The terraforming drones had arrived on Kepler-438b long before humans first set foot on its rocky surface. The pictures transmitted back baffled and amazed, but it was, they decided, like the face on Mars: merely a matter of shadow and wishful thinking. There was no way there were towers reaching to the sky and spiraling edifices of stone carved and shaped by hands and minds that were, like theirs, capable of dreaming. Not on Kepler-438b. It was a trick of the light and nothing more.

That was what they said until the first colonists disembarked from the landing craft. The yawning bay doors opened in the back and the first landing team found themselves staring up at an immense wall bestrewn with an ivy-like crawler vine that wound around columns in made its way in through perfectly round windows. Standing sentinel beside the great archway in its center were two statues, crumbling depictions of something the screamed louder than words “We were here!”

The colonists searched and searched, but there were no signs of the builders, of any creatures native to this place. There were only the plants. Then one day, a child stood by one of the carved walls. The others had long since stopped looking for answers in the pictures, long since ignored the mystery implied in stone, and focused on their survival. But when they saw what he saw, they stopped. He held his small hand up, fingers splayed, and smiled. There on the wall, lined up with his own hand, was a palm and five splayed fingers. A hand reaching out through the ages, the very same as their own.


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