Day One: For mile upon mile I have staggered through this harsh
birds of such span that I hid in fright under dark trees. Long creepers
dangle in my hair as I push under thick growth; tickling my scalp like
fingers. In the night slugs invade, and I stand and shake hourly to release
flinging them back to the moist ground--falling back into nightmares when
takes me again. I hope someday to find a clean, flat rock where they
will not search
My only solace is that, while I am alone, I do have something to write
on, and a pen
to write with. I wish there had been more in my jacket aside from
this paper booklet
and the few odds and ends which were stuffed inside of it. The first
half of the book
is filled with handwriting in a language that I cannot read.
There are smooth black discs that I pass nearly daily, which are writ with
signs, sweeping and curling; their meaning eludes me. Feasting on
plants--feeling cold in my bones--I wish for a bright fire, and the laughter
friends. Friend seems to my mind a strange word, and I feel
that there are none
Sometimes in my time before sleep, as I wrestle my way into the warm, dank
I stare into the sky and watch the cold blue moons rise from behind the
It was in the last month of 2304 that we lost the station to them.
They came from nowhere-appearing only as sudden blips in the holo tank a mere 10
parsecs from the inner defense grid. It was Comm officer Degon Malick who
spotted them first, and the hail he sent them went unanswered.
At this point, the captain of the station was on his way down the drop
chute. The captain’s name was Renner, and he’d been on-station since the turnover
at year’s midpoint. Although history records that Renner was sleeping
when the call came from Central, it appears that he responded to the summons with alacrity.
He made it to Central within 2 minutes of the call. Unknown to the
crew or the civilians there were two unknown quantities out there, not one. The first
fleet of 204 Halcon ships had been followed in immediately by what appeared to be a hydrogen
cloud hovering 4000 kilometers off Ganymede. At the time, the cloud
went unnoticed. The crew was too busy calling up long-unused defense strategies for
the auto defense system.
When Captain Renner arrived at Central, his Second-a Major named
Trish Cavanaugh-notified him of the status of the Halcon fleet.
They were closing at 1000 klicks a minute, and would arrive off the Jupiter side of the station
in less than 90 seconds.
We first came to the system only to observe what Ka'alel had wrought
past many-seasons. It was Ka'alel' wish before he moved
to his radiance that
the creatures be cared for and protected until he could return in
and finish his work. None of those in the inner world of the
the purpose of Ka'alel's work, but he had worked on the project
since he was
Ranked to Senior, and it was obvious that the culmination of so
thousands of turns could not simply be abandoned to chance.
When we arrived at the system, called simply Ka'alel's system, we were
surprised to note that an inferior, inbred race from many stars away had
arrived at nearly the same time. We watched carefully as the race
approached one of the creatures' outer edges, for we knew the race to be
hostile and wished to study their hostility. All knew that if Ka'alel's
were to be damaged by the race it would be a simple matter to call back
forms from the continuum, and to place them once again in their fragile
Inside the shell we sensed that there was one who controlled, and this
interesting to us. We wanted to see how one being, alone, could control
many. So we waited.
Day Two: If I could lie down and die, I would. But something
causes me to rise each
morning and face this fetid world again, whatever world this may be.
sore on my head is healing slowly, and distant memories trickle like sand
thoughts. I did not always walk through this jungle of slime.
There was a time . . . it
escapes me . . . when I did important things, in a clean, dry place.
When I rise, shivering, to gaze on the cool white glow of the morning sky,
are mixed with nightmare, and I make no progress in my identity.
through the wet green plants-seeing a valley far below wreathed in red
branches at small blue snakes which bite through my tattered clothing,
sink their fangs in and suck blood. I haven't much time for reflection.
It may be that I am a man.
I remember calling myself such a thing. I have arms, fingers, and
toes; I know these
are important parts of being a man. But, I cannot see my face.
I rub my fingers
lightly over the scarred contours below my eyes, and I don't remember these.
I wish for some cool water.
Day Three: The next dawn moves me on toward the falling blue moons.
I follow the
moons; I don't know why. There is something inside me telling me
I must. Snapping
cracked bark from a tall, moss-covered tree, I chew as I walk.
Looking up through the breaks in the foliage I glimpse the sky. It
is important, the
sky. I feel deep within myself a link with the endless reaches beyond.
moments I gaze deep into the whiteness of it.
Today I found a new thing. A spiral-carved, fluted pole twice my
own girth. It had
been wrapped in the thickening, fibrous growth of eons, and it looked so
place-a constructed relic sitting in the middle of a vast jungle.
I dug beneath the
wet, green ivy and through the brown dead stuff beneath. The pole
was smooth and
yet not. In a frenzy of anger at my predicament I tore away a portion
of the leafy
covering-underneath were the same strange symbols and curves which I had
on the black discs.
A plateau of unnatural evenness was laid out behind the column. I
attempted to dig
away the many layers of thick, spongy ivy, but night was falling and its
made me fear to dig further, unknown creatures may have lurked in the depths
In a new discovery I find no slugs in this vicinity; I will lay down to
sleep here-rid of
that nightly terror.
When the Halcon fleet neared the inner perimeter and showed no signs
of stopping, Captain Renner ordered that a warning shot be fired off the bow
of the nearest incoming vessel. We have no way of knowing what was on his
mind in that moment, but quite probably the speed of the fleet and its continued silence
caused Renner to fear the worst. It was, after all, the first time anything
Xenological had been seen in the history of mankind, and man always fears what he cannot understand.
The unstable isotopes in the searing blast of radiation did nothing
to slow or otherwise persuade the ships to halt. And as they continued
in through the perimeter, the automated satellites began raining death down on
them. We were not aware at the time that the Halcon people had no trouble absorbing
vast amounts of radiation, nor that their ships were specially sealed against
radiation because of the vast quantities that poured from the star their home world circled.
When close-up holos of the leading ships showed gun barrels emerging
from within their bowels, and none of the fleet appeared to take any damage
from the satellites, Renner decided to bring out the big guns. They weren’t technically
guns, as I’m sure you all know, and they were most effective when used to carve
out huge chunks of iron ore from the asteroids surrounding Jupiter, but every one
was worth twenty satellites.
When we saw that the approaching fleet was assuredly intending violence
many of us turned our minds from theirs. We ourselves had
violence in a long-ago past, but it had been many eons since we
had seen true
examples of this behavior, and we simply couldn’t absorb it without
complications shuddering through our inner Gathering. Some
of us who
could face the situation continued to study the one in control,
and we felt his
initial indecision as well as the moment when he made his judgment.
It was an odd concept, this idea of singular judgment. We have
Gathered for so long that there is not one of us who can remember
long-ago time when we ourselves made decisions this way. There
in the plurality of our decisions; we know no discontent because
we all make
decisions as one. We are one, and the individuality of Ka’alel’s
as alien to us as the violence we shed in our ancient past.
The attacking beings were serving a purpose for the creatures though.
were warning the creatures of the infinite dangers that would await them
they advanced further from their home world. In a decision we made
as thought itself, we decided that should the attackers triumph, we would
restore the continuum.
Day Four: I awoke to chittering sound, one among many, it
is the first sound I have
heard which seems like something other than an insect. Resembling
echoes through the still and empty morning.
There is a strange beauty in this hanging valley. Far below I can
see clear water
rushing through a gorge, mostly hidden by huge green ferns and drooping
cuts deep into its channel. Spread out across the horizon are mountains,
and rolling, rippling with color-almost as if they are alive.
I feel that there must be something under this flat precipice of ivy.
I will dig
beneath the wet mass of greenery until I find the surface beneath.
The sun is high in the sky now, but when I look I see no orb, only a brightly
above, as if the brilliance is so much that it obscures the source.
Much of one space
I have cleared, and in the end, when my hand touched rock-clearing away
grit-I found cool smoothness beneath. It was all I could have hoped
By darkness I had cleared a patch of the sward, and I lay on a cool, smooth
stone: a dream come true in this decaying hothouse.
Day Five: I slept well last night, under the star-thick sky, but
in the morning I awoke
and saw that gelatinous strands of multi-colored web had been strung above
shelter in the moist leaves. I felt trapped momentarily, but that
did not last long. I
ripped apart the web with a long stick. I know I have much more work
ahead if I am
to clear the stone. I will fashion a tool to help me in my work.
Day Ten: Days seem to move by in quick flashes of light, and
by the end of each
day more of my private slab has been cleared. A slab it is, a deeply
set plateau of
solid green stone, the length and breadth of which is far beyond my meager
Underneath the vast tangle of ferns, brush, and ivy, chiseled into the
rock, are the
same symbols I have seen before. And more.
Alien pictures, which to my brain are meaningless, are placed inside small,
boxes which are set in deep, square holes. Even though I know that
my memory has
left me, I am sure that I have never seen anything like these carvings
resemble a many-armed globe, sharp tendrils protruding from the top.
that I could feel their power.
A chill came over me as I put my hand in a box, and I stepped away from
hole in the slab. In my mind I felt a presence, it flickered, and
The ways in which men mine asteroids have changed little in the years
since the attack on Jupiter Station, so many of you may have seen the type
of weapon which the Captain unleashed on the Halcon. Huge synthetic crystals
focus a laser of intense power over many klicks of space. The heat at the end
of the laser is more potent than that in a nuclear reaction, and much more focused.
Ten of the crew jumped to the mining control panels and took control
of them. In seconds, bright spears of green light began cutting through the
vessels that sped toward the station. And the approaching fleet answered in
kind-their guns discharging bright blue pulses which exploded as they slammed into
the station. Damage reports flooded Central: -Eight construction workers die in vacuum when
their bulkhead implodes. -Shrapnel from a shattered viewport rips through a
family at breakfast. -A storage freighter docked at the station explodes,
all hands lost. -The nuclear reactor powering the station begins to
crack at a seam.
Renner issued fast and furious commands to those manning the mining
for all their talent, and all their speed, all they could do was cut thin
destruction through the massive fleet that sat off Jupiter-side, firing
and firing and
firing with perfect synchronicity.
The entirety of the violent attack was more than we expected.
attackers and the attacked sought to kill each other with wild abandon.
moved closer to the attacking fleet and entered their thought stream.
found that they too were a collective of a sort, but that they lacked
a sense of
consciousness. They worked as automatons, blindly following
to consume and destroy.
The one who controlled in the shell was becoming unstable, and we felt
too. There was decision. This one should be preserved in order
to carry the
message back to the rest of Ka’alel’s creatures: that there is danger in
stars. And we also became convinced that his creatures could not
further attacks from the inbred species that now threatened their shell.
thought upon what aid we might give the creatures, or if we should, but
was not yet consensus. Events had not fully played out and we decided
so much: We would preserve the controller in a safe place, far from the
danger. If it became necessary we would restore him to the continuum.
that he would spend time on our abandoned homeworld and perhaps know us
better. We did not know if any such revelations had been in Ka’alel’s
for he had long separated himself from us. But it was now our decision
Day Eleven: Today something made me stop and think deeply, I grasped
hold of a
thorny branch near my ramshackle sleep-hole. Visions flooded my mind:
Endless reaches of dark space lighted with stars and distant
points of moving light. A huge
form draped in black, fire spewing from its hand, and a shining,
chitinous shape lurking somewhere beyond sight.
Then . . . a flash of white light.
. . and I am back at my hole, mud sucking at my bare feet, blood running
arm, and thorns in my palm. Sleep will not come easy tonight.
Day Twelve: If the chittering in the morning is bad, the mewling
at night is
worse--a long hollow sound which cries its anguish out through the darkness.
nights seem too long here, as if I am used to much less sleep.
Visions continue to plague me: shining silver shapes, clicking metal machinery,
figure waving from far away . . . a symbol maybe, and a face.
The face means
something to me, I'm sure that it does, and it brings a feeling so deep
that it has broken through some of the block that holds my mind.
In my dreams it
sometimes comes to me . . . smiling.
Day Fourteen: The memories intrude on nearly every waking moment
sleeping hours are spent between howling nightmares and gasping breaths.
not know how much longer I can take it.
Day Fifteen: A discovery last night . . . blissful relief
at last. In some forgotten
nightmare I climbed from my stone bed and wandered far down the sward to
another section of the stone. The area was clear, although I know that
I did not do it.
I found myself sleeping comfortably, feeling warm and safe. I must
that when I woke this morning I was struck nearly dumb with terror at finding
entombed in the deep hole. The dread lasted only a short while though,
and then I
was pleased-it was my first good sleep in days.
Day Seventeen: The chittering sounds seem to have abated with my
arrangement. At night I cuddle down into my hole, staring vacantly
moonlight at the indecipherable glyphs etched in the wall, and sleep peacefully.
But now the nightmares have invaded my waking hours, and I feel a sense
It is not as if something is going to happen, but rather that something
happened. I fear to discover what it may be . . . or was.
As the attack continued unabated, dozens of the enemy ships broke formation
and landed on the outer hull of the station. Although those on
the station didn’t know it at the time, we now know that they were armed boarding parties.
According to visual logs in the black box left behind after everything was over, these
parties consisted of alien beings which were extremely insect-like. Some have
said that they resembled the cockroaches on Earth. These beings, however,
walked upright and carried sinuously curved heavy artillery. Their bodies themselves
were their armor; they wore no clothing.
It is debatable whether or not the aliens had any knowledge of nuclear
power as a resource. It may be that they only saw nuclear reaction as
an irritating by-product of the sun their world orbited. In any case, their ships continued
firing on the station long after it was disabled. They appeared not to care if they
wounded their own boarding parties. As a consequence of this obliteration, their
pulsing torpedoes soon reached the nuclear reactor, and the station exploded like
a supernova--taking everything within 1200 klicks with it to its death.
The wife that Renner left behind on Earth swore that he was not dead,
that he would return, but nobody believed her. Jupiter Station was deemed a total
loss; its destruction went unexplained for some time.
We witnessed a destruction there in Ka’alel’s system. An unleashing
so primitive and dangerous that we abandoned them even before we
abandoned our corporeal bodies. We decided that any species using
dangerous technology did indeed need our help.
We took the controller to our home world and examined him in corporeal
so that we would not frighten him with our invisibility. We found him to
most eloquent if exceedingly primitive creation. For the sake of Ka’alel
brought him from non-existence to existence and left him for a short time
while we gathered thought to create material from matter.
When we contacted the creature he seemed most disturbed. Apparently
had lost some of his memory functions. We soon restored these.
He will take one of our solarships back to his home world and explain to
rest of the creatures what has happened. We feel that doing this
increase their chances of survival.
And now we leave the system alone for a time.
It waits for the return of Ka’alel; that he might bring order from their
Day Eighteen: A storm rolled in last night. It wreaked a vengeance
on the hillside
where I have been working. I watched it coming for hours, boiling
like a cauldron
of sickly green soup, it was like nothing I have seen before. Lightning
flames from the simmering center of the thing--cracking one of the ancient
down the center. And when the thunder broke it was as if the hammer
of God had
come down on my head. This morning there was not much sign of damage;
however, the ghastly memories continued to surface. I think I should
down so that I can make a little sense of them. I remember:
A spinning doughnut of many lights . . . A smiling
face . . . terror in my brain . . . the
black shape coming, staring at me: death. . . faces in shock . . .
fire splitting my head . . . and then nothing
but this place.
I think that I must have wandered here for a long time before I came to
There is also a dim memory of waking on a table, and large eyes looking
me--catlike. Something has suddenly come to me, the large eyes--deep
black--and the catlike faces, these are the things drawn
on the walls of my square
hole in the ground. I must go and see if it is true.
Day Twenty: It is true, the faces on the walls and columns
here are the same that I
have dreamed about. I know that I cannot be wrong.
It chills me now to even look upon the faces. Something is wrong
about all of this. I
thought that perhaps I was the survivor of some cataclysmic event, my memory
stripped by trauma--I see now that this is not the case. Something
was done to me.
Day Twenty-One: He came to me in my dreams last night. I was
terrified at first,
but then he calmed me. He told me that I had been chosen. I
think I see something
of my goal now. I must clear this ancient town and decipher the glyphs,
for a town it
is. A village of unbelievable age, from a time so far gone that when
for the stars, humans were still brachiating through the ancient African
I will live as long as they wish me to. Until I have learned all
that they knew before
they began their final step of evolution--before they moved on. I
that I was once the captain of a station which mastered the stars, such
person it seems now--and that I once loved greatly--but they have told
me where to
find a ship . . . one of theirs. And I will send this message
to the rest of humankind: