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(Part 9) M31: First Blood
Posted By: Greg and Wes Foutch<hockey0935@yahoo.com>
Date: 29 July 2003, 2:59 PM

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Saturday, October 23, 2865

Outgoing Transmission 09:35:17, U.S.S. Santa Maria, Data Link 313:459:070

Coding Transmission...

Process Complete. Sending Transmission...

Today, October 23, 2 months from our destination, our Fuel Cell Propulsion has shut down. The Plasma Drive Propulsion has taken over. But now we have no way to produce the ever-precious H2O. Storage is at 43%. We are looking for the location of the nearest planet that may be able to sustain life, and water. Tel is scanning the nearest planets as this is transmitting.

Transmission Sent

The spacious bridge was empty, save Captain McAllister, Commander Jacob Lambert, Lt. Warren, Lt. Randy Miller, Senior Airman Richard A. Turner, Airman Paul Goodman, and, although not physically present, Tel, the ship's artificial intelligence. Tel was one of the most advanced A.I.s ever constructed. Her "body", taking the form of a good looking, but not overly beautiful, women, was a holographic projection from a small device on the ceiling. There were thousands of the projectors throughout the ship, so she could appear virtually anywhere, and at a life size.

"Captain, the scan is complete. There are three planets that seem acceptable. All of them are very Earth-like, with near Earth-normal gravity. From the data I have taken, I have concluded that planet number two would be the best choice. Next I would choose planet one, then three."

"Thank you, Tel. Assuming your conclusions are correct, how long will it take us to reach planet number two?" Russ questioned.

"It will take exactly three point four two days to reach and sustain orbit around the planet," she replied. "With the amount of water in storage, that is acceptable. With current supply and consumption, we could travel for eleven point seven zero two days before we would have to obtain water."

"Lt. Warren, set a course for planet number two," the Captain said.

"Plotting course, aye Captain," she said and rapidly hit keys on the control panel. After a few seconds she said, "Course set, sir."

"Tel, scan the planet for life forms, sentient or otherwise."

"Aye, sir. Scanning now," Tel said, her face contorting to a look of deep concentration.

"Lt. Miller, charge all weapons; I want to be ready for anything."

"Weapons charging, aye sir. Weapons at 21 percent."

"Good, good," Russ muttered. A few moments of silence passed until Tel interrupted his thoughts.

"Planet number two shows signs of sentient, although primitive, life. There is a plethora of floral life forms, as well as an advanced eco-system. It's..." she thought for a moment. "It's just like Earth."

"Weapons fully charged, Captain," Lt. Miller said.

"Good. Everyone keep me posted, I'll be in my quarters. Commander Lambert, you have the bridge," he said as he stood up from his centrally located chair. Lambert stood from his, located five feet to the left, and saluted.

"Thank you, Captain," he said.

"Tel, I wish to see you in my quarters." He turned on his heel and exited the bridge. He walked down a virtually empty corridor and paused at an intersection. If he kept going he would get to his quarters. If he turned left he would be in the immense bio-dome, and he would be able to enjoy a nice stroll around the open field and forest. Russ hesitated for a second then turned left.

The dome was empty of people, except a few crewmen scattered around, walking, reading, just sitting and thinking, or sleeping. The waterfall, for reasons of low water storage, had been stopped, but the small pond still remained. The Captain walked around, thinking about the situation, taking in the very Earthly sights. He wished very much that he were home with his family.

"Yes, Captain?" Tel asked as he entered his quarters.

"These life-forms that you have found, how primitive are they?" he said skeptically.

"Well, they're primitive by our standards, but they have flight capabilities. Not space flight, but flight none the less. It seems they are in the early stages of jet development. A jet I observed, a fighter I presume, had reached 567.356 miles per hour. I detected sixteen non-natural satellites orbiting the planet, two orbiting the bigger moon, and one orbiting their smaller moon. The satellites' purpose is unknown; I don't know if we've been detected. It's ill-advisable to land if we have; it may interfere with their culture."

"We have to take that chance, even if it interferes with their culture or lifestyle; it's my crew at stake. If it's us or them, I choose us."

"Yes, Captain."

On the surface of the planet, known as Sansi by its people, a lone creature was patrolling an outpost. It was late in the night, and the twin moons gazed down from opposite directions. Something let out a long high-pitched cry and the lone creature clutched his pistol ever more tightly. He had heard stories of the creatures living in the forest here, but had never seen one of them.

This is stupid, he told himself. I'm guarding an outpost that isn't in use. Why? Little did he know, deep under the outpost was a secret. A secret so important, their survival as a species depended on it.