Super Earth – Not So Much, A Jatites Mission
This is a response to Genna Eastman’s writing challenge. I include the rules here and a link at the end of the story.
The year on earth is 2025. METI has been sending unsolicited messages to other worlds for several years. Scientists from across the globe are excited over the launch of the powerful James Webb telescope, an enormous leap forward in our quest to understand the Universe and our origins.
Astronomers are also thrilled to discover a "super earth" located three light years from our solar system. Rather than a lifeless rock or something resembling the fiery gates of hell, "Jate 22c" is an exo-planet which appears to have a similar terrestrial atmosphere, gravity and water, and Earth-like temperatures, albeit with large seasonal shifts.
What is not known is that the mega-civilization of bipedal humanoids inhabiting Jate were facing a crisis. Over time, their C02 emissions had reached critical mass. What remained of their strange cities was encased in giant sea walls. Their oceans had become so acidic, marine life was destroyed, giving way to smaller, poisonous creatures that fed on massive beds of ocean algae throughout the natural selection process. Rain forests took hold in frigid zones as new species of trees evolved, then decomposed on a rapidly dying planet. Natural food sources became scarce; synthetic alternatives were no longer capable of sustaining life.
In desperation, the Jatites launched a fleet of interstellar arks to seek out potentially habitable planets beyond their own system. In doing so, they followed the origins of our METI signals. By using exotic matter, they were able to alter the speed of light surrounding the spacecraft, thereby avoiding light/speed barriers. Despite possessing technology vastly superior to our own, all, save one, perished in the journey.
The surviving ark now orbits our planet. The spacecraft is massive in size, measuring over ten miles in diameter. The world is in panic mode, with military defense systems across the globe on full alert. Probes have yielded little information. The spacecraft leaves no footprint in terms of its power source or emissions. Earth scientists are scrambling to determine if any failures in the ship's support mechanisms destroyed points of the Jatites' collective intelligence, or had somehow created mutations.
All attempts in communicating with the ark's occupants have failed. Until now.
[Your story begins.]
Super Earth – Not So Much, A Jatites Mission
“Look there, see that blue-green spot in the center of the screen? Is that a bug on our windshield?”
ArcAngelStellar7’s computer Lisa responded, “We are in space, there are no bugs. The only known reference to that rock comes from the deep archival material. The designator is Terrestrial Fire Spot 667. There is a reference to four fathoms tall reptiles. It speaks of vegetation so lush that it covers the land and the foliage is green and lush with many eatables seen in every direction. The food pods fall to the ground uneaten there is so much. There is a reference to a beast that grows its teeth outside of its mouth and the teeth are so long that they curl up. I would be interested in seeing evidence of such a beast. Perhaps you should prepare an orbiter capsule and take a look.”
“Lisa, how old is the reference material from deep archival?”
Lisa played a tape of a sigh. “Looks like it may be older than forty million years old. All references were outlined in the old formats, prior to the introduction of scientific methods. I am going to take another orbit while you prepare the landing capsule. I recommend the smaller model. If there are large reptiles and beasts with curly teeth you might want speed rather than comfort.”
“OK, Lisa. Take control.”
Lisa flashed a smile on control panel thirty-seven that judged the distance of looming asteroid fields. She was always in control. “Jatites civilization is hanging in the balance, but Captain be careful down there.”
The movement of the jettison hatch went unnoticed by the little scurrying beings on the ground. People, of course, had heard of the massive orbiting craft, but still went about their business. They had been trained to believe that the military establishment could take care of all troubles that came their way.
Lisa guided the Captain in the Gyro Rover. Transmissions back to the ship allowed Lisa to see everything the Captain could see. “Pull in there. What does that say? Lankershim?” Lisa was silent for a moment. “There is no reference in the deep archival material to identify Lankershim. Follow the M.IN.I.C.O.O.P.E.R. It does not look dangerous.”
Captain Tennille pulled the Gyro Rover in behind the Mini Cooper and reduced speed. The line of vehicles inched their way up the on ramp.
Lisa dialed into signals she was receiving from many of the creatures moving along in the same direction as the Rover. She sent a signal to Tennille, “Get over or you will end up on the Santa Monica Freeway. Whatever that means. That is the message I am receiving from the creatures around you.” There was a pause, “Do you hear that? Is the Rover functioning properly?”
“It is noise coming from a creature called an Impala, it has shiny revolving things that it sits on, just like mini cooper.”The Captain looked around, “All these creatures have round things. Looks like some kind of friction motion device.”
“You need to get over. Don’t get on the 10. That is the message I am receiving. Can you ask Impala what that noise is?”
Tennille switched on his sound delivery system. “I.M.P.A.L.A. are you in distress?” Looking through the see-through screen he could see a young living creature. This confused him. He wondered if the impala had eaten the creature.
The man inside the Impala, listening to RAP music and going two miles an hour lifted a sawed-off shotgun and let the Captain take a good look at it.
Lisa, there is an unexplainable thing happening. It looks like I have just been shown an Aggression Stick last used by our civilization two thousand years ago. Can that be possible?”
A Toyota Prius pulled into the lane and cut off Captain Tennille. “What the devil? Don’t these things have navigation?” He pulled the Rover straight up eight feet to avoid the encounter. Then tried to lower back, into place, but something called a MAC had closed the gap.
“Lisa, I am going to find another route. I see no green foliage. No tall reptiles. There are just row after row of crowded metal containers barely moving. Some have eaten and you can see right inside them.”
He lifted off and in a moment saw the Pacific ocean up close. He moves in that direction for a closer look. He cruised along the shoreline just a few feet above the waves. All the people on the beach moved toward the water. The Captain asked Lisa, “Are you seeing this? What kind of pale, flabby creatures inhabit this planet? And why would they walk around and let others see them?”
“As long as you are over the water go out one thousand miles and send me some samples for analysis. Remember our mission.”
Tennille rotated the Gyro and shot out of sight. The people scratched their heads and went back to eating hot dogs and drinking sandy carbonated drinks and scratching.
“What kind of joke are you pulling on me, Captain. “These water samples have nuclear waste particles. Maybe that explains the mutants on the beach and why they all wear those protective capsules to travel around in. Go north two thousand miles and take a deep soil sample.
The Captain complied.
“Captain the soil sample has a black gooey particle substance. You are having fun with me, aren’t you?”
“Lisa I sent down a probe and that is what it delivered. The area two thousand miles north has less activity. There is the appearance that the creatures here eat mountains, as I see several spots where the top of the topography is missing and piles of rubble are all around.”
“Captain, based on the water samples, and soil samples and the remaining mutants, this planet is in worse shape than the one we are forced to leave. I have discovered some antiquated nuclear storage units that we can convert to power and I commenced uploading every one of them into our fuel storage area. Return to ship. Let’s get out of here.”
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