Repost From the Ashes

This story was written by an anonymous author over at 4chan's /tg/ on 27-08-2010.

Original on HFY.


When we first found them, humanity was dying in the crucible of resource starvation.

They were bound, then, to the gravity-well of their local star, confined to their tiny homeworld and its near orbit, a handful of orbital tethers providing them their access to space. All their power came from the sun and the motion of their planet - for they had long expended all other energy sources. And all their machinery and computing power depended on an ever dwindling cache of carefully hoarded and recycled metals.

We investigated, determined that their situation was sustainable, and departed. Their environment, though clearly having been altered haphazardly, would permit their continued existence until their eventual decline and extinction. We had made no secret of our presence. We knew then that humanity would never cheat the lightspeed barrier - not because of a lack of ingenuity, but because of a lack of material.

We were wrong.

We had been aware that humanity had, in the absence of other means, been pursuing biotic alternatives to their mechanistic society. Indeed the technologies they had been developing were quite unusual, albeit clearly still very early in their development - a prototype bio-machine to be used for harvest here, a handful of living radio receivers there, drafts for symbiotic clothing and armor.

And while fascinating, our scholars concluded that the line would dead end for them before they could reach any useful level.

Again, we were wrong.

The survey was completed, and a brief xenological renaissance was experienced as our cultural analysts and experts went over the survey data and bemoaned its cursory nature. And while they would recur in thesis' for many years to come, they were soon forgotten by and large.

But they had not forgotten us. They had watched us for the entirety of our visit, analyzed our every move, determined, unsurprisingly, the manner by which we slipped between the stars. And they longed to see us again. They burned with curiosity.

At first their efforts to meet us again were in vain, their existing basis of machinery insufficient to bridge the gulf even to relatively near bodies - certainly not in sufficient quantities to overcome their resource shortage. But behind the forefront their biotic developments continued, making ever tougher and more versatile creatures. Soon, the last of their manufactured works had failed as we predicted.

But in their place stood living creations, machines of flesh and bone that fulfilled all the promises of their prior industry. Barely 60 local revolutions later, their first ship soared between the interstellar gulf, joining the unbound. But of this, we were unaware.

It was not for many more revolutions that we came across humanity again, by then a fledgling interstellar with a handful of colonies. We did not recognize them at first; indeed, our scientists were amazed at the first encounter of a living organism adapted to space. And then when that gnarled creature hailed us?

Incomprehension, at first, even as we beheld the smiling face of the humans impromptu ambassador.

From the ashes, they had been reborn.