Author : Jacqueline Rochow

Den paced outside the library, the swaying of her tail betraying her unease. Gil merely stood silently, eyes tracking his boss’ movement.

“He’ll come out soon,” Den said. Gil nodded in reply; he knew his input wouldn’t affect her musing much. “He’ll see we’re right. It’s undeniable.”

It was another hour before Lord Chara came out, sheet of notes in one hand.

“My Lord?”

Chara handed the notes to Den. “Here are my questions and observations. Many discrepencies in your research need to be tidied up, but… you make a convincing argument. Your research is… extremely thorough. Most projects would have gone to print with a quarter of this. From a regulatory standpoint, the chances of any reputable academy refusing this are negligible.”

Den bowed. “Thank – ”

“However, from a practical standpoint, I question the wisdom of going ahead with this.”

“Uh… excuse me, my Lord,” Gil cut in, “are you saying that we shouldn’t go public with this?”

“Young man, think about the situation. We are God’s chosen, a species that rose from the dust to hold dominion over our home planet and colonise the stars. You are trying to tell people that we were created by primates.”

“It’s the truth!” Den’s lack of manners was met only by Chara’s glare.

“That remains to be seen, but it is not the issue here. The notion is absurd. No matter how much evidence you have, people won’t like it. You’re asking them to turn from our most deeply held tenets and accept that we’re the lab experiments of a bunch of monkeys?”

“It explains our dissimilarity to all other life perfectly! They had all the necessary information, and the timing – ”

“I know, I just spent four days reading your files, remember? But try thinking about what you’re saying not from the perspective of a scientist or historian, but a member of the public. The species you speak of showed signs of mild intelligence, rudimentary tool usage and language abilities. They showed signs of basic scientific and engineering potential before wiping themselves out within a couple of million years. The only organisms in existence now that we even suspect to be descended from them can barely handle differential calculus and show only the vaguest signs of sentience, and frankly I think the evidence that they were descended from bonobos to be more compelling. You want to tell people that they are, in effect, our god? You would both be assassinated within a year. You would start holy wars. The theocratic Lordship system would either be overturned or have to kill millions of dissenters; you would be destroying civilisation as we know it. We’re just not ready for this sort of information. Is that a price you’re willing to pay?”

“Are you saying that you won’t authorise this?”

Chara hesitated. “I… cannot in good conscience refuse a line of enquiry that meets all technical specifications just because of my personal morals. But I strongly advise you not to pursue this nevertheless.”

After he left, Gil turned to Den. “What should we do?”

He didn’t need to ask, of course. Den was a scientist. They all were. The imperative ran deep; it was in their very genes, and Den couldn’t refuse it any more than Chara could.

“Start contacting academies. I’ll put the finishing touches on our introductory paper.”

Den made a mental note to buy herself a gun and some body armour before their articles went to print.

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