I Left The Old World Behind

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Constellations burn steadily across a limitless black, and distant planets shine. Pale swaths mark stellar medium. Dark streaks are comets. All is a tangible, ephemeral part of the void...

I smile.

Freedom! (Focus.)

Still blasting upwards in my fullbody Deepspace Integral Suit, I scan ahead through its faceplate while slipping the final bonds of planetary gravity. There! Across the resolution-enhanced distance exist artificial structures: geodesic, spherical, and much more. Some pilot between gravitational wells, others fall endlessly in planetary orbits. One is nearest...

(Careful.) A first sign of wayward humanity...

The Outers.

I direct personal gravimetrics to brake me. This inbuilt technology begins to slow my flight before letting the effect fade away, whereupon momentum continues boosting me through the void towards a huge, and slowly spinning circular space station. Its exterior is burnished silver, with a clear strip along the outside edge and one entire far section. Inside is...

(Another is closer.)

My attention focuses upon a small, sturdy craft emerging from the incandescent view of our distant red giant sun. I pump my personal gravimetrics again, slowing further. The craft looks old, surface dark and pitted with wear from use. Its means of conveyance is a simple kind of thrust. Ion, most likely. No energy shielding. In other words...


I frown.

(Could it be what it seems?)

My field of view fills with Virtualized scan readouts as the craft fires its forward thrusters, slowing in turn. Beyond us both waits the huge, slowly spinning circular space station...

Check, check, and check. All normal.


The craft broadcast a signal.

My formerly quiescent i-shield intercepts it, flickering back to life. I come to a complete stop.

The craft comes to a gentle stop, still far before me.

First contact.

We are surrounded by starlight, amidst heavenly bodies orbiting the red giant in the void. All falling...

The craft pings me again.

Well. Friendly?

(Or unfriendly?)

I exhale.

First impressions.

I ping back.

Ok. Waiting...

The craft eventually transmits again.

My i-sphere flickers briefly again, capturing the signal again. I let the signal through. Decoding: Virtualized sound crackles, smoothing away into solid audio. "- hello? Do you read me?" The voice is deeply male, young, speaking an archaic language with an accent not unsurprising, considering cultural drift, but understandable.


"Yes," I finally answer.

Brief silence. "I'm not picking up a signal from your System transponder," the young Outer states. "Or any personal identifier."

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