The Final Night

A planetary murder mystery as yet unsolved

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In a briefing room on an advanced planet around a distant star

Would it be possible to extinguish a star? Could someone create a weapon capable of disrupting causality and cause the forces which promote stellar activity to stop, catastrophically?

In the Sol system, such a weapon was detonated within the heart of the class G star there. There were casualties. A pre-Warp civilization unable to escape the effects of this causality weapon; the entire species was destroyed along with all of its inner planets which were capable of sustaining life with the proper technological enhancements.

Unfortunately, this species had not developed fair enough to colonize those worlds and as a result is now extinct. At last count, an estimated seven billion lives were lost. A genocide previously thought impossible by members of the Hegemony.

We’re taking questions, now:

“Investigator Ngurah, is it possible any of the sentients in this system, Sol as it was called by the natives, could have survived? Perhaps underground? How much time did they have before they were destroyed? Isn’t your team exaggerating the scope of the event?”

“We have prepared a simulation of the event and will take you thorough the final hours of this star’s and by proxy, these creature’s to whom we are petitioning the Hegemony to investigate their ghastly murder.”

“To answer your question: It wouldn’t matter what local governments did. This would be a catastrophe so great, so epic, and yet so fast, nothing they did at a local scale could possibly matter. Their technology was too primitive to make much difference.”

Our investigations, initial probes and computer models reveal:

  • A quiet white dwarf remnant or possible neutron star.
  • A wrecked solar system bereft of any inner planets.
  • Chucks of inner planets tracked via their orbital momentum as their fragments are blasted out of orbit.
  • A massive radiation pulse still sweeping through the star system

Begin simulation from the perspective of creatures living in the system. As a provisional species under watch by the Hegemony for over three centuries, we are able to assume a 93% simulation accuracy based on their sociographic profiles for a pre-Warp, Information Age level II culture. They had such promise…

We are forced to remind any sentient watching this simulation, of the graphic nature of what is depicted and should anyone wish to avoid emotional, psychological or physiological distress, you may disconnect from the virtuality at any time.

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  • 1 minute after the collapse of the sun:

Sun: Conventional fusion of solar matter ceases in the star. Without expansion energies, the star immediately begins collapses upon itself. Since its bulk is massive and the energy loss isn’t quite instantaneously there is a cooling period as the star shrinks.

Earth: Scientists may detect an anomaly on the surface of the sun, perhaps some degree of size change may be notable but not believed. Phone calls are made.

+3 minutes after the collapse of the sun:

Sun: matter begins to rapidly be affected by the change in expansion energy, the star collapses and upon sufficient mass reaching the core, the compression of matter would override whatever unnatural force suppress normal fusion.

Earth: Scientists would still not be completely aware of what they were seeing, but they would be on the phone talking and coordinating other scientists to look into what they would probably consider significant but not serious. From their perspective the sun is an always evolving system. But remember, whatever is happening on the sun is always 8 minutes behind our awareness of it on Earth.

+8 minutes after the collapse of the sun:

Sun: Matter crashing into the heart of the star causes the star to violently release energy creating a release vastly greater than the normal fusion reaction of a star, causing the star to explode into a pulse of energy similar to that of a supernova (uncharacteristic for a star of our sun’s size) but for the nuclear dampening effect causing the matter of our healthy star to suddenly collapse.

This nova will not be anywhere near as powerful as a star with sufficient mass to do this unaided, but for our intents and purposes it will both destroy the star, and the smaller rocky bodies nearby, making them unable to support life and killing any potential for life in the future. This would be determined to be an aggravated homicide; the destruction of a star and the death of a life bearing planetary system. While not unique in the Universe, certainly a loss for the beings who evolved there.

Earth: The sky suddenly darkens as the sun turns from white to a cooling red light in the sky. The immediate reduction in temperature causes winds to die down and the air to become quiet. Birds and animals also become quiet and start seeking cover.

Humans on the day side of the planet begin rushing toward their homes. Emergency alert beacons sound on television and radios. Cellular networks are suddenly overburdened with people making calls. Smart people send texts since they require far less bandwidth. They tell the people they love, they are coming home as fast as they can. It won’t be fast enough. 90 minutes from now, nothing will be.

Officials attempt to sound calm and in control as they direct people toward their homes. Solar scientists note the reduction in size of the sun and quietly walk to their liquor cabinets to break our their celebratory bottle of whatever they hold in stock for amazing revelations and potential Nobel Prizes. They already know there won’t be any more of either of these things. Ninety minutes from now, we will all be dead. Or wishing we were.

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+20 minutes after the collapse of the sun:

Sun: The sun’s mass concentrated into a tight ball of superdense matter explodes releasing the force of the sun’s energy for a thousand years in one brilliant second of energy release.

This shock wave would move at a million miles per hour unidirectionally from the sun. This pulse of matter and energy would be similar to coronal mass ejections previously seen leaping from the surface of the sun. Except this time, they would not fall back to the surface or hang precipitously for scientists to marvel and photograph for prosperity.

This ejection would be the last energy of our dying star. Trust there is at least one scientist who will be photographing this until the very last second. It was Human nature.

Earth: Every place on Earth that can be reached by media, has been informed of the disappearance of the Sun and informed this is not an eclipse. Scientists everywhere would be advising calm. Governments with military capacity would be calling out troops and local governments would be preparing to declare martial law. But it’s only been twenty minutes. The worst was yet to come.

Photographers, scientists, enthusiasts everywhere would, if they were able turn their eyes toward the sun. People outside of media circles on the dark side of the planet would sleep, blissfully unaware of the murder of our solar system. Psychics, spiritual leaders might awaken for a moment, feeling the discontinuity, have a cup of tea and return uneasily to their slumbers. They may be awake long enough to hear the wind.

+45 minutes after the collapse of the sun:

The coronal ejection of solar matter is halfway to Earth. It can no longer be denied by anyone. Contingency plans for the survival of leaders are enacted. They won’t matter. But it makes people feel good they can do something.

There is constant patter from different groups asking “can we survive?” “Is there anything we can do?” “Is this an extinction level event?”

The answer from scientists who don’t want to pretend is:

We don’t know what this means but if we’re being honest, in 40 minutes, give or take, a huge energy wave like a solar flare is going to sweep across the Earth.

We don’t know its mean temperature will be, but if it is similar to a coronal ejection, it will destroy everything electronic, vaporize our satellites, overwhelm our planetary magnetic field with particles and heat our atmosphere, our thin onion-like film of oxygen-nitrogen, likely to the point of destruction, potentially vaporizing a good degree of the ocean facing the sun, and turning the Earth into a parboiled egg.

This would be the best case scenario.

In the worst case, in addition to the radiative effects, we would also have some percentage of the sun’s actually matter smashing into the planet.

This would likely be greater in scope of damage than every nuclear device that has ever existed going off at exactly the same time, all at once. This would flood the world with radiation, radioactive particles and the hunk of solar material would likely be larger than the Earth itself. Such a contact would treat the Earth like a bug hitting a windshield at a million miles an hour.

There is no survival option.

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+90 minutes after the collapse of the sun:

Foolishly ambitious scientists study the phenomenon until communications are cut off. Old telephone land lines are the last things working. GPS is gone. Computers start shutting down all over the planet. The auroras, normally seen only at the north and south poles are able to be seen nearly everywhere on the night side. People wake each other to marvel at this beautiful phenomenon. Night dwellers note they can’t make a phone call or turn on their televisions so they content themselves with a cold one and watching the aurora with their families, because they’ve never seen anything like this before.

Military leaders and government officials who think there will be something after this extinction level event are sealing the doors to their bombproof bunkers. Their countdown timers marking the last minutes of the World as They Knew It.

Scientists on the day side, watch, record until their technology gives out. A coronal mass will strike the Earth. Even if it’s a glancing blow, it wouldn’t matter. Technology is gone. Electrical grids light up like Christmas trees before they go out for the last time. Electronic devices give up the ghost. The coronal mass lights the day side as it approaches, a giant ball of energy filling the sky once more with sunlight. Fires begin and spread unchecked, people flee. As the ejection get closer, its amazing energy precedes it. The riots are unchecked as it becomes apparent to even the uneducated masses, this is the end.

This wild energy is too close, too hot, at three million miles begins to raise the temperature of the atmosphere. People standing outside are exposed to toxic radiation levels. Not that it matters. Few will be alive long enough to experience radiation poisoning. The end is near now. In three minutes, the planet will be dead.

On the night side, the sky is alight, the elven fire of the auroras is creating enough light to easily read by as the solar wind, its proximity and increased volume fills the air. The sky hums with electricity. Winds begin to blow, strong winds, winds from the heated side of the planet already ablaze. We won’t be visiting that side of the planet any longer, it’s simply too horrible to imagine.

The people on the night side of the planet never truly know what happened. The sky, once beautiful, became a cauldron of superheat gases, whipping across the planet, destroying everything in its path. The unfortunate light sleepers, wake to the shockwave of hurricane force winds ripping through their streets.

Only those who live directly opposite the sun, on the other side of the planet watch the energy of the star surround their island, rise from all sides and destroy everything, in fire and lightning. The last minutes of Earth are visible only by those living on the far side of the planet.

No greater storm has ever reigned. No eclipse has ever inspired such mind-numbing terror. No lightning has cracked the sky so brightly nor has there ever been a thunder to have roared as powerfully.

A Hawaiian native watches the rising sea, the oncoming storm of wind, fire, and lightning and it reminds him of a story from his youth. That last man thinks:

Aloha, Ka wahine ‘ai honua.*

* “Welcome, woman who devours the land.” A poetic name for the beloved volcano goddess, Pele, a goddess of fire, lightning, dance and violence in Hawaiian mythology.

End simulation.

Petition to investigate the destruction of the Sol star system permitted under Hegemony concordance concerning war crimes and genocide statutes. Investigation ongoing.

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Part of this story appeared originally on Quora.

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Thaddeus Howze is a popular and recently awarded Top Writer, 2016 recipient on the Q&A site Quora.com. He is also a moderator and contributor to theScience Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange with over fourteen hundred articles in a four year period.

His speculative fiction has appeared online at Medium, Scifiideas.com, and theAu Courant Press Journal. He has appeared in twelve different anthologies in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. A list of his published work appears on his website, Hub City Blues.

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Author | Editor | Futurist | Activist | http://bit.ly/thowzebio | http://bit.ly/thpatreon

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