Author : Bob Newbell

Rancent-1664 walked into the office of his Preceptor, Ferrin-3411, and waited to be acknowledged. “Enter, Rancent,” Ferrin said to his understudy. Rancent's thirteen pairs of legs glided the excited young scientist up to the workstation of his superior.

“Preceptor, I've found it! An Earth in another brane with a technological civilization!” Rancent's antennae quivered as he spoke.

Ferrin-3411 looked at the eager physicist and said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, young professor.”

“But I have the proof, Preceptor! Over the last eight weeks I've sent countless probes across into the other brane. Each time they could only linger for a very few moments before collapsing back into our brane-space. But the computer has been able to process and collate the data from the probes.”

Ferrin looked skeptical. “The volume of data you're talking about would be staggering.”

“It was! I had to get permission to use nearly the entire Lunar Processing Array for a brief time.”

“Nearly the entire array?” asked Ferrin, impressed that his apprentice was able to obtain such permission on his own.

“From the surface to the core,” said Rancent.

“And after a Moon-sized computer chewed on your data what was the conclusion?”

“Preceptor, I have found an Earth inhabited by intelligent mammals.”

Ferrin let that sink in. Rancent was a good scientist. Precise, methodical, respectful of orthodoxy but not bound by it. He was not the type who would make such a seemingly outrageous assertion. Ferrin could accept a parallel Earth with some sort of non-trilobite intelligence. But mammals? It sounded like the plot of some frivolous piece of speculative fiction.

Sensing that his mentor was not entirely convinced, Rancent said, “Preceptor, you will recall the discovery by Blorek-2832 of a parallel brane containing an Earth populated by reptiles?”

“Of course,” said Ferrin. “Blorek's discovery is the most significant in the history of brane exploration.”

Up till now, thought Rancent, who then replied, “Blorek theorized that life on the Earth in the universe he discovered developed much as it did here until a mass extinction event killed off the primitive trilobites. This, he suggested, may have allowed the reptilians to develop and eventually rise to dominate the planet.”

“That part of Blorek's theory is still controversial. But it does fit the facts. You propose that in the world you discovered a catastrophe destroyed the trilobites and the mammals rose to prominence?”

“That's one possibility,” said Rancent. “Or, perhaps, the reptilians came to dominate this newly discovered Earth as well for a time and they in turn were wiped out by a cataclysm that allowed the mammals to ascend. The data I've collected is most consistent with this latter scenario.”

“So you plan to ask the Brane Exploration Authority for the allocation of more probes to investigate this new world to confirm or deny your theory?”

“I had a somewhat different idea in mind, Preceptor.”

“Such as?”

“I want to ask the inhabitants.”


“That would be the most efficient way to find out. Based on the level of technology the mammals appear to possess, it's likely that they're advanced enough to have string theory. Parallel branes have likely been at least theorized by their physicists.”

Communication between two intelligent civilizations in two branes, thought Ferrin. In his mind, Ferrin pictured trilobitomorphic rodents discussing 11-dimensional membrane theory. He laughed.

“Preceptor?” asked Rancent, afraid his mentor was not taking him seriously.

Ferrin gave Rancent a gesture of reassurance. “Just wondering how one addresses an intelligent mammal,” he said as he opened a communication channel to the Brane Exploration Authority.

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