What happens when a person from the 21st century wakes up 50,000 years in the future?
All time measurements in this book are indicated in 21st century Earth format to make it easier for the reader to understand the passage of events. Obviously, a large Galactic empire will have its own way of measuring time since it’s impractical to use the time system of any single planet.
Chapter 1 - STARTING WITH THE END
Asteroid mitigation strategies are “planetary defense” methods by which near-Earth objects could be diverted, preventing potentially catastrophic impact events…While the chances of such an event are no greater now than at any other time in history, there is a very high chance that one will happen eventually...
Wikipedia - Asteroid-impact avoidance, 2011
It was towards the end of the year, 2012. How should we describe this particular time period: Apocalyptic? Cataclysmic? Revelatory? To some people, these interpretations may be the consequence of misinterpreted Mayan accounts or ‘New Age’ Pseudo-science. Nevertheless, the criticism against weird prophecies based on ‘beliefs’ didn’t stop those ‘End of World’ doom-sayers this time. Their dire predictions were full-filled in their minds, as real scientific data came in.
Let’s begin by describing this prophetic year from another point of view – Henry Matthews’ house. Just before the sun rises, it looks like a typical suburban home with proper front lawns and manicured flowerbeds. When the sun finally does peek over the horizon and radiates its first light on the landscape, the truth shows its ugly head. Weeds growing through the cracks in the asphalt driveway, one broken boarded up window on the second floor, the grass – or should we say weeded lawn since it didn’t have much grass ‒ is cut every six to eight weeks or so, and the window sills and jambs are in need of paint. You’d think the neighbours would be a bit fed up by the lack of reasonable standards on Henry’s part, but in this area at this time none of the neighbours were complaining. In fact, there weren’t even any neighbours living on Henry’s street this morning ‒ for a single solitary reason.
The television came on...way too loud. Henry Matthews woke up and squinted at the digital clock on the end table. It was 8:02 AM Eastern Standard Time. The TV he heard was from the living room downstairs. Other than the annoying sound of it so early in the morning, the usual routine followed. He stretched himself in bed, looked at the fifteen dollar light fixture on the ceiling he had bought at Wal-Mart about ten years ago, and slowly started to get up.
“Hey dad, get up and come down here,” Henry could hear John yelling from downstairs.
He then pushed his 70-year-old body out of bed, dressed as quickly as he could, hurried downstairs, and stumbled into the living room. There on the couch sprawled John, his thirty-two year old son, watching the latest newscast on television about ‘the asteroid’. It had been the leading news item for the past three years, and it was certainly dominating today’s coverage. According to the report John was watching, it was still racing towards Earth.
As he noticed his dad walking in he said, “It’s about time you got up.” He looked back to the TV and said, “Looks like it’s official; it’s going to hit Earth in about two days.”
Talk about an ‘Awww shit’ moment; this was the last thing Henry wanted to hear as he sat in the armchair alongside the couch. They both listened to the newscast.
“This morning at approximately 2:30 AM Eastern Standard Time, the last of three attempts at sending missiles to destroy the asteroid, or at least move it off its path towards Earth, was taken. According to ODAA – that’s the Organization for Defense Against Asteroids – the plan simply didn’t work. This particular defense plan has been in the works for twelve weeks, ever since the previous attempt had failed, and was the last hope for solving this impending disaster.”
“The biggest defensive co-ordination was between Russia and the United States with the help of most other nations around the world. Here is a clip from the news conference early this morning at about 3:30 AM EST. The President of the United States is speaking from NORAD headquarters in Colorado. Beside him is Major General Ernest McCunningham, the US representative in ODAA.”
Henry and John continued to watch the TV report as the video changed to the NORAD headquarters in Colorado.
“I’m afraid to announce that despite all of the efforts at either destroying or changing the path of the asteroid towards Earth, we were not successful in our attempt. This is despite the great and valiant effort by all the people and nations of the world. We have done our best and now it is time to apply the survival plans that have been developed all around the world. I will now give the floor to Major General Ernest McCunningham to provide you with a more detailed analysis.”
“Thank you Mr. President. I would also like to give my deepest appreciation to all my fellow colleagues for their valiant attempts at defeating this natural event from the solar system. Special gratitude goes to my esteemed colleague from Russia, General Tutonivich, who along with his colleagues in the Russian armed forces have worked with us through thick and thin in trying to find solutions to this imminent catastrophe.”
“The latest group of missiles did reach their intended target at 1:06 AM this morning and were successfully exploded. Considering the fact that some parts of the asteroid have broken off and are not heading towards Earth as far as we can tell, we did notice a slight change in the main asteriod’s disposition. But after carefully monitoring it for about an hour, we concluded it did not change its course anymore than the first two attempts a few months ago. The main part of the asteroid has only changed rotation and is still heading towards Earth. At this point, the United States and Russia haven't any missiles left to help in this struggle. I will now turn this press conference back over to the President…Mr. President…”
“Thank you General. I am devastated about these reports. We have done our best along with Russia, the NATO countries, and other nations that have played an important part, such as the People’s Republic of China. I will now emphasize what needs to be done in the next twenty-one hours. I am going to ask all the television networks to dispense with their regular programming and broadcast the safety and survival methods that have been published and demonstrated ever since this catastrophic prediction emerged. This should be shown consistently, along with any news, until this tragic event comes to an end. I would also like to ask any healthy survivors to be generous in their help to any unfortunate victims.”
“I will now turn this over to questions…”
“Yes,” the President pointed to someone in the press area.
“Mr. President, after depleting the inventory of nuclear missiles is there any regret in not using that other plan that was proposed – about sending astronauts to place explosives on it – to try to change the course in a more definite manner?”
“Er, no...There is no doubt in my mind that we did the right thing. I am sure this other option would not have worked. All the scientists and engineers working with us from other parts of the world have come to the same conclusion. Sometimes you have to realize that despite the advanced technology and science we have at the ready, we are still not advanced enough to handle everything the universe throws at us.”
“Yes,” pointing to another reporter…
“Mr. President, what are the current plans of the United States to decide what to do about ‘where’ the asteroid lands. I mean if it doesn’t land anywhere near the U.S., what will the U.S. do to help other countries?”
“The current information we have is that the asteroid will crash in about twenty-one hours right in the middle of the United States at about a 35 degree angle from the surface of the Earth. This will cause massive destruction going northeast right into Canada all the way past the northern part of the province of Quebec. We are one hundred percent sure about this. As you know, we have already put the entire armed forces of NORAD on alert to evacuate as much of this area as possible. Many other countries have been sending over large numbers of troops and equipment to help both Canada and us. We are grateful for this. Since a part of the asteroid was blown off, it appears the mass heading towards us will be only about sixty percent of the previous estimate. This is a little bit of good news…”
The television newscast went back to the local real time news anchor.
“The press conference went on for another 10 minutes. At this time, we are going to change to the procedures for evacuating whatever local area you are in. These videos will be repeated over and over again, except for interruptions on any significant news….”
“Well dad, this is just about the worst-case scenario we can imagine isn’t it.”
Henry felt depressed as he sat in his armchair absorbing all the gloomy details. “I can’t believe this. I thought for sure that last attempt would work.”
“So much for the ‘military-industrial-complex’ coming to the rescue, dad.”
Feeling a bit down Henry hunched over, placed his elbows on his knees, and his face in the palms of his hands.
John added to his discomfort, “All our neighbours vacated the area weeks ago; seems they were the better risk managers this time.”
“Ok...OK...I screwed up...Ya, I should have had some kind of contingency plan.”
“Dad, I don’t know what made you think about going along with this ODAA or whatever you call it. My own gut feelings told me to vacate the city just like most of our neighbours did.”
“John, will you please calm down...just calm down!” Needless to say, there was tension between the two. “Know something John, I really miss your mom. It was a bit strange how she had died of a heart attack the day before this asteroid announcement. I may have screwed up in trusting this ‘organization’ to save us, but you didn’t exactly turn me down when I offered to move you back into the family home after she died and after you split up with Liz, and there was nothing stopping you from leaving along with all ‘those neighbours’.”
“So, what do you think we should do?” said John as he calmly tried to lower the ‘temperature’. Henry got out of his chair and began to walk around the living room, shaking his head.
“It may be too late to try to escape our neighbourhood or city. According to what I’ve heard, there are thousands of people trying to leave at the last minute by car, and they’re running out of gas and clogging up the streets. It’s total chaos out there since most gas stations can’t get their stocks refilled.”
“Great,” said his son in a condescending voice. So much for relying on dad’s instincts he thought. “Did they get advice from you dad?” said John forgetting about lowering the ‘temperature’. Henry ignored the remark.
“Waaaait a minute. I just remembered something. Remember that doctor friend of mine…Frank Becaller.”
“Ya, I remember him. Wasn’t he here a few months ago about something,” John couldn’t remember why the doctor had showed up.
“He was returning an item he had borrowed from me over a year ago, and because this guy has owed me and your mom so many favours over the years, I may be able to wrangle a concession out of him.”
“What do you mean?”
“He mentioned something about the majority of local hospitals not being used ‒ despite the medical aid we will need ‒ because they’re within the outer edge of the asteroid’s explosion perimeter and probably won’t survive. He told me about an old bomb shelter that was secretly built underneath the hospital he’s associated with. He might allow us access to it. It’s located in downtown Toronto, and he figures since we’re far from the asteroid’s impact area, the wave from the explosion might not be strong enough to have any affect on this shelter. That’s where it could save us.”
“I didn’t know they made bomb shelters anymore,” said John.
“They haven’t made any since the 1960s, but this hospital was built around the time I was ten and because of all the nuclear bomb paranoia of the late 50s, a bomb shelter was placed there – without the general public knowing anything about it. From what Frank tells me, it was always used for storage, and everyone has forgotten what its real intent was.”
“What makes you think he’ll let us in?”
“Because he owes me big time.”
“Do you know were this hospital is?”
“I forgot to ask him when he was here last time. It never occurred to me I’d be going there. I’ll call him up right now.”
Henry called Frank on his cell phone, “Shit...he’s not answering. Let’s get the hell out of here and drive over to his office right away.”
As Henry began to move quickly, there was an underlying current of remorse penetrating his psyche. He was leaving the home of both his childhood and the past twenty years of his life. He inherited the house from his mother and father who had passed away many years ago.
His late wife’s paintings were hanging on the walls; there were too many of them to bring with him. And where would he put them all? Numerous mementos were also being left behind: photographs, family gifts, personal items.
One of the most precious items he possessed was the small baby grand piano his mother had given him for his tenth birthday. Leaving it behind really saddened him. It was such a part of him that even when wives come and go – two to divorce, one to death – the piano had managed to stick with him his whole life.
If he had to move away from home for any long periods of time, along it came even when one of those soon-to-be-divorced wives didn’t. Henry was a career translator and part of his life was occasionally moving to different parts of the world.
Today’s events deeply saddened him.
Bearing all this in mind, they both felt compelled to move with lightning speed, pack minimal belongings in their backpacks, and scramble out of the house. Trying to find a bit of humour in their situation, Henry figured if there was a world championship in stuffing backpacks, he and his son would be major contenders. Just before he closed the front door of the house, Henry took a long last second to glance down the entrance hallway at what might be the last look of his home. He finally shut and locked the door. Despite the lump in his throat, it took him and his son less than two minutes to pack and get into the car.
Considering the tension between the two, they smiled at each other at how quickly their exit happened.
“If only Mom were here; she wouldn’t believe how fast we were.”
“What did you put in your backpack anyway?”
“I grabbed every bit of clothing in my drawers and of course I placed my laptop very carefully on top of everything.”
Henry laughed, “I did it the other way. I grabbed my laptop first, then my clothing.”
There was a lot of traffic on the way to the doctor’s office, but the heaviest part of it was going in the opposite direction, last minute procrastinators trying to get out-of-town. The doctor was slightly to the south of where Henry and John lived, about a fifteen-minute drive.
Henry drove into the driveway of the Doctor’s combination office and split-level home. As he came to a dead stop, he noticed the eerie silence in the neighbourhood. There weren’t any parked cars or other vehicles to be seen anywhere. He got out of the car quickly and rang the front door doorbell. No one answered. He knocked loudly and still no one answered. He knocked on some of the neighbours’ doors; there wasn’t anyone home there either.
Henry went back to his car and told John, “This place gives me the creeps; let’s get out of here and go to that hospital. I’m pretty sure I know which one it is even though he’s never told me.”
About twenty minutes later, they arrived at what Henry was hoping to be the hospital of interest based a few hints his doctor friend had given him over the last few months. As he rushed out of the car and headed straight for the front doors of the main building, John yelled, “Are you going to leave our belongings in the car? They might get stolen.”
Henry looked at John with a slight ‘you gotta be kidding’ look. Although not a soul could be seen, Henry grabbed his belongings just to placate his son. Next, he went up to the hospital’s front door and found it locked.
Now, there was a real sense of urgency in the air as Henry desperately said to his son, “Let’s check all the other doors and see if any of them are open.”
They tried this, with the same result.
Frustrated, Henry looked out from the hospital and said, “You know something, there’s a few cars in the parking lot, and I wonder if any of them belong to Frank.”
“What does his car look like?”
“I don’t remember,” said Henry shaking his head.
John came up with a good idea, “Why don’t we go and look at every car through the windows and see if we can find any personal belongings that you might be able to identify.”
Henry took a deep breath, shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s a long shot…but let’s do it anyway.”
There were only five cars in the lot, and they examined every one of them.
“I bet this is his, there's a stethoscope lying in the rear seat,” said Henry as he was peering through the back window of a minivan. “Let’s break into it, check the glove compartment, and see if we can accurately identify the owner.”
“Wait a minute; you can’t do that. This is a hospital; you’re always going to find doctors’ vehicles parked around here.”
“So what would you recommend?” said Henry with a slightly irritated voice.
After staring at each other for two full seconds, they decided to break in and eureka: documentation in the glove compartment confirming it was Doctor Frank Becaller’s vehicle. How lucky can you get!
“Time to break into the hospital,” said Henry stressfully.
With a determined attitude, Henry and John walked around looking for the easiest place to break into. Before too long, they discovered a fire escape, designed in the fifties no doubt, which led up to boarded windows made out of ancient and unhealthy looking plywood.
“I wonder what the possibility is of there being an alarm system connected to those boarded windows up there. We might be able to get through without upsetting any security. If we get in, we’ll play dumb and pretend we’ve been there all along or have just walked in some doorway on a floor that was not locked, so how can we be accused of breaking in.”
“Ya…right dad,” John usually admired the practicality of his dad’s thinking; in this case however, it was more fantasy-like. John found an old pipe lying around, “Maybe we can use this to pry open the plywood.”
They both climbed up the fire escape, lugging their backpacks with them, and reached a landing platform near the plywood-covered window. John took the pipe, dug it into a corner of the plywood sheet that was a bit rotten, and with little effort completely pulled it off. They quietly worked on removing the other plywood sheet. After entering the premises, the plywood was neatly stored at a far wall to appear as if there had been no tampering.
“Did you hear any alarm?” said John.
“Now for the real adventure.” As they walked around in an area clearly used for storage, they noticed a considerable lack of inventory.
“The bomb shelter might be in the basement somewhere, so let’s go down there,” said Henry.
As they walked down several flights of stairs, they heard people talking. Henry signalled John to stop and listen but couldn’t make out what they were saying. The people then stopped talking and walked into a large room that appeared to be a cafeteria.
Henry placed his baggage on the floor in a corner of the stairwell and motioned for John to do the same. As he quietly walked towards the cafeteria, Henry signalled his son to follow and make it look like they were part of the group getting refreshments. The plan seemed to work. Among the twenty odd people there, they weren’t even noticed. They both lined up to get a coffee and then sat down at a table with other people who were having snacks.
The discreetness didn’t last long.
“Henry,” he heard. His friend the Doctor was setting something up at a table that looked like he was going to give a presentation.
“What are you doing here?”
Henry put on his best poker face and said, “I’m not sure what you mean Frank; you invited me to come with you to this hospital, so here I am.”
The Doctor looked angry as he walked over towards Henry. “I didn’t ask you to come here Henry. I said it was a possibility and I would look into inviting you.” The whole room was quiet as everybody listened to what seemed to be a very upset and angry Doctor. “There’s a limited amount of space in this bomb shelter, and it can fit only twenty people. With you two guys it will make it twenty-two.”
Henry responded, “Frank, I’m not fussy where I sleep or anything. Just give us the top of a shelf somewhere, and my son and I will stay there.”
Henry discreetly reminded the Doctor of one of several favours he owed him with the statement, “It’s like that sail-boat you parked in my dock when you thought I wasn’t going to come back for a few days. When I showed up, instead of getting upset with you, we both docked in a manner that looked like it wasn’t limited in space.”
Your move doctor Henry thought.
John was trying to hold back a smile. He knew his dad’s negotiating skills and cold reading techniques picked up over the years could do wonders.
On a personal level, the Doctor knew he owed Henry big time for all kinds of things. On the current logistical level of the bomb shelter usage, he owed the nineteen people sitting in the cafeteria.
With a slightly exasperated look on his face the Doctor said, “I’ll talk to you later; now let’s get on with this meeting.”
As the meeting went on, it was obvious that it was just a friendly get together to introduce everyone to each other and go over a few rules about the way things should happen and what to expect in the way of food availability, etc.
One thing Henry soon realized was that everybody had been expected to bring their own food since there was none in the shelter. Since he hadn’t been briefed like the other people, he and his son hadn’t brought anything.
“Any questions?” said the Doctor. There was silence. “All right everybody, we might as well go down to the shelter.”
Everyone rose and went off to the stairway just outside the cafeteria. Henry innocently sat there with his son as the Doctor approached him.
“Henry, I know I owe you a lot, and I’m sorry if there was confusion regarding an offer to come here, but there is a limited number of people that can get into the room downstairs.”
“So what do you want me to do, Frank?”
Frank knew Henry had him; he was not about to let him and his son face sure death.
“How the hell did you get into this place? It was supposed to be locked up.”
“We had no trouble at all; there was an entrance somewhere to the south of the building that wasn’t locked, so we walked right in. I could show it to you if you like.”
Henry had guessed right on two things: one, Frank did not know everything about the hospital entrances and building structure, and two, he would not have the time right now to go and look at it.
“Henry, I have no time for that, so let’s get downstairs and see what we can do.”
They both picked up their respective backpacks, and as they followed Frank downstairs John quietly joked with his dad, “You’d make a great game show host dad. I just haven’t figured out which one yet.”
When they got to the grimy basement area, they saw miles of pipes, conduits, boxes and all types of containers left on the floor that made the walk towards the shelter rather awkward. After a good deal of dodging and weaving, they finally arrived. It was obvious there was enough room for two extra people, except Henry and son would have to depend on the generosity of the others to get anything to eat.
The asteroid was due in about fifteen hours. Along the way, Frank commented that at least there wouldn’t be any radiation to worry about – unlike a nuclear blast ‒ and they may have to be down there only for a couple of days.
Henry and John were shown where their little ‘headquarters’ would be, and it consisted of two large shelves with an assortment of boxes, cans, and bottles. After moving these items around to maximize space for themselves, the next few hours just drifted away. Some people quietly chitchatted while others tried to sleep.
It was obvious to him this bomb shelter’s normal usage was as a storage facility mostly for chemicals and strange liquids. As he was reading the labels on some of the bottles, he wondered if any of them or even all of them were toxic. Hadn’t anybody thought of that when they decided to use this place?
Henry placed his bag on the shelf, took out some clothing to use as a pillow, and lied down to relax. As he was watching John climb up to the shelf above him, he thought about mentioning his concerns to Frank, but that would mean having to get up and right now, he was too tired.
“Dad, do you see all these chemicals?”
Dad had just dozed off…
Chapter 2 - THE ASTEROID BELT
Prophecy of the Manjorian system, “His time will come and all evil things will come to an end.”
Empreorium encyclopaedia – time period 25,000 years GC
Freight hauling between star systems and extraction of exotic minerals and ores from asteroid belts, that was the prime function of the ‘Star Systems Exploration and Salvage Co’ a small business owned by two small time operators, Josa Bellas and Dreygon Peyatra. They owned two Transporter extraction and salvaging vessels and over many years had been mostly profitable.
On this particular day, Josa wondered why he had decided to come to this star system in the Chenwai Confederation in the first place, since they weren’t really desperate for new places to explore.
It was one of the more dangerous and troublesome areas he had seen in a long time. The scanner readings displayed on his shuttle craft panel-viewer were strange. They indicated that by astronomical standards, it contained a relatively new asteroid belt, a mere 50,000 years old or so, and that was unusual. As far as records indicated, human explorers had never visited this particular Chenwai star system.
Josa and his partner Dreygon had been in business together for fourteen years and were mainly in the Startransport business using their two vessels for either freight hauling between star systems, or mineral and ore extraction in asteroid belts or ‘Kuiper’ type dwarf planets. When the transportation part of the business slowed down, they solicited business from the extraction companies for a variety of ores or other rare substances. For Josa and Dreygon these extractions happened among star systems that were rarely explored by anyone else some of which were located along the outlying edge of the “Confederation of Planets of the Chenwai Empire” or Chenwai Confederation for short.
Since they specialised in unexplored star systems, there wasn't a huge amount of business within the Confederation as the systems along this outlying edge were mostly explored. The star system they were in at the present moment was the exception.
Almost all of the asteroid material he saw on this current trip was average considering the hazards, but every once in a while Josa would get a reading of some complexity, possibly organic in nature. He couldn't really pin it down. The pieces of rock around here moved fast and material would sometimes fly by at weird angles. Was this complex organic material all over the place or just the odd piece that showed up now and again due to sheer chance.
Dreygon, who was in the ‘mother’ Startransport vessel just outside the main asteroid area, was demanding another report. A nuisance considering his partner should know how busy he was.
Suddenly, the android alert system beeped, and Josa read the report on the panel-viewer. It indicated the complex organic material was only a single source. It was scooting in and out of view, and the android controller was finally able to pin it down. Now the trick was getting to it without causing the shuttle too much damage.
Hmm...This situation could develop into something even more dangerous. Was it worth it he wondered. Locally, which in this case meant two months travel, organic material was valuable only to those scientists of the ‘Manjorian Space Station’. It was a planet shaped space station orbiting a planet called Manjoria, which contained a local university and an archaeological department. Manjoria was also located in the Empreorium Empire and that had to be considered. Not that profitable, but better than nothing I guess thought Josa. That's why he felt it wasn't necessarily worth it when any potential acquisition became dangerous.
Another message from Dreygon, wondering what’s going on. OK let’s get on with it. Josa locked the icy organic material in the panel-viewer and headed straight for it.
Suddenly the alert system went off the scale...what the hell... Seems there was a huge amount of organic material as well as ice. He was getting readings of large amounts of carbohydrate and other monosaccharide sugars. Things were getting more hazardous the closer he got. The panel-viewer was somewhat unreliable and rather dysfunctional. Straight up ahead was the big rock that was giving him the strange readings. It was bigger than what he usually handled for the size of shuttle craft he had, and Josa realized he would not be able to get it into the cargo bay of the Startransport vessel, even if he managed to get it over there. He’ll have to break it in half or maybe even into quarters.
A common problem in the extraction business is how to split a rock so that pieces don't end up flying off in all directions. One is to place the whole thing in a force field, if you had the right kind of vessel with you, which he did not have.
The other was to get special androids to surround it with a very large harness, which would take about a day. He had neither the time nor the androids.
For the third option, Josa had grappling and probe attachments in storage, which could be used to break up small asteroids. He got them ready and aimed them at a place somewhere in the middle. He fired...
The target object broke, one-half went to the right, and the other half stayed in the same place. Josa looked closely at the ‘well behaving’ half and noticed that it was strange looking and somewhat artificial in appearance.
What to do now; that interesting half was still too big for him to deal with. Might as well move a little closer to examine better it he thought. By the time he was about 100 metres closer, the panel-viewer told him that a large organic mass was to the left and what looked like an artificial object was to the right. On getting closer, both objects of interest seemed intertwined, and he realized he would not be able to bring the complete rock back. The salvaging would likely damage it.
He decided to go right up to it to get the best possible view. Josa manoeuvred the craft until his shuttle’s grappling arms were able to grasp some protruding rocks. Now a better examination was in order. He directed the control android to analyse the data on the deep scanners and as he watched the reports coming in – Josa's bored facial expression transformed into sheer puzzlement.
Could this be right? The display indicated there really was an artificial object imbedded in all that ice and rock. Josa decided to suit up and go outside to have a closer examination. The ‘inertia-control’ drive built into the space suit would allow him tremendous flexibility in moving around the object. When he got out there, he aimed a special scanner at the artificial object that was closest to him. Josa suddenly became excited. It was obvious the object was in fact a type of space container or vessel with a possible cargo inside. He wondered how old it could be.
He did a spectral analysis of the material and preliminary indications showed it was at least 35,000 to 50,000 years old. He was not aware of any reports of lost vessels or probes in the area. Could these indications be of some unknown alien species? One thing was for sure, whatever it was it could be valuable. Scientific organizations and certain museums or maybe even circus and fair operators could be interested in something this old.
Josa was now moving around the object and as he began looking for ways to get in, noticed how badly damaged everything looked. Josa went back to the shuttle and got his hand-held-blaster. It was rather awkward to use in the present environment. He moved it into position and aimed it at an area that looked like it would give way rather easily. Josa pulled the trigger and just as he thought, a gap large enough to let him through appeared. Josa entered, turned his flashlight on, and looked about.
He saw a lot of rock and ice floating all over the place. Scanning the interior, he noticed a few artificial looking objects that confirmed his initial hunch it was a container or space vessel of some sort. Josa shifted a bit of the ice and rock out-of-the-way, and he decided to scan again with the organic scanner. At about 30 metres away, he noticed it peaked; so he moved closer. When he got there, a big solid rock held all the main organic material he was able to detect. Might as well do some chipping and probing he thought.
As he tried to scrape away at the ice, something happened. A brownish material floated by. He took one of the brownish pebbles and held it out while he scanned it. Josa was a bit startled at the result. It was a haemoglobin type material. Josa suddenly realized this could be a major find.
Grabbing and scanning other rocks all indicated the same result. Josa moved towards the larger rock in front of him and found that it was even more definite, containing cell structures. Could it be single celled life forms? He placed a sample in a portable microscopic scanner he was carrying. If there was any doubt about what it was, it was getting clearer by the minute. The scanner indicated human red blood cells!
In this remote star system, it was unbelievable. What are human cells doing out here? Josa checked his oxygen supply to make sure he had enough for another hour. It was OK. He cautiously approached what seemed to be the heaviest and darkest part of the ice. Aiming the light towards the ice penetrated it somewhat, to reveal a bit of colour. He moved closer and shone the light right into it.
He saw a rather strange looking object in there. Could it be a large life form? The organic scanner he had was not that sophisticated. It could barely read the difference between basic organic materials like single cell structures from something more elaborate like larger life forms. But, if it couldn't do the trick, maybe his own eyes could. Josa began chipping away at the ice until...
He couldn’t believe what he saw...it was more than a single or multi-celled life form. It was the outline of a human hand…in a remote star system never before explored by humans…about 40,000 years old according to the reading on his analyser. From what conventional history taught, there was no such thing as a human older than 35,000 years. Josa thought back to his younger days when he was undergoing religious indoctrination. The religion he belonged to – cult was a better word – still agreed with mainstream thinking about when the human species began.
Other than that, his religion was a bit different from normal religions; it didn’t make any difference if you believed in its principals, once you were in you never got out.
Could his faith in the Xaijorata cult he belonged to, explain this discovery?
CHAPTER 3 - DEALING WITH THE ANCIENT ONE
This treaty certifies the right of Empreorium extraction and mineral exploration vessels to explore and extract naturally occurring matter in the Chenwai Joindasis Region. Only that material described in this document may be brought back to Empreorium space. The removal of any other material is considered illegal and is in violation of this treaty...
Empreorium Chenwai Treaty – time period 29,845 CC, 27,845 GC
Josa and Dreygon set their Startransport on a course to the Althruia spaceport, a remote Chenwai outpost along the Empreorium/Chenwai frontier. They were reviewing the material they had recovered just to make sure they weren't going bonkers. Important parts like the complete skull, face, part of the shoulders and an arm, and some technical looking objects that may belong to him, were enough to start a restoration for the rest of the body in a cloning or birthing container.
“Be careful with that head just in case the brain is still intact.” Josa had practically adopted this ancient person as part of his family.
“Josa,” laughed Dreygon, “You’ve got to be kidding; the chance of any brain surviving tens of thousands of years in an asteroid belt in deep space is practically nil. But I’ll give your imagination full credit.”
Josa ignored him and concentrated on making sure Fumas the biologist, and his android assistant, got the job done properly. Their business owned Fumas who was a C1 clone.
“Is there going to be any problem determining the status?” said Josa.
“I don’t think so other than your impatience,” said Fumas. Josa could accept a little bit of ribbing at the right moments especially when Dreygon was present. Fumas continued with the examination. “We want to be very careful when we examine the brain to make sure our scanning technology doesn’t alter anything. Everything is so delicate.”
“Are you going to use nanobots?”
“Only if these more gentle probing techniques don’t work. Normally they would work on our brains but on this very old one, we have to be extra careful.”
“Better believe it; every little brain cell that’s bad represents lost revenue.” You could almost see Josa adding up all the ‘cells’ on a spreadsheet to confirm the cost per cell.
Fumas continued for another thirty minutes or so, “So far I haven’t seen anything that would cause a memory or brain function loss even though a lot of cells have degraded. The memories and thoughts so far are all recoverable under the right hands and the right technology”. Josa and Dreygon looked at each other with approval.
“You’re kidding,” said Josa.
Five minutes later, the android nodded to Fumas after he completed scanning the brain, “Looks like this brain is recoverable.”
“Are you sure it’s intact,” asked Josa.
“Yes, according to extensive tests I’ve given him, he seems to have an almost perfectly preserved male brain caused by a combination of life preserving chemicals and good insulation due to the surrounding structure of that local environment. Even though some of the brain cells are not in tip top condition, there has not been enough degradation to prevent a restoration of his full mental capacity.”
This time when Josa and Dreygon looked at each other, they had their mouths open.
“You guys look shocked,” said Fumas.
“Do you think we can scan his brain to extract data from it?”
“Well Josa,” said Fumas, “If you do that, you stand the chance of altering the brain cells ever so slightly. The minimum effect would be a slight change in personality. At worst he may never be brought back to life other than using a reconstruction process that creates new brain cells with injected information based on a projected analysis on whatever thoughts and memories have not been degraded.”
“What do you think Dreygon?”
“I think to get the most amount of money out of this find, we should sell him like he is and not get involved with tinkering. Realize this, to the historical organizations around the Empreorium Empire and elsewhere, the information coming out of this person’s head should be preserved to the utmost, and that should preserve our profit to the utmost. That’s what I think.”
Dreygon had a major point. The return on investment was the priority here.
“How old do you think this person is Fumas?”
“I’d say he’s so old, he pre-dates most societies' human creation stories, assuming they have any.”
“Ha, that would certainly put a dent in those stories,” said Dreygon with a smile, “And would make this brain very attractive to the ‘scholarly’ communities around the galaxy and more profitable for our pockets.” Dreygon was not the type to ponder about the afterlife. His heaven was profits today.
“I’ll drink to that,” said Josa.
“So will I,” said Dreygon.
“I don’t drink,” said Fumas.
“There is one little problem,” said Martineau. Martineau, the first officer of the vessel, was quietly sitting in the corner of the room having a little snack listening to Josa and Dreygon. “The area we picked this up in was Chenwai territory, and they have us registered as having visited there, and now we want to sell it in the Empreorium Empire? As far as I remember, you people want to go back there to pick up more ores and minerals and deliver equipment. That means we’ll be a couple of weeks before we can get back to try to sell this corpse.”
“Can we sell it to the Chenwai?” said Josa.
“I don’t think so. If they find this valuable enough, they could just claim that we weren’t licensed to ‘extract’ for this sort of thing and then take this ancient person away from us, and we won’t get anything in return,” said Martineau.
“Well, we can hide it somewhere on this vessel so they don’t find out,” said Dreygon.
“That could happen, but I’m sure you know they spot check about 25% of vessels coming into that port we’re going to, to look for anything unusual. And the scanners they have are first rate.” Josa felt like he was in a gambling casino trying to figure what the odds were of any plan he conjured up.
“I know what to do,” said Fumas. “Do not go to the Althruia spaceport; simply dump the big ore load you got last week on an isolated moon where you can get it back, and then take the ancient person directly to the Empreorium. The money you’ll get for this find will be so much more than the ore you’re going to dump...it’s not even worth considering.”
“I think you’re getting your money's worth out of that clone of yours,” said Martineau.
“All right, let’s dump this load.” Josa wasn’t even going to wait for an isolated moon to come up; he was going to dump the ore in orbit right now.
After leaving the ore behind, everyone went about their duties and a new course was ‘almost’ set for the Empreorium, until Martineau pointed out something else.
“You know Josa, there is still one little snag to consider,” said Martineau.
“What’s that?” said Josa.
“The Chenwai Confederation can still find out what’s going on by asking the Empreorium why we went directly back to their sector and didn’t dock in Chenwai territory as scheduled. They may get so suspicious, they’ll demand to see what’s in our Startransport, and you know they have the legal right to do so. As a matter of fact, we are supposed to be at Althruia spaceport in about six days while going to the Empreorium will take much longer than that. Now that I think of it, for sure they will demand to know and may be even waiting for us when we dock in the closest Empreorium port from here.”
Josa quietly contemplated the situation and realized Martineau was right. He usually was…most of the time. The Chenwai were always on the alert for any improper procedures since they were highly mistrustful of dealing with Empreorium subjects.
“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we,” said Josa as he cancelled the new course and maintained the old one.