We are not alone and the consequences of discovering what we share the universe with will lead to profound implications for where we see ourselves in the cosmic order and alter our very understanding of our origin on Earth.
The planet PX-27861’s thirty seven hour days were killing her, but a combination of meds and the nanites running throughout her body ensured she had the energy to make it through. PX-27861 was a bit of a mouthful and Dr. Keira Solheim had long since taken to calling the place Terra Gigas. Not very original perhaps, but in many ways this world was a pristine version of Earth – just a dozen times larger. Though a Super Earth, it was much too far from the Core worlds to have been colonised and she was alone but for the wildlife.
Terra Gigas was home to many predators but a series of sonar-emitting sensors kept them at bay and the sentry bots she had installed upon arrival would kill if necessary but they were programmed to neutralise threats by non-lethal means if at all possible. She had sent drones out into the forests and below the oceans to record things missed by the initial probes when the planet had first been discovered in 2463, and to take samples of the plants and animals encountered.
Terra Gigas would be the delight of biologists, botanists, oceanographers, and her peers in a dozen others sciences but Keira belonged to none of these fields. Rather, she was an archaeologist and everyone had thought her quite mad when she had announced her plan to come here. Not surprisingly, the Academy had been unwilling to fund her expedition, meaning she had needed to do so herself. That hadn’t been a problem and while she could have brought a sizable team with her, part of her had wanted to get away from it all and, if she didn’t find anything, it would reflect poorly on no one else, but if she, the glory would be entirely hers.
She wanted to make a name for herself, she wanted to finally break free of her mother’s shadow and this was the best way to do it. Most people had brushed off the scans of the planet and what they seemed to show, a great metal structure running beneath the ground, perhaps through the entire world. To her mind, the layout was too regular, too consistent to be natural. Others pointed to the age of the probes that had been sent or simply refused to see. They pointed to the ancient myths about canals on Mars but this was not the same, she had to believe this place was different.
If it was, her discovery would change everything. It would confirm that humans were not alone in the universe, that somewhere out there, at least in the distant past, a highly intelligent species had created an entire planet. They might still be out there and even if they were not, there might be other secrets to unlock. She was about to turn in for the night, though the nanites could keep her awake indefinitely, there was still nothing that could beat a good night’s sleep, when one of the sensors activated.
It wasn’t a warning sensor, it meant one of the probes had found something.
Image: Tech Hive.