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Strange signal

Strange signal

 

 

By Saso Zitnik

 

Copyright 2016 Saso Zitnik

 

Shakespir Edition

 

 

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

 

Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

 

Deep space. Dark and cold. A gas giant was slowly rotating on its axis. Stars were shining through its faint planetary ring. One of the stars became constantly brighter. It was not a star, it was a small object reflecting the light of the local star. The object was moving closer to the planet. It slowly appeared as a robust and ugly spaceship. It was old and worn out and it slowly passed the gas giant. It was going for one of its moons.

 

Five people on the spaceship were making the final preparations. They didn’t have a lot of space while the company ship was small with a large cargo bay. After two weeks of traveling in space they were more than happy that they had finally something to do again. Additionally they had an excuse to ignore each other.

 

Lorcan was the leader of the team. He thought of himself as the captain of the ship. But in reality he was just a team leader, while the company ship was almost fully automated and it didn’t need a captain. He was preparing for the last meeting before they would start executing their job. He loved to have meetings where he could talk a lot and appropriately other people hated them. He was waiting in the meeting room. Slowly other members of the team were dropping into the room frustrated that they had to interrupt their work so that they could listen to Lorcan again.

 

The spaceship was slowly orbiting the brownish moon. Calmly scanning the surface. The gas giant with its planetary ring was covering a huge part of the background. When the ship was exposed to the reflected light from the gas giant its name appeared on its hull: Omnilyn HF42.

 

Omnilyn was a huge corporation. It recently bought out the remnants of a very old corporation whose roots were going all the way back to the classical period. The old corporation was known for its research outposts in deep space on the boundaries of the known universe or even beyond that. Some eighty years ago it started to collapse. There were a lot of rumors but the reasons for its collapse stayed well hidden. After the acquisition Omnilyn started to send small crews to the abandoned outposts in deep space. The outpost on the moon orbiting the gas giant was one of the farthest away and it was abandoned 67 years ago.

 

Lorcan was watching his three team members putting their space suits on. The cargo bay was big. It was holding the standard shuttle and a lot of other equipment.

 

“At least one of them is motivated,” Lorcan thought.

As to confirm this thought Tobiah said “Hey, aren’t you excited about this?”

The other two just grumbled something while putting their suits on.

“Being almost at the end of the universe, far away from anything…” continued Tobiah.

“And what? Just empty space, planets and moons. Nothing really,” Ogden interrupted.

“At most it’s a little bit scary,” replied Adira.

 

They put the final equipment into the shuttle and waved to Lorcan that they were finished. Lorcan nodded and left the cargo bay.

 

Omnilyn HF42 was high above the bright side of the moon. Only stars and dark empty space behind it. The cargo bay door opened and the shuttle came out. It drifted away from the ship and started to slide to the surface of the moon.

 

The moon had a thin atmosphere. The visibility was low while there was a lot of dust in the air. The dust was blown over the barren rocky landscape. The outpost was completely deserted becoming one with the surrounding rocks. High in the sky a small light appeared. Slowly it became bigger and it split into two blue lights. The shuttle was approaching the landing pad and blowing more and more dust in the air. After 67 years a shuttle landed again on the outpost pad.

 

After a while, when the dust settled, the shuttle door opened. Three figures in space suits stepped out. Their headlights checking the surroundings. They slowly walked to the outpost entrance. One of them was working with the panel, while the others were checking the outpost. The door opened and they went inside. The door closed behind them.

 

“It’s dark…” said Tobiah.

“But well preserved after all these years,” responded Adira.

They were walking down a long hallway. From time to time they superficially checked some side rooms and hallways. Their headlights were making weird shadows around them.

“A good thing we know exactly were to go,” said Ogden after a while.

They were taking the stairs down. The main control room, where they were headed, was three levels down.

“There’s nothing left.” Tobiah sounded a little disappointed.

“It looks like they had the time to thoroughly evacuate it,” said Adira.

“And making our expedition a total waste of time …” grumbled Ogden “… and money.”

 

It was totally dark and silent in the control room. Like it was for the last 67 years. Suddenly there was a hissing sound at one of the doors. The door opened and Ogden stepped into the room. He stood for a while and then stepped aside to let the other two team members into the room. Soon all of them were checking the consoles and installations.

 

“Ok, I think i did it,” said Ogden and then the emergency lights went on. After a while some of the consoles activated. A soft humming sound appeared in the air.

“That should be enough to check the data,” said Ogden mostly to himself.

 

The three of them were working for some time on the consoles when Ogden contacted Lorcan.

“Well, they took most of the data with them, there’s almost nothing left.”

“Check all the data that is left and upload it to the ship,” responded Lorcan.

“And we have something else,” continued Lorcan “Verena caught a signal from the moon surface when you were landing. You will have to check it.”

“Can’t we just ignore it?” Ogden sounded a little annoyed.

“Unfortunately no. It’s already registered in our system. And…” Ogden was a little bit lost. “Verena checked the signal. It can’t be a natural source and it also isn’t similar to anything that we know.”

 

For a long moment there was complete silence in the room. Only the soft humming was heard.

“Well that’s interesting.” Tobiah was the first one to comment on that.

“Tobiah and Adira, you two will check the signal,” ordered Lorcan, “and Ogden, you will stay where you are and finish uploading the data.”

“But were are not allowed to separate by the protocol,” said Adira. “Safety rules,” she added.

“Hmmmm,” Lorcan was thinking, “it’s ok. You already checked the outpost. There is nothing dangerous there. Ogden can stay alone, he will be safe. And I want to be finished with this outpost as soon as possible and get out of this system.”

“It’s ok with me,” answered Ogden and continued working on his console.

 

Tobiah and Adira were sitting in the cockpit of the shuttle.

“Our instruments are catching the signal,” Tobiah said.

“Then let’s go,” Adira answered and started the shuttle.

The visibility was very low with all the dust in the air, so Adira was flying mostly with the help of the onboard instruments.

“The signal is coming from a huge mountain range.” Tobiah was getting more and more exciting about the situation.

 

After a while they came near the origin of the signal.

“I’m not getting closer,” Adira said. “I will make some circles around the signal, so that you can scan the area.”

After four circles Tobiah looked disappointed. “Nothing. There’s nothing down there. Just the signal.”

Adira contacted Lorcan and explained the situation.

“There’s only one thing left to do,” Lorcan replied. “You will land and check the signal.”

“Land?” Adira absolutely didn’t like it.

“Yes. We will be in contact all the time. You’ll stay in the shuttle and have it ready to launch immediately. Tobiah will check the signal.”

 

Adira found a small flat place close to the signal to landing. While she landed the shuttle Tobiah prepared the probe. With the probe in his hands he stepped out of the shuttle. He slowly walked to the signal guided by Adira.

 

“Strange…there’s nothing here. Just rocks and dust. Are you sure I’m at the right place.” Tobiah looked a little bit around and then put the probe at the exact location of the signal.

“Tobiah…” Adira was nervous. “I lost the signal.”

“How could…”

“I talked with Verena. She said that the signal stopped when you came to it.”

“What?” Tobiah quickly looked around him.

“Come back to the shuttle. We are leaving.”

“We can’t. This signal reacted to me. We have to try to figure it out.”

“We are leaving. Lorcan’s orders.”

“You don’t get it. This is probably what the company is looking for.”

“It’s scary. Just come back, please.”

Tobiah hesitated.

“Look, the signal is registered. The probe will send us anything that it finds until we leave the system. Back at the company they can analyze it and send another expedition.”

“It will be probably buried in a pile of reports and forgotten.”

“Let’s go.” pleaded Adira.

Tobiah looked around for the final time and desperate with the whole situation went back to the shuttle.

 

The shuttle had all its lights on. Its engine was running. A figure in a space suit stepped into the shuttle. Immediately the door closed and the shuttle lifted into the air. Soon there was just a bright light in the air and then there was nothing. It was night. The wind blew the dust over the barren landscape. The stars could be seen through the dust. The gas giant with its planetary ring was slowly rising above the horizon.

 

The end


Strange signal

This short science fiction story is part of a collection of stories. All the stories share the same vast universe in the far future with the human civilization spreading through the deep and vast space of our galaxy. Some stories are/will be short stories some stories are/will be novels. All the stories are more or less independent. The main characteristics of the stories are: deep space, exploration, mystery and epic adventure.

  • ISBN: 9781311796202
  • Author: Saso Zitnik
  • Published: 2016-03-21 11:35:06
  • Words: 1711
Strange signal Strange signal