Copyright 2009 by Hylton Smith
The year 2038 was a difficult time for Earth civilisation, and the Council for Human Exploration in particular. It was over two years since the return of Copernicus from the first Mars colonisation mission. The return of that crew together with the first known extraterrestrial life form had created mayhem, raising challenges to government morals, religious beliefs and unbridled technical development. The first casualty had been the Confederation of Nations, a capitalist alliance, which had spearheaded the conservation of the planet and the colonisation initiative. The life form known as Alex 2 had returned with Copernicus and was a replicant of Alex Redgrave, one of Copernicus’ crew.
The replication had taken place on Mars when samples of red crystals had turned to an amorphous form and contacted Redgrave’s skin, then his bloodstream. The replicant was highly intelligent and explained his origin as being an instrument of the Progenitors, who or which resided in dark matter. Apparently their raison d’etre was to maintain balance in the Cosmos with particular emphasis on the forces of dark energy. This contest between gravitational and expansion forces was crucial to the survival of everything. The Progenitors had seeded the cosmos with many such life forms which could potentially assist their objective. The red crystal which replicated Redgrave was one such example – it was known as the Continuance. Others were the Interference, the Amalgamation, the Elimination and the Subtraction.