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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Sci-fi · #1680584
Entry for Crossed Genre's Flash Fiction contest
*** Entry for Crossed Genre 2nd Annual Flash Fiction Contest  , due by June 15.  Word count must be 100 to 500 words.  Currently at 494.  I am particularly interested in big picture impressions.

Whistle in the Wind

Across the depths of space, radio signals were discovered.  TaE~v~Eka and his team carefully extracted and pieced together semantic fragments, definitive proof at last of an alien, sentient lifeform.

"There are eight planets around the origin star," TaE~v~Eka explained to the assembled scientists and government officials, "but only one is an appropriate size and composition to nurture life.  The inner planets are solid, so we can rule them out."   

"What abouit those who say life could develop on solid planets?"  The question came from an amorphous blue who flickered eagerly at the back.

TaE~v~Eka undulated but answered patiently.  "Even if it were possible, which seems highly unlikely, the only planet with oxygen is the third, which is covered with large amounts of liquid water.  Do you suggest life could develop in that?"  There was a general wave of oscillation.  "No, the only real possibility is the sixth planet." TaE~v~Eka paused.  "I suggest we name that planet after XeD~h~TggA, in memory of the hope and inspiration she brought us all."

The crowd swirled with incandescence.  TaE~v~Eka wondered if he had overstepped, but then YQkT~v~Ema spoke imperiously, " I must insist on government representation on any expedition we might launch to XeD~h~TggA."


As the travelers coalesced from their long induced slumber, they gathered to peer at XeD~h~TggA.  They were captivated by its swirling beauty and brilliant rings, but TaE~v~Eka was worried.  Those signals which he had recorded from across the galaxy were garbled and muted close to the planet itself.

The explorers descended into the planetary miasma, riding thermal waves radiating from the core.  As their pods opened, they swam into the mist.  A stunning, but frustrating, panorama lay before them.  Unmistakable signs of life were everywhere, but it was a long extinct life with only flickering magnetostructures left to mark its passing.

The pods crisscrossed the gaseous expanses, searching for some remaining members of that race so similar to their own, yet so alien.  Everywhere they went, it was the same.  The civilization had flourished, exceeding even their own accomplishments, but it was long dead.

The expedition leader called the pods together.  TaE~v~Eka, feeling old and faded, made his report.

"With the evidence of amazing technologies here on XeD~h~TggA, it is increasingly clear that the signals which drew us here must be broadcasts repeatedly sent by ancient installations which this race was able to place on solid moons orbiting the planet, perhaps even distress signals as their unknown doom approached.  Since such places could not maintain life, we must return home recognizing that we have heard the last signals from a great civilization, lost to the mists of time."

TaE~v~Eka watched the rings of XeD~h~TggA glitter farewell.  He felt a sudden urge to beg the expedition leader to turn back, explore the other planets, even the third with its deadly liquid oceans, but he quivered and turned away.  Behind him, the solar system receded,  just another dead end in the elusive quest for intelligent life.
© Copyright 2010 Ben Langhinrichs (blanghinrichs at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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