could be sensed following Shirra’s wise thoughts.
“I and my aide will accompany the agent back to the Fleet. There we will use due diligence in the acquisition of facts and report back to the Galacticum forth with.”
Once again there was consensus.
Shirra pulled himself from the combined mind of the Galacticum and rose from the rapture chair. He took a moment to gather himself and turned away from the mighty sphere of thoughts. Kantootha was seated in his chair at the aide’s rear support position. He was looking at several floating holo-screens at once reading excerpts of the debate. As an aide it was the only way he could participate in the joining of minds.
“Come Kantootha, we are off.”
“We’re off Minister?” Kantootha said looking from the screens. “But the issue … we’re no were near close to a true decisive action.”
“So your excerpts may tell you, but I feel we are closer than some believe.”
“Minister? Dispatching a fleet, jumping down dimensional bridges, scanning the multiple layers of hyperspace? These are all prudent actions but….”
“I know Kantootha, but what else would you recommend?”
Kantootha said nothing. He was quite brilliant, which was requirement for the position in which he served. Shirra could see all he was advocating was more mental debate on the issue. It was the way things were supposed to be done according to precept. Galactic civilization placed a great deal of faith in the combined mind of the Galacticum and it was not unfounded. The combined mental power of the sentients and the artificial intelligence had solved staggering problems in the past. But what Kantootha was missing from his training was that fact that sometimes issues required a more hands on approach.
“Come, let us be off.”
They walked through the disc of light and appeared once more on the beautiful plains of Nexus-Prime. The agent was waiting for them.
“Where are we going?” Kantootha asked as the starry brilliance of a portal closed in.
“To the death of the origin of humanity, and perhaps a clue to this mystery.”
All three vanished in a burst of light.