The planet Gaia started as an anthropological experiment. Several of Earth’s brightest anthropologist, archeologist, and philosophers wanted to understand how a civilization begins. They wanted to understand the way of life for civilizations lost long ago and how they prospered without the use of technology. These professionals partnered with astronomers, astrophysicist, military, and various other scientist in order to pursue this experiment. An earthlike planet was located in another galaxy two hundred eighty-eight lightyears away. The planet was similar in many different ways such as terrain, plant life, soil, and water. It was untouched by man and an ecosystem that is comparable to Earth’s before humans overpopulated it. This planet was perfect for they’re experiment.
The experiment was meant to last twenty-five years and then these people were to return back to earth. These professionals not only were the few among the thirty thousand people who traveled to this new planet to participate in the experiment, but many others who would be essential to the experiment. Many had families, most were single, and contributed to this new civilization in different fields such as agriculture, carpentry, architecture, education, and engineers. They were provided with the bare minimal to survive such as seeds, livestock, and books. No technology, no electricity, no tools, and no maps or shelter. They were given one communication device in order to communicate with earth when needed to, but mainly for when their experiment was over due to the fact that the year in Gaia was longer, therefore they’re seasons were too.
“Commander, we’re receiving a distress signal.” The lieutenant informed Desmond as he laid on the bed on the phone. He felt as though he had just fallen asleep. He lived in the Selene space station and there is no way to distinguish whether it was morning or evening except by looking at the time. He turned to his clock, noting the early hour. 3 AM. Figures, three hours of sleep. Again.
“From whom, lieutenant?” Desmond asked irritated. Desmond knew that his job was not one to take lightly. He was a trained military doctor and Commander of the hospital shuttle fleet. Although he traveled frequently to other realms who required medical assistance, he preferred to stay on the home base on the lunar surface. As of late, the poorer realms are suffering from diseases and starvation, which has kept Desmond busy. On top of his duties and positions, he also manages the scouts that fly down to the dead earth hoping that the vegetation will return to the earth’s surface. Desmond usually feels guilty about his attitude in the early morning calls, he knows the poorer realms have been relying on Winthrop’s aid.
“It’s from Prince Demetri’s ship, Sir.” The lieutenant answered worriedly.
“Demetri” Desmond’s shock was evident. Hurriedly, he got out of bed, rummaging around to find something to wear, anything to wear. “What does the message say?”
“I’ll relay the message.” The lieutenant responded. Desmond heard the click of the transfer followed by a distressed woman’s voice through the speaker.
“Prince Demetri has been taken prisoner. Several soldiers are injured. We are in need of a hospital ship. The planet in which we were scouting is still inhabited by the people of the experiment named, Gaia. Please. Contact us with orders.” The woman stated in the message. The click of the transfer was audible then the lieutenant returned on the line.
“Sir, what are your orders?”
“Prepare the ship, Hermes V. Those assigned to the shuttle need to report as ‘all hands-on deck’. They have one hour to get their personal affairs in order and plan for a month’s long trip, maybe longer. We’ll leave at o′600. This is top secret, only when everyone has reported in, do we disclose the information provided to us. Order the Ares XI to stand guard and to not engage with the Gaian civilization. Give them an estimation as to when we will be arriving.” Desmond instructed the lieutenant, as he made his way out of the room. Three hours is not fast enough. One hour to report and two to prepare the ship for flight.
Desmond, ran to his valet’s room to wake him, informing the valet to pack his items for him. Afterwards, he ran to his parents’ room and knocked harshly on the door. His father almost as tall as him, but not as stout, looked into Desmond’s green eyes angrily. Desmond stared back into his father blue ones in panic. Never has he seen his father’s face, similar to his own, drop from anger to worry.
“What’s the matter son?” His father asked. “What’s happen?”
“It’s Demetri.” Is all he said before his mother appeared in the doorway and cried out.
“Desmond, what’s happen to your brother? What’s happen to my son?” She cried. Her eyes filled with tears. Desmond explained the situation to his parents.
“Father. As your subordinate, how do I proceed?” Desmond asked his father, King Sebastian II of Winthrop. He straightened his back and wiped the emotion off his face. He needed to retain his composure, before filling his military duties, and he needed to remind his father of the same.
“As my subordinate, you have done what is expected. You will proceed as any rescue mission. You have a job to do. As my son and Prince of Winthrop, I want you to act on my behalf in negotiating terms to secure your brother’s release. Bring your brother home. But, remember what the objective of your brother’s mission, that too, takes precedence.” His father stated.
“Yes, sir.” Desmond acknowledged.
“Son. Take care of yourself. We don’t know what to expect when you get down there. This in fact may be the most dangerous mission of all. We have never faced a situation like this before, and for that reason, let us have faith that everything will be alright.” The king stated with strong emotion in his eyes. “I’ll organize my schedule to accompany you in the weeks that follow. I just hope we can maintain this secret from the other realms of Helios.”
“My baby. Be safe. I love you.” His mother, Queen Edith, stated.
Even at the fastest speed of twenty-five parsecs an hour, the trip took three and half hours. Marking six and half hours since they received the distress signal. Once the Hermes V, arrived, they positioned themselves above the atmosphere of Gaia. This was the farthest anyone from Helios has traveled, and Desmond had worried whether the Hermes V was going to make the trip at high velocity.
“Radio Ares XI to notify them we are here and to turn on their locator. Hernandez, search the ground for any communication device near the ship’s location. They may have wanted to live in a world with no electronics, but they needed to be able to communicate back to earth somehow.” Desmond ordered.
“Their locator is on what appears to be on the west side of the suns horizon. Must be early morning there.” The charting expert stated.
Sir, I found the only other radio signal approximately fifteen kilometers east from the Ares XI’s location. It is outdated, perhaps a hundred years.” Lieutenant Hernandez informed Desmond.
“More like five hundred. Demetri must have ran the same sweep when they arrived, that would be more than a coincidence if he hadn’t. Is there a satellite in orbit?”
“Yes. It’s small, but it is turned off.” Hernandez stated.
“Try to radio down to it. Perhaps our proximity will allow for transmission.” Desmond instructed.
“Sir?” Lieutenant Hernandez questioned.
“We are receiving the signal. Therefore, it has the ability to receive and transmit. These people descend from a large group of anthropologist and archeologist, wanting to experience a world with no technology to understand the dynamics of a new civilization. I assume that a little formality on our part would be appreciated considering they are holding the current heir to the throne, who is my brother, as a prisoner. The least we can do is not treat them as savages. We will ask for permission to land. Let us remember that this planet is like earth and may very well be the answer to the Helios realms prayers.” Desmond reminded the piloting crew. “Try to radio down.”
“Yes sir.” Hernandez did as she was told and an odd beep came through, informing the transmitter that it received the signal. “Sir, we have transmission.” She confirmed then spoke into the transmitter. “This is Hermes V requesting permission to land. Over.” She repeated this action after a minute of radio silence, and then another.
“Perhaps they don’t know how to use it.” One of the pilots joked quietly, thinking Desmond did not hear him.
“Sergeant, this is not an appropriate time to make a joke.” Desmond scolded. “It’s not a matter of not knowing. It’s getting the word to whoever can give permission. Hernandez wait two minutes before repeating.” The radio silence continued for another five minutes, inching closer to the fifteen-minute waiting protocol which was enacted three and a half centuries ago.
“Ten minutes of radio silence.” The Hernandez stated and then repeated her call out.
“This is Hermes V requesting permission to land.”
“This is the Kingdom of A’Kneera on the planet of Gaia. The King is requesting to speak to whoever is commanding your army.” A male voice came through the radio.
“Please stand by while I complete your request.” Hernandez replied, turning to Desmond who had walked over to the radio in his assertive manner. The crew all looked on in shock.
“This is Prince Desmond of Winthrop, Commander of the Hermes V. This is a hospital ship responding to a distress call received from my brother’s ship Ares XI. To whom will I be speaking?” Desmond introduced himself.
“This is King Emilio of A’Kneera. What do you want from our people?” The male voice came through with his own introduction after a minute of silence.
“We are requesting permission to land our hospital ship fifteen kilometers west of your radio signal. I have no army, just doctors, nurses, and flight crew. I have several soldiers on the ground who are injured and in need of medical attention. We are also willing to take in any of your people who may be in need of our services.” Desmond informed the King on the other end.
“What about the others who arrived prior, with no warning?” King Emilio asked.
“I have been granted to act on behalf of the King of Winthrop on a private matter concerning your people, your land, and your planet. I’m also authorized to negotiate terms for the release of my brother, Prince Demetri of Winthrop, and any other of my soldiers you may have as prisoners.” Desmond answered.
“What is your private matter?” King Emilio asked.
“That’s just what it is. If given permission to land, I would be honored to speak to you privately, on your terms. You may have an armed guard escort me to you, with you allowing me two men to accompany me. Or if you wish to come to my ship, with however many men you wish. Again, we would extend our medical services to you. I promise no harm. We have no reason too. In fact, you have more leverage over us, more than you know.” Desmond pleaded.
“Please, elaborate. Or no permission will be granted.” King Emilio remarked.
“The earth is dead. Has been for over three hundred years. We have been living on borrowed time. On space stations in the earth’s solar system. My private matter is a plea for help.” Desmond explained.
“Permission granted.” King Emilio responded after a moment of silence. “I will have an armed escort meet you at your landing site at first light.” King Emilio approved. “You may bring your two men, with the request that one of them is a doctor.”
“Thank you. Just to clarify, you will have armed men meet me and two men, one a doctor, at first light. How many hours until first light? Our time here reads nine forty-three in the morning.” Desmond asked hesitantly.
“Time here works differently than you are used to. About two hours.”
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