Commander Marcus stood on the bridge of his spacecraft. Tomorrow, he reflected, he would finally see what was in the core of the black planet. The enigma that had resisted their science! It had resisted all knowledge, until now. And he would within ten hours be in an orbit ready to enter where no signals did escape.
The printer next to him chattered. WTF? He detested the frequent error reports from gadgets that were functioning "well enough" within the spectrum of their purpose to be adequate. The missives from his home planet also irked him, for their bureaucracy as much as anything else. This was different.
M,S(N(%1H92!";&5S<V5D($QO<F0@<V%I9#H@22!A;2!T:&4@5&EM92U3<&ER M:70L(&1E<W1R;WEE<B!O9B!T:&4@=V]R;&0L(&%R:7-E;B!H=6=E+7-T871U M<F5D(&9O<B!T:&4@9&5S=')U8W1I;VX@;V8@=&AE(&YA=&EO;G,N($5V96X@ M=VET:&]U="!T:&5E(&%L;"!T:&5S92!W87)R:6]R<R!S:&%L;"!B92!N;W0L M('=H;R!A<F4@<F%N:V5D(&EN('1H92!O<'!O<VEN9R!A<FUI97,N#0HS,RX@ M5&AE<F5F;W)E(&%R:7-E+"!G970@=&AE92!G;&]R>2P@8V]N<75E<B!T:'D@ M96YE;6EE<R!A;F0@96YJ;WD@86X@;W!U;&5N="!K:6YG9&]M+B!">2!M92!A M;F0@;F]N92!O=&AE<B!A;')E861Y(&5V96X@87)E('1H97D@<VQA:6XL(&1O M('1H;W4@8F5C;VUE('1H92!O8V-A<VEO;B!O;FQY+"!/(%-A=GEA<V%C:&EN M+@T*,S0N(%-L87DL(&)Y(&UE('=H;R!A<F4@<VQA:6XL($1R;VYA+"!":&ES M:&UA+"!*87EA9"UR871H82P@2V%M82!A;F0@;W1H97(@:&5R;VEC(&9I9VAT M97)S.R!B92!N;W0@<&%I;F5D(&%N9"!T<F]U8FQE9"X@1FEG:'0L('1H;W4@ L<VAA;'0@8V]N<75E<B!T:&4@861V97)S87)Y(&EN('1H92!B871T;&4N#0H
"Computer, check origin." It had come from the dark planet.
"Computer, verify information."
A three-second pause. "Unknown format."
How to tell if this was a message, or a burst of static? I'd have to speak their language, know their symbols, have some idea even what a greeting is on their planet. What it means. Chicken and egg. You need to know what would be in the transmission to know how to decode it. God damn it.