Do you see this mansion? I didn’t earn it, but it’s mine. I’m one of the richest men in the vastness of space. I inherited much of it, but I am still generating enough wealth that I could buy an entire solar system each year if I wanted. If you walk outside of my home, you will see a steep road that winds its way down the hillside.
Just as you reach the end of the road, you will see why my family owns one of the biggest companies in space.
What? Why, of course! I am more than happy to tell you the story and give you the tour. Let us take a walk down that road, and by the time we reach the bottom you will know everything!
Let me start by telling you, space travel made a lot of people rich back in the day. The miners and metal corporations, the cruise industry, the government, engineers. You name the trade, and they were successful. What you don’t hear a whole lot about, are the odd industries that rose out of the ranks of even the most successful.
One of those industries is why I am telling you this story! When my grandfather first began exploring the galaxy, there were very few that backed him. Everyone but my grandpa was happy with making money. He was a part of the initial colonies in the early days, a pilot and engineer, and as such he had trillions of dollars at his disposal. But he wanted much more than that.
In the early days, before my grandfather had any sort of success, most people didn’t believe in his ideas. Sure, there were a few that near on worshiped my grandfather for what he did, but they were the artistic and odd individuals of society. Those that were too smart for their own good or had been kicked out of the scientific community. Most didn’t believe that aliens existed. My grandfather was among the last of his kind to believe in “such nonsense”.
He, my grandfather, saw that there were other worlds out there, other worlds that held the potential for life. He wanted to live out his days exploring the stars and searching for planets, for aliens, and forms of life. He had a sense of adventure for that sort of thing, which is partly why he chose to be a part of the colonies in the first place.
My grandfather left Stag, a remote colony that has long since been abandoned, with a crew of fifteen on board a Class 7 Industrial Cutter. They set sail for the first system, the Anamora system, that was closest to Earth and the least explored.
Over the course of twenty five years, that team discovered the Cendrak Belt, various plant life, and several planets that were staked almost immediately by mining colonies. From what my grandfather’s journals indicate, it almost killed him to see his hard work taken for gain of wealth.
In those first few years, he never received one thank you or even a note of recognition. I don’t know how he kept at it for as long as he did. I believe it was because he truly loved space, and he loved exploring. Because he believed in his dream of finding new life.
He kept at it for years, but he got discouraged near the twenty-fourth year, I know that. I have read his memoirs very thoroughly.. From what I can tell, I think that he would have given up the search for life completely if it wasn’t for my grandmother.
He picked her up on a residential colony where she was studying botany. She went through several interviews and extensive studies before she was accepted on board. My grandmother used to say that she was attracted to my grandfather long before she met him face to face, and that was one of the reasons she didn’t mind the tedious process of joining his crew.
Of course, he had other things on his mind and he says he never gave a second thought to having a romantic relationship. At least, not until he saw something in her. He says he noticed her because her smile was always there, even on the tough days, but I think it was because she was an optimist who believed in him.
She was one of the first people to truly respect his work, and that flattery was what really got him to take an interest in her. Of course, this is just my speculation! Don’t take it too seriously!
Anyways, after he took an interest in her, he wanted more than anything to prove to her that alien life existed, other than in the form of foliage. And so it was that four years after they married, they discovered the Stillney System.
Their team had dwindled down to eight by then, including my grandparents. They were shorthanded and the funds that had originally seemed like enough to last them for dozens of years had dried up after what little interest there was faded into history.
The thing about the Stillney system is that it was far, far away. Nearly a year’s travel from any civilized colonies. The system had been discovered and analyzed years earlier, but there were no documented trips to the system. Inside the system were two planets, two desert planets, that my grandfather’s team had calculated to hold a chance at life. And so that was where they went.
When they arrived on the first planet, named Dals, they believed that there was nothing. Sand covered the planet from north to south. They began analyzing and cruising the planet, and spent several days doing so. It wasn’t until their final day on the planet when they saw it.
They saw movement. A tiny speck in the sand, no more than a black dot that moved a bit. My grandmother saw it first, and my grandfather got so excited when he saw it that they nearly crashed the ship.
What they found, living in the sands of Dals, was the most adorable sort of creature that ever lived. It was shaped mostly like a bunny, but it stood on two legs and walked as if it were a human. Its eyes were sharp, and yet there was an innocent look to it. It walked right up to my grandmother and sniffed around and talked in its language and jumped and lived and breathed.
Living beneath the sands of Dals, were hundreds of thousands of the cutest, and only, aliens that the human race would ever meet.
The scientists and biologists and explorers were excited beyond belief. They attempted to speak and communicate and understand the aliens, but as you know, they were never able to make out any sort of real language.
They did all sorts of tests and dibbled and dabbled in DNA and all assortment of examinations before they came to the heart-rendering conclusion that the aliens were not even quite as smart as dogs back on Earth. The sole purpose that those aliens served was to be cute.
They made their discovery public, and in less than two years there were cargo ships and passenger ships and colonies and factories popping up all over Dals. Dals was the home of the aliens, the new form of animal that had somehow come into existence on a desert planet.
As the only man to discover alien life, my grandfather made quite a name for himself. Before he knew it, he was a very very rich man. Endorsements from all over the galaxies were streaming in by the minute, and with them were the funds to continue exploration for years to come.
Even with all of that money and the discovery of life under his belt, my grandfather’s thirst for adventure and his desire to discover intelligent life kept him from settling into his estates on Dals.
In between the time that my grandfather first arrived at Dals and the time that he left, someone realized that the aliens my grandfather had discovered made outstanding pets.
There was something about their eyes, and the way that they seemed to converse with each other and with humans. The way that they stood on their hind legs and the way that their noses twitched and their ears swiveled. Something about how they were the best friends a little child could ask for and how amazing they were as happy companions to lonely adults.
And, because my grandfather had discovered them, he was notified that he had the rights to them. The aliens were not able to think or make decisions on a human level, and thus were declared to be property of my grandfather.
He didn’t want to deal with an entire planet of animals, and so they began to sell them. The industry boomed. People loved them. They all wanted to have an alien, an animal that was brand new to the human world. Everyone loved them. Everyone wanted one. Companies that had been unheard when Dals was first explored shot up to dominate the markets.
Before we knew it, everybody had one. Someone out there named them buntwos, after their resemblance to bunnies and how they might be a better version of bunnies. Bunnies 2.0 or something like that. The buntwos were all over the galaxy and my grandfather was, practically overnight, the richest man in space.
My grandmother and he came and went, never staying on Dals for more than a few weeks at a time. Their space-aged bodies couldn’t handle gravity for much longer than that. I also believe that my grandfather was sick of seeing the “buntwo” advertisements all over Dals.
Ah yes, here we are. Do you see over this fence, for miles and miles around us? Yes, that is sand, and yes, these dunes are filled with buntwos. My father took over the business when he was fifteen, started this farm, and now I run the farm. It stretches out there and it is the only buntwo farm in the universe.
Where was I?
My grandfather. He was never quite satisfied with the life that he had discovered. My grandmother was too in love to let him go off exploring on his own, and so after my father was born and raised they left Dals and the Stillney system for good. They explored the galaxies for years after and never once discovered any form of life other than what they found on Dals.
Nowadays, people nigh on worship him for his zeal. They call him the greatest of his time, and they have museums and tours and rides dedicated to him. Well, more so to his discovery of the buntwos than anything else, but they honor him nonetheless.
I think it irked them that their discovery, their lives work, came to naught but a cute household pet. I’m not complaining. I’m one of the richest men in the galaxy, thanks to these blasted buntwos.
Although I’m happy with my wealth, I do feel sorry for my grandfather. He died with an unsatisfied itch for discovery. He died knowing that his one great accomplishment was the discovery of buntwos. He wanted nothing more than to bring humanity together and to work with another race of life, and instead he gave us the galaxy’s most desired household pet.
This story was loosely inspired by Isaac Asimov and Life.
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