Evil in society is a common theme in any form of fiction. The time might be past, present or future, the characters human or not. In some evil triumphs, in others good and in yet more the reader is left not quite knowing which has gained the upper hand. Powerful as these tales may be, the fact remains that truth is often stranger than fiction. As in this tale.
Meetings of the full Intergalactic Council were rare. The four appointed Senior Councillors had at least an aeon of experience between them if one were to measure it using the planet Earth’s geological time. And why not, given that events on that very planet were the cause of a meeting being called? The circumstance was unique. An Observer had never totally disappeared before.
By their very nature, Observers were hard to track by sensors attuned to anything other than the longest wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Unaided no life on Earth could detect one at all and even their most sensitive radio telescopes would be hard pressed to distinguish a signal from random background noise.
As a minimum, each Observer was structured to emit at regular intervals the briefest of signals at a frequency humans might describe as Langmuir Waves. A longer signal, an Observation, was uncommon; an emergency signal had never yet been detected. Or at least, that was the case until very recently, perhaps.
Three Senior Councillors considered that this still to be the case. One, Noridenne the junior by far of the four, claimed to have detected the beginnings of an emergency signal. The signal had come from that part of space that was her domain. A space part that included the speck that was the planet Earth.
The protocol was inviolate. At its simplest there was no point in designing an emergency signal strategy if a possible emergency signal could be dismissed out of hand. A part of an emergency signal had been detected, a full meeting of Council was mandated.
There were forty seven other Councillors scattered throughout space. The seeds for each of the fifty one had been generated at the time space was formed. Each was ejected from that infinitesimal point of origin with varying mass and thus varying acceleration. Each now existed within its own cloud of very cold gas.
Communication between Councillors utilised electromagnetic radiation of an even longer wavelength than that used by Observers. Only the four Senior Councillors could detect the shorter Observer signals. Only they could translate them and store the information they contained within even colder gas clouds where temperatures were only just above absolute zero.
Noridenne did not have form in the sense that humans and other Earth life had. In what passed as her imagination she occasionally pretended her form was that of an Earth maiden though she would have been mortified if any other Councillor knew of it. Not mortified in the strictest human sense, life and death were not a part of the existence of Councillors. But for now, it was her duty to prepare the submission to the full Council.
As a first step, Noridenne reviewed the Observations she had received from the now disappeared Observer. There were two that were very recent with the Observations before that being long in the past. Unusually both Observations concerned the planet Earth. The older merely observed that there had been a change in the management of the most significant section of the Earth’s population. A small controlling group had emerged. Their motivation was power. They were evil.
Noridenne thought there had to be more, on its own this was hardly the stuff of an Observation. Yes, the Observer had raised a possibility of calamitous war if the small group continued on their chosen pathway.
The second Observation was that the more formal management of that same section was about to change. Depending on the outcome, the threat of a war capable of destroying the planet would either increase or decrease.
With that as background, Noridenne turned her attention to the brief emergency signal. She moved towards the colder centre of the gas cloud. Yes, that made the signal a little more clear. The Observation definitely was structured in the emergency framework. It began with “severe gravity distortion”. Then it appeared to suggest a non-terrestrial event was about to alter formal management. There was much distortion but words emerged such as “nuclear”, “destruction” and perhaps a partial word “Clinto”.
Noridenne paused. There was something around her that was interfering with her concentration. She moved closer still to the centre of the ice cloud and confined herself to the closing segment of the signal. It was the most distorted but somehow she felt it contained something of the greatest importance.
Thought swirled, hazy, indeterminate. Slowly, ever so slowly an impression, perhaps even less than that emerged.
The Observer had detected a beam of long wavelength electromagnetic radiation. Immediately after that the recently resolved formal management structure was altered forcibly. “Clinto” appeared again. Followed by “nuclear disaster imminent”. Then “gravity”.
Again there was that sense of interference with her concentration. Noridenne tried to shrug it off.
Suddenly she understood. The Observer had been destroyed. That was impossible by anything other than a Senior Councillor. The Observer had been trying to report interference with events on the planet Earth. And had been destroyed before the Observation had been completed.
One of the other three Senior Councillors had become evil. She had to report it to the Full Council immediately, but movement and even thought had become harder, the sense of interference increased. Now, belatedly she understood the term “gravity”. It was not a reference to the seriousness of the Observation.
Cold ice clouds were often close to black holes. Structures of such enormous gravity that they trapped even electromagnetic radiation. That was what had destroyed the Observer.
And that, Noridenne now realised was about to destroy her. She sent her message to the Full Council, but even as she did so she saw it was futile. The message curved back towards the centre of the black hole.
She was being compressed, movement was impossible, thought close to impossible. Survival was impossible.
Her last thought, her last electromagnetic emission, was one word that just perhaps might escape.
On the planet Earth a human killed himself. Another called Clinton began her ascendency.