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Strange Broadcast (short story)

Posted: 30 April 2016, 00:17
by Lord-Cptn. Patilludo
Strange broadcast

Here at the SETI Center we scan the heavens for any and all signs of possible alien activities, signs that we are not alone in the universe, that mankind is no that special, that we are but specks of dust cast adrift in an unforgiving and vast void.

So, after many decades of fruitless endeavor and false positives, we finally got the dreaded memo from our benefactors, that we were to shut down operations, we are a white elephant, and were pointed to one of our most embarrassing events as an example of the wasteful nature of our cause. (we once thought a weird signal was the first sign of intelligence life beyond Earth and made an announcement with much fanfare, but it turned out it was just the mess hall microwave’s interference with our long range sensors).

There is only one month left of funding and a lifetime’s work, my lifetime´s in fact, will suddenly end, the only ears pointed outwards this blue marble will go deft due to petty human reasons such as “financial constrains”, what a pity.

This is one of those sleepless nights I have had lately, worried about what to do next, where to find employment?, what to do with my time? I have devoted so much time and energy to this place that the fact of leaving is what is utterly alien to me; my children and I have grown distant, my wife passed away a long time ago, and the one thing that makes sense in my life is being taken from me, such is the meaningless of life, my own life, that I have searched for intelligence beyond that of men as a mean to truly grasp, or at least cope with the emptiness that lurks within. In short, I lost everyone I loved or cared for in a vain quest to understand the universe, and now the joke is on me because there is no meaning and we are indeed alone, specks of dust…

I fell asleep in my workstation again, I don’t know what time it is and there are no windows here fortunately because my head is pounding, a feeling I know all too well is due to my only friend Kentucky Bourbon lying empty in my desk, such is now my life.
After a quick shower and some leftovers for breakfast am back to my task, monitor the void for any radio signal or the like, is the only thing left for me to do, it is so mechanically imprinted in my behavior that before I even notice am at the console, reading the readings, searching through last night recordings, the same tasks that I have spent the last 20 years doing….
Wait, what is that anomaly? There is a spike and then a clear and uniform pattern in one of those papers rolls that we use to record radio activity, they resemble those used by volcanologists for tectonics shifts or earthquakes, but ours are hooked to a vast array of antennas pointed towards deep space.

“Is this some kind of twisted joke?” My first thoughts, it can’t be a coincidence, someone out there is mocking me, mocking my life’s work, mocking may sad fate, this pattern is clearly human made, I could be anything, a radio signal launched in the 30s from nazi Germany bounced of somewhere back here, a prankster maybe? Some hacker taking over a satellite and transmitting some kind of pirate station for the deep web?

Since this are the last days of the only life I once knew, my curiosity overcame my initial skepticism and frustration, as to first determine the nature and perhaps even the contents of this strange broadcast. At least it’s not the dammed mess hall microwave, that’s for sure.

Just two weeks left of funding and I have yet to decipher the nature of the signal, so far I know is a standard radio signal, but transmitted in a wavelength that I have not seen anywhere on earth, but it is strong and clear, as if meant to be constructed to be that way, clear for anyone to hear, without interference from solar winds, or other magnetic anomalies, a wavelength for space to space transmissions perhaps? I’m starting to think this is some sort of advanced of experimental spacecraft radio signal meant to communicate with distant probes, but is it ours? Or perhaps the Russians or the Chinese are on to something? This mystery is the most activity I have seen here in years, so my last days may probe worthwhile, maybe even a ticket from this place, who knows, maybe this is a top secret government program that I just stumbled upon and perhaps when they find out I could decipher it the offer me a job… or an early grave…

I finally got it, this strange broadcast most be some kind of coded message, but clearly human made, transmitted in a secured but clear wavelength, meant for something important. The point of origin is clear too, a moon near Jupiter, there must be some kind of satellite or probe there broadcasting the message intercepted. The other people left here don’t care anymore and most have left, so there is only me now, and it couldn’t be better, this struck of good luck is my only hope to avoid an early bed in a senior’s home.

If I could only decipher the massage…
This is the last week here, this program is about to shut down for good now, and am so fu**ing close to the answer it is spiting in my face, laughing at me. I can’t understand this scribbling, some look like some kind of ideogram, like Thai, mixed other from Japanese, or Chinese, some other are kind of broken English, Russian, even Spanish. I mustn’t give up, if I am to survive this ordeal and even profit a bit, I must seek help. There was a linguist working here, Hank Skipio I think was his name, didn’t liked the fellow, but perhaps he could make some sense of this nonsense and save me, or doom me.

Hank is an unbearable a**hole, snobbish, self-centered, and presumptus, but worst of all, he is not dumb; he will know that my request for help is no ordinary “children’s homework” or some amateurish interest in multiculturalism, but there is no other way now. I must succeed, I he wants a kickback or other “gratification”, perhaps it will worth it.

The final day is here, all systems were already shuttled down, computers, servers, uplinks, antennas, and everything is being dismounted as we speak. I’m clearing my workstation, taking down my old dusty family photographs, hiding my secret ashtray, throwing away old empty bottles from those long dreadful nights I spent weeping and regretting not being there when my kids graduated from college, when they didn’t even invited me to their weddings, no being there when my wife was cut out from life support, or even at her funeral… so consumed by this place I was… but now, even if my quest for knowledge beyond humanity’s failed, there is some glimpse of hope yet.

I took secretly all the readings and the configurations for capturing the special wavelength where I can read the strange broadcast. If Hank gives me valuable feedback, perhaps I could replicate a receiver at home.

As I suspected, Hank was not without suspicion of my motives, but as an old fart like myself, fearing idleness would take him to an early grave, accepted the challenge of deciphering the message I gave him. I took him several weeks to even establish a pattern, but when it finally gave me the results, he smirked, and told me to fu** off. He told me he almost gave up in the quest for the translation, if not for his daughter, Lucy, a linguist in her own right, specialized in the study of the evolution and possible future languages of earth, created by a syncretism between the languages of today, or some bullsh*t like that. Anyhow, she took interest in the scribbling and figured out a possible translation, it wasn’t perfect, hell, we don’t know if is actually accurate, but it was something like this:

“This is the ***** unintelligible****** .. to any and all Imperial Navy Personnel, this is an emergency call under restricted channel ****unitellligeble***** …, By the Throne’s Grace, after a fierce Aetherium Storm caught our vessel adrift for a considerable amount of time, our brave Astropath guide us back to the Mateirium, and thus to the fold of HIS Will, alas, the light of the Astronomicon Shines no more! An unknown catastrophe has beset Segmentum Command and we cannot contact a single pius soul in Sol! This is a distress plea! We know we are at Jupiter, at Titan, but the Navy Shipyards are no more, as if they were never here! Nor We can detect any signal from Mars, and only confusing readings from Holy Terra itself. Escort Squadron “WoeHammer” is under way to Mars, and then to Holy Terra to assess the situation. Emperor Protects!.”

I turned to Hank and said, -“what is this sh*t? Are you fu**ing kidding me? This so called translation is nothing more than nonsensical trash! You and your daughter are pulling my hair if I still had some!”

Hank was clearly irritated, and deeply offended, he just told me to get the fu** out of his house, so I obliged.

I… am doomed, all my hopes, all my life… wasted, and this was the icing on the sh*t cake, the pathetic ending of my carrier, no fuss, no glory, just endless sleepless nights and and ungrateful boot to my a** as a goodbye… all is lost, all for nothing…

I…. ill just move on… there is nothing else to do.

A month after the “strange broadcast” debacle, and am already a mess, I have not showered or shaved, or even left home since then, but necessity calls, as am out of foodstuffs and even if my life holds no more meaning, am not looking forward to die yet, so I will take a quick trip to the store to buy some tv-meals and bourbon and get on with my life.

As enter the shower, I hear the phone ringing, but ignore it. Then the doorbell ringing, but still, I’m busy showering, and I frankly don’t care who it is, a bible sales man or some other misfit. I’m not home for anyone.

Finally am ready and almost presentable to brave the world to get some grub, and as I open my front door, there are to G-man and a van parked in front of my duplex… this is not a good sight, nor sign.. at all… they must have figure it out that I was intruding into government stuff, even by accident, or that I could make a receiver to hear them, even if the message I intercepted was garbage, perhaps it was still classified, or coded, o god knows what, the will take me for questioning and there was not a single thing I could do about it.

As I feared, they identified themselves as FBI Agents, asked if my name was *****, I nodded, and they took me to their unmarked van.
Once in there, they cut to the chase, and asked me of my work at the SETI Center, my years of experience, and about some “unintelligible message” the knew I intercepted at SETI. They then showed me a blurred satellite image, the where in the form of something like three weird high heeled shoes, shadowing the surface of mars, the photo was a couple of days old they say.

The agents told me, that they had orders to take me to “Central” and it was not optional for me to go. So it seems that my services would be needed once, but for what, I don’t know, but now am eager to find out.

End of Part One

Re: Strange Broadcast (short story)

Posted: 30 April 2016, 02:51
by Inspector of War
Looking awesome so far! I like the unique POV for such a simple concept. It adds a degree of realism, something not to far off from our own world and time.
My only gripe is punctuation. There could be more periods to break up the run-on sentences.
Other than that, keep it up! I look forward to the next instalment of this story.

Re: Strange Broadcast (short story)

Posted: 30 April 2016, 06:31
by Lord-Cptn. Patilludo
Inspector of War , thanks for the feedback!

To be honest, I didn’t proofread it before posting it and now after reading some isolated paragraphs I see that I made a few additional mistakes and typos, I will address them tomorrow.

As for the story so far, am glad that you liked the theme and the context.

When I saw others publishing their SW and 40k crossovers it struck me, what about a “what if” scenario set in our own timeline?
Sometimes I just imagine stuff like, what if we are not actually on earth? What if we are a long forgotten human colony, in the middle of nowhere, and suddenly an Exploration fleet stumbles upon our backwater world with the intention of bringing us into the fold of the Imperium? Which nations would stand against it, which ones would kneel before the might of the navy, the astartes, the Imperial guard even? How could it shake our grasp of our own existence and place in the universe? Would religions fall? Etc.

I think these are the topics that my future chapters would touch, something in the vein of a sudden realization of humanity on earth that we are not alone, but we are not being invaded by utter aliens, but by our own brethren.

Re: Strange Broadcast (short story)

Posted: 01 August 2016, 11:17
by Tiamath
Absolutely love your story!

I am looking forward to the next part.
Since I've read somewhere that sometimes ships emerge out of the warp before they even enter I kept wondering how far into the past can you be thrown.
Your story raises few interesting questions. How will the immortal Emperor react to seeing his servants from 40k years in the future, is he omniscient and already knows or is he blind to their presence so far.
How will the Imperial ship react to finding terra in its primitive state?
So many questions :?:

Re: Strange Broadcast (short story)

Posted: 01 August 2016, 12:51
by Ashardalon
awesome story, depressingly real just like 40k should be :p

Since I've read somewhere that sometimes ships emerge out of the warp before they even enter I kept wondering how far into the past can you be thrown.
Your story raises few interesting questions. How will the immortal Emperor react to seeing his servants from 40k years in the future, is he omniscient and already knows or is he blind to their presence so far.

possibly looking at it way to simply, what if earth is just a copy of Terra made during one of the warp storms as a backup plan by tzeensh, tzeensh really loves backup plans
but to answer the question about how far back can you go, very very far, eldar can unmake slaanesh if they actually put some effort into it but that would make the last few millennia into a lie, giving all the souls sacrificed to tzeensh instead of dividing them equally among the gods... very bad idea
the emperor conundrum is why i think the copy in a different timeline idea is more probable, the emperor doesnt seem like a guy who would forget stuff like that, and he was a psychic superhuman halfgod thing since the day all those cavemen shamans killed themselves to make Him, so if the FBI can find out, it seems probable that He would too

How will the Imperial ship react to finding terra in its primitive state?

look at the middle east and give me an answer that isnt exterminatus :?
although considering imperiums probable outlook on the rest of the world, it could just be exterminatus, exterminatus and then 20 magma bombs just to be shure :D