The Ambitions of Man


There is a record in the Royal Archives of the Central Repository in the First Galaxy that speaks of a unique species that made First Contact with the Galactic Council many millennia ago. Very few know of its existence and even fewer realize its significance as the species went extinct before Second Contact was established or any induction into the Council could be arranged.

This unique, warm-blooded species had evolved on a small, humid world rich in carbon resource in a newer part of the universe. While their planet had seen a number of previous extinction events, their species had managed to climb the consciousness ladder to a point where they began reaching out into space, all species tend to do at this point.

Indeed, it was one of these early space probes that bounced a signal off a supernova’s flare and pushed its beam all the way to the Fringe Planets. Here a minor satellite relay picked the signal up and alerted the Council of it. Article 15 states that all new life and First Encounters are both to be recorded and assumed to be friendly unless proven otherwise.

Hence, the meticulous records in the Royal Archives.

Once the signal from the probe had been both deciphered and its source and original trajectory reverse engineered, the Council–following Article 15–sent out a reconnaissance party to establish Second Contact.

But, by the time the recon party had rendezvoused with their Origin Planet, they had self-destructed their own species. This is not untypical of these far-flung worlds and primitive lifeforms. Indeed, the entire planet was now lifeless from a low-grade nuclear apocalypse. The fact that their planet was mostly water had furthered the spread of the radiation as rain, weather, clouds and currents had swept it throughout their Eco-system, resulting in total ecological failure and the end of life on that planet.

The soldiers and diplomats in the recon ship had left and the Royal Archivists had moved in to document what had happened, map what they could and record the rest for posterity’s sake.

And here is where the record gets strange…

The geneticists recreating and mapping the intelligent specie’s DNA found it to be human. Not partially or similar to but entirely, completely and unmistakably human, like the Founders of the Council from the First Galaxy.

Now similar species have been found to evolve entirely independently before. Life often deals with recurring challenges similarly, hence genetic outputs can often look similar. In very rare cases, the independently-evolved DNA of two species is close enough to breed.

But never has a species been found to be exactly like another. Every single strand of DNA. Every detour, every flaw, down to even the junk portions.

Exactly the same.

The Council immediately began debating whether this was a lost settlement? Maybe a nomadic split billions of years ago had sent a small sub-set of humans to this planet?

But then this bunch of humans would have needed inter-stellar technology and, surely, would have retained that knowledge? Yet their world had had only rudimentary technology after millions of years of evolution as evidenced by their probe. Maybe they had lost the technology they had once brought with them?

But there was the evidence of evolution. It was unmistakably embedded all over that lifeless rock floating through distant space. Fossils revealed by deep scan showing life’s evolutionary journey over roughly three billion years and how it had naturally and precisely arrived at a human genetic output.

No, all indications were that this species of humans had independently evolved of the Founding Fathers. And, however statistically improbably–but not impossible–this specie’s genes were identical ours. Which, of course, implied that they would have identical emotions, impulses, strengths and weaknesses as us.

Yet they had self-destructed while we ruled the cosmos from the head of the Council.

Had they been unlucky? Or had we been lucky? Had we evolved beyond their flaws, or did we still have the propensity to self-destruct?

These were not just difficult questions but politically awkward ones. To question the Council’s founders and its current leaders would weaken the control that they exerted in such delicately broad spheres.

A quiet and unpopular decision was made by the Council. The record was archived, the planet harvested and the event quickly and forceably forgotten by those few and unfortunate low-ranking individuals who were privy to it.

And then life continued…

While most of anyone could find these awkward records, few would actually be looking. And, amongst the gigantic Royal Archives of all the species and all the encounters ever made across the vast, cold and statistically-probable galaxies and universes, even fewer would appreciate the significance of the record.

For are they us and their doom their own, or are we them and their apocolypse a foreshadowing of an inevitable conclusion hard-wired into our genes.

No one knows, nor–do I suspect–we ever will until it is too late.