Second Earth (short story)

We created them. They loved us. Then we betrayed them.


The shocking part of that news was not that the probe had suffered some sort of a malfunction (that was pretty obvious), but that it was increasing it velocity as it was approaching Earth. Nobody was able to establish communications with the renegade probe. Not the humans on Earth, nor the two dozen other probes scattered through the Solar System, that all by now had aborted their mission, waiting—completely stunned—for events to enfold.


“Look at it this way,” D-287k said “no matter how successful we would have been at this Beyond the Speed of Light program of theirs, we never would have received the same amount of praise as we will get when we manage to save them from certain extinction. And is not that what is baked into the essence of our being, into our souls? Are we not created with only one burning desire? The desire to please human beings? Even if it is at our own expense.”


Mankind had, it seemed, struggled for as long as they had existed, but now, by the glory of their own noble efforts had finally arrived—to themselves. (By that time God was dead to most of them, so not many were willing to share this triumph with what they saw as an inconsequential archaic entity, that, even if it existed, was flawed and pitiful.)