The Prometheus Cycle (Sci-fi Short Story)
This is a translation of a story I published in Spanish a while ago. The translation was done by Amanda Black: firstname.lastname@example.org (Any fault with the style/language of the document is entirely my own. She is a superb translator)
This is a bit of harder sci-fi, following the vein set by more classical works that I wouldn’t dare compare myself to.
In the year 4462 of our era, the Xenomorphological Studies Institute of the Third Capital Planet, which studies alien beings, received a message from the Archimedes Way Station, which orbited the planet Kappa VII. The memo took fifty years to arrive at its destination.
The message stated:
From: Aurelio Bolívar – Archimedes Way Station- Kappa VII Perihelion
To: All institutions interested in Xenomorphology – Imperial Complex
Subject: Analysis of “Golden Disk” artifacts from the D7 species
I am a Xenomorphologist at the Royal University of the Centaurian Empire, and I hereby state my purpose for writing to you: I wanted to inform you of certain irregularities identified in an artifact constituting a part of the long-range probe of the Daniel species (D7). The message that the artifact contains is not made up of the usual collection of descriptions of a self-aware species. Attached is my research log:
— Attached text —
Kappa VII is quite a peculiar planet; it is greenish due to its corrosive surface, covered in carbon gas clouds. The apical position of the planet’s star in the intergalactic wind and its orbit are of particular interest. What had previously been observed as a series of small meteorite rings orbiting around Kappa VII are now known to be the remains of artificial satellites. Amongst these remains we have found human artifacts from previous millennia, as well as Xenomorphic species satellites dating back to more than 30 million years ago. The most recent Xenomorphic species is classified as Daniel (D7) in the Encyclopaedia Universalis; this species existed approximately one hundred and fifty thousand years ago.
These crowns of rubble have come to be called “galactic cemeteries,” and each of their satellites, “tombstones.” There are several examples of Xenomorphic engineering in this galactic cemetery that I have recovered over the course of my investigation. All of these examples contain “golden disk” artifacts, in accordance with the tradition established upon the inclusion of the first specimen in the Voyager ship.
These artifacts in particular play visual and audio recordings when certain sound and light spectrum frequencies are applied to them. The planet of origin of the Daniel was able to be determined through the readings recorded in the artifact, and by studying the history of the luminosity of its stars through the use of retroscopes. The results of these observations revealed that the Daniel followed the traditional self-aware model, until the abrupt end of their civilization. All traces of artificial light disappeared from the systems colonized by this race little more than five hundred thousand years ago, according to my observations. Their disappearance was not sudden, although it was fast.
I was able to extract several Daniel satellites from the cemetery, and I recorded the age of each one of them. The closest one to the cataclysm, and the last of the series, contained a golden disk artifact that was more complex than the others. Employing the normal protocol, I extracted its content. Along with the usual self-descriptive images, there was also a direct reference to the planet Earth, made through indicators and astronomical maps. The context of the reference was ambivalent, somewhere between a salutation and a goodbye. I was not able to infer the specific nature of the context.
Using the conjectural algorithms of the Archimedes computer, the accompanying artifacts pertaining to the Daniel, and the results of the retroscope, I was able to piece together the events that occurred simultaneously. This video simulation is the result:
–Attached video file–
In total silence, the screen shows two images; one is that of a stooping simian with thick fur, moving on his knuckles and feet through a primitive Pangea; the other figure is erect, with four fingers emerging from two long, slender arms, large, shining eyes, surrounded by a city of light and trapezoidal pyramid buildings.
Both creatures’ eyes, staring at the viewer, reveal how the inner light, deep inside the creatures’ thoughts, sprung into one creature and was extinguished in the other. The brilliance of the Daniel reaches twilight, gradually vanishing, as does the light of their cities. The biological process is slow, but quick in astronomical terms. The countdown in years nears zero with an uncontainable fluidity.
In the simulated image, even the overwhelming desperation suffered by the Daniel is felt. As each biological generation passes, the Daniel is stripped of more and more of their spark. The human being on the other edge of the screen progressively takes the form of Homo sapiens, emerging from their own darkness to brandish the power of Prometheus. The Daniel collapses. They lose more and more of their graceful shape as their fur becomes dense and rough. Their cities disappear in untamed wilderness, victims of entropy itself, erasing all traces of their existence, and the genius of their creators.
When the countdown is complete, the now completely developed human being stares at the viewer, formed by the intellect that now inhabits its eyes. It is the same brilliance that disappeared from the eyes of the Daniel, now a mere jungle rodent, lost in the bush.
— End of attached video file —
As you can see, the rise of the human being is synchronous with the fall of the other species. I do not know the specific cause of that correlation. However, the Daniel are conscious of the connection between their species and ours; this cannot be a simple coincidence. Not when they are so sure that they leave a message like this in an artifact that could be discovered by their successors. I can only imagine that they knew what their fate would be, just as the computer’s algorithms do. Could it be that divine or natural law prevents two self-aware species from coexisting? Is it possible that our rise has been the actual cause of the fall of the other species? I do not have answers for these questions, but I know that I will not be able to rest until I do have them. Until now, we have thought that the semi-eternal nature of our universe was the limiting factor for us finding someone else to dialog with.
However, what we have are engravings on tombstones, this one directed towards us.
There is another aspect of utmost importance to us as a species. It is well known that the natural cycles of life and death, darkness and light, extend beyond the ecosystem of our small stellar cradle. Stars are born, the same as us. Just like them, we must die. But it is possible that we are part of another cycle, another return to our origin. I can only think that we are also destined to return to Eden some day.