“The primary issue is that they don’t know whether to consider us to be alive or not.”

“You mean whether we’re intelligent life?”

“No. I mean actually living, as opposed to some sort of weirdly animate rocks or something.”

“Um. How do they get to that conclusion? Life has a lot of definitions, but I have a hard time thinking of one that puts us in the same category as a pile of boulders.”

“Well, you see… we’re not purple.”


“Right. We’re not purple. Apparently living things need to be purple.”

“So you’re saying that every life form on their planet is…?”

“Purple. Yes.”

“How the hell did that evolve?”

“The scientists have some theories regarding atmospheric conditions, solar output, available minerals… not really important for this discussion, though. The key point is that their entire worldview has been shaped around the idea that life is purple. I think it might even be in their religious texts.”

“Oh, great. Belief systems get messy.”

“Tell me about it. There’s a faction that seriously says that regarding us as living would be some sort of blasphemy.”

“Naturally. So what is the plan? Short of dying ourselves, I mean?”

“We’re still waiting on feedback from Earth Command. There’s rather a lot at stake.”

“I figured you weren’t contacting me just about a diplomatic snafu.”

“True enough. The issue is that, prior to delving into space, they developed a very strict ethical code not to interfere with any planet that had developed life on it.”

“And by ‘interfere with’, you mean…”

“Strip mine and/or colonize.”