Author : Steven Carver
One last tremor ran through the pod as it passed into the atmosphere of the small blue planet. The heat shield retracted from the viewport and the pilot got his first view of a real ocean. His home planet had dried into an uninhabitable barren husk long before he had been born. None of the old pictures could have prepared him for the real thing. Deep blue unbroken from horizon to horizon, lines of white marked the top of waves, where the light of their star reflected off the surface, blinding. The sight so enthralled him it was several moments before he registered the descent warning; his entry angle was too steep. With great reluctance, he tore his eyes away and adjusted his trajectory. As his course corrected, it brought into view his targets. Two grey vessels came into view far below him, cutting proudly through the waves.
Others had tried to persuade him, convince him to stay. Too violent, they had said, too shortsighted. He couldn’t deny their arguments, but he had studied them long after others had given them up as incompatible. He had a good feeling about them. For a species so good at violence, they also had a penchant for beauty rarely seen in the galaxy. Paintings, sculptures, poems, music, games, movies, stories, dance, their creativity was endless.
Destroyers, his research had revealed, they were called. Arleigh Burke-class. Powerful warships belonging to a powerful nation. His best chance to for an audience. By now he was low enough to start maneuvering into position to land. He could see the symbols painted on the front of the ships, 97 on the left one, 88 on the right. His control panel indicated they were tracking his flight with high power beams of microwave radiation. RADAR they called it, and he laughed to himself, remembering reading about when his people used before they had abandoned their home world.
For such a small planet, they were certainly noisy. Broadcasting audio and 2-D video into space without even trying to hide where they were. They didn’t even know there was anyone that could be listening. He had listened though. They were a young species, but curious. They could grow replacement organs in labs, they were cloning livestock and launching probes into deeper and deeper space. They were ready.
His gamble paid off, they were more curious than cautious today. He guided his pod to a gentle landing on the flat portion of the rear of the ship marked 97. As the engines shut down he could already see them coming out of the interior. Wearing protective armor and pointing their projectile weapons at his ship, they almost would have been intimidating if they could pierce his survival suit, let alone the hull. Placing the clear helmet over his head with trembling hands, he took a deep breath of the canned atmosphere he would be breathing for the foreseeable future and tried to contain his excitement. The pod slowly slid open and he stepped out into the sun. He slowly lifted his hands to show them to be empty. He moved his face into the unfamiliar expression they would recognize as a smile, and hopefully interpret as friendly, and took a breath.
“Take me to your leader.”