Author : Beck Dacus

My team and I came to the exomoon Talursa expecting to find extraordinary things. Every new world was an exciting adventure for science– life, evolving completely isolated from the rest of the galaxy, making completely new life forms. It was expected to change exobiology forever, but no more than any other world had.

Instead it changed everything.

We came to this moon and found an abundance of plants, ones that photosynthesize and some that eat other plants. The ecosystem was so intricate and balanced, that we worried our mere presence may cause an extinction. But as we looked further, none of us were worried. Our impact was minimal.

For the first two weeks, it was your standard exobio mission. We all walked around and examined the plants up close. One thing we noticed was the ubiquity of asexuality; none of the organisms on the planet copulated to make offspring. Reproduction was restricted to cloning moonwide. And any organisms that randomly mutated were swiftly wiped out by the members of their own species.

This alone was spooky. We all wondered why such a tyrannical system would evolve among a whole biosphere. All our questions were answered at the beginning of the third week, when Tamara brought in the results of her genome sequencing.

“I found a message,” she said.

“Hmm?” Rick grunted unsuspectingly

“I did the genome sequencing on five of this moon’s species. Each one is a different message.”

“What!?” Perkins demanded. “Whaddaya mean?”

“I scanned the genome of five species, and each one had a unique binary pattern. I–”

“Computer code? There’s computer code in their DNA?” I tried to clarify.

“Yup. I plugged it in, and only got useful data out of two of them.”

“Slow down!” Dana said. “You’re saying something intelligent made all life on Talursa, encoding a different message into each species?”

“Yes. Their way of storing LOTS of information for a long time. Terabytes for eons. I looked over five, like I said, and only two registered in the computer. One was a video, and the other was a recording.”

“Well, what did they say?”

“I don’t know. The video was just a bunch of wavy colors, and the audio was garbled noise. But I saw patterns in them. They had information. We just need to send this to Earth cryptographers to decipher.

“Do we know why the other three didn’t work?”

“Not for sure, but I’m betting it’s because our computers can’t display smells.”


“Or taste, or a tactile interface, or an electromagnetic field. The aliens that found this world could have had any type or combination of senses– they had to try everything. The two I could use probably had wavelengths of light and sound beyond a human’s range of hearing or vision.”

“So… we’re standing on a time capsule?”

“Carrying what?”

“Everything. All the information about, and ever collected by, some advanced race.”

“So, what do we do? Go back to Earth?”

“Right after we sequence the rest of the genomes on this planet, yes.”

“But that will take ages!”

“That is why you will all stop what you’re doing and help me.”


“Starting right now. There is no time to lose.”

“Hey, I’m mission command–”

“This is larger than us! This is humanity. Now everyone, to my lab. Lots of work to be done.”

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