(See The Smudge on Orion’s Belt for details.)
In 2008, Mélanie Beauchamp discovered an usual object heading toward Earth. On December 25, 2009 she was witness to The Beauchamp Object being manoeuvred into orbit around Earth. The Object was the first piece of alien space junk ever, measuring 350 km long, 140 km at its widest and 70 km at its highest.
And there it sat, in a slowly decaying orbit.
January 27, 2012 – Earth Orbit
Astronaut Alexander Gerst was standing on the Beauchamp Object, having executed another metallurgical test on the object. The general consensus was that he was standing on the hull of a spaceship, debris from a wreck. His equipment panel showed what was shown in every other previous test in the last two years: nothing.
There was simply no known way to get a sample of the hull. Waiting for the orbit to complete, he wondered how an object so spectacular could be so resistant to investigation. The markings on the hull were incomprehensible. The consensus was that The Object had an interior, but no access port had been found. Portions of The Object had been heated to extreme heats and the energy seemed to disappear. Matter and energy may not be able to be created or destroyed, but the Beauchamp Object sure knew how to hide energy.
Gerst waited for the Space Station to swing by. They’d invented a space hook device to snag researchers off The Object. It was always a bit of a thrill ride. As he waited he saw another of the attitude control jets from 2009 misfire and then shut down. It was the astronaut’s opinion that something else had to be done with this behemoth.
February 16, 2012 – McGill University Campus, Montreal
Mélanie Beauchamp was presenting a lecture at McGill University. PHYS 641 Observational Techniques of Modern Astrophysics was a popular course. Undergrads wanted to take it, but Mélanie was fairly choosy. The University was continuing to enjoy the benefits of her celebrity from 2009.
Near the end of the lecture, there was an unusual amount of murmuring and babbling. She was unsure of what it was until she caught a glimpse of her hair. It was Bella. It had been a long time since she last saw her sister. Mélanie headed to the back of the hall. “‘Allo Bella. Comment ça va?” Boys always stayed close to Bella due to her attractants, specifically her red hair (dyed), large bust (augmented), plump lips (modified) and regular use of leather as her predominant signature outerwear.
Bella was Mélanie’s half-sister, eight years younger.
“OK guys,” said Mélanie, “take a hike.”
Once the hormonal undergrads had left, Bella said, “Dernièrement, j’ai eu beaucoup de visions. [Lately, I have had many visions.]”
Bella was not only a fetish model but also a self-proclaimed psychic. With the age difference and different fathers, Melaine was not close to her sister; the distance was made greater through Bella’s choice of profession.
“Quel type de visions?”
“Tu donnais un discours important. À la télévision. Ou dans un film.”
“You dreamt I was on TV? J’ai souvent apparu à la television.”
“Non, non j’étais éveillé. Mais tu portais une robe de mariée.”
“Tu es venu tout le chemin à une classe astrophysique pour me dire cela? [You came all the way to an astrophysics class to tell me this?]”
“Ça m’achalait vraiment. [It was really bugging me.]”
“Toi t’es vraiment spécial. [You’re such a nut.] Have you had lunch? Let’s go to the café and see how many students you can distract.”
September 12, 2274 – Command Meeting Room – The Odyssey – Omicron Cassiopeiae
The Odyssey was a super freighter space ship heading toward Omicron Cassiopeiae, 910 light years from Earth. Martin was the Commander and was in the midst of a conference with his Executive Officers.
“Are you serious?” asked XO Jassel
“I have to agree,” said the second XO. “Surely we aren’t outfitting this ship for battle, in transit, just to blow it up.”
“Look,” said Martin, “There isn’t a single scenario that gives us a win.”
The Odyssey was facing an enemy far beyond her capabilities. About two years earlier, Earth ships had investigated the ternary star system Omicron Cassiopeiae and uncovered unusual gravitational fields between the stars. Use of the ships’ displacement drives upset what was later determined to be an artificial field binding the stars together. The subsequent discovery of ancient alien artifacts, followed by a hasty translation indicated that one alien race had imprisoned another. The reason? The other race were star eaters who would arrive in a star system and literally absorb the energy of the sun as food.
Humans decided to call the trapped aliens Titans and the now long departed race that had entrapped them were nicknamed Olympians. Despite having star ships, 23rd century humans felt as ill-equipped as ancient Greek shepherds trying to battle Zeus himself.
March 28, 2012 – The White House, Washington DC
The President was not in the mood. NASA’s Chief Engineer had managed to arrange a small amount of precious meeting time with Barak Obama.
“OK, Kenny, lay this out for me.”
“Well Mr. President, The Object’s orbit is decaying and we’re losing the attitude control engines at a rate that will have this thing crashing down on our heads by Christmas.”
“Since The Object has given us precious little data, I’m assuming you don’t think it will burn up in the atmosphere.”
“You’re right sir. We think it will actually absorb the energy from the friction and land harder as a result.”
The President poured himself a glass of water. “Well, that doesn’t sound good. Tell me you have options.”
“Yes. Trying to upgrade the attitude control engines seems wasteful because it would be a continuous process and eventually it will come crashing down. We’d to know more about The Object by now, but even if we could land it softly on Earth, we aren’t sure we want it on the ground.”
“So … ” said the President.
“We want to put it on the Moon.”
April 3, 2012 – McGill University Montreal, Office of Mélanie Beauchamp, PhD
Mélanie answered her cellphone, “Pierre, how are you?”
“I’m good. I’m on my way back to Ottawa from DC.” Pierre had managed to obtain very good consulting work with the Canadian Government after the successful placement of The Object into orbit. Mélanie was glad not to be in the spotlight as much and Pierre was fond of the jet-setting.
“What’s going on?” asked Mélanie; Pierre rarely called just to say ‘allo.
“It looks like they want to move The Object to the Moon.”
“Really. They feel that if the thing drops from orbit, it might have the heat energy to make a very, very big hole.”
Mélanie was aware of The Object’s energy absorption qualities and agreed it would make a mess when it touched down.
“What am I supposed to do about it?”
“They want you to sell the plan to the public.”
“Pierre, I don’t think I could handle that circus again.”
“The man who’s going to phone you next is not someone to say no to.”
Mélanie’s phone started showing another incoming call. “You are just the worst,” said Mélanie and she swapped to the other call.
“Bonjour Melanie,” said a very American voice. “This is Barak Obama. It’s good to talk to you after so long.”
September 12, 2274 – The Command Deck on The Odyssey
The XO Jassel of The Odyssey was thinking out loud. “In summary, you are saying we wait for the Titans to emerge. Once we confirm they are real, we blow up the ship in such a way that displacement travel can’t work around Omicron Cassiopeiae. At the same time the main section of this ship is propelled backward in time with a warning for our forebears to deal with Omicron Cassiopeiae differently.”
“Yes,” said Martin.
“Yes, but in a good way. We have no hope of beating the Titans with current technology. We can slow them down, but unless we develop exciting solar mechanical engineering techniques in short order, we will be destroyed regardless.”
“Everyone on this ship dies.” The other XO made it sound like more of a statement than a question.
“Oh yeah. It stinks, but no one knows better than all of us that this was a one-way trip.”
April 6, 2012 – Restaurant l’Académie, rue Crescent, Montreal
Mélanie deliberately arrived early to use wine on her nerves and to think. She was arguing with herself about asking Luc to do security again. In early 2010, he asked her out and they had more than a year together as a couple. His work took him away often, abruptly and it was always top secret and dangerous. They had broken up eight months earlier on fairly amicable terms – as break-ups went. She convinced herself that they were both sufficiently mature and professional that they could work out some arrangement.
She was two glasses of wine ahead of Luc when he appeared. Somehow a man Luc’s size should not be able to sneak up on anyone, but he startled her nonetheless.
“You look wonderful,” he said.
She looked at him. He was still that chiselled, insanely fit pure laine Québécois with the sturdy jaw that they all seemed to have. “Did you somehow develop even broader shoulders since I last saw you? How is that possible?”
Luc laughed. “Maybe. I do have to custom tailor my suits.” He picked up her glass of wine and sniffed it. “What are you drinking?”
“Blech. That won’t do.” Luc ordered something French in the $80 range.
Mélanie sat blinking at him. “What are you doing?”
“Ordering good wine. I haven’t seen you in what, eight months? I’m not drinking swill.”
“I got a phone call from Barak Obama yesterday.” Mélanie was trying to sound casual.
“Really. Most people don’t get to say that in casual conversation. Is he looking for re-election help?”
Mélanie leaned forward and took his hand, as if to make an intimate gesture, and whispered in his ear, “they want to move it to the Moon.”
“Wow.” Luc sat back, but kept holding her hand. At first he thought she was being cheeky about the Barak Obama statement, but he took an extra second to look at her face and assess the lines and crinkles around the eyes and realized she was worried.
“What’s he wanting you to do? Please use generic terms,” said Luc.
“The role is, effectively, Head of Marketing.”
“So, the cost of this manoeuvre is high.”
“Totally. The Europeans and the Russians are on board. Technically they all understand the risk of this thing falling on our heads.”
“How can I help?”
“I need security again and I asked for the right to choose my own team, which I received. I thought you could help me. In ’09 I was as afraid of you and the others as much as I was afraid of the freaks out there. I’d like to avoid that problem this time.”
“Who’s footing the bill?”
“Good. Harper’s too cheap.”
“Look,” said Luc, “You’ve caught me off guard here, which is funny because I was hoping to surprise you. But I’ll agree to help you, but I have to say something that might affect your request. When you called, my extremely regular heartbeat spiked. And I realized … I’ve been in love with you since I first met you. And I now refuse to lose a chance to ask.”
Mélanie put her hand to her mouth.
Luc presented her with an engagement ring in a velvet box.
“Please marry me.”
Mélanie burst into tears.
“Is that a ‘yes’?”
September 12, 2274 – Engineering Division Conference Room, The Odyssey
Martin recalled his officers for the second half of the meeting. The Odyssey was a hive of activity as everyone was working to prepare the ship. The problem Martin faced was timing. Sending the largest piece of the ship’s hull backward through time was not like boarding a bus with a regular schedule.
“I suspect that at least two of you will be wondering if the section of the hull will arrive anytime in the past where it will be useful.”
“We did wonder. The mathematics indicates the early 21st century. Will they be able to understand it?”
“Not without help. We’ll need to communicate with someone back then so that they’ll understand to put the wreck on the Moon.”
The officer in charge of the Science Division groaned. “You’re not planning to use that bio link time tunnelling trick are you?”
“Of course,” said Martin.
“It is so … flaky.”
“Look, all of this is a huge bet. If we’re really, really lucky the aliens will have died in that artificial gravity well and this will be a giant waste of time. However, if there’s a chance to send a little hint to the past, then we all have the pleasure of helping avoid this stupid, stupid mistake our civilization made.”
“And we’ll probably cease to exist.”
“Well, probably. Or we die horribly. Either way it’s for a good cause.”
May 5, 2012 – St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Sherbrooke Quebec
Bella was helping Mélanie with her wedding dress. The plan was for a small wedding with a small group of family and friends, but despite the speed, was a dignified affair.
“This is all very traditional,” said Bella, who was still perplexed by the white dress’s train.
“Uh-huh. This coming from the woman who’s wearing an all leather pink maid of honour dress.”
“Hey, you called me a woman and not a girl,” said Bella.
“It must be the stress.”
“Don’t you feel weird?” Bella gestured to all the trappings of the 1850s church. “This is all so traditional.”
“I blame Luc. He’s the Protestant, which in a way is a good thing because the Roman Catholics would never have let us get married this fast.”
Bella and Mélanie had concluded that the visions Bella had had a month earlier were in anticipation for the TV coverage – camera crews were waiting for them to leave the church. Even President Obama had sent greetings, which by themselves were enough to garner media attention.
During seemingly endless fussing over Mélanie’s dress, the Minister interrupted them. “Just to let you know ladies … show time in 20 minutes.
“Damn,” said Mélanie. “I have to go pee.”
“Do you want help?” asked Bella. “With the dress,” she added.
“No, no. I’m OK.”
The church’s washroom in the vestry had space enough to manoeuvre with the dress. Someone was thinking ahead. When Mélanie stepped out, she felt like she was no longer in the church. She was surrounded by white light.
“Hi,” said Martin. “I’m Martin, commander of the space vessel The Odyssey. Sorry to disturb you.”
“What the hell …”
“I have one quick question. Do you live in an age where a large space artifact has been discovered?”
“Yes. In fact I discovered it. Who the hell are you really?”
“Excellent! I’ve had a couple of false starts in this process. It’s good to connect with the right person.”
“Answer the question, Martin.”
“I’m talking to you from the 23rd century. I’m using a time tunnelling technique that allows images of ourselves to communicate.”
Mélanie looked around. It seemed they were in a white room with glowing walls standing in front of one another. Martin looked more of a nebbish than a commander.
“Is this some kind of joke?” asked Mélanie
“No. Um, why are you dressed that way? My research of the 21st century led me to expect something else.”
“I’m getting married, you idiot.”
“Oh! Congratulations. Look, it’s really important that the artifact is moved to the Moon. It’s too dangerous to keep in orbit.”
“We’re working on that. Being from the future you really don’t know much, do you? Can I go get married now?”
“Don’t you want to know what the artifact really is and its purpose?”
Mélanie was back, standing in the vestry. She estimated that she had worked with Martin for about 30 minutes.
“That was fast,” said Bella.
“What’s wrong? You look like you saw a ghost.”
“I think the nerves are finally getting to me.” There was more Mélanie wanted to tell her sister, but it was going to have to wait. At least she learned one thing. Precognition comes from faster-than-light energy projecting from the future. Everyone receives the signals but only people like her sister can perceive them.
“Is it show time?” Mélanie asked.
June 17, 2012 – Ed Sullivan Theatre, New York City
David Letterman’s intern said: “It’s show time Ms Beauchamp.”
“Are you going to watch?”
“Yes,” said Luc, “I liked this one last time.”
She kissed Luc and left with the intern.
On the monitor, Luc watched Letterman do his stuff.
Letterman: It’s going to be a bit crowded up here because I’ve got guests who are like the cousins who visit for Thanksgiving but don’t leave. [Olivia Wilde and Denis Leary wave at the crowd and mime eating and drinking.] Our next guest is, thankfully, a returning guest. Please welcome from Montreal, Melanie Beauchamp, doctor of astrophysics and the person who first observed the Beauchamp Object, which is currently, precariously, orbiting our planet.
Mélanie walked on stage to the theme of Jaws. She waved at Paul and shook each of Denis, Olivia and David’s hands.
Letterman: Welcome back to the show. How have you been? You look great.
Beauchamp: Thank you. I’m good. Busy due to The Object. It gave me a couple of years off, but now we have to work on it more.
Letterman: Didn’t you just get married?
Letterman: To your bodyguard.
Beauchamp: Only one of them.
Letterman: [pulling a photo out for the audience] To this guy? [the audience sees a picture of Luc standing beside other people and towering over them.]
Leary: Jeez. That guy’s a moose.
Leary: C’mon. Look at him. What did he eat for lunch? A linebacker?
Beauchamp: Yes, that’s Luc.
Wilde: It’s so sexy the way you say his name.
Letterman: And [pulling out a different photo] who’s this? [It was a picture of Bella in her pink leather maid of honour dress.]
Leary: Holy cats.
Wilde: How’d she get into that dress?
Letterman: Please, let the real guest answer.
Beauchamp: That’s my half sister.
Leary: Which half?
Beauchamp: She was my maid of honour.
Letterman: I Googled her.
Beauchamp: That was probably not a good idea.
Letterman: My computer was so taken aback it rebooted.
Beauchamp: She’s a psychic.
Leary: Well, she certainly knows what men are thinking.
Letterman: We’ll be back in a minute after this break.
During the break, Letterman thanked Mélanie for letting him bring up personal matters. Leary and Wilde were into the mission and Letterman said, “we’ve only got a couple of minutes, so let’s give Melanie a chance to do her pitch. Denis.”
“What did I do?”
Letterman: Welcome back everyone. Melanie’s job seems to be to make sure we all know why we’re moving something to the Moon that Scientific American called “the least cooperative discovery in human history.”
Beauchamp: This mission is so fun. People will go to the moon for the first time in decades but in the least likely way. A specialized crew is going to ride The Object to the Moon.
Letterman: And they’re doing this because if it falls out of orbit it will land with a big BOOM?
Beauchamp: Literally the only thing we know for sure is that The Object absorbs energy and keeps it somewhere, internally. There’s just no way we want to see how much energy it has anywhere on Earth. It’s about 215 miles long. What scrap yard wants that landing on its head?
Letterman: But you don’t know what it’s made of.
Beauchamp: No clue. It has not let us take a sample or analyze it.
Letterman: I was told you were asked to help by President Obama himself.
Letterman: Wow. Did the Canadian government object?
Beauchamp: When the President of the United States calls to request the secondment of one of your people, what do you say?
Letterman: ‘Yes sir’?
Beauchamp: Pretty much.
Letterman: Ladies and gentlemen, up next are The Pierces.
August 7, 2012 – 320 West 66th St., New York City
Mélanie was joining Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Elizabeth Hasslebeck on The View. The regularly scheduled guests included Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Gillian Flynn and Jane Seymour, all of whom wanted to meet Mélanie.
Goldberg: Our crowded show today is bolstered by Melanie Beauchamp who’s here to explain the next phase of weirdness around The Beauchamp Object. Let’s give her a warm welcome. [Everyone greets Mélanie.]
Walters: Welcome back. I’ve done a lot of reading about The Object, as I notice you refer to it. Is it as frustrating to the scientific community as it sounds?
Beauchamp: Absolutely. When there’s a new discovery, normally regular scientific inquiry will give insight. But with The Object in space, it’s difficult to analyze and there’s no way we’ve found to take a sample of the hull.
Goldberg: Hull. So you believe it’s part of a spaceship.
Beauchamp: Given what I know, I’m pretty convinced.
Hasselbeck: Moving it to the Moon. Is that the only option? Washington is being very tight-lipped on what this is costing.
Beauchamp: I have no access to costing data, so I can’t help there, but I do know that continuously servicing the rockets that keep it in orbit will be a never-ending cost but the trip to the Moon is one time. Other options were considered, like tossing it into the Sun, but since we have no idea what The Object is made of, it seemed like a bad idea.
Goldberg: So why not cut it loose and let it float away and be someone else’s problem?
Beauchamp: We have to move it to the Moon.
Whoopi was taken aback by Mélanie’s earnestness. In the Green Room, Luc was watching and realized that a nerve had been hit. He’d accompanied Mélanie on hundreds of shows and interviews and had not seen this before.
Jones: I think we’ve seen on our own planet what happens … y’know … dump something somewhere for someone else to clean up.
Beauchamp: If you’re out on a boat and you see garbage floating by, aren’t you supposed to pick it up and take it to land, even though you personally didn’t put it in?
Goldberg: At 215 miles long, that ain’t noDixiecup floating in the water.
Hasselbeck: Obama asked you to help pitch the plan, right? Did he mention how this would effect his re-election bid?
Walters: You’re a Canadian citizen though, right?
Beauchamp: Correct and I have not talked politics with him except to wish him luck. And this is international. Just like the first time, if this thing lands on our head, it’s a bad time for all.
Back at their hotel, Luc asked, “did you get a little defensive with Whoopi Goldberg?”
“Yes, I did.”
“You have all the signs of someone who’s weighed down with a secret,” said Luc.
Mélanie considered herself bad at keeping secrets and being married to a spy certainly didn’t make hiding one easier. The good news was that it was not for long.
“Look,” she said, “Didn’t Martin Sheen in your favourite movie say something like ‘Sir, I am not aware of any such activity or operation – nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did exist.'”
“Pretty damn close.”
“Consider me in that category, but also consider me a girl who needs desperately to go out with her handsome husband, a woman desperate to be part of the world and not some object on TV.”
Luc pulled out a second cell phone, not the one Mélanie saw him normally use. He typed “NY outing. One hour” and pressed Send.
“Should I ask?”
“No. I have a special kit for you. Wig, dress, shoes.” He pulled a case from the closet and popped it open.
“Wow. Blonde. This is different. Sexy. Did you choose it?”
“Your sister helped.”
*** Four hours Later ***
“Did you have to hit him that hard?”
“Pretty much,” said Luc. “Well, at least we had a couple of hours out before someone recognized you.”
“Why are people so … crazed?”
“A deadly combination of garden variety celebrity status, fear of the unknown and that Mayan prophecy drivel. You are the lucky one; you understand The Object better than anyone.”
“Let’s pack up and go to bed. Don’t we go to California tomorrow for my guest spot on The Big Bang Theory?”
September 18, 2012 – Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California
Mélanie was sitting on stage with Michael J. Fox and Ellen DeGeneres.
DeGeneres: In my all-Canadian show today, I am first going to attempt to embarrass my second guest with pictures of her family. [In the background were a couple of carefully cropped photos of Bella.] Now this is my kind of sister. Sadly, I have a brother.
Fox: And I thought I was twitchy before.
Beauchamp: Half sister.
Fox: Looks like a whole sister to me.
DeGeneres: Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about the Moon. [Image switches to a huge picture of the moon.] So, I’m not all techie or anything so I asked Melanie if we could act out the mission to put The Object on the Moon. Now we all know Michael is the Earth because he likes to be the centre of attention. Melanie, you’ll be Mission Control so you’ll stand here. [Mélanie moves to a pre determined spot.] I’ve also got a couple of helpers from the audience. [To Mélanie’s surprise, Bella comes on stage wearing a conservative suit exactly the same as Mélanie’s. Mélanie is totally caught off guard. They hug. In the Green Room, Luc chortles.]
It took a moment for Mélanie to compose herself after a short exchange in French with Bella. Meanwhile, DeGeneres brings up three people from the studio audience.
DeGeneres: So, Susan, Tiffany and Don here are going to pretend to be The Object. Bella is going to be the Moon – or maybe moons in her case – and Michael is going to be the Earth. So, Melanie, how’s this going to work?
Beauchamp: OK. Could Susan, Tiffany and Don please walk in an ellipse around Michael? You’ll see some nice blue bits of tape on the floor. Snuggle together as the astronauts flying The Object will be clenching pretty tightly. Now can Tony put on The Planets by Holst?
Tony: How about Gangam Style?
Beauchamp: Good enough. Now, Bella, please orbit around Michael following the green marks.
DeGeneres: And Michael can spin on his axis in one spot until he throws up.
Fox: Sounds good. I try to fit that in every week.
Beauchamp: As you can see, the Moon moves around the Earth, also in an elliptical fashion. For the last while, the private SpaceX Dragon has been moving equipment onto The Object. Ellen? [DeGeneres hands gifts to the three members of the studio audience.] Once the position is correct, rockets on The Object fire and it flies right toward the moon, circles around the Moon, fires more rockets, and lands, hopefully gently on the Moon.
DeGeneres: Group hug!! [Bella and the audience members hug.] Now, Melanie, I gotta ask. “Landing gently on the Moon” sounds optimistic.
Beauchamp: A pilot friend of mine once said, “it’s not the flying, but the take off and landing that’s tricky.” In this case, we only have to land The Object. It’s already in flight.
In the Green Room, Mélanie was bawling her eyes out at being able to see her sister and she slapped Luc on his barrel chest. “Tu savais, hein?”
“Bien sûr. Ellen m’a appelé. C’était son idée.”
Ellen gave Mélanie a gift of remembering what was important … family. The mission was scheduled for October 27. She was planning on being very relieved.
October 26, 2012 – CBC Studios, Toronto
Mansbridge: I have Mélanie Beauchamp on the line from Cape Canaveral. Mélanie, how’s the weather?
Beauchamp: Peter it is dreadful. Hurricane Sandy has pretty much locked down the entire eastern seaboard.
Mansbridge: And the mission?
Beauchamp: Scrubbed I’m afraid. It’s not just letting the hurricane pass, it’s the cleanup afterward.
Mansbridge: This isn’t just waiting for the next flight, I assume?
Beauchamp: They are recalculating when the next optimum window is.
Mansbridge: I guess President Obama may not be President when this mission completes?
Beauchamp: I know Mr. Romney is on record as saying he thinks the entire mission is a waste of money, but I don’t think he will see any cost savings if he rolls it back now.
Mélanie paced her apartment in Florida. Luc was simply looking at her.
“What’s your biggest worry?”
“Romney might permanently scrub the mission.”
“You honestly think he’d do that?”
“To pander to the nut jobs that are trying to get him elected?”
“What about the nut jobs trying to get Obama elected?”
“Well, at least they’re more my type of nut job.”
November 6, 2012 – The Marriott Residence Inn, Cape Canaveral Florida
Mélanie had never watched election coverage so closely before and truly hoped she’d not have to do so ever again.
As soon as Romney gave his unexpectedly gracious concession speech, she wanted to go to bed.
“You should email him,” said Luc.
“Obama? Don’t you think he’s a bit busy?”
“Trust me.” He tossed her her smartphone.
November 26, 2012 – VIP Observation Deck, Cape Canaveral Florida
It was 15 degrees C, clear and sunny at Cape Canaveral. Suborbital private craft were launching with space tourists to watch The Object leave orbit. Richard Branson had been a huge supporter of moving The Object and was thick in the venture to view the operation live from space.
In the VIP observation deck, Mélanie was able to speak in person with Obama for the first time since 2009.
“Melanie! Good to see you. Thanks for your support and work during this process.”
“You remember Luc, my husband?”
“Hard to forget him!” They shook hands. “Thanks for your email after election night. It meant a lot to me. Make sure to stick around afterwards. There’s going to be quite the party.”
As Luc and Mélanie walked away, Luc said, “Told you the email was a good idea.”
“We have to find a corner where we won’t be watched. I have to tell you something.”
Once settled, she leaned to Luc and whispered, “There are two ways this could go down – three if you include total failure. First they put an inert object on the Moon. Second, The Object reveals something in flight. And when that happens everyone will be looking at me. My security issues to date will look like nothing in comparison.”
“OK. I’m officially nervous.”
“This could all be a figment of my imagination. I promise to disclose fully afterwards, but whatever happens, do not leave my side under any circumstances.”
A few hours later they were watching the pictures as the object broke free of orbit. Rockets were firing correctly and Mission Control was tracking everything according to plan. As The Object started hurtling away from Earth, cameras showed the markings on the hull had shifted. In massive letters in many languages, including English, the markings now formed a simple message: LOOK INSIDE.
“Crew on the Object. Are you noticing anything strange with the markings? Over.”
“Nothing we can see, Mission Control.”
“Can we get confirmation from other observers?”
Luc was looking at Mélanie. “It’s starting,” she whispered.
“Mission Control. This is Gerst on The Object. It looks like the hull is shifting. What appears to be an access port has appeared. Over.”
“Can you beam us an image? You are getting out of camera range.”
“Working on it.”
Mélanie typed a text message for Bella. Does this look familiar? She did not press send yet.
Then all monitors at Mission Control and Cape Canaveral were interrupted. Incongruously Mélanie was on screen in her wedding dress. She was clearly shaky and nervous, but the transmission continued.
As many of you know, I’m Mélanie Beauchamp. This transmission was made on my wedding day, May 5, 2012. I was intercepted by The Object’s captain through a time-tunnelling technique I frankly don’t understand. Something about shared photons. If you are seeing this, you are in the process of moving The Object to the Moon. You are moving the remains of the spaceship The Odyssey. It is a human ship from the year 2274. It was deliberately blasted back in time as a warning. In the centuries to come, humans will investigate the triple star system Omicron Cassiopeiae and discover entities able to destroy us. Inside the hull are artifacts able to help us understand the danger and to avoid it. The Object should be downloading to all university sites a data package with details. Assuming I’m still involved in this mission, please understand why I had to withhold this information because, frankly, I’m still not 100% sure that this isn’t my imagination.
The transmission ended. Mélanie pressed Send on her phone.
“Crap,” said Luc. He grabbed his special phone and tapped in FULL ALERT and pressed Send.
Mission Control and Cape Canaveral were in an uproar.
Obama yelled out, “Keep it down! The mission proceeds. Mélanie and Luc. Could you come sit with me for the duration?”
As they rose Luc said, “Now I know why you wanted him to win the election so much. Romney’s bunch might have shot you.”
December 24, 2274 – The Bridge of The Odyssey, Omicron Cassiopeiae
Martin’s hand hovered over a red button.
“Commander, honestly, a red button?”
“It’s an homage to 21st Century humour.”
“Commander, the expected fluctuations in the gravity well are happening.”
“Show time, everyone.”
The entire crew of The Odyssey hoped nothing would happen.
As the gravitational fields unfolded there was a churning energy field underneath, and it started broadcasting. Suddenly everyone on the ship were feeling horror without a single image or a specific thought to trigger it.
“Right on schedule,” muttered Martin through clenched teeth. He hit the button.
The light from the blast would reach Earth 910 years later.