There was once a giant, roughly spherical, rocky mass hurtling through space. Nothing yet lived upon it to give it a name. The rock had accreted over the as-yet uncounted years from the rich residue of cosmic dust that had once comprised its parent star. While the heavier elements had long ago sunk to the core, the lighter ones had arranged to form a hard outer shell, a proto-planet.

At last, repeated bombardment from asteroids and meteors invoked this virgin mantle to life. Volcanoes reared up, blistered open and spewed forth gases rich in chemical compounds. These gases in turn formed an atmosphere. In the oceans, life sparked. Within a billion years simple tube-like structures that survived by oxidising sulphur had evolved into multi-cellular cyanobacteria. Feeding from the Sun’s energy, these tiny creatures produced oxygen, enabling more and more complex organisms to develop.

The planet was awash with a slew of new, experimental forms. Life grew weary of the ocean, clawed its way onto land, advancing in sophistication and abundance with each generation.

After billions of still-uncounted years a new species emerged into this heaving paradise: A small, blue-haired ape. This creature walked upright, hunted in packs, and very quickly developed a rudimentary form of language.

The apes began to see their world for what it was, recognising also its great potential.

Within a million or so years these blue primates had grown to dominance. They had changed much in the intervening time: Their blue hair had been discarded in favour of clothing to ward the elements, and the keenness of many of their senses had been sacrificed in favour of a larger brain – but in many ways they remained the same territorial hunter from those ancient plains. Their intelligence was exponential. In the blink of an eye, the apes had gone from sticks and stones to driving vehicles that harnessed the useful by-product of fossilised remains and soaring beyond the atmosphere in rocket-powered ships. They were able to comprehend mathematics, and electronics, and architecture and the great passages of time that had preceded such discoveries. Communities flourished. Great cities developed, within whose walls laws were either obeyed, or used in turn to punish. But as the species had evolved, so too had its weapons. And it was these very tokens of mistrust for its own kind that would turn ape against ape in endless conflict.

For millennia they slaughtered, multiplied, slaughtered, all the while continuing to grow their technology to heights un-dreamed. At last (once every scrap of land and every species had been subjugated) the blue apes set their sights upon new dominions. Studying the stars, plotting ways in which they might be reached . . .

Just as their plans were drawing to completion, a large planetoid struck their world at an oblique angle, jolting its axis, sending both mantle material and the planetoid’s remnants into orbit and searing the planet in an instant of all life.

Over time the ejected material coalesced to form a moon. Millennia of impacts struck the recovering orb, awakening the sleeping magma, causing great rents in the crust to yawn open and start spouting gas.

Single-celled organisms danced into life . . .