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 spacecraft at such low speed. Sitting in the command couch was DrrTrr Zennk, a ruthless officer of the Chrysallaman race who had spent the last six months determining if HG-281 was suitable for colonization. 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 by a primitive, animalistic culture so physically and technologically inferior they truly deserved to be annihilated to make room for Chrysallamans. Zennk grinned as he thought about the elevation in rank and privileges he would enjoy as an honored 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 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 badgered him to go on the exploratory mission and take their son. She had claimed the boy would gain valuable experience from the journey making him more apt to be selected for future military service. DrrTrr at last agreed to take the kid. After all, agreement would stop her nagging, and HG-281 was 30 light-years away from Chrysalis, the home planet of 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!
Glancing at his son, DrrTrr Zennk was appalled how much the boy looked and acted like his mother. All emotional and weak-minded. It was definitely for the best 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 this slow?”
“On this planet, the speed of sound is 768 miles per hour. If we fly faster, our ship will create a shock wave audible to the animals on the ground. Lower speed 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. If you’re bored, perhaps we can find something to stir up some excitement.”
Pointing at a faint bluish glow on the monitor, Zennk said, “See the indicators on the view screen?”
WrrNrr nodded 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 commlink in 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 and Zennk looked up just in time to watch the ship’s automatic defenses use a cutter ray to blast a silvery object from their flight path.
“Father, what do you think that was?”
DrrTrr smiled, “It matters not. There is nothing on this planet that can harm this ship.”
Turning his attention back to the control panel, Zennk swiveled the joystick that controlled the directional heat ray and locked its targeting sensor on the bluish images now glowing in the bottom-center of the view screen. With a look of smug confidence, he pushed the activation button.