17 Plan: Genesis

“The Golden Age of Terra spanned a nearly incomprehensible timeline of almost three billion years, and unified Terrans in spirit if not always in mind or body. They knew they had to leave their galaxy to escape extinction, and the need for this egress served as a kind of self-organizing principle. Every Terran dedicated their life, or some important portion of it, to creating the means of survival or something worth surviving. Excellence in very nearly every aspect of Terran life became the defining hallmark of their civilization, and while perfection was never complete, privation and stagnation was never acceptable.”

“Even with as much time as they had to make plans, Terrans were still limited in what they could foresee. The distance to the Milky Way galaxy was so vast that it was impossible to determine certain details of the planetary systems they could only infer from transit observations, orbital perturbations, and other indirect measuring means. So they made plans for everything, and devised a sophisticated artificial intelligence to implement the appropriate plan, given the situation in which any particular Ark found itself. The most ambitious set of plans, called Genesis, was developed to take advantage of the numerous areas of copious amounts of gases and other materials that lent their enigmatic new home its name.

“Genesis was ordered into seven sequential — but sometimes overlapping or rearranged, or repeated or omitted — stages. On the first stage, Element Accumulators collect hydrogen and other elements needed for the ideal star. The second stage has similar machines gathering much of the remaining hydrogen, along with oxygen and any water or ice already extant, out to the farthest reaches of the new system. Stage three is devoted to forming planets — inner rocky worlds with robust magnetic fields to protect the life destined to develop, and massive outer planets that serve many purposes. These gas giants not only distribute materials that might have formed another star, and protect the inner planets of the established system by limiting unwanted intrusions, but are also often instrumental in latter stages of the system’s formation. The purpose of the fourth stage is perfecting the planets, ensuring, for example, that those created to accommodate life have stable environmental variations and patterns that encourage evolution and diversity. Stage five reintroduces water and other materials to planets formed for colonization, often by using the system’s gas giants to slingshot icy comets into orbits intended to intersect. The sixth stage is the deliberate seeding of life, of rudimentary chemical and organic molecules. Finally, the system is allowed to develop and evolve, with minor adjustments made as necessary, perhaps in response to some threat, or as the fulfillment of a deliberate scenario.”

“Genesis is as comprehensive a plan as it is ambitious. It addresses every conceivable situation. It is the apex of Terran science and technology, and it is the pinnacle of Terran civilization. It is the very act of creation.”

“Well, my friend, that is as much of the story I can tell you at this time. Do you want to know more?”

I had forgotten I was having a conversation, as I was so captivated living and feeling the Historian’s story. “Do I…what? Yes! Yes, I do! What happened?”

“Scanning initiated.”

I felt my body going numb, as every hair tingled. “Scanning?”

“Something is wrong.”


“You are not Terran.”

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