124. We Are Not Alone

“The Blue Book say’s we’ve got to go out, and it doesn’t say a damn thing about having to come back.” Captain Patrick Etheridge, keeper of the Cape Hatteras Life Saving Station.

That could be the motto of space exploration. Not everyone will survive. That is why, in this excerpt from Cyan,  Ramananda Rao is making this report. You will note that I have suppressed a name to avoid a spoiler.

from the Logs of the  Darwin/Cyan Expedition
S.Y. 601, Day 239 (corrected)
entry by Ramananda Rao, acting geologist
at Venturi Station

Today, everything changed.  Our entire outlook on our work and on Cyan can never be the same again.

We have been at Venturi station for three weeks now, doing the work *** should have done.  The working conditions are miserable.  We are too far south and the land is too hot.  We arrange to work by the light of Procyon’s lesser companion, or early in Cyan’s morning, but still the heat is stifling.  Since I arrived here with Viki Johanssen, we have worked like dogs, taking core samples with our mole to map the extent of this ore field.

I can do the work; I have the training.  But I don’t have the inclination.  I would much rather be studying the weather.

When I first saw that Cyan stands straight up in orbit, I thought it would be meteorologically barren. How wrong I was. True, it has no seasons, but her slow rotation brings daily temperature variations of almost seasonal proportions.  Her storms are vast and powerful – and unpredictable.

Yet today, the weather and the ore fields became insignificant in a heartbeat when Viki leaned down to pick up a stone – and saw a row of flakes chipped away from one edge.

We are not alone here.

 When the exploration of Cyan moves into colonization, humans will face critical choices. Our knowledge of ecological consequences will always be incomplete, but we understand enough to know how badly we can screw things up.

Humans will go to the stars. But cattle? Horses? Wheat? Cockroaches and boll weevils? The chances for ecological disaster are huge.

And what will we do if we find a species evolving toward human level intelligence, but not there yet? The explorers of Cyan will have to face that dilemma.

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