Author : Phillip Gawlowski

The glitter of hyperspace was replaced with stars, as we crashed through the light barrier. Sensor input filled the screens, and the computer placed markers on the transparent steel.

“There.” Mike pointed at a small blip. “That looks promising.”

I nodded. “Yeah, we’ll start there, and then look at the two closest planets. The green first, the red one last. But first this blue ball.”

A strong storm tore at our ship’s wings as we made our way to the surface at a spot where we might find what we were looking for.

“Isn’t it strange, that the computer picked a place in the middle of ruins?”, said Mike.

“Yeah. But no matter what parameters we feed that thing, it always points us to that location. So, we’ll take a look.”

“Just to shut her up, eh?” Mike chuckled.

“Just to shut her up.” I grinned.

It must have been a city, once. A large one, too. There were towering ruins everywhere, making the approach more difficult than I liked. Especially with the wind, and now rain, too. Good thing that we could rely on the computer to guide us. I only needed to think about where I wanted to go, and the computer brought us there, correcting for atmospheric eddies.

I picked a nice, wide spot in the middle of the open place. “Larger than I thought,” I said.

“True. 850 acres, I guess. What do you think?”

“Give or take. C’mon, grab your suit. We are going out.”

Mike and I waited for the airlock’s cycle to complete. The atmosphere was breathable, but we hadn’t come this far to risk the mission on some fungus or bacterium in the air that’d kill us. And while the computers aboard the ship were sophisticated, they weren’t fully autonomous yet. I heard the hiss of the airlock through the membrane of my suit, and waited for the lock to open. A desolate, deserted spot vista greeted us, the ruins looming over us in all direction, like some memorial for a long forgotten people. I hesitated, and stepped outside, looking at the grey and brown soil. I doubted we’d find what we needed, but Mike carried the cryo-unit nonetheless.

We searched for an hour or two, until we found what we were looking for. With care we packed it into the cryo-unit, and watched until the unit’s diagnostic lights changed from red, to amber, to a comforting green. “Okay, let’s take off again.”

I nodded, and turned to follow Mike, until a sign caught my eyes. I could barely make out the script. It was old, and the alphabet was archaic. “Centr.l Park”, it read.

I looked back at the dying tree, whose leaves we were sent to gather, and hastened back to the ship.


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