Chlorophyll by Phillip Galloway

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Robert Grant stood on the outdoor plaza of the conference center, photosynthesizing in the yellow-white rays of the alien sun. Only a small group of cells on his forearm were actually photosynthesizing, but they were the first human cells ever to do so. For a few minutes he allowed himself to imagine the political rewards the United Worlds Food Program Director would likely bestow on him if his delegation could persuade his hosts, the symbiotic K'tar, to sign the trade agreement. There was a possibility he could be awarded a promotion to an Earth assignment. He even fantasized that being equipped with the energy-manufacturing plant cells might come to be known as the Galloway process throughout the United Worlds. And of course, should he wish to eschew a government career, there were the lucrative commercial endorsements to look forward to.
Mankind's unwillingness and inability to ease population pressures had eventually forced human beings into space in order to avoid depletion of Earth's natural resources. Early successes on the moon and numerous habitats orbiting Earth had lead to men on Mars, then to the first diaspora beyond the solar system. Many of the planetary systems the colony ships reached were lifeless. Some had one or, on a rare occasion, two planets capable of supporting human life with minor, or in some cases major, terraforming. A handful of potential colonies were found to be home to aliens. All the alien races discovered were in worse straits and of a lower technological status than mankind (which continued to follow its general motto – Care for Ourselves First), proving of interest only to scientists, who set up unobtrusive monitoring stations in the hope that one day the unfortunate races would have important breakthroughs. All the alien races except one, that is. The tall, slender, expressionless K'tar had developed genetic engineering to a level that made human genomic researchers look like children playing with building blocks. At some point in their distant past the aliens had altered a plant cell's genes to closely resemble those of their own epidermis while retaining the ability to photosynthesize. The irony that the first aliens contacted by man had green skin was not lost on the human populus. With their food problems solved, the K'tar had turned their energies to other issues – art, philosophy, medicine, literature, astronomy. But not space travel. The central tenet of K'tari religion was the creation of their home planet for them alone, and the creation of their species to live on their planet alone. There was some wriggle-room within K'tari religious texts that allowed an interpretation of Ek'tar, their name for their planet, also used to mean ‘birth', to include nearby structures, such as their 3 small moons and the odd asteroid or wandering comet. And perhaps the sun, or one of the inner or outer planets. But nothing further away. And certainly no manned missions. The K'tar contented themselves with sending mechanical probes and landers to collect images and specimens, which their scientists interpreted from the comfort of their planetside observatories and laboratories.
The colony ship that discovered the K'tar had been greeted with friendly radio signals.

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