General Science Fiction posted August 28, 2020

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The future, could be the past

An indication of life

by Brad Bennett


"Alpha Base, this is Recon Probe, Nimbus, at the outer sector.”
"Go ahead, Nimbus.”
“We are within a solar system that suggests an earthlike planet. We have detected the possibility that it may contain life. We will explore this and respond with our findings.”
“Acknowledged probe Nimbus, that's excellent news. We will be standing by waiting for more data. Good luck."
Arlon turned off his communications and switched to his control panel. He set the entry program for his spacecraft to begin orbiting the newly discovered planet.
“The surface looks uninhabitable,” his second crewman, Cylus, remarked. “Seems odd, we shouldn't receive any data from it.”
“Yes, strange, but our scanning says it has a large advanced orbital satellite.”
“Could be an observance scanner from another civilization?”
"Maybe, but there's been no recorded visitors to this system.”
As they neared the planet, Recon Nimbus’s rockets quickly adjusted into an orbit. Arlon switched on the port side view. The two men gathered at the window to gaze upon the vista rotating below them. They were greeted with nothing but bleakness.
“There can be no life down there,” Cylus remarked at the turning world. "The surface appears toxic." 
Soon, Nimbus arrived near the orbiting space structure. Cylus set a matching orbit and began holding steady beside the large craft.
“My scan shows there’s some breathable air inside,” Cylus noted. "But we'll have to crack open the hatch, there's no way we can dock to an alien craft."
"Ok," Arlon replied. "But let the air out slowly, we don't want to damage the interior contents."
Once the two men were outside in their suits, Cylus pulled a cutting device from his spacesuit pack and sawed through the hatch material. The escaping air slowly subsided. He then used a more powerful tool to cut away the airlock's metal frame. Now they were able to enter.
Arlon shined his solar lamp around the interior. Everything appeared neatly arranged, there were no signs of turmoil. He entered, and together they started forward. Soon they came to an open hatchway.
Suddenly Arlon stopped in his tracks. "Oh, my God. We have a body!”

Before them was a man's mummified corpse floating near the wall panel, the figure was lying in a sort of repose, the hands folded across his chest.
"He's been dead a very long time," Cylus observed.
The two men searched the rest of the craft, and soon discovered the bodies of two females and four more males. It was apparent they had committed some form of suicide.
"They've left a written record,” Arlon noted, "but the alien language is impossible to read. Let's check the control console's viewer. If these batteries still work, maybe we can see what happened here?”
Arlon opened the viewing screen. It immediately showed scenes of war and devastation–whole cities destroyed in clouds of death. Aron shook his head. He leaned back in the console seat.

“It’s clear what happened here, Cylus. This was a science lab platform studying survival in space when a thermal nuclear war broke out.”
“Of course, that’s it,” Cylus replied. "Their world below was destroyed in radiation; there was no one left to come for them."
"I notice this body is holding two vials," Arlon said. "I think they're for whoever discovers this place. We must store these contents in refrigeration to keep what's in them active. This cold ship is a sacred tomb."
Back on their ship, Arlon ran a chemistry scan of the two vials' contents. It appeared to be samples of separate male, and female stem cells.
“I think it’s in-vitro material from two of their bodies," Arlon reasoned. "A possibility for their species to survive."

"There’s some writing on the vials tags,” Cylus noticed. "Let me see." 

Cylus held the tags up to the light. “What do you think that means?”

"I think these are the name of the vial's materials,” Arlon replied. "We must honor them, and bring them back with us to begin life."

"Yes," Cylus agreed. He then carefully placed the vial's into the cold storage compartment.
Written on the vial's tags were the letters written by the stations crew, ADAM, and EVE.


The Future contest entry


In every science fiction drama regarding war's aftermath, there's always still hope, no matter how small that hope might be.
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