3 of 6 | Chapter 19


With our space surveillance tools, we have developed a space mapping system over several thousand generations. We can determine the movement of objects in space with very high precision and thus their position. We can say with certainty that all objects in our galaxy are mapped in our directory, even those that have only just come into existence. Unfortunately, even with our high level of technology, we can only see over intergalactic distances with great difficulty, but developments are underway.”

The voice fell silent, and Steersman's face betrayed his utter amazement.

“I would describe our civilization to you, but I suspect that you have already carefully studied it inside out,” he said, and to his real surprise they simply nodded. Perhaps they knew that a nod was a sign of approval in human conversation, but it might also have meant that he had found the first mutual communicative sign between the two species. “If I understand correctly, when you say that you are able to see further than any other species, you are, in fact, implying that other civilizations exist beyond ours.”

“Yes, that's right. We have discovered traces of social development of at least one species on a total of 46 planets. On many planets, there are promising evolutionary developments, and we have found unintelligent life forms also, which have evolved purely for survival. There is one species with whom we do not wish to contact because of their rather unforgiving and violent nature, but we consider humans to be the only life form in the galaxy with who we could communicate effectively.”

“How well do you know us?” asked Steersman, curiously.

“This is the first time that we have met a human being. Our observations and conclusions are fundamentally based on how species treat each other within their own surroundings.”

“On that basis, I'm not sure why you find us suitable,” observed Steersman, thinking of the horrors he had faced in recent times.

“We were persuaded by those who have dedicated their infinite energy to making your world a better place. For this reason we selected a delegate. We decided that you were the one in a position to be able to use our radiation.”

“What do you need me for? Why didn't you come here instead?”

“We do not have such technology in our possession which allow us to leave the planet. Our planet is not as rich in raw materials as Earth. A delegate was required for us to be able to meet and share scientific knowledge with each other.”

“You want to do business …” Steersman was openly surprised. “We are more similar in nature than I thought possible,” he almost was relieved.

“We do not wish to do business. We offer possibilities in return for other possibilities that will allow us all to prosper. Together we are stronger.”

“Barter is also just business, but it's much nicer form of business in a materialistic world. I think I now have some understanding of your intentions, and it has made things far more interesting. I appreciate your honesty, though, I suspect that it might be an integral part of your nature. Although, we have now made contact, I can't help feeling that the time when we'll look upon each other as neighbors is still rather distant.”

“Time does not matter.”

“Yes, you've said that there is no such thing amongst you. I don't understand how it is possible. Why is that?”

“Because time is unreliable, because it can be influenced.”

“What does that mean?”

“Because the world—in which we live is made up of physical particles that allow to measure expansion in space and time—is affected by an external force to which everything responds in the same way. Due to the force of gravity the components of the physical world are bound by the same laws of physics in all dimensions. Gravity curves space because it attracts nearby objects more strongly than those further away; and it also bends time because anything that can be measured, like matter, living tissues, cells, is also subject to physical laws. Under strong gravitational forces, frequency slows and living cells age more slowly.

Strong gravitational forces are traps from which it is very difficult to escape, because if there is no vibration, there is no movement and thus, there is no time. On our planet, gravity is not a constant force because the planet has five moons, meaning that we can not calculate time with it.”

“All right, I guess. You must have had time …, I'm sorry, you must have had a number of generations to ponder on how you might trade with humans. For example, what could you offer? And what would you need?”

“We do not wish to hurry you, or intrude,” said the third floating figure. “The first step in building a healthy relationship is for us to know each other, which can not just be based on remote observation. Firstly, we wish to get to know you. We wish to discuss the workings of trade relations with you. The key to our association is you, and how we build it will depend on you. There are many things that can be of use to us as a basis for exchange, primarily raw materials, but we can also discuss technological improvements or devices. In return, we can offer technologies based on our own scientific research. We are far more advanced and efficient in terms of navigation and communication compared to technologies that you are now using, but we can also offer you the opportunity to have access to our maps.”

“So it's not important what we exchange, but rather how we do it, right? Whatever may will be, but not at any cost. So far, it sounds like a very fair offer,” said Steersman.

“We are pleased to hear that. Very soon, you will need to return to your body. In a short time, you will begin your odyssey in space,” said the alien.

“You mean the space fleet?” Steersman asked, surprised.

“Yes, you are beginning your exploration of the galaxy, but it is not worth your while going just anywhere. We will give you coordinates that will give you a greater chance of finding what you seek.”

“Raw material resources?” he said.

“Yes. This means that you will be able to develop tools that will allow you to come to us. We will then give you the technology to establish a channel between our two worlds, thus greatly reducing the distance.”

“I envy you,” Steersman said, after some thought.

“Please explain your meaning.”

“You have characteristics that I would be eager to possess; for example, you are unconcerned by time, yet I'm afraid that time on our planet is an incredibly dominant motivational force that affects everything. Time always seems to run out on our world.”

“The key to that is in your hands,” said one.

“And worry not. You have certain traits that we would also wish to possess,” flashed another. “Now go!”

Then, as if the place had switched off, Steersman opened his eyes and was once again back in his office. His head didn't hurt and, in fact, he felt great. If possible, he now believed even more in what he had dedicated his life to. He had felt the need for such an affirmation, though, he would never have believed that extraterrestrial beings would be the source of that push.


Space fleet

For the first time in its existence, Excolopolis struggled to cope. An overwhelming huge influx of people, all of whom had come to see the space fleet, caused shortages in all conceivable ways. Over the preceding few weeks, there had been no hotel rooms available, no traffic allowed into the city, and in the last few days before the launch, not even standing room remained. The parks filled with spectators, the streets in every district of the city were flooded and overwhelmed by curious crowds, wanting to see one of the most ambitious inventions of all time.



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