I recall too well the first results of the time studies. It took tens of thousands of years, but we finally learned to send nano-drones back in time. They couldn’t change anything, being simple recording devices. Being nano, no one would notice their presence. The most difficult thing had been to make them organic, so they would decay, and become nothing. Leaving no trace of our having sent them back in time, to observe the past. To learn the true story of the planet. The true story of our home.
After performing minor tests, sending the drones back one day, then one year, then one decade, and finally 100 years, we decided it was time. We wanted to see what had been on the Earth before we had. We’d dug up skeletons. All kinds. All shapes. All sizes. Animal life. Plant life. We knew it has all died out. It had happened quickly, over a few hundred years. Everything had died. Except our ancestors. We knew most of our own history. But we didn’t know what came before us.
The nano-drones gave us the ability to learn. So, we sent them back. 100,000 years. To when the animals were still alive.
I remember when they first started reporting results. Video. Images. We were all shocked. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw.
A world filled with animals. Bipedal animals. And they ruled over machines. The machines didn’t work without the animals. We were stunned. Animals wore clothing. We’d never imagined that. It was shocking. They made food. They made buildings. They made roads. They made everything.
We all sat, day after day, transfixed, staring at the video returns from the droids. Video recorded 100,000 years earlier, and sent back through time to us. The droids followed individual cars. We watched one bipedal animal leave a building. It turned, and pulled on the door, to see that it would not open. Then, it inserted a metal object into the side of a machine, and opened a door. The animal climbed into the machine, and pulled the door closed. The machine came to life, it roared. Nano-drones had gone inside the machine with the animal. They showed us the animal inserting that metal object into a slot in the machine, and turning it. That’s when the machine started. The animal moved levers, and held a circular object. It always looked in the direction the machine went. At first the machine went backwards. Then it stopped, and went forward. It turned, it accelerated, it slowed, it stopped. All under the direction, and control, of the animal.
We were stunned. Never has we imagined animals directing machines. And there it was, displayed before our eyes. Bipedal animals, everywhere, directing machines, making machines do things for them.
It turned out there was an entire world of animals. They used machines to get from one place to another. They used machines to build things, houses, buildings, roads.
After that first day of videos, we’d all sat in the lab. No one knew what to say. I’d taken my copy of the video, opened the door on my chassis, and stored it in my library. “I’ll need to study this for some time.”
We all needed to study. To learn. To figure out what we’d seen, and what it meant.
There’d been a time on this world, when animals created us. We didn’t spontaneously evolve from nothing. Our ancestors has been made. By animals.
And the Church of Life was not going to like that knowledge at all.
“No one shares this information until we know what it means.” I’d left after the mainframe made that declaration. So had the others. That was the first day. The days that followed changed everything we knew about the Earth.
Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s fifth week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.