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SciFi Novelette

Among the Sea of Stars

"Among the Sea Of stars"                  ...... A little over 6000 words in two episodes.

By Lewis Brackett 10/2011

 

The night sky was illuminated by the ancient blue white messenger star sending harsh shadows across the land scape. “Very far away and yet still a tiny disk” he thought, laying on his back on the sand, and staring up at it. … and two worlds not quite twinkling lay just above the ocean among the sea of stars.

Tomorrow I wont see this again-likely ever he mused.. Outward bound past our worlds, past the messenger star, the system, the worlds of The Collective. In several hours the sun will dawn in the sky, we will assemble and be gone.

What will we find out there? Will our training be enough for what we find? Or will we voyage forever into eternity never finding a world to set foot on again he mused. We don’t know. I know I’m not even supposed to think of these  things… but I do and what if the others secretly doubt also? Rumor always has dogged previous expeditions. There has seemingly been an undercurrent in their more and more infrequent reports back to the world as their voyages lengthen, then always fade away into final—silence.

From the beginning we have been carefully selected, indoctrinated, and given a desire by clever psycology to want to go into the cosmos for the good of the society but despite that I have doubts…… Others that have voiced doubts have disappeared , no explanation has been given, they are suddenly non-people that never existed. And no one ever seems to to question why.... Am I  so wrong that I ask WHY?

Now my Freydis is emerging from the shadows, softly calling me. I must go with her to await the coming day.The sun has risen, beautiful in its reddish glow that seeps into our cubicle from down the passage as I hear the morning call to assemble. My Freydis stirs also, and together we soon make our way to the meeting place.As they passed each cubicle, a pair joins their ranks and they go out into the early morning sun.

Across the Plaza they enter the Great Hall and form up row upon row around the raised center platform where imposing figures stand. “The Coordinator” Freydis gasped as she saw them. Gunner gave her a warning glance as the final group entered and took their places. After several minutes of inspiring music the Coordinator of the Collective spoke: “ Once a generation we send out a ship into the deeps of the Cosmos for the seeding of our great race. We ourselves are the seed of a similar ship hat crossed galactic space long ago. Our collective has chosen each of you as our best, has programmed you to your utmost capacity, and sends you out to the stars. May the originator of species guide you in your quest………………………...”

There was more, much more- but Gunnar didn’t hear it. He thought back to the years that had brought him to this point. From the first memories in his first class after becoming self aware to the new discoveries as they explored their world as a group. Always the group Gunner thought, never was a solitary thought or action encouraged., firmly group think was implanted upon every person-except me– he thought. I learned early to do what was expected and to say what was expected. I saw that those who rebelled simply disappeared.. … he shuddered… So as a coward or as a survivor I said and did what was required; asked and saw -nothing.

With her arm around his waist his Freydia urged him out of his daydream and to tword the exit, breaking his spell.Together, her hand in his, they walked to the waiting shuttle.Once seated in their couches, they heard the ancient anthem “Raise Ship” as the shuttle fell into the sky…..

It is very difficult to gage size in orbit as you have nothing with which to compare scale or distance. The ship grew in their view screen to enormous proportions. Gunnar knew from his occasional trips to the ship as it was building that if he was to walk on the outside hull at a good pace it would take him almost two hours to walk from one end to the other. He smiled to himself. Course that was unlikely as he would drift off into space if he tried. The artificial gravity was fairly weak outside the ship. And it was hard to breathe vacuum.

They approached the vehicle landing bay doors which looked like the mouth of the great fish he had sometimes caught years ago on the islands. Those fish were mostly mouth– just like certain section leaders he had experienced.The smile vanished as the shuttle’s docking clamps engaged, slightly jarring everyone. Well, they were “home”.The gravity here was almost normal. As they exited the shuttle into the cavernous bay, he saw row upon row of vehicles of every type and description plastered like large insects on every wall , as well as the force field that kept the atmosphere inside the ship’s bay even with the bay’s doors open. ’ I sure hope someone doesn’t push the wrong button turning off that force field he thought. I really don’t want to get flushed out into space’. The doors would only close once the great ship was underway.Just before entering the airlock to the ship he paused and looked back out the docking bay entrance and saw the crescent world in all its glory. Regret and homesickness flooded over him. Then his faithful Freydis urged him along.

Some time later they were in the ships 3rd conference room with 14 other couples. As the screened presentation ended, A figure came forward into the spotlight. “I am Griswald the 1st Officer he said. I oversee the ships watches and the running of the ship. Already most of the crew and all the colonists are in cold sleep, there will always be a few awake to monitor the flight and ships systems. This group will have the 1st 90 day duty. You will rotate 4 hours on 8 hours off in 3 watches. Green crew have the first watch. Then red and yellow. Green will report to the flight deck in 30 minutes time.The captain will command the 1st watch leaving the system. A meditation service will be held immediately here or all who wish to attend. It is encouraged.. That is all”. He turned and left.

Guess we are fill ins for the ships crew”, group leader Hagin said with a half smile, as green watch gathered around him. “Gunnar and Freydis will be sitting behind the autopilot at the Navigation station and the rest of you HAVE READ ??? the watch list and know where you will be. I will be at the science station. To stations now, you want to relieve the watch 15 minutes early. If not you are late and we don’t do late”. Another half smile almost cracked his face “that’s all”

The flight deck was a nest of couches and monitors on a catwalk suspended in a large globe with view screens over its complete surface, an awesome panoramic view as if you were outside the ship in a space suit. It could take a little getting used to. You could get an attack of vertigo if you lost your orientation, your up and down. For this reason the screens were in sections with brightly colored borders around the “top” sections and darker borders around the “bottom” sections. You could see the mostly dark black star filled cosmos above them with the rapidly moving planet below them taking up almost half the scene.

The 1st officer swiveled around in his chair looking directly at Gunner and Freydis. “you will be mostly observing today” he said . “as the Captain and I will warp the ship out of the system. The machines should do everything

flawlessly. however if anything happens it will range from annoying to really bad. Annoying we can handle, bad, lets not go there. You have gone over the drills endlessly and are about the best we have.” With that, he turned around and studied his instruments. After consulting the latest space weather report, He moved the destination curser to a point about 15 degrees above the elliptic tword and above the navigation star. He said “ the first leg of the journey is to get us out of the system without running into any rocks or even into a hard dusty vacuum. Once out of the system we will go into a series of hyperspace jumps tword our first goal. We will see if the automated survey ships really saw anything useful”

10 minutes Captains call” went out on the speakers. A few moments later the door to the captains day cabin opened at the end of the catwalk. And she emerged, looking like a Valkyriean.. A minute later, seated at the station next to the 1st officer, she pushed the “accept to launch’ button. The all systems all stations board in front of her was solid green. The computer then said “5 minutes to launch”. “final situation check” the captain called all stations. Each station audibly verified their launch OK. Finally, the 1st officer replied Nav GO. The captain entered her code, then pushed the final authorization button. The ships computer started the final 30 second countdown.

At Zero, the ships energizes pulled at the fabric of space in front of the ship and pushed at the fabric of space behind the ship and then slowly ever so slowly the great ship began to leave space dock to the music of great conductors millennium dead….. Then The world slipping away behind them. Soon, the world was only a tiny dot. The 1st officer said “ready for FTL drive” the Captain nodded, and they swiftly left the world behind…..then a short while later the outer worlds and then the messenger star, huge and green-white passed under them and they were out of the system and on their way to the stars.

Over an hour later, the Captain gave the order “rotate the ship tword destination, prepare for hyperspace jumps”The 1st office entered the nav instructions, pushed the “accept” key, and the ship aligned itself tword its destination. Finally, after a look tword the Captain the 1st officer touched the “go” button—– It felt to Gunnar that his insides were trying to trade place with his outside. Then they were outside Space-Time and doing a rapid series of micro-jumps. “set the watch” the Captain said, and Gunnar and Freydis came forward and occupied the Nav station. The 1st officer smiled as he said “be sure to call us if anything happens” the joke being that if anything bad DID happen, in a couple microseconds none of them would be there to notice.Freydis nodded, said “Yes Sir” and the watch was set.

On the view screens hey could watch 3-d representations of the ships progress outside the hyper drive field. It seemed that every few minutes a star system would flash by in the distance and be gone. In reality the ships drive was pulsing through space several times a second, far too fast for anyone to notice it. By the clock on the wall, the ship would exit hyperspace and pause for a systems check just as the next watch came on duty. “so we might just get below decks before the ship comes out of hyperspace” Gunnar thought. He smiled to himself at the eons old adage “below decks” …..Before the next gut wrenching jump . Or maybe he would get used to it. “they” said either you did or did not. If you did not, they put you in cold sleep for the duration, whatever that meant. Whatever it meant, he might loose Freydis. “they” might even pair her up with someone else. Even though it was cool in here he found himself sweating. They would have to if he couldn’t handle his watches. All to soon for him, the ship said “return to impulse drive in 5 minutes”

Freydis was about to notify the captain when she came out of her ready room and approached the Nav station. Freydis started to get up but the captain waved her back to her seat." I'll just watch” she said. The “accept” light came on. Freydis looked up at the captain and she nodded, so Freydis pushed the button and they returned to normal space. a wave of nausea washed over Gunnar and everyone visibly flinched at the effect. Gunnar thought that it wasn’t quite as bad as the first time, maybe he could handle it. He had to handle it. He wanted needed Freydis so for her he HAD to. “We are going to have to adjust the entry to hyperspace” the captain said. “It really should not be as hard on people as this”. Gunnar felt some relief. At least he wasn’t the only one.

The captain said we will be coasting on impulse for a day or so while the engineers look for the right size screwdriver to fix the problem” Freydis joked before the group at the supper table. Her watch mates snickered. “I might have an extra one in my eyeglass case” said Odin . “you might lend them your glasses too" Lydia said. They all laughed…. “At least its not our watch our problem”, Gunnar remarked ”them that have the watch”—–”fix the problem” Shila finished the age old seafaring adage. They all smiled at that. “an engineers work is never done” Lydia remarked. “That is why I’m bridge crew.” They all snickered in agreement ….“Well, Gunnar”, she thought as she stroked his sleeping head. “you are doing better” The re-aligning of the hyper drive and the next series of micro jumps had gone much better. Only a mild being turned inside out feeling this time. “You didn’t turn green, just that you ate something you didn’t like” Freydis thought of their past. How she had hated him-and all filthy boys in pre school… how she thought his quirkiness kinda cute in middle school… and all of a sudden how she just had to have his rock hard beautiful body sometime later. “he's moody and silly and not always all here but somewhere else , but I still love you, you gorgeous hunk”. She smiled, snuggled closer and presently was asleep.

She awoke with a start then relaxed again “ must be the wind in the trees” she thought. Then noticed the clock hanging from the roof of the tent …. 30 minutes before wakeup. Well I’m up, might as well get him up too. So she started tonguing his ear and caressing him provocatively. He awoke and she quickly mounted him and they devoured each other, collapsing in each others arms just as the morning bell sounded. “You were saved by the bell”, she purred. “so, who wants to be saved” he responded . “no no” Freydis pushed him away and sprang up and out the door to the fresher as he chased after her… A few minutes later he paused outside the fresher, Looking around “camping in a tent “ he mused “in a rain forest-in a starship-going several light years a minute…. It doesn’t get stranger than that.” “out of my way, silly”.. She pushed him aside “ we’ll be late for breakfast” he followed her in as she burst back out fully clothed in a ??”What WAS that” ?? He grinned, went inside, through on pants and shirt and ran after her.

Lydia moved the piece.. And Odin grinned… “are you sure you want to go there” Freydis taunted. Lydia flushed a little “go ahead and heckle” Gunnar retorted. “you lost the last two games” Freydis pinched him Hard “ow” Gunnar said. Just at that moment, the ships vid program was interrupted for a special announcement. “our masters voice” Odin ridiculed. Lydia pursed her lips and said “now Odin, you shouldn’t speak ill of her majesties lover”,As the 1st officers furrowed face appeared on the Vid screen. They all laughed….He spoke. “ inertial navigation expects us to arrive at the first world for us to inspect shortly. Red shift has the watch while we decelerate and approach to insert into orbit. While the probe did not notice any intelligent activity, we will approach carefully. All crew must be ready for a very quick departure should the natives prove restless.” They all snickered again….. As he continued, they lost interest and turned back to their game. So Odin, you want to trade Lydia in for a green skinned lover,? “ Freydis taunted “hey” Lydia retorted mockingly swing her cushion twords Freydis . “I’ll have you know I keep Odin two busy to even THINK” —— at that moment the alarm sounded, and the ship dropped out of hyper drive, Gunnar turned green, and almost chucked his breakfast.

   “change the vid-screen’ Lydia yipped excitedly, and over the next hour they watched in awe as a pair of suns emerged from two stars ahead, one yellow and one blue.. “that would sure make beautiful sunsets” Gunnar murmured, entranced as the suns enlarged and the ship dropped tword a planet circling the yellow sun, the blue sun paling into the distance…… “Oh you fuzzy headed wuss” Freydis said softly, planting a kiss on his cheek, caressing his neck. “Always the romantic. Maybe that is why I love you” her other hand strayed. “and of course this is the other” she murmured into his ear. He awoke from his daydream with a start, and they giggled softly together.

      Everyone was riveted to the vid screen so the others pretended not to notice them.

At the end of their bridge watch, the 1st officer approached Gunnar and Freydis. “The orbital survey is about complete” he said “ We have wakened 4 planetary specialists, they should be ready for a shuttle flight to the surface in a hour. They need pilots, I’m not going to trust them totally to automatics. Freydis will be the pilot and Gunnar, you will man the weapons. Nothing seems to be moving down there. No radiating energies detected at all. But all virgin planets have unpleasant surprises. We don’t want surprises. These techs tend to wander off oblivious, so watch them” with that he turned and strutted off. They looked at each other. “better than waiting and watching from here” Gunnar said. She nodded. “not too much green down there, “she said as they watched the planet swiftly pass below them. “Small seas fringed by a belt of green and then lots AND lots of desert. no structures at all ” ……..

Gunnar felt himself being pushed into his seat as the shuttle accelerated out of the shuttle bay, the world a brown mist as the dawn approached him. After a couple minutes Freydis keyed in the approach vector and the shuttle dropped tword the daybreak terminator as it caressed the eastern shore of a small sea.“looks like we have a full day to walk about” Gunnar said “ my feet hurt already” “well, you didn’t have to come” Freydis said. “Linda was just itching to” “ Don’t think I would let some alien have you for lunch, did you” Gunnar asked? “I want my girl back in one piece” She looked both amused and resigned as an amused chorus of chuckles came from behind them. The senior rock guy said “we spotted something over there from orbit “ pointing to higher ground klicks from the sea. “ Yes, but our instructions are to spend the morning by the sea shore” Freydis said. “ that’s where any life may still be found”. “this does look like a dyeing world.” They buzzed the trees at the beach and came in for a landing in a meadow a short ways from the shore. “ Everybody out” Gunnar said as he shut the visor of his suit., and grabbed his rifle. The tall blond rock guy Alfred laughed “ So your going hunting” he teased,No Gunnar replied “its to shoot the first and 2nd guys that even look at my woman” They all laughed and filed out of the craft.

   “Sure wish we didn’t have to wear these isolation suits” Alfred said, “it looks like a nice summer day” “If you don’t we’ll have to leave you here “ Freydis said shortly. “get busy digging or sifting or whatever it is that you do and we will see to it that you don’t get eaten by the wolves” “What wolves, I don’t see any”__” What ever might find you tasty” she retorted, turning and stalking off ahead of them tword the waters edge.“Yes sir Captain sir” someone snickered behind her. She stiffened, paused for an instant, then let it go and walked to the waters edge. The ferns and trees were all the way down at the waters edge, thirstily drinking in the life giving liquid. The techs went to work busily examining everything. Gunnar felt foolish carrying his rifle, but as the Captain said, you just never know. It looked like flesh eating ameba might swarm out of the trees at any moment nibbling at them. Gunnar sighed. He wanted to be the only one nibbling on Freydis.

    He looked around. The green belt extend back from the shallow sea only a few hundred paces. Then nothing but sand and rock. And not a cloud in the sky. “We could breathe it, he mused, enough oxygen, but what else we might breath in as well could be a problem”. “A little more than the usual background radiation in the plants ” the enviro tech called out. “but not enough to hurt anyone “That’s odd for sure,” .Gunnar thought as he read the readings. “Must be in the soil”. “so don’t eat the flowers” he said.” They smiled.

They poked, prodded collected everything for several hours. Then they finally turned their back on the sea. After decontamination, they relaxed in the shuttle. “not much here” said Alfred. “ no life but algae, amoeba, fungus,, not even any bugs” “So much for your big game hunting, Gunnar ” someone heckled.They all laughed….After lunch we will try the higher ground beyond the sea’ Freydis said.

    “Weapons Launch” The weapons station bridge officer loudly said in alarm. The Klaxon went off briefly, and the Captain boiled out of her ready room onto the bridge, closely followed by the 1st officer. “A missile has been launched at us from the inner moon” Weapons said. “Our ship automatically launched a defensive missile and is activating our close-in defense grid… its now on line, Captain” “Stand by to launch a 2nd and get us out of here”

It will take 4 minutes to get the engines spun up Captain,” Navigation said. “We don’t have four minutes, the Captain said. “A close miss, but the missile is veering off said weapons “ Launch two, get heavy fighters ready for launch, ready three” ordered the captain. “Two is away “said weapons. “Launch bay is already scrambling fighters, estimate 3 minutes to launch” “We may not have three minutes” the Captain loudly insisted. “a few seconds later “Missile destroyed” said weapons. “then “No more launches, but tracking radar still coming from the inner moon.”“One minute to ships drive” Nav said.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the ship slowly started moving. “I want us 800,000 klicks above the outer moon’ the Captain said. “NOW” “800.000 Klicks, “ Nav repeated.“Both fighters launching” weapons said. Three minutes later, “fighter has weapons lock” then “ launching anti-radiation missile” then a large puff of debris was seen from the inner moon. “that was TOO CLOSE “ the Captain said. “ask the fighters if there is any other sign of life on those moons. “fighters say some equipment on the airless surface” .Then ” Other faint energy signatures” weapons said. There might even still be life underground. Telemetry says that both moons are somewhat hollowed out . However it could also have been just a robot launch left over from a war a long time ago”. “ Just the same, we’re staying out here” the Captain said.” signal the shuttle to stay on the ground until we can send fighters to bring them back” “They have a two day mission” the first officer said”. “We will finish the mission, but its almost a dead world” the captain said. “The radiation they found, if a war caused it, how many millennia ago ? She asked. “at least several millennia” weapons said.“about the time of the pyramids” the Captain mused. “They were a proud vibrant race when we were using stone tools”.

     At the top of the mesa far from the sea, Gunnar could see the remains of crumbling masonry walls in every direction and somewhat below him the sand of an ancient beach. Looking tword the huge arch with some writing still inscribed in a forever lost tongue, he thought of an ancient poem.

   The inscription may have read “ My name in Ozymandias king of kings. Look on my works you mighty and despair ………. And around the half buried broken statue, the desert stretched far”

Yes, very far indeed” thought Gunnar.

 

"Among the Sea of Stars"  Part two

Lewis Brackett 11/2011

 

     Gunnar was COLD. He couldn't believe how cold it was. “Still in the cabin he thought, the one in

the snow”? Maybe his father would get up first this time to build the fire in the fireplace --- Then he

realized he couldn't open his eyes but felt hands massaging his naked body. Finally a warm spray was

playing over his body; and finally he could see; and remembered where he was...the Ship. He had been

in cold sleep for how long? How much further were they from home? Freydis my Freydis , thoughts

and feelings came back as a flood. How he longed to hold her in his arms again. Their last long

embrace, a few tears before laying down in the cold sleep beds. A thousand things could go wrong.

 

    Sometimes the equipment malfunctioned and all you got out of frozen livestock was fresh frozen

pork. Tears of doubt flooded down his face and then There was his sweet Freydis leaning over him,

and kissing him as hers and other hands lifted him out of the cold sleep bed and wheeled him into the

infirmary to finish his awakening.

 

   “Two years and three months” the 1st officer said. Gunnar was stunned. He should have been

awakened over a year earlier. However the next stop the ship had made was one of initial promise,

but full of large hostile flying insects. Plenty of bugs, but no place for people, it had finally been

decided. Leave them alone and maybe they will leave them alone, all in good time. Several people had

been lost in landings. After an interlude on a barren island in the middle sea, it was decided to leave.

After that the only other stop was a double star system where their mutual gravitation made planetary

orbits to erratic for habitation. Many other systems were imaged on flybys, but nothing even remotely

habitable was found. “So, we continue our quest. “Finally” he said, “the first watch section

was brought out of cold sleep” “Survey drones say We should soon be entering a system with some

promise”. “We also must note that we have been out of contact with home world for a long time. Even

hyperspace radio only goes so far”

 

 

    “I'm getting a radio signal from ahead” Linda said from the science station. “The main dish is picking up faint signals” Everyone was stunned. After a few moments, Freydis pushed the intercom button “Captains Call” she announced.”first contact” Then they watched over the next short while as seven planets spread themselves out as a string of pearls from a single yellow-white sun. As the captain

entered the bridge, she ordered. “All engines stop. Launch a class one probe. ready four fighters”

A class one probe is launched Able said. “ stopping ship “Freydis answered. Then “Ship is stopped.”

Then the Captain ordered “Back up the ship, Freydis, one quarter impulse” “Ship backing one quarter

impulse” Freydis responded. When they were five times as far from the star as the outer planets, the

Captain ordered the ship stopped again. And they waited. Linda from science reported in disbelief“high

gain signal boost from the main dish is now picking up unmistakeable human speech, likely from the

fourth planet.” There was another stunned pause. The Captain ordered “ Have the probe thoroughly scan the outer worlds before heading sunward” We are not in a hurry here” Any hostile action we will put us a long distance from here before attempting first contact””any results from language? “”Nothing from the computers, Able at science said. Do we wake up our linguists now?” “Staff will decide who is

needed' the Captain replied a few moments later.

 

   “Broadband scattered transmissions from across the 4th world” Able said. “But nothing from

anywhere else” “Nothing?” the Captain puzzled over her screen. “The outer world gas giants, only

small moons” “How soon do we get high resolution pictures from the probe?” “another few minutes,

Linda said from science.”Our long range radar images show structures on the outer moons, but we

don’t see any electromagnetic activity.” “Strange” the Captain said. They all mentally agreed. The point

of mining moons and asteroids was critical for any space going culture. Free energy refined minerals

mined there. Two hours later, Gunnar Freydis and their friends gazed in wonder at the images of the

moons of the outer world. “Yes” Lydia said, “they had a nice mining operation here. Then it looks like

one day they suddenly just went home” Then, the probe hurried off sunward. Just before the probe

arrived at the next world's moons, the Captain appeared and ordered the screens off to howls of pp3

protest. “You have to be rested for your watches tomorrow” she said. “The rec center is closed. “go to

bed” You can see the pictures tomorrow”.

 

    At breakfast they gazed with great interest at the pictures of the moons of the next planet. There

were even what seemed to be ore ships in orbit here, but no sign of activity. “So, Lydia”, Freydis said

with a grin, I saw you and yours had a spat yesterday” “Men” Lydia erupted.”Men treat you like” she

paused at a loss for words “Expect you to be their little squeeze any moment they want,but them?

 

   ARRRRUGH sure you can't hook me up with one of your green skinned aliens? They might even treat a girl right”.”Well, if there is a planet full of people up ahead,you might get a chance to jump ship and take your pick”,Freydis said with a smirk.”On the other hand, you might be trading down, you never know” “Men “ they echoed each other. Of course several nearby men thought “Women” but of course they weren’t involved and knew enough about women not to say anything.

 

   Gunnar approached with his food tray. “Is it safe to sit here” he asked? Lydia dramatically rolled her

eyes. “ Of course” Freydis said with a smile.”For you”. With that Lydia flounced out, still in a huff..

It looked like the two small moons of the fifth world were being used; mined somewhat,

that world was merely a useless barren dusty almost airless rock, Freydis thought as she and

Gunnar sat at the Nav station. I guess its no wonder they did nothing with this world,” Gunnar said.

Path of least resistance” Lydia commented from Science. “Would you mine ore from the surface at 30

credits a ton or from moons and asteroids at 10 credits a ton?”” Its going to be wonderful to see the

fourth world”.”So you can get your little green guy?” Gunnar teased. Freydis sharply elbowed him in

the ribs. “OW “ Gunnar reacted. And she mockingly wagged her finger at him. “Now children “ the

first officer admonished,” none of that on the bridge””First, we are still analyzing language”, Lydia

reported from science. “The linguists we defrosted (snickers all around) are on the job

this morning she said. They think they have found some really ancient links.; really good news”.

 

   “But our grandmother world did not send out the seeding ship here. It may have even come from the

mythological Earth.” “So, we can talk to them”? Gunnar asked?” Maybe just maybe Lydia replied. “It

would be so much easier than trying to learn their language from scratch” “Mythological Earth”?

Freydis commented. 'There had to be a mother world way back in time”.Granted, politics, religion and

revisionist historians have clouded the subject” The first officer looked over at her in some anxiety.

Commander, we are a very long way from the Iron Dominion, and all us young people feel the same

way. Even back there, the Iron Dominion will not last forever.” Gunnar felt a surge of both

uneasiness , and hope... she did understand how he felt!! She had grasped that merging of practical

ability and near genius that he had just missed. Silently, they watched the probe approach the fourth

world.

 

    After their watch, their group sat at lunch watching the probe's approach and it going into high orbit

around the fourth world, broadcasting ancient music as a greeting. “Women” he thought. Gunnar

noticed with a smirk that Lydia was snuggling against the boyfriend that she had been so mad at

yesterday. His Freydis read his thoughts as she often did. “Yes, Gunnar, but we love each other despite

of or because of our differences. I love you . One reason is because of your absent professor type. We

will occasionally have our fights but you're my guy”

It looked like someone had towed dozens of small asteroids to within a few hundred thousand klicks

of this beautiful blue green world, and occasionally shuttles flitted between these rocks and the world

beneath. “Lots of construction on the planets surface,' Alfred said. After all that building you would

think there would be a lot more activity in near planetary space.” “Maybe they all took ship back

home Jason said” They all snickered..

 

“    We'll be able to ask them soon” Lydia said. “ I got the word we are

close to cracking their language. It's similar to old earth ( people snickering) dialects we all once

spoke”.“ You really believe those old legends” Alex snickered. People had to come from one world at

some past time Alysia said. Parallel evolution is nonsense. “ Heresy-heresy” someone protested in more

fear, coming around they all laughed again. Finally, occasionally a shuttle would try yo rendezvous

with the probe but it was easy to maneuver the probe out of danger, After a month of playing this kind

 

of tag, and with the assistance of linguistic, they cracked the language barrier. Shortly after they started

playing a first contact message.  Much of the tape was the earliest classical music beginning with the

classic “raise ship” and others from ancient earth. We were all the human family, separated by a very

long period of time, perhaps 1000s of years. In the docking bay 4 fighters were constantly held at ready

with crews next them. Gunner and Freydis filed among them on the way to the first contact shuttle, “

No we're notgoing to be in someones stew pot”, Freydis and Lydia giggled to their taunts, “ My Gunnar

will keep us safe” “ but who is going to keep up safe from him, all alone on that alien world” one of the

othersasked? “ who says I want to be safe? Safe is for sissies and loser’s” said Freydis “

that's right” Lydia  agreed. But t you just might have to get your girlfriends to protect you” with a light banter of abusefollowing them they entered the shuttle with the scientists.”

 

    You are expendable”, the captain has said “

there will be no weapons in your shuttle. The shuttles weapons have been removed”. They all looked at

each other, then back at him. “Allan the Geologist asked”So, how long are we likely to be their guests?

Anywhere from a few days to the rest of out lives” The captain grinned. They have so much unused

land we could settle our whole colonial establishment there: “ outer doors opening” the announcement

came over the shuttle speakers. Finally they were cleared to launch, 10 of the best and bravest of

humanity. “ Power up” Freydis said, “ launching” and the shuttle pulled itself from the launch bay and

partly around the solar system . This was to try to protect the location of the mother ship. After a while

Gunnar said “ coming upon planetary insertion point “ on his 3rd mark, Freydis nosed the shuttle over in the direction of the inner system falling towards the 4th worlds sky.

 

These are silly uniforms” Shila pouted “ there not for us” Gunnar replied. “ Each of us had our

specialty on our collar emblems”. “ we have our shuttle pilots and you each have easily identifiable

emblems of your specialties. Shila still pouted. “ Their just ugly” she complained “ you don't get to

choose your own colors” Allan remarked with a smirk. “ But so what, does it matter? “ we are

having an experience of a lifetime” “ lets just make sure its just not the final experience” Joseph said.

They all agreed. “ Those rocks in orbit look like a hive of activity” Gunnar said “ so much of it in orbit italmost looks like a planetary ring that would cast shadows on the planet”. "Lots of smaller seas rather than huge oceans” Allan fromScience said. “ We have white wispy clouds near the landing site but a storm front coming in a fewhours! “ Thanks” said Freydis.

    They swooped into the atmosphere to land a few klicks from a smallerbusy center. Certainly they did not want to cause a collision invading a busy space port. The probealready scooped up virus experiments so they knew they were reasonably safe, As soon as they landed,Allan did a final round of tests as they waited for their hosts to arrive. It took them a while. Finally,atmosphere craft were buzzing by overhead and a bit later ground vehicles surrounded them at a distance“ guess its time to go outside and set up the patio furniture “ Gunner joked” It had already been stored inan external pod so they filed into the airlock inside their bio suits, and a minute later were walking finallyon a new world reminding them haunting of home. “ Looks like we set up the table here” Gunnar said. Itquickly unfolded in place. Lydia said “ should we set the video monitor on the table or by itself?” “ Iwould think in the center of the table” Allan said, “ They noticed one of the vehicles approaching. “ Here

come “ Lydia squeaked” Welcome to lunch, you're the main course” Freydis said under her breath.

Who, them or us” Allan joked They visibly chuckled and relaxed. “ You're the captain here” Gunnar

told Freydis. “ Guess you get to be first” “ at least they are REALLY human.”

 

   And as waves approaching a beach, two civilizations met. Freydis stepped forward, offering her hand in greeting, with Gunnar half a step behind, “ Welcome to New Terra” The Terrain said His voice began clearly translated. “ Yes, Our People were seeded here directly from manhome/earth a very long time ago!! “ we are from a much younger sister world” Freydis said. “ Most of us had thought earth/Terra a myth”. “ It took us quite awhile to decrypt your old style planetary English. It had not been used on our Grandmother world for avery long time.

 

    “ Let us sit here and talk” Freydis motioned to the chairs.

Greetings from our world the captain said over the video”” We have come more than 10,000 light

years, in over 2 years to find you!” A shocked look on their faces. “ we really would all like to know moreabout Manhome, Terra of Sol. “ It had approached mythological stature among our people” “ You have come 10,000 light years in 2 years? The older Terran  asked? “ Yes” the captain said”. And we did stop elsewhere, but no-where was enough earth like for is to stay” We noticed you had a number of empty cities- and had even abandoned your mining out posts in the outer system. “ We have brought with us many shuttles and utility craft with much advanced technology” “ We hope you will allow us to joinyou here” That back and forth went on got quite a while. After their hosts finally left,   Freydis and Gunnar stood hand in hand on a small hilltop “ it sounded really good” Gunnar said “ yes” Freydis replied “ I guess this is now our home” I asked one of them about the abandoned cities” she said “ seems a hundred years ago a Gamma ray burst came through this system “ they had enough time-barely- to get some of the planetary population underground but everyone in the outlying  areas and outer planets  died. Even today they are building underground. They do have a basic GRB warning system, but with our help we can   give them months warning should it even happen again.

 

They stood there, his arm now around her, watching the storm approach, until it began to rain.

 

The End .......... 

 

(For now, until I write the next episode)  :)

 

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