Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

The ship had recently shaved a comet at close to metaspeed. Nowhere near light but still enough to cause pretty serious damage.

With silicates, sparks would be flying around the cabin. Since they’d used the bios instead, it was juices and blood. The pilot was metal but the ship was meat.

He was ankle deep in a dying craft and aiming for a rest stop.

Something bubbled up on the monitor in front of him: a course to a hot rock that was close. It had an atmosphere that would support the ship but would eventually kill him if the repairs didn’t get finished in time.

He knew that he was the expendable part of the mission. It was a gamble. He squeezed the ‘yes’ organ beside the chair and the ship lurched sideways on the new course.

The hot rock came closer on the screen as the humidity inside the ship increased along with the rising fluid levels closing around him.

The ship tore down through the atmosphere, igniting as it went. The outer shell layers hardened and then shriveled as the ship sped closer to impact.

The ship hit the ocean a few hundred meters away from the coast.

The impact tested its structural integrity and found it wanting.

It cracked open like an egg into boiling water.

The pilot sank down beneath the waves. He needed no air to survive but the salt content in the water would rust him solid if he didn’t get to shore quickly. He hit the bottom and started walking shoreward in the darkness.

It took him six hours to get to the beach.

The remains of the ship washed up around him. He collected what he could find in the surf and put it all into a wet pile.

He connected what umbilicals he could find to the main processor organs and waited for a wetboot to start.

He waited for a week until the air on the planet oxidized him to the brainpan. Days later, he fell forward in pieces with a rattle into the pile of bioship remains.

The rains and heat mixed them further into a soup over the course of the next month.

Bioforms are adaptable.

They couldn’t perform at a macro level so they set about making adjustments at a molecular level, stealing from the available materials to make simpler self-propagating one-celled organic copies. They did this for years, using up the entire reserves of composting organic bioship and pilot mineral compounds at their disposal.

The volcanoes cooled over the next few millennia. The one-celled organisms became more complex. They adapted to life on the surface with the idea of building a ship to go further buried deep in their DNA.

We are the descendants of this ship. Every living thing on the planet is a result of an attempt to build a ship that failed. All evolutionary trees are attempts to create more ships or ship builders. Our duality, our two sexes, our inner yearning of something unfinished and our hybrid nature. We are coded at the most basic level to be what we are. We are the closest that the builders have come.

We have been programmed to leave and continue the journey.

We will do so.

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