Safeharbor

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I can still see the flash of light from the edge of the system, a nuclear explosion. I still can't believe it. Now I'm here and all I want to do is scream. They all stare down at me, a thousand different species passing judgment. No human has ever stepped foot here before. The translator whines in my ear, attempting to decipher the many voices in the room. I was told to be firm, blunt and unmoving... here goes...
Good day, and thank you all for coming. My name is Dr. Leanard Kines. I'm here on a diplomatic mission. I wish to be heard by the galactic community, by you. I will be discussing humanity, our controlled system named Sapia 1049-343, which I've agreed to disclose the location of, and a recent incident that will be addressed.

Now, we're not from around here. We are still new to this community. As ambassador to the core, it's my job to reveal how little is understood of my species. Our system remained unknown, vacant from any of your star charts. Even if it wasn't, our planet didn't even have a name for some time.
Humanity was spread out across the galaxy for ages, forced to leave our home. Some of us ventured where we shouldn't, myself included. I never knew our home-world. I grew up on stations in the core doing labor for those who failed to realize I was part of a new species. They eventually found out, which led to me arriving on this planet. I arrived in chains. I was captured for study, along with many others. Like with all new species, many wished to understand how much of a threat humanity could be biologically.

This was common all over the galaxy. Everywhere humanity went, it was either met with indifference, just another backwater species in need of labor, or it was met with hostility and fear. Many of my species escaped their captors, usually with the aid of someone who was in the know.
Idioms… do they have idioms? Should I rephrase? I see the sailiu ambassador, scales and all. He looks worried. That's a strange thing. We call the species of the galaxy 'The Others.' Yet, they have such similar emotions, such similar expressions. Are we so different?


     
It was smart to leave separately. Through separation, the odds of getting someone's attention would decrease. A group of individuals on your vessel that share the same species can be unnerving. Looking like a runaway slave is one thing, but a group of people looking like runaway slaves could easily cause trouble. "Safe harbor" was the code we used, a command placed in most technology originating from Earth.

Those who know the location, and likely knew of this particular feature in human technology, would bid those they helped farewell with the phrase "I'll see you when you reach safe harbor." The name stuck, an apt description of our new home.

From the outside, this seems harmless. Anyone who could understand the language would not be able to pick up the underlying meaning, and the technology could only respond to human language. For humans, the phrase "Safe Harbor" locked in coordinates. It didn't matter if you had a handheld device, if you were currently operating a human vessel, or if you are one of the rare few who possessed cybernetic implants, assuming your captors didn't rip them out.

If you had technology developed in the final days of Earth, The Safe Harbor protocols would activate. The humans who left earth were prepared. Using this well hidden feature, we were able to give coordinates to refugees seeking a home. It was a leap of faith, to be sure. Even the individual giving the coordinates couldn't ensure the planet was colonized or even habitable. It's all we had, though.


SafeHarbor

When I saw Safeharbor for the first time, I was worried. My mother told me about earth. Earth orbited a big yellow star. The planet's flora adapted to absorb this spectrum of light and reflect the less abundant light. This made the majority of flora on Earth green. Safeharbor orbits a massive blue star. Imagine my shock when I saw a planet shrouded in red, orange, and gold. On the surface, the star, Sepia, looks much smaller than the stories of earth. Blue giants are hot, so habitable worlds are further away. Naturally, I was unwilling to step off the ship for an hour or so.

The only familiar feature was a blue ocean, though a touch darker. We inherited this planet. Its surface is littered with the remains of what once was a thriving ecumenopolis, a city that covered the entire planet. Most of this massive city is gone, destroyed, and replaced by the ever expanding grasp of nature. All the planet's fauna remained isolated in massive domes, like zoos, where they maintain their ecosystems alarmingly well. Humanity settled in three locations: The colony of Dawn , Juliet, and Autumn. Each location rested in the center of ruins, with massive buildings stretching to the sky on all sides. In many ways, the ruins were the colony.

The sturdier buildings are still used as residential communities. Buildings that were structurally unstable were explored, scavenged, then safely leveled, if too close to the colony. The materials were re-purposed, and that's how we lived for years. Now I know what you're wondering: "Who built all this?" Won't they be upset if they come back?" We thought the same. Lucky for us, this is unlikely to happen. Those who built these ruins left them behind long ago, thousands of years relative to the planet's orbit. Many explorers ventured into the most important looking buildings, trying to figure out just where the previous inhabitants went.



The Pheonix

Even after discovering a planetary archive, which contained countless details relating to the planet, the system, and more, it neglects to say anything about what happened to who built them. We don't know if they died off. We don't know if they just packed up and left, or why. There are some who believe they knew something we don't. The planetary archive contained blueprints, standardized production layouts for voidcraft. This is how we were able to get back to the void so soon. We made certain modifications that would benefit our species, a few design changes to give it our own unique flair, and set about constructing the very first human frigate.
My voice cracks, my mind races. The anger builds as my anxiety goes through the roof. I feel the gun in my coat... Ok… keep calm
It was a massive operation, which is funny to say now, given just how far we've come in so short a time. We had people scouring the planet surface for some kind of factory that was left behind and still intact. Others were surveying the land in hopes of finding resource deposits we could use instead of having to re-purpose buildings that could meet other needs.

Our first vessel was referred to as The Phoenix, a mythological creature from our folklore that can emerge with renewed life from the ashes of its own death. Fitting, is it not? Before first contact, the vast majority of humans living on Safeharbor couldn't imagine alien life. Refugees counted as a growing minority. More and more were coming every day, usually in life pods or leaking shuttles they found in a junkyard. They would tell of their lives on other worlds, and it instilled both awe and fear. I'm surprised they got as far as they did, and I can't help but wonder how many didn't get far at all.

On Safeharbor, there is talk of "The Others," a term meant to identify the countless signals in space, a stream of many voices. They knew they weren't alone in the universe, but can you imagine the terror felt from that statement? Every day, it seemed, we were picking up a new language, a new message from a new species who didn't even know we were listening. Anything capable of broadcasting a signal was confiscated and made illegal for several years to keep us secret. It didn't help.


         

The Battle of The Pillars

 
I feel a lump in my throat. I take a moment to compose myself under the guise of dramatic effect. No tears.
Unity. A word with a complex meaning in any language. It's the name of an outpost, and the Warmoon orbiting Safeharbor the outpost was built on. Again, the name came well after. By this point, one could say humanity was thriving. The population of Safeharbor rested around 15,000. We had 12 frigates, 8 corvettes and 4 destroyers. We thought it was impressive until The 14th fleet, a fleet of Sailiu origin, dropped from warp. This fleet of 26 vessels opened fire without warning or provocation. The Phoenix was the first to go, followed by The Kraken, The Manticore, and The Minotaur.


The opening volley destroyed four ships, 123 lives lost, and we still don't know why. The remaining vessels retreated to Unity, hiding behind the defensive installations we reactivated on the moon. The Sailiu knew they couldn't risk their ships and so, they sent ground troops. What they didn't know, what even we didn't know, was we were being watched. 5 Eden vessels appeared, 3 corvettes and two cruisers. Their titan, The Archangel, soon followed.


 

Moment of truth



We're calling it 'The Battle of The Pillars,' named after a neighboring nebula my species has known about for a long time. Our first contact was a declaration of war. Our second was a powerful alliance. Now, I've avoided three attempts on my life today, just to stand before you. I'm here to make it clear: we will see this crime punished, or distribute this punishment on our own.
The chamber fills with cries of both outrage and praise. The Sailiu stands, screaming. Am I smiling or snarling? I feel the gun in my coat. I can scream too....
Our allies have provided the means, and the production is already underway. The Sailiu have awakened a sleeping beast. They provided the oil to a machine, a part of us we forgot. War is an old friend of ours. My daughter was on that ship. The Phoenix was under her command I watched the flash as it lit up the night. To hell with your approval. We are here. We will be heard. We will have our way.
 

Cover image: by IlhamZaini

Comments

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26 Oct, 2020 06:02

I like the bit about secret messages being planted in earth technology that only humans could understand. with the galactic community being as diverse as it is, something as simple as a substitution cypher in English could stump most every alien species that came across it.   I wanna know more about the Archangel. Just how outmatched were the humans, and how did those 6 ships turn the tide? Also, who are these saviors, and why do they come to the aid of strangers? Or, at least, what do the folks around the tavern say?   With you yourself saying that your narrators aren't necessarily reliable, I find myself putting on my tinfoil hat and questioning everything. Did the Sailiu really attack without provocation? Were the Edenites really the saviors they seemed to be? The possibilities are endless.   I'm unsure how to read the quote blips throughout the article. Are the purple and blue blurbs different narrators? Is one fantasy and the other reality?

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
26 Oct, 2020 13:19

Ooo yes indeed. I really liked the idea of the Safeharbor protocol. The archangel is a titan class vessel, sent as a message to back off. The humans weren't unmatched in the tech department, as these ships produced on Safeharbor were pretty advanced, but they misunderstood the tech so much, half of their capabilities were offline. This made The Phoenix a sitting duck. One volley, and it was gone.   The Silieu attacked for... Well it depends. They attacked because humanity is a direct threat to their place In the community. Their biology doesn't mix well, which could lead to a major problem if the Silieu can't find vaccines, which ended up being the case. The common cold could wipe out their species. The edens have a strange relationship with the galaxy. They kinda have a messiah complex.     I only now realize the quotes being different colors could be confusing. They are all meant to be taken the same way. I should fix that. Effectively, anything that isn't directly talking about Safeharbor is a dream. The articles on the colonies will see him waking up... The day after this event. Kines is neither a diplomat, nor is humanity involved in the galactic community at large.

21 Feb, 2021 19:58

Wow, this is absolutely stunning! I adore the twist at the end, where the speaker reveals that his daughter was on the Phoenix when it was destroyed. A wonderful article!

~TimeBender~Check out my Shipwright Challenge Entry: New Beginnings
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
22 Feb, 2021 20:08

Why thank ya! This was one of the earlier articles back when I was expirimenting with how I wanted the articles to work. I really enjoyed writing it, and I happy you enjoyed it!

Grandmaster AzounIV
Luca Poddighe
20 Apr, 2021 00:23

A beautiful story of an interplanetary exodus, fantastic the final touch for revenge!

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