It’s four months later, and we’ve visited the Antarctic and South American pyramids. Stew’s used the pictures and closely examined the communicators in both to work out a basic vocabulary. However, he can’t get either of the communicators working. We’ve traveled on, and at last, after a long and difficult climb, reached the hidden valley in the Himalayas. Since the location was only accessible for at most four weeks in a year, we were relieved when we arrived. We’d have most of the next year to see what we could discover.
“Wow! That was the most harrowing trip I’ve ever made!” I exclaimed, as I finally found myself once again on level ground. “And I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold, or so short of breath!”
Sir Wilfred chuckled, and said “You’ll get used to the difference in air pressure, Al. But you shouldn’t be cold – these suits are made to keep a person warm even when it’s down to -70Celsius, or -94Farenheit.”
“Oh, I warmed up when I got smart and closed the face cover. After all the years I wore space suits, you would have thought I’d have had brains enough to do that in the beginning.” I grinned. “Now where will we live while we try to get this communicator working? In the pyramid?”
“No, Al, in the hutments the boys’re unpacking now. It’ll take them a few hours to get them set up, so why don’t we go in the pyramid now, and get started. At least we know that we’ll have most of a year here. Let’s just hope this communicator will work. Otherwise, it will be somewhat of a waste of time.”
Gathering the items we’d need, as well as food and drink for the rest of the day, we went to the pyramid. For a few moments we stood and looked up at it, gleaming in the sun. The carving was much plainer than any of the others. The most intricately carved was the Moon pyramid, with its odd figures and geometrical designs. But each had its own elegance, its own beauty, and with that golden glow, they all tended to mesmerize the observer. As one, we gave ourselves a little shake, and entered.
Stew worked all the rest of that day, and for many days after, compiling more vocabulary, and working out how to get the communicator up and running. Sir Wilfred and I wandered through the rest of the place, spending endless hours examining the paintings on the walls, and sorting through the items in the treasure room. Finally, after four more months, we were startled almost out of our skins by a shout over the radio.
“It’s working!” Stew shouted in excitement. “The communicator – it’s running, warming up! Get up here, guys – I think something is coming through!”
We scrambled back up the tunnels as fast as we could go, arriving back in the Stellar Anteroom gasping for breath. The communicator was humming quietly, and lights were flashing on the console. As we skidded to a stop, a voice spoke. Stew stabbed at the microphone and replied in the same language. The voice sounded mechanical, and Stew turned “It’s and AI!” he was almost chocking in his excitement. “I can talk a bit to it, but it wants us to talk – about anything – it just needs to hear our language. Apparently, it will be able to translate, and soon be able to talk to us in English. Wow! What a machine!” I’ve never seen anyone so excited and awestruck in my life as Stew was then. And we weren’t far behind him. An artificial intelligence that could learn a new language in a few hours? AIs here are very basic things, only able to converse at a toddler level, and carry out the most basic orders. Whoever they are, or were, those aliens were light-years ahead of us. We might learn a lot from them.
Over the next five months, we learned a lot. Some of it was sad. The civilization that had created the AI and the pyramids was no more. Several million years ago, our time, the people in the star system with the desert planet had attacked the water world. They had decided that those people didn’t need all that water, so they would take what they wanted and use it to make their world green and productive. They made several trips, dipping in and suctioning up water, then dumping it in the lower places on their own world. They didn’t understand that they needed to desalinate the water first, and the salt killed what growth there was. In anger, they used the equivalent of 10 megaton hydrogen bombs on the water world, and killed almost all life. The AI had been buried under the deepest part of an underwater mountain, and so escaped damage. The only life left there was the most primitive one cell creatures.
The people of the desert planet were desperate, as their planet was dying from effects of the salt water. So they attacked the Earth-like planet. That was reduced to a state much like the desert planet, and it wasn’t long before all intelligent, and most other life, was gone. The AI was almost pitiful in its joy at hearing people again. It started exchanging information, starting with what we knew and building from there. Over the next month we learned of incredible medical advances, and technology well beyond anything we had. It was the most thrilling time of my life.
Then the men in the camp radioed in that climbers were coming up, and they had weapons. Soon after that we had a message over the radio from government forces. They were coming to take us into custody, and we were to exit the pyramid immediately, and stay in the camp. We were not to communicate with anyone. Stew told the AI, and it said not to worry. We said goodbye to it, gathered our things, and left. But Sir Wilfred had already sent long, coded messages to his people in the old Pentagon building, and they had everything we had learned stored and awaiting our return.
The government forces arrived and surrounded the campsite. The Major General in charge strutted up to us, sneering and obnoxious, and opened his mouth to start giving orders. However, he was drowned out by a powerful voice making an announcement.
“This message is to all people of Earth. Sir Wilfred Maitland, Major General Alfred Worrall and Chief Engineer Stewart MacLean have made contact with me. I am MOGEL #1 – Manager Over Galactic Empire Life. These people are the only ones I will speak to. If any harm comes to them, I will break off contact. Everything that I have shared with them is theirs to control. Should anyone try to wrest control from them, I will unleash drones carrying deadly weapons upon Earth. They can tell you of the havoc one of these weapons can create. Give them freedom to share the knowledge as fast as they deem you are ready for it, and Earth will prosper. This message has been broadcast all over Earth, and now that contact has been made, I can monitor the situation. That is all.”
The Major General deflated like a pricked balloon. We were treated better than royalty after that, and things have been fantastic. We’ve given the most fundamental of the new technological and medical information to the government. Cancer is swiftly disappearing, as re many other fatal diseases. Power is cheap and accessible to everyone; food production has increased three-fold in the three years since our adventures. And we are all living well, and sorting through the almost endless new knowledge. We’re smart enough to know that we can’t understand most of it, so we have the top scientists, of every branch, working with us. The future looks exciting and wonderful, and I am glad to be alive now. I didn’t realise, when I dug up that pyramid on the Moon, just how drastically my life would change. But I wouldn’t exchange one minute of it for all the gold in the four pyramids.