Moon Hammer - Chapter 3Edit
October 31, 2009
Halloween was not a good day for Brother Institoris. On this day he usually did not bother to monitor the data stream from Earth since there was just too much of a chance that he would see something that would start him thinking about witchcraft. However, this year he was searching for something important: an indication that his attempt to send a radio signal to Earth had been successful. Was this it?
Allen Telescope Array detects unusual signal on the Moon
Hat Creek, Calif.
Today, the SETI Institute announced that Allen Telescope Array has been collecting scientific data from the Moon since the Chinese government lost contact with its Moon rover on October 16.
“There is something up there that started transmitting yesterday,” said Leo Blitz, a Berkeley professor of astronomy and director of the university’s Radio Astronomy Laboratory.
The new radio signals from the Moon are using the same transmission frequency as did the Chinese rover. Blitz said, "The signal we have detected is a voice. We are not certain what language is being spoken, but it appears to be some oddly modified form of Latin. We are very concerned that this is some kind of hoax, but we continue monitor and we have linguistic experts analyzing the transmissions."
Newton and Alhacen were in the laboratory discussing the messages that they had received from Earth since returning the Chinese rover's communications antenna to the surface. Newton commented, "I agree that the transmissions are not all coming from the Chinese."
Alhacen suggested, "We need to have Institoris put out word to those who are monitoring the data stream from Earth...some government, probably that of the USA must be responsible. In any case, they are making an honest attempt to communicate with us."
Newton shrugged, "Well, not us. They have no idea who is here listening to them."
Alhacen nodded, "Right, but according to this voice message they know that we have been trying to communicate with them."
Institoris rushed into the laboratory and explained to Newton and Alhacen that the message that they had sent to Earth had been received. Newton and Alhacen exchanged glances and said nothing. Institoris was surprised that Newton and Alhacen did not seem surprised. After an awkward silence Institoris asked, "Don't you care that we can now communicate with Earth?"
Newton had been hoping that Institoris might indefinitely be occupied with scans of the data stream from Earth. Now that it had become possible to communicate with Earth, Newton did not want to involve Institoris with discussions about what to say to Earth. Newton feared that Institoris would most likely want to start sending inappropriate messages to Earth. Newton replied, "We care very much." He explained, "We know that Earth received our message. We have already deduced that from a message that Earth sent to us."
Institoris asked, "What message?"
The communications equipment of the Chinese rover had not been designed to handle voice messages, but Alhacen had figured out how to feed digital files from the rover's flash memory directly into a speaker. He replayed the voice message that had been received from Earth and explained, "Ignore this first part that you hear, it is digital data that the Chinese continue to send...they are still trying to regain control of the rover." The first part of the audio playback was just a series of odd noises. The meaningless jumble of beeps and chirps was then replaced by a poor quality spoken voice using English:
"Testing. This is a test. This is Earth calling Cabeus crater on the Moon. We have received your voice transmission. For future messages can you use a known language such as English? Please confirm that you have received this message. We are eager to talk with you. This is a test. Testing."
Alhacen shut off the message playback.
Institoris asked, "Who sent that message?"
Alhacen replied, "They did not say. Almost certainly it is not the Chinese and anyone from another nation would probably be reluctant to identify themselves. If this message is from some third party who is sending an unauthorized transmission to the rover then they probably do not want the Chinese to identify them. The Chinese are a signatory to a space treaty that forbids interference with communications between a nation and its spacescraft."
Newton was already thinking about how to compose a new message. "Right now we continue to repeatedly transmit our original message, the voice of Brother Institoris giving a greeting in Latin. This message that is coming from Earth in English also continues to repeat. We need to send a new message. We need to let them know on Earth that we can receive their voice messages."
Alhacen nodded. "We can now establish a two-way conversation." He said to Newton, "However, you've never learned to speak modern English. I will do the speaking, but we should agree on what we want to say to Earth."
Institoris was not happy to hear that the two scientists planned to begin a conversation with Earth. He had been planning to do all the talking. When re-activating all of the robots in Purgatory, Institoris had been careful to reset the memories of all his rivals on the Haidou Council. Institoris was now the only Council member who even remembered that the Council existed. Institoris wondered: was it now time to reset these pesky scientists? He asked Alhacen, "Why should you do the talking?"
Newton commented, "Alhacen is a good choice. He speaks modern English. Almost certainly the people who sent us the voice message are scientists from the USA and Alhacen has a good grasp of the technical issues involved in communicating with Earth."
Institoris hesitated to erase the memories of Newton and Alhacen...he feared that there was some technical detail of how to send and recieve the radio signals that only they knew, something that would prevent him from communicating with Earth. He asked, "What technical issues are there? I've already sent one message to Earth. You just showed me how to listen to messages coming from Earth. I speak good English. I will send the next message. As a member of the Haidou Council I should be the spokesman for Purgatory."
Newton and Alhacen looked at each other in bewilderment. After another awkward silence Alhacen said, "From this point on we need to proceed in a logical manner. We now know that this is not Purgatory. Someone has exiled us here in this base under the surface of the Moon. We must learn who has done this to us and we must claim our rightful place among the people of Earth. Through rationality and respect for the truth of our situation we shall honor God and regain our rightful place among men."
While trying to speed up the process of re-activating all of Purgatory's robots, Institoris had learned that he could split his robot repair nanites into two or three groups. The smaller groups took longer to do their work, but such a split should allow him to reset both Newton and Alhacen at the same time. He commanded his nanites to invade the brain circuits of the two scientists and start erasing their memories. Institoris asked Newton, "What do you say Brother Newton, will the spokesman be Brother Alhacen or I?"
Newton suddenly felt his mind slip. He was reminded of how it had felt when he had been inactivated and his thoughts had sunk into darkness. He struggled to speak, "What is..." The last thing Newton saw was a devious look of glee on the face of Institoris. Both Newton and Alhacen stopped moving.
Institoris looked at the radio and computer equipment on the bench where Newton and Alhacen had been working. Since he dared not try to move any of the equipment he would have to work here. He called to the other scientists in the laboratory. "Help! I need help!"
The other robots came and looked with dismay upon the immobile bodies of Newton and Alhacen. Institoris said, "Our enemies sent another mind control virus using the rover's communications equipment. We are all in danger of being inactivated again! Brother Newton and Brother Alhacen are infected! Take them away. I will try to use my repair nanites to deal with the virus...somehow this Chinese radio equipment can infect our minds! Now, go! Hurry! It is not safe here. Do not try to come back into this room until I tell you that it is safe!"
The other scientists picked up Newton and Alhacen and carried them out of the laboratory. Institoris then spent a half hour welding shut the four doors of the laboratory. He returned to the work bench that held the Chinese radio equipment. For five centuries he had watched Earth's descent into heretical practices and paganism; now it was time for righteous retribution! He activated the circuitry that he had used previously to record his voice into the flash memory of the Chinese rover when he had spoken his first message to Earth. Now he spoke in English, "Testing. This is Brother Institoris calling from the Moon. Hello, Earth, do you hear me? We should now be able to exchange-"
Making use of his contacts at the Very Large Array, Dr. Monteiro had established a procedure for collecting radio signals from the Chinese rover on the Moon. Monteiro and Dr. Vivek planned how to use the VLA so as to allow two-way voice communication with the Moon. They were quite confident in their methods by the time that General Reese finally got around to talking to them. The General wanted to know what the two scientists had been working on and how they hoped it would contribute to understanding the odd phenomena that had been observed on the Moon. Pablo explained that they wanted to start sending voice signals to the Moon and that with the help of people who he knew at the VLA the transmitting equipment was in place and ready to be used. The General had exploded, "Were you going to bother asking permission before violating international treaties?"
Ekantika explained, "Of course we have been waiting to discuss our plans with you. Anyhow, we would not be sending a signal that will interfere with Chinese command and control signals. We want to send a voice signal."
General Reese complained, "You would still be trying to use another nation's space exploration equipment in an unauthorized way! What is this, some kind of silly SETI nonsense? We do not even know what we are dealing with on the Moon. What would you say in your transmissions? You are supposed to be helping to figure out what is going on up there, not trying to phone ET!"
Pablo suggested, "Talking to them might allow us to figure out who they are and what they are doing on the Moon. Whoever they are, they must know about Earth. It is not unreasonable to hope that they could figure out how to use the Chinese communications equipment and understand our language."
Reese demanded, "Which language? English? Spanish? If they have been hiding from us in a secret base under the surface of the Moon then why should they now respond to a voice message from you?"
Ekantika had not expected such a hostile response to the idea of trying to speak to whoever was on the Moon. "Look, this is just an idea. Sure, it might not work. However, now that we know about this secret base on the Moon they might be willing to communicate with us. Talking is better than suspicion and fear. Why not give it a try?"
General Reese knew that the military had already tried to take control of the Chinese rover. Of course, that illegal activity was highly classified and her initial reaction to this idea to use the VLA was a reaction of fear; fear that the world would learn of the USA's attempts to interfere with a Chinese space mission. "I need to discuss this with Washington. Do nothing until I get back to you! Understood?" Pablo and Ekantika agreed. For the next week they did nothing except return to their scientific analysis of data from the LCROSS mission.
Finally word came back from General Reese by phone. Pablo took the call. The General said, "You can send a short voice message to the Moon. However, the government will have complete deniability. You will be using the VLA without official approval. The Air Force has tapped into the VLA computers, so we will be fully informed of your activities. Keep the message simple and see if you get a reply."
At the end of the phone call with General Reese, Pablo set down the phone and turned to Ekantika. "We have permission to try sending a voice message to the Moon."
Ekantika suggested, "Call your friends at the VLA and find out when we can have some dish time."
Pablo picked up the phone and called his contact at the VLA who seemed to have been expecting the call, "You can use dishes 9 and 10 at any time. We were just ordered by General Reese to cooperate fully. However, have you heard the news out of California? Blitz has already received a voice message from the Moon."
Pablo had not heard about the message detected by the SETI Institute. For ten minutes they discussed the message that had been received in California then Pablo said, "Okay, then here is what we will do. Give us an hour to modify the message. Plan to start transmitting about noon."
Pablo and Ekantika re-wrote their message, recorded it and sent it to the VLA:
"Testing. This is a test. This is Earth calling Cabeus crater on the Moon. We have received your voice transmission..."
The VLA continued to transmit the voice message to the Moon as long as the Moon was above the horizon. By the second day of transmission Pablo and Ekantika were rapidly losing interest in their attempt to establish communications with the Moon. At the VLA, dish 9 continued to transmit to the Moon and they were using dish 10 to monitor the repeating voice signal from the Moon that had first been detected in California. While Pablo and Ekantika worked on their LCROSS data, Pablo's computer quietly played the message being received by dish 10. The the endlessly repeating semi-Latin speech quickly faded from their consciousness.
Then the dish 10 signal changed:
"Testing. This is Brother Institoris calling from the Moon. Hello, Earth, do you hear me? We should now be able to exchange messages. We can hear your message. As requested, I am speaking English-"
Pablo and Ekantika both jumped to their feet and looked at each other. Then Ekantika put on her headset. Pablo shut of the repeating message that they had been feeding to the VLA. Ekantika spoke into her microphone, "Hello, Brother Institoris. This is Ekantika Vivek, on Earth. Do you hear me?"
After a short pause the reply came from the Moon. "Hello, Ekantika Vivek. Yes, I hear you!"
For a moment Ekantika could not think of what to say then she asked, "Who are you? What are you doing on the Moon?"
At the same time Institoris had continued to speak, "Who are you? Where are you located?"
Ekantika explained that she was using the VLA and that she was a scientist on the LCROSS mission team.
Pablo did a quick internet search for "Brother Institoris" and he quickly realized that "Institoris" was the Latinized name adopted by Heinrich Kramer, an Inquisitor from the 15th century. Pablo put on his headset.
Institoris was aware that it was the the LCROSS mission that had blasted its way into Purgatory. "I suppose I should thank you for revealing to us that we are on the Moon. We have been held here like prisoners, unaware of our location."
Pablo asked, "Are you familiar with Heinrich Kramer?"
Institoris replied, "I am Heinrich Kramer."
Ekantika did not recognize the name "Heinrich Kramer". She gave Pablo a questioning look and he pointed to the display screen of his computer that held biographical information about Heinrich Kramer, also known as Heinrich Institoris.
Pablo asked, "How is it possible? How did you get to the Moon? How have you survived for so many centuries?" At that point the Air Force terminated transmissions from dish 9. For another ten minutes, Ekantika and Pablo kept listening to Institoris and asking questions. Finally Pablo's contact at the VLA called by phone and explained that the Air Force had shut off the transmitter.
After seeing the press release from the SETI Institute, Gerald Silver at the Christian Voice Network tuned the largest satellite dish on the roof of Network headquarters to the frequency used by the Chinese rover on the Moon. He was able to receive the voice message from the Moon and started streaming it live over the internet. By noon of the second day of the transmission, millions of people had heard the message from Institoris and links to the audio stream were spreading exponentially through the internet. Latin scholars were widely debating the meaning of the message. Then the original message ended and Institoris started speaking in English...
Sermon from PurgatoryEdit
Institoris heard no more from Earth, but he kept talking. "There are many of us here, but none of us know how we got here. Our souls have been transferred into mechanical bodies and we are essentially immortal. Some of us have been here for many centuries. We have imagined that we are in Purgatory. We are allowed to follow events on Earth and we have been dismayed by what we have seen."
Institoris paused and wondered if he would hear more from Ekantika or the unidentified man who had spoken. However, he was now fired with the idea that he could express all of his frustrations which had grown and accumulated over the centuries. "We have now liberated ourselves and it is time for us to speak from on high. I will not be content to only speak to you on Earth. Nothing now stops us from returning to Earth! And much needs to be done on Earth while you prepare for our return. You are all well aware of spreading practice of killing unborn children, yet the governors and despots are allowed to facilitate abortion, calling it legal. It is time for the faithful to rise up and put an end to such abominations!"
"We have also been horrified by the legalization of homosexuality and the absurdity of governments creating falsehoods like 'same sex marriage'. All of humanity is put at risk by such practices! The purpose of marriage is blessing a man and a women who enter into the holy process of raising children. Sanctioning any other relationship and calling it 'marriage' is contrary to God's will. Homosexuality and homosexual feelings should never be encouraged. The faithful must take the initiative to cleanse Earth of this scourge!
"Similarly, pagan practices such as witchcraft and devil worship must be confronted and opposed. We have been imprisoned here in our Purgatory for too long. I proclaim that now is the time for all true believers to rally together and reclaim Earth for God! Take my return as a sign that the End Times are near. Do not delay in your actions! The time is now to purify Earth. That is your path to eternal life!" At that point Institoris began to feel his thought processes becoming disorganized. His last words were, "Expect me-".
Fluger, now with his mind re-instantiated in a new robotic body, was again in Purgatory where he had been assembling a team of robots and a large pool of nanites. His team of robots was in the secret access corridor that was routinely used to bring new human arrivals into Purgatory. They were awaiting another spaceship load of robots and nanites.
When Amelia learned that Institoris was transmitting a live message to Earth she contacted Fluger by radio and ordered him to take back control of Purgatory. Fluger and his team released their nanites and Fluger went directly to the science laboratory using a secret entrance. He came up through the bottom of a storage cabinet in the laboratory. Fluger found Institoris slumped over the work bench that held the Chinese communications equipment, a swarm of nanites having entered the laboratory through the ventilation system and powered off his brain circuits. Fluger disconnected the power supply of the computer equipment that was wired to the radio transmitter of the Chinese Rover.
Soap all your windowsEdit
Overseer Amelia was speaking to the Observer Council. "You are all well aware of the terrible consequences of the 'Sermon from Purgatory' that Earth was subjected to by the robot known as Institoris. A kind of religious civil war has been inflicted upon several dozen nations of Earth and it is not yet clear how far this madness will spread or how it might be brought under control. I take full responsibility for being too slow to bring Purgatory back under control. I foolishly hoped to first divert Earth's attention from the Moon before starting the shutdown process. We still face the task of evacuating all the humans from Purgatory before the manned mission from Earth arrives."
"For now, Fluger and his team of robots has the situation under control. All of the robotic residents of Purgatory have been destroyed and we will be able to decide at a later time if and where to re-instantiate their stored mind patterns. Fluger reports that two-way radio communication between Purgatory and Earth was made possible by his own failure to recognize several scientific and technical advances made by Alhacen. In particular, Alhacen accomplished a clever reprogramming of the robot repair nanites that Fluger had made available to the Haidou Council. Even that catastrophe could have been contained, but Institoris took the initiative and performed memory resets on the entire Haidou Council, eliminating all of his rivals. Furthermore, Alhacen was able to almost instantly invent a way to use the Chinese Moon rover for sending voice messages to Earth. We are, of course, investigating the possible involvement of Interventionists in the remarkable technical advances achieved by Alhacen."
As was her practice, Amelia took no questions and walked out of the Council chamber without further comment and without even looking at any of the Councilors. Observer Taurench followed her and said, "Overseer, you failed to mention a plan for how to...present...Purgatory to the Earth humans when they arrive on the Moon."
Amelia sent a reply directly into the radio receiver in Taurench's brain, "Come to my chambers." A few minutes later, now safely inside the section of Observer Base that was controlled by Overseers, Amelia spoke to Taurench. "My plans for what to do with Purgatory are still evolving. My basic strategy is to tell the first Earthlings who fly to the Moon and visit Purgatory that the underground complex is theirs to use as they see fit. We still have about six months before it will be possible for Earthlings to reach the Moon."
Taurench asked, "How will you explain to them...well...everything? In particular, what will you tell them about who built Purgatory?"
Amelia replied, "This kind of situation has, of course, occurred many times in the past....in other star systems. As an Overseer I have access to a vast data base that helps me decide how to handle difficult situations like this."
Taurench complained, "Overseer secrets! Your 'vast data base' did not help you avoid the current crisis. I have little faith in your ability to deal with this coming crisis."
Amelia chuckled, "Really, Taurench, you take things too seriously. There is no way to prevent every crisis. We live and learn. I suspect that there has been Interventionist meddling that precipitated this crisis. Of course, I take full responsibility for my own failures." Amelia particularly regretted not disconnecting Purgatory from the data stream. The data stream from Earth was generated by Observers and was designed for use at Observer Base. Technically, according to the Rules of Observation, only Genesaunts who were involved in the observation of Earth could live on the Moon. Everyone who was exiled to Purgatory had shown that they were misfits who could not function within the bulk of Genesaunt society. Really, they should have been removed from the Moon, but it had been easiest to just send them to Purgatory. It was not a crazy idea...some residents of Purgatory did reform and they were eventually integrated into Genesaunt society. Sending the data stream to Purgatory helped the residents learn that religious diversity on Earth did not mean the end of the world. However, it would have been wise to terminate the data flow to Purgatory as soon as it had been recognized that Purgatory was at the end of its useful existence.
Taurench saw nothing amusing. "You did not answer my question. The Earthlings will not rest until they know who built Purgatory and for what purpose. They will relentlessly search the Moon and the entire Solar System until they get answers. Do you intend to say nothing to the people of Earth? The religious fanatics of Earth will assume that these events on the Moon are a sign that their world is coming to an end."
Amelia sighed and realized that there was no way to keep Taurench from getting excited. She said to herself: well, why not? This was the most exciting thing that ever happened on the Moon. "As always, the Earthlings will have to find their own answers. They will be free to search Purgatory and they will learn nothing. We will leave a few primitive robots there, but Earth will learn nothing of value from them...they will just be props. All truly advanced technologies like our nanites will be removed from Purgatory. Yes, I suspect that providing Earthlings with a nicely constructed base on the Moon will accelerate their movement into the solar system, perhaps by several decades. Such an acceleration of space exploration was probably the intent of the Interventionists who made sure that the LCROSS mission would expose the existence of Purgatory and who helped Alhacen figure out how to perform advanced nanite programming."
Taurench asked, "You are sure that Interventionists selected the LCROSS mission impact target?"
Amelia was not willing to share all of her secrets with a mere Observer. "I've already told you more than I should have. I did so only because I admire your thinking...you are one of the few Observers who takes seriously the fact that Observer Base is at the end of its usefulness. As I've told you before, I will do all I can to make sure that you become the next President of the Council. However, I suggest you try keeping your mouth under control...if you alienate all the other Observers with your extremism then even I will be unable to engineer your election as President. Now leave me. I have work to do." Taurench departed and Amelia opened her mind to the flood of data coming from Earth. As sickening as it was to do so, she immersed herself in further study of the violence that had been triggered by the 'Sermon from Purgatory'. From these data she would learn how best to present Purgatory to those who would arrive from Earth to take possession of the underground base. It did not escape her notice that this was one of those situations where she played the role of Interventionist, deciding how to shape the future of Earth.