It has been more than a hundred years since the capsule arrived on Earth with its message for humans to heed the warning of an unknown alien from some far away planet.
Many strides have been made on Earth since that time, and space exploration has become common place for Earthlings. The capsule only served to make mankind even more curious about what lay beyond our own universe.
Knowing that intelligent life forms existed somewhere in the realm of space; confirmed what had long been believed by many on planet Earth. Though the message had not given any clues as to where these beings were in relationship to us; it was decided that if they had existed; there could be others out there.
All the powerful nations were determined to find the capsule's place of origin, and learn more of its inhabitants. It is the year 2175 when a team of thirty men and women made up of American; Japanese and Russian space explorers left the base on Mars and traveled through a worm hole, which scientists believed would take the crew through a portal to a new universe. I, CaptainMartin Stone commanded the space ship Olympia II on the voyage to find that unknown planet and learn of the sender of the capsule. On that journey;we would discover their beliefs were correct. We found the worm hold in space and set our course straight for it; knowng it would take a full decade to reach; we went in to suspended sleep. Our ship would wake us once we approached within one month of our destination.
After awakening; we spent our time charting new constalations and taking soil samples from some of the small planets we were going by. No signs of life noted on any of them.
Finally we reached the opening of the large worm hole and prepared to enter; with anticipation and some amount of fear. We were shooting through it as if fired from a lazer gun on full blast.
Coming out the hole we saw a galaxy never before seen by the eyes of Earthlings. A vast number of smaller planets, with one large planet just beyond them, loomed into view. The smaller planets appeared barren; with atmospheres of toxic gases surrounding them; no orbiting sun or moon. Deep craters in them almost looked as if mining had taken place on them; since there appeared to be a pattern of trenches over their suface.
Our readings told us that the largest planet contained all the conditions necessary to sustain human life. I ordered the robotic probes to be sent to its surface, to determine if life might exist on the planet. As the ship drifted above, the probes sent back images of what looked to be structures on the planet surface. In the decades of space explorations this was the first planet that closely resembled Earth and suggested life forms had, or still were living on the planet.
The planet had two moons and one large sun in its orbit; and the excitement of the crew mounted as they maneuvered the space ship to make a possible landing on the surface if it was determined to be safe. For several days we were glued to the images being sent back to us via the probes. There were indeed structures that had to have been built by intelligent beings; although none were seen in any of the images. What we did see brough emotions of sorrow and profound pity for the people that had lived there.
Metal buildings twisted and fallen, what appeared to be above ground structures meant for transportation snarled and hanging over the city like a decaying octopus.Vehicles that looked like min-space shuttels scattered all about;.and all of this beneath a beautiful pale blue sky that was the only thing that appeared normal amonst all the ruins that lay below. How could such an advanced race of beings just be wiped off the planet like this? I wondered as I viewed the images.
"What do you think happened down there sir?" First Lt. Ian Strabuliski asked Chief Captain, Martin Stone.
"I don't know; it looks as if a war took place maybe; from the look of the buildings and the amount of destruction we're seeing."
"Are we going down there to check it our sir?"
"I think we are Lieutenant, but the landing party will be geared up. We don't know what took place down there. If this is the origin of the capsule, there would have been a lot of sickness; and who knows what else that could be dangerous to the crew. If it wiped out an entire planet, we don't want to chance bringing a virus back on board the ship or contamination from radiation."
Two days later, a landing crew of six men and three women; comprised of myself, two scientists; two medical officers, and First Lieutenant Strabuliski.
Once landing on the surface of the planet,we broke into two teams of three each. I took Medic, Lamar Davis and Scientist Sharon Dewitt with me and Lt. Strabuliski took Medic, James Talbot, and Scientist Dr.Evan Ziegler Phd. We headed for some of the few buildings left standing.
Rubble lay in the streets, and dust disturbed by the first beings to walk them in perhaps centuries,curled around our feet andcreated a surreal feeling as we traveled through a ghost city built by aliens long dead.
The scientist took readings for gases and radiation along withsoil samples to analyze later, while I proceeded into a building that stretched toward the sky like the long finger of a skeleton; of what was once a vibrant city.
I saw just beyond the entrance rows of chairs and a large screen that covered a whole wall in front of them. A symbol depicting the planet with it sun and moons was inlaid into the stone floor in front of a stairway leading to the second floor. There were words surrounding the symbol that appeared much like my own English language; reading, EQUALITY and HARMONY for ALL WHO DWELL ON CENTARIOUS.
"My God, it is like a parallel Earth." I thought as I read the words around the symbol. No strange letters made up of symbols; no evidence of little green men; nothing like the perceptions that had been perpetuated for generations back on earth.
Just then Medic Talbot came in to report that no poisonous gases or radiation was apparent in the readings taken by the Scientists.
"We'll have to wait for the soil and other samples to be analyzed to be sure there are no infectious diseases left for us to worry about before losing the protective gear though. "
"Sounds good Talbot, let's go up to the next level. This appears to be some type of government building. Maybe there will be something up there that can tell us more about the poor souls that lived on this hunk of rock."
"Sir, we're on another planet in a whole new universe; so how is it I can read the writing on this floor? Aren't aliens supposed to speak in some kind of weird language or something?"
"I'm beginning to think many of our conceptions may be proven wrong today Medic Talbot."
We walked up the flight of stairs to a long hallway where doors with no handles confronted us. It looked similar to the doors on our ship; with a pad on the wall beside it containing numeric symbols; needing electric power to make them work.
"Well, if there is no power in the city, then we should be able to force the door open." I said.
With some struggle, we were able to open the door which led to another door, but it had a handle and swung open easily. We stood there looking at what appeared to be a residence. Not at all what I expected to find in this official looking building.
A sofa and several chairs sat in the room, tables; a screen like the one downstairs except not as large; everything you would expect to see in a home on Earth.
Three dementional images hung on the walls of a young woman and a slightly older appearing young, man; along with images of what I assumed were their parents. The young woman looked tall and intelligent; not studious, but with a graceful look of deep thought in her cobalt blue eyes.
The father wore some type of uniform, perhaps military or an important government official. There was a medallion hung on green and gold ribbon around his neck. He was distinguished looking with his graying hair and beard, and blue eyes. The wife was elegant looking in her red gown that touched the floor. Her hair was shoulder length and blond. She had a sweet smile on her lips as she stood by her husband, glancing slightly upwards toward him.
We continued into other rooms; until we reached a room appearing to be an office or study. A desk with detailed carvings sat in front of the window; papers were neatly arranged to one side; yellowed with age. Everything in the home covered in dust; but tidy and in place; as if the residents had just disappeared one day and left things as they planned to be right back. I walked over to the desk in an attempt to read the papers. The dust was too thick to make out what it said on the paper, so I blew across them and the top page turned to dusty particles flying up from the desk.
A device sat in the middle of the desk that resembled Earth computellers, with voice activation and viewing screen meant to speed information data as well as transmit communications globally.
"Sir, it seems these people were human, exactly like us. If I didn't know better I'd swear we were back on Earth."
"It is spooky Talbot, that's for damn sure. Let's head back to meet up with the others; we'll come back tomorrow and take a longer look around. I want to see what the others have found."
The Lieutenant and his team met them outside with an excited looks on their faces.
"Sir, you're not going to believe this, but we found evidence that these aliens were extremely advanced to the point of genetically engineering humans, or human-like beings; just as we are only a few years away from being able to do on Earth. Apparently they've been doing it for a thousand years from the data we found in the building."
"What else did you find? Anything on how this civilization perished?"
"Not yet sir, but we have something called THEDOCUMENT it tells how these people came here and colonized this planet after their world was destroyed by war. It seems they tried to create a perfect new world here; one with "Equality and Peace" as their foundation. Looks like they failed, huh sir?"
Scientist Turishobi stepped forward to fill the Captain in on everything they had seen. To him, the finds regarding genectics and the labs was something that Earth could use in their own research.
"It appears that this race was able to engineer everything from hair and eye color, gender and specific intellect capabilities, to creating some of the most intelligent scholars and government leaders that their world had ever known. Einstein's brain would have paled in comparison to the scientists and doctors they were able to produce in their laboratories. It is imperative that we bring back all the data we've found and share it with our world. It could put us light years ahead in our attempts!"
"Don't worry Professor Turishobi; we will have our cargo bays full before we leave this planet. Let's get back to base camp and let the crew on board the ship know we'll be staying down here for awhile. We'll need more teams and supplies brought down as well. Make sure those samples get sent back on one of the probes Turishobi."
"I'll make sure testing on them begins right away sir."
The next morning the rest of the men, needed to search though the city,arrived with enough supplies to last at least a week. After word spread through the ship about what was found the day before; everyone wanted a chance to go down to the planet's surface. Twelve essential engineers and technicians, along with the second in command stayed on the ship, while twelve came down to join us.
Once the teams were divided up, we all set out to cover as much of the city as we could; carrying containers for the collection of artifacts and other important discoveries.
Maps were found that named the twenty-five sectors of the planet. If they were correct,our crew was in the city Azar, the capital of the largest sector of Danairus.
In what was left of their Library of Knowledge; documents and writings were discovered that told much of the history of world its people lived in. Skeletal remains were found scattered through the city; so delicate that when touched they crumbled and turned to dust; just as the papers I had found the day before. It was obvious this city; this world, had died hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago.
When light began to fade and night was approaching, I informed all search groups to head back to base camp.
Each group had gathered a wealth of information as they found out later that evening. Discussions were exuberant and all wanted to tell of their finds at once;going into the late night hours.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I know how exciting this is to us and to mankind; but we still have much to do here. I received word that no bacteria or desease was found, but I think we should stay with the gear; there could still be something here that we can't even test for. Tomorrow will be another long day; so let's get some sleep."
I lay in my cot that night unable to get the images of that family out of my head. I too had a wife, a daughter and a son; though my children were younger than those in the pictures. I couldn't help but think what if something happened on Earth that wiped out my loved ones.
Wars continued back home; gone on for centuries without resolution for either side. So many lives wasted; so much young potential slain or bleeding on Earth's soil. For what; some oil fields in land so parched by the hot sun that nothing would grow there? I had seen enough burned out rocks out here in space; I didn't want my planet to become one of them one day.
Governments had not taken the capsule's message seriously; they viewed it as a revelation of life beyond the boundaries of our existence. It was more a prized artifact than warning for us. My very profession came about as a result of that capsule; up to that point the manned space program was up for termination.
Would our world end up like this one? I wondered. Tired,I finally drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, because of my lingering thoughts of that building and the family who had lived there;I decided to go back there first. Taking a small team with me,we reached the building and went up to the dwelling floor. I went back to the study where I had seen the papers on the desk. I leaned in close to see the faded writing; it had some sort of seal embossed at the bottom. Beneath the seal I could make out a signature; Jude of Azar, Chancellor of Sector Five.
Apparently this letter was written to the other twenty-four Chancellors of the world; urging them all to attend a global meeting to discuss possible means of slowing the progression of climate changes that were happening due to pollution; and address the severe water crisis that threatened to have a catastrophic effect on crop production on a planetary scale. I sat down in the same chair that this man called Jude sat in when composing that letter. It all sounded too familiar to the me. That letter could have been written yesterday on Earth. I opened the desk drawer to take my mind away from the letter. Among the normal things one would keep in their desk drawer; I found a journal. For some reason I carefully turned to the last journal entry.
Month Six , Year 40115
Our world is crumbling around me; harmony no longer exists, it is a long forgotten and useless word. Death and destruction unlike anything I could have dreamed of in my worst nightmare. More than three quarters of the population of our planet is dead; and soon all will be decaying on our once fertile ground.
My wife Fayla, along with my son Dekulos and my sweet daughter Dara succumbed to illness four days ago. I could not bear to place them of the fires; I took them instead to our little home in Danark and buried them beneath the only tree still standing on the property. It was our refuge before all of this began. They are safe there and I will join them soon again. I will rest my head on their graves and plead for their forgiveness before I too die.
I was a Chancellor of the third sector; and responsible for the protection of its thirty-five million citizens. I failed in my duties and dulled my mind to the warnings of a few; for the rewards of many. I did nothing; until our fate was already sealed; too late to realize and correctthe mistakes. We thought ourselves so intelligent, so advanced, that our so called progress far outweighed any concerns voiced by those few who said we were destroying the planet. We thought ourselves invincible; and our methods flawless. We had hand chosen the traits needed to make this world great in our own labs; how could we fail?
All that I can do is warn another world; not to make our mistakes and repeat history all over again.
There is a planet known as Earth; I have visited from time to time; the first as a youth with my father. Our world has watched them evolve and forge their way through the centuries; making slower progress than we; but surely heading for the same great achievements one day. Now, I wish that they were back in their beginning primitive state; knowing nothing of technology or progress of the heights we reached. Arrogance, the plague of destruction, must not reach them.
Tonight I sent a capsule with the only warning I could give them. Whether it makes a difference of not, I will never know for my fever has begun and my days can be counted on my one hand.
Why I have bothered with a last entry to my journal, I do not know; perhaps it brings me some form of familiarity when there is nothing left familiar around me. With it finished I will join my family tonight in Danark.
I held the journal in my hands for a long time before carefully wrapping it and tucking it into my bag.I knew I had found what I was sent to find; the sender of the capsule and the story behind the death of the planet called Centarious. Their constant need to expand their knowledge only led them to thier own demise. With all that I saw while on the planet; I had to wonder, if indeed, we on Earth were heading toward the same fate.
After one more day of gathering, the crews and I returned to our ship and set a course for Earth. Would the leaders of the ourworld heed a second warning?