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Okeefenokee Moon

December 30, 2047

“The evidence is incontrovertible. The anomaly is moving in an unpredictable fashion.” L5 Observatories Director Seiji Sakai took a quick sip of water. Public speaking made him hot, nervous, and thirsty.

“You mean unpredictable for now.” Some voice from the blackness of the audience had no manners. Probably some know-it-all kid, a year out of grad school. Must be local. Wouldn't put a kid like that on a plane to an international conference.

Seiji ignored him and continued with his prepared speech. Like hell he was going to ad-lib. “It has been observed in multiple locations. Each time, there is no indication of motion. It appears stationary. We have several video recordings of it suddenly vanishing. Some of you have seen these already, but I will present one for the sake of people in the audience who have not yet witnessed it.”

Seiji scanned the podium control screen for the button to click for the video. Was it computer one or computer two? Computer one would logically be the first one to show, so it stood to reason somebody messed it up and got them switched. Or whatever. Seiji knew he didn't have any real reasoning to back him up, but he clicked on computer two anyway.

The video began. Ah. The anomaly hung in space for a few seconds, then vanished. The people who hadn't seen it yet mumbled to each other in the crowd.

“Parallax measurements place the appearances of the anomaly within the bounds of our solar system, mostly beyond the orbit of Saturn. Of the 45 locations recorded since it was first observed on the 11th, only 5 were within the orbit of Saturn, and those were still outside the orbit of Jupiter.

“It has yet to get close to any planet.” Seiji drank some more water.

“While most of you were en route to this conference, we captured this image, which I doubt few of you have seen. We were lucky to get access to some very high-resolution imaging systems courtesy the United States Air Force, and they came up with this…”

Seiji clicked the button for computer one. A close-up view of the anomaly popped on the screen. One could see it was not a natural astronomic phenomenon, but some object with regular outlines, whose shine derived more from heat exhaust and specular reflections than from gas plumes heating up in proximity to the sun.

The audience fell into frantic conversations.

“As you can see, this is clearly something we haven't encountered before. We don't know what it is, but we're pretty sure it isn't natural and we know we didn't make it.”

The audience discussions rose above a dull roar.

“All right.” Seiji grinned. He didn't have to give his speech anymore. Now he could talk shop with the astronomers. “I suppose my speech is cut short with this development. I'm sure we all have speculations regarding what we see here, but until we have more information, all we have here is an anomaly. Let's not set any expectations too high. Let's also remember this stays just in the L5 organization and the government attaches we work with.”

Seiji took another sip of water. “Let's move ahead on the schedule to the breakout sessions. We'll have a short break so the hotel staff can get the room here ready and be back here in about fifteen minutes.” He found the switch for the lights and punched it.

Even in the darkness, people had made their way to the podium. Many had traveled a long way to talk about the anomaly and they weren't ready for a break in Dr. Sakai's time, especially after the bombshell he dropped on them.

Too bad for them. Seiji pushed his way through the crowd. “I have to go to the bathroom. Please. Let me through.”