I studied the foreign object from the observation deck of the research station Nostradamus.
It was oblong in shape, approximately several hundred yards in diameter and almost seven hundred yards in length. The material making up the object resembled white marble, reminding me of the smooth white sea pebbles I would collect at the beach while on summer holiday.
“An egg! That’s what the damn thing looks like!” Major Montgomery exclaimed.
That was exactly the word that came to mind.
“Well, my boy, nothing to do but go out there and find out what it is,” the major said slapping me on the back.
The major was from a long line of military men in Her Majesty’s Royal Galactic Service and I knew from experience he would never trust sending one of our AI’s out there to perform the mission.
“And Smith…” He said before departing the observation deck, “watch your back.”
“Yes sir,” I replied dutifully, still staring out at the object. I sighed. I remembered the old Star Trek TV series and how the crew member with the red shirt was the first to get vaporized.
It was time to go to my cabin and find something red.
I guided the shuttle craft toward The Egg. Although I never found a red shirt, the stitching in the front of my space suit that read SMITH would have to suffice.
If The Egg’s intentions were hostile, this would be a very short trip indeed. The most likely case is that it would simply ignore my approach, and after a few circles around the object I would return to the station with nothing unusual to report.
Quick unexpectedly, a triangular portal opened in The Egg bordered by lights. Whether these lights were organic in nature or electrical was not clear.
I guided the shuttle craft into the opening, and although the platform was narrow, managed to touch down safely.
I was not surprised that the platform accommodated just enough space for the shuttle and nothing more. The Egg had shown an awareness, no, more than that – an intelligence – by opening a hanger during my approach.
I powered down the shuttle and disembarked. I had a laser pistol on my hip but honestly hadn’t fired one since entering the service years ago and truly hoped it would not be needed.
Almost as suddenly as I put my feet down on the floor an invisible force lifted me upward and forward. I was drawn down a tubular corridor almost twenty meters in diameter, and my attempts to fight against the invisible current were futile.
Orange lines of glowing matter were embedded in the corridor, perhaps conducting energy, or perhaps transporting the strange blood of some massive beast.
The force pulled me ever forward, and I was so disoriented I could not be certain of travelling up or down or left or right. Finally, I was set down, my space boots coming to rest on the strange stone floor of The Egg.
I felt, or even somehow knew, that The Egg was giving me a moment to collect myself and take everything in, for the scene before me was truly mind-blowing. The chamber comprised the length of The Egg’s interior, stretching up several hundred yards and down to the same length. The pulsating orange veins were everywhere, making an overlapping network of connections that reminded me of the synapses of the human mind.
And there, right where the floor fell away into the abyss, was a chair. No, chair was far too mundane of a word, as was seat, hammock or even throne.
The word that came to mind or was perhaps even injected into my consciousness by The Egg was cradle. For indeed, I realized in that moment, that I was the infantile mind joining a far greater intelligence.
Suddenly the invisible force once again pushed me forward, this time into the cradle, where orange veins suddenly wrapped around me, mummifying me until I was soft and warm.
I was eventually carried back to my shuttle craft by that invisible wave and departed The Egg to return to the Nostradamus. These actions happened seamlessly, almost unconsciously, as my new self focused on the universal one and the piloting of the shuttle was as trivial as breathing.
As soon as I disembarked, I was subjected to the normal quarantine procedures, the endless scrubbing with chemicals and bombardment by infrared particles.
The futility of it all, I thought, but did not offer any resistance. Finally, the ordeal was over. I had just returned to my cabin when the major summoned me to his chambers for a debriefing.
Major Montgomery was pacing back and forth behind his desk when I arrived, a ball of stress and anxiety. My former self felt a pang of remorse for him. Anxiety, stress, indeed all human emotions were but a distant memory, irrational responses to external stimuli.
“Take a seat, Officer Smith,” he commanded.
I sat down and the major did also. “What are your findings? Is the damn thing hostile?” he demanded.
I spoke plainly and flatly. “What I discovered is that our species is a virus that cannot be allowed to spread any further,” I replied.
“Excuse me?” he said, leaning forward on his desk.
At that moment I brought out a miniature replica of The Egg and held it out in my palm. It began to hum and levitate several inches above my palm.
“Damn it man! You know any foreign objects must remain in quarantine! Security!” Major Montgomery bellowed out.
As I heard the security guards approaching the chamber, The Egg spun rapidly and then imploded into itself, and in a blinding white flash destroyed me, Major Montgomery, the Nostradamus, and everything man made within the quadrant.
Or to be more precise, it destroyed the physical body of myself, but my consciousness lived on in The Egg, an individual intellect but part of the greater collective consciousness of The Egg, much like an individual synapse of the human brain was part of an almost infinite network of synapses.
And like any communication network, information flowed in all directions, and as I learned of the timeless knowledge of the universe, The Egg learned from me as well, and in an instant knew the coordinates of every starship, space station and human colony in the galaxy. Assimilating this data, The Egg refactored and duplicated itself until a copy of itself appeared next to all of the human outposts in the galaxy.