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It was when we lost contact with Voyager 1 that it began. We lost Voyager 2 and the Pioneers sometime later. They’d been streaming anemic flows of data for decades, barely above background solar radiation. Then they just stopped. We had ways of tracking what happened, of course, a legion of eyes, parabolic dishes to point towards the heavens. They had quite literally, just stopped. As if they’d hit something, the satellites had rebounded in pieces from their paths. We were of course, aghast. Decades of work, and mankind’s farthest flung achievements had become bugs on a windscreen, solar dust. There was despair at legacies crushed, rage at imagined incompetence, and above all else: wonder. What had happened? How could this be explained, multiple satellites on different courses all being destroyed? What in God’s name could have happened?
We had our first clue when some brilliant number-cruncher proved that all the satellites had stopped, crashed, at the same range. It was really something; the time it took the satellites to ping back their telemetry gave us a distance, and we had plotted their courses years back. The math was clear: all the satellites had been stopped cold at the same distance from the sun. It was unbelievable. The academic storms that raged over that one discovery were unbelievable. It was like half the world’s scientific institutions had decided that the sky was magenta overnight. The truth can be so hard to swallow.
But it was all true. The furthest manmade objects had struck a wall, and disintegrated with the kinetic energy of bombs. Eventually human curiosity won over. We decided to test the newly dubbed “Wall”. Lasers were the easiest. We fired them up, perpendicular to the solar plane. On the face of it, it was eminently practical, being a fraction of the distance to the far edge that Voyager and the others had struck. The other reason was obvious to some, and far more worrying. The Earth’s satellites, on ground and in orbit, watched in rapt attention, tracking the ever-distancing rays. Then they stopped as well. Not drawn out, or reflected, or refracted. The world’s sharpest eyes caught them scattering, as if they struck something solid. Only there was nothing there. We knew there was nothing there. No mass, no fields: nothing. We knew things came in through this logic defying barrier. Starlight, obviously, and the occasional bit of rock, flung from depthless space. We knew nothing was there. There couldn’t be.
It was a perfect conundrum. A prison, felt out by laser pulses from across the globe.  I’ll spare you the years of debate, the dark matter theories debunked faster than they could be thought up. What happened in those years is something that’s never been seen before. The world worked in perfect unison. Countries with chilly relation, or none at all, shared resources and data, like an army of blind men feeling out their surroundings. Funding swelled into every field that made a half-reasonable argument that it could contribute to the study of the Wall. Humanity put its every resource into breaking down the mystery. Humanity would break the Wall, or die trying. We might have taken our unprecedented drive as a warning in of itself.
Which, I suppose, is how we got here. The missiles launched earlier this morning. The pacifists and abolitionists have finally gotten their wish: every nuclear weapon on Earth has left the atmosphere. The rumor is that the Americans and a few others have squirreled one or two away, but that’s beside the point. The astrophysicists chose a point on the Wall. They calculated Earth’s spin and distance, and gave all nuclear nations their own timetable. The plan was almost unthinkable, but there they were, the PHDs of the world demanding that the militaries launch their apocalypse arsenals to a schedule. Like Voyager, they said, the long-range boosters would carry them out of our gravity well, and set them on a course towards one point on the border of our solar system. Their “point” is the size of the Mars, but that’s nuclear precision for you. The bookies are offering 5-to-1 that the bombs rip the Wall right open.
The missiles will arrive in a decade or so, bypassing the Kuiper Belt for safety’s sake. In the meantime, that wordless cooperation of nations has spawned something new. A fleet is being built, of scout satellites and manned vessels. Africa is spotted with the skeletons of colony ships, each predestined for a world or moon of our system.
What disturbs me is the lack of shock and awe. There have been precious few speeches; it’s as if everything that’s happening is so absolutely practical and logical that it’s not worth talking about. There is no novelty.
The deserts of the world are no longer being pumped for that last desperate drop of oil: they are the factories and launch-pads for an armada. The Russians shared their experimental engines, and the Americans provided the computers and expertise. We are raising titans to take the Wall by storm. We will break it; there is no doubt of that.
What no one has debated since the Wall’s discovery is why: why is it there? We gleaned one precious, overlooked piece of data from the laser experiments. It’s a sphere. The Wall is a perfect, geometric, sphere. Like a marble, with our sun at the core. We are imprisoned, and no one’s asked why. The fleet is underway, and all the world’s industry is focused on this undertaking. But why? Why attack this phantom barrier? Why have we suddenly outgrown our one planet?
We are imprisoned. And we will soon break loose. Perhaps that’s what it was for, our containing Sphere. To keep us in.
Writing practice.
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:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
:devilish:

Reminds me of a sci-fi novel I read where earth and humanity were annihilated preemptively by an alien species before we could take our warlike ways out among the stars.  ;p
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:iconisengim:
Isengim Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
*cough* pretty much...
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:iconlupina24:
Lupina24 Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
First let me say I can't tell you how much I missed reading your stuff.

This drew me in with the mystery of the wall and the blind panic to overcome it. The voice of this piece sounds like a page from a journal trying to explain everything and ponder it also.The blend of despondence, frustration and uncertainty makes the voice so genuine.

The twist at the end is wonderful and really gave a sucker punch to the story. Instead of perceiving the wall as being a aggressive trap towards humanity it then becomes a means of defense from humanity itself with all it's virtue, vices and progress.
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:iconisengim:
Isengim Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
The premise of a lot of great fiction is that the universe has rules - rules that we don't know or understand. What better metaphor for rules than a fence?
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:iconlupina24:
Lupina24 Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Exactly.

Now, how to discover what these rules are, how do they apply to the story, and what's it all about? Dammit, now you got me curious... again.
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:iconaquarussell:
Aquarussell Featured By Owner May 17, 2013
Very good story, very good idea. Look up "The Crystal Spheres" by David Brin. Great minds work in similar fashion.
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:iconisengim:
Isengim Featured By Owner May 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Duly noted. Thanks for faving!
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:icondark-precipice:
dark-precipice Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't know where this is going and I'm not big on science fiction, but I would read the fuck out of this. Are you planning on continuing?
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:iconisengim:
Isengim Featured By Owner May 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Maybe. It was just one idea I wanted to get out of my head, so who knows? At this point, I'd freely take suggestions on continuance.

"read the fuck out of this" made my day. Thank you!
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:icondark-precipice:
dark-precipice Featured By Owner May 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes!!! Continue! I want to know how the Wall came to be and what lies beyond it. Soooo much questions...
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:iconisengim:
Isengim Featured By Owner May 18, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm trying so hard not to rip off "In the Walls of Eryx"...
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:icondark-precipice:
dark-precipice Featured By Owner May 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
So Earth is the prize behind the invisible wall?
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:iconisengim:
Isengim Featured By Owner May 18, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
... or something, yeah. Just trying to come up with something new.
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