# SF Star in the East

Editor’s Foreword

Let’s imagine it is six months from now... Crisp, white snow scattered across the ground, still falling from the sky... in the Northern Hemisphere anyway. People wearing funny suits going door to door, singing a joyful tune...


The fire was starting to die when Gedeon tossed in a handful of sticks. Despite the warm evening, for some reason, the young man was feeling a definite chill. The sound of approaching footsteps made him spin around.

“Relax. It’s only me.” Gedeon let out a breath as Aser stepped into the firelight. “Guess I’m a little jumpy tonight.”

His older sibling smiled. “Aren’t we all? It seems every road from here to Rome is jammed with travelers. Even the animals are uneasy.”

“The entire district is in a state of upheaval,” Gedeon nodded. “All because of this foolish census. If it wasn’t for father’s insistence I would…”

“Bite your tongue,” Aser admonished. “Even here in our fields, there may be ears listening and the king’s spies respect no boundaries. In spite of our feelings, we must not place the family in danger. Besides, our people have suffered many kings over the years.”

“Roman Kings you mean.”

“Does it matter?” Aser asked. “As with the others, this one will eventually leave as well.”

A few minutes of silence passed as Gedeon bent down to straighten his blanket. The white fabric had been a birthday gift from his mother just before her death.

Aser broke the silence. “Father sent me to check on the flock.”

Gedeon glanced towards the animals silhouetted in the distance. “I’ve purposely kept them on the high ground.”

His brother nodded. The grass was thinner but there was less chance of a hungry refugee carrying one off.

“I’ll stay for a while,” he decided.

“There is no need. Tomorrow you must journey to our village for the census.”

Aser waved a dismissive hand. “It is less than a day’s travel. I can register the family and be back in time for the evening meal.”

Gedeon realized his brother was being overly generous with the facts but, on the other hand, he really didn’t mind the company.

“What’s that, Aser?” he asked suddenly, pointing into the night sky.

His brother turned and looked. “A star?”

They both stared. “It must be,” Gedeon decided. “Though I can’t remember ever seeing one so bright.”

“Neither can I. Look, it seems to be directly above that town.”

As the two shepherds watched, the light in the sky continued to brighten until the entire settlement was illuminated in a pale, whitish glow.

Gedeon felt the chill once more sweep through his bones. Was this a sign from the heavens? And if so, did it bode for good or for evil?

Without thinking, he picked up his blanket and slung it over his shoulder. Before he knew it, he was leading his brother on a midnight trek toward Bethlehem.

1999 AD

Young Nathan Gideon watched his grandfather close the storybook and carefully return it to the shelf below the window. Outside, a full moon was stroking the countryside with its soft caress and shades of that faint light filtered into his bedroom.

The old man bent down to give him a bedtime hug.

“Grandpa, will Mommy and Daddy be back in time for Christmas?”

A smile appeared on the weathered face. “Of course, Nathan. The delays at the airport have been… fixed. They will be on the first flight back.”

The boy watched his grandfather’s eyes. He’d already heard about the terrorist attack on the news and understood as much as any eight-year-old could about such things. The essential facts, that a lot of people got hurt, and that his parents were ok, was enough to satisfy his young mind.

“Will they bring me a present from the old country?”

The smile widened. The boy’s penchant for referring to his great grandfather’s place of birth as the ‘old country’ irritated his parents and yet triggered a sense of pride within the old man’s breast. It was, after all, the land of their ancestors. And the family still had business interests there, ones that mandated the parents return every few months.

“I’m sure they will. I only hope the plane is big enough to carry them all.”

Nathan laughed and his grandfather made a show of tucking him in.

“Do they have Christmas in the old country, Grandpa?” he asked.

“Just like we do. They even have Santa Claus and a star in the east.”

The boy stopped smiling as he recalled something from school. “Teacher said the star in the east was only a sun exploding. He also said the Bible doesn’t tell the truth.”

It was only the accumulation of years of experience that prevented the old man from showing his surprise. Instead, he slowly sat down on the side of the bed and used the time to gather his thoughts.

“Scientists are always figuring out answers to old questions,” he admitted, gauging the effect his words had on the boy. “In fact there’s not a day goes by without some discovery in the paper or on the news. But, remember this, Nathan.” He raised a solitary finger. “There are many things the great minds of our time cannot explain. In these areas it is best to follow ones heart because, in the end, each of us will have to live with the choices we make. People will decide for themselves what is true and what is not. Faith is not a theory you can prove but rather something you believe in because it feels right.”

“How will I know what is true, Grandpa?”

“Listen to your heart, Nathan. When it comes time to make a choice, have ears for that alone. Let Scientists prove what they may. Let the rest of us decide what to believe.”

Nathan allowed his grandfather to give him one final hug before turning off the light. As he drifted off, thoughts of Christmas presents danced in his head.

2369 AD

Cixko knocked on the door marked ‘Director of Theology–Exobiology’. The answering grunt on the other side was enough to confirm his suspicion that his boss had finally returned from Antily Five.

He barged in. “Is it true?”

From his seated position behind multiple screens of holoimages and stacks of journals, Joshua Gideon made a show of rolling his eyes.

“Yes, I’m fine thank you very much. Yes, the trip on the new cruiser was terrific. No, the hyperdrive didn’t bother my stomach as much as I feared. Oh, and sure I could use a coffee.”

But the sarcasm had little effect on his student.

“Cut the crap, Josh. The entire university has been waiting on pins and needles for you to get back. The student body has been calling for a referendum and the religious nuts have been holding a vigil outside your home.”

“Remind me not to go home.”

The grad student bent over the edge of the desk and stared him straight in the eye. “I’m not leaving, professor, until you tell me if the Antillians have religion or not.”

The grey haired director sighed. Thompson was like a rottweiler, when he fixed his jaws on something there was no letting go.

“Yeah, they’ve got religion.”

“Hot damn!” The young man clapped his hands together. “We were right! It’s not just unique to mankind. Now we’ve got proof it’s involved in the fundamental makeup of another sentient species.” He settled into the nearest chair. “So give me the short version. Is it along the old pagan lines, multiple gods based on the moons, planet rotation and seasons?”

Joshua snickered. “They’re in the pre-industrial age man, not the copper age.”

“That doesn’t mean they don’t worship a host of divine beings.”

“Actually they worship only one.”


The director almost laughed at the student’s sudden consternation.

“That’s right. They have only one god. And the story gets better.” He slid an info-disc across the desk. “Take it. It’s still a rough draft but the facts are all there. After studying the culture for three months, I still have a problem believing it.”

“Believing what?”

“Believing that they worship only a single, divine spirit and… it’s identical to ours.”

Joshua was incredulous. “But that’s impossible! The odds of two completely different civilizations, separated by light years…”

“Is off the scale. I agree. This may be the only alien contact humans have made since the development of interstellar travel but their religion is eerily similar to our own. Oh sure, they also have numerous offshoots but it all stems from a common belief.”

The professor waited as his student mentally tried to tie it together.

“I don’t understand. How can their religion stem from something?”

“Don’t torture yourself. There’s a certain variable that ties it all together.” “And that would be?”

“A Savior, or rather, The Savior.”

The young man’s jaw dropped. “You’re not suggesting…”

“I most certainly am. The Antilians had their own Jesus Christ and, from what I can tell; his teachings were remarkably analogous to those in our Bible.”

Thompson was shaking his head in disbelief. “This is incredible. When did he appear?”

“About one thousand years ago.”

“And it happened the same way?”

“Had all the integral elements, the Virgin Birth, a star in the east, even a nasty ending.”


“Immersion in hot oil.”

“Ouch.” Thompson made a face. “The facts bare this out?”

“It’s on the disc.”

The young man picked up the info-disc and stared at the seal.

“A star in the east?”

The professor sighed. “Yeah, even a star in the east.”

2785 AD

“Minister Van Gidius, I have an incoming transmission from Planet Haven,” the AI chimed softly. It automatically paused the Philharmonic Orchestra just long enough to make the announcement.

The sole occupant in the room, a blond middle aged man of seventy-eight, swiveled his head at the news.

“Identify sender.”

“The message originates from the University Administrative building. It’s from the office of a Doctor Berrymore.”

The Minister leaned back in his chair as he reined in his thoughts. Holograms of ancient texts covered most of a busy desk, overflowing onto a modern astronomy calendar.

“Mark and close the Philharmonic and then put him through.”

The members of Earth’s premier orchestra of the 21st through 24th centuries dissolved into air, and were replaced by the image of an elderly, rather plump individual dressed in a grey robe that stretched to his toes. He may have looked overweight but to the Minister’s trained eye it was nothing of the sort. The gravity on Haven was 1.27 that of Earth and the professor’s family had been one of the earliest settlers. Like all true Haveners, he carried twice the usual muscle mass on his frame.

The hologram’s eyes settled on the Minister. He raised a single palm in greeting.


The Minister smiled and raised his own hand. “Argin, good to see you again.” He paused as his brain did a quick calculation. “Isn’t it rather late your time?”

“The information we’ve been waiting for has been coming in all day,” Argin replied, forcing the other to immediately straighten in his chair. “I had to tear the preliminary readings out of my subordinate’s hands just to call you.”

“A promise is a promise, Professor.”

The smile hardened. They were colleagues, sometimes even friends but, behind the pleasantries, they were still competitors in a bitterly contested field. Still, the facts involved in this particular discussion transcended any petty academic infighting.

“Your presentation at last years General Council stirred up a hornets nest, Jared.”

The Minister nodded. He wasn’t sure if there were indeed hornets on Haven but it was interesting that the expression still survived. However Argin was correct, the firestorm he had initiated was still raging across the human worlds. The opposing camps had staked out their territory and all sides eagerly awaited the initial findings.

The hologram glanced about the room, noting his ongoing work with the astrology maps.

“I see you’ve been reviewing the star charts.”

“I’m going over the old texts as well.”

“Indeed?” Argin raised an eyebrow. “Have you found anything worthwhile?”

“Why don’t you tell me about the probe’s findings?”

“I will… but first let’s put things in perspective.”

Jared silently groaned and once again settled back into the comfort of his seat. Argin was always one for the dramatics of the moment.

“In its relatively short existence, the human race has colonized thirty worlds and discovered seventeen separate alien species, all of which are pre-interstellar travel.”

“Eighteen if you count the Deyerages.”

The Professor grimaced. It was a sticking point among many in their field. “If you must.” He wanted no part of that argument at the moment. “However in every case, since the very first contact with the Antilians, the religious doctrine has been unfailingly consistent. The story of the Prophet, Divine One, God… whatever… appears in each culture. It’s been driving we theologians crazy for hundreds of years. Is it random chance or a genetic construct common to all sentient beings? There have been theories, enough to fuel a hyper-drive trip to the next universe, but not one iota of proof to support or dispel any of them.”

“Which is why our field of study is so damn popular with the masses.”

“Too true. Our overseers on Earth don’t hand out Ministerial positions to any other field of science that I know of?” His gaze came to rest on the coat of arms hanging on the wall. “I forget, Jared. You’re family is only recently of Augustus aren’t they?”

“I’m third generation. My grandfather came from a portion of Old Europe called Germany.”

“So Van Gidius is not your original surname?”

“No. As with the settlers of that period, it was changed on landfall. I’m told it was a small ceremony, sort of a break with the old and a chance to embrace the new. I believe the actual name was Gideon.”

Argin frowned. “Gideon is not an original German name either. I’m not sure from where exactly it hails.”

Jared shrugged. The origins of his name did not concern him at the moment. His colleague was dragging this out longer than he could tolerate.

“Tell me, Argin. Did it happen?”

For the briefest of moments the older man was silent. Then. “Yes, it happened, exactly at the moment you predicted. Our probe got there with only days to spare. As you forecast, manned ships would have still been in transit.” Jared felt a tremendous weight drop off his shoulders. Since his dramatic pronouncement at the academy last year, he had suffered the wrath of detractors and critics. There wasn’t a day gone by without arguments for or against his hypothesis capping the front page of the news magazines or vid updates. With vindication came relief and a chance to take the next step.

“How long did it last?”

“One complete day. The rotation of that planet is based on a forty-two hour cycle but it didn’t matter. Every being on the planet would have seen it in the eastern sky.”

“Son of a Bitch!” Jared whispered. “It’s happening…”

“The probe is still in orbit,” the Professor continued, staring hard at the Minister. “But it doesn’t have instructions as to what to look for.” He hesitated. “Jared, I have to know… how did you…?”

Jared got up and immediately began pacing the room. The sudden adrenaline rush was squeezing his heart and his brain was traveling at light speed.

“Don’t you realize… Argin, I mean… we’re going to watch it happen all over again! The whole thing… I can’t…”

“Jared! Please! I’ve held up my end of the bargain. We used our probe. You were right, we were the only ones close enough to reach it in time. We had a promise… I need to know!” The man was almost pleading.

Jared stopped pacing and stared at the hologram. Perhaps they were more friends than colleagues. Or perhaps there was nothing more than respect reinforcing a common belief.

“You still don’t get it do you?” he asked quietly. “Argin, I’ll give you my notes, all of them. Hell man, I’ll even post it on the web of every colonized planet if that’s what you want. It’s simple. Two years ago I stumbled onto a pattern, a complex mathematical formula, which predicted when the next ‘event’ would occur. Taken in its simplest form, it traces an elliptical path away from Earth, lighting up the eastern sky of every planet bearing a sentient species. At first glance, it appears to happen at irregular intervals but in reality there is a subtle, definable pattern. This one was the farthest away yet, which is why I needed your help with the probe.

“The formulations, the calculations, are massive. It took me ten years to complete this single projection and it was only possible because I had the resources of an entire Ministry to call upon.” His voice suddenly boomed and the man in the hologram flinched.

“But no one, not even you, appreciates the significance!”

“Jared, I don’t understand. If you discovered a pattern… what’s wrong?”

“Listen to me, Argin. We now have a formula, that’s true. But my friend, we have so much more. We know when the next one will occur!”

He felt himself beaming. “The next time mankind will be waiting, not around the planet watching for the birth of a star, but close to the sun itself! Argin, we’re going to travel to that exact location and wait for God to show up!”

2995 AD

The massive starships hung motionless in the vacuum of deep space. Over four hundred of the most modern vessels ever constructed had made the long, arduous journey to this spot near the fringes of know space. From each settled world came its most prominent flagship and only Mother Earth had been granted the exception, being allowed two. Half of the four hundred were military ‘escort’ vessels, their extensive hulls bristling with enough weapons to slag an entire planet. Their inclusion was a last minute addition, the fall back position of a nervous Senate.

The scientists and theologians went apoplectic when the fighting ships appeared on the scene but by then they had no recourse. The moment was at hand.

Aboard the research vessel Darwin, the lead scientist quietly slipped into his seat just above and behind the Captain’s chair. The ship had been recently commissioned solely for this mission and nothing in the Human Alliance could compare with her labs and state of the art technology.

The Captain touched a finger to his ear as a message from one of the nearby ships was piped in. He glanced up at the scientist.

“Director Gedeon, I’m being informed that a few ships are picking up minute fluctuations in background radiation.”

The Director, a young man who didn’t bother to hide his premature gray, glanced at his own readouts. Nothing.

“The effect must be restricted to a local area, Captain. Ask them to continue monitoring.”

As if they needed to be told.

He checked the clock. It was almost time.

His eyes traced a path across the numerous monitors and vigilant techs that occupied every nook and cranny of the bridge. Whatever happened in the next thirty minutes they would be able to measure, quantify and examine down to the trillionth decimal point. He just had to wonder if they would be able to measure the ‘real’ variable. Or perhaps some trigger happy Ensign on one of the Battlecruisers would do something really stupid.

His great-grandfather predicted this event and the Alliance of Human Worlds had held its collective breath for the past two hundred years. The chosen planet, a small, dust covered bowl orbiting a Red Giant had been pinpointed thirty light years distant. If the theory held true, the life forms on that planet would see a bright star suddenly appear in their eastern sky in approximately thirty years time.

The director knew, one way or another, an answer would be provided today. After much soul searching, his father had reclaimed the family’s surname prior to its embarkation from Earth. For most of his life he had been known as Kal Gideon. But that was before he discovered the original Hebrew spelling. Five years ago he had officially changed it back. It may not have meant much to anyone beyond his small family circle but it spoke volumes about his convictions.

“Director, ship sensors are detecting irregularities in interstellar gravitational fields.”

“What?” A change in gravity? Out here? There wasn’t a piece of matter bigger than his thumb in over ten parsecs!

“Strength of signal increasing.” Despite his training, the tech couldn’t completely mask the tremor in his voice.

Gedeon touched a button on the side of his monitor which activated the ship’s main computer.

“AI, run a full diagnostic on the sensor array, primary and secondary. Then confirm readings with each Titan class research vessel.”

“Yes Director.” The soft feminine voice hesitated only a second. “Systems functioning normally. All four Titan ships confirm initial readings. I’m also picking up changes in the infrared spectrum.”

Two of Kal’s colleagues stepped away from their own monitors to look at his. It wasn’t standard procedure but something very odd was happening.

“What’s going on, Kal?” one whispered. “I’m reading changes across the entire electromagnetic spectrum and beyond.”

The other bobbed his head excitedly. “Not to mention the gravitational shift and neutrino bursts. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

Gedeon shook his head slowly from side to side. This was not going to be explained logically.

“Everyone continue monitoring. No matter what happens, you must keep your sensors online and recording.” They could decipher the details after the fact. What started slowly in the confines of deep space suddenly began to pick up speed. He could see it in the readouts and flushed faces as the techs strained to keep up with the pace. Before realizing it, he had turned a full circle just watching the ‘event’ unfold.

“Holy Shit! Look at these numbers!” a crewman whispered to his colleague. “I can’t believe this is happening,” another muttered, pointing at the exponential growth.

It was easy for Kal’s experienced mind to tease out the pertinent facts. The bottom line was gravity. It was as though a giant black hole had opened before their eyes and began sucking everything into its colossal maw. Without the death of a star this was, of course, impossible. But there was no denying the similar effect.

Space dust was being carried in from light years away and squeezed together at the exact spot his kin had predicted so long ago.

He had a sudden thought.

“Captain, is there any gravitational force acting on this ship?”

“No, Director. The ship is on station. Engines remain at idle.”

‘Amazing,’ he thought.

Swirling clouds of dust the size of Jupiter were forming off the bow of the ship and they felt nothing. He had to check the numbers one more time just to convince his hesitant brain that it was indeed real. Pressure outside the ship was approaching that of a K-class star and the temperature was rocketing upwards.

The mass of particles was increasing and yet enlarging at the same time. It was impossible and yet…

“Captain, how close are we to the ‘event?’”

“Ah, just under ten million kilometers, Sir.”

The scientist felt his heart leap into his throat. Sure, they weren’t suffering any ill effects from the incredible process outside…yet. But what about after…

“Take the ship back to fifty million kilometers, Captain. Now!”

“Director?” The man was having a hard time tearing his eyes off the spinning clouds.

“And order all ships to do the same.” He paused. They may or may not obey the Captain. “It’s on my authorization.”

“Uh, yes, Sir.” He pressed a few buttons on helm control and the ship silently waded into the background. In ones and twos the fleet followed.

“They’re demanding to speak with you, Director.”

Naturally. He needed to make them wait just a few more…

“Reading a sudden increase in subspace pressure, Director!” A tech on his right shouted. “It’s off the scale!”

“Recalibrate and follow,” Kal ordered. Here it comes.

“Protective screen up. Tell the Fleet.”

He didn’t wait for the Captain to confirm. He quickly recalibrated his sensors as the numbers defied all laws of time and space and…

The viewer at the front of the room exploded. People screamed as shards of glass and plastic rained down and the lights went out. Two seconds later the emergency power cut in.

Outside, the entire array of forward sensors were vaporized under the electromagnetic radiation of a solar star. The light and heat slammed into the Fleet like a breaking wave, battering the vessels for what seemed like minutes. Finally, the inertial dampers found enough power to steady each vessel and, soon after that, the secondary sensors came to life.

Kal pulled himself off the floor just as the computer screens flashed on. Along with every other human being in the fleet, he found himself staring at the birth of a newly formed sun.

“It’s a miracle,” the Captain breathed.

Others nodded in solidarity as they gazed upon the nascent solar body, where moments ago there was nothing but the frozen vacuum of night. With the image of the anomaly hovering in the foreground, the minor cuts and abrasions were forgotten and no one uttered a sound.

At that moment Kal felt a slight pressure. It was nothing more then an anticipatory rush in the back of his mind, like a thought on the threshold of consciousness.

“Captain, scan to starboard.”

The man was a tad slow reacting but after a second one of the sensors swung right.

“Good God, look at that!”

“It can’t be!”

Kal smiled. Who would have guessed?

A small planet, no bigger than Earth’s moon, was already orbiting the newborn star. And it seemed to be on an intercept course.

“Preparing to move back.” Despite the circumstances, the Captain was a professional. He would protect his ship.

“Negative Captain!” Kal snapped.

“But,” he checked the readout. “It’ll be close, Director.”

“It’s not going to hit us, Captain. What would be the point?”

The officer slowly withdrew his hand. “If you say so, Sir.”

Kal zipped up his jumpsuit and stepped towards the airlock at the front of the room.

“Director?” One of his colleagues had a concerned look on his face.

“It’s what we came to find out.” He smiled reassuringly. “I don’t think I’ll be long.”

No one raised a finger to stop him. In fact, once out of the airlock, not one of the hundreds of human starships even tried to hail him as he floated away from Darwin. However, every set of eyes had him firmly fixed in their sights. Kal used his thrusters to gain a small measure of velocity and aimed for a point that ‘felt’ right. In the back of his mind, he wondered what would happen if he missed.

He need not have worried. The approaching planetoid caught him in its gravity well and, ever so gently, pulled him down to the surface. He glanced at the soft powder and watched, amazed, as his foot left a definitive print in its wake.

“We made it,” he whispered.

It was only a hunk of rock, a nascent piece of matter that had been sucked in by the overpowering forces involved in the sudden star formation. However, unlike the mountains of molecules that now fueled the massive furnace hanging in the foreground, this portion of matter had remained apart, forming a tiny moon that served a different purpose. Without warning, a shimmering haze enveloped him, coating both his suit and the surrounding area in a silver mist. Shapes materialized around him, walls, a doorway… hay on a dirt floor. He was wearing rough, handmade clothing. It was strange and, at the same time, vaguely familiar. Somewhere in the next room a baby was crying and people were whispering in a strange dialect.

A small hand reached up to take his and he almost jumped. Looking down, he saw a small boy smiling up at him. The boy looked no more than three or four, with blond hair and golden eyes… Kal almost stumbled. Those eyes stared straight into his soul.

The boy nodded and with his other hand placed something in Kal’s open palm. “Gedeon,” the voice rolled off the boy’s tongue but it also echoed deep within his being. His eyes immediately began to tear. “Gedeon, long ago you gave me this when you had nothing to offer... when I was in need. Today, I give it back to you.”

Kal glanced at the white blanket as memories of a night almost three thousand years ago passed in front of his mind’s eye.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

The boy smiled again and then slowly detached his hand as he stepped towards the tableau unfolding in the next room.

“It’s happening again isn’t it?”

The eyes twinkled and the room began to dissolve.

Kal felt a moment of panic. “Wait!” he cried. “What will I tell them?”

The boy faded from view but the voice remained.

“Tell them they have done well. Tell them I am pleased.”

2996 AD

Personal log. Kal Gedeon, former First Minister of Theology I didn’t remember how I got back to Darwin. In fact, I don’t remember a lot of things anymore. My mind seems to have a hard time focusing on the nuances of everyday living these days. I did manage to tell the story… about a million times over, but it did little to satisfy my scientific peers. No one was able to explain what happened in that slice of deep space a few months ago but a new sun has taken up residence there now and a nearby world has just seen the birth of a very special individual.

No, my colleagues aren’t happy with me but, if the truth be told, I don’t give a damn. I think mankind is now closer to something special, closer than we have been in our long history. The good news is that the people seem to realize it too. Unlike the skeptics, the common person will allow emotion to dictate belief. Across the Human Alliance, attendance at religious ceremonies has increased a thousand fold.

As for me, I spend most of my days sitting in my living room, staring at a small white blanket. Advanced carbon dating pegged it at three thousand years old. My colleagues can’t explain that part either. I guess they’re still looking for reproducible answers.

I don’t really care. It makes me feel good just to look at it.


About the Author

Michael Simon is a practicing Family Physician in Eastern Canada. His short stories have captured first place in several Science Fiction Contests and been included in two anthologies. His story, Layers, has recently been published in ‘Apex Digest’. He is currently working on his first novel.


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