The elevator on Kartan IV had been abandoned almost a century ago. By the time human explorers had arrived to that part of the galaxy, the civilization that had built the elevator had already been destroyed. There were many traces on the planet of their former glory and power but the only real proof of their quest for knowledge was the elevator. It was ten kilometres high, made with the toughest metals and plastics, making it a very strange feature of the planet and a technological advancement the human race had not yet reached.
The first group of humans to get there were part of a scientific mission aboard the vessel called Leviathan. It had such a name because it was massive in size, taking care of many scientific missions at the same time. Leviathan was the centre of all science being done on other systems, far away from Earth. People that worked there had never being to Earth and most had no desire of going there. They were curious, of course, but the secrets of the universe were a lot more interesting to their wandering minds.
The group that entered the elevator had the task of retrieving samples of the metals and other materials that had been used in the structure, in order to analyse them and see if they would be viable for use in space stations all around the Milky Way. Humans had mastered space travel but they wanted to put a foot everywhere they could, even in places were life had been detected. Of course, those were the really interesting scientific missions but they were very secretive and exclusive to those with more experience.
The Leviathan was the next best thing and all of those inside it knew that perfectly. However, they all wanted to work with the governments that were building space stations in key systems. That’s why those who entered the elevator on Kartak IV for the first time in a millennia, were eager to find lots of new information for humanity to use in their colonization of the galaxy. They could be instrumental in the development of their civilization and some of the first to interact with new and unseen forms of life.
The elevator, however, was very much deserted. They spent days inside, extracting pieces and information from the very old computers. It took a long time to get the elevator actually working again and a team of xenolinguists had to come aboard to decipher the ancient language of the aliens that had built the structure. It was the only way humanity could effectively replicate such a piece of engineering in other parts of the galaxy, even of Earth. However, their first discovery was not the one they were looking for but something much more sombre and dangerous. Earth was called at once.
Leviathan was asked to stand down. They had no authorization to land on the planet or to enter the elevator again. Everyone was ordered to stand down and wait for a special team of envoys to assess the situation. They arrived in a couple of days, with their dark suits and their unwillingness to share any information about what their own team. They were given a big room to examine everything and no one was allowed to enter that space, unless they were cleared after many security screenings and had a special letter.
They were very difficult times in the ship, as it was the first time ever that they felt they had done something wrong and that their own government, the one that had send them hurling around the galaxy, did not trust them. Many were openly hostile to their visitors, giving them nasty looks and even saying what they thought without even thinking. But the visitors remaining uninterested in the personnel of the ship. They soon declared that their revisions would take a lot longer that expected, so Leviathan would not move from where it was.
That decision made even more people furious. They demanded to know what it was those men were doing. They wanted to know because their lives, their profession, depended on them moving on to other missions. If the Leviathan stayed in one place for a long time, the government would not pay those that were simply not working at present time. And with so many people inside. It was obvious that not every single person was working at the same time, on the same thing. It was just how things worked.
But that rotation system was of no interest to the visitors. They spent almost every single hour of the day checking information in their private room, sometimes calling in those who had clearance in order to ask a few questions and then sending them out again. People inside Leviathan grew rapidly fed up by that and they soon began plotting something that could be interpreted as a revolution. When humans are trapped like that in a finite space for too long, it is not a surprise that they do the craziest things.
The first one of those crazy things was stealing one of the landing pods and travel exactly where they had been banned: the planet Kartak IV. A group of two, a woman and a man, stole the small vehicle and travelled at night towards the region of the planet from where the elevator was constructed. It was a desert and it resembled a lot like Mars, or at least what Mars had looked like in the past. There was a lot of red dust and the sun hit the ground with its full power, heating up the surface from the moment night ended. It was a beautiful place but it could also be seen as a horrible example of what could happen.
The couple was ordered to return to Leviathan in order to be arrested but they obviously had no intention of going back, at least not until the visitors declared their true intentions in the ship. Many believed they were only there to take a look at the workers and then start firing them from their jobs. Others actually thought that Leviathan as a whole was going to be dismantled and that they would all be sent to different parts of the galaxy to accomplish menial jobs that had nothing to do with what they worked on there.
But that wasn’t it. The visitors had come because of what the team that had penetrated the elevator had found there. The ancient language was not an unknown one and the central government of Earth had recognized with the help of their computers and artificial intelligence. The agents dispatched to Kartak IV had the responsibility to find out if the language was indeed the same that humans had already found in another corner of the galaxy and what that really meant for humanity as a whole.
Sadly, they found out too late. The couple on the planet entered the elevator on its ground floor and discovered the truth. They didn’t have to know how to read it all: the elevator was not only that but also a weapon and an antenna. The creatures that had lived there had built it in order to transmit messages, probably to those they would obliterate shortly after. There were recordings of the weapon being deployed. But the couple was not able to see them all. They disappeared inside the elevator, leaving no trace.
The following day, Leviathan was ordered to leave the system and, for the first time ever, travel to Earth at once. As they travelled to the centre of their universe, the inhabitants of the ship were told by the visitors that a new enemy had appeared and that they needed everyone to be on the same page to fight them off and defend what being human meant.
The crew of the Leviathan was puzzled but they had always been a strong people, with tough to change convictions and minds that could create solutions for almost anything. They were ready to help their kind.