The Chronicles of Z’va’Xin - Story #3
The Chronicles of Z’va’Xin
A jewel beyond measure
Xin was in orbit around the insignificant, cold world. She continued following the signal till she knew it to be several kilometres directly below her, then quickly dropped down toward the icy surface. The Z’va probe stopped abruptly about a metre above the bright white surface. There was no sign of a craft or Z’va-made structure visible on the surface, the surface of which was a thick glacial-like shell almost a kilometre deep. This world made Earth’s polar regions look like a holiday paradise. The surface was all white, mostly flat, with what appeared to be a number of dirty white mountains poking through the surface at random locations far in the distance. There was no life at all, only the bitter cold wind that made an eerie sound keeping Xin company. The hardiest of cold planet life forms would have only lasted seconds on this deadly world.
Xin scanned deep into the ice below where the transponder signal continued to emanate from. There you are, she thought, I found you. The signal stopped. No sooner had she proximity scanned it than the transponder stopped transmitting. Xin theorized that it was her presence in the system that triggered the start of the transmission, and her close scan that stopped it. Xin understood, she would have done the same in a similar situation. It was a simple rule – don’t let Z’va technology be compromised by any other sentient race. Her history files had dozens of situations where this had happened. In one such case, an entire planet had accidentally destroyed itself after experimenting with technologies found within a stolen Z’va child’s toy. Silly sentients, she thought.
Three hundred meters down, entombed in the ice mass was the source of the signal – a small space craft of Z’va Prime origin, but unlike any design Xin had on file. Scanned information gathered from the ice around it, told Xin it was at least 20 million years old, but in a strange twist, 45 million years younger than herself. Yes, Xin knew all too well what it meant to be buried for millions of years.
Her reactor still had plenty of power absorbed from the Taelrok ship, so she began the process of super heating. When her outer shell was white hot, she simply turned off her anti-gravity field; let herself sink quickly down towards the ancient ship, leaving behind a trail of white steam in her wake. When Xin was within ten metres from the ship, she engaged the anti-gravity field once again, slowing her decent until she lightly touched the outer hull of the relic.
It looked like a silver jewel suspended below her in the ice. The space craft was scout ship size; no more than thirty metres long, and oval shaped like an elongated egg. It had dozens of short ridges running at various organized angles over its surface, which further delineated its form. Scanning the hull, she could not locate anything that resembled a hatch or portal to gain entry. She was not surprised however as this type of design was outdated even in her time. No, there probably was a designated phaseway somewhere on its hull but she didn’t have time to locate it, so she quickly phased herself through the neutronium hull instead.
The interior was much more foreign to her than the exterior. Xin had to keep reminding herself that this indeed was made by the same race that had created her so long ago. The interior was spartan to say the least, it was practically empty. The curved, cyan coloured walls were about ten metres wide, and less than thirty metres in length. It was like being in a large tube that tapered gradually at both ends. Directly in the centre was a hexagon shaped platform about two metres high, a metre wide, and slightly concave on top. It was as pitch black and non-reflective as the small probe’s outer shell. Xin scanned this; quickly moved to hovering position over it, accessed the ship’s computer, and turned the space craft on. The access platform glowed slightly, the cyan walls became transparent; all around her the ice that entombed the craft was now visible. Only the black platform below her remained unchanged.
It took Xin a long time to access and learn the workings of this craft – thirty-seconds at least. After all, this craft is millions of years ahead of her, but, unlike organic life forms, technology has certain limits; when an advanced race reaches those boundaries of physics, technological advancements revert to a crawl. Simply, Xin was not as incompatible with this alien looking craft as she had first feared. Even now, she was accessing its data storage device, trying to find out what had happened to this ship, and why it was in such a strange situation.
Ship’s log found!
Xin found the last entry in the ship’s log – it read:
This might be my last entry. My crew and I may very well be the last of our race.
Approximately three cycles ago, Z’va Prime was attacked and destroyed without any provocation. I still do not know who or what was responsible. It is my belief that whoever did this, came from outside our galaxy. There is nothing in our know galaxy that could destroy us so quickly and easily. It came totally without warning, bypassing all our ships, probes, outposts, and warning beacons.
I know that I am breaking a law punishable by banishment, but I doubt there will be anyone left to enforce it. I have phased this ship deep in the glacier and have downloaded my Star Cruiser’s entire library directly into the data storage of this science ship. It is the only craft on the Cruiser capable of storing this amount of information. Within this small ship is Z’va Prime’s total knowledge of the known Universe. It includes the knowledge from hundreds of worlds – science, history, art, music... Well, no need for a long list, let me just say simply, it contains... EVERYTHING.
I’ll be damned if I let this knowledge phase into oblivion! Hopefully, some of us may survive to reclaim this knowledge at a future date. If not, I pray that any race that may find this ship has the wisdom to use the contained technological knowledge for constructive purposes. Some will argue that I am leaving what amounts to devastating power to a cave dweller, but I can’t get past the thought of such a great loss.
I have just received a message from my second in command. Some of the fleet remains, however, scouts report all of our colony planets have been destroyed as well! I must return to my ship. What is left of our fleet is regrouping within the Tendril Nebula, just outside our system. We are hoping it will mask our presence long enough to form a counter-strike.
May your universe ever expand.
End of log.
Xin was sitting on the great library of Z’va Prime! For the first time in her existence, she did not know what to do. After all, she was a planetary information gathering probe, not a politician or even a ship’s captain. She knew that the scientific technologies contained in this library should not fall into the wrong hands. What were the right hands, she wondered? Her personal feelings, experiences, and basic self destruct rules could not apply here. Instead, Xin relied on her logic programming for a course of action, and accessed the library for guidance. She studied multiple philosophies, planet histories, religions, legal debates; anything that would help her decide whether to destroy this library here and now or preserve this knowledge safely somehow.
She noted that multiple world histories contained account after account of great amounts of knowledge being lost through natural disasters, wars, and even at the hands of its original owners. Strange, Xin thought, why would a civilization destroy its own acquired knowledge? She had almost given up on understanding the actions of organic sentients. From the histories, it seemed that the passing on of knowledge from one era to the next was a constant struggle, especially for the younger, warlike civilizations. Two strides forward, often one stride back, and sometimes several.
Xin began to agree with the star cruiser’s captain and next put her energy into solving the safe preservation of the library, if that was possible.
Minutes passed as Xin ran through the many possible solutions, but no matter how complex or clever each one was, it always came back to her first idea. Leaving the library here under the ice was not a solution; hiding it anywhere else wasn’t either. There was always the possibility of a natural disaster freeing it, an alien ship within proximity scanning range stumbling upon it, even a meteor smashing this tiny ice world into a trillion pieces, sending the ship adrift in space. No, she would download the entire library into her own data storage unit. Just one small problem – she didn’t have the capacity.
Once again she consulted the library....
Heading: Data Storage Devices.
Subheading: Archive Data Storage Schematics.
Xin first downloaded all the data she had collected in her travels directly into the library, as this would be otherwise lost by what she was about to do. Next, on a molecular level, she reformed her own data storage unit into a library level archive storage unit using the specifications from the schematics. It was a more elegant design than her old unit, much more efficient, and took up only half the space. Finally, she downloaded the entire library into her new enormous data storage device.
The great library was now within her permanently. She would self destruct if she thought she had too; she even wrote a self destruct program which would do the same if the data were tampered with directly had she been incapacitated.
Now, what else could she upgrade? Xin consulted the library again, exploring probe and space craft technologies as well as anything else she might find useful. Several hours later, she had upgraded just about everything, added some new features; she even had some room and raw materials left over in her interior. Xin decided to leave this room open so that she could consult the library, and build whatever she needed at the time. Self improvement was one of a Z’va probe’s directives and Xin took full advantage of this golden opportunity. She was a larger, older model; as a result, there was much more room in her interior for the upgrades, and retrofits due to the advancements in miniaturization since her absence. Xin was now more versatile and powerful than all past Z’va probes. As a matter of fact, she now had more in common with a Z’va battle class star cruiser than a probe. The better to protect the library, she thought.
Next, Xin completely wiped the science ship’s archive data storage device of all its library knowledge. She then reformed the device on the molecular level just to be sure – the ultimate reformat.
The entombed science ship was her final priority. Xin had a use for this craft the moment she realized it was still functional. She scanned the ship, made any necessary minor repairs, filled its drained energy storage cells directly from her reactor, and powered up all the ship’s systems.
The ship’s artificial intelligence was very basic. It was a craft designed to be directly controlled by several science officers, so a conversation with it was like trying to talk to a family pet. It did what it had to do, could protect itself when in danger, and could follow simple commands. However, on the more positive side, this ship had many of the same features Xin now had. The main differences were Xin’s far superior energy storage, armament, and of course, sentience.
Xin accessed the ship’s control programs directly, told it to super heat its outer hull, turn on the anti-gravity device, and melt its way up to the surface. Phasing would have taken too much energy judging by the mass of the ship.
The small craft slowly rose up out of its icy grave. Xin remained at the controls, hovering over the hexagon platform. When it was free of the glacier, the ship moved straight up into the sky, increasing speed from the possible to the impossible. In a few seconds, the science vessel disappeared into a black sky filled with a multitude of shimmering stars.
The craft left the small, icy world quickly behind and headed toward the yellow star of this system. Xin needed to refuel herself and her new acquisition for the long series of space folds to reach Earth once more. She felt a strong need to go back to this planet. There was something special about these humans. Their brain scan match to her makers was remarkable of course, but there was something else. She felt it briefly when she connected with the human’s brain – an insatiable thirst for knowledge. The Travelers of Z’va Prime had these same needs, thoughts, feelings. Their minds were always soaring beyond the spherical confines of their homeworld. Xin needed such a human.
On her way back to Earth, Xin thought about what she would do now that she was on her own. Z’va Prime was no more, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t continue with her directives. She would continue to explore this galaxy, update and add to the Z’va Prime library, and search for an advanced, wise race worthy of receiving its upload. The great library of Z’va Prime will not be lost. History will not repeat itself this time. Yes, that is what I will do, Xin thought, but first, I need to find a real companion. I like this science vessel; I think it likes me, but the conversations are always too one sided, she smiled inside.
(To be continued.)
Note: A Z’va cycle of time = approximately 1.125 Earth hours.
Note: This is the third of a series of short stories.
The stories will be written in a serial type sequence of installments.
Other stories to come based on popularity and interest from you the reader.
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© 2011 Robert G. Moons
This work of fiction is the sole property and copyright of Robert G. Moons.
Please do not print or use without permission of the author.
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