Episode 5: Exile

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Najiltrin’s mothership approached a non-descript planet at a set of coordinates her team had discovered among the ruins of Earth. As the ship entered sensor range, a curious voice crackled over her comlink.

“Whoever you are,” it said, “come on down. We don’t care.”

After a tense lander-ride to the surface, Najiltrin and TahKedert, her AI assistant, opened the hatch into the planet’s breathable atmosphere, and set out along a series of paved walkways.

Soon, TahKedert stopped before a no-frills settlement dome some 15 meters from the lander. Najiltrin checked her translator settings, then looked for a door signal..

“Step through,” said a voice from inside. “The door’s holographic.”

The two Bythrahnins entered to find a middle-aged human female, wrapped in a shimmering white robe.

“You aren’t worried ... “ Najiltrin started.

“About burglars? Hardly,” said the human. “Call me Glenda.”

“I meant the predator you’re hiding from,” said Najiltrin, who then introduced herself and briefly recounted her expedition to Earth.

“Heavens,” said Glenda. “I recorded that message so long ago. But why come here? Everything interesting is back home.”

“I’m more interested in what’s not there,” said Najiltrin.

Glenda’s face went pale.

“You’re here about the children,” she said. “I knew this day would come.”

“Was it your gene-manipulations that wiped them out?” asked Najiltrin.

“I don’t want to talk about it!” snapped Glenda..

“Understandable,” said Najiltrin. “My real interest is in the predator that drove you away.”

“You still don’t get it?” Glenda shrieked. “The predator! The children! They’re the same!”

Earth’s genetic tinkering had gone horribly wrong. Instead of “perfection,” a species of brilliant sociopaths emerged, with an insatiable hunger for human flesh. When the elders fled, their offspring pursued them in warships only to self-destruct in a blaze of jealous infighting.

“With the danger past, you could return to Earth,” said TahKedert.

Glenda glared at him.

“Considering our crimes,” she said, “the least we can do is wait out our lives in exile.”

Back in her mothership, Najiltrin transmitted strict orders to her team on Earth.

“Destroy every trace of their genetic research.” she said.

“You do know your actions are unethical,” said TahKedert.

“You do know you’re annoying,” said Najiltrin.

True, if word got out, her career would be over. But she knew what had happened to humans could happen to any species, once arrogance made them forget they were fallible.

#androids, archaeology, #alien_worlds, #machine_learning, #evolution

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