This is the complete version of a story I submitted to Genshiken writing challenge ‘Sequel’. Unfortunately, I haven’t secured permission to post the story this draws upon, so hopefully this can stand on its own good enough. I didn’t finish it in time of submission due to one and other reason so here I present it with its entirety.
Original: ambient2082-2083 by Nivalyx from Randomizer Tragedy Challenge
Unlike the original, I do not limit the song’s style or genre.
//program execute: ASUSPlayer.exe
//shuffle is ON
//loop is OFF
//np: And Some Time Passes – Minako Adachi
“…or probably forever, I don’t know. Thank you for liste…”
In the moment that arose upon the abrupt end, the assembled group of people never heard of any static more beautiful and haunting than the one filling the air they breathed right then. The sound
reigned for a while before a series of metallic poundings picked up the rhythm. Still, no one dared to talk. The universal translator might be at fault, as technology had proven to be unreliable from time to time.
In the background, poor rendition of a symphony was being played, a telltale shadow of the fate befallen of the planet it originated from. Someone definitely had too much time on hand to reconstruct that thing they found on the floating debris.
Ah. Who were they kidding? Here in the vastness of nowhere, time was nothing but a forgotten dimension.
“Who got hold of this…“ A deep voice resounded, his gestures implicating authority over the dozen captivated faces in the cramped spaceship. He eyed the device they had just dissected, all sort of weird-looking board and chips that had taken three sleepless nights for their engineers to explore,”…memory pod?”
Someone in the back row raised a hand.
“Cadet X-12 U82 in your service, chief.”
“I believe there is more?”
An affirmative was given.
“From this day onwards you are to be released from your daily duties and reassigned to the Technical Department. Objective: further study and replication of this unit.”
In those eyes full of unfathomable lachrymose was a sparkle no one had seen for any meaningful period of time. Cacophony surged amongst the assembly, whispers ebbing and flowing in chaotic
manners before tranquility could finally be instilled. What followed was a wordless dismissal, met without objection. In their mind, that last memory of a planet never stopped looping.
//np: euphoric field – ELISA
The wall was clinical white and the air was suffocatingly pure. To the crew of the spaceship, that synthetic environment was an insult to their definite end. Several hundred lightyears from the wormhole they went through and lifetimes from their home planet, they had reached this foreign solar system. So far, nothing was worthwhile. What regret though, could be said for a patchwork team of tarnished characters? They had no home to speak of.
It had been quiet for a while. Injected with life-prolonging serum before their departure, their punishment was to spend unnatural relationship with nothingness. It was nothing close to eternity, but way further than any mortal should ever deign to understand. Unable to bear it, many had come to choose the path of ignorance, living in the state of self-inforced amnesia. Everything had lost meaning in this little world they live in, including names. There were identifiers sewed to their apparels, and that was how they referenced each other.
A complex of floating debris was no rarity. Every now and then, one tried to relieve boredom by stepping outside the bounds of their ship, tasting the illusion of freedom before being stopped again by the built-in barrier. Even such short-lived relief was to be preferred over the panopticon they used to inhabit.
This time someone had brought back curious merchandise from a detour. Lacking in duties, the remaining crews toyed with the eclectic collection of machineries. With limited equipments and even limited workers, the project went slowly, but with them was time not even one could imagine running out of. Eventually, they were able to extract the data into forms they could understand.
For the first time in a while, they felt alive.
//np: Navigatoria – Akiko Shikata
In 1974, earthlings rejoiced in their creation of Arecibo message. Marking the milestone that was Arecibo Radio Telescope, they poured enthusiasm to encode mankind’s milestones in rows of binary. The resulting data was transmitted in short interval for the sole pride of being able to do so.
No reply was ever expected, but fact never stopped one from dreaming.
In 2082, Neptune fell towards Earth in alarming pace. The impact of the collision would have scattered the wreckage of the two objects in a circular orbit, an unsightly belt speaking true of the world’s cruelest realization: what came from the stardust was to return to the stardust. To thwart the incoming tragedy, a forbidden technology was released from its confine, and the antimatter particle cannon tore through the atmosphere, decimating everything that stood in its way. If Earth could have survived after the New Year of 2083, it was to be referenced as ‘The Blue Moon Tragedy’, an event to be talked about for decades, and a solid evidence of mankind’s triumph over natural force.
Unfortunately, antimatter contamination reduced such fledgling pipe dream to ashes.
Many centuries later, the last radio broadcast of Earth made it to the hands of extraterrestrial criminals happening to pass by the remnants of the once proud community. More than Arecibo message could ever hope to relay, the recordings brought forth the true nature of humanity, of their weakness and strength.
In 2243 Universal Year, in a distant stellar array once known as M13 by the once flourishing settlement, the capital of Aether Union passed the first of a new set of laws granting amnesty to recipients of capital punishment in exchange of a pledge to be part of hazardous experimental programs. Roughly several months prior, joint effort by affluent scientists had brought forth a new hope for the era of discovery. When an errant excavator ship caught a mysterious wave soon transcribed as work of sentient intelligence, news spread in the speed of wildfire. Once fathomed a mere waste of community budget, it finally gained enough favor as the spark of intergalactic exploration ignited once again amongst the masses.
However, even with recent breakthrough on body-altering substances, such journey was still deemed too risky to undertake. Thus, with science highly emphasized as the background, the proposal was made. The crews shall be forgiven if the labor came to fruition.
Expectation was not made for them to return safely, which was less a problem as they were rejects of the society to begin
with. Several convicts, each of their own reasons, stepped forward to volunteer as the pioneer batch. The name Farrago, of the ship Delenda, surfaced for them in the short time as some sort of morbid joke as the project launched.
Now, flying amidst the floating debris, having listened to the entire recordings, the banished people realized their mission was already a failure. The galaxy, now bereft of life, worth nothing to report
of. In the contrary, regret came to pass. Time, long frozen, now had started running once more.
They were outcast. At the same time, no one else had ever stepped so much into this wilderness. Inspired by the record, they began to construct their own memory preservation unit.
So their stories weren’t eventually lost in the void of existence.
In the chronicles salvaged later on, timestamped with the date of that day was a single line written with utmost care: “…and shall we, right now, celebrate life from the break of dawn to the end of the
Looking unto the death itself, fear seemed like an ignorant child. Just like the crumbling moon, there were no gravity left to keep their souls from physical salvation. The voices they put behind would serve as witnesses to the beauty of ephemera. For time being, they were ready to face thereafter in dignity.
//np: Papermoon – TommyHeavenly6