Author : J. S. Kachelries

Captain Semaj sat at the head of the conference table. Also at the table were the remainder of the Bridge Crew and several senior department heads. At the far end of the table sat Lo Yaluo, the director of Search, Rescue, and Recovery who had just returned from the surface of the planet. “Give us a report, Mr. Yaluo,” said Captain Semaj.

“Unfortunately, Sir, I have to report that there will be no rescue operation. The survey ship was completely destroyed, including the loss of the entire crew. Our engineers have determined that the entropy generators underwent a catastrophic cascade failure shortly after takeoff. The crew didn’t have a chance. The explosion was close enough to the ground to devastate a substantial portion of the original survey site. The good news is that the mishap occurred in a remote area of the planet. I have drones scouring the surface for any fragments of the ship and crew. My team will have the area completely “sanitize” within a few cycles, well before the indigenous life forms on the planet reach the site. Since entropy generators don’t leave radioactive traces, they will never know we were here. They will probably conclude that a comet exploded prior to impact.”

“Thank you, Mr. Yaluo,” said the Captain. “Okay everyone, our primary mission was to rescue survivors, but since there are none; we need to focus on our secondary objective. We cannot allow the inhabitants of this planet to become aware of our existence. After reviewing the interim reports from the survey mission, the homeworld has concluded that this planet is worth exploiting. They have an abundance of water, heavy metals, and rare minerals. But if the inhabitants learn of our existence, and our plans, they may be able to build up defenses and impede the invasion. They have a primitive industrial civilization now, but as we all know, life can become very resourceful when their destruction is imminent. The Secretary of Extraterrestrial Development has informed me that this planet is not scheduled to be “reallocated” for about 100 of its years. I don’t want the indigenous life forms using that time preparing for us. Okay, we all have our jobs to do. Let’s collect everything we can, and get out before their investigators arrive, dismissed.”

As the attendees collected their belongings and headed toward the exit, the Captain motioned for Mr. Yaluo to stay behind. “Mr. Yaluo, are you sure you can recover all the debris before anyone arrives?”

“Absolutely, sir. The crash site is in the middle of a densely forested area that is thousands of lacitals away from the nearest population center. Their flying machines can barely travel a single lacital. This location is so remote, that it’s possible that they are totally unaware that there was an event worth investigating.”

“Let’s hope so. Ah, before you leave Mr. Yaluo; I’m preparing to give a sub-space verbal report to the Supreme Council. Am I pronouncing this right? The planet calls itself Earth (‘&rth), and the location of the survey sight is Tunguska (Tu[ng]-gu-ska)?”

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