Aphelion Issue 253, Volume 24
August 2020
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History of the Early Dymbrini Era

by George Schaade

By 2143 CE the communication problems between the races were solved by a team of exolinguists at the University of Alberta working in conjunction with Dymbrini scientists led by the notable Tme’Nhra. With the establishment of a rapid and coherent means of exchanging information, the long awaited answers to universal questions were finally possible. The answers sought by the people of Earth were mostly scientific in nature, while the alien Dymbrini were much more curious about human social mores. Together they held meetings to exchange information and knowledge.

Excerpt from Chapter 4: The Great Revelations

A few squawks, squeals, chirps, and shrieks from Ambassador Rha’Kplo were instantly deciphered by the translation device and sent to the earpieces of the human delegates.

“We’ve reviewed your request for information on our space travel technology,” said the ambassador, “and we’ve decided to share data with you. Printed dossiers will now be distributed to the members of your commission and I will ask Tme’Nhra to take the podium so he can explain the information.”

Swaying from side to side the Dymbrini left the dais and slowly walked back to his seat. The multicolored robe that he wore dragged across the stage and muffled the scraping sounds his talons made along the floor. The ambassador’s feathery, bird-like head twitched as he turned to another Dymbrini who stood and moved to the podium.

Tme’Nhra was already well-known to the human envoys because of his work on the translation device, where he had earned their respect and impressed them with his scientific knowledge. Now Earth’s delegation expected Tme’Nhra to reveal the Dymbrini secrets to interstellar travel, secrets that they hoped would lead to their own exploration of the cosmos.

“In accordance with human customs,” began Tme’Nhra, “I will begin by thanking Chairman Underwood, the other members of his committee, and the city of Phoenix for hosting this meeting. As you know, it is the human social institutions that hold the most interest for us, but I will leave that to others from the Dymbrini embassy. My part in this exchange is to present the scientific data that you are most interested in.”

The alien scientist paused and smoothed the small feathers beside his large, round eyes. “I understand that humans have only recently considered the existence of dark matter and dark energy. I assure you they do exist, but they haven’t always been part of our universe. Following the Big Bang, space expanded faster than the speed of light and the universe doubled in size many times. But this expansion gradually slowed due to the pull of gravity from all of the matter in the universe.”

Tme’Nhra paused again which gave Chairman Underwood the opportunity to look down the table of his delegation until he caught the eye of Chris Conway, his chief scientist. Conway returned an approving nod.

“If the universe had been left to the power of gravity,” said Tme’Nhra, “everything would have collapsed back on itself and none of us would be here. But five billion years after the birth of our cosmos something happened that changed everything. It was then that our universe collided with another universe. As they merged dark matter from the other universe passed through to our universe. The dark matter radiated dark energy which then reignited expansion in our universe.”

Chris was stunned. A multiverse had long been hypothesized and some had even suggested the possibility of an impact between universes but the idea that dark matter came from another universe was astonishing. Then Chris realized that in an odd way it made sense. Coming from another universe would mean that dark matter had different physical properties. This would explain why humans weren’t able to detect it. But Tme’Nhra was stating all of this as fact. How could anyone prove such a thing? Chris began pawing through the Dymbrini dossier in front of him.

“Dark energy doesn’t negate the gravitational force but it is a contradictory power that affects matter. Long ago the Dymbrini learned how to use that dark energy to manipulate not only matter but also space and time. We discovered that it allowed us to create something similar to quantum tunneling except we could traverse the dark matter that fills the space between our stars. From this knowledge we constructed ships that now travel the universe in real time.”

Tme’Nhra paused again then said, “I understand that this is difficult to absorb all at once so let me take a moment and allow you to ask questions. Chairman Underwood, is there something I can clarify?”

The white-haired chairman smiled and replied, “Thank you, Tme’Nhra. I believe you’ve done an excellent job. Unfortunately it’s all beyond my understanding, so let me defer to my science director, Chris Conway.”

Chris set aside the dossier. He knew he should be diplomatic in what he asked but this was a meeting to get answers so he decided to be candid. “Thank you, Chairman, and thank you, Tme’Nhra, for speaking to us today. I’ve looked through the document you gave us and, I must say, the concepts that you put forward are beyond anything humans have ever imagined. I understand the ideas you’ve just presented but I have questions about how the Dymbrini discovered and developed those ideas. I need to see the details. Where are the mathematical calculations and proofs? Are there theorems we could see? Equations? Solutions? How do you detect the presence of dark matter or dark energy? Could you give us more information?”

Tme’Nhra’s head twitched more than before which indicated to Chris that his questions had hit a nerve. He was even surer about the cold stare he got from the chairman.

“I understand your misgivings, Chris Conway,” said the Dymbrini, “but this is only the first of our meetings and we’ve yet to ask our questions and after studying the history of humans there’s much that needs to be explained. But let me assure you that your questions will be answered. To affirm my promise, I invite your delegation to board one of our spacecraft so you can inspect the engines that we use for moving through space.”

Since the first sentient beings walked the Earth, humans puzzled about the stars and how to reach them. During the millennia before the Dymbrini, the people of Earth studied structure and order in nature which led them to the creation of beneficial sciences and technology. In this way humans learned a great deal about the heavens and what lay beyond our solar system but the greatest discoveries were yet to come.

Excerpt from Chapter 7: Exploration and Discovery

The spaceship was a huge silver teardrop that slowly descended from the sky and gently touched down on the green grass of Civic Park. None of those in the human delegation had been this close to a Dymbrini ship and all were impressed with its size and appearance. From top to bottom it was over four hundred feet tall and at its widest point the teardrop was well over half that. The surface of the craft shone like highly polished metal and reflected images of the nearby landscape like a mirror. As they all watched, an opening appeared and a ramp extended to the ground. Ambassador Rha’Kplo motioned for everyone to enter the spacecraft.

The inside was smooth, white, and seamless. It was as if the whole ship was made from a single piece of material. Chris ran his hand along a wall but was unable to determine what it was made of. The group walked down a wide hall that ended in a large empty room. A drone translation device hovered in the air above them.

“We have many kinds of spacecraft,” began the ambassador, “but this is the most typical. Most rooms on the ship are similar to this one. But I believe the room you’re interested in is the engine room. Please follow me.”

Rha’Kplo led them to a spiraling ramp that went up two stories then opened onto a circular walkway encompassing a large, blue cylinder floating in the middle of the room. When Chris stepped closer he noticed a sharp, pungent odor.

“Is that ozone?” asked Chris.

Tme’Nhra seized the conversation. “Yes, there’s an electrical field surrounding the cylinder which contains anti-hydrogen.”

“Antimatter?” Chris was surprised. “Your spaceships run on antimatter?”

“No,” said Tme’Nhra, “It’s used as a catalyst that reacts with the dark matter in the universe to create a tunneling effect. The ship can move from one point in the universe to another without traveling through the space in between and it does it instantly.”

“Amazing, I’d like to see it in action.”

“Follow me,” said Tme’Nhra. He led them down the spiraling ramp and through the first room they had been in. Finally they exited the ship the way they had come in.

They were no longer in Civic Park or Phoenix or anywhere on the Earth. The sky was purple and Chris could see the softened images of two moons hanging above a jungle of lush, alien vegetation.

The human delegation was at first frightened then some became angry. “What is this? What’s going on? What did you do?” demanded Chairman Underwood.

“During the short period of time that we were in the spacecraft,” said Tme’Nhra, “we traveled almost three million light years to this Earth-like planet in the Andromeda Galaxy. Once you master this process the universe will open up to humans and planets like this will be available for colonization.”

This seemed to appease Underwood and the others, though they remained apprehensive. Chris, on the other hand, was awed by everything he saw. The moons, the trees, the soil, even the air seemed different and interesting. When it was time to leave, it took some persuading to get him to return to the ship.

Back on Earth Ambassador Rha’Kplo presented Chairman Underwood with a large file containing all of the math and science needed for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a Dymbrini spacecraft. Having all of the engineering information was a godsend for Chris but Tme’Nhra had one more surprise.

“We understand that it will take some time to extrapolate all of the data we’ve given you. To help you we are giving you this spacecraft. With it you can compare the theories to the empirical evidence or you could reverse engineer parts of it. This should satisfy most of your questions which means it’s time to move on to our queries.”

The Dymbrini were fascinated by human social institutions, traditions, customs, mores, attitudes, and beliefs. Their own culture had advanced and changed so much that they had lost the understanding of why they behaved the way they did. As with humans, the Dymbrini sought answers to whom they really were and the part they played in life. We provided books, videos, audios, and set up meetings with experts in the field of human behavior all of which satisfied most of their queries. But the aliens had one question that humans had trouble answering.

Excerpt from Chapter 11: Feedback

“Why are humans so violent?”

Chris was taken aback because he had arranged the meeting with Tme’Nhra to discuss the process of creating anti-hydrogen but obviously the Dymbrini was more interested in other things.

“I don’t know anything about that,” said Chris. “You’ve studied all of the material. You should be giving me the answer.”

“There are domestic quarrels, vicious rioters, marauding pirates, and world wars. At every level of society your species is inclined to aggression and warfare. Some of the sources I’ve read imply an innate tendency toward violence. It may be that your aggression is part of your genetic history, something passed down from your prehistoric ancestors.”

Chris shrugged. “I don’t know. Humans are very complicated creatures. Despite the aggression we can also have a lot of compassion.”

“I tend to agree with you,” said Tme’Nhra. “I don’t think humans are naturally good or bad. You simply span the entire range of possibilities.”

“The Dymbrini don’t have violence?” asked Chris.

“There were violent events that took place in our distant past but now it’s been too long ago and the pertinent information hasn’t survived. That’s part of the reason we want to study your culture. In the Dymbrini society we have arguments, disputes, and debates, but once a decision is made all sides accept it. We choose to be kind to others and ourselves. We don’t understand why humans can’t do this.”

“You’re not alone,” said Chris. “Many humans don’t understand it either.”

Chris nervously shuffled the papers in front of him then said, “I’ve heard that the Dymbrini are using drones to record human interactions in public places. Are you hoping to observe violent behavior?”

“We were but we’ve discontinued that project. When the humans realized they were being observed they changed their behavior in the same way quanta changes when it’s observed.”

“Which reminds me of why I’m here,” said Chris. “I have some questions about storing antimatter.”

Even before the arrival of the Dymbrini there were a number of humans that questioned the intentions of an advanced civilization that was capable of intergalactic travel. The Dymbrini had been very discreet with their first contact but despite they’re being intentionally unobtrusive the fear among many humans grew. Some were afraid that humans would be enslaved, some felt the aliens would take the Earth’s resources, and some saw the Dymbrini as demons and monsters. Over time these fears expanded and finally culminated in an organized effort against the aliens.

Excerpt from Chapter 16: The Schism Begins

“You have to admit they make some good points.”

“I don’t think they make any good points,” replied Chris.

Judson wasn’t surprised by his colleague’s response. He knew how Chris felt about the Anti-Alien League but he wanted to bait him into a discussion. Casually scanning the other guests in the room, he gave himself a secret smile. The party was to celebrate the retirement of their longtime associate Charlie Underwood but with the entertainment lacking Judson was having some fun with his friend Chris.

“Well, they’re right in that it’s been over ten years since we got the sample ship and the building plans, and we still can’t reproduce the ship,” said Judson. “The League says that the Dymbrini knew from the beginning that we couldn’t make one.”

It was Chris’ turn to smile. “I was there in the beginning and the Dymbrini told us that it was up to humans to solve the construction problems. They understood that the only way we could truly master the theories and techniques was by doing it ourselves. So, you see the Dymbrini weren’t deliberately tossing us an unsolvable dilemma.”

“How about their fascination with violence?” continued Judson, “and don’t they secretly record our violent actions? That’s all very creepy.”

“It’s been many years since they did anything like that and you know it.” Chris paused. “It’s obvious what you’re doing, Judson. Are you going to play the religious card next and tell me they’re the spawn of Satan?”

Judson laughed and conceded, “You got me, Chris. But there’s no doubting the growing influence of the League. Their numbers are growing and they’re making some very serious threats. Have you spoken to Tme’Nhra about it?”

“I have and he tells me that the Dymbrini are following what the League is saying very closely. But they don’t seem to understand the anger those people have. I told him that there may be violence used against the Dymbrini but he didn’t seem to be concerned.”

“It doesn’t make sense. The Dymbrini have given us medical innovations and cures. Our food production has increase because of their scientific contributions, then there’s energy conservation and weather technology. The list goes on and on. Yet these League people hate everything connected to the aliens.”

“They’re afraid,” said Chris. “They’re afraid of anything that’s different, whether that be looks, language, culture, or knowledge; and they’re afraid to learn anything that’s different from their own thoughts or beliefs.”

Judson saw the conversation getting more serious than he wanted so he changed the subject. “Speaking of learning, how is your daughter doing in college?”

Chris recognized the tactic but welcomed the chance to talk about Emma. “She’s doing great. She calls all the time, she loves her classes, and she’s making good grades. June and I miss her terribly but, on the plus side, we’re getting to do some of the things we’ve been putting off.”

Their conversation was interrupted by a shout from Charlie Underwood’s wife which got everyone’s attention. A quiet quickly settled over the room. The crowd drifted toward the main table where Charlie was being given a touching introduction by his wife. After a short speech she tearfully gave Charlie a kiss and handed him the microphone.

Chris leaned close to Judson and whispered, “Pay attention. I think he’s going to tell you something you want to hear.”

Charlie Underwood slowly rose to his feet and looked at his wife and the others around the room. “Thank you, Sweetheart. I love you, too.” Charlie raised his glass. “Before you toast me I’d like to give a toast to all of you. To my dear family, my lifelong friends, colleagues from my days at the National Observatory, those that I met at NASA, and all of you from the Space Technology Center.” He paused and hung his head in thought. “It’s at this point that I was going to insert some jokes and anecdotes about getting old but I’ve just talked to a friend who’s given me permission to share with you a fantastic bit of news and I just can’t keep it until the end of my speech.

“Most of you know that the people at Space Tech have been working for years on deciphering the complicated navigation system used in the Dymbrini ship. Well, the man that heads up that research, Chris Conway,” Underwood gave Chris a smile and a nod, “has told me that they have finally solved the problem. You know what that means.” Charlie began to choke up. “We can now mass produce spacecraft that can instantly travel anywhere in the universe. Ladies and gentlemen, humans are now free to go anywhere. The future is ours.”

In the years following the Great Purge, the conflict settled into regional wars in the Middle East and Central America. The Anti-Alien League continued to lose support not only because of its negative ideology but also because the pro-Dymbrini faction made great technological advancements. The most significant of these resulted in the rapid production of vast numbers of spacecraft. The human desire for exploration was renewed and hundreds of millions left for the stars.

Excerpt from Chapter 23: The Long Journey

A soft chime alerted Chris and the home assistant said, “Tme’Nhra is at the front entrance and is asking for an interview with you.”

Chris jumped out of his chair. “Tme’Nhra? Let him in! Let him in!”

A moment later the Dymbrini scientist shuffled into the living room. Chris greeted him with a broad smile and warm handshake.

“Tme, it’s so good to see you again, my old friend. It’s been a long time.”

“Five years,” said the Dymbrini. “It was just after your wife had passed.”

“Yes, I miss her a lot, but my daughter was there to help me through it. Now she’s married and joined the migration, so I don’t see as much of her as I’d like.”

Chris led his friend through the living room and onto his balcony. There they silently stared into the starry night. Over the years Chris had visited some of those stars and now he had lived to see humans spread out to the far reaches of the universe.

Tme’Nhra broke the silence, “What have you been doing in your retirement?”

Chris smiled. “I’ve been trying to write a book about the arrival of the Dymbrini, but I can’t seem to find an ending. I suppose there never will be an ending.”

Tme’Nhra looked back at the sky. “Which galaxy is your daughter living in?”


“You could join her,” said Tme’Nhra. “The human wars are almost over and you’ve always loved to explore the universe.”

“That’s true and I… “ Chris stopped when he noticed that Tme’Nhra’s multi-colored robe had strips of iridescent ribbon woven into it. “Wait! What are these new colors in your robe?”

The Dymbrini’s head twitched from side to side. “I’ve been promoted. I’m the leader of all scientific inquires.”

“Well, you old bird!” smiled Chris. “Congratulations!”

“Thank you. That promotion is part of the reason I’m here. As you know, dark matter has been leaking into our universe for billions of years. My cosmology team has been working to understand how this happens. We recently made a breakthrough that not only gives us the answer; it also leads to the unimaginable.”

“What’s that?”

“We can go there. We can travel to the other universe. Think about it, Chris. New stars, new life, new physical laws. Maybe your book doesn’t need an ending. Maybe it needs a new beginning. Will you come with us, my friend?”

Chris stared at Tme’Nhra and smiled, “Yes, yes, I would like that very much.”


2019 George Schaade

Bio: George Schaade is a former history teacher that has been writing science fiction, fantasy, and humor most of his life. He loves exploring the quirks of human nature and pushing the boundaries of his own imagination.

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