King Stephen, the Silver man and Greta the Witch

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Chapter 9 – The Spacecraft

The spacecraft approached the small star and its solar system of planets. The craft automatically woke him as it slowed down. He opened his eyes and watched the canopy of his sleeping capsule slowly rise. He awoke to a great thirst and he reached for the cool nourishing drink that the craft had automatically dispended by his sleeping capsule. It took him a few moments to come to terms with his surroundings. He was alone in an inter-stellar space craft travelling the cosmos. His purpose was to place sensors on planets of interest. The craft had awoken him as she was pre-programmed to do. His people always thought of their spacecraft as female.

He checked the craft’s position using the instrument console, and saw they were on course to reach the third planet from the small star. The ‘they’ in this were just himself and his spacecraft. There was no none else, it was lonely in space. Once he had cleansed himself and changed into a silver landing suit, he looked at the detail of this planet on the monitor. Progress of any civilization could be monitored by environmental changes, radio waves and changes in background radiation. Indications were that this water and nitrogen rich planet, was about 1,000 orbits around its small star before a new carbon age would begin. It was the right time to place sensors on the planet and monitor activity. There were no indications of any life on any of the other planets in this solar system, just on this small blue and white one with a single moon.

His job was a vital one. He was one of an army of craft that roamed the cosmos sector by sector. His people had found that by a constant policing of the development of planets that supported life, his people could prevent threats occurring. Over the millennia, they had discovered it was much better to prevent conflict, than to cure it by war. If a civilization became too advanced too quickly, life on a planet could be eliminated or their progress slowed down. However, in most cases they helped rather than just destroying. His people promoted trade, and they searched the cosmos for planets that could provide minerals and food. They wanted life forms to grow and develop, and to create economic activity. The trouble was this particular planet was too remote and too small to be of significant benefit, but if not monitored it was feared that these life forms could create significant trouble in the future.

The landing site was chosen because there was a good supply of water for refuelling, and prevailing planetary winds would provide an ideal monitoring location. He had already placed 16 other sensors around the planet; this was the last one to locate before he began his journey to the next planet.

He had visited the planet 1,000 orbits earlier which was the last time he had been re-born. He remembered the people called an orbit a year, so it would be 1,000 years or so since he was last here. He checked the console, it had actually been 1,103 years. He also remembered the people called the planet Earth. Time meant nothing to his people as he travelled the vast expanses of the cosmos, and they had developed a coping mechanism by regenerating their body tissues through a re-birth process. Effectively his mind remained, but his body died and was reborn as a baby. The baby took the form of whatever life form was encountered at the rebirth. While his body matured, he had stayed for about 30 Earth years as his body re-grew.

He was going to be pleased to be back on his craft and away from this planet. He remembered the barbaric nature of these people from his last visit. When he had seen them nail a man to a cross and let him bleed to death. He remembered his doubt that they could ever be civilised. He also recalled how he had tried to help them by showing them how to synthesize food by simple chemical exfoliation and how to purify water. However, their minds did not seem to grasp these modest concepts. They were amazed how small amounts of food could be expanded to feed so many, and referred to the purified water as wine.

He ingratiated himself with the military commanders of the time from the Roman army. A student of military history, he was fascinated by their military tactics and the use of primitive weapons. He spoke about how they could improve their tactics, trying to educate them, assuming he would be doing some good. But a group tried to assassinate him. To disguise himself he had taken on the appearance of a man he met with a white robe, long hair and a beard. They arrested the other man instead and barbarically nailed him to a structure cut from their trees leaving him to die. Shortly after these terrible events, his rebirth was complete and he left the planet in his craft.

This time he would try and avoid such contact, but he was fascinated to see how this civilization had developed. He stepped out of the craft, just as three of the people riding on animals he remembered as horses, approached. They were not wearing the uniforms of the Roman soldiers, but he could tell they all had a military bearing. He was immediately wary of their intent.

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