The Shikadi

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Levellass
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The Shikadi

Post by Levellass » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:32

An unoriginal, short fanfic by the Lass. An old concept and much recycled, but still.


We are sending this message to the stars, as we store it in our own records. It is possible that after we are gone it will be read, maybe by those we have aggrieved, maybe by other races who can learn from what we have done. We wish only for the universe to know that it was never our intention for this to happen.

In the end the flaw lies with us; we were, we are, but soon will not be, a great race. As our knowledge grew and technology blossomed we looked out into the galaxy to further unravel the mysteries of the universe at large and, perhaps, to see new life with which to make contact. To that end massive, space-borne observatories were constructed, able to resolve the disks of planets halfway across the Milky Way. Massive computers, with the power of a billion organic minds set at their tasks of taking the light and data from these tools and resolving it, taking from it every scrap of information possible, showing us our most distant neighbors.

We found many worlds of pond scum, primitive, crawling life that grew so easily in the cosmos wherever light warmed a chunk of rock. On far fewer we saw anything with form and structure and on only a handful did we see what could be called intelligence. There were the strange blue dog things, hunting in packs across a purple world, the weird apes huddling in caves, the near blind blue blobs building primitive constructs to fend off their green enemies... But, close to the galactic core we saw something more advanced... and more menacing. Delicate, birdlike creatures whose evolution and development was shockingly fast. They had already attained radio technology by the time we got their first transmissions. At first crude and unstructured, these leaking broadcasts quickly grew in complexity and strength, as did the messages they carried. Through our observatories we watched a world of strife and violence, populated by a barbaric race of short-lived, fast breeding vermin. They were brutal and uncultured things which stabbed and shot and burned each other with no regard for life or purpose. Even their concepts of 'art' spoke of conflict and pain. They divided themselves according to some bizarre cultural patterns and set their every industry to cause of death.

They terrified us, but we were older and wiser and so very far away, so we did not fret. Then we watched them split the atom and breach the heavens within the breadth of one of their single, short generations, and we began to worry. When they began actively transmitting messages and greetings into space, we felt fear and horror. The predictions of our greatest minds, our most powerful computers, were grim. They would multiply and grow and flood out of their home system like some uncountable dark tide, consuming all that lay in their path. The galaxy would fall to them as they spread their destruction and filth to everything they touched. Their transmissions promised peace and camaraderie to any who were listening, but we had watched them for too long to buy into such transparent deceptions. They knew we were out here, and they were coming for us.

So it was that we built The Final Message.

The Message was not this message, a record of our history sent to all. Rather it would be our first, and our last communication with the hostile species. It took many orbits to build, almost one of our old lifetimes, before our medical knowledge made such things obsolete. It was as long and heavy as a small island, constructed in space mostly from meteor metals. It would be big, it would be heavy and it would be fast.

Fusion reactors were its only components bar the mass of iron it held. It would use a ramjet to absorb interstellar hydrogen, quickly building speed then slowly topping out at near light velocity. We were merciful, we thought; they would never see it coming. Its launch was a day of mourning, celebration, and reflection. The horror of the act we had committed weighted heavily upon us all; the necessity of our crime did little to comfort us.

The Message could not be caught, could not be recalled or diverted from its path. Few, too few had been able to work on it, so disgusted were we with what it was. Of those who had, many ended themselves as the horror of what they were working on sank in. In the end it was machines that did most of the actual construction, cold and soulless as they were. But those who wrote the programs were thin on the ground and the final design lacked anything beyond the simple, massive engines and the stabilizing systems. We could only watch in shame and horror as the light of genocide faded into infrared against the distant void.

* * *

The Message had barely cleared our home system when the mistake was realized, but at that point it was far, far too late. We watched events unfold that, due to the nature of light, had already happened. The vermin grew, and they changed, in a handful of lifetimes they abolished war, abandoned their violent tendencies and turned themselves to the grand purposes of life. We watched them remake first themselves, and then their world. Their frail, soft bodies gave way to gleaming metals and plastics, then pure energy . They unified their people through an omnipresent communications grid and produced works of such power and emotion.

The likes of which the Galaxy had never seen before. Or again, because of us.

They converted their home world into a paradise, by their standards at least and many millions of them poured out into the surrounding system with a rapidity and vigor that we could only envy. With bodies of shadow and spark that could survive every environment from the day lit surface of their innermost world, to the atmosphere of their largest gas giant and the cold void in-between, they set out to sculpt their system into something beautiful. At first we thought them simple miners, stripping the rocky planets and moons for vital resources, but then we began to see the purpose to their constructions, the artworks carved into every surface, and traced across the system in glittering lights and dancing fusion trails. And still, our terrible Message approached.

They had less than scant orbits to even see it, following so closely on the tail of its own light. In that time, oh so brief even by their fleeting lives, more than a billion billion sentients prepared for death. Lovers exchanged last words, separated by worlds and the tyranny of light speed. Their planetside engineers worked frantically to build sufficient transmission infrastructure to upload the countless masses with the necessary neural modifications, while those above dumped lifetimes of music and literature from their databanks to make room for passengers. Those lacking the required hardware or the time to acquire it consigned themselves to death, lashed out in fear and pain, or simply went about their lives as best they could under the circumstances.

The Message arrived suddenly, the light of its impact visible in our skies, shining bright and cruel even to the unaided eye. We watched and we wept for our victims, dead so many orbits before the light of their doom had even reached us. Many of those who had been directly or even tangentially involved in the creation of the Message ended themselves in grief for the small roles they had played in this atrocity. The light dimmed, the dust cleared, and our observatories refocused upon the place where their shining blue world had once hung in the void, and found only dust and the pale gleam of an orphaned moon, wrapped in a thin, burning wisp of atmosphere that had once belonged to its parent.

Radiation and relativistic shrapnel had wiped out much of the inner system, and continent sized chunks of molten rock carried screaming ghosts outward at interstellar escape velocities, damned to wander the great void for an eternity. The damage was apocalyptic, but not complete, from the shadows of the outer worlds, tiny points of light emerged, thousands of fusion trails of single ships and world ships and everything in between, many millions of survivors, shadow beings of remarkable stamina, ready to rebuild. For a few moments we felt relief, even joy, and we were filled with the hope that their culture would survive the terrible blow we had dealt them. Then came their Message, tightly focused at our star, transmitted simultaneously by hundreds of their ships.

"We know you are out there, and we are coming for you."
What you really need, not what you think you ought to want.

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Plasma Captain
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Re: The Shikadi

Post by Plasma Captain » Mon Aug 14, 2017 16:55

Plasma Captain wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2016 14:44
Do you write somewhere? Like, somewhere other than random PCKF threads? If not... can you? Please?
Really, though. This reminds me of the classic sci-fi short stories I used to read. And it is very well-composed.

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Re: The Shikadi

Post by nanomekia » Mon Aug 14, 2017 20:16

Dang, 'lass. I like. I like very much. We need more of your writing.
Writer. Translator. Player of games. Only bites on alternate Tuesdays.

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Levellass
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Re: The Shikadi

Post by Levellass » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:08

Plasma Captain wrote:
Mon Aug 14, 2017 16:55
Plasma Captain wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2016 14:44
Do you write somewhere? Like, somewhere other than random PCKF threads? If not... can you? Please?
Really, though. This reminds me of the classic sci-fi short stories I used to read. And it is very well-composed.
My problem is I can never get anything of any length finished.
What you really need, not what you think you ought to want.

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Re: The Shikadi

Post by Plasma Captain » Tue Aug 15, 2017 18:00

You could always write short stories like this or even microfiction. You seem to have a knack for it.

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