Lussac Science Complex: 22 October 2120
Andrew March checked on his navpad that he had arrived at the right place. The Lussac Science Complex was a sprawling mess that seemed to have grown rather more haphazardly than the normal habitation areas. The designation on the door of the conference room matched the one on his navpad so he entered and looked about.
The wall behind the stage, which was barely large enough to hold the desk and lectern, was taken up with a screen. There were a dozen or so lines of chairs and he selected one three rows from the front. There were seats for about a hundred and fifty people, though barely a quarter were occupied as yet. There was no sign of a rush to fill the place, a point that Andy felt was regrettable considering the subject matter.
To one side of the stage two women sat behind a desk. Andy recognised them both. The older one was Janet Davidsen and Andy was quite familiar with her work, having followed her on-and-off LSA career, publications and online lectures for the past few years. The younger woman had changed a lot since his previous encounter with her – he could still picture the tongue stuck out at him in the dome more than five years previously. He also remembered the smile that had replaced the tongue as the lift doors had closed. Her face had stuck in his memory unchanged and he compared that memory with the girl of today. Her name was Melissa Davidsen and, from what he could gather from the limited data her mother had put up on MoonNet, was the initial discoverer of the Paradise Telepathists.
A clock on a side wall clicked to 3pm and Janet stepped to the lectern. The noise level in the auditorium dropped in anticipation.
There were several minutes of introductory details, much of which was a repeat of data Andy had already seen. Then the lights dimmed and a video of some of the afflicted patients was shown. To preserve their anonymity their faces were pixelated and they were referred to not by name but by assigned numbers. Patients one and two had been the ones initially tested to see if the change from moribund lethargy to manic chattering matched the appearance of Paradise. Once the connection had been established there had been searches across the Moon for any others that showed a similar tendency.
"We now have a total of thirty-one spread across twelve centres," Janet announced. "Twenty-one female and ten male. They are all completely synchronised, even when isolated. All started approximately around the beginning of 2115, though there is an uncorroborated report of one of the men suddenly bursting into a few seconds of chatter on Boxing Day 2114."
More video was shown of the patients while Andrew recalled that the first official announcements of the discovery of Paradise had been in March 2115, a couple of months after his tenth birthday. Maybe the Boxing Day occurrence suggested that its first appearance had preceded his own momentary view of it in the dome that January.
The next half hour was taken up with analysis of what each patient was saying. There was a tendency to repeat the same phrases over, and the names of spouses or close relatives were common. Efforts had been made to determine the fate of these relations and, in most cases, it transpired that, if they had been on the Moon, then a good proportion had been recalled to Earth just before the disaster.
Janet added, "We discovered that many of the patients were also recalled but the lack of available transport at the time prevented their return. Patients one and two, along with several others, had managed to book a flight due to launch three days before the arrival of the asteroid. But that launch was delayed for more than a day for a number of reasons, not least that the crew were afraid of flying into possible danger. Eventually, it did take off but once the immensity of the asteroid's destruction had become clear, the ship swung around the Earth and headed back home."
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The Moon colonists watch in fear as an asteroid, far larger than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, plummets towards the Earth. The collision leaves the planet blackened and lifeless. Can the colonists survive their sudden en...