“Putting the Team Together”

ESD October 7th, 2628

Destiny Colony, Jupiter

Sol System

 

After two weeks of looking over CVs and writing samples from just about everywhere in human space, I finally sent out the biggest news since I got my own letter. Lots of promising candidates—not all of whom were informed by their respective faculty advisers and program directors that they’d been recommended for this trip—and somehow I narrowed it down to one.

It’ll be weird working with a twenty-two year old. I remember being twenty-two, still screwing around in undergrad and trying to balance a part-time job with conference papers I wasn’t expected to write for another couple years. Larisha Eren, on the other hand, graduated high school a year early out of Epsilon Indi and got herself a full-ride at Tau Ceti Public University, where she finished her Bachelor’s in Linguistics in three years. She’d already gotten into their PhD program when I snapped her up, which in any other case might’ve been a problem. Luckily for her, any dissertation committee in the known universe would let someone with her qualifications get away with researching whatever she damn well pleases. No need to worry about your program’s prestige when you’ve got an in on the first team to study a sentient alien species.

The rest of the team seems solid as well. I can’t speak to a lot of their expertise but a few of them are names I’ve seen around before. Marius Dubé and Tony Holdsworth are both solid picks for ethnography team lead and assistant, respectively. I might’ve seen Gorrin Webb give a presentation at a conference a few years back, probably part of the Cosmo-Anthropology series on Mars. But other than those three, I’ll have to remember to read up on them later.

Right now, I’m still busy putting together my bibliography. It was supposed to be done yesterday but you’d be surprised how much speculative bullshit there is out there to sort through. Of the nearly two hundred articles I put on my long list to cut down when I wasn’t panicking so much, probably a quarter of them made some reference to tentacles. I could be exaggerating but I could’ve sworn I saw a bunch of them. A few of them, surprisingly enough, were published in journals I’d once considered reputable. What I managed to glean out of this glorified slush pile were largely ethical treatises, since anything that tried to get more specific than just “don’t screw up first contact” gradually degenerated into endless streams of hypotheticals about alien physiology and human lifestyle adjustments on the planet.

These last mental exercises might be more useful if we didn’t already know what we know about Ryosh c. I didn’t understand most of the more technical details at first but now I think I’ve got a firm enough grasp on it to not be terrified. The Ryosh system is located 139.29 lightyears from Sol, which in cosmological terms is a gentle stroll. All I know is that that’s a much, much bigger number than the just over five astronomical units between Sol and me.

As for the planet itself, I think I might die when I get there. Not only because the atmosphere’s 33% O2 content would kill me from hyperoxia, but because it sounds like a paradise planet dreamed up by the loneliest cubicle-bound grad student to ever live. 81.6% liquid water on the surface, with a smattering of tropical islands around the middle and temperate biomes leading up to diminutive ice caps on either pole. And did I mention that at 0.92 terrestrial masses, I’ll finally get to say I dropped that last ten pounds I’ve been trying to get rid of since summer?

The other details of Ryosh c’s orbit aren’t as important for what I’m trying to do here, nor do they give me any pointers on what to wear (environment suits only) or how Ryosh (that’s what I’ve decided to call them) individuals communicate. The big takeaways for now are that 1.) I’m going to be neither freezing my ass off on some ice moon nor melted within seconds of landing in a Venusian apocalypse, 2.) the organizing committee appears to know what they’re doing, and 3.) this might actually be doable.

I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

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