Provenance

The lights flashed alternating red and white while the alarm sounded throughout the ship.  Gott, startled from his light sleep, sprang from his bunk and sprinted down the hall towards the bridge.  He burst through the door searching the room frantically for the source of the disturbance.  Seun, his colleague, stood over the main console manipulating the objects on the screen and entering data.

“What are you doing!?” Gott exclaimed.

Seun looked over his shoulder casually and grinned.  “I found it! It’s perfect!”

Gott eyed him suspiciously before walking up to the console to examine the display.  His searching eyes moved frantically over the information as a smile grew on his face.

“I don’t know about perfect, but it just might do,” Gott said cautiously, taking over the controls.  He continued where Seun left off initiating the terraforming of the planet they orbited.  When he finished, he stood and walked wordlessly towards the door.

“How long do you think it will take?” Seun called after him.

“It shouldn’t take long.  We should be able to begin releasing wildlife within four rotations.  Two more after that and we’ll be ready to begin our research.  Assuming this planet doesn’t end up like all the others,” Gott said, referring to their past failures.  He continued out of the room stretching and yawning.

“It will work this time,” Seun thought, gazing down at the dark mass below, “I’m sure of it.”

———-

The two men took turns keeping a careful watch over their progress as their ship began transforming the planet into a suitable stage for their masterwork.  The first rotation of the planet (which Seun had named Zeme after his favorite uncle) was spent dispatching probes to disperse the thick clouds of debris that surround the planet hiding its surface from the rays of its sun.

Seun spent the time they were together attempting to convince Gott that they should begin measuring time in relation to this planet’s rotations and revolutions instead of those of their home planet, Cel.  Gott did not want to make the adjustment until there was more assurance of success, but the younger man’s enthusiasm won out in the end, so that when the first phase of the terraforming process ended not long before Zeme completed a full rotation, Seun asked Gott what he thought of their first day’s work.

Gott glanced at the rays of sunlight reflecting off the now bright waters of the planet, nodded and said, “It’s good.”

As the sun rose over the crest of the planet and shined through the window into Gott’s eyes, he stirred and rose slowly from his bed.  He yawned and stretched as he walked down the hall.  Entering the control room, he saw that Seun had already begun working and was well into the day’s task.

“You’re up early,” Gott commented, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“We’ve got to stick to the schedule.  I wanna get this experiment running.  We’ve waited long enough.”

“You’re always so sure.  Almost as sure about this one as you were about the last three.  It’s like defeat isn’t even an option for you,” Gott said, exasperated.

“Because it’s not,” Seun grinned, “ And I was never more sure about anything in my life.  This is the place.  Besides, this is the furthest we’ve been in the process.  What could stop us now?”

“Plenty of things.  Unstable crust, resilient microorganisms, space debris; did you see that asteroid belt we passed through?  What if the planet’s orbit skirts the edge of it?  All of our work could be undone!”

“I’ve already scanned the surface of the planet.  No major impacts in thousands of years.  Stop being such a worry wart and help me.”

“I don’t know about you, but I’d planned on this thing lasting much longer than a few thousand years.  I’m going to need more reassurance that that.”

“Fine, I’ll look into the orbital patterns if it’ll make you happy,” Seun said, standing up and walking to another terminal.

“And what about microorganisms?” Gott called over his shoulder.

“And do a deep scan for harmful life forms, but that means you’ve gotta keep working on the atmosphere.”

“Fine, it’ll be done by the end of the day.”

“Great, right on schedule.”

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