Authors: Steve Karmazenuk,Christine Williston
By Steve Karmazenuk
Copyright © 2006 – 2011 by Steve Karmazenuk
Electronic edition, all rights reserved.
Illustrations © 2011 by Christine Williston; licensed to Steve Karmazenuk & used with permission.
All material within this document are protected by Canadian and International copyright law and cannot be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of the author.
All characters appearing in this work are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
When an immense alien spacecraft is discovered buried in the desert outside Laguna, New Mexico, the world is plunged into chaos.
World leaders scramble to secure and study the Ship; the heads of the world's major religions meet in Rome to discuss the implications of the Ship's presence; terrorists and religious fundamentalists seek to use or destroy the Ship for their own ends, and ordinary men and women struggle to assimilate it all, as events unfold live and unfiltered across online news channels.
When a survey team is sent in to examine and explore the Ship, they discover that not only is it still operational, but it is conscious and has been waiting for tens of millions of years.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Karmazenuk is an author, music journalist and freelance writer from Montreal, Canada. He also works in post production in the Canadian film industry.
His novels include
Through Darkness and Stars
, and as the fictional account of the Grunge Music era,
Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind
To Tom, for always knowing
To Kevin, for always believing
To Angel, for never doubting
It has always been the way of tales and dreams. Time forgets itself. That is also the way of remembering. But when remembering or retelling, it is best to start at the beginning. And for all memories, all tales, and all dreams, there is but one beginning…
BEGINNING OF ALL THINGS
In the beginning all was void and without form. There was no substance, no matter or energy. The elemental forces did not exist; neither did space or time. All that existed was nothing. Born of this irresolute paradox the Universe came into being and for the first time the eternal dark was broken by the Light.
The order of oblivion was shattered by the chaos of creation. Elemental forces of unstoppable violence roiled, pushing back the void to make room for the strange powers and energies that came screaming from the core of creation to find their place in the new reality. The elemental powers, titans of weak and strong and strange attractors defined the first basic laws that governed creation. Their wrestling war against one another unleashed the energy that fuelled the continued growth of existence. Protomatter coalesced from burning plasma caught in fields of cold unmerciful gravity only to be rent asunder and scattered in an ever-widening sphere. The farther away from the violent chaos of creation these elements fled the cooler they became. And as the matter and energy of the newborn universe began to cool a new order descended over all.
Vast nebulae formed from cooling gasses and strange, elemental particles. These nebulae grew so large and dense, so fertile with the stuff of creation that they began to collapse upon themselves. As matter condensed energy was released in violent reactions and chain reactions. New explosions dawned in a universe scarcely a billion years old. Globules of superhot matter and energy were scattered to the winds of spacetime, trailing dust in their wake. When these burning spheres finally came to rest rotating gracefully on their own axes, the dust they had stolen settled into rings and disks around them. Slowly these disks of dust underwent their own transformations, forming dense pockets of matter and trapped energy all their own. Sometimes enough substance would collect into spheres of gas. Sometimes these spheres would collapse and ignite, becoming new, smaller stars. Other times matter would collect into loose but super dense clouds of gas. Once in a while, orbs dense enough to harden into planets or cold, random lumps of rock would form. Sometimes, when conditions were right, Life would arise in the universe.
Not every world would bear Life, but it still appeared and in many cases flourished in the otherwise barren universe. Not all worlds held Life long enough for Sentience to emerge; not all Sentience would survive long enough to evolve and spread beyond the cradle of its birth. Such losses of Sentience and Civilization went unnoticed by the universe at large: Civilizations rose and fell repeatedly, succeeding and often failing on their own merits. Or else blind and uncaring cosmic chance that decided their fates.
But on every world where Life did prosper, where Sentience emerged, the desire to understand the origins of their world, their universe emerged as well. Many Races approached these issues from a philosophical standpoint, looking to the sun, to spirits, to gods to ponder questions about the nature of the universe and why they were in it. Others studied creation analytically, using the methods of empirical knowledge to determine how they came to be. On many worlds, the Sentient Races asked both how and why, trying to merge the twin opposites of science and religion into one.
Invariably whether they came from Races of individuals or hive-like superorganisms, whether peaceful or warlike, whether superstitious or scientific, all Sentient Races turned their attention beyond their nesting spheres, out into the Heavens. The ships created by these worlds were as wide in variety as the races that spawned them. Their means of propulsion were diverse, sometimes using systems of kinesis and power that the scientists from other Races would maintain were impossible. But on every world where Sentience reached for the stars, the very first of these ships, went forth with the goal of exploration and discovery.
As the earliest explorers set out from their parent worlds, first tentatively learning about their own star systems before heading out into the darkness of space, they discovered much of consequence about their own origins and the fragility of their worlds. Sometimes within their own systems they found other life. Often the explorers would discover themselves alone orbiting their parent stars. But when they left behind their homeworlds and birth stars, they set out with hope of finding others, they set out with the hope that they were not alone in the vastness of the cosmos.
A dust storm was blowing across the road as James Johnson piloted the camper down the long stretch of New Mexican highway. A sheet of dust rippled and danced, breaking like a wave against the asphalt. The storm was so bad that James had to switch on the enhancer in the camper’s windshield. The enhancer created a computer-rendered simulation of the road and desert surrounding him. The wire frame image of the world outside his windshield compiled quickly, filling in with detail and colour that looked almost exactly like the real world.
“James where are we?” the Prof called from the back of the camper.
“Hang on I’ll check.” James called back. There was a small monitor mounted in the middle of the driver’s display panel, the stylized word
shimmering on the screen.
“Galileo,” James said, “Where are we?” Over the music playing through the camper’s stereo system came the perfectly-simulated female voice of the Galileo System, “We are now approaching the city limits for Laguna.”
We’re just crossing into Laguna Prof,” James called back. A moment later he added, “I thought we were already
We are,” The Prof called, “We crossed into the Laguna Band
an hour ago and now we’re going into the town of Laguna, itself.” As if in confirmation of this the camper rolled past a large white sign, proclaiming
WELCOME TO THE TOWN OF LAGUNA
GOVERNMENT OF THE SOUTHWESTERN NATIVE PROTECTORATES
OF NORTH AMERICA
LAGUNA BAND DISTRICT
In the back of the camper, sitting at the horseshoe-shaped booth guarding a Formica table Professor Mark Echohawk sat working with his console. He wore a small but elaborate headset: an earphone in his left ear from which radiated a compact array: a microphone stretched out beside his mouth and a boom extended a small display screen over his left eye. The band that held the console to Echohawk’s head cinched down over his long, greying hair. The headset was connected wirelessly to the CPU Echohawk wore on his belt. The device itself weighed less than the headset and most of its size was taken up by the Digital Optic Slip reader on its front. A wireless remote keypad sat on the tabletop. Echohawk, an archaeologist attached to the World Aboriginal Anthropological Society and working out of UCLA, was studying images of an object unearthed in the desert near Laguna. The Chief of the Laguna Band, Paul Santino, had contacted the Society only days before requesting someone come. What the Laguna had apparently unearthed was one side of a golden pyramid. Echohawk got wind of the discovery and immediately asked to be assigned to the project. His passion was the study of the ancient civilizations of the Americas and this discovery had captivated him.
“We’re almost there Prof!” James called from the camper’s cockpit. Echohawk stood up, retracting the monitor boom of his console and folding up the keypad. He headed forward and took the front passenger seat beside his assistant. The camper reached the turn-off to head into the town of Laguna. The side road was little more than hard-packed dirt. But as they crossed the decorative wall guarding the approach to the town they left the desert behind. The Town of Laguna was an oasis. Greenery and trees sprang up in large tracts of parkland surrounding the downtown core. The South-western Protectorate had developed extensive water reclamation systems and was bringing life back to the desert. In the residential neighbourhoods properties shared large common yards, and communal vast communal gardens rose from the tow’s parks. As the camper swung though the streets, the locals took notice.
Laguna was a closed community, a company town promoted and developed as one of the crown jewels in the South-western Native Protectorate. Unemployment was near zero, with the town’s twenty-odd thousand residents working either on the farms or in the shops, or the District’s backbone, the One Tree Hill software company. Following the Galileo system’s concise directions James took the camper right to the parking lot of the Municipal Building where Echohawk would meet with Paul Santino.
“We’re here,” James said, parking and shutting down the camper. The Ballard cell engine cycled down, the whine of the system dropping to a hum and then silence. Echohawk climbed out.
“Great news,” he said, “Even better, there’s a Coke machine. I don’t think I could stomach another cup of your coffee.” Echohawk fed his debit card into the soda machine as James slipped on his own console headset.
“Call Peter,” He said into the microphone. A second later he was connected, “Peter? Yeah, we made it. How far behind us are you? Uh-huh…okay, well the Prof wants to get out to the site as quickly as possible so I’d suggest linking to our Galileo and following us there. No, unless you want to stop and get some sodas I think you can bypass the town. No, the Prof’s going in to meet with him now.” As James spoke Mark Echohawk made his way into the air-conditioned interior of the Municipal Building.