Author : Jacqueline Rochow

“Well? What’s it like?”

“Shut up, Dev, I’m trying to concentrate.” Nara squinted through the telescope, adjusting the focus slightly. “Well isn’t that something.”

“Let me see!” Dev strode over, only to be halted by Nara’s glare.

“I’ve just set this thing on two planets at a very good resolution over two hundred light-years away. If you so much as breathe near the focus I will kill you.”

“I’m not going to hurt your precious new telescope or knock it out of focus, Nara, just let me see.”

Nara shrugged and stepped out of the way. As expected, Dev’s confused questions began immediately. “They’re very different, but I don’t understand – ”

“That’s because you don’t pay attention, Dev. You might recall that when this project began, we seeded both planets with living cells?”


“Right. Now, the one third from the sun, which was flooded with water and infused with iron to increase the density, is very busy, as you can see. I’ve managed to filter out the cloud cover because I am a genius. You see all that green? That’s life. The cells are green because they absorb certain wavelengths of light to make energy. There’s also life that can move around like us. Single-celled, multi-celled, with varying metabolisms – aerobic, anaerobic, some of them eat sulphur. Life that lives in ice and life that lives in thousand-degree hot water. They’ve changed the atmosphere dramatically. Now, using the preset focus and not touching a damn thing, if you look at the fourth planet from the sun in question, you will see an atmosphere that has also changed, but differently. Well, you won’t, because you are stupid and never bothered to learn how to read any of these instruments properly, but I assure you that this is the case. You would recall, I hope, that this was our control planet; similar to the third planet from the sun, with less iron and water. You might also notice that it is a lifeless hunk of rock.”

“But… there could still be single-celled life there, right?”

“It’s certainly possible that our instruments could miss something, which is why you’re going to go on a little surveying trip to the surface and get me some samples.”

“But that’ll take forever!”

“We’ve been waiting for billions of years to get results for this experiment and you’re complaining about a little joyride? Suit up, you baby, I have four sets of replicates to focus this telescope for.”

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