First Contact

 Chapter I

'It is not the absence of technology that will lead to mans destruction...but the presence of it.' ~ Author Unknown

 

'I.S.S this is Houston over,' the female NASA operator said into her earpiece after placing her steaming mug of black coffee by her data-screen.

'Houston this is the I.S.S. What can ve' do for you this morning?' replied Anthony Gagorov as the blonde haired Hungarian floated serenely through zero-gravity.

'I.S.S we just received a radio signal from the DSN in Canberra, we just need confirmation that you sent the message, over.' A steely silence fell over the crackling up-link, recent solar flares were knocking out their contact at regular intervals. Vivian sighed with frustration and just as her finger hovered over the flashing disconnect button a reply came to her.

'Erm...Houston this is Commander Bailey, all coms systems up here are green and the up-link into HALO secure. We have no need to send a radio communication.' Vivian's emerald eyes stared into space for several seconds, confusion tearing through her mind and her heart beating faster and faster with every passing second.

'No no, I.S.S Commander, we received a radio communiqué and you are the only people in that region of space...'

'Houston I'm telling you...we didn't send a radio transmission. It was not us.'

*

Professor Adam Broly charged from his unceremoniously parked Volvo with sweat beading his balding head. His beloved solar system tie, that his students so often ridiculed him for, hanging loosely from his wrinkled collar and billowing behind him as he charged across the dusty car park. This couldn't be happening...he was dreaming. He was sure of it. Darien and Jennifer had obviously made some mistake...they were professors in their own rights. One of the greatest Theoretical Physicists of their generation and the finest Planetary Scientists that Adam had ever had the pleasure of teaching. They must have made a mistake...

Adam's aged heart was thundering in his chest beneath Australia’s beating sun, the silver hairs on his chest slicking themselves with sweat. Skidding to a halt outside the octangular white building he fumbled around for his key card. The stupid bit of crystalflex refusing to dislodge itself from the folds of his leather wallet. Tearing it free with a savage grunt he thrust it roughly into the electric lock beside the iron door. The five lights lining the top of the useless box flashing red in turn before they all turned green and with an audible metallic clunk the deadbolts slid open. Ripping open the door Adam strode through the white washed corridors, his breath catching in his lungs and a painful stitch beginning to stab into his side. Pausing for a brief second outside the Control Room Adam closed his eyes and took a deep breath, his hand resting on the door knob. Just breathe Adam. He said to himself. Nice and easy...

Turning the doorknob Adam walked into the CR, the data-screens filling the huge room glowing ethereally in the darkness while a small army of scientists and technicians strode between them. Scurrying about like headless chickens with scraps of paper falling from their arms and several sets of spectacles sitting at odd angles across their panicked faces. 'Adam!' Jennifer's voice shouted across the din. Looking to her the English Woman's usually perfectly set hair was pulled back into a hurriedly tied ponytail, the umber locks tumbling down her back. The three top buttons of her perfectly ironed shirt left open, just showing a whisper of cleavage to Adam as she jogged towards him. 'Adam thank god! You have to see this!'

'Jennifer slow down.' Adam said patiently, his charcoal coloured eyes glancing across the group of people that stared at the data filing down their data-screens. 'Facts first before presumptions.' said the wise old professor as he straightened his celestial-strewn tie. 'Word from Houston?'

'Yeah, the International Space Station was the only bit of kit floating through our region of space capable of radio transmission and they didn't send anything.' she said hurriedly. 'Adam, seriously you just have to see this! The data is incredible! More is pouring through by the second, we're up to nearly ten terabytes already and it doesn't show any sign of stopping.'   

'What kind of information?' Adam asked looking into his former student’s excited face.

'We don't know, it needs to be decoded. We were more interested in finding a place to put all the stuff,' glancing down at the data-slate in her hand a wild smile crossed over her rouge lips. 'Adam...this is it.'

'We don't know that yet,' he said quickly looking hard into the eyes of his student. 'Facts first. Theories later.' he quoted, the dozens of Sherlock Holmes novels that lined his shelves at home from his childhood had taught him that much. 'Where's Darien?'

'Talking across a HALO up-link,' was as far as Jennifer got before Adam snarled and hurried towards the link room. Virtually kicking the door open Darien spun with a large smile, turning away from the green holo-graphic professor that Adam recognised from the hundreds of psychic’s conferences.

'Adam!' Darien cried with a smile.

Walking over to the hologenerator he said a sharp apology to the green old man that stood stooped in the green light before slamming a hand onto the controls. Ceasing the transmission. 'What the hell were you thinking!' Adam bellowed, rounding on Darien as Jennifer jogged in.

'I...I...'

'We don't know anything yet boy! And if you broadcast all this to the world without thorough research and we turn out to be wrong we'll look like fools!' Adam raged at the young Syrian who backed away from the Australian Professor. 'Idiotic boy! How can a genius like you act without thinking!?' Jennifer stepped into the dark up-link room and shut the door behind her. Rubbing his brow with a sigh Adam paced the length of the room. 'Look, if all this is real it's the greatest scientific discovery in humanities history. This will be on the front page of every news-mail across the World within days, HALO will be ablaze with all of our data. Speculation and hearsay will be flying about within hours of release. If any data gets out of this building before we are ready it could come back and bite us in the arse.' he said to both Darien and Jennifer. 'Facts first,'

'Theories later.' the two parroted involuntarily. 'I know Adam,' said Darien. 'I was just cancelling my dinner with Doctor Idohav...'

'Oh...well...erm.'

'Busted.' Jennifer muttered with a sly grin. Soon they all shared a quick laugh before what was happening in the Control Room beyond that door actually hit them. 'Is this really happening?'

'It looks like it,' Adam breathed rubbing a hand across his bald head. Wiping away the sweat. 'Come on. We need to get to work.'   

The End

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