Lore Archive/2011-12-23a

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From the holovid diary of THOMAS CONNERY, January 18, 2636.

It’s been too long since I updated this thing. Well, here goes:

Two years ago, in May of 2634, my crew returned to Earth and announced our discovery. Revealing that single alien figure led to an explosion of curiosity and space exploration beyond even my wildest dreams. Thousands of star cruisers and space jumpers were hastily kludged together and launched into the void. Everyone wanted to be the one to find the big haul, to uncover a trove of alien artifacts, to find their art, to locate their machinery and devices, to learn exactly what they looked like, and then—the holy grail of all space exploration—to find actual alien life.

We took to the stars the way our ancestors must have taken to the seas. We had already colonized the Solar System. Human cities thrived on several planets and moons. But now we moved into a galaxy that offered thrills and excitement like no man had known before. Everyone wanted to find the aliens, of course, but the thrill of the unknown was just as strong a lure. That lone figurine led to rapid advances in spaceflight to rush further and faster to find the remaining artifacts before anyone else could. I was personally excited for what they would find in the Moon Belt and beyond, to see what the new blood would find and put me to shame. We thought we were watching the dawn of a new golden age.

But, less than two years later, after the explorers picked apart every pebble in the Moon Belt, after they searched every planet and heavenly body as twice as far as Pluto, nothing else was found. No more figures. No hint of art. No machines or devices. No sign of extraterrestrial intelligence. Suddenly, the thrill of the hunt was over and all but the most ardent of the explorers stopped searching. Some people in the media began to accuse me of manufacturing that artifact myself, to make it appear that I was still the great explorer I’d been in my youth. Fortunately, I had built up enough goodwill over the years that my critics were few, and even fewer listened to them.

The thousands of explorers that had returned to Earth empty handed were disappointing, to say the least.

I did have dinner with Henry the other day, however. The awkward, resentful kid I first met five years ago made something of himself quickly. He’s become an infinitely more pleasant person to be around, a good friend, and our most preeminent xenobiologist. Over steak and wine he mentioned that, in just a few years, the wormhole was due to open again. This time we had the ability to travel to it and study it at close range.

New Year’s 2636 was just a few weeks ago now. The wormhole, assuming it’s not running late, would open again in 2640. Two years and change, to ready and launch the ships. Less than two years to reach the coordinates. It would take a massive effort to make such a trip possible, but the idea of discovering an unknown part of the universe excited me as little has for years. I could make it happen. I have to make it happen.

And hell, a trip through a wormhole sure beats retirement.

Tom Connery. Holovid diary. Out.
• • •

MINUTES OF THE TERRAN REPUBLIC SENATE, January 21, 2636. In Attendance, all twelve ministers, former T.R. President Tom Connery. Steven Sava, Recording Secretary. Meeting commenced 9:30 AM.

MINISTER HEYWOOD CUDEN (M. HC): I don’t know why you keep pursuing this, Tom. Thousands of private pilots as well as military personnel have spent who knows how long searching the Moon Belt for extraterrestrial life. Surely, if it existed, we’d have found it.

TOM CONNERY (TC): We found that figure and all your scientists have verified its alien origin. They’re out there, and we haven’t found them yet. Besides, we’re not talking about the Moon Belt h-

MINISTER WARREN MITCHELL (M. WM): Sorry to interrupt, Tom, but you ever think the aliens, if they even exist, don’t want to be found? Or perhaps they died off while we were still crawling out of the sea? If they’re extinct, it would explain why we can’t find them.

TC: That would only explain why we can’t find a living alien, but not their bones. Not their homes. Not their science or technology. With the exception of the figurine, their entire civilization and culture is non-existent in the Solar System and our known galaxy.

M. WM: Unless, Mr. President, those moon fragments you found were actually the shards of their planet. Their world may’ve been destroyed, removing all those things you say we can’t find.

TC: Their world was destroyed, leaving a single indestructible figurine as the sole remnant of an entire civilization? You don’t think they would’ve thought to have constructed some sort of structure out of this completely impervious material? You do remember the wormhole, correct?

MINISTER NOEL WATKINS (M. NW): Tom, I’ll kindly remind you once to watch your tongue in presence of the Senate. And yes, the one that opened up two hundred years ago?

TC: Nearly three hundred. The wormhole’s due to open again in approximately two years.

M. HC: We’re at peace, Tom. We’re prosperous and we didn’t need it the last time it opened up. Nothing has changed since then.

TC: I think it has. Think about all we’ve accomplished in two years after finding a single piece of an alien civilization. We’ve mapped out space twice as far as we’ve ever been from Earth. The Moon Belt isn’t that far, astronomically speaking, from where the wormhole is supposed to open. I’ve consulted with a dozen of the world’s foremost astrophysicists and they agree my hypothesis is valid.

M. WM: And that is…?

TC: We don’t know when or why the wormhole first opened, but while exploring the area, very specific low-level radiation was detected. That same low-level radiation was also detected in the Moon Belt. I, and the astrophysicists, believe there’s a connection between the two, although I admit we don’t know what that might be. Perhaps the moons, and don’t forget Pluto, were destroyed when the wormhole opened for the first time, or perhaps something came through the wormhole and destroyed them, but there’s no mistaking that these two disparate locations share that singular radiation.

M. NW: And that means… what exactly?

TC: We can’t know for sure, but it’s my belief that the figurine I found might have accidentally fallen through the wormhole during one of its periodic openings. That would explain why we can’t find any bodies, any buildings, or any manufactured goods. They exist, but they exist on the other side of the wormhole. On the other side of the universe.

MINSTER ADAM MILLER (M AM): Even if this is true, Sir, what do you expect us to do about it?

TC: As you said earlier, thousands of ships explored the Moon Belt area. Most of those ships have been decommissioned. I’m asking for the funds to recommission no more than two hundred. I want to raise an all-volunteer crew to man and pilot them to the wormhole, and if it’s considered safe, go through it. Can you imagine what we’ll learn? What we’ll find? And if I’m right, if the figurine did come from there, can you say no to what would be mankind’s first alien encounter ever? We could very well be looking at mankind’s second golden age in a single decade!

MINISTER ALICE CANTARI (M AC): The problem as I see it, Mr. President, is what if they turn out to be hostile and all you’ve done is show them the way back to Earth? We’ve worked so hard these past 200 years to create a perfect world. I don’t think we should rock the boat.

M. AM: On the other hand, if they are intelligent and hostile, it would be better for us to go to them and learn their intentions than for Earth to one day find itself the victim of a surprise attack. Don’t forget Pluto was blown up. If the aliens are capable of destroying entire planets, perhaps we have to take the initiative. We shouldn’t bury our heads in the sand over what -

M. NW: Let’s move on, shall we? Tom, I assume you’ve worked up your financial spreadsheet?


M. HC: Tom, even if we do decide to fund it, and even if you can find a crew willing to make such a voyage, not knowing for certain what they’ll find or how long it will take to return, this is an extremely tight schedule. Just back-tracking the time necessary for such a trip, I think it’s impossible to get a fleet ready in time and make it there before it closes.

TC: Minister Cuden, the ships are already there. Hundreds of massive ships that haven’t been off of the planet since the Moon Belt rush. It wouldn’t take long to bring them up to spec. And I think if you offer the people a chance to go to the other end of the universe, we’ll have more volunteers than you can possibly imagine. But I need the Government’s funding. And I need your blessing. Ministers, we tamed our world through exploration. Our ancient explorers visited lands they never knew existed and saw things far beyond their wildest imaginings. We tamed this Solar System the same way. But now, we have a real chance to tame not just a handful of planets, but the universe. We need to take this chance to find what lies on the other side of that wormhole.

MINISTER GEOFFREY CUMMINGS (M. GC): Thank you, Mr. President. If you don’t mind, we need to discuss this in private.

MINUTES OF THE TERRAN REPUBLIC SENATE, January 21, 2636. Steven Sava, Recording Secretary. Meeting paused. President Thomas Connery vacated the chambers. Meeting continued.

M GC: Let me put this out there, if it’s all right with the Ministers. Thomas is rather strong-willed.

If we turn him down, he’ll go to the people and state his case. And, with his popularity, we’ll be overruled and come out of this looking ineffective. I believe letting him leave Earth on this fool’s mission for a few years, keeping him out of the public eye, could be good for the rest of us. What do you say?

M. AM: Geoffrey, in all honesty, I’m disgusted. Tom’s done more good for our people than any other five men in history. We should be embracing his legend, not working to tear him down.

M. GC: Perhaps, Adam, you misunderstand me. I’m saying we give him what he wants. Let him raise a crew and go on his mission. How is that not embracing him? And should we reap benefit from it, too, I don’t see anything wrong.

M. HC: Adam, Geoffrey, let’s hear from everyone else and then let’s take our vote. Let’s start with Warren.

MINUTES OF THE TERRAN REPUBLIC SENATE, January 21, 2636. In Attendance, all twelve ministers and former T.R. President, Tom Connery. Steven Sava, Recording Secretary. Meeting commenced 4:30 PM.

MINISTER HEYWOOD CUDEN (M. HC): Tom, we’ve spoken. We argued. We firmly believe in exploration. After all, it’s what saved the planet when it looked like we’d all sink into our own hatreds. But honestly, we don’t think you can raise and train a crew in less than five months.

TOM CONNERY (TC): Minister Cuden, if I may…

M. HC: Please, Tom. Don’t interrupt. We don’t believe you can do it, but then again we’ve all doubted your ability to achieve success in the past. You’ve performed more miracles than any other living man. Because of that, we’re willing to make a deal. If you can raise the necessary number of volunteers by February 12th, then we will honor our end of the bargain and fund the repair and reconditioning of 200 ships. But it’s all up to you, Tom. You’ve got three weeks.

TC: Sir, you have a deal.

Amendment to the minutes of January 21, 2636. New date: February 3, 2636.

Tom Connery supplied signed affidavits containing more than 300,000 volunteers for his wormhole mission. He did so nine days before the Ministers’ imposed deadline. He stated that he will narrow the list to a total of 75,000. To carry them on their mission he has requested 128 ships be reconditioned. A launch date of May 13, 2638, the anniversary of the Armistice, has been chosen. The Ministers unanimously approved President Connery’s request and offered him their personal congratulations. Minister Adam Miller extended his desire to volunteer for the mission. President Connery accepted.
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