Studying Love

Gil stared at the giant gas cloud undulating outside the viewing port. This was why he was here. These sentient gas clouds which stretched thousands of miles across space were a fascinating enigma to every other species that inhabited the galaxy. Humans were only the latest species to try to study the clouds and their love lives.

Shaking his head, Gil turned away from the port and focused his attention back on the latest research article open on his tablet. Reading the previous research was at once boring and fascinating… just like studying the love lives of the giant gas clouds drifting outside the ship. Green light shone into his cabin through the viewing port. Gil immediately rose and closed the port. Some things one just didn’t intrude upon, and that included watching gas clouds reproduce. He knew the so-called “mechanics” of the process – if clouds could be said to have mechanics – were similar to the asexual reproduction of amoebas, but he didn’t consider himself enough of a voyeur to stare at a sentient being while it did so. Floating around in space wasn’t exactly private, but Gil figured he’d give them the benefit of his respect for their privacy. And to be fair to the clouds, they were the first inhabitants of this galaxy. The rest of the species were technically the interlopers here.

After reading and rereading the same paragraph for several minutes and finding himself musing on the meanings and manifestations of love, Gil gave up on the research article. A knock on his cabin door gave him a more concrete excuse to stop working.

“Come in,” he called, hitting the activation switch for the door.

“Hi, Gil. You busy?” Khyat asked, sticking his head in.

“Not now. C’mon in.” Gil gestured to the one other chair in the cabin in invitation. “What’s up?”

“Not much. I saw the clouds and remembered that you’re studying them too. I’ve been working on my own research into their actual make up, but I can’t read any more articles right now,” Khyat said with a grimace. “So, I decided to distract others from their work.”

Gil laughed. He and Khyat had become friends on this trip out to the university on Keturn. On day one of the trip they had discovered that they were both going to be first year students in the Species Studies grad program there. “I appreciate the distraction. I was just trying to decide if studying their love life was too voyeuristic or not. Then I got lost thinking about the different types of love and how that worked with gas clouds. Do they have friends? Do they love the little clouds they produce? How does that all work? I mean they’re sentient beings so that means friends, and friend love, right?”

It was Khyat’s turn to laugh. “Wow, you’re really getting deeply philosophical here, aren’t you? But yeah, those are legitimate questions. So how are you going to go about answering them?”

“I have no idea. I guess that’s something I’ll have to ask my grad advisor when we get to the university,” Gil said.

“Well, I think you are going to have a more interesting and simultaneously boring grad career than me!” Khyat said.

“What do you mean?” Gil asked.

“Well, all those deeply philosophical questions about the love of a gas cloud – fascinating – combined with the decades of human time it takes for them to reproduce – boring!” Khyat answered.

“So, I’m fascinatingly boring?” Gil grinned.

“Yep!” Khyat clapped him on the shoulder.


Week 7 at More Odds Than Ends started on Valentine’s Day, so our fearless coordinator decided to go with a love theme (I screwed up in my prompt, but I have all faith in Cedar that she will be able to make something of it). My challenge came from Leigh Kimmel: It was at once boring and fascinating, like studying the love lives of living gas clouds stretching thousands of miles across space. So mosey on over to More Odds Than Ends to see what our crew of Odds come up with when love is in the air.

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