The Sentinel – A Short Story

For 200,000 years it travelled through space to reach it’s destination. A star named Gliese 581 by a dying race in search of a new home. The ship was now the only indication in the universe that the people who created it ever existed, it’s sole purpose was to reach it’s new home and give humanity a second chance.
It spanned three kilometres in length, it’s surface was smooth with no visible markings or flaws; it’s oval shape resembling that of a blue whale. Inside the ship all was still, most of it’s energy had been used to reach the necessary speed to make it’s journey. On the the ships bridge a lone sentinel sat before a row of now blank screens. The android measured 18 feet tall. It had ensured the ship remained on course until its power cells had run down, now it sat and waited.
The ship entered the Gliese system; as it sped toward the central star the ships hull started to react to the sun’s light, as the light intensified solar cells in the ships hull began to darken as they soaked up solar energy. With every second more and more energy was absorbed and it’s hull seemed to shimmer as the solar cells reacted to the light. The hull of the ship then began to split apart as plates moved and shifted reshaping itself forming a huge dish absorbing energy and shielding the rest of the ship from radiation.
The ship showed no signs of slowing down as it sped towards the sun soaking up more and more energy. Inside the ship systems started to come on-line the panels on the bridge in front of the sentinel began to flicker to life information on the ships trajectory, velocity and structural integrity hopped around the screens as if competing for attention.
The sentinel sat still but a faint pulsing green light in his showed that he was charging up. On the panel in front of him a warning flashed on the screen announcing that the ship was approaching the star and a course change was required. A large hand reached up and touched a button. The ship rotated on it’s access altering its trajectory so that the suns gravity would catch it as before being flung back out of the suns grasp on the other side like a slingshot. Now the ship was on it’s final bearing bringing it to Gliese 581.
As the ship entered orbit around the planet it began to transform. The main ship began to expand and contract, huge sections of the ship jutted out, rotated and unfolded connecting to new sections. After several hours the ship that arrived at the planet was no longer recognizable in its place a huge city of towers and blocks encircled the immense solar array that had shielded the ship from the sun. From one of the newly formed sections a panel opened, eight pods emerged; a glow indicating engine ignitions as they propelled themselves toward planet. These orbital drones would would go into synchronised orbit and begin to map the planets terrain, weather systems and look for signs of mineral resources that could be harvested.
Inside the ship began to transform as well, during it’s journey it was mostly a solid block but now that it had arrived rooms and corridors began to appear small robots powered up and went about setting up up larger machines, checking systems and making preparations for the mission ahead.
In the the ships core a large blue orb started to glow and expand as it expanded it began to shift from a solid mass into a fluidic state as it turned it increased in speed. An array of golden rings encircling it began to spin generating a field of energy which levitated the spinning blue orb. The orb shook violently with flashes of light emanating from within with blue flames bursting forth. There was a blinding flash and the orb erupted into a massive ball of blue and gold flames it’s energy being contained within the field generated by the spinning golden rings. The Oracle had awakened. A signal on the bridge told the sentinel that the Oracle was ready to speak with him. The sentinel rose from his seat and made his way to the core of the ship.

The sentinel approached the Oracle, as he got closer a voice said
‘It is time’. He walked toward a panel and pushed a button, an opening appeared; inside there was a pod. The sentinel reached in and removed the pod placing it on the ground in front of the Oracle. A screen on one side of the pod displayed an image of DNA code the sentinel pushed a few buttons and a series of lights began to indicate that the initiation sequence had begun, a metal canopy opened revealing a crystal structure inside the crystal a grey cloudy liquid began to churn and glow. The screen on the pod showed molecular strands of DNA forming and clumping together. The clumps began to join together becoming larger and larger soon cells appeared, these cells divided generating new cells which divided again and again. This process continued until the form of a embryo was visible. The sentinel pushed a button, inside the pod a small crab like robot approached the embryo it approached the growing embryo and suspended a series of small golden plates around the embryo. As the embryo grew so did the plates.
The sentinel looked up at the Oracle and said
‘He is ready.’ The large orb of golden blue flames pulsed rapidly, a red glow began to emanate outwards filling the room, beams of light shot forward from the Oracle striking the pod. The sentinel lifted the pod and pushed it towards the Oracle. The pod resisted as it encountered the energy barrier containing the Oracle; with a massive thrust the sentinel sent the pod into the centre of the spinning ball of energy and all went dark, the Oracle had changed state into what appeared to be a ball of solid rock. The sentinel waited.
After a time a crack appeared on the sphere of rock that the Oracle had become the blue flames began to emerge; another crack appeared, then another and another there was a flash and the Oracle returned to as it was. The pod emerged; the sentinel grasped it and returned it to the floor in front of the Oracle. Inside lay the figure of an adult male human.

The sentinel pushed the pod out of the room and done a long corridor to an door. The door opened and inside was a large garden with trees, flowers, birds and insects. The sentinel pressed a button on the side of the pod, it opened the man lay motionless and then began to twitch, his eyes opened and he gasped for a breath. He looked around the room with wide eyed wonder. The Sentinel approached him and handed him some clothes.
‘Am I dead?’ the man said.
‘Not any more’ said the sentinel. ‘Put those on’ he said.
‘Who are you?’ the man asked.
‘My name is Noah’ the sentinel replied.
‘Where are we?’ said the man.
‘We are aboard the Ark’ replied the sentinel.
“Noah”…”Ark”…that’s original’ the man thought to himself.
‘Not really’ said the sentinel. ‘however, it seemed appropriate at the time. You have been…away…for a long time and it will take time for your memories to become accessible. Your memories will return in time but there is much to be done so allow to explain why you are here.’ The sentinel Noah brought the man to a large screen on one side of the garden an image of Earth was displayed.
‘I assume you know what this is’ Noah said.
‘of course’ The man said.
‘Well, it is gone. All that remains is this ship and you’ Noah said.
‘What happened?’ asked the man.
‘around the beginning of the 22nd century mankind realized that it could not continue on it’s narrow minded view of itself and needed to make a concious decision to exist as a single species rather than as a collective of different tribes. For a time things were good huge leaps were made technologically and humanity prospered however the damage to the planet during the 21st century had taken it’s toll on the eco-sphere and the planets ability to sustain life was rapidly fading. Humanity realised that there was no way out. The nearest planet that had the potential to support life was to far away to send a ship with enough resources to sustain even a small crew. Humanity stared extinction in the face and decided it was all or nothing. ‘
‘What happened?’ the man asked.
‘The Oracle was created.’ Noah said. ‘As technology evolved humanity learned to use computers to communicate beyond their physical forms to the point where one mind could interact with another directly, this developed to a point where a persons physical death did not mean the end of their existence. Storage devices were built to house these…souls. When it was clear that humanity could no longer survive on the planet a plan was put in place to construct the Oracle which would be a single vessel containing the souls of close to 3 billion people. The next stage was to construct this ship utilizing the last of Earth’s resources and send it out in to deep space to find a new home and rebuild the human race.’
‘So what’s my role in all this?’ The man asked.
Noah began to speak
‘You were chosen by the oracle to…’ An alarm sounded, Noah ran over to a computer terminal and pushed a button, warning messages and images flashed on the screen. He turned to the man and said
‘Follow me.’ Before running towards the door. The man followed and together they ran to the ships bridge. On a large screen the planet was displayed. Noah went to his control console and pushed a few buttons and the perspective of the image began to shift.
‘What’s happening?’ Asked the man.
Now worked furiously at the myriad of screens and panels in front of him filtering to the data that flashed before his eyes.
‘When we arrived in orbit a number of probes were launched to survey the planet, they were to locate resources and select areas that would be suitable for building the first settlements.’ He turned to the man ‘They have found something unexpected’ Noah pointed towards the large view screen and the man looked.
On the screen an image appeared of the planets surface and it began to zoom in as it did an image of a huge city began to appear.
‘The probes do not detect any indication of life down there but there is a strange energy pattern emanating from that city.’ Noah said.
‘What do we do?’ the man asked.
‘We?’ asked Noah. ‘My task is to watch over this ship. You will have to go down and investigate’.
‘Alone?’ asked the man
‘Yes. Alone. The energy it took to return you to life was immense and it will take some time before the oracle can store up enough to generate more…companions.’ In the mean time you will have to investigate. But fear not you will be well protected and equipped to tackle any scenario’
A few hours later the man was on board a smaller ship and heading towards the planets surface. He could hear Noah’s voice to the communications device that was built into his protective suit. ‘The ship will land just outside the city, use the roller pod to bring you to the source of those energy readings’.
The Roller pod was a large two wheel vehicle that looked like a hybrid between a tank and a motorcycle. The man climbed on board and activated the controls the heads up display in his suit indicate how to operate the machine. The Roller pod was fast and easy to manoeuvre and the man sped towards the city.
The city appeared to be deserted for sometime yet built to last, there was little sign of decay. Noah’s voice came through.
‘I see you are nearing the energy source. What do you see?’ Noah asked.
‘There is a large building in front of me, steps leading up to large double doors, The doors are open but I can’t see inside.’
A message flashed in front of the HUD to activate the lights on the Rollerpod. And the man drove up the steps and through the doors.
‘What…do…you….s..e…’ Noah’s voice cut out.
The Rollerpod slowed and came to a halt, the lights dimmed and went dark. The man pushed at the controls but nothing would respond. The hatch opened unexpectedly. The man climbed out and looked around. Behind him he could see the large double doors closing behind him. He ran towards them but it was to late, The doors shut and the darkness engulfed him.
After a time the man became aware of a faint light of in the distance. He started to walk towards it. After a time the man arrived at another smaller set of doors. A blue light emanated from within. He opened the door and stepped inside. He was immediately taken aback before him he saw a large sphere of blue and gold flames that he knew was the Oracle but knew it was impossible for the Oracle was on the ship he had just left.
There was a flash and from within the sphere the shape of a man emerged and walked towards the man. The man stared amazed as he saw himself walk towards him. For a moment the two man looked at each other. Then the man who had emerged from the ball of light spoke.
‘Welcome home’ he said.

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