Five Months on... by Michael Eardley

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Five months on...

Controller had been in his post for a very long time, much longer than Pilot, who was relatively juvenile. Only Controllers, Pilots, Recorders and Drones survived beyond the juvenile stage, carrying out the tasks allotted to them by evolution. That had begun two and a half billion years before, with the random collision of DNA particles with the homeworld.

Many Flarings had come and gone in the sight of Controller. At the last occasion he had felt the stirrings of his mortality, and tumbled out into the corona with the juveniles. There he mixed his DNA with a carrier juvenile, and the resultant egg dropped back to the surface to be collected by Drones. Now, safe below the surface and the protective ice, a new Controller dreamed dreams of his eons-long voyage through space.

All his knowledge and skill were bound up in that bundle of pupating cells. When his post was completed the new Controller, fully aware and experienced, would assume his place in charge of the homeworld.

So it was for successive generations of Controllers, Pilots, Recorders and Drones. Pilots had special skills in directing the homeworld into orbits most suitable for the Flarings. Recorders accumulated the sensor input of a million generations to garner knowledge of the Universe. Drones were bred specifically to care for the developing generations below the surface.

He recalled the ecstasy of his last, and probably final, Flaring. As the star swelled in his vision, Controller had sensed homeworld stir, rumble, shake. Luminous lifestuff began to vent from the crust, fanning out behind in a fantastic display of light and burgeoning warmth.

At critical point the juveniles burst from their nursery chambers, oozed through the widening fissures, and abandoned themselves to the void. Gravity held them within the corona where they swirled in the ancient mating dance. DNA was mixed, sometimes with the Elders, sometimes with other juveniles. Juveniles begat other juveniles to act as carriers, Pilots created new Pilots, Recorders and Drones their own kind.

All gyrated and rejoiced in the naked radiation of the star, softened only slightly by the life-giving atmosphere of the glowing corona. Cosmic rays mixed chemicals and DNA sprayed from every entity in the dance, hardened them into little pellets of newborn life.

It had been this way for billions of years. Homeworld, the stars, the orbits, the Flarings, an endless cycle of rebirth and knowledge.

Sometimes the Flarings lasted for months, sometimes for years, depending on the star-type and the orbits. Recorders had classified ten different stellar bodies during this Controller's post. Some of the systems hosted life on their planets, but that was none of his affair.

Curious life forms looked out from their worlds to see the Flaring, some with rudimentary sensors, some with complex devices. A few sent machines to see what homeworld looked like close up. Many of those civilizations had crumbled to dust during Controller's tenure.

Now that post was coming to an end.

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