Jupiter and Mercury laughed a devilish laugh as Earth passed them. The trouble with gossip is that one feels caught in the act when the subject suddenly appears.
As Earth moved on to talk to Mars, Jupiter and Mercury continued their blabber mouthing.
The Sun had organized a tea party for all the big planets in his galaxy. It was an annual tradition, a philosophical afternoon of talking and debating. However, there was also plenty of time to complain and gossip.
Naturally, the Sun had outdone himself, he liked to give lavish parties, many stars were working until they would fall. Like every year, the party took place beyond the Asteroid Belt, close to Jupiter. That way, not everyone had to travel so far and their location was almost in the middle of their Solar System.
A screen made of stardust showed a reality show of stars with no obvious talent going at each other, calling each other names. The stars in this galaxy had their own lives and this was their entertainment. Most of the planets looked down on them. However, some enjoyed their company and were fascinated by the life of the stars.
Earth went up to Mars. The old friends greeted each other heartily. Although, secretly, Mars was growing to dread the conversations with Earth more every year. The inhabitants of Earth were planning on moving to his planet in the future. Mars was an old and conservative planet and although he had been waiting for proper lifeforms to evolve on his planet, they simply had not succeeded to his liking. He had grown lonely, dusting himself off all year, until the Sun’s party. However, he did not like the idea of the arrogant inhabitants of Earth roaming around his planet and changing his natural order, not to mention disturbing his peace of mind!
Pleasantries soon transformed into grudges, as Mars once again urged the Earth to restrain its inhabitants. As Mars raised his voice, the other planets soon gathered around them, not wanting to miss out on something exciting. After all, they had to live off the drama of this party the whole year around.
Earth was not going to let another planet tell him what to do.
Earth was proud and viewed himself as the center of this Solar System. His planet was the most evolved of them all. He had a plentitude of complex species wandering about. Those species all had a shared history in evolution; they had science, stories, brains, emotions and even religions.
Granted, there were some problems to be dealt with. But he was not about to let Mars tell him off like that.
“Maybe you are just an old jealous stuck-up planet, envious of our evolved life forms.” Earth said in a harsh voice. The other planets gasped and exchanged triumphant looks.
“You should be thankful that such a fine species as humankind is curious enough to even visit you. Ever since I met you, you have been complaining about being lonely. About the lack of life and excitement on your planet. Well now it is finally coming your way.” The Earth said quite convincingly, as the other planets nodded in agreement.
Jupiter looked at Mercury and then to Mars. Should they let Mars in on their plan? Jupiter decided Mars could not be trusted. At least, not yet.
Mars knew the Earth had a good point, but was he ready for such a great disturbance at his age? He decided to leave the subject for now. He still had years to think about this. After all, it would be quite some time before something like this was about to happen. Besides, if Mars decided Earth’s inhabitants were unwelcome, he had enough power to destroy them.
A bright light shone over the assembly of planets. The brightest and biggest star in their solar system, the Sun, had finally made his grand entrance. The planets quieted, in awe of his beauty.
The program for the party never varied; every year things happened in the exact same order as the year before, as if set in stone. Luckily, the planets had a lot to catch up on as they were anticipating the official start. The Sun would take the stage for his speech at the same exact moment every year. It was his moment to shine and to show he was the biggest star in this galaxy. When all the other planets have had enough time to admire the Sun, it was time for tea and for the debate.
The Sun enjoyed his moment and how the other planets were in awe of him. How they feared him. For with one strike, he could obliterate them all. However, they did not know that he would actually never do that. For who else would he converse with? These tea parties were all he had.
“Welcome my friends, to our annual tea party. I lost count many years ago about which edition this is. But it does not matter. We are here!” The Sun spoke with his grand, deep voice.
The other planets beamed and clapped, the stars in service glimmered.
Stars were swooshing around setting up a gigantic table, filled with all sorts of sweets and pastries. Tea from a large teapot was poured into the cups by the Moon, a demeaning gesture, according to Earth. The Moon was not recognized as a planet by the Sun.
Soon, all cups were filled with a steamy treacly liquid. Not exactly the tea Earth was used to.
The Sun spoke again. “As you have all had a chance to catch up with each other, it is now time for the discussion. I chose an interesting topic, if I do say so myself. A topic both current and ancient. Why are we here?”.
The assembly sighed. Earth was already dreading this party and possibly even more now. For his inhabitants were always asking themselves the same question.
The Sun decided to ignore this reaction. “In relation to that question I want us to explore why we are here and why all of our functions and compositions differ so greatly. Are we the only planets? Is this even the only galaxy?” The Sun continued.
“Well Mercury’s composition is the foulest, that I do know!”, Uranus joked. The others giggled, Mercury turned dark grey.
“There are ladies present, don’t be so rude!”, Mercury said as he looked over at Venus and Jupiter.
The Sun had a look of a disappointed and impatient teacher. He continued his opening statement and steered the conversation back to the topic he had proposed. “I would like to suggest everyone gets a say in this matter. Everyone who is a planet on its own that is”, as he looked at the Moon. “Jupiter, my darling, why don’t you start?”
Jupiter blushed and showed more of her orange and red colors. However, she spoke with confidence and poise. “Thank you, my Sun almighty. In our long existence, this remains the unanswerable question. An important question, yes, but there is no one and true answer. That is why it is so exiting to come back to it every once in a while, as the Sun repeatedly has proposed during our ceremonies. Every time I think about it, I have a different idea of the answer, and I bet most of you do as well. For our existence is ever changing and our experience and development help us come closer to a possible answer. In a way, it is the essence of our existence to think about it, but it is also our weight to carry while we survive.
Personally, I think we are here to just coexist, to evolve as a galaxy and leave a healthy and good functioning Solar System for what and who is to come. Everything is temporary after all. Even if it lasts for billions of years or for just a fraction of it.
It begs more questions, like the Sun has so rightly proposed. Are we the only galaxy? Are there any other planets out there like us? Who knows? I’d like to think there are a plentitude of galaxies out in the immense universe. Earth, what is it your inhabitants call our Solar System again?”
“The Milky Way.” Earth replied reluctantly.
Some planets laughed.
“Right, well, there should be more of us Milky Ways. And as to why we differ so greatly… It is due to our composition, yes, but I’d like to think it also has to do with our characteristics and how we have evolved and contained ourselves. I mean, Earth you and your species are evolved. But are they also able to contain themselves? Are your precious humans capable of it?” Jupiter’s tone changed and grew darker.
“Self absorption, corruption, inequality, abuse of power, abuse of your natural resources. And those are only some of the things your species do to destroy you. You respond with quakes, turmoil, hurricanes, and a deteriorating climate. How long do you think you will be able to survive? Should you still be regarded as our most evolved planet? I propose not.”
Silence around the table. All planets were taking in all of what Jupiter had said. They were either nodding in agreement or disagreement. Then they looked at the Earth.
The Earth let out some gasses and radiation, then he composed himself. “While you have tried to blind us with your wise words, it has become ever more clear to me now that you want to step up. Because that is what you have always wanted, is it not, Jupiter?”
Jupiter tried to speak, but the Earth shot a splash of water at her as to keep her quiet. “It is my turn to speak, old lady. You may be the oldest planet in our galaxy, but don’t even think for a second that you’re the wisest or most evolved. What have you accomplished since your birth in this Solar System? Nothing. You’re just big and old. Yes, you have clouds, woohoo. I have so much more to offer. You don’t even have water.”
“You complacent, smug planet. You are not better than any of us! Doesn’t anyone else have an opinion?” Jupiter replied irritably.
Saturn spoke, calmly. “Comrades, this discussion has no use and leads away from the general discussion. None of the planets gathered here today are better than the other ones. We must cooperate to solve this universe’s great mysteries. If we can’t rely on each other, we have no one to rely on. Worse, if we try to destroy one another, this universe could be lost forever and all life’s questions will remain unanswered. We need to all contribute according to our own abilities and expertise. Every one’s needs are the needs of us all.”
The majority of the planets nodded in agreement. Except for Jupiter and Mercury, who locked eyes.
The Sun intervened. “My planets, calm down. Take council in Saturn’s words. We are not here to bicker or pick on each others precious metals. We are here to learn about our existence. Envy, politics, and even gossip are just distractions. Leave that to the inferior stars who accompany us in this galaxy. The stars and their naive, ignorant lives.” Some serving stars looked up in amazement of what they had just heard, but they did not dare to protest the almighty Sun. “Some of the things Jupiter has mentioned make sense for the discussion of today. Would anyone else like to contribute to our discussion? Mars perhaps?”
“Thank you Sun almighty star. As many of you know, I am not very interested in exploring what lies beyond our galaxy. I like the things just as they are. Can there be other galaxies and planets? Probably not. Why haven’t we found them? Why haven’t they found us? It is just a matter of occupying our minds, that’s all. To get through the dark hours together. We have each other, I’d like to keep it at that.”
“Is that why you refuse to let my people inhabit your planet one day?” Earth asked quickly.
“Yes. For why would I change my life and peace of mind? It has been the same since I was born and I like it like that.”
“But with respect to everyone’s survival, our evolvement and explorations, why wouldn’t we open up to each other like that? Why can’t we help each other out, share our resources, our space? If we all stay to ourselves, what progress do we expect to make?” Earth responded point blank.
“Earth does make a point there”, Neptune contributed.
“If I or any of the other planets get into trouble and would even face extinction, shouldn’t we be able to rely on each other?” Earth continued. “Let’s be open to each other, to evolvement, to change and progress. Let’s fight together for our survival. When we do that, we can continue to hold these ceremonies and enjoy each other’s company. Maybe we will even get to some answers as to why we are here, and who might be here with us.”
Everyone let Earth’s words sink in for a moment, before Venus broke the silence. “I must say I agree with what Earth is proposing.
We are nothing without each other. We are all on the same journey of survival and exploration. In order for us to continue, we have to cooperate. The only thing is, we must all want it and be willing to work for it. Our collective survival is vital for the health of our galaxy.
But how can we convince you, Mars, to be open to Earth’s inhabitants at one point? There must be something that can convince you, or someone?”
Her female intuition did not let her down. Mars became uncomfortable. He started fidgeting with his teacup. “Well, …” Mars said. “…there is something, but I feel uncomfortable saying it in front of the others.”
He approached Venus and whispered something to her. Venus nodded and gave the old planet a friendly pat. For the first time it that afternoon, Mars smiled.
Naturally, all the other planets’ curiosity was at a burning point. Not knowing was excruciating. Little did they know that Mars’ request was very sweet and polite. He just wanted Venus to visit him from time to time so that he could chat with her. He would like to talk to someone else, other than Earth. Venus gladly accepted his request.
Stars were clearing the table again. It was time for something stronger than tea. Chalices were filled with hot and steamy lava. The drink had a strong, relaxing effect on its drinkers. It loosened the planets’ inhibitions and relieved them of stress.
Uranus let out a loud burp. The planets were talking loudly, enjoying their drinks and conversations. The Sun shone brightly, happy with what was turning out to be another successful edition of his annual party. Even though there had been some hiccups along the way.
Stars kept refilling the chalices. Pluto started singing. He had a terrific singing voice. Round and classic. The other planets listened and got carried away by the songs and the lava.
Then an argument started to rear its ugly head. Mercury was contaminating the pleasant atmosphere and continuously refueled the already simmering hate and envy present between some planets. He was diligently working towards slandering Earth again, infecting one planet at a time. Oh how he liked to stir up disagreement in the group! It was all part of the plan he had concocted with Jupiter. Their plan to kick Earth off his throne and let Jupiter rise to the occasion. He loved Jupiter deeply and was willing to do anything in his capacity to bring her to power. Mercury thankfully made use of the drunkenness of the planets. Because drunk planets are easiest to manipulate and turn against each other.
Now all planets spoke at the same time, in complete disorder. A heated discussion was going on.
The Sun: “Let’s not get off topic…”
Earth: “You’re all just jealous, envious swines, …”
Jupiter: “You are an arrogant planet who can only boast because of your inhabitants, not about something of your own doing.”
Saturn: “Stop going at each other, we must work together!”
Mercury: “Away with that arrogant planet Earth! Into the great unknown with you!”
At that moment Mercury looked at Jupiter, who nodded. The former turned bigger and started to shudder. Sizzling grey iron spewed from its core in the direction of the Earth’s ozone layer. Once they managed to destroy it, it would only be a matter of time before the life forms on Earth would experience severe DNA damage. The damage would change its environment, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
There was only one planet who was not busy fighting. She was of a bright and loving nature. Ever since the planets gathered for this party, Venus noted mysterious looks being shared between Mercury and Jupiter.
Venus shot a beam of amber light at Mercury’s iron stream. There was a big hit. Planets were being pushed into space and stars fell. The lava drinks further fueled the explosion. The amber light had turned the iron stream into billions of shiny silver flakes.
Once the planets gathered themselves again, most of them looked in awe of this beautiful phenomenon.
The Sun blocked Mercury, turning dangerously bright red in front of him. Mars floated before Jupiter, who looked shocked at what she had initiated. Perhaps Mars cared more for his friend Earth than he would like to admit to himself.
Venus broke the silence, surrounded by the falling flakes. She looked splendid in their lights. “Calm down everyone, look around, we’re supposed to be friends. We need each other.”
The group went silent as Venus continued, her voice had a soothing effect. “We’re all lonely. But we must not forget that we are all unique, composed of similar and different elements. With or without life forms. With or without function. However, none of you are better than the other…”
She continued, speaking directly to Earth, “You and your inhabitants have so much to offer. Not only your own resources and materials, but especially the ingenious people that inhabit you. They have the power to both save and end you. Even us. Soon they will have enough knowledge to have the same power over our whole galaxy. Looking at mine and the others’ composition, lack of resources and life forms, there is so much for us all to gain once we begin opening up to each other. Letting the people of Earth build settlements on us all, when they bring soil from Earth and their own knowledge – think of what we can all become! What we can achieve together. Let’s see it as an experiment.”
Jupiter burst out in tears, feeling regretful. She apologized to Earth and the other planets. She could not help agreeing with what her fellow female planet proposed. She could not believe that she had been so adamant on destroying Earth. With the help of Earth and its inhabitants she might be able to become more powerful and even develop life forms of her own. Just like she had always dreamed of.
The Sun was always good at feeling when it was time for him to shine, to put some brightness and cheer in a space. With a few words, he ordered the stars to put up an improvised table, consisting of the still flying flakes. Chalices were brought back again. Stars filling them up with some new steamy lava.
“I would like to propose a toast to you all, my friends. What we have experienced today was both insightful and hurtful, but I think it managed to pull off one thing. It has brought us closer together. In this space and galaxy, we are only with few planets. And with these fantastic few, we could become one harmonious, glorious galaxy. A Solar System possible other galaxies could only be envious of. That is if there are others out there.
Let’s now toast to the future, a future of cooperation and growth. And who knows, in another hundred or thousand years, we get one step closer to answering our discussion question. A toast to why we are here!”
At that the planets all clinked their chalices together.
- The End -
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