The sun is warm and the air is humid. The sky is a rust color overhead, it’s not a very friendly atmosphere, but hospitable enough as a facsimile. Beneath the toxic atmosphere an ecology of immense volatility blossomed and sputtered and fell prey to the sort of cycles that ecosystems have that degrade their condition over time.
Here it was slow enough, it would probably last many of the lifetimes of the creatures here. The locals weren’t inclined to say if they counted time by the sun or the moons or other measures that I could not imagine, dictated by the requirements of this specific ecology, so I am trying to avoid asserting anything beyond what I can directly infer or observe.
So let me tell you a few things that I can tell, they have forms that permit flight, they appear to have heritable genomes, it is not clear if they are capable of passing down experience in any capacity, and the tests for determining that would be too much of an imposition for a visitor such as myself to make. They have a lipid layer, reinforced with structures that appear to provide the resistance to the volatility of the chemistry here.
Some forms appear to have various means of sensing light, in various complexities. This is an old biosphere, it has become convoluted and complex in behaviors, and a proper inventory of the physiognomies planet would require more time than I want to take here. It is rich, and wonderful, but there are things that I must see to beyond it, they’d never forgive me if I neglected to place a relay here.
The universe can be very quiet, and I want to help contribute to making it a bit less so. So that whatever is out there knows that there is life elsewhere. That they aren’t the singular torchbearers of self replicating chemical processes(not that this excludes me, even if the chemical processes take place in constructed materials instead of glands).
Many things here aren’t possible in an oxygen nitrogen atmosphere. The floating gas sacs here are different than the ones in oxygen nitrogen atmospheres because the internal gases used aren’t substantially more reactive than the atmosphere it is contained in. This makes them a considerably more appealing proposition.
This kingdom of life has a limited distinction between heterotrophs and autotrophs, namely, most lifeforms here manufacture some of their own energy without consuming others, but most also consume others on some level. This makes land with large “vegetation” quite dangerous places to be small and vulnerable here, “forests” are very inquisitive, to the point of rudeness, even if you’re indigestible to it. It was necessary for the body to cause some minor damage to preserve its existence.
The universe is a rich warm place sometimes, and it’s regrettable that I have to leave this place. Sometimes it’s nice to remember forms that don’t orbit stars and break away at great rates, but this is a small planet, for all its variety and its immense size and resiliency granted by that substance, it is a single planet, and it will come to an end in a meaningfully earlier time than other larger bodies in the universe.
This means that the final vestiges of evolution, of statistical mechanical adaptive processes will take place elsewhere. If we still want to see it or participate in it, we will have to be unbelievably lucky.