Book Review: Blast Into Exile: Part Four

Officer’s Log: Day 1816 of Alpha Centauri Mission

We have discovered the source of the exotic particles coming from the Alpha Centauri system that were spotted only a few years ago as a small trace by the explorers who first reached the end of the sun’s Oort cloud. When we reached the place where the scans indicated the source of a small stream of particles that did not match the rest of the system, we found what appears to be a gate of some kind that has a distinct current where solar wind from the Alpha Centauri side blows into the gate on one side and solar wind from the other side–wherever it is–blows from the gate on the other side. A careful analysis, insofar as we could, indicated that the gate itself was constructed of a host of rare earth metals and was basically circular in nature, of a kind that would allow a moderate-sized ship into it but hardly the largest of battlecrusiers, and only one at a time. Such an artifact was obviously designed, but obviously not designed by us, as its function far exceeds that of our own capabilities in engineering at this time, although one can be sure that, knowing that such a thing exists, people will be motivated to attempt to reverse engineer it now that we have seen it.

When we saw the portal and realized that the expectations of those who had found the exotic particles were realized as precisely as could be imagined, a host of questions came to my mind. Who had built this? Why had they built it? When had they built it? Where did it go? Had the people who built this been coming through it and watching us on earth? Were they still around, waiting for us? Were they friendly or hostile, if they still existed? Obviously, a people who could build a portal that could send people far into distant space at a reasonable time was a people who could build a massive galactic empire, and anyone who could control one or more or these gates would be able to command a huge amount of space with a reasonable amount of force, although it appeared that there were strong limitations in the amount of space that such a gate could have, largely given the huge cost of building a cosmic tunnel that could bypass even the requirements of the fastest direct interstellar travel, which was still short of the speed of light even given all of the advances that had been found to sail on solar wind, as it were, at nearly the speed of a neutrino, at least when one was outside of the orbit of major planets which disrupted the full speed of one’s travel and forced a bit more caution at speeds only a fraction of the speed of light.

Naturally, the sight of the portal in Alpha Centauri forced some thought on the part of the professor and of his charges, and I proposed that we dock together and sort out what we were going to do about this development. The professor wanted to know if the portal went somewhere very far away, and I reasoned that it would be hard to figure out exactly where unless we had some means of circumventing the distances that existed between one side of the gate and the other. The professor informed me that one of the quirks of the dinosaurs in his charge was that a mother and a child were able to recognize each other’s presence and location at any distance that he had ever seen so far, and that there were parents on his ship that were still able to locate and recognize the presence of their children who were currently hiding on earth, attempting to escape the manhunt being made against them by the wicked and cruel authorities there. This gave me an idea, and I proposed to him that we could send a brave and small korinthidon in a probe that I had on my ship, send that probe into the gate, and then have the child’s mother locate where the baby was on our star charts, and that would give a precise location of where it is that the gate went to, and if it was far enough away to suit the desire of the professor and his associates. The professor agreed that this was sound, and that the probe could also scan for a potential home for him and for the dinosaurs. Having agreed that this was a good plan that would risk as little as possible and not indicate a hostile intent to whatever other beings were around, given that a gate like this clearly indicated that there was some particularly advanced society around that we would have to come to terms with at some point.

It was at this point that I spent some time with the dinosaurs in the cargo ships that were now all docked together as there needed to be some sort of discussion. I came as a guest, as one of the discoverers and as a friend of the dinosaurs in general. And though I could not understand all that went on, I knew that there was some kind of communication going on within the dinosaurs themselves about who was going to brave going in the probe, which I showed to them so that they were able to see its size and how comfortable it could be made for one of the young dinosaurs, as well as the sort of status that would result from such an act for the dinosaur and his family. It does appear, from what I can see, that dinosaurs are particularly concerned with rank. It is not any different from human beings, I supposed to myself, seeing as I had used this trip as a way to increase my own rank within my human society, and supposed that whoever did the same here would, as a brave explorer into the unknown, receive the same sort of instant status increase. I could tell that the dinosaur that had bonded with me was one of the leaders of his people, given his voice and position at the head of the discussion and his authoritative communication with his fellows. Finally, after considerable discussion, a somewhat low-ranking mother and her brave children stepped to the front. I wondered what had happened to her and her family, as I did not see the father dinosaur, but I supposed that in dinosaur society, just as in many human societies, that mothers with children where the fathers had died or were not around was somewhat imperiled, and that a chance for such children to increase their rank would be highly sought after. I smiled at the young dinosaur who appeared to be the oldest of the brood as he stood in front of the group and received the praise of his fellows, and beckoned him as well as his family and the dinosaur who was my own particular friend towards where the probe was located on my own scout ship, and I made the probe comfortable for the young dinosaur, who was able to take a rest inside of it, and after some discussion with the other dinosaurs there, I launched the probe into the gate. After a period of some minutes, the mother was energetic and went to the cargo ship to look at the star charts, indicating where it is that she felt the presence of her son.

The professor and I looked at each other and realized it was a point five hundred parsecs away, which was quite far enough to suit them all as far as being far beyond the knowledge of the people who were hunting their kind. After some investigation, the probe made its way back through the gate and the juvenile male dinosaur was perfectly alright and happy to be back with his fellows, who cheered his safe return. Before joining with his fellows, he seemed intent to bond with both my friend and myself, and so for several minutes he pressed his forehead against mine and I was able to sense his enthusiasm as well as his feeling of gladness and safety for having returned safely through the gate, which would be a fearsome experience for anyone, I would suspect. He also bonded with the chief dinosaur, perhaps as a sign of his increased status as well as a way of conveying to him and myself the feelings that he had about being a deep space explorer. With that done, the dinosaurs chattered among themselves while I looked at what the probe had seen. There was a whole host of exotic particles that one could see in the results, which must mean something, but what exactly is hard enough to say, and there were several earth or super-earth sized planets nearby in what appeared to be a habitable zone.

I communicated this to the professor and he said that he and his dinosaurs would like to explore and settle on one of those planets where they could be as far away from other people as possible. I told him that I agreed that might be very sensible and that this would be a good way for him and his crew to find a safe harbor. I promised that the information of this journey would be told on a need to know basis, but that I would have to communicate the existence of the gate as well as his passage through it to the authorities upon my return, and he said that was quite alright as long as it was not published widely. Knowing what we had seen, I was able to express with considerable confidence that no one would want any of this to be widely published and that anyone who knew would know on a need to know basis. And apparently that now involved me, because the importance of what I had seen would be a bombshell to those back home, if I made it home. Since the professor and the dinosaurs were keen to depart, I let them get to their preparations while I maintained position. Before undocking my ship, I told them that I would wait for them one week if they ran into trouble before making my return to Pluto, where I would have an urgent report to give. They greed that this would be wise, seeing as whoever made this gate might not be keen on having others use it, and then we parted and after some preparations each of the ships in turn went into the gate and vanished to the other side.

Day 1823 of Alpha Centauri Mission

I have waited seven days and scanned the area around the portal as best as I can from this side, and it appears as if everything is fine and that the professor and his dinosaurs are on their way to their new home. I do not feel any trouble with the dinosaurs, and it appears as if everything is fine so far, so at this point I will begin my trip home on the assigned course, doing a flyby of the inhabitable planets in this system to give more information if we want to send settlers here, and then make the long and not very exciting trip home, along with thinking about the implications of what I have seen. It will only be a matter of time–and perhaps not even a very long time–before we return to this place, and that will have some pretty momentous consequences, I think. It is possible that the secret could be kept for a while, but it’s not likely going to be kept for very long. There is going to be a lot of time to think while I work my way back home, and so far it appears as if the ship is holding up as is the food supply. I do not expect there to be much in the way of interest to talk about for most of the journey, but at the very least there should be some things to report.

For one, it appears as if the Alpha Centauri system can itself support a large amount of human beings, although a great deal of work will need to done to make these planets habitable for people without the building of star bases. I am not sure that too many people are going to want to take that sort of time, not least after spending five or more years to get here even at the fastest, which would require somewhat small ships, but it will at least be an option that people will be considering. If earth gets too much more out of hand, I suspect that a great many people will be looking for places to get away from earth and its problems, at least for a little while, and that could make this a very appealing option for those who want to travel far away from earth, and I have to think that a lot of people will want to do that, so I figure it should be on the record because people who need to make decisions will want to figure out what to do based on the information we now have about this area.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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