Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Those Who Laugh - Part Three

They were squids. Okay, they weren’t squids, but that’s about as close as he could get to describing them. This was the 47th dead civilization their ship had studied for the survey, and what Tucker had learned was that tool using life came in a lot more forms than simply the bipedal.

The common requirement was they have something to manipulate tools with, which is about as obvious a fact as it was possible to get. But what they manipulated those tool with could vary, quite a lot, and Tucker had seen civilizations built by beings that you’d have imagined could have never managed such a thing with their physical requirements.

The squid/octopus tentacle arrangement actually happened to be one of the more common ones, which inspired a lot of theories among the scientists back home and a lot of intense glances at cephalopod life, who they suspected might be either hiding something or seriously underachieving.

The Squids actually looked surprising close to Earth squids, albeit large and land dwelling. Bob informed him that they actually possessed a rigid internal skeleton and were not especially close, biologically speaking, to squids. This cemented Tucker’s mental decision to call them Squids.

They were dead. The planet wasn’t. They rarely were. Every now and again one of the survey ships came across a world where there wasn’t any actual life left, but it was incredibly rare. Species come and go. Life persists. This was a problem for the survey actually.

They knew of a lot more planets where civilizations had come and gone and now there was nothing left to see or analyze but trace chemical and odd dispersal of elements. Time wiped away most things, and faster than people would like to believe. So what they knew of the dead civilizations was informed by a selection bias of sorts.

If they used materials that could stand up long enough to the tides of time, then the survey could find out quite a lot. Some of them, some of them they didn’t even know what they looked liked. That bothered Tucker. Someone should know. Even if they were dead and gone, someone should know that they were there and that they had been. Nobody deserved to be forgotten.

The Squids had based their technology around silicon, and the way they went about it was such that much of what they had built, much of what they were had endured. Bob had been in orbit for a while before he brought Tucker up, scanning. He could tell Tucker anything he wanted to know. He could tell him everything that was there to know.

“I want to see it.” Tucker said. He expected an argument from Bob, or some kind of obfuscating ignorance. But Bob simply prepared a shuttle for him without comment or question.

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