DISCOVERY NEAR JUPITER: In orbit within Jupiter, we see a black, mile long, geometrically perfect rectangle, the same proportions as the black artifact excavated on the Moon.
For four million years, it had circled Jupiter, awaiting a moment of destiny that might never come. Now, the long wait was ending. On yet another world intelligence had been born and was escaping from its planetary cradle.
An ancient experiment was about to reach its climax. Those who had begun the experiment so long ago had not been men. But when they looked out across the deeps of space, they felt awe and wonder - and loneliness.
In their explorations, they encountered life in many forms, and watched on a thousand worlds the workings of evolution. They saw how often the first faint sparks of intelligence flickered and died in the cosmic night.
And because, in all the galaxy, they had found nothing more precious than Mind, they encouraged its dawning everywhere. The great Dinosaurs had long since perished when their ships entered the solar system, after a voyage that had already lasted thousands of years.
They swept past the frozen outer planets, paused briefly above the deserts of dying Mars and presently looked down on Earth. For years they studied, collected and catalogued.
When they had learned all they could, they began to modify. They tinkered with the destiny of many species on land and in the ocean, but which of their experiments would succeed they could not know for at least a million years.
They were patient, but they were not yet immortal. There was much to do in this Universe of a hundred billion stars.
So they set forth once more across the abyss, knowing that they would never come this way again. Nor was there any need. Their wonderful machines could be trusted to do the rest.