Redemption

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Science Fiction
In the far future, space explorers discover strange civilizations in an obscure corner of the Milky Way.

Sequel to SCARLET BEAST, OF DOGS AND MEN, EDEN DELETED, and THE END OF THE WORLD. Continues in FORWARD TO THE PAST.

Submitted: March 21, 2016

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Submitted: March 21, 2016

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2716 A.D.

 

“Sir!.. Star system ahead!”

The young Navigator’s voice was hoarse with childish excitement. The spaceship was close to completing a long and largely uneventful voyage across the Milky Way. Most of the galaxy’s constellation arms were sparsely inhabited. Exploring one empty star system after another was as tiresome as going through long rows of identical cans in hope of finding one with some food in it. Even the Captain had nearly lost his patience.

Things started to look more interesting when they began cruising in and around a curiously shaped belt about twenty-five thousand light years away from the galactic center. They had discovered a beautiful planet populated entirely by fairly small quadruped, fur-covered, halfway sentient mammals; according to the Universal Translator, these creatures called themselves “sons of bitches” and were very proud of that designation. The Captain mentioned interstellar cooperation, but they did not seem to comprehend that concept. In the end their loud, incessant barking had become unbearable.

“Clearly unredeemed,” the Captain concluded, returning to the ship. “Still waiting for the Anointed One. Let’s move on, and somebody get me a cup of coffee already.”

Not too far from that planet was another star system bursting with activity. It was inhabited by aliens boasting three genders and a confusing number of various appendages. The aborigines went by the nickname “Voz” and readily admitted that they had been colonized by a race of advanced space travelers two thousand years ago. The level of their scientific knowledge was disproportionally high compared to their spiritual development, even though they possessed old religious books written in the ancient languages of the colonizers, “Russian” and “English”.

“I like those guys,” the Psychologist declared when the ship took off. “Especially the three-gender thing. Man... think of all the possibilities.”

“Very funny,” the Captain said. “How about some Redemption evaluation instead?”

“I’d say they might have had an indirect contact with the Anointed One,” the Psychologist said seriously. “Maybe that fellow Alexei Men, the one who founded their civilization, can be considered a messenger of sorts. I’m just saying.”

The Captain was somewhat taken aback by that suggestion. Classification of civilizations by Redemption status was no easy task, and that corner of the Milky Way seemed to contain the oddest cases they had encountered so far.

But the biggest surprises were still ahead. The travelers came upon a planet with a horribly mutilated surface, as if a giant monster had walked on it, stamping and demolishing everything in its path. There was nothing left except hideously deformed landscape. The Navigator had a strange nightmare the following night, replete with war cries and blood.

The triple star system also housed a strange planet with nothing but a lone dome-shaped laboratory standing on one of its continents.

“Now that’s really weird,” the Historian said, observing sterile corridors and complex equipment held in pristine condition. There was no trace of life in the laboratory. “I’d even say scary. Where… where is everyone?”

The Captain carefully plugged into a strangely looking device placed at the very center of the building. For several minutes he just stood there, seemingly enchanted by what he saw. After he disconnected, he didn’t say a word and briskly walked out of the laboratory. Only a few hours later, when they were on the way, he shared his experience with the rest of the crew.

“I don’t understand,” the Captain said. “This must be a new technique of… creation? If I dare say so.”

“What are you talking about?” the Psychologist asked impatiently.

The Captain shook his head.

“That device… it contained a whole world. A whole programmed world, with creatures who are machines for all purposes, but have a free will. Some of them worship a being they call Oduya. I’m fairly certain that’s their real creator. The owner of that lab.”

“But how is this possible…” the Psychologist began.

The Captain raised his hand.

“That’s not all,” he said. “Comparing evidence and data from the other inhabited planets we have visited, I am convinced that this mysterious Oduya, the civilizing hero Alexei Men, and the deities of those barking savages all belong to the same race of sentient creatures. And something tells me they are connected to that destroyed planet as well. ”

They went silent for a moment.

“Wow,” the Historian said finally. “That’s… incredible. Are you saying God-like power was given to one race? Can Redemption even go that far?”

“I don’t know what I think,” the Captain said abruptly. “All I know is that this whole trip was useless if we don’t find the origin planet of that super-race and establish contact.”

They stumbled upon an inconspicuous, medium-sized bluish planet only a few days later. It was orbiting a modest yellow dwarf and at first appeared civilized – even monstrously so, according to the Historian. Ruins of grotesquely tall structures, veritable nightmares of glass and concrete, covered large portions of the surface. It was clear that once great powers had thriven here; a single look upon any of the demolished gigantic cities convinced the crew that they finally found what they’d been looking for all along.

But there was no life on that planet.

No sentient creatures of any kind. No animals. No plants. The atmosphere contained heavy doses of radioactive substances. The planet was dead, suffocated by heaps of inorganic matter of various kinds, a few hard to discover fossils, and many large skeletons, probably belonging to an unknown species of mammals. It was the most depressing view the space explorers had ever been exposed to.

They stayed for a few weeks. The young Navigator aimlessly wandered through deserted streets, inexplicable longing and sadness overcoming him. The Captain seemed to be more addicted to coffee than usually. The Psychologist was puzzled and angry because he could not fathom a civilization that would indulge itself in self-destructive megalomania. In all his years of studying and practicing interstellar psychology he had never encountered such a case.

After a few days, the Historian discovered a damaged communication system, which he eventually managed to restore. Once they had gained access to the Web, the history of the planet, recorded in a multitude of documents, was finally revealed to them.

Later that day, they sat in the spaceship dining room, and for a long while none of them could speak.

“I… I don’t know what to say,” the Captain said finally, his voice trembling.

Everyone was silent.

“They…” the Captain tried again and coughed violently.

They didn’t utter another word about what they had found until the spaceship took off. In a monotonous voice, as though mourning the death of a beloved person, the Historian dictated the report.

“The inhabitants of Planet RZ-31173, having fallen from Grace, were blessed by the first Advent of the Anointed One two thousand seven hundred years ago. The nominal acceptance of Redemption reached its peak about five hundred years later. However, while the documentation of the Advent continued to spread, eventually becoming known to the planet’s entire population, the inhabitants remained overwhelmingly ignorant of the consequences. By and large, they chose to reject the Redemption plan by refusing to cooperate.

The organization responsible for the practical application of the plan was gradually turning more and more corrupt. This resulted in numerous betrayals and splits, which eventually led to grave disappointment among the inhabitants. This, in turn, caused a severe psychological disease of unseen proportions. The inhabitants began to focus on themselves entirely, as though they had created themselves or were randomly spawned by blind natural forces. In fact, mythological concepts furthering such simplistic and illogical explanations concerning the origin of the world were flourishing by the end of nineteenth century following the Advent. The mental damage was so strong that the subsequent century found itself plagued by horrifying wars conducted in the name of ideologies rooted in steady denial of any evidence pointing to the Advent and its consequences.

Later decades of the twenty-first century saw a consolidation of three political entities, each vehemently resisting the Redemption plan by either perverting, ignoring, or obfuscating it. The lack of any true local spiritual guidance resulted in mass dissatisfaction and mounting tension. A few individuals still recognizing the Advent left the planet. We have observed the results of their activities in the nearby star systems. As for the Planet RZ-31173, the global disruption of the Web in the year 2121 makes it impossible to determine its fate during the following six hundred years with certainty. It is highly likely that a devastating war had contaminated the planet’s atmosphere with lethal levels of radiation, rendering further organic life improbable.

We have established that the defining motive for the aforementioned unfathomable actions was a highly destructive and very rare state of mind, of which even our esteemed Psychologist has only theoretical knowledge. In the documentation of the inhabitants of Planet RZ-31173, it is described with the word pride.”

When the Historian finished no one could speak. The spaceship was heading towards their home planet, and the relief was so palpable that they felt ashamed. They had witnessed a tragedy they could not grasp, and they knew nothing would ever be the same again. When their homeland was already in sight, the Psychologist said quietly, standing near the Captain and admiring the beautiful celestial glow:

“Do you think they were… you know… redeemed? After everything they’d done? I mean, they did get those amazing chances… Meeting other sentient beings. Even creating…”

The Captain looked at him.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asked, concerned. “You know as well as I do that He wants to save everyone. But you also know what free will means, don’t you? So… it’s an open drama, my friend. A play where we can choose our roles, but not change the script.”

“True,” the Psychologist mumbled. “But… we’ll pray for them, alright?”

“Way ahead of you,” the Captain said seriously, then added: “You know what I really want right now?”

“A cup of coffee?” the Psychologist said and rolled his eyes.

The Captain smiled. They hugged each other firmly with all eight tentacles, changed their skin colors to festive bright blue, and floated downstairs to the dining room.

 

THE END


© Copyright 2017 Oleg Roschin. All rights reserved.

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