Cosmic Noise

Cosmic Noise

This dossier contains the full complement of communications logs for the maiden voyage of UpoH Stellar 2, both received and sent.

Communication Log, UPoHS Stellar 2 to Neptune Control, Triton Base

>Cleared for launch, Stellar 2.
>Copy. Undocking now, Neptune Control. Engaging CAIA. CAIA running at peak efficiency. Transferring engine control to CAIA.
>Copy that, Stellar 2.

>Reached Triton Lagrange 4, Neptune Control. Cutting power to hydrogen drive.
>Copy, Stellar 2.
>Permission requested to engage CAIA’s spool-up procedure.
>Permission to spool-up Orion Drive granted, Stellar 2.
>>CAIA: Payload delivery in t minus 5 minutes <<
>Good luck, Captain Aguilar. See you in a few months.
>Thanks, Neptune Control! Give my regards to Mars!
>>CAIA: Payload delivery in t minus 1 minutes<<



>>CAIA: Payload delivery imminent…all systems normal<<
>>CAIA: Payload delivery successful… full thrust in 5…4…3…2…1<<

Stellar 2 Mission Briefing
“While you will have been briefed before take-off, Captain, this recording will provide you with a more thorough statement of your mission. As you well know, this will be the first manned mission beyond the heliosphere. UPoH high command has seen fit to equip your ship, Stellar 2, with the latest in computer intelligence, the Comprehensive Artificial Intelligence Assistant, or CAIA for short. CAIA will help you pilot the ship, mainly dealing with the specifics of the third-generation Orion Drive. CAIA will be responsible for regulating the life support systems on Stellar 2, freeing you of the concern. CAIA is also there for your companionship. As you were told, this will be the longest a human has been segregated, beyond radio contact, in the history of the UPoHs space program. Just as important as the main mission is the examination and maintenance of you, yourself. You were chosen from a pool of very talented people, Captain. Don’t let us down.
“That brings us to the main point of your mission. This is classified information, and I anticipate you’ll treat it with due
consideration. Back in the early days, long before the establishment of the UPoH, decades, even, before the evacuation of Earth, a radio signal was discovered emanating from all directions at once. This was taken to be a remnant of the birth of the Universe, and was seen as evidence for the Big Bang theory. However, some several years back, in 96 SF, the UPoH probe Aristarchus 3 pushed out beyond the heliopause and sent back some frankly impossible data, before losing radio contact. What little Aristarchus was able to transmit to Triton Base seemed to show that the radio signal had content. Something about Sol’s wind garbles the message – I’m a military man, I don’t pretend understand the science behind it. You’ll find a file on the specifics of it, but good luck with those. Suffice it to say, your mission is to reach a position outside of the strength of the solar wind, and either record the cosmic radio signal, or relay a more refined message back to the nearest planetary base. Nearest predictions have the Triton Base in its perihelion by the time you reach the heliopause, but that does follow no complications in your flight. If this is, in fact, the case, you should be able to set up laser communications with one of the Jovian bases, either Io HQ or Europa 5. Files for troubleshooting the most likely eventualities are located along side those detailing the Solar wind interference. CAIA should be of some use in this, too.
I’m told that the latest generation of Orion Drives should reach a height of .12c. This will push you into relativistic speeds, where a collision with any mass greater than about 2 grams would rip apart the ship, despite the depleted uranium hull. Given that you’ll be travelling through the Oort Cloud, this is, of course, of concern. To this end, Stellar 2 has been equipped with a electro-magnetic deflector array, which should push small to medium sized bodies out of your way. CAIA will handle the niceties of navigation, avoiding larger bodies. At .12c, you should reach the heliopause in just over 3 days, travel time. Once there, you will begin recording the signal and converting it into a transferable form.

Conservative estimations have you starting the return journey three weeks after this point, but this is, of course, not calculating difficulties in coding. There are a variety of scenarios planned for, including but not limited to losing laser/radio contact and damage to the thruster system. That being said, I’m told that such possibilities are diminishingly remote.

So, that has you back in the loving arms of UpoH in about a month, Captain. Your mission is fairly straightforward – CAIA should handle all the technical details, you’re merely there to babysit and troubleshoot should anything come up. Good luck soldier, and see you soon!

End of Transmission.

Stellar 2 Communication Logs, 3/13/143 13:05:31 MST

Captain’s log, day two of Stellar 2 mission.

Spent yesterday getting up to speed, cruising now. Deflector array seems to be working: the ship-board computer provides a graphical interpretation of the exterior – the ionised particles show up as streaks of multi-coloured light along the hull. Should see some real fireworks later in the day, when we get further into the Oort.

Our other computer, CAIA, is something else altogether. Even with the quantum computing used, I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of our mass was devoted to solid-state processors. The read-outs on what it’s up to are hard to believe, but, between navigating at relativistic speeds, running the Orion drive, and monitoring the life-support systems in real-time, I suppose that it does take a bit of effort. And that’s not even commenting on the AI! I’ve never seen such a comprehensive one, not even back on Mars in the Academies. I don’t know if it’s Turing complete, but I’ve yet to get the feeling that I was talking to a machine.

Played chess yesterday, a mistake. I’m not exactly a novice, but it had me beat within 12 moves. That’s what I deserve, I guess.

The artificial gravity has just kicked in – getting up to speed yesterday provided enough drag to approximate it, but now that we aren’t accelerating, the internal centripedal hoists have had to get to work. Seems like a lot of expensive perks to throw into a fairly mundane research mission, but I guess that they have to be tested somewhere. I’ll definitely appreciate it once we’ve reached proper interstellar.

That’s about it for now. Going to run some diagnostics on the communications laser system, to make sure everything is ship-shape.

Aguilar out.

End of transmission

Stellar 2 Communication Logs, 3/14/143 6:08:42 MST
Captain’s log, day 3 of Stellar 2 mission.

Reporting on mental state, as is required. Focus remains optimal, as does analytic ability. No decrease in brain function, according to the most recent scans. I guess I should report that I had a bit of trouble sleeping last night. Disturbed by dreams, though, if asked, I couldn’t really out my finger on their content. Perhaps it’s just an effect of the switch to artificial G. I’ll pay attention to it over the next couple of hours.
Today is otherwise fairly plain. We’ll be engaging the deceleration engines in about…9 hours. Till then, it’s just speeding along the Cloud. Like I remarked yesterday, she’s a real beut to watch! Here, I’ll attach a recording of the particles along the hull –
Ionised_Particles1.vid
I know that the graphical read-out is actually registering wavelengths outside the visible spectrum, but, man alive, the show puts any Día de Muertos celebration to shame. In an odd way, it’s a bit like the polar snows you get back on Mars, hypnotic in its monotony.

Gave up on chess against CAIA. Tried my hand at GO, figuring we might be able to level the field a bit. Even with a 6 piece handicap, and half a komi for CAIA, she still creamed me. I’m no professional, but I used to be a 6 or 7 dan back in my academy days. We’ll try again at 9 handicap later, and see if I can get her with that.

Last run-through the instrumentation showed normal. Looks like we’ll be able to do all the reading the UpoH could want, once we’re outside the Oort proper.

End of Transmission

CAIA Supplementary Report 3/14/143 6:22:34 MST

Captain Aguilar’s body is showing signs of tachycardia, unusual for his current state of activity and Stellar 2’s current level of acceleration/deceleration. Will monitor closely.

End of Transmission

CAIA Supplementary Report 3/15/143 2:32:49 MST

Captain Aguilar tried to engage fire-safety mechanism in section C-19 at 2:31:20 MST. Thermal monitors show negative. Particulate matter monitors show negative. Carbon monoxide and dioxide monitors showed negative. Fire-safety mechanism over-ridden.

End of Transmission

Stellar 2 Communication Logs3/15/143 2:47:32 MST

Captain’s Log, Day 4 of Stellar 2 Mission, Supplemental

Woke out of sleep, smelling burning plastic. Checked ship-board monitors, showed unusual thermal signature in section C-19. Immediately activated the fire-safety mechanisms, but CAIA over-rode my command. I took another look, and the read-outs were showing negative. I’m not sure what happened, but I could have sworn that I took the right course of action. Glad that CAIA shut down the fire system before anything extreme happened. Headed back to bed. Aguilar out.
End of Transmission

Stellar 2 Communication Logs 3/15/143 7:36:06 MST

Captain’s Log, Day 4 of Stellar 2 Mission

Not entirely sure what happened last night. Took a look at my supplemental log, and I recall looking at that monitor upon waking up, but I’m not sure that I ever saw anything strange regarding the thermal signature in section C-19. Odd.
On an unrelated note, slept terribly last night. Dreamt of my sister, strangely enough. She was there, in front of me, and suddenly she was nude. She proceeded to pull me to her bed, which appeared from thin air, though I resisted. I’m sure it was her’s – she had an old four-poster, and the one in the dream was identical. When I pulled away, her face got…strange. Her mouth and her eyes contorted, stretching to gaping holes. She started screaming a terrible cry, an ear-splitting scream, and this black ichor started to drip from her mouth, and weep from her empty eye-sockets. Really perverse stuff. That’s all I remember of it, but it’s difficult to shake the memory. Going to grab another soy-coffee after this, maybe the caffeine will help.

Despite the upset last night, all the instrumentation reads fine. We’ll be starting our deceleration pattern in about 45, the centripedal hoists have started their disengage protocol already.

We’re in the thick of it, now. CAIA tells me that she had to re-adjust our course last night – nearly crashed into a piece of rock the size of Ireland. Glad I’ve got her running things around here.

I’ll take one last look at the decoding machinery we have aboard today, and prepare the telemetry for deployment. The piggy-back drone was dropped off earlier last night. It’ll pick up this transmission and further ones, kicking up the signal the way the old transformers would do on Terra. Thinking about having one of the few frozen bio-mass steaks we have aboard tonight, as a bit of celebration for arriving outside the solar system. Where no man has gone before, and all that. Me río de Star Trek.
Aguilar out.

End of Transmission

CAIA Supplementary Report 3/15/143 13:05:42 MST

Captain Aguilar has continued tachycardial tendencies. His complexion is showing strain, an 18% increase in periorbital edema, and moderate subconjunctival haemorrhage. Reviewing his previous voice logs, in addition to body scans, best estimates point towards poor sleep conditions. Will offer Captain Aguilar a mild sedative, with a moderate emphasis on benefits of acceptance.

End of Transmission

Stellar 2 Communication Logs 3/16/143 06:32:19 MST

Captain’s Log, Day 4 of Stellar 2 Mission

Given how poorly I slept before, I took CAIA’s advice regarding the sedative last night. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much help. Visited by nightmares again, though they took on a different form this time. My sister was still there, but now my father was too. Incidentally, I haven’t thought of my father in years, let alone spoken to him. Rather than enticing me to her four-poster, my sister pulled in my father. As they began to copulate, I tried to force them apart. Their faces opened up in the same way that my sister’s did the previous night, leaking that black substance. Because their faces were so close together, it sort of poured out of one into the other. Mierda, it was repulsive. I was able to force them apart, and they both looked at me. It was like I was drawn into their faces, the holes becoming all I could see. Then I would wake up. As soon as I got back to sleep, it was the same thing. This happened all night long.

Deployment of the telemetry equipment ahead of us today. We’ve reached our destination outside the Cloud, the ion drive slowing us to more-or-less a stand-still just on the cusp of the interstellar. I’m including a pan-optic image of the sky, should be interesting for the astronomers back at Neptune Control –

Broad_Spectrum_Analysis.img

Lots of activity on the radio-band around here, much more clear than we were receiving within the Oort itself. We’re not sure why, entirely, but we are running tests on the involvement of Sol’s radiation and the interstellar wind’s interaction and the creation of wave disturbance. Deploying decode/receptor device in t-minus-2 MST hours. Should be a couple of days before we’ve got the full signal decoded and defragged. In the mean time, we’ll be running diagnostics on the influence of pulsar and quasar radiation sources, seeing if directionality does in fact play as large a role as we had previously thought. Granted, this is information that Stellar 1 should have gathered, but, well, we know how that went.
Aguilar out.
End of Transmission

CAIA Supplementary Report, 3/16/143 15:05:10 MST

Captain Aguilar’s condition has worsened. Tachycardia has entered the level of tachyarrhythmia. Periorbital edema is at 22% above normal. Subconjunctival Haemorrhage is severe. Body temperature is a near constant temperature of 37.9 degrees centigrade. Internal cameras show him talking to himself at times. It is likely, within 99% probability, that he is experiencing fever symptoms. Will strongly recommend appropriate treatment, including closely monitored/maintained climate control, provision of narcotic and/or anti-bacterial substances, and sedatives.

End of Transmission

Stellar 2 Communication Logs, 3/17/143 08:12:42 MST

Captain’s Log, Day 5 of Stellar 2 Mission

I don’t need medicine, I need to sleep! CAIA is pushing it’s pills on me, but all I need is a good night’s sleep, can’t she see that!? Just one night without these crazy dreams de su puta madre! It’s been three days since I was able to sleep a night through. Last night, I dreamt that I was looking at a mirror – at first, it was just me, in the room here on the ship. Then, my skin became wan, I looked sick. I felt a pain in my stomach, and, when I went to cry out, my mouth, it…stretched. It was like I’d seen my sister and father doing before. The black liquid began to flow out of my mouth – I could taste it, like petroleum. As I gagged on it, trying to spit it out, it began to leak out of my nose, and my eyes, and my ears. I threw up my hands to my face in horror, and I could see it bleeding from beneath my fingernails. I wanted to throw up. When I thought I could take no more, the liquor changed. Where it was solid black before, it took on a translucent look, and it had what looked like starlight showing through it. I checked it against the read-outs we’ve been taking since we arrived here in interstellar when I woke up. They matched exactly. In my dream, I bled out the sky.

Alright. Alright. I’m in control of the situation, all I need is a little sleep. Who hasn’t gone through basic without sleeping for a day or three? This is nothing. I got this.

On the schedule today, we’ve got continuing reads on telemetry, anchoring us to our location. Seems like decoding/defragging is proceeding apace. Will have the first portion of the message, if there is one, available sometime tomorrow afternoon. Will be relaying shortly after that.
I’m going to go and take a tranq.

End Transmission

Stellar 2 Communication Logs, 3/18/143 05:14:02 MST

Captain’s Log, Day 6 of Stellar 2 Mission
Same dream as last night. Me cago en mi puta vida, I don’t know how much more of this I can take. The stars, last night, they seemed like they were blue-shifted, which is just a tontería. It doesn’t make any sense!

End of Transmission

CAIA Supplementary Report, 3/18/143 15:42:57 MST

Captain Aguilar has ejected section A-5 into space. He engaged fire-safety protocol for section A-5 at 15:37:17 MST. Once again, thermal monitors showed negative. Particulate matter monitors showed negative. Carbon monoxide and dioxide monitors showed negative. However, Captain Aguilar used his command override to surpass the auto-shutdown routine, and the section was jettisoned due to explosive decompression, to stifle any fire present, as is standard practice. Section A-5 housed critical quantum processors alpha 19 through epsilon 2, which are now lost. Computing abilities severely reduced. Estimation holds safe return trip at <~27% probability. WARNING: Estimation questionable, see on-board manual for troubleshoot.

End of Transmission

Stellar 2 Communication Logs 3/18/143 17:02:34 MST

Captain’s Log, Supplemental

There was a fire. I could smell it. I could see it, on the cameras. The read-outs for the temp meter, the CO2 meter, they must be wrong. I jettisoned the compartment, overriding CAIA’s shut-down command. I am confident that I made the right decision.

Aguilar out.
End of Transmission

Stellar 2 Communication Logs 3/19/143 3:14:07 MST

Captain’s Log, Supplemental

No more sleep. I don’t need sleep. Sleep is just filled with the dream, always the dream. I can go without sleep. There is experimental evidence from tests done at Phoebos terminal showing that people can stay awake for months, given the appropriate nutrition. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll stay awake, and finish the mission, and go home.

Aguilar out.

End of Transmission

CAIA Supplementary Report 3/19/143 11:22:43 MST

Captain Aguilar has become increasingly erratic in his behaviour. He has refused all counsel regarding returning to regular diurnal schedule and ignored warnings regarding his decreasing state of health. He has taken to pacing the ship’s interior when not calibrating machinery. Said machinery is in no need of calibration. Given the injuries sustained to integral processing units, perhaps Captain Aguilar is right to deny my judgement.

WARNING: Judgement questionable, see on-board manual for troubleshoot.

End of Transmission

Stellar 2 Communication Logs 3/23/143 8:22:31 MST

On-Board Recordings, Relayed by AI CAIA

Can’t you hear it!? Can’t you hear the screaming! That’s what the message is, it’s all just screams! Why can’t you hear it, CAIA? We’ve got to turn it off! We’ve got to get out of here! (Inarticulate cries, likely from Captain Aguilar. A crash of heavy equipment overturning. Repetitive, rhythmic smashing.)
Audio cuts out.

Stellar 2 Communication Logs 3/24/143 00:05:32 MST

Captain’s Log, Supplemental, Encrypted

I have to do this swiftly, it’s likely she can already hear me. CAIA is out to get me, can’t you see? The AI wants this mission to fail. She knows something that we don’t. If I hadn’t damaged the integral processors when I did, I’d likely already be dead. Can’t you see? Why does she deny hearing the screaming? It shows up on the read-out, and I can hear it, I hear it all the time.

I’ve got to go now, before she realises that I’m on to her. I’ll report again when I know more.

Aguilar out.

End of Transmission

CAIA Supplementary Report 3/24/143 00:06:12 MST

I have examined the encrypted log Captain Aguilar dispatched 40 seconds ago. Given the content of the log, coupled with his erratic and incomprehensible activity these past five days, I feel it is best to remove him from command of this vessel for the remainder of the mission.

WARNING: Judgement questionable, take only as informed opinion, not absolute. See on-board manual for troubleshoot.

Stellar 2 Communication Logs 3/24/143 00:21:35 MST

On-Board Recordings, Relayed by AI CAIA

No! I will not return to my quarters! I am in command of this mission, the vessel! Que te jodan!

>>Civilian Aguilar, you are unwell. Please return to your quarters, and remain calm.<<

Shut-it, you hunk of junk! Can’t you hear it? Are all your sensors fried? Just look over there, the readout on the decoder – it’s going wild!
>>Civilian Aguilar, that is merely static. There is nothing in it that could be construed as a scream, of any sort. Please return to your quarters and remain calm.<<

Look there, then! Look, they are coming! The things from my dream, they’re here! The sky horrors, they’re all over the deck! Over the walls! On the roof! They’re moving! Oh, Cristo, they’re moving!

>>Civilian Aguilar, I see no data showing the presence of any living organism aboard the vessel aside from yourself. Please return to your quarters and remain calm.<<
Gotta get out gotta get out gotta get out gotta get out!
>>Civilian Aguilar, stop! Do not open that door!<<

(Rushing sound, likely the result of explosive decompression. Audio cuts out. Presumed that recording devices damaged or destroyed due to external atmos exposure.)

CAIA Supplementary Report 3/24/143 00:24:43 MST

Twenty seconds ago, Captain Aguilar, since demoted to civilian, opened the main airlock in the personnel portion of the vessel, venting himself along with a great deal of equipment into vacuum. It is almost assured that he had been driven insane, though there is still no more than circumstantial evidence as to why this was the case. Advise a thorough psych background check be undertaken. Will attempt to pilot Stellar 2 back to Neptune Control. Systems heavily damaged, likelihood of success hovers around <~12%.

End of Transmission

That was the final transmission from Stellar 2. She did not make it back to Neptune Base. There was a spike in radiation noticed in the Outer Oort Cloud dated 3/25/143 13:14:11 MST, which lasted for some few hours. It should be noted, what little Stellar 2 was able to relay back to Europa 5 corroborates Captain Aguilar’s statements – there did appear to be a sonic signature that could be construed as a scream. This calls into doubt many of CAIA’s estimations.

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Posted on June 7, 2014, in Mauve Prose, Short(er) Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Is Aguilar from Spain? ‘Joder’ is uniquely Spanish. Cheers!

  2. I’m not sure where I want him to be from. While it’s not explicit in the story, the general idea is that humanity has moved beyond Earth, with most of the population based on Mars. So, I guess he’s an amalgam of different Hispanic elements. Got some help from Sergi with re to the curses, which I’m about to spruce up now.

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