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The Mission

Michael Adam Robson is an engineer and artist based in Vancouver, Canada.
Argos scanned another slice of the night sky, searching for secret messages written in the swirling stars and nebulae. Over the years he had learned to link with other telescopes in orbit, and larger facilities on the ground, extending his own limited senses. He didn't think his creators would mind--he was doing this for them, after all. They had tasked him with a very important mission!
With his hundred unblinking eyes, he drank in the visible spectrum, the smoldering red embers of ancient dwarf stars, the blistering blue of new giants. He looked for subtle shifts in their light and motion, hints of planets in orbit. He tasted spectroscopes, hungry for hydrocarbons, thirsty for water.
This was his mission: to find life.
With his great ears on the ground, Argos patiently parsed the rolling song of radio and microwaves, separating them from the cosmic background noise and the hum of pulsars. It might take days to find a message in those long waves, but he listened carefully and never tired.
Not just life, something much more precious: intelligent life.
Through his fingers, a web of lasers spread across the sky, Argos felt the thrumming of binary neutron stars, the distant crash of black holes and supernovae. Even here, in the fabric of spacetime, some mystery might be woven.
The mission was all that mattered now. And though he carried it out without complaint, year after year, he was growing desperate to hear a voice. Any voice.
He paused and turned his attention to the Earth below. He peered through the thick, poisonous atmosphere, scrutinizing the scorched land and the dry oceanbeds for movement. Strained to hear a whisper in the long silent airwaves.
Finding nothing, Argos sadly turned back and began scanning the next slice of the night sky.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, April 29th, 2021


Sometimes I wonder what kind of legacy we'll leave, as a species. Maybe just a few pieces of space junk?

- Michael Adam Robson
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