In my research, I have found the original discoverer of the Prothean Ruins, that repository of data that jumpstarted our quest for the stars. Due to my enforced "retirement," I have taken it upon myself to adequately notate significant events throughout our history. As Lewis Carrol once wrote: Begin at the beginning, then continue to the end, then stop.
If my guess is right, there will be a great deal of events before this story ends. It might not even be a story about me ... not since the Commander become so deeply involved. Regardless, here are a few of my notes on early Humanity.
~Dr. Pavenmeyer, M.D., PHD, et al
Mars, aka, the Red Planet.
For millennia, humans knew Mars as a planet, one of the original wandering stars. Its lasting name came from the Romans who named the sullen-red guardian of the night skies after their god of war.
When Man began his trek to the stars, Mars held its position in the night sky just as it always had. Its crimson light drew humans as moths were to flame. It was both irresistibly beautiful, yet deadly. One of the questions asked most often by man was: did this planet hold life? The qualities of Mars were often measured against those of Mother Earth: atmosphere, heat and water being chief among them.
Assuming it was a dead planet was not wrong … just too late.
The Martian mesas of the Argyre Planitia region were abraded in a fashion reminiscent of the driest deserts on Earth. They resembled the ancient Sphinx, in two ways; the first similarity was in how both the mesas and the Sphinx were proof that liquid water had once existed, the second similarity was that the only evidence for water was in the rock, liquid water itself had never been found outside of an environmentally-controlled colony dome.
Matea Silva felt like the only person on the planet…even though she knew perfectly well that there were at least another eight hundred back in the colony, plus another dozen in the base camp. Still, even with those memories of civilization, going on an extra-vehicular walk made her feel so…alone. Like something was out there…watching. It was ridiculous, the planet had been under intense scrutiny since even before the first colony; nothing but a few odd spots existed. But then again, those un-explained locations were why she was on her walk, to see what caused such…oddities.
Her sensors chirped, stating that, to its digital satisfaction, all was well. She headed back south towards her rover, signing the log report in disappointment. She had been so certain this had been the epicenter of the oddities ….
The projection tool chirped again.
It chirped again with a slightly more energetic tone, explaining in the patient, methodical way only machines or the highly dedicated could attain, that her perceptions were incorrect. According to its readings, she was facing north. To be more specific, it was convinced that one of the more significant magnetic poles had shifted position, and was now half a kilometer to her left. That was impossible.
Unlike Earth, Mars had no true "magnetic poles." Magnetic poles were the result of a liquid metal core, flowing in the strange ways that induced magnetic fields, Van Allen belts and tectonic shifting. Mars had once possessed such a core, but it had been off-center. Ergo, there was no magnetic north, just a series of heavily magnetized regions in the southern hemisphere. One of the first missions for the ancient Mars Global Surveyor missions had mapped those regions, granting the colonists a ready-made "orient" for their mapping endeavors.
Quickly, she pulled out a stake, and started hammering it into the red soil. It took some effort, both because of the suit she wore and the millennia this ground had spent being baked and sandblasted. This was not a sandy northern desert region, but one of the southern rocky plateaus. A few more blows drove the first stake home, and she started a second stake, lined in the same direction as the flux point. Once the second stake was punished to her satisfaction, she affixed a third stake to the previous pair with two quick welds, pointing a crude, makeshift arrow at her goal. Should something happen to her, or if she had to come back later, these stakes would leave a trail of her footsteps. And it would give her wiggle-room to ask for credit, should she not make the actual discovery…should there actually be something out there to discover.
Off in the distance, a sandstorm seemed to be brewing. Sand wasn't restricted by an atmosphere here like it was on Earth. When a dust storm erupted on Mars, the sand could fly over 100 kilometers skywards. From that distance, a storm could be seen by the naked eye from within 80 kilometers…just enough time to reach shelter considering the fierce, unearthly winds. She didn't have much time…but still…she looked at the magnetic resonance device. The source of the distortion to the magnetic was less than half a klick away. If she squinted, she could see the edge of the plateau…also around half a klick away.
Making a decision, she rushed to the rover. It beeped to life, somehow underwhelming to a woman who had grown up on the throaty rumble of vehicles back on Earth. The rover responded well, though, and shuddered over the bumpy terrain towards the source.
The storm was a lot closer than she'd estimated. It had nearly caught up to her, wind howled around the edges her rover, as she reached the edge of the mesa. The dust obscured her vision, but the rover's instruments depicted a gentle incline sloping towards a cave entrance a short distance down the edge of the plateau.
She followed the decline towards the cave, the vanguard of the storm screaming around her. As the slope led her downwards, the plateau she'd been exploring blocked both the wind and light. The wind still tugged at the walls of her vehicle, but it wasn't as fierce as it had been.
About a third of a kilometer down, she saw a cave entrance. Unlike every other cave she'd seen on Mars, this one had a perfect, concave arch and straight posts. As she approached, her professional opinion became certain this feature was unnatural. The…doors sliding apart to allow her entrance kinda' gave it away.
She hesitated for a heartbeat, then allowed momentum to carry her between the doors. She was now inside the plateau.
She brought the rover to a halt, thankful for the sudden silence. Then she saw the lights. They drew her out of the rover, leading her down the hall.
On either side of the tunnel, blue lights slowly glowed to life, fading as she passed. Strange geometric patterns wrote themselves across the floor, changing with every step she took. The rasping of the coarse material in her environment suit seemed almost sacrilegious in this place.
A heartbeat and an eternity later, the tunnel widened into a true cavern. The walls reflected light with a sheen like diamond, reflecting and refracting in odd ways. The blue lighting under her feet faded, reappearing in angular formations near the walls.
Ms. Silva couldn't remember how much time she spent staring at the walls. She had examined the records; the region over her head had been explored before, by multiple teams. How could they have missed this?
Unless, she thought, the other teams never reached this part? That made sense. Standard survey techniques encouraged the exploration of maximum territory in a minimal time frame. A small side path was easy to miss.
Then, she noticed a pair of large objects at the far end of the cavern she'd just entered. They were massive … each larger than the rover she'd ridden. They also looked strangely aerodynamic…as though they were designed to fly ….
With a start, she remembered her recording equipment. This was something that definitely needed to be studied.
She fired up the digital recorder, best friend to archaeologists and journalists alike, and flicked the settings to highest resolution. No matter how many terabytes it took, this was worth it.
"Today is April 7th, 2112." She began. "My name is Matea Silva; I am a geologist and amateur archaeologist, working in the western quarter of the Argyre Planitia. I do not believe anyone else has explored this area before … according to the search logs…so this is not man made."
As she spoke, she played the lens around the cavern in a complete 360 rotation. She made sure to zoom in on the mysterious hulks looming in the darkness, they seemed to exude an air of amusement at her primitive presence.
She suppressed a shiver from the camera. The fear of the unknown had driven Man to new heights, and those unknown fears had been native to Earth. This unknown…it proved humans were not alone in the galaxy … not anymore.
A/N: And we're off!
I will be updating once a week (hopefully), and will answer reviews/PM's as best as I can. I'm shooting for around 5,000 words per chapter, but the first two will be, by necessity, fairly short.
A huge thank you to Nightstride for both his beta assistance and his technical wizardry; he is a master of grammar. If this were the Dark Ages, he would be in danger of being accused of mastering gramarye, lol.
Another thanks to WolfStar888 for his input; creativity seems to run in his veins.
Both of these fine fellows have written excellent fanfictions, check them out if you have time!
Thank you, and see you next week!
6/22/2014: Updated grammar
6/27/2014: Updated spelling
7/22/2014: date shift, caught by cellestar, thanks man!
7/20/2015: almost a year later (wow, has it been that long?), and gramarye typo is corrected. Thanks 54rt0r1u5 :)