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The day the Golden Disc fell onto Xavu Prime was a historic one, to say the least. Our ancestors comprised three warring tribes that all wished to gain control over the verdant oasis near the center of the Barmu Desert. So, when the golden disc fell in the oasis, it came to be that many reasoned it was a sign from the gods that their quarrels should cease. The tribes made peace and settled into the verdant land they’d fought over for so long, preserving the golden disc’s capsule and its contents for generations. Finally, there came the day that our technology had advanced far enough to make a machine capable of reading the disc.

The wonders they had found! Oh the wonders!

Music, greetings in alien languages, and the splendid images! Pictures of people so alien and foreign to us, with their lack of tentacles and shells. We had believed for eons that our gods, the Five, had created us in their perfect image. So what then of these fantastical creatures, who looked so unlike us? Had their own gods crafted them in their image? And what of their gods, were they like our own?

Questions upon questions arose around these things called “humans”. What were they like in person? Had they sent this to us on purpose, to make contact with their friends across the sea of stars? Did they want to meet…*us?* For decades upon decades afterwards, these sorts of questions plagued the common people and scholars alike. In such a short span of time, we’d become enamored with this culture beyond the stars.

The music became a staple in our society within a few short cycles of the disc’s contents being revealed to the public. Each daily broadcast was accompanied by the favorite among the people, “Johnny B. Goode.” Toys in the likeness of the humans were created to calm newborns and it would be an understatement to say what little we knew of their culture had become interwoven with our own.

The brightest minds began what was known as “Project Mankind”. We knew where the humans were and we knew they wanted to meet us, all that was left to do was create a craft capable of reaching Earth. I myself, one of the Wayfarers chosen to go on this expedition to meet our beloved, can trace my lineage to one of the first researchers to work on this endeavor. It took hundreds and hundred of cycles for their glorious work to be finished, but finally there came the day that we chosen Wayfarers boarded the craft that would herald us to Earth. To our distant friends across the stars.

“Do you think we’ll be able to meet Johnny B. Goode, Karv? My matriarch wishes for him to sign her music disc.” Santu said, all five of his tentacles wriggling in ill-hidden anticipation. I knew how much this mission meant to him, considering his ancestors were among the first to discover the disc in the oasis. His family had very high expectations from him.

“I am certain of it. Perhaps he will even regale us with his music, in person.”

“I would very much like that! Yes!” he exclaimed as we began our final preparations for the launch.

We both were excited but no less nervous about being the first of our kind to leave the star. Once we were outside the solar system we’d enter cryosleep, but the journey would still be no less long and arduous.

The countdown finally hit zero and our craft was sent hurtling into the sky, towards the Great Expanse. Within moments, we’d already left the planet behind, along with our friends and family. From there, it only took a short while before we’d pierced the outer edges of the system and were free to enter cryosleep. Whilst I did not know what Santu was thinking as the clutches of sleep took us, I knew we both could feel the anticipation of our people riding with us.

What felt like such a short slumber came to a sudden end as our cryo-chambers were automatically unlocked. Santu and I stumbled from our pods, still a bit nauseous from the long journey in cryosleep. As we shook off the remnants of sleep that still clung to us, he’d be the first to the cockpit. He was quiet for a moment before he hesitantly asked, “Karv? Earth was much more….blue, correct?”

I slid into the cockpit to take a look for myself at our destination. He was correct, the pictures our friends had sent us were indeed much more vibrant in color. The Earth that lay before us still had patches of blue across its surface, but otherwise resembled the deserts of Xavu Prime. There was also so much debris between us and the planet, enough that I was forced to take the helm and steer clear of the larger portions.

“It’s not impossible that the environment could change. I am sure the humans adapted well, they’re smart. You know this, Santu.” I assured him, resting a tentacle on his shell.

“Of course. We should…land, before we collide with something.” he said, the uncertainty plain in his voice.

I did as he suggested and set us on our chosen path, towards the northern hemisphere of the planet. As we neared the ground, it was becoming alarmingly apparent that this Earth was completely unlike that which we saw on the golden disc. There was no green to speak of anywhere near our landing spot, the ground below broken and dry like the Barmu Desert. There was no wildlife either, not a single sign of those humans we’d been so eager to meet. There was only the wind to greet us as we departed the ship, shielding our many eyes from the dusty torrent that blew through.

“Karv, look. Over there.” Santu remarked, pointing a feeler towards a cluster of buildings just ahead. They were more ruins than buildings, years of decay and exposure to elements having broken them down to simply walls and bits of roof.

“Where are they? There has to be some sort of mistake, this isn’t Earth.” I could hardly believe this ruined planet could be the home of the glorious neighbors we’d been so excited to meet. There had to have been a mistake, some error with the navigation module.

“This is Earth. The ship’s navigation module wasn’t wrong. By the gods…it wasn’t wrong.” Santu said, his voice full of the same sorrow that I could feel welling up inside me.

We couldn’t be sure that the rest of the planet was like this, though. They could have moved the majority of their population to a safer location off-planet or somewhere else on Earth. I told Santu as much and we quickly went about boarding the ship in search of a new destination. We went eastwards, towards the coast of the continent we’d found ourselves on. The entire time, I kept my eye on the visualizer and watched the lands we passed over. They were all the same, devoid of any life besides a few desert flora.

“This can’t be happening. Everyone back home…What are they going to think?” Santu remarked as their ship began to land at its new destination. He was right, everyone’s expectations had been placed on us, this was an expedition hundreds of years in the making. It’d crush their souls, just as it did theirs.

We departed the ship and searched this new area, located on what had once been the coast before the ocean it bordered dried up. A few scattered ruins lay buried under the sand and what looked like transport vehicles with them, but that was it. The whole world was going to be like this, we’d arrived too late to meet the humans.The dream that their people had held for generations had been extinguished in one fell swoop.

I turned to head back towards the ship when I heards something shuffling through the sand behind us, only a few short feet away.

“Hey! What’re ya?!” a voice called out to us from behind. We both spun around to see a figure crouched behind one of the half-buried cars. He had some sort of cylindrical metal canister pointed at us, presumably a weapon. What was important though, was that this was a human! A genuine, authentic, human!

“Karv, the translator!” Santu quickly said, already preparing his voice recognition module. Within moments, they were both ready to speak to the human.

“Hello! We are friends from Xavu Prime! We received the golden disc from your leaders!” Santu said with a wave of one of his tentacles to the figure.

“Xavu…what? Are ya aliens or something? You here to eat us?” the human asked as he stood up and drew in closer. They wore clothes that obscured their visage, including a set of goggles.

“No! Not to eat! We’re friends! We came to say hello to the humans!” I replied with an indication towards our lack of weapons.

“Humans, huh? Well we got a little settlement nearby. It’ll take some convincing, but I’ll see about you getting a meeting with our leader. Never met any aliens before, after all.” the human replied, holstering the metal pipe weapon.

“Excellent! When might I meet Johnny B. Goode?” Santu asked.

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