GesteCo’s colonization scheme was simple: seeding barren worlds in the habitable zones of stars with hardy terraforming plants, then shipping in a jump gate for an official survey crew. The planets were each given marketing-friendly names coined by a dedicated AI, and the survey crew would lay out an initial colony for investors and settlers. With any luck, GesteCo would recieve a 1000% return on its investment within 25 years, to say nothing of longer-term profits.

Aerna (original designation: J20383259+4601983 c) was one such planet, and the survey crew found the terraforming plants to have succeeded brilliantly, warming the world such that its ice caps had shrunk and generated a terrain of stark waterfalls and caverns. It was in one of these caverns near the colony site that the crew discovered the spheres.

They ranged from just a few centimeters to tens of meters in diameter, featureless and stony, and most strikingly they hovered 1-2 meters off the ground without any visible means of support.

GesteCo, panicked at possibly violating their contract not to develop worlds of “historical or biological interest,” immediately called for a government investigation. It was found that the spheres were of the same composition and age as the rocks around them, there were no indications of tool marks, and that their floating was the result of an anomaly in Aerna’s magnetic field combined with a very ferrous composition in the rocks.

The Spheres of Aerna quickly became a tourist attraction, but the debate as to their origin remains open. It’s possible they formed naturally through some unlikely geological process, or that they were placed by an unknown intelligence.

In the meantime, GesteCo has been content to pocket the results of tourist spending and scientific analysis alike.

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