There was once this space-faring civilization that decided to take their calling to the limit. They said they would push for the stars.

Now, spacetime is tricky, and requires a lot of energy to traverse. The best source of energy is mass, and to go anywhere at all you need something at least the size of Jupiter.

So they packed their stuff on a boat, collapsed the sun, and uploaded themselves to a matrix with its last dying rays. The view was fabulous, you should have seen it.

Scans showed a few promising locations with lifeless rocks and gas giants. Enough to keep the mind occupied, the vessel stocked, and nobody to care about the ruckus left behind. They would plot the course many jumps ahead, and took great care to avoid loops. Orbits get hairy fast if you turn a constant that’s been there for billions of years into a variable. Most politics revolved around where to go next.

They’ve been to a binary black hole once. A few planets in the early stage of formation. Thousands of other ex-homeworlds that just “didn’t make it”, now desolate and dead. And between each “next big thing”, they left a wake of disarrayed solar systems - orbital mechanics best studied from afar.

Every once in a while, they’d meet another civilization that did the exact same thing. It was customary to exchange representatives, charts, points of interest, and rumors.

The most common one was that of a bar, but nobody’s actually been there, since it moved around fairly often. The only way to get in was to wait in its path. And nobody’s ever left to tell if it’s any good.

This time, they were passing through a fairly generic neighborhood. All of a sudden, one of the systems lit up. It was a narrow corridor anyway, one star to the next to the next. There was no way around it, so they went forward.

What they found was a civilization in the early stages of self-discovery. There was much debate as to whether “stay and study” or “put them out of their misery and pretend it never happened”.

Long story short, they parked behind the moon.

Contact was inevitable, but highly problematic: it’s hard to tell the host you’ll be going now, and taking the house with you. Compounding this was the fact that the visitors had originally been small, green, and lizard-like. Although they didn’t have to look like anything in particular by then, it still sometimes showed.

And these sorts of young, visual civilizations pay too much attention to style.

Published June 03 2016 by ffwd