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Edition 17: Where None May Pass by Matthew Spence

flag USOn a distant world, a gate stands open to the beyond. Perhaps it draws those only seeking to understand it, but the messages are enough reason to resist. An alien worlds sci-fi, this short piece by Matthew Spence touches on the fact that there are some technologies that should never be explored. SY

If you go to the world known as Far Passage and ask its inhabitants about the arch, they’ll tell you to look for the man known as Lehman. He still lives near the arch, out in the Great Desert where he makes a marginal living as a silicate supplier for fabricators.

He lives in a small dome, left over from the original expedition, where he can stay protected from the desert’s thousand-plus degree temperatures. He’ll tell you how his team found the arch, and why he used it only once and never again, and why it’s forbidden now, except for the dead or terminally-ill who don’t want extension treatments or a post-organic existence.

There are words written on the arch in a language that was dead when humans were still carving pictures on rocks. Lehman knows what the words mean, their significance and why they’re both a greeting and a warning.

If you’re smart, you’ll listen, and not try to use the arch yourself while you’re still alive and healthy.

The system that was home to Far Passage wasn’t important in the grand scheme of things. Few outsiders went there, and human deep space telescopes had found it by accident. Those ships that did perform flybys did so mostly because their navigational systems were using Far Passage’s parent star as a reference point while on their way somewhere else. But Far Passage did have its small share of human colonists, who lived in those hemispheres that had climates that were technically tolerable for them, with the aid of pressure domes and suits. They’d made contact with the natives, who had first told them of the arch. Lehman had been one of those who wanted to see it for themselves.

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