By Matt Kincade
Our people’s history began when the God-Seed fell.
Before that, time was a wheel, endless cycles, uncountable, none different from the last.
Then, in the third moon of the birthing season, it happened. The God-Seed came out of the sky.
It began as a new star. Then it grew brighter and brighter until it was a fire in the sky. A great roaring sound filled the air. We cowered in terror, believing that our destruction was at hand.
It fell with a crash, and all of the land shook. When the dust had settled, there stood the God-seed. We had no words for what it was. A tree? A mountain? It stood, stuck in the earth, towering over the plains, made of a strange, hard material. Our stone axes shattered upon it.
The tribes gathered from all corners of the land to observe this strange new phenomenon, to decide what should be done.
Even as we gathered, the God-Seed began to change. It sprouted things like the leaves of a tree, but hard and reflective. And roots, that travelled across the ground away from it. Each of these roots began to swell, to grow, and a bulb appeared on it’s end. The bulb grew larger and larger, until it was larger than the largest of our roundhouses. Still it grew. Segments of it became transparent like water, and we could see strange things happening inside.
There was another world inside the god-seed. Strange grasses grew. Lakes appeared, and bizarre creatures flickered below the surface. We build huge scaffolds leaning against the structure so we could see inside, but still, our best tools wouldn’t leave a scratch on it’s surface.
Something grew that looked like a door, but we could not open it, nor would it burn. A strange thing appeared next to the door, a cluster of nine square knobs, and above it a glowing rectangle with these strange symbols: ENTER ACCESS CODE
The greatest scholars from all over our world gathered at the god seed. They discovered many, many more of the strange symbols, mapped out every inch of the thing. They catalogued every group of symbols. ATMOSPHERIC SENSOR PACKAGE, GAS VENT 3B, ANTENNA CLUSTER.
The elders stayed up late, sitting around the campfire, smoking Djatt out of long pipes and scratching the strange symbols in the dirt, debating their meaning long into the night. A city grew up around the god-seed.
Inside it was another world, green, lush, teeming with life. An oasis in the middle of our hot, dry land. Two legged things strutted around, pecking at the fertile earth with their hard, pointed mouths.
One day the scholar Kanak, a young male from the far continent, arrived. He sat for many hours, smoking Djatt, observing the symbols, running his hand softly over the keypad. He went out into the desert for a day and a night. When he returned, without a word, he pushed four of the strange knobs. The knobs lit up. There was a whistle like the call of a Knarud, and the door slid open. Cool, wet air poured out.
It was a bounty as we had never known. We knew then that it was truly a gift from the gods. We had solved the riddle and proved ourselves worthy. The God-Seed was large enough to fit all of us within. There were plants and animals there, more delicious than we could have imagined. Enough fresh water to fill an ocean. We thrived in that place. Our scholars long having studied the God’s symbols, soon mastered the knowledge machines found within the god-seed. From there we learned of math, of astronomy, of medicine, of Shakespeare and Homer. We learned the history of the mythical creator beings, the humans.
And then one day another star appeared in the sky. Was it another God-Seed? The gods themselves, come to reveal greater knowledge and greater truths? We huddled inside the God-Seed, deep in prayer, awaiting whatever bounty the gods might bestow.
High above planet XR-44211, the colony ship Sojourner flickered out of foldspace and entered a high orbit. Fresh from twenty years of cryosleep, captain Brillan, her long auburn hair still wet from her first shower in decades, stepped onto the Sojourner’s spartan bridge. Her dark-blue uniform was crisp and freshly ironed, and her knee high boots polished to a mirror shine. She returned the officer’s salutes and stepped up to the window. XR-44211 turned slowly outside the viewing window, a broad marbled sphere of reds and oranges and yellows, with wisps of white clouds roiling across its surface.
“There it is,” she said, “our new home. Not much to look at, is it?”
“It has what we need.” said the tech officer. “The hab modules arrived safely, and have fully deployed. Once we get settled in, we can start the terraforming— wait a minute.”
“What is it?”
“We’re getting some strange signals from habitat five. It looks like…it looks like the door seal is broken. We’ve got a bit of an infestation.”
“Do we have a visual?”
“Just a second,” said the tech officer. He hit a button and the viewscreen filled with video of hordes of furry six-legged creatures running amok in the habitat, chewing the corn, slaughtering the chickens, plucking the Tilapia from the lake, lounging on the genetically engineered carbon-sequestering grass.
Brillan made a disgusted face. “God, what a mess.”
The tech officer tapped a few more buttons. “Sensors indicate they’re carbon based, largely water-based chemistry, standard oxygen-carbon dioxide respiration cycle. Not that much different from Earth fauna.”
“Okay,” said Captain Brillan, “Let’s get ’em out of there. Let’s try piping a broad spectrum nerve poison through the fire suppression system.”
The tech officer hit a few more buttons. “I can do that.”
Deep in prayer, we waited for the will of the gods to be revealed to us. When the water began to fall from the sky, we wondered, what new gift will our benevolent gods bestow upon us?