The helicopters were buzzing in circles around the site. Ships littered the ocean, between the few remaining floating segments of ice. The vehicle was late to return. It had been down there for the better part of three days now, and the world anxiously awaited the results of its dive.
The people of the Earth had spent the months since the discovery of the message doing what they do best: arguing about it. Many had decided to take it as the true word of whichever god they believed in, while others saw it as incontrovertible proof that any and all gods were a myth. Still others questioned whether the message was even real, or whether the whole thing was a hoax or some kind of massive conspiracy, though this group had lost much of its conspiratorial believers once climate change had proven to be as real and as devastating as predicted.
So, The Commission was created. It would be an impartial group of representatives from every country in the world that wished to participate. They would pool resources and develop a plan for how to study and eventually divine the purpose and origin of the message. They worked quickly. Most countries of the Earth joined in simply out of fear. Fear of being left out of what might be one of the most profound undertakings of humankind, fear of having the true meaning of the message not shared with them, and just plain fear of the unknown. After hundreds of iterations of different plans to bring scientists and archaeologists and even theologists to the deep in order to study the message where it was found, a new idea took hold. There was no way they’d be able to scrutinize the message under miles of Arctic Ocean, so instead they would raise the message itself from the depths and study it on dry land.
After extensive analysis with X-rays, sonar, radar, lasers, and every imaginable tool to see through stone, it was determined with absolute certainty that the message was no more than symbols carved into the rock floor of the ocean. It would be possible to simply cut out the section containing the message, and bring it to the surface. It would be an incredible feat of engineering, but possible.
And so the work began. Two parallel phases were underway. As undersea miners whittled away at the roots of the Earth, another project was being developed and tested. A massive submersible vehicle that would be powerful enough to carry the huge rock sheet up through the crushing darkness into the light above. It would rely on huge inflatables the miners were also threading into the caverns they were creating beneath it, along with a colossal cone to cover the sheet, allowing the hundreds of engines to propel it upwards through the water with as little resistance as possible.
The plan seemed far-fetched, but then again, so did the very premise of a message written into the Earth itself that no living country or race has any memory of creating. It all seemed so absurd, until today, when the utter reality of it finally came rushing up from the floor of the ocean. The cone detached from the base of the vehicle as the immense stone face reached the surface, falling off to the side in sequential pieces, carefully designed to miss any part of the message. And suddenly, it was laid bare for all the world to see, without any doubt. The message, carved in stone, in English, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and several unrecognizable symbols:
PROPERTY OF AZERION CORP. IF FOUND, PLEASE CONTACT IMMEDIATELY FOR RECOVERY.