Author : J.R.Blackwell, Staff Writer
To the Dar, Seed is immortal.
Seed knows he is not immortal, itâ€™s just that the nature of his cellular structure, the length or certain mitochondrial chords that determine his long lifespan. Longer than the Dar, longer than the normal human life.
Seed is not normal. Seed has been Altered. The chemical treatments, the virus that mutated his body, the tiny machines he swallowed that sunk into his cells and changed him were painful, but not half so painful as the long and terrible travel to The Dar. Even sleeping most of the journey, Seed felt the passage of time like an ache in his muscles, the endless silence, the dark sleep without dreams.
More than once on that journey, Seed considered suicide. There were a hundred different ways he could kill himself on his tiny ship. There was starvation while he slept, certainly the most cowardly way out. There was opening his airlock and dipping himself into the nothing that was space. The vacuum so like death itself, a dark void of still and cold. He would have liked to say that the thought of the mission, his calling, kept him from taking his own life. However, after waking up and making his ship adjustments for the hundredth time, the mission seemed very small. It was only fear that kept him inside his warm little pocket of safety.
When he landed with the Dar, he was so lonely that even their strange company was a relief. The Dar were like birds and squid but like neither as well, something altogether alien in construction. Their â€œfeathersâ€ were rubbery cellular structures that flared around their segmented bodies when they slipped underwater. They could expand four tentacles from their bodies to grip objects. Their cone heads had eight great eyes, half covered with milky lids that blocked out the bright light from their green sun.
They were sentient, but simple, living seasonally, unwilling to make any but minor modifications to their environments. The Dar were friendly and curious though, and when Seed learned their high, underwater language, they welcomed him to their bizarre world.
One hundred years after landing Seed lives with a Dar collective. Sixteen Dar crowded inside Seedâ€™s modified ship. They traveled all over their world. The Collective does not worship him anymore, but treat him like an elder, with reverance and love. They allow him to perform his tests, they marvel at his shiny red machines, curling their eight fingers around those smooth shapes.
It is eight fingers on each extremity row now, instead of three. The tentacles, once able to retract, are now permanently extended. Two of the tentacles are atrophying and inside the other two, a kind of stiff cartilage is growing.
He is making them human.
It will take a hundred generations, but he will make them human. A little different perhaps, to be better adjusted to the climate, but the Dar will be able to breed with any human from any other world. Transporting enough humans across the stars to colonize or conquer a planet takes more energy and resources than contained in a star. Changing a planet, this is the work of an Artist, a Doctor, a Master, a General, a Seed. This is the calling, to spread humanity among the stars.
In a hundred generations, Seed will be home again.