Anomalous Signals

Captain Wherewithall’s Diary

Selected extracts from the diary of Captain Wherewithall240, Starglider Nightrider61, en route from TR933041MM20b to TS380768VX41a:

Galactic time 20364405975.101775

1.910 apos from TS380922ST6, detected anomalous signals emanating from TS380922ST6c. Recording same for later analysis.

Galactic time 20364406391.008201

Anomalous signals continuing, still recording. Initial attempts at analysis inconclusive, but signals probably biotechnological in origin. Significant changes in nature of signals with time, first getting considerably stronger (much more than the closer approach accounts for) and more complex, then weakening despite our closer approach.

Galactic time 20364406988.162160

Closest approach to TS380922ST6, 0.557 apos. Signals weakening rapidly.

Galactic time 20364407173.018940

Signals weak and intermittent for a while, then probably ceased. Possibly continuing below levels that can be detected at this distance, but we’re still much closer (0.801 apos) than where we first detected them. On board facilities for analysis inadequate to establish origin. Retaining for analysis at TS380768VX41a.

Analysis of Anomalous Signals

Data analyst Subwallah911 at TS380768VX41a

Local time 174602.38155

Received recordings of anomalous signals from Captain Wherewithall of Starglider Nightrider61. Initial analysis indicates that it’s worth putting a team together to analyse these in depth. Budget request lodged.

Local time 174607.00002

Budget granted: team of 6, duration 8 chron.

Local time 174611.13076

Interim report: biotechnological origin beyond reasonable doubt, although the signals seem to carry no meaning that we’ve been able to interpret. Team size and duration increase requested.

Local time 174612.00005

Grant increased to team of 12, duration 24 chron.

Local time 174615.50071

Found something useful at last!

For a period early in the sequence, there are long sequences of raster patterns which we’ve been able to convert into what are clearly sequences of images. We think we’ve got images of the creatures who generated the signals here, amongst other things, although what they’re doing in most of these images is very unclear. There are signals associated with the images which we’ve so far failed to interpret.

All the signals before and after the image sequences are still incomprehensible, and during the period when the images were being produced there are many other signals which appear to be independent of the images. There are patterns, but we’ve not managed to interpret them yet. We’re going to need a bigger team and more time.

Local time 174616.50085

Grant increased to team of 24, duration 36 chron.

Local time 174650.89898

We’re getting nowhere. Well, not nowhere: we’ve got quite a lot out of the images, but the rest is still totally mysterious. And the images stop after only about 100 chron, whereas the signals continue for around 300, with peak strength – coinciding with an even sharper peak in information content – at around 15 chron before the end. Suggest an investigative mission to TS380922ST6. Also archive searches for any records of earlier information about TS380922ST6 – has any starglider passed close by this system before? Was anything observed? We’ve no records here on TS380768VX41a of any starglider passing close by that system.

Whatever happened there developed very rapidly, but didn’t last long. It ended even more rapidly than it began.

Mission to TS380922ST6

Selected extracts from the diary of Captain Presence922, Starglider Forerunner11, mission from TS380768VX41a to TS380922ST6:

Galactic time 20364408801.000043

We’re on our way. Nothing much to do for the next 251 chron, all being well. All systems running smoothly. One slingshot around f in 22.4 chron’s time, all on auto, then gentle acceleration into the void under sail. Time to find out a bit about what we’ll be doing when we get to TS380922ST6.

Galactic time 20364409052.830893

Checked all trajectory parameters. Trimmed sail to decelerate during approach to TS380920ST2. We were hoping to be able to accelerate into this system for a slingshot from TS380920ST2d, but it can’t quite be done, d turns out to be smaller in reality than in the database. We can get our slingshot all right, but only by losing a bit of velocity first. It’s going to take us almost 108 chron longer to get to TS380922ST6 than we’d hoped. Such is life. Oh, to have perfect information about the orbits and masses of every planet in every system! At least we know TS380922ST6e’s details well enough to be confident of using it as a brake on arrival at TS380922ST6. It’s got a few moons, but we’ll be able to see the details of those early enough to plot a trajectory that dodges them safely.

What do I know about TS380922ST6c so far? It’s actually a twin planet, similar in this respect to our own. Also like our own, the bigger twin has got oceans of liquid water, big ice caps, and a lot of free oxygen in its atmosphere – more than ours, in fact. Not a lot else is known about it – as far as we know from information available on TS380768VX41a, no-one’s ever been close enough before to discover much more than that. TS380922ST6 itself is a fairly typical mainstream galactic arm star in middle age.

Galactic time 20364411097.128566

A good thing we weren’t planning on a slingshot round TS380922ST6c itself. Never seen so much technojunk in orbit round a planet! Nothing apparently still functioning, and no anomalous signals anywhere, not even from the planetary surface. Rampant plant life over much of the surface, some animal life, no obvious sign of technocivilization.

A whole technocivilization come and gone in the blink of an eye – all over and done with in less than a couple of thousand chrons. They must have lived whirlwind lives! I wonder what happened to them, and what they were like? Live fast, die young, whatever else there might have been about them.

Planetary atmosphere significantly different from earlier reports – possibly observational error, closest approach was much further than we are. No ice caps though, surely that can’t have been observational error?

Unanimous agreement that there’s nothing much to see here, so no landing party arranged, and we’re taking the first available slingshot sequence out.