This is part 5 of an ongoing series, for part 4 click here, for part 1 click here.

Mpendulo Shattered his phone against the table. “Those Bastards!”

He called a meeting. He howled, they howled; they got nowhere until one man spoke up- An American, but he spoke to them of hope. “You have half of her calculations. Why are we here arguing when we should be solving the rest of the puzzle?”
Ashamed, they got back to work.


By now she could speak some Chinese, and though the government watched her every move, she felt safe. The social ranking came as a shock at first- cameras in every room, the thought that even her cellphone was judging her actions- watching her eat, watching her sleep, watching her bathe. After nearly a year and a half she just got used to it. Everywhere she went she felt safe, police and armed guards took notice of her not because of her blackness, but because of her social score: 800. This protected her from the prying hands of men who had never before seen a 黑女, and who wondered if her skin was real.
In her prison, she was free.
Dr. Hu Mongxie was her partner, despite the watchful eyes of the Party. Together their team made tremendous progress in creating the device that would send the first message into what they now called 尾流, the Slipstream. She had discovered through their calculations that an exotic matter created the Slipstream as background noise while it carried the messages. Theoretically, without even using the matter, one could place a message into the Slipstream and piggyback it into the receivers at one or both ends.
The government gave the team a politically charged expression. It was to be that the language of Earth was Mandarin, that the people most capable would be the people of China. Lesedi agreed to say what she was given. She knew the punishments would be severe. She admitted nothing to Mongxie except that what they rehearsed was what she would say. Not even love could allow her to speak the truth- not while Uncle Liu was watching.

The day came. The answer would be public, the answer would be broadcast live to ten billion people. It would show the world that China is the great country, the new center of progress.
She stepped up to the microphone. A thousand cameras watched as one African woman regurgitated her thanks to Uncle Liu, and her love of the Party for this great opportunity. All of China felt pride deep within their hearts.
In Africa a billion people cheered. For so long they had dealt with oppression, but now it was one of them who would change the world, as it had changed when humans first migrated from the continent. Mpendulo too, wept tears of joy despite his great failure.
Across the world hearts stopped as she pressed the button and began to speak.

Her mouth felt dry as the desert she grew up in. The desert that now grew a sea of grass. Lesedi looked at the Chinese characters, hiding her disgust as best she could. This was a battle between English and Chinese. A battle no African can win unless she did what she felt was right. She thought of Mongxie, of how this would ruin them. They would be separated, or exiled. But to Lesedi this was worth more than love; damn the Chinese, and damn the Americans- this to her was everything. She pressed the button, and spoke only one word into the microphone:

Government officials immediately stepped in. They pulled her from the mic and turned off all of the cameras in the room. She watched as a guard beat Mongxie. She witnessed a police officer shoot one man who filmed with a cellphone. They dragged her into a truck and slammed the door shut. She was never seen again.
That very moment the voices stopped. Across the world people smacked their radios wondering what just happened.

On the far edges of our solar system there exists a dark world. No one lives there; no one can. A giant of ice, this place existed to humanity only in simulations. We thought it was there because the math looked like something was there. We had not discovered it, but someone else had. Those people were patient. They knew how the universe worked- how a second was just too short a time to measure most things.
Those people found the planet with the aid of a machine of science. It traveled for all of human existence to reach a promising system, and there it waited. On that world, known by humanity as Planet X, the machine received a message. Go, it was told, go and do what you were made to do. It went, and for twenty years silence was all humanity heard from the voices.



The world is a strange place. What will happen next to Lesedi, Mpendulo, and the rest of the world? What purpose does this machine have? Check out part six, here!


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