Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

In the beginning, there was a world. It wasn’t a particularly unusual or outstanding one, just another ball of rock with a hot liquid interior and a solid lump at the centre. The usual early planetary phases passed without anything of note, then the meteor arrived. Sheer luck it hit water far enough from a volcano for the liquid to not be boiling. Sheerer luck it careened through the shallows before plunging into the deeps, fragmenting as it went. The microbes on that meteor hadn’t been anywhere so accommodating since their home planet blew apart. A rush of renewed life met the local forms and, surprisingly quickly, all sorts of interesting hybrids started ambling about.

“Are you doing the mental lecture to some hapless writer again?”
“Quiet. I’m not thinking at you.”
“There’s no need to snap.”

After a few false starts, life blundered from water onto land. Something like evolution got interrupted by another meteor loaded with flash-frozen biology from a dead planet. The results of that revamped the non-aquatic forms in many useful ways.
The first civilisation came and went, not achieving much. Likewise the second thru twenty-seventh. Every time it proved that reptilian sentients didn’t have much get up and go. The very few who did simply got up and went. Those that remained shrugged and went back to their day-to-day, waiting for the next extinction event.

“Still keeping us anonymous, eh?”
“What are you doing in my train of thought?”
“Admiring the view from First Class.”

Fast forward past a few millennia of same old, same old, and the reptilians were regularly being beaten to the top of the pile by primates. The smart apes tried several times to make something of themselves, but their two best attempts were foiled by subduction. After that, a couple of intervening ice ages didn’t help matters.

“Somewhat of an understatement.”
“I still don’t understand how – if we’re so smart – our expeditions missed out on the fact that sub-zero environments and cold-blooded researchers is always a recipe for disaster.”
“Overenthusiasm and no-one daring to ask some obvious questions of their venerated commanders, at a guess. We’re still terrible at challenging our own hierarchal structures.”
“You might just have hit the egg square on with that idea.”

Finally, a new civilisation achieved technological ascendancy, reaching peaks only attained by five of the ninety civilisations before them. Unusually, they reached that technology before their aggressive tendencies had been tempered, and managed to sustain the balancing act for several decades before the fundamental flaws of their founding premises started to erode the underpinnings of the societies that had evolved.

“Rather restrained. Last night we got to listen to you bang on for four hours about the shortcomings of their current civilisation model.”
“Last night I’d had enough recreational chemicals to reach evangelical. Today I’m merely dehydrated.”

It’s ironic that they’d just realised meteors had such a massive potential to influence life on the planet they’d come to call ‘Earth’ when, in a freak event, a trio of meteors ruined their failing civilisation and ushered in a new ice age.
When that’s over, it’ll be interesting to see what sentiences rise to the challenge of forming the next civilisation.

“‘A trio’?”
“I reckon they’ll take out the first, damage or even crack the second, but the remains of it, plus the third, will do for them.”
“I like that thinking, but I’d quietly put a cloaked super-dense core in the third. Just to be sure.”
“That’s underclawed of you. Consider it done.”