Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta scientists. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta scientists. Mostrar todas las entradas

lunes, 11 de junio de 2018

The elevator

   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.

miércoles, 25 de abril de 2018

Elipo and its eagles

   For some reason, the gigantic birds liked to fly around the volcano, doing many turns until they seemed to feel it was enough, and then they flew away to their nests, down in the base of the mountain. Many scientists had regaled for many years, visiting Elipo Island and watching the beautiful red birds fly around the mountain. It was one of those beautiful thing from nature you just had to see once in your lifetime and many had already did that from their comfortable chairs at home.

 Elipo was an island that, for many years, had been left alone by civilization. But as transportations got better and faster and communications made everyone accessible in seconds, there was an urge to discover everything there was to uncover in the world around us. So many scientists embarked for remote regions, trying to document in any way, shape or form, all the new species of plants and animals that they could find. It was a new age of discovery and every single person in the world was a part of it.

 The so-called eagles of Elipo were the most interesting species that had been found in recent years in that corner of the world. They were a strange animal, as birds would normally fly long distances to make nests or get food. But the red eagles did not do that at all. They liked to stay on Elipo, flying around the volcano and then getting food in the small patch of jungle that covered must of the island. They could feed on small lizards and tiny mammals that were very agile and would give up a nice fight.

 The eagle’s favorite food was the Elipo hedgehog, an especially large kind of hedgehog that fed on various smaller animals and fruits that it found laying around in the jungle. One of the best scenes to witness for a scientist would be the fight between an eagle and a hedgehog. The first one would be coming from above, just after locating its prey visually. It would come down at full speed, trying to use the element of surprise as a weapon. The shape of such a living bullet was just an amazing thing to see.

 However, the hedgehogs had lived there as long as the eagles and they had learned to notice the changes in the wind around them in order to notice any incoming dangers. So right before the eagle could grab them to take them away, the hedgehogs would turn into a very tight ball, with all its spines rising towards the sun. The eagle would then land on the ground, unable to properly carry its food, and proceed to attack its prey with its beak. You have to remember eagles in Elipo are at least twice as big as normal eagles, so the fight would be a very interesting sight.

 The hedgehog would then stay as a ball or sometimes open up and fight the eagle with the spines in its forehead, which tended to be longer and sharper. A fight between the two animals could last a few minutes or several hours. Many scientists would disrupt these encounters by making sounds, caused by an overwhelming fatigue. No one had ever seen a long fight between those two creatures in its entirety. And most times, none of the animals ended up dead. A draw was the most common outcome.

 However, eagles won enough times to feed themselves and their young with the body of one large hedgehog. It was more than enough for most of them. Elipo was a place of harmony and animals were never “bad” or “good”, they didn’t act on despair or anything like that: they had easy access to fresh water, to food and to places were they could take care of their families. Before the arrival of humans, they had nothing to fear. As you might have guessed, not every incoming human was a scientist.

 Hordes of hunters and animal traffickers had discovered these new places were they could go and get all the animals they wanted with almost no resistance from the countries allegedly controlling the area or by the local tribes that inhabited these remotes areas of the world. They learned soon that there was no way they could stop the cruelty of the white man with their weapons, so they decided to pull back and just be silent witnesses to the horrible things those men and women did in the jungle.

 So these horrible people soon got to Elipo and got to meet the beautiful eagles and the hedgehogs they ate. The first ones to get trapped were the latter ones, as they were craved all around the worlds as pets. Besides that, they knew that by depleting the food resources of the eagles, the birds would be weaker and they would be less willing to fight them the moment the hunters and traffickers started climbing the volcano to get them. The eagles noticed very soon that something was very wrong in the island.

 After a couple of weeks, the number of hedgehogs had dropped dramatically and eagles had no real way of supporting themselves and their young. That moment was used by the evil men to climb up the mountain and start grabbing eagle eggs and young chicks from their nests. Of course, that caused a horrible respond from the eagles, which tried to defend themselves against the traffickers but that was a lost battle. Those people had guns and many other weapons, so the eagles could only scratch some of them badly before been killed or having to escape from the area.

When the scientists came back from their period of rest, they noticed that Elipo was dying. Not only the eagles were very scarcer, the hedgehogs and other animals had almost disappeared from the island. They tried to do their best to help the species gain the territories they had once held, as well as their older numbers but that seemed impossible. The traffickers had done so much damaged; it was possible no one could ever make up for it, not even if they spent years working there.

 And the scientists could not just stay there, they had to leave for a while and, when the local government realized what had happened, they banned any ships from abroad to enter the area. They argued that it would stop poaching but it really didn’t, as most traffickers used local boats and were people from the region. They had to be in order to have all the information necessary to get all those animals and their young, as well as many plants, which they sold to the pharmaceutical companies.

 The scientist decided to talk to the regional communities, especially the indigenous ones, in order for them to better protect the area. It wasn’t really a surprise when they realized that Elipo Island had always been a sort of sanctuary to them. As per their traditions, a young man had to visit the island on his fifteenth birthday. Their only task there was to climb the mountain and get a single feather from one of the birds. That meant they had become a man and they should be welcome in their communities as such.

 The scientists learned from the local peoples and they learned from the scientists new things they didn’t know about Elipo. They made an alliance to restore the island to its former glory and to fight the poachers. No weapons were used, just a lot of very smart gadgets and traps to make the evil men go away and just never return.

 Their goal was achieved, many years later, when the government recognized its poor treatment of the situation. As for the animals, that was another story. The  eagle community had been severely damaged and recovering it would take a lot longer, if it worked at all.

lunes, 27 de noviembre de 2017


   The mask Arnold was wearing was very tight around his head. It was a very uncomfortable thing to wear but it was the safest way to cross such a horrible place. The Deadland, as some had named it, was a huge marsh land that had always been there but, all of a sudden, had begun to grow and occupy more and more territory. Of course, this happened after the war, a time in which a faction had used the marshland as a hiding place for themselves and all their weapons, including experimental ones.

 It was rumored that an explosion had occurred a few months before hostilities had ended. The problem was, no one could really tell if such an explosion had happened. Some of the elders from nearby towns, people who used to get in their boats and fish on the canals crossing the marshland, were the ones that told the rest of the world about the explosion. As many satellites had been rendered useless in the fight, there was no way to confirm what they had seen or any detail related to it.

 According to the general story, a roaring sound preceded the actual explosion. Some said it was like a gigantic lion roaring in pain or a panther, about to attack its prey. They all agreed that the earth shook violently afterwards and that the water in the canals rose in the most dangerous manner. Some even said they had fallen of their boats. A mushroom cloud then rose from the marshland and it had a very specific feature to it: it was very elongated and the color of a ripe plum.

 The elders said the cloud rose to the sky for several days, until it apparently dropped back again to the ground. It was very strange that, if that was the case, no one had the idea of taking a picture. A woman on the other side of the marshland tried to show Arnold and his team a picture she had allegedly taken but it was as blurry as those UFO pictures people used to believe were real. The woman was obviously in need of much needed attention, so they left telling her she was right about everything.

 Penetrating into the marshland had not been the first idea of the government but, after testing the air and water, it seemed the place was really changing fast in a chemical way, at the very least. The toxicity had grown so fast, that some people had died when passing by the marshland and not even entering. That was what made the government decide to send the team inside and not only collect proof of how that ecosystem was growing and, at the same time, seemed to be poisoning itself by the minute. It was very important to know what was going on.

 Arnold’s team was made up of only five people. The military had sent their representative, as well as one from the department of National Security and another from the Ministry of the Environment. The other two people were him and his assistant Linda, who had asked repeatedly if she could join the team. She had always had a certain obsession with fungus and mold and every toxic thing in the world and she wanted to be a part of the team that went inside that awful place.

 They did so one morning, after eating a very light breakfast. They all put on their masks and carried a backpack, which was half a tank of oxygen and half scientific equipment. Even the military guy had to carry computers and other things to test plants and, if they found any, animals. He carried a large assault rifle and a gun on his thigh, which was clearly excessive. If he misfired or anything bad happened, guns would not be a match for toxins. But he didn’t seem to mind that detail.

 The place was flooded with water and it was right there when they found the first traces of heavy toxicity: the bodies of several small mammals floated all around them. There were rats and raccoons and also squirrels. Many tiny corpses of little colorful birds floated there too and it was clear the possibility of anything surviving such a catastrophe was not very high. They moved on, trying to find dryer land but they couldn’t. So they took out the inflatable boat and paddles and moved on.

 They had decided against bringing a boat with an engine because of the noise it made and because its movement could cause some unwanted reaction in the water. The best idea was not to disturb the environment, even if it was doomed for a prompt death. The woman from the Department of National Security was one of the two people paddling, slowly through the maze of trees and many other plants. It was her who gasped and made everyone look to the side. The boat stopped.

 There was a tree there, which was not very unusual. But what made them open their mouths in disbelief was that it was twice or maybe three times the size a normal tree was. This wasn’t a red oak forest or anything like it. Most trees in these parts would only grow to three or four meters, at most. But that one was huge and, not only that, it featured some of the brightest colors any of them had ever seen. It was almost as if the tree was glowing right there, during the day, with the sun very high in the sky. But it wasn’t. It was a strange mutation, result of some kind of event.

 Arnold began to realize that all reports about an explosion had to be true. Only a cataclysmic event of that magnitude could explain the strange changes that were now obvious all around them. Because there were not only dead animals and colorful trees, also huge bushes that had once been as tall as a medium sized dog and water that seemed to be colored blue. The scariest part of it all was when, out of nowhere, a bird flew from a tree and flew above their head, making them spent more oxygen that they should have.

 The creature was not only bigger than a normal bird from a swamp; it had also developed new features in its body. As a scientist, both Arnold and Linda knew that any other scientist would be thrilled to visit such a place, once they knew about the change that has been done. Mankind had been the one to blame here, that much was true. No creature evolves from one day to the next. So Arnold proposed a slight change of course, in order to look for the source of the explosion and any remains that could exist.

 After several hours of paddling, in which each person did a shift, they didn’t seem to find anything knew. According to their devices, they were about to hit the northern border of the growing marshland, which wasn’t where they wanted to go at all. They needed to go deeper, to the center of the whole ecosystem in order to see for themselves if there was some kind of remnant of the bomb or whatever it was that caused the explosion. It was essential to find the key to explain the existence of such a place.

 The boat moved around several canals and, finally, they seemed to be where they wanted. However, the sun was beginning to descend and that meant they had little time to go around and look for any evidence. Besides, their oxygen tanks weren’t eternal and there was no way to survive that place without them. Arnold descended from the boat and asked for the military guy to accompany him. His weapons could be of use after all. It was not a place to be taking things lightly.

They had barely started their walk when a roaring sound came from beneath the canal, not the trees. Something resembling a tree branch, but much thicker and mobile, appeared from beneath the boat, knocking it out of the way and sending its passengers flying.

 Linda fell close to the men and the other woman swam fast to the edge of trees where she could be rescued. However, the fifth member of the team was impaled by the branch, after he had landed on a nearby mangrove. They couldn’t scream, just run, hoping that thing wasn’t able to follow them.

viernes, 14 de abril de 2017

The bird

   The bird was simply majestic. It had entered the canyon unexpectedly but the people that were there couldn’t take their eyes off of it. It’s wings were very large, so large in fact that the shadow that the creature casted over the terrain was huge. Some of the tourists near the river were a bit afraid of this because of the disproportionate size of the creature. Maybe it was precisely that feature that made it seem like it was flying very slow and close to the water. It was just like a dream.

 As it passed near the group of people, the bird let out a sound. It made all hairs stand on every human that heard it, as it was the most metallic sound a bird could ever do. It was as if the creature was not a biological being but that was impossible because of the eyes of the bird. No mechanical bird would look around like that. The bird continued to fly through the canyon until it reached a tight turn. Then it elevated it’s body toward the sky and soon it had disappeared completely from their sight.

 Every person there starting talking when the creature went away. It was as if the volume had been turned off for a moment and now it had made a comeback. The kids that had been playing in the water went back to it, but with much less enthusiasm than before and all the adults started mumbling and then openly talking about what they had just seen. It was obvious that gigantic birds were not really the norm in the region or out of it. They had just been in the presence of a unique event.

 The group was made of family members from all branches: grandparents, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and so on. Every single one of them had decided to do a little picnic down in the canyon, which was located only an hour away from the town where they were all staying overnight. That town was the one where their family had begun so they were essentially coming back to their roots, teaching their children all about the region that they had known so well when younger.

 As they had been cooking meat just before the bird had made its appearance, they soon realized it had been burned by fire. So much so, that they had to throw it away and put some new pieces of meat and start all over again. As they ate, some time later that day, the obvious topic was the gigantic bird and everything about it. One of the women said that she new a biologist from the university she worked in. She would talk to him about it as soon as they went back to the city, in order to know if that creature was known to science or if it was a new discovery.

  Weeks later, when she got to talk to the biologist, she realized something that made her look and feel very dumb: no one in her family had thought of taking a picture of the creature with a cellphone or a camera and they had lots of those that day, laying around as every silly thing they did was awarded with the taking of a picture. Her friend told her that it would have been easier that way but that she could describe the creature in detail and that way they could recognized it from archival footage.

 It wasn’t a surprise when the biologist almost fainted as the woman told him everything about the bird: its size, the silvery color of its feathers, its very particular cry and all other features she could remember. At first he was scared but then he decided his friend was not telling him the truth. He tried to convince himself of that. But the woman was so adamant he knew that there was something big there. After consultation of the archive, they didn’t find any bird even remotely similar.

 The woman was about to leave when she asked the man that, if they creature was a new discovery, her family would love to see their last name being celebrated on the bird’s scientific name. For them, it would be an honor to serve as the people that discovered a brand new creature, not known to mankind before it had appeared on that canyon, the day they had decided to go for a picnic. She said goodbye and the biologist stood there in silence, thinking what to do next.

 He decided to form a group and leave for the canyon as soon as possible. Contrary to what one may think, not many people knew about that access the family had use to the inner side of the canyon. Most people stayed on the higher level, in order to look into the rock formation from above. It was a spectacular creation of nature, with the red rock perfectly worked by the river and the wind, as well as the passage of time. It was a wonderful place to find something great.

 The scientific group was made of five people. They decided to probe different areas of the canyon in order to look for new form of life. At the beginning, they thought it was going to be very easy, as the size of the bird wouldn’t make it very easy for it to hide, but they soon realized that it was going to be much more complicated than that. The first day, they didn’t see a thing. However, they did discover two new species of butterflies, as well as a new type of fungus that grew near the river. It was very exciting but not exactly what they had come for.

 The second day was the same, although they did discover a new bat and several other bugs that science didn’t know nothing about. By the third day, they decided to move along the river and see where they could end up. Supposedly, it wasn’t possible to that for the whole extension of the canyon, as the river was bigger in some parts than in others. They walked for two day in one direction but didn’t find more than some other bugs and other minor creatures.

 They turned around when a huge boulder fell down on them, almost killing one of the scientists. They decided to go up the river this time, which was apparently easier. But after three days, the new animals became scarce and it was obvious they were not going to see any huge birds soon. It started to rain soon enough and the fact that they were in a canyon became a very dangerous thing. They didn’t even stay one whole day more. The group had to exit the canyon in order not to be taken away by the engorged river.

 They camped in the upper area of the rock formation and analyzed several of the specimens that they had discovered. They could do that in an actual laboratory but the truth was they all wanted to see the gigantic bird. But how to attract it, how to make it come to them? They wanted to know, at least, more details about where they could find it. But there was nothing to tell them anything new about it. They had to be patient and realize it even may not happen for them.

 They stayed for two more days but the bird never appeared. The scientist went back to the city, as they had tons of information to process. It hadn’t been a wasted journey because of the many discoveries they had made but the crown jewel of the whole thing had not been found. Some had even decided to doubt the story and they openly said the bird was probably an illusion or something of the sort. The rest agreed, even if with all their heart they wanted the creature to be real.

 Many years later, the same family went back to the canyon. The elders had passed away and their ashes were going to be spread on the river, near the place where they had grown up. It was a very sentimental moment, everyone was in silence, mourning.

Suddenly, the bird appeared again. It looked exactly as it had look years ago. However, this time it landed near the family, bowed and then left again. Everyone had been taken aback by the bird except one of the youngest children, who did turn on her cellphone just in the right moment.