Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer
“Why are we all the way out here? If we had taken the Rigel mission, I could have been home for mid-winter revel.”
Chapni sighed. That was the problem with the Urulaunk; they had this thing about partying. Preferably with as many like-minded multi-limbed beings as possible. For the rest of their year, they were fun people to be around. But come the two Great Revels, every Urulaunk not on Nicto Urula turned into a whinging child for a period equal to the time it would have taken them to get home for the festival.
With a flick of his vestigial groinwings, he brought himself back to being a tutor: “This is the Cradle. When you gaze upon the third planet from the recently subgiant sun, you are gazing at the world that gave us life. That is Earth, and although it is long dead, it is a worthy thing to meditate upon.”
“All the way out here? Only one planet? How, without the Perspicacity of Icto, did they manage to accomplish so much?”
“They were an emotive race. Driven by intense passion to achieve things we would deem impossible. Now, it is time.”
“What am I to learn?”
“You will tell me. Or you will fail this qualification sector.”
Chapni waited as they approached the system. He’d deliberately dropped them from Supra outside the system to give his student a better chance.
“Poshtor Chapni, the system has too many planets.”
“The archaeological treatises disagree on exact number, but the low bound is eight and the high bound is ten. There are forty here.”
“And how would you resolve this conflict of data?”
The Urulaunk brought its entire thirty-five digits to bear on the consoles and Chapni allowed a shudder to run up his dorsal ridge. An Urulaunk totally committed to something outside of inebriated joymaking. It was a first, and vindicated his faith in the race’s potential.
“Thirty-two of the planets maintain an atypical orbit, yet are equidistant upon the same track. Therefore, I deem them to be foreign bodies.”
“A fair initial postulation. Now granularise it.”
The fingers flew and the thumbs tapped and the rhythm was a frenetic, tribal thing. Chapni smiled. Even during data interrogation, an Urulaunk was primal.
“The thirty-two identified are orbital, but my predictions state they are on the cusp of escaping. They are artificial, being dense mass without variance for mantle, core or similar. There are no artefacts. I do not understand.”
The rhythm resumed.
“Poshtor Chapni. The worlds comprise synthetic organic polymers of varying exact composition. From what I have gleaned from the history and legendry, I would state that they are composed entirely of detritus. I postulate that humans resorted to this drastic measure when planetary storage threatened to overwhelm thier biosphere.”
Chapni allowed his horns to flush scarlet in approval: “Urulaunk Takton, I deem you to have passed this sector’s requirements. Now, for extra credit, why do you think we are here?”
Takton reflectively scratched his armpits, an unconscious movement of joint-popping speed and complexity.
“The thirty-two will soon become free-space objects. By the time the first one becomes a nuisance, the rest may be scattered across the universe. Dealing with them here and now is the best remedial action.”
Chapni’s horns almost glowed: “Correct.”
“Poshtor Chapni, a further deduction?”
“Nicto Urula is dependent on similar polymers. You are endeavouring to lay a warning upon me.”
Chapni let his proboscis dance across the control console: “Now that the lesson is installed, let us set about destroying the Polystars of Sol.”