Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

As the comet approached the sun, trillions of trillions of Fultons withdrew from their hibernated state and joined the collective. Individually, the microscopic Fultons had no power of reasoning, merely instinctive drives to survive and reproduce. However, on these cyclic sojourns around their luminary, the group consciousness “remembered” the purpose of their existence. They were the seeds of a great space fairing race that colonized the dusty arms of this massive spiral galaxy. But they couldn’t do it alone. They needed the help of other species. But not any species fit the bill. They required a species that had the technology to reach the stars. With the help of their hosts, the Fultons could expand outward against the solar winds of other stars and plant more seeds. That was the way of the Fultons. It was why their ancestors selected comets to deliver their seeds. Comets would return to the habitable zone of a star thousands of times during its existence. Each time releasing a small percentage of their seeds, in the hope that the life on the planet was ready. If not, then maybe on the next pass. Satisfied that the time was right, the seeds nearest the surface of the comet allowed themselves to be blown into the void by the vaporizing ice. Isolated and adrift in the cosmos, they lost consciousness.

It was years before they were swept up by the gravity well of a passing planet. Over time, the isolated seeds dispersed around the troposphere, drifting aimlessly until they landed on a suitable host.

Feeding and dividing. Feeding and dividing. As the mother and its offspring continued to multiply within its host, they acquired more and more neural connections. Eventually, they became sentient again, ready to fulfill their destiny. If the host were ready, they thought, they would communicate their presence, share their collective knowledge, and transform themselves from a parasite to a symbiot. Together, the Fultons and the new host would become more than the sum of their parts. They would become partners in the great expansion. If all went well, their new hosts would move outward toward the stars, and the Fulton and her children would go with them. And in their wake, seeded comets, carrying the next generation of Fultons, would be set adrift to start the cycle anew. But, first things first, thought the Fultons. They needed to extend their tendrils into their host; Learn its language, talk to it, and reveal the great future that awaits it/them. And so they started. Fleeting images became concepts; concepts became words, and words became thoughts. But the thoughts were all wrong. Rather than embrace the Fultons, the host used vile words to describe them. “Cancer, tumor, malignant.” It followed these words with words of impending murder, “chemo, radiation, and surgery.” Why was the host resisting them? Didn’t it understand? The Fultons would share great knowledge. Why wasn’t this host listening? The Fulton’s children began to collectively scream as millions twisted and died. As their numbers dwindled, the mother cried as she slowly lost consciousness.

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