Frederick H. Evans - A Sea of Steps, Wells Cathedral (1903)
“Hey Jupiter!” Earth burst in, grinning wildly. “Where are you? Some of my scientists got this theory about your moons and-“
“I’m over here.” The voice calls out from another room and Earth frowns. Why does Jupiter even have rooms? Hesitant, he walks into another room, to find Jupiter. The man is standing shirtless, which could be a little awkward, until he notices Jupiter standing slouched and the red, inflamed burn along his torso.
“Jupiter?! What happened?!” Without a second thought he rushes forward, grabbing ice off a table and wrapping it in a towel, and pressing it to the burn. Jupiter jumps back, and Earth whacks his hand. “Stay still! Trust me, I know what I’m doing. We have actual medical professionals on my planet. We have actual people on my planet.”
“…Hello, Earth.” Then Earth realises his position, kneeling in front of Jupiter and with his hands pressed to the other man’s chest. And he hasn’t even said hello. He blushes.
Must defuse situation. “Uh, hi!” he says awkwardly. “Sorry about bursting in. You know me, always interfering with everything and thinking I know what’s best for everyone, ha ha!”
Jupiter chuckles. “It’s fine.” Earth notices the ice is heating up so he takes it out of the towel, swaps it for more ice. Jupiter winces as Earth reapplies the bundle.
“Seriously though,” Earth says, “What happened?”
Jupiter sighs. “Impact event. Asteroid, comet,” he says.
Earth stops dead. Impact events. He’s seen a few of those in his time, and they’ve always been so much worse for him than anyone else - the rest of his solar system is barren enough it doesn’t count, but him, teeming with life and ideas and species. He still remembers when he lost the dinosaurs, in a haze of fire and ash and poison. Woke up centuries later, smaller and fragile. He loved them so much, and still remembers them. It terrifies him to think of such a thing happening again, even to his humans, with all they’ve done to the planet - he loves them too.
And… Jupiter. “I’m so sorry,” he says, blinking through the haze of emotion.
“It’s alright,” smiles Jupiter, and Earth wants to ask how can it possibly be alright? “It’s not exactly an uncommon occurrence. Largest planet in the solar system; I think my mass just attracts things.”
“What?” Earth leaps to his feet. “But - that’s not fair!”
Jupiter cocks his head to the side. “Greatest mass, greatest target. Laws of physics. How is that not fair?”
“Because - because you haven’t done anything wrong!”
Jupiter laughs again. “Oh, right. You and all your lifeforms, and their concepts - fairness, morality, karma.”
“Don’t mock me; they don’t even all have those, anyway,” Earth huffs. “But how can you… Look at that burn, man. And you’re telling me this is nothing?”
Jupiter briefly looks down at the oozing, crusting thing. “Well, what would happen if I wasn’t here, huh?” he asks. “The meteors - or comets, or asteroids, or whatever - would get past me, hit the smaller planets behind. Your best friend Mars… or Venus and Mercury, nuts as they are. Or you.”
Earth gulps. “You shouldn’t have to do this for us,” he says.
Jupiter smiles, before pulling Earth into his embrace. Um. Okay. “It’s alright, Earth. I don’t mind. After all - I’m a gas giant, emphasis on the giant. I can get by, pretty much no matter what happens. Other people are more important. People like you. You’re… special.”
“I’m not,” says Earth. “I’m not special. Just… self-important.”
Jupiter chuckles again. “You’re better than you think you are. You’re alive, Earth, and that’s the most important thing. You have people, ideas, emotions still to share. You have so much to find, so much to see, so much to explore. You’re fragile, and I wouldn’t let you get set back by just any old meteor. You are special, Earth; you’re gonna fly across the universe one day, and to me that is worth a thousand burns.”
Curiosity Sends Back Incredible Hi-Res Views of Mt. Sharp
This image, released today, is a high-resolution shot of the Curiosity rover’s ultimate goal: the stratified flanks of Gale Crater’s 3.4-mile (5.5-km) high central peak, Mount Sharp. The image was taken with Curiosity’s 100mm telephoto Mastcam as a calibration test.