The scout ship, UurBereck, skimmed over the arid plain of Planet HG-281 at better than 700 miles per hour. The gravity drive was barely audible as no real effort was required to maintain the integrity of the anti-gravity pocket surrounding the space craft at such a low speed. Sitting in the command couch was DrrTrr Zennk, a ruthless officer of the Chrysallaman race, who had spent the last six months of his life trying to determine if HG-281 was suitable for colonization by his people. The ultimate decision was in the hands of the Emperor, but from everything Zennk had seen and heard, Planet HG-281 was a perfect prize. Excellent climate, gravity, fertile soil, and inhabited only by a primitive, animalistic culture so physically and technologically inferior they truly deserved to be annihilated to make room for the Chrysallamans. Zennk grinned to himself as he thought about the elevation in rank and privileges he would enjoy as a rewarded member of the exploration team that found the new world and claimed it in behalf of the Empire.
Standing beside him watching the view screen that covered nearly half the bulkhead in front of the ship’s main control panel was his son, WrrNrr Zennk. Bringing the 12-year old on the mission had been the decision of the kid’s mother who berated Zennk constantly, badgering him to agree to go on the exploratory mission and take their son with him. She had claimed the boy would gain valuable experience from the journey making him more apt to be selected in the future for military service. DrrTrr had finally agreed to take the kid with him. After all, agreement would stop her nagging, and HG-281 was 30 light years away from Chrysalis, the home planet of the Chrysallamans. DrrTrr and his son would sleep away the years in stasis while his horrid wife would continue to grow older. With a 60 year round trip and 6 months on the ground at HG-281, Zennk would return to a wife almost 61 years older than when he left. Fantastic! Maybe she would be dead by the time he got back. Wonderful!
Taking his eyes off the view screen and glancing at his son, DrrTrr Zennk was appalled at how much the boy looked and acted like his mother. All emotional and weak-minded. It was definitely for the best that he had spent the last 6 months with WrrNrr, teaching him respect for the power and dominance of the Chrysallaman military and its way of life.
“Father, why are we flying so slowly?”
“On this planet the speed of sound is 768 miles per hour. If we go over that speed our ship will create a shock wave audible to the animals on the ground. Flying silently gives us the advantage of stealth.”
“Are we almost ready to go home?” the youngster whined. “I’m getting tired of being cooped up in this metal can all the time.”
“Yes, our mission is virtually complete,” DrrTrr responded. “If you’re bored perhaps we can find something to stir up some excitement.”
Pointing his finger at a faint bluish glow on the left side of the view screen, Zennk said, “See that glowing indicator on the view screen?”
WrrNrr nodded his head and crossed his arms with childish impatience. “Father, I don’t want to do any more exploring. I just want to go home!”
“Yeah, yeah,” DrrTrr mumbled.
Pressing a stud on the comlink built into his combat vest, Zennk linked up with his onboard crew and announced, “All personnel. Prepare for capture of two animals. I want to stock up the larder. If we’re going to be heading home in the next week or so, I want to enjoy some fresh meat before we get stuck in stasis for another 30 years.”
A loud buzz sounded from the control board and Zennk looked up just in time to watch the ship’s automatic defenses use a cutter ray to blast a silvery object out of their flight path.
“Father, what do you think that floating silvery thing was?”
DrrTrr smiled at his son and said, “It matters not. There is nothing on this planet that can harm this ship.”
Turning his attention back to his control panel, Zennk swiveled the joystick that controlled the directional heat ray and locked its targeting sensor on the bluish image glowing now in the bottom center of the view screen. A look of smug confidence covered his face as he pushed the activation button.