A Glibertarians Exclusive: Listening Post, Part 6
“So, the impact on the other side of the moon, the magnetic anomalies – that was you?”
The sparkling spire of light paused for a moment, as in reflection. “What you describe was this aspect of the Aa arriving here.”
“This aspect? Are there more of you?”
“The terms you use do not apply. There are aspects of the Aa on the worlds you know as Earth, Mars, Venus, and the others in this stellar system. But they are not individuals. This aspect before you is not an individual. We are the Aa.”
“Why now? Why did you even bother? The T’Cha have been here and gone.”
“We/The Aa are advanced beyond your understanding, Bel Deveran, but we are still bound by the universal physical laws. We cannot open a portal blindly to another system. Even for We/The Aa it takes time to calculate where we may emerge. Within a stellar system the process is much easier, but between stellar systems takes time.”
“The portal being what caused the anomalies we saw, I suppose. Well, you all can do as you like, but I’m going back to Earth. That ship that just came in, it’s an old roboticized hauler, but I can program it to take me home, and it has deep-sleep pods. I suppose you don’t know what those are?”
“We can derive the meaning from your thoughts.”
“Wondrous. I suppose you’ll be off after the T’Cha, then. What will you do when you find them?”
“We require a direct, uninterrupted path to the T’Cha, what you would call ‘line of sight.’ The T’Cha, like you, are corporeal beings. Once direct path is achieved, we can cease the functioning of their nervous systems. They will stop functioning, quickly and painlessly.”
“Genocide, then. Nice. Well, I can’t say they don’t have it coming. Kill them all, as far as I’m concerned. Meanwhile, I’ve got a ship to catch, so if you don’t mind, I’ll be about shutting this facility down so I can leave.”
“As you wish.” The spire of light wavered, disappeared.
It took longer than Deveran had thought to shut down all the post’s systems. The command suite was last; he shut down all the long-range scanners, the security monitors, and the internal systems. Finally, he set up an automated sequence to shut down the reactor, delayed by twelve hours to give him time to program the Bounder and depart.
Finally, it was done. The Mimas Listening Post was silent. Only emergency lighting illuminated the corridors. Deveran walked through one last time, slowly, remembering the people he had shared this lonely duty with, trying not to think about how they all met their ends.
Best not dwell on all that, he told himself. He headed for the supply ship.
Deveran sat down in the ship’s cockpit. It took an hour to program the flight sequences. Eight years, more or less, to get home. Only last thing to check: His personal data had successfully transferred over the Bounder’s data storage. He flipped on the recorder to make on last log entry.
Personal log entry: 26 May 2234, Coalition Navy Supply Packet Bounder
When the Bounder landed, I was so happy to see it I almost pissed myself. Not for the hope of company, not for the hope of rescue, I’d given up on all of that, even after the ‘visitors’ arrived. But this automated supply packet still had crew quarters, and I know enough about how they work to reprogram it to take me home.
I’d rather die on Earth than here. Maybe, by some miracle, there are some people there that survived the T’Cha somehow. I’ll find out, I suppose. The Gates are down, with nobody to manage them, so I guess it’s going to be the old-fashioned way, in a ballistic trajectory. Good thing the packet still has its deep-sleep pods.
I’m bringing my VR headset along. I figure there’s time for one last visit with the family before I go into deep-sleep. I’ll visit them again when the ship wakes me up in Earth orbit. I can take the ship down myself, and I figure I can eyeball my way down to the Carolina barrier islands. If a fellow has to die, that’s as good a place as any, and at least I have happy memories there. More than I can say for the Mimas-Goddamned-Listening Post.
If something goes wrong, hopefully someone will find this log. If there’s anyone else out there to read them, well, that’s another story.
Recorded 1804 hours ship time, 26 May 2234, Chief Electronics Mate Bel Deveran, Coalition Navy
With that done, he sealed himself in the deep-sleep pod. The VR headset lay on an acceleration couch, apparently forgotten.
I’m coming home, he thought as the deep-sleep process overwhelmed him.
The aspect of the Aa appeared outside the deep-sleep pod. A tendril of sparkling white reached out, almost tenderly, to touch the pod’s surface.
“Your corporeal form will remain here,” it said, as though Deveran could hear him. “This ship has insufficient power supplies to lift off this moon. We/The Aa concealed this from you to avoid unnecessary damage to your mental processes. We/The Aa have recorded your mental engrams and your genetic data, as well as genetic data from the remains of the other humans on this moon. In time, perhaps, once the T’Cha have been dealt with, we may find a suitable world on which to re-establish your species. Until then, this aspect of the Aa will remain here, with your form, to ensure no harm comes to you.”
“Until then, dream well, Bel Deveran. We have harvested much data from your memories and from the device you use to re-live experiences. We have striven to make your dreaming… pleasant, for as long as is required.”
Deveran had awoken from deep-sleep the day before. Half an orbit around the home world, and he saw his intended landing site, and managed to control the ship through the hammering, jolting re-entry sequence, finally coming to a landing.
Deveran smiled as the Bounder settled to earth – the Earth – on a windswept stretch of beach. The ship’s hatch swung wide to allow in the fresh sea air.
Damn, Deveran breathed in deep. He left the cockpit and went to the open hatch. I’m here. The barrier islands. I made it.
He climbed down from the old supply shuttle. There was nobody on the beach. No gulls swirled by overhead. No children were playing in the sand. The beach was covered in dry seaweed, and some fragmented remains of an old fishing boat cluttered the sand.
Then, in the distance, he saw a figure. A tall figure with long black hair, a slim body in a black bikini, a sheer flowered sarong about her hips. She was walking slowly away, as though leading Deveran on somewhere.
The figure stopped. She turned to face him. Deveran could see her smile.
“Come on,” Sara called. “I have a place for us. Follow me.”
Deveran hurried to catch up.
Now the beach is deserted except for some kelp
And a piece of an old ship that lies on the shore
You always responded when I needed your help
You gimme a map and a key to your door
Glamorous nymph with an arrow and bow
Don’t ever leave me, don’t ever go