When everyone stopped talking or arranging their belongings, the woman turned off the lights and turned on a projector with the help of the remote. The machine started making noises until it formed an image on one of the walls. Only one of the twelve scientists reunited there had to move in order to appreciate the image: a simple shot of space done by an orbiting observatory, highlighting a specific star, which bore the name Scorpius II written in read, just below the circle highlighting the star.
The scientist that had moved to see the image stood up and looked closely to the image. The light flickered a bit but the man didn’t stop watching. It was as if the image, the name, the information clustered in one single slide was just too much not to take a moment to process it and, even, to accept it as it was.
As you know, the probe known as New Horizons has detected a signal coming from space. The transmission was sent back to Earth from the Oort cloud, where the probe now is. The source signal was also detected on Earth, days after. After some days of evaluation, we can assure the signal came from there…
He pointed to the name “Scorpius II”, glowing in the darkness of the room. The scientists didn’t say a word. Most of them had some idea of the announcement and those who didn’t, highly suspected the reasons why they were summoned to a secret office that had only be used once in the past, some ten years ago.
Any idea what the message says?
We should get there later but what I can say now it’s that the message is only half of the story we have come here to discuss.
He nodded to the woman seating in the corner, just as she pointed the remote once more to the projector. The image changed instantly, to another picture of space, this time portraying something like a stain against the black of empty space. The picture also bore the name “Scorpius II” but the magnitude of approach was highly augmented in this one. It was apparently a portrait of the vicinity of a star located far away.
This second picture, which is currently being processed to get a much better resolution, shows something rather alarming, specially considering the message we just showed you.
The various eyes in the room tried to analyze the picture rapidly but the scientist standing up gave answers to their questions faster that they could ask them.
It shows that Scorpius II has gone supernova. The star, previously analyzed, just exploded and probably affected all the system it illuminated. The various projects profiling worlds capable of sustaining life had found a super Earth orbiting Scorpius II. We don’t really know if there was something in there but we are sure it was destroyed due to the massive explosion.
The man then sat down. The woman in the corner stopped typing and turned off the projector and turned on the lights of the room. The scientists looked more confused that overwhelmed, which should have been the ideal state of mind, at least for the one leading the conversation.
Finally, someone else spoke. A young woman:
What I guess you are suggesting is that message somehow has to do with the supernova forming in Scorpius.
Another scientist, a tall black man, looked confused:
Has there been any further analysis of the situation in Scorpius?
Yes. According to previous reports of the system, we can be sure that Scorpius wasn’t ready to become a supernova. It hadn’t reached that degree of maturity. It was a rather young star.
Now this had the effect he wanted on his audience. Every single person had their eyes widely opened and had suddenly chosen a better way to seat, as if their current position had not been the ideal one to receive such news.
Do you know or not what the message is about?
This was asked by a skinny and very white man, he could practically be called “albino”. He had turned slightly pink because of the recent news and because he really wanted an answer to his question.
We think we do.
What’s that suppose to mean? Do you or don’t you know?
The presiding scientist stood up again and started to pace. After a couple of rounds along the wall, he started talking.
The meaning of the message was what took longer to decipher. Actually, I was handled the last report on it as I entered the building. I read it on the lobby and, to be honest, it made me feel kind of sick.
Now everyone was truly worried. The sun was shining brightly outside and even birds could be heard. It was very strange that the world went on as usual as a small group of people talked about something as significant as what they were discussing.
We believe, and there’s no real way to be sure, that the message is a warning of some kind. We have to be mindful that the message was sent thousands of years ago, due to the distance of Scorpius. We know, because of the analysis, that the signal was actually given more power. If got to us faster than it should. Maybe it wasn’t sent thousands of years ago but hundreds and that makes a difference.
A very tanned and old man coughed before standing up and staring down at the city. Everyone saw him to this and there was a reason why: he was the oldest scientist invited and was still one of the most important astrophysicists in the world. His genius was renowned and, when his pupils saw him worry, it meant something was really hard to solve or was something to be really scared about.
It didn’t happen often, but there he was, with a very stern face, looking at the park below.
Have you sent the information to various agencies? – He asked.
Yes. At least one group in each continent has seen it. We have kept it secret too. We believe it’s dangerous to inform it to the politicians, at least for the time being.
Scorpius… What does the message say?
The leading scientist in the room sighed. Suddenly his face looked fifty years older, as if time had just realized he existed and had caught up with him.
It’s a warning about something or someone. We have concluded someone other than the inhabitants of the Scorpius planet are responsible for the implosion of the star and that they knew it. They sent the signal preventing others from the unknown danger. The signal is still travelling, though they’re all probably dead.
Now everyone seemed even more worried. What made them uneasy was the fact they weren’t able to do something to prevent or act against what had happened in Scorpius. For all they knew, whatever happened there could happen to the Sun any day.
We are waiting for another report on the event, including more information about the signal, the planet that had been detecting near Scorpius II, the star and whatever else New Horizons and James Webb can provide. When we have it, we will inform the IAU of everything and it will be them who inform everyone else.
When he stopped talking, everyone moved in their seats. But not because of what he had said, but because the sunlight had suddenly being blocked. They got scared for a moment but realized the city was in full celebration because of its birthday, and many large hot air balloons were doing rounds all over town. Sunlight came back and the scientist left, worried all the same.
Somewhere deep in space, the remnants of Scorpius floated slowly, forever denying the existence of life in that corner of the universe.