What would have been a simple excavation on Earth took more than nine years at Sinus Iridum. Still, it was worth the extra effort to be the first xenoarchaeologist. He’d sold all his worldly possessions, alienated his family, and watched his coworkers turn into tentative friends and then into casualties as Luna did its very best to stop his efforts. But now, at the end of it all, Din stood at the threshold of a blazing white half-kilometer tetrahedron that was seeing sunlight for the first time in a million years. This was his moment; he’d earned it. He entered alone.
It was mostly dark inside. Din couldn’t see the walls, but there was a ramp in front of him. From the four vertices inside the tetrahedron came four white spotlights that intersected at the ramp’s plateau in the space’s mathematical center. Din bounded up the ramp quickly, having learned to move naturally in the lunar gravity. Without hesitation, he stood in the light.
Immediately, a swarm of black, lightless particles materialized and swirled before him. They loosely came to resemble a man; about his own height and build. Soon he was facing an alien replica of himself. There was no air in the chamber, but he heard it speak.
“Hello, Din,” it said.
Din barely spoke above a whisper, rapt. His dark eyes strained to open as wide as possible, but the figure had some implacable quality that made him squint. He asked, “Who are you?”
The figure sighed and looked down. “I am your maker, Din.”
“Are you God? A god?”
“No, Din. A god exists apart from its creations. I exist along side you.”
“You’re an alien intelligence then.”
The figure smiled, something Din himself had not done for a long time. “That would be accurate.” The two stood facing each other in silence for long moments. Neither knew what should come next.
“Where can we find you?” Din asked. “Where is your home?”
The figure looked down again and shuffled its feet. It wore a look of deep shame. “You can’t. Don’t look for us, I beg you. Do not leave Earth.”
Din stepped forward. “Why?” It was incomprehensible.
“Because I never should have made you. They’ll destroy us both if they find out. I am sorry.” And like shattering glass, the figure blew apart into pixels and all the lights went out. Din stood alone—truly alone—in the darkness.