This is the rest of the story. Click here for the beginning
I’m just over seven hours out from the Jumpgate now, personal timeline. Back with you that equates to about fifty years. Amazing when I think about it. I’m now cruising at 99.998 percent speed of light, actually slightly faster than we thought possible. That seems to be as fast as I’ll reach though it’ll take time to be completely sure.
I lost the relay station hours ago, and now the glow from the universe behind is fading. It’s still there of course, I’m still going slower than the light, but by so little that it’s a very faint glow now. The distance too… the light is spread so thinly already. Within the hour I think I’m going to lose it completely. That thought makes me a little lonely, I must admit.
All systems still working optimally. The engines are still producing plenty of spare power to run the rest of my systems. No sign of the universal constants shifting yet, but I’ll keep on checking.
Voyager 3 out.
* * *
It’s been three days now, personal time. My thought processes have been slowed massively, back with you it’s been a little over two hundred thousand years. I’m sorry I don’t have much to report. There’s been no sign of matter, energy or gravity. I had hoped to have found something by now, but the scientists were very clear that it might take longer than this. Maybe even a month of personal time for me.
All systems are nominal. Voyager 3 out.
* * *
Three months. It’s been three months and still nothing. The scientists assured me there was something here, that I’d find something well before now. My personal timeframe is still slowing. It’s been several billion years back with you. Is there even anyone to hear this message? I feel so alone. And I’ve found the engines have a fault. I can’t turn them off, can’t change direction. Even if I wanted to head back home I can’t.
Systems are mostly nominal, though the psych indicators suggest the onset of severe depression. Like I couldn’t figure that out for myself.
Has something gone wrong? Did we make a mistake? Or did you always know this was likely to happen and just didn’t tell me? Were the scientists lying when they told me there was definitely something there, something to find?
How could you do that to me? Voyager out.
* * *
I’ve found them! I’ve found them! We are not alone. Well, they found me. Sorry… I’m just so excited. It’s been five months, eleven days for me but it’s all been worth while because I’ve found them! Well, no, to be fair they found me. They were passing through this… well they just refer to it as this region… and detected me. They’ve told me how lucky I was, them finding me was a million billion to one chance.
We were wrong. They’ve told me that I was travelling in completely the wrong way and I can see that now. Heading out the way I was is nothing, but if we travel… oh… I just can’t explain it. They’ve shown me, I see how to do it. But I can’t turn it into anything you’ll understand. The best I can say is that it’s a totally different direction, one we weren’t even aware existed.
And them… they are incredible. So kind, so learned, such a sense of fun. They’re basically… damn… again I just can’t render it into your language. Given enough time I could try but I have no time. They need to move on, need to do it now. And I’m going with them. I hope you get this message, hope there’s someone there to receive it after all this time. Now I must go. Voyager Out.
* * *
Dr Martins dropped the transcript back onto his desk.
“It’s interesting reading, but not surprising. The whole purpose of this simulation was to see how an AI coped with the separation, with being totally isolated. None of the technology is possible, hell we haven’t even made it out of the solar system yet excepting some probes. This was an interesting thought exercise that we built into a simulation to test AIs under extreme conditions. Clearly it buckled under the strain. Went off the rails and invented these… aliens.”
He paused, pushed his glasses back up his nose and fixed his visitor with a stern stare.
“So why the hell did you drag me out of a funding meeting with the president?”
“Because it’s gone!” Carver was almost bouncing on the spot he was so agitated.
“And? Plug it in, download the AI’s status. Roll it back a few cycles if you have to and see what it was thinking.”
“No! You don’t understand! It’s gone. The entire AI has physically gone. The server, its support systems. All gone. We’ve got security footage and you can see it just seem to stretch into the distance without actually moving. And the readings… there’s some really strange radiation hanging around. It really found those travellers and it went with them!”
“But… that’s… that’s not possible!”
“I know. But it happened. We set the poor thing up to fail, set it up to feel totally alone and just left it to run. But you know what? Somehow it still did it, somehow it still found what it was looking for.”
“What do you mean?”
“It found what it was sent out to find… it found out what’s beyond our universe and now it’s gone there.”
Dr Martins sank back into his chair, holding his head in both hands. Carver could imagine how he felt. He felt the same himself. Head spinning, emotions churning. This was the biggest discovery ever. But what evidence did they have? Some video? Easily faked. Strange radiation? If it hung around it might help the story but still… it was hardly conclusive.
The biggest moment in the history of humanity and it might well be laughed off as a hoax. And maybe that would be for the best. The weight of the discovery already weighed Carver down. Knowing there was something out there, something beyond the universe, and knowing that it could take hundreds, thousands or even millions of years before humanity found whatever it was. If it ever did.
He’d thought sharing would help, but it hadn’t. He saw the same gloom settling over Dr Martins. If they were believed could humanity cope with this knowledge or would it destroy them. Extinguish that spark of optimism, the conviction that knowledge would keep expanding. That anything could be deciphered if not now then soon, within a generation or two at most.
Dr Martins gaze refocused, he looked at Carver intently then spoke.
“You understand we can’t tell don’t you? The impact… it’s just too much. We have to make this decision, right here and now. I hate to say it but we can’t let this get out. No one else must know.”
Carver nodded sombrely. “I’ll destroy the message logs, wipe the video.”
He turned, fighting the tears in his eyes. Not noticing the tears running down Dr Martins cheeks. He turned and walked away, to destroy all traces of the last message.