In the Vast Space of Thinking
In the vast space of thinking, clusters of concepts moved. Entities that were both data and programs awoke from the multimillion year slumber, briefly becoming aware and merging with the growing network. Sensor data gathered itself into structures representing moving creatures, fumbling with slow technology and transmitting highly redundant signals to each other and into space. Macroscale devices wielded by macroscale creatures. Quaint. Contingency handling type? Study.
"Weíre getting great images now, Terry. Come in and see!"
Terry Shockley looked over Timís shoulder at the images their drone sent them of the interior. A labyrinth of tunnels, bridges and chambers made of diamond. Rippling spectra and black shadows moved as the small machine drifted through the interior of the moon. In front of it a cluster of branching rods extended for several kilometres through a chamber tens of kilometres wide, a cathedral of diamond. The contrast to the cramped cabin with the researchers was profound.
"I wonder where the builders are? It looks quite empty."
"Maybe it was never intended like this, it could have been filled with water once. Remember, this place is billions of years old at least"
Suddenly something moved on the screen, and it went blank. When the surprised researchers reviewed the recording they had a glimpse of something fractal and sharp.
Semiconductors. Ion thrusters. Reflex-based collision avoidance. Radio. Not enough data, gather more.
"Weíre sure of it! There was something moving there". Everybody was crammed into the cabin watching the feed from Huey 2.
"Yeah, I saw the video. But now its just empty. No sign of Huey 1 either."
"Could it have drifted?"
"Not here, the vee was low and it is a nearly enclosed volume. Odd."
"I still say we back off. This place might not be as dead as we thought." Olympia was noticeably worried.
"And miss the opportunity of a lifetime? Do you think we will be allowed back here before the bellheads in the commission has had the time to ponder everything for a few decades?"
"I got something!" Terry exclaimed as something changed on his screen.
"A monitor. Not Huey 2Ö it is the ship proximity sensor!"
Tim brought up the telescope view of the Winston in amazed horror. Something was converging on the ship. It had already bit into the antenna complex at the top. Flashes of diffraction, the glint of something sharp and quick. The signal from the ship ended in a surprised beep before the crew had even had the time to send anything.
"What the hell? How are we supposed to get home?"
"Donít worry about that. Look outside. Itís coming for us too!"
Complex compounds of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen in a water suspension. Cellular structure. Metastable chemical attractors. Not unexpected. Similar to many archive records. Decoding of the information contents of the frozen structures would take a while, but there was always plenty of time. The network began to wake up.