Spawned in primeval space, of carbon and silicon ejecta, amid the chaos of a multi-galaxy collision …

… the Nine came into being within the core-collapse of a supernova. Their arrival on Kodiak Island was marked by extra-spectral particles of starlight which showered the ice cavern dig. It would have been literally breathtaking to behold their coming if anyone present and working in the cave at the time could have actually seen it. However, that would have been impossible because it happened outside the boundaries of the existing temporal envelope and the cosmic standard plane. But if the star-borne newcomers were observed or their extra-sensory communications in some way perceived, the main topic of the discussion among these unearthly super-beings was centered on why it still existed and what specific action was to be taken. Several drifted over to the section of the corrie glacier where it had been chipped away and commenced a photonic fragmental-trace, making it possible to recapture the recent image of Zack and the others taking possession of the small, rectangular and circular pieces and exposing the conical end of the craft.

“It is possible that the items in question were somehow immune to the neutralization process?” One of the Nine commented.

Another offered, “The craft’s composition might in some way be resistant to our reboot-cycle.”

“It should be destroyed along with its contents,” voiced a third, “destroyed without a trace, and then we must commence the necessary cleansing procedure.”

No,” said another. “Such a choice is clearly in violation of our temporal purpose. Furthermore, this time the circumstances are very different. There have been unexpected consequences, and before we take further action we must learn exactly how much, if anything, have these beings able to deduce.”

Sitting in front of a computer at the Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices on the campus of Louisiana State University, Dax Wolf was reviewing results of the last series of runs in the particle accelerator. Suddenly he began to shiver as if he’d been hit by a chilling arctic wind. Then he sensed something odd.

Something ancientno, beyond ancient, he thought—something more like … always.

A wave of status quo-twisting data inexplicably swept through his mind like a tsunami. Revealing itself was a mathematical highway to a method of accomplishing the annihilation of weak-force particles and leaving strong-force particles to multiply unfettered—the subatomic super-highway to the eventual harnessing of unlimited nuclear fusion power.

Back in the ice cavern, one of the ephemeral beings interrupted the chrono-spectral replay of Zack and the others removing the alien objects. “The acquisition and scrutiny of these instruments could effectively disclose their origination and functionality to the inhabitants who found them. This circumstance might provide those native entities with a logical channel to our planetary sterilization measures. If so, it would be the first time since ever began, almost a universe ago, that a sentient life-form had any cognizance of the Null Quotient. For the present we must leave the air transport vehicle alone and carefully observe those who have taken possession of the missing mechanisms.”

The Nine departed as they arrived, unnoticed and in silence. Unnoticed, that is, by those within the standard temporal envelope.

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