Another fan! Thanks SanChonino. Glad you are enjoying it.
* * * * * * Secrets Revealed
(2 of 2)
“That looks like the old United Nations insignia,” Ramirez said.
Rhona nodded. “It appears so, sir. Though it’s obviously been modified somewhat.”
The emblem was similar to the one used in the mid-twenty first century, composed of a flattened projection of Earth enclosed by two olive branches. But this emblem had done away with the Earth continents. In their place were two starbursts, one larger than the other, with an even smaller one on the opposite side. The three stars were set in a roughly triangular pattern.
Rhona gently touched the screen as if she could run her fingers over the low relief carving and feel the stone itself. “Those larger starbursts must represent Centauri’s A and B and the smaller one must be Chrion.”
“A new United Nations for a new Earth,” Ramirez said. “Whoever was in charge of building this place was quite the idealist. Though from the looks of this city, idealism only got them so far.” He chuckled to himself. “Realism always trumps idealism. I wonder what those people would think if they knew the old United Nations has been dissolved?”
Rhona cast a sidelong glance at Ramirez. “The goals of the United Nations were quite noble, sir. It was created in the belief...the hope...that humanity could set aside differences and work together for the common good. And idealists are always neeeded, sir. Their passion is what pushes inevitable and necessary change.”
Ramirez shook his head. “The old United Nations was a glorified debating society, Doctor, with many of its member nations far from interested in the common good. A number of UN programs were dreamed up simply because key members wanted to buy UN influence, not because they were in the best interests of the oppressed.”
Rhona’s expression cooled. “Some were, but most weren’t, sir. Remember the Twelve Minute War between Pakistan and India? The UN acted decisively in the aftermath and probably saved countless millions of lives. In that moment, your ‘debating society’ united under a common cause despite their past failings. It is
Ramirez pursed his lips. “That’s true. Extreme crisis can bring out the best in men. But it’s not in our nature, Doctor. If it were, why the need for something like a United Nations in the first place?”
A report from Myers interrupted their conversation. “Probe Two has just gone online, sir. All systems green.”
Rhona touched a control and images of the somber but proud remnants of the United Nations city disappeared. Images from Probe Two, about two hundred kilometers to the southwest of Probe One, revealed a city more rugged and practical compared to its UN counterpart. A huge banner, tattered but mostly intact, fell from the top of the tallest building in the city center. A hexagon emblem with a downward graphic arrow piercing the inside was embroidered on it.
“That’s some impressive regalia,” Ramirez said with the slightest hint of admiration. He straightened, crossing his arms. “I would deduce from the structures and that banner that these were a very proud people. Wouldn’t you say, Doctor?”
Rhona glanced up at Ramirez, who had a measured look about him. She was uncertain whether he was genuinely moved or if he was merely toying with her.
“I’m no archeologist, sir, but the city does have a certain air of...intimidation about it. The large banner gives it quite a martial flair.” She grinned. “Probably settled by a bunch of militant realists. Wouldn’t you say, sir?”
Ramirez smirked. “Most likely.” He leaned closer to Rhona and said barely above a whisper, “Remember, Doctor. Militaries fight wars so there can be peace.”
Rhona’s eyes flared with indignance at Ramirez’s comment, the muscles in her face tense. Ramirez continued to hold his face close to hers but with a look of mock innocence as if he was unaware of having said anything distasteful.
Then he winked. Rhona’s burning eyes changed from anger to reproachfulness. She relaxed, giving Ramirez a sidelong stare as she slowly turned back toward the terminal, the faintest smirk on her face. She and Ramirez had had many friendly but heated debates during their voyage to Chiron about the dichotomic tendencies of man; that man was an aggressive creature, always leaning toward conflict with himself and nature; or that man was a benevolent creature, capable of doing incredibly good things if unhindered by external negative impulses. More often than not, Rhona’s sheer force of will allowed her to have the last word, wearing Ramirez down and forcing him to the throw in the towel.
But Ramirez had pulled his old trick of broaching the subject while they were both on duty. Since he was the superior officer, Rhona was powerless to properly counter his statement without Ramirez pulling rank. And she would never think of countermanding her superior on his own bridge and in front of the other officers. Ramirez shrewdly played off her regard for protocol so he could have the last word. It was a cheap shot that really irritated her. She silently swore he would pay dearly at their next off-duty meeting.
- - - - -
The last of the Ganymede
probes reached Chiron’s surface two and a half hours later. The crew continued to get an eyeful. “Gort”, the central mainframe, had bogged down more than once as it struggled to quickly archive torrents of probe data.
As the hours had gone by other cities, bases and outposts were revealed in greater detail. Human settlements were scattered all over Chiron’s three main continents. The heaviest concentrations were located in the large central continent. These central continent cities were almost fully developed and quite modern.Ganymede
scientists had uncovered six unique construction characteristics of Chiron’s dormant cities and labeled then accordingly. The “UN style” settlements in the middle of the center continent and the “bunker style” southwest of them were among the first to be so designated. A group of settlements to the northwest were constructed in the “natural style” since those settlements utilized the environment of Chiron itself, set into towering natural rock formations and hills. To the northeast were chic, lavish settlements that seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. These were dubbed “Morgan style” because nearly all of the buildings sported a triangular logo with the name “Morgan” underneath. Set into the mountains of the southeast were the settlements of the “Galileo style”, so named because the most prominent buildings were towering cylinders topped with golden domes and large telescopic observatories.
The eastern continent also contained many settlements but these were uniformly underdeveloped and primitive. The continent itself was mostly barren and desert-like which, scientists guessed, may have helped attribute to their anemic state. The largest city, however, contained a single magnificent structure of tall spires, stained glass, and flying buttresses. Thin, wooden doors, fifty feet in height, pointed the way into the sanctuary. Inlaid above the main entrance was a massive, circular emblem containing a cross. The glittering, imposing structure seemed to rise from the midst of the dusty, ramshackle buildings that surrounded it, painting both an ethereal and paradoxical picture. Deducing the area to be some sort of religious center or culture, the scientists half-jokingly classified the structures under the “pilgrim style”.
The western continent was mostly empty except for a couple of “Morgan” and “bunker” style settlements at the northern and southern extremities respectively. The great swath of unused quality land between them had puzzled the scientists.
But the mystery had been solved by the hard working Dr. Mitra temporarily in charge of the research bridge. On a hunch, he ordered two of the probes operating on the western continent to switch from visual mode to ground penetrating sonar. Immediately, computerized images revealed a spider web of underground tunnels of all shapes and sizes scattered over several hundred kilometers. The five underground settlements were all connected by long singular tunnels so as to allow movement back and forth between them. It was an awesome display of subterranean engineering. The scientists simply referred to them as “the tunnels”.
Seven distinct structure classifications that possibly indicated seven distinct human cultures that had formed on this new world. The scientists were too busy gorging themselves on Gort’s seemingly endless streams of probe data to properly digest the significance.
But the officers, especially Ramirez and McKibben, were already beginning to piece together the larger picture. Humans from Earth had built these structures. They had lived and thrived in them for a time. There was strong evidence that violent conflicts had taken place. And now the entire planet was completely devoid of human life.
They wondered whether the conflicts of generations past had been brought with Unity
and deposited on this new world.