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Chapter 6

The large vehicle approached the planet and settled into a geostationary orbit silently watching the world below. In the underside of the craft a small panel slid open and a small dart shaped craft emerged from the underbelly. Its sleek shape fired through the upper atmosphere and reared as it followed an orbital descent pattern. The flare from the rear engines faded as the thrusters were cut and power lowered as it drifted through the atmosphere as though searching for the settlement.

Inside the cabin, two people sat at the vehicles controls. The first was male and was covered in a large brown cowl. The material of his clothing was thick and heavy with no discerning features apart from a set of beads which draped their way over the outer cowl of his appearance. A small golden cross pendant hung from the beads and glimmered in the lights from the cockpit. His piercing brown eyes flicked over the instruments under his controls and lights from above shone off his bald head. On either side of his neck he betrayed images of a tattooed crucifix which poked slightly from beneath the cowl. The second person in the cockpit was a young girl, in her late teens. Her innocent air was belied through her white clothing and similar in shape and size to that of the man's. The white cowl was off-set by a plain black cord tied tightly around her waist and a similar set of beads adorned her outfit. Her blonde hair was tied back in a tight, neat ponytail which fell into the hood of her cowl. Both studied the monitors of the craft as they sat in concentration, watching the cusp of the planet appear in the monitor screens.

"Master" spoke the young girl, "I do not understand why we are here" she said in a soft a youthful voice. She looked at the man, her blue eyes soft and focused on his answer.

He spoke through thin lips, "The colonists are in need of an adjudicator force to decide the future of the colony" he stated.

"I understand that master, but I do not understand why they are here"

"Oh, my child" groaned the man, "You are too young to realise the ways of the world".

"I am sorry Master" she said.

"It is not your fault; you will understand as you age. Wisdom comes in time and as we grow, then we learn". He smiled at her warmly. "Earth was once a bountiful world, full of life, but that was many years ago. To long for either you or me see have ever seen" he sighed, "It is all life flourished"

"It must have been wonderful" she said.

He nodded in agreement, "Now it is over-populated, full of grey buildings stretching over the skyline. Earth is crying out for help, it needs natural resources which it cannot provide to supplement the flock. This is why people like this expand to other worlds. To harvest and supply Mother Earth with resources. Whether this is right or wrong, it is not for us to say...but every now and then things go wrong"

"And that is where we come in" the girl said brightly.

"Yes, my child. We do the work of God...and the Earth government. We decide over life and death. It is our responsibility to adjudicate over the future of a colony if it struggles. Sometimes we decide not to interfere, other times we decide in a complete exodus of a world".

"I still do not understand fully Father, but I will try"

"That is all I can ask" he said. He stabbed at several buttons on the dashboard before checking levels of the craft on a screen by his head.

"Master..." said the young girl, "The planet"


"Why is it such an odd shape?" she asked as she watched the image of the planet on a screen. The monitor close to her showed an image of the planet as seen from distance. It was a jagged circular shape with rough edges, and even from this distance the image rose and fell.

"Not all worlds are created in the image of our own. Some are half worlds; others are oval in shape...not all worlds are circular. This is the wonder of the Lord" the man praised. "While we are created in his image..." he said closing his eyes and leaning his head toward the top of the cabin, "our world is not created in his...that is the wonder of life". He opened his eyes and focused on the monitors. "We are approaching final descent...prepare retro-thrusters..."

The girl pressed a series of buttons, "systems online and descent pattern programmed" she said. "What is the planet and the problem?"

"The planet is designated planet XK5, a high concentration of mineral deposits located toward the north of the planet..." he checked his notes and continued, "colonization fourteen Earth months ago...regular cargo runs to Earth with mineral deliveries with receipt of high levels of supplies. Early indications present low level sustainability of colony...no signs of indigenous life...reports indicate incapable of sustenance and low morale destabilizing populace. Trace reports indicate three separate dwelling areas in close proximity, one probable living designation, one probable work area...other designation unknown..." The man continued to scan the planet as they descended closer to the planet. "Final preparations..."

The girl pulled at a strap over her shoulder and clicked it in place at a holster by her seat, "Final descent path confirmed..." she said grasping at her seat.

Creed stood before the wheelchair bound man. "It seems your death has been widely exaggerated Michael" he said.

Michael nodded, "It would not do for the people to see me in this condition" he said lifting his hand slightly of the arms of the chair. Lorraine crossed to the man and caressed his chest as she walked to the rear of the chair. "My love..." he whispered. She smiled down at him as he spoke and returned his attention back to Creed, "My people need a strong figurehead..." he said as she placed he hand on his shoulder. His head rolled into her touch and she gently rubbed his fading hair. "That is why my wife has taken charge in my absence"

"This colony needs strength...not a woman's touch" snapped Creed, "A woman's only good for one thing" he sneered, "and she can do that on her back"

"My wife is twice the man you are Creed" gasped Michael, "remember that"

"Your time has passed old man" threatened Creed.

"While I live, I rule...and through my wife, we rule this colony together...we give hope where there is none"

"And I give life!" snapped Creed. "I am the future, not you"

"That is not for us to decide..."

"It is not for an adjudicator either!" snapped Creed, "contact Earth and tell them this planet is fine..." his words were drowned by the sound of motors firing overhead from the descent of a craft on a low level pass of the town.

"I am sorry Creed" whispered Michael, "but the decision is no longer ours...they are here".

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