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This is a sequel to Arthur C. Clarke's The Sentinel.
Part 1: Reverberation
A small, dimly lit orb hurtles through space, surpassing the speed of light, and headed toward the star of a solar system deep within the Andromeda galaxy. One serpent-like being rests at the helm of the transparent craft. The creature's pitch black eyes reflect the distant blue color of the star it is headed for.
A hologram bursts from the transparent bow with an image of a large blast, and the transmission cutting out afterward. The reptile instantly signals with a thought to alert the other passengers, and awaken them from their cryogenic slumber. A release valve hisses as the the crew emerges, thawing quickly by the aid of heated vents bombarding them with blustering waves of radiation.
There are three crew members, not including the serpent captain. The first is a squat, stockily-built being with a large head and grey skin. To its left stands a tall, elegant creature with the same color skin, but its eyes are large black orbs similar to the serpent's. Finally to the tall grey's left, is the most human-like of the crew. It stands much taller than the short grey, but shorter than the tall grey. It has wiry arms and legs, long silver hair reaching the small of its back, and very wide deep-set eyes with shockingly bright silver irises. The serpent captain begins to relay what has occurred telepathically.
"We are nearing the Blue giant. As soon as we reach its gravitational pull, we will begin the process of depleting its energy reserves."
"Why did you awaken us to tell us this? The project is simple enough," says the short grey grumpily.
"There has been some developments with one of the Sentinels we place in the Milky Way galaxy."
"Has the Sentinel detected intelligence?" inquires the tall grey.
"Well show the feed then."
"That's the problem. They have obliterated its functionality with an atomic bomb."
The crew exchange glances.
" So what's the protocol for that?" Asks the human- like being.
"We investigate, of course. We'll have to expend the majority of the energy we acquire from this star into creating a wormhole that will direct us back to the primitive planet," says the serpent with little enthusiasm.
"What will we do if we investigate, and find them hostile to our intervention?" Asks the tall grey. "They will see reason or face enslavement followed by annihilation."
Part 2: Anticipation
Garnett looks at the rubble for what seemed to be the millionth time, all organized in neat containers. Louis was still in awe of the the partially surviving mechanisms. It has been five years since his mentor, Wilson, had passed away.
Wilson had died without knowing the truth of the pyramid. Now Louis had taken his place as chief geologist. The mystery now rested on his shoulders, but no one really expected him to solve it.
A voice calls his attention to the monitor to his left. “Garnett! We need you in the observatory! Asap, pronto, on the double!”
The new leader of the team was an ex-general, and NASA thought it’d be a good idea to send him up here. No knowledge of science, just 30 tours under his belt, fighting what there was left to fight on the miserable rock that was Earth.
When the press got word of the bomb set off that destroyed the pyramid, the whole world turned upside down. There’s very few governments now, probably five total not including the ragtag resistances.
Louis enters the observatory with his head down, pretending to inspect his finger nails.
“Louis! What the hell took ya so long? The damn chief astronomer needs your attention.”
"What is it, Kyle?"
Kyle looks at General Gaumer with nervous eyes, the back to Louis.
“Something maybe you can shed some light on. There’s some sort of spherical object heading towards the Keiper Belt at speeds I’ve never recorded before.”
“Would ya say they’re astronomical Stumbaugh? HA-HA-HA!” Gaumer slaps Kyle on the back a little too hard.
“Let me take a look,” Kyle throws the image up on the I-max type screen and a faint spherical object appears, moving so fast the telescope has trouble keeping up with it. The reading for its speed was nearly 600 million knots, nothing anyone had seen before.
“Does NASA have eyes on this?” asks Garnett. Gaumer and Stumbaugh look at each other.
“NASA has been offline for five hours and counting Garnett. Riots coupled with power failure.”
“Why wasn’t I told?”
“We figured you heard it over the distress line,” says Kyle.
“You don't’ suppose this has to do with that rubble you're always looking at eh?”
Garnett had already thought of this possibility. What if after all these years the cut-off signal from the pyramid had reached the ones who put it there?
“Maybe they didn’t appreciate us blowing it to smithereens,” says the astronomer gloomily.
“It just vaporized a huge portion of the Keiper Belt!” Exclaims the general.
Garnett turns to the screen again. "Can’t we get someone in here more specialized in extraterrestrials?”
“You’re what we got Louis,” says the Gaumer with a sigh.
Part 3: First Contact
The four extraterrestrials huddle together, leaving the sphere to direct itself as they prepare to make contact with Earth. They physically hold one another, each passing energy those with depleted stores. White, luminous particle encircle them, the bulk of the the energy traveling from those who were lying dormant, to the serpent, who ages the slowest, yet is tired from the journey.
When cycle is complete, they consult each other, and go over how to communicate with the earthlings.
“Will use a language. One with sound waves. Correct?” asks the tall grey.
“Yes. A primitive system of sound wave reception, much less efficient than the algorithm used for the Sentinel,” replies the Serpent.
“Your people were the last to use sound as a means of communication Yoden,” suggests the small grey to silver-haired hominid. Yoden thinks for a second, and replies thoughtfully.
“I will have remembered some of the sounds we used. They were universal in our world, but why not just project thought into their minds?”
“It will no doubt cause them to fear or reject us. We must speak their language to relate to their customs, and therefore cause the least distraction from our visitation’s objective,” asserts the serpent.
“We could overwhelm, the leader's mind’s,” suggests the small grey.
“No, this interaction must be done with their own decision, free will is what separates our coalition from the likes of Draconians,” says the tall grey.
“We draw near, less than forty parsecs,” announces the serpent.
“I will be the first they speak to,” Yoden points out with a look of contemplation on his face. The others acknowledge the wisdom of this.
“Why not shape shift to match their form, and ease their minds?” asks the tall grey.
“No deception,” says the serpent firmly. “We must come from a place of trust.”
The orb begins to slow as they draw near the red planet that neighbors Earth. Yoden prepares himself for the interaction, stepping into the chamber that he’d arisen form to get immunized to any foreign microbials.
Finally, they reach the outskirts of the planet that is known as Earth. A metallic armada lingers just outside the blue planet’s orbit, harmlessly sitting idle.
“They haven’t deployed their warships. That’s a good sign,” says the small grey.
“It seems as if they haven't been warned,” the tall grey, being the most intuitive, indicates with a small nod.
“We’ll land on the natural satellite, and inspect the debris of our sentinel,” announces the serpent. The orb orbits the moon once within ten seconds, stops 500 feet above the surface of the moon, and descends directly downward. A crowd of humans has gathered to watch the descent of the strange craft.
When it reaches the surface, however, they run behind a barrier outskirting the facility that towers above the lunar landscape. A megaphone blasts over the speakers demanding to know who they are and what they want.
“State your business foreigners!” shouts General Gaumer.
Yoden then exits the translucent orb as if it were a bubble filled with smoke, vapor slipping out of the orb, and immediately being reabsorbed back into the sphere. Just as he exits the orb, Garnett begins to peek out from the barrier, hesitantly at first, then more confidently walking toward the strange hominid.
Yoden scans Garnett’s mind for language, almost immediately uploading it to his own mind.
“We come in good faith my friend, it is important to us to remain peaceful,” shouts Yoden, 15 yards of moon dust in between them. I answer Garnett stares at the magnificent space man in sheer incredulity. Gathering his wits about him for a few moments he replies.
“What is the reason of your visit? Where do you come from?”
Yoden opens his mouth to speak, but an intense brightness emanating from Earth distracts his listener and himself. Small at first, but increasingly bigger arise mushroom clouds of nuclear disaster from the previously calm-seeming planet.
More and more begin to pockmark the once beautiful planet, speaking global disaster and devastation. At that point, the others send a message to Yoden telepathically.
“We have arrived too late. There is nothing left to do,” they say in unison.
Yoden sadly looks back at Garnett, who is staring at the increasingly nuclear-flower infested Earth, falling to his knees in shock and confusion. Yoden closes his silver, molten-like eyes, and transfers telepathically all he can that will help Garnett.
As much information as Garnett’s more primitive mind can handle pours in within seconds. When Yoden opens his eyes, Garnett is looking back at Yoden with an expression that is far different than his previous. It is one of gratitude and understanding. Yoden turns and quickly reenters to the ship, it taking off faster than a human eye blink.
Garnett returns to the observatory where Stumbaugh and Gaumer are weeping for the loss of their homeworld. Gaumer angrily screaming, while the head astronomer just stares at the picture of destruction, tears streaming down his face.
They turn to Garnett with complete hopelessness in their eyes. Garnett closes his eyes, and sends all he received from Yoden to Stumbaugh first, then Gaumer. The general resists at first, but within a minute the process is complete, and they turn to Louis. With a thought, Garnett communicates with them.
“There is much work to be done.”
Gaumer and Stumbaugh look at each other, then at Garnett, and nod.