A Matter of Time
The Vinshaw-1 Deep Space Probe was mere hours from entering orbit of RL-110203, after 15 years at near-light speed utilizing the engine designed by Ari Vinshaw, for whom the craft was named. It would remain in orbit for at least three years, mapping and observing our nearest exoplanet in the “habitable zone” within its solar system; it would take several days for the first images to arrive, and they were the longest days in human history: at last, a glimpse at genuine, alien life, centuries of speculation definitively answered. At first, nothing more than a rocky terrain, then a liquid ocean, a liquid ocean of water, and vegetation, and then an alien, which perfectly resembled a dimetrodon. Over the next several months, and several years, every analysis, every test, every sample resembled Earth as it was nearly 300 million years earlier; entirely new fields of science and philosophy arose from this discovery, some factions believing the probe accidentally went back in time, others proposed that every habitable planet follows the same evolutionary cycle, and it would take another century before they could develop tests to answer their questions, but that would just lead to more questions, because in science the answer is always “for now”, until something better comes along.