Exoplanet

a writing by Paul Butters

“Star Trek” had it the wrong way round. Well, in the main. That legendary science fiction TV series featured starship “Enterprise”: essentially a super-rocket powered by “warp-drive”. It “flew” to what we now call exoplanets and usually took up a parking orbit round one. Then they would “beam down” an “Away Team” of crew-members to the surface of that planet.

But history did not work out that way. What actually happened was that the boffins came up with a “Super Beamer”. Interstellar explorers would board a spaceship on Earth, which would then be beamed instantaneously into a synchronous orbit around the target planet. Only then would crew members be beamed or “shuttled” down to the surface of that world.

Sure, Star Trek was right about the science of this “beaming”, both long and short range. But the beaming proved much more important than the original series-writers might have envisaged. Incidentally, each spaceship was beamed through “hyperspace” of sorts, which again tallied with the “Star Trek Vision” of space travel.

So, with the means of travel established, Mankind began to systematically visit hosts of “promising” planets. Most of these were of course rocky little worlds orbiting Red Dwarves – the most common stars in the universe. Such planets were usually tidally locked, with one side only facing their sun. Life was found! But there could be better… Golden stars like our own sun were bound to yield even more exciting discoveries.

Which brings us to starship “Indefatigable”. For our story begins with its arrival at an exoplanet hundreds of light years from Earth. Just minutes after it had entered its parking orbit. For it was now circling a “Super Earth” – about one and a half the size and mass of Earth – which in turn was orbiting a golden sun like our own.

A small group of men and women were stood gazing at a giant viewscreen.

Captain Jim Harris: “Beautiful, isn’t she?”

Second In Command Rob Smith: “Aye, Captain. One of the best!”

Jim: “Plenty of continents, Rob. Not another boring ocean world, for sure.”

Rob: “Yeah, I like the look of this.”

Suddenly there was a loud yell from behind them.

Observation Officer Dave Jardine: “Yes! Yes! This is the one! A civilisation! Yay!”

They all turned and rushed over to Dave’s “station”. He was receiving telemetry from the planet. Lots of telemetry. The ship’s instruments and computers had leapt into action the instant they arrived here. And “success” had been as instantaneous as their journey.

Dave (to the ship’s main computer): “Madeline, Report!”

Madeline (computer): “All telemetry indicates the likelihood of several civilisations on this planet. Initial assessment is that their technology is the equivalent of Earth in the early 21st century. Their citizens are essentially hominids, similar to the human race. Do you wish to see a facsimile of one of them?”

Dave: “Yes please.”

The big screen transformed its image to show a humanoid being. There were slight differences, but amazingly “it” was quite human in appearance.

Captain Jim: “That’s fantastic. Initiate First Contact Procedure!”

Now “Star Trek” had got this right. “The Plan” now was to send “scouts” to study the “people” below prior to “First Contact”. These scouts would be surgically altered and attired to “blend in” with the populace of the planet.

Indeed they would be “integrated” down there as much as possible, to collect relevant data.

There was already tons of information coming in via the ship itself. A ship, incidentally, that was cloaked to avoid detection by the natives.

So the real work began. The most promising-looking “civilisation” was chosen. It was a land situated in the Northern temperate zone of the planet. Telemetry showed that the people on this planet were “Male” and “Female” like ourselves. And in Barrocka, the land chosen to be visited, the Female Gender were Dominant!

Because of this, the “Away Team” selected was all female: Debbie England, Prafula Patel and Alix Wang. Armed with forged currency and other necessities they duly “materialised” in some woods on the outskirts of the capital city. They wore “Universal Translators” of course, most essential to their mission.

After a short walk, the girls emerged from the woods. To be confronted by a startled “native”.

Native: “Oh, forgive me, I didn’t see you!”

Debbie: “No problem Missus. Sorry for scaring you?”

Native: “Missus? But anyone can see I am male…”

Debbie: “Ah… I was only joking… pleased to meet you. I am Debbie
England, I’m from overseas.”

Meanwhile the other two girls looked on in astonishment. Yes, they’d had good intel on this planet, but it was still difficult to take in. Here was a bloke wearing full makeup and a frock, pushing a baby in a pram, with a huge but docile dinosaur in tow.

Evidently this “Earth” had not been hit by a great asteroid millions of years ago. Therefore all the reptile species remained more or less intact.

Incidentally the natives called their world “Earth” for much the same reasons as we called our own planet “Earth”.

Just to underline the “reptile theme”, a flock of pterodactyls – or something similar – flew over, making their piercing calls.

After a few more pleasantries – which the male found somewhat difficult owing to his anxiety in the presence of females – the girls headed towards “town”. Soon they entered a suburban estate. It was just like one of our own twenty first century council housing estates. Surreal.

But there were marked differences… There were males about carrying shopping, walking all manner of animals and pushing prams. At one point an open topped electric car whizzed past. It was full of ladies wielding cans of booze and whistling and shouting at any men they saw. Things were very different here from home.

Presently the girls reached a medium sized hotel, which doubled as a pub. In they went: this would be an ideal billet from which to continue their research. The “lounges” were fairly busy but comfortable. The bar workers were all male and wore frilly shirts and other means of “decoration”. Sitting at the rear of the bar was the Manageress: there was no need to ask about that – the body language said it all.

Booking rooms turned out to be easy. They were soon unpacked and ready to mingle. The Television Lounge was an ideal place to begin their studies. Indeed the news was on when they took up their seats. Well, more armchairs…

Nothing spectacular was on the news, but the girls were able to join in the chit-chat. They asked some names of those around them. Like us, the natives had first and second names. Nothing religious about those names, but everyone was named after his or her mother.

Incidentally these people believed in “God” but had no “Jesus” figure as such. They had a “Resurrection” story and other familiar “themes” but not the same as ours. And they had their own Atheists and Agnostics of course.

Politically things were much more complex. This was a very large planet. It had taken an awful long time for these people to explore their world. There were no obvious super powers as yet. There had been many wars, but right now – at least locally – this was a time of peace.

Their “chats” went well. Surely these people were ready for an official First Contact. Command would decide shortly.

But suddenly the girls found themselves back in the Control Room of their Starship!

Prafula: “What the Hell?!?”

Captain Harris: “Look at the screen!”

A fleet of spaceships!

Alix: “Who the £&@$ are they?”

Harris: “They’re from Mars Colony!”

Alix: “Mars Colony?”

Harris: “Yes, Alix. It’s a battle fleet. They have come here to conquer!”
Prafula: “The &@$!@*£s!”

Harris: “Control are pulling us back off mission in five minutes. Once they have us back they will send a fleet to stop these maniacs. Then we will bomb Mars. We are now at war!”

Debbie: “Oh my God, it’s going to be like Star Wars!”

Harris: “That’s right, Debbie. Those ‘aliens’ are going to see one helluva dogfight.”

Prafula: “It’s a £*%&1@# disgrace!”

Debbie: “And we had just reached a point where we ready for First Contact. When will the human race ever learn?”

Alix: “Men!”

Paul Butters

© PB 6\4\2020. Text up to “They wore “Universal Translators” of course, most essential to their mission” typed 2\4\20 (when I took lunch break initially), the remainder typed today.

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