Read part one here.
They found it. Floating in the dark abyss, light years from civilization, they found it. It had been their last hope, this small box with a semi-circle antenna nestled on top. Hundreds of years ago, they had received the first signal from it. From there they mapped it, and began to zero-in on its location. Generations of scientists had come and gone, all to reach this single object floating in space. It was the only shimmering glimpse of hope they had anymore.
Their home was now the stars - confined within the walls they built. Stories of their planet had drifted into fable, then myth, until the single colony ship became the only home that had ever existed. Photos of their distant stellar home existed, but with each passing generation fewer and fewer archaeologists could recall what they were looking at.
The entire ship stood still as a crew slipped through the airlock and floated freely in zero gravity for the first time in their lifetimes. They moved sluggishly in the bulbous, archaic space suits. On the bridge, everyone held their breath as the exterior cameras on the hull and mounted on the Spacewalkers' heads showed the box.
It twisted in space, it's two booms slowly spun axially, glints of silver and gold metal flashed on the screen. The three Spacewalkers latched on where they could and positioned themselves to use their personal thrust packs to burn opposite the box's rotation. The comm chatter was tense, then silent. Piped through every speaker in the colony, every tenant heard and saw the countdown.
The timing of the thrusters, the unison of the Spacewalkers' voices, the deliberate slowing of the box's axial movement all pressed against the inky black nothingness was a gorgeous ballet. It was perfectly timed and perfectly executed. They watched as the box simply hovered, stock-still.
A fourth Spacewalker moved out of the airlock holding a long tether. The Spacewalker moved in a straight line, approaching closer and closer to the box. The helmet video feed showed the box growing in size. The video caught a glimmer of gold. At first it was small, but as the Spacewalker neared the box, it grew in size and took on shape. It was golden and perfectly round with some sort of designs etched on its surface.
It would take months for their scientists to decipher the puzzles on the disc. But the stories were true; it existed. Soon they had unlocked the images on the disc and, for the first time in thousands of years, humans gazed upon Earth.
It would take them centuries to get there and there would be crises and difficulties no one aboard could ever predict, but they found it. They were going home.