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Excerpt Reveal: Earth To Centauri by Kumar L


TITLE:- Earth To Centauri
AUTHOR:- Kumar L
GENRE:- Sci-fi


***************

A 140-year-old secret throws three planets into chaos!

Tech for the geek. Thrills for the action seeker. Mysteries for the detective. Science for the uninitiated.

The year is 2095. Voyager 1 launched in 1977 with a golden record - someone has found it and is sending a signal back to Earth. With a newly constructed faster-than-light spaceship named Antariksh, and a crew which includes novices like Lt. Manisha, as well as seasoned professionals, including Commander Ryan, Captain Anara reaches the source of the signal at the nearest star to Earth - Proxima Centauri.

Before she can meet with the aliens, Anara must clear obstacles on her own ship, including a recalcitrant Artificial Intelligence and inexplicable radiation, which threatens the safety of the mission. The implications of what they find on planet Proxima B will resonate far beyond this first journey, exposing Earth to dangers on an unimaginable scale. And then Captain Anara finds out its creators buried a secret aboard Voyager 1.

Earth To Centauri by Kumar L

22 Years ago, 2095 Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, Pune the anomalous signals had been coming through since the New Year, but most SETI listening sites had ignored them, just because they did not monitor that particular bandwidth. However, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near the megacity of Mumbai-Pune was incidentally on the correct frequency. But here, again, the signals were initially treated as routine
interference. The search for extraterrestrial signals was more than 150 years old and over time the study of such signals had become a mere routine, most getting stored for later
study. Despite numerous false alarms, nothing concrete had been discovered to date.
What was different this time was the signals that were being repeated. It took a few hours for the signal to be downloaded, verified and cataloged. When they repeated again, the system flagged it off and it was only then that the night shift grad student noticed the pattern. It was late the following night when the guards found her running across the campus to the Director’s office, alongside the head of her own department.

They burst into the Director’s room and told him the news just as he was about to leave. His stature at GMRT did not give him the opportunity to be able to jump for joy at this piece of information and he had to be content in punching the air several times. The thought of going home was now forgotten as he poured over the data. He flagged a message to the Director of Indian Space Command. In matters of such importance GMRT
usually deferred to the ISC headed by Director Srinivas. Director Srinivas’s reaction was a bit staider. He pulled out his best team of analysts and put them on the job together with the team from GMRT. The finding was classified ‘Top Secret’ immediately and, the bureaucracy notwithstanding; the news reached the PMO within a day. In his characteristic way, the Prime Minister decided this was to be run by scientists and not civil servants. He personally put Srini in charge of the whole project and made Dr. Aryan second in
command.

********

The ISC team had taken over the entire signal analysis block at GMRT having unceremoniously evicted the inhabitants. Four days had passed since the signal had
been received and it was time to bring everything together to decide what the next step would be.

“Morning, Director,” Doctor Aryan greeted. “We’ve completed our first cut analysis of the signal.
Surprisingly, it was easy once we put together the repetitions in a sequence.”
“So, what’d you find?”
“It’s in Morse code, dots and dashes,” replied Dr. Aryan with a deadpan expression while smiling inwardly. He knew exactly what would follow.
“You mean it’s a rogue,” sighed Srini, his excitement suddenly wearing off. Rogue signals were Earth-generated signals sometimes captured in the giant radio telescopes by accident. There had been plenty of those across the world.
“No, Sir. I mean it’s Morse code, but it’s definitely extra-terrestrial. Its frequency would never be caught by our telescopes if it were transmitted from Earth,” stated
Dr. Aryan, still holding on to his flat expression.
“You don’t say, Aryan! That’s outstanding! And what’s in the signal?”
“It’s a SOS.”
“Are you serious, Doctor? You are telling me that we finally have a signal from outer space and it’s in Morse code that went out of use over a hundred years
ago? And that it signals ‘S.O.S’?” Srini exclaimed in surprise.

“Yes, Director.” Aryan’s face finally broke into a smile. “I was as surprised as you are, but my team is absolutely certain about their facts. It cannot be anything
else.” There was complete silence around the room as the six men and women digested this piece of information. Srini was trying to make sense of the news. “Aryan,
how’s this possible? Even if some other intelligent life discovered the basic principle of Morse code, they’d certainly not use the same set of symbols, would they?
This is illogical. You’ve made a mistake. Check again.”
“There’s no mistake, Director. I’m dead certain of my findings. And to quote my favourite 19th century detective: ‘If you’ve eliminated everything else, whatever remains must be the truth.’ I am forced to conclude that someone outside the solar system has sent
this signal to us. They have managed to learn the simplest code that is able to travel long distances and which can still be understood by us. The ‘how’s and ‘why’s are beyond me at this moment. But I believe it’s not an actual call for help, but rather a signal in its
simplest form telling us that our message has been received, understood and sent back as confirmation.”
“So what? Maybe someone on Earth generated a morse code signal that travelled across space, got reflected or refracted around one of the outer planets and is being repeated by one of our satellites?” Srini persisted with his counter argument.
“No, Sir. That’s not possible. The strength of a terrestrial signal would not be able to exit the solar system. I’m completely sure; this is from some other origin. I must also point out that this is a signal directed at us and not merely a general transmission that’s fallen
by chance in our lap. Its strength and the focused band indicate that it was specifically directed at Earth.”
Srini finally capitulated. Aryan had logical answers to all his objections. He decided to accept the fact that the signal was genuine. For now, at least.
“Do we know anything more about its origin?” he
asked.
“After extrapolating all the data, the most likely permutation gives us an approximate distance of five light-years to the source of the transmission. That would of course mean that it’s at least five years old. That’s the minimum amount of time it’d require to travel this distance at the speed of light.”
“And...?”
“That’s all I have for now, sir. We’re still isolating some other signals from the background noise and we’re hoping to get some more clues. It’s going to take some time, I’m afraid.”

“Fair enough. Let’s meet again tomorrow. You do realise, don’t you, that if this turns out the way you are expecting it to, then it’s monumental! Now, get on with it and come back with even better news, will you? And, good job!”




Kumar is a passionate tech enthusiast and social media newbie. He loves traveling and is fluent in seven Indian languages. His engineering background and love of science fiction help him bring technology alive in his books. Earth to Centauri is Kumar's first book. It is easy to read and understand and is suitable for a wide range of age groups. Earth to Centauri, as well as the second book in the series, Alien Hunt, are both based on themes of adventure, thrill, and drama, with a positive outlook at what the future may hold for humanity.

A third book in the series, Black Hole: Oblivion is currently in the research stage.


He can be reached on Twitter @Captain_Anara or at www.facebook.com/AntarikshAnara or on Instagram as KumarLAuthor

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