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Author's note: The "Other Side" to the linked story, written by a fan.

We Know You Are Out There

Given enough time, mankind would grow to become an effervescent, beautiful thing.

Long since past are the days where humankind warred with each other. From sticks and stones, to spears and bows, sword and gun to thermobaric weapons and nuclear armaments, it took centuries to millennia to uncountable and unnamed spans of time.

But we did it!

We became the sum of our potential and further expanded even that.

Earth, the most sanctified of planets in our solar system, became more than a simple place to live while we shaped the solar system around us!

Mercury, once an unlivable hell of heat and death, became a forge greater than anything Hephaestus could have ever produced. Ships and tools of immeasurable durability and permanence came from the grand crucible.

Mars, once a barren wasteland of a planet, became a sanctuary of all animal kind, where humans could live as one with nature; breathe and climb and crawl and run and fight and die like our forebears, so lost to the ages. Great wonders of evolution and biology were introduced, cultivated, improved, and controlled. The largest Zoo, Preserve, and Sanctuary that mankind had ever built or seen the like of it. It was wonderful!

Our planets in the Sol System were colonized for the sole purpose of crafting wonders, marvels, and more. Whole planets became interstellar art pieces that could be seen from space, making the "Great Wall of China" a piddling strip of stone by comparison. An entire planetary orchestra expressed emotions of all kinds in all ways that we could think of. No voice was left unheard, no emotion to be shunned and no thought to be considered verboten! The Grand Procession had to have reached other planets throughout space, but we knew that all of mankind would hear the music they had created for eons.

Once, lives were limited by frail flesh and bone, but no longer. We became something other and crafted indestructible machine-bodies that could weather everything that our solar system could throw at us, save for the likes of our intense and ever radiant Sun, perhaps.

Everything became purpose, and possibility, and wonder, and art! The careless fusion trails of our ships, the debris of our grand design, and even the few of us who remained flesh and died as such.

A great musician once touted the possibilities of purpose. How right he was!

But then, our scientists detected something strange coming. We had no idea how to measure what time we had left, but we saw it.

It was a weapon, this was obvious. A ship without a single life form about it. It was almost like something out of a game of old, a mass of metal and material. We knew of the purpose before we could identify much of anything else about it.

The trajectory of this harbinger of our demise was pointed straight at earth, and we knew that this machine had reached near light speed by this time.

We cursed ourselves for not seeing it sooner, too absorbed with our wonder-making and our crafts!

For once, in the longest time, our creating became once more about survival.

We lost so much.

Uncountable exabytes of data had to be dumped, replaced by the frantic and fearful minds of our people. We collected who we could, even those stubborn souls that wished to die with their craft, and uploaded as many of them into every databank that we could offload from the planet. Every ship we had was moved to collect all who were left in their shells and make for as far from the projected apocalyptic blast zone as they could.

We did what we could, and waited for the hammer to drop...

No viewer could do justice to the destruction that was wrought from the "Gift" we were given, and that is what we assumed it to be.

The "Gift" of extinction, a merciful death, before we could become a blight upon the universe. We calculated the speed, the trajectory, how far it came from. To approach near light speed? They had to have come from far, far away, far out into the universe that we had yet to explore. They had to have sent this "Gift" when we had barely split an atom, perhaps around the time we had ended a war, not just a bang, but the whimper of hundreds of thousands displaced, dead or dying.

Maybe that was our mistake. We had been so utterly consumed by our creations and our art and our music that we forgot all about what we wanted from the universe when we were a fledgling species. Another musician once said, "We are marooned on a tiny spit of sand, on a tiny island, unable to escape." We had once wanted to escape the bonds of gravity, escape the chains of Earth and explore the void before us, and we had gotten side tracked.

Was this for our hubris?

Was this punishment for our sloth?

Before the grand observatories of Earth were destroyed, they broadcast their final message to all surviving ships.

The co-ordinates of our merciful executioners.

And then the "Gift" collided with Earth.

The destruction of our home planet was utter and complete. It smashed into the mantle and didn't stop there, until the Earth and the machine itself had blasted into billions of parts and debris. Entire continents were thrown across the solar system.

Jupiter, the Grand Storm-work, was smashed to pieces and decimated to the point where it too exploded and rained its elements across the solar system.

Tiny Pluto, our frozen dwarf, where one could experience many pleasures of carnal and nutritional delight, was sent careening into the universe at large. Who knows what would happen to poor Pluto.

The Crystal Palaces of the Moon and the Statues of Remembrance built on Neptune were lost forever, destroyed in this unholy act of desecration that saw much of what we crafted destroyed.

I remember the pain that clouded my mind upon looking through the sensors of our ship, the ESS Fairweather Friend, and I remember the pain I could feel of others in my databank too. It was almost so overwhelming, and I could feel many simply shut down at all that had been lost. Not only did we lose many lives to the blast that claimed our home, but so too did we lose many to the despair at all that was lost.

One voice rang through every ship, that of our last and great leader, who turned every sensor of every ship to the the stars, zeroing in on that one point out in the galaxy.

Our despair turned from disbelief to stunned and shocked anger.

Our anger grew, like a flame being thrown into an ocean of oil.

Our rage built and became all consuming.

Many of our digital minds were changed forever that day, as we all screamed, and roared, and raged against this cruel orchestration.

All became one, and our psychic scream was amplified through the ship's sensors.

"We know you are out there, and we are coming for you."

Written by Absinthresher
Content is available under CC BY-SA