Star Trek Hunter - The Background Stories
Rock of Ages
Scene 2: Horohondra's Object
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Horohondra's Object
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"Maybe the Sonnors were correct. Could we be facing judgement for turning from the old ways?"

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Allehandro wasn't asking in earnest, but more to be comforted from the nagging doubt that the religious fanatics, who had always proclaimed certain doom in payment for wickedness and unbelief, might have been right. His grandmother had believed and had tried to convince him to believe when he was very young - against the express wishes of his parents. While the old ways just didn't make any sense to him, there was always a nagging doubt that those stories might be true.

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"Whenever the Sonnors were correct, it was only by accident," replied Observer Latimah. She hesitated for a moment, then walked up behind her young assistant and gently squeezed his neck ridges. It was an overly familiar touch - entirely inappropriate in the workplace. But with their world literally coming to an end, that hardly seemed to matter. "Horohondra's Object is not a punishment for leaving the old ways," she mused. "Our helplessness in the face of it is, in a way, punishment for not leaving them behind soon enough."

Allehandro was surprised at the touch, but not displeased. He had harbored an inappropriate affection for his mentor. He laid his head back against her chest and felt her chin come to rest on the top of his head. This was wildly inappropriate behavior, but it really didn't matter now.

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Horohondra's Object had been visible to the naked eye for a few nights now, a bright dot in the night sky, now brighter than any of the stars. All too soon it would swell to the size of a moon. Several rockets had been launched with explosives - the most powerful warheads the al semorans could develop on such short notice. This was not an attempt to shatter the enormous, moon-sized asteroid, but to alter its trajectory. It wasn't going to be enough and everybody knew it.

But at least it was an effort. Their people would not go down without at least trying to save themselves. The rockets were their last, best hope. One that had united their people in a massive effort. It was a forlorn hope.

After spending far too much time in their romantic embrace, Latimah and Allehandro returned to their computer screens to decode the telemetry from the rockets and corollate their readings with the telemetry from the observatory's primary radio telescope. Their readings were also being received and recorded by a number of robotic recording devices that had been sent into various solar orbits in hopes that something of their world would survive, perhaps to be decoded some day by an alien intelligence.

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Not that Allehandro or Latimah or any al semoran thought there was any chance of that. In a boundless universe, alien intelligence was almost inevitable. But the speed of light was absolute and the probability of even an alien robot visiting their isolated and soon to be shattered star system was hopelessly remote.

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If only Horohondra had discovered his object 50 years earlier, and their people had developed spaceflight 50 years earlier, maybe this could have been avoided. Theoretically, a massive enough satellite placed close enough to Horohondra's Object could, over time, alter its trajectory enough to keep it from destroying Al Semora 5. It wasn't beyond their current technology to mount such an effort. But the window of opportunity for such a plan to work had closed decades ago.

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