Between the noise a sentence hid that could hold the key to Earth’s survival. Our satellite dishes had picked up the signal from Rigel just before the planet had exploded, the result of a fatal experiment with nuclear fusion to counter the effects of a dying sun.
Earth too would soon be faced with this problem, so it had keenly followed the progress the Rigelians had made. From radio waves, beamed across light years of space, Erica Kim, head of the SETI 7 program, had reconstructed invaluable mathematical formulas, that had allowed the world’s leading scientists to build top-secret fusion reactors. But now Rigel was no more, it seemed they had a ticking time bomb on their hands, and no way to know how it might go off.
The final radio wave from Rigel was the last remaining hope. If Erica could sift through the noise and find out the race’s final words, it might reveal the flaw in the fusion process.
She had been labouring for months on the signal, erasing every superfluous toot, whistle and plunk, filtering the thick static that hung like a dense fog over the message, when words finally appeared. Erica scraped away layer after layer, delving into the sound, fiddling at audio knobs till the early hours of the morning, headphones on her ears.
Jubilant because of the breakthrough she stormed into the scientific task force meeting the next day, waving a piece of paper, explaining she had finally cracked the code.
The scientists, as they read the message, were dumbstruck however. They handed back the note to Erica.
“Have you read this?”
She had, but had not paid much attention to what it actually said.
Rereading the massage now, she knew it was no mere sentence.
This was a death sentence.
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