URTH

A One Minute #Story by Steve Cook.

We dropped out of hyperspace and vectored in from the periphery of the system at high vee. It was a rough, seat-of-the-pants slide down the yellow star’s gravity well. The braking jets and gee dampers were working at max tolerance: the Navcomp had us on a sharp-as-we-dare velocity dump as it carved out a vector-match with the third planet.


We made it though, slotting into a high geo-synchronous orbit above the dusk line of the blue-white Class V world.
The Drive cut out and in the aftermath of its relentless thunder, it was quiet for a while apart from the background chirp and chatter of the on-board systems and the ping of cooling nacelles.

Navcomp fired the attitude jets, adjusting pitch and yaw to align our long axis with the ship’s forward trajectory and bringing the midships hull sensors to bear square-on with the planet’s cloud-swathed surface.

It gave us a good view and the Zoom moved us in for a closer look.

Pretty soon we could see the roads down there, the railways, the ports full of ships and planes on their runways, the great sprawling cities a-glitter in the shadows of the night side.

The sensors can pick up an object as small as a penny from ten thousand clicks out, so pretty soon the Zoom was showing us the towers and houses and the spires of their temples and churches, the street lights and neon razzle-dazzle, the trillion-mile tangle of wires and electrical cables powering and enabling the planet-wide quest for better tomorrows and improving conditions. We saw their TVs, computers, hoovers, movies and food in colourful packages, their poetry, paintings and posters, images portraying infinite messages, their pets, jets,vets, postmen and purveyors of magical potions, their buses, their schools, their wise men and fools, their ever-changing seasons of fads and styles, the hopeful noses of their missiles and spires, their occasional spats of naked unreason, their cars, their bars and reservoirs whose still waters mimicked the stars. Meanwhile, sonic was bringing us their music in the form of a billion songs, the compositions of millions of singers, poets and musicians in infinite profusion.

The planet was alive! Billions of people were thriving, surviving, fighting, living, loving and dying, trying striving, succeeding, failing, hoping, dreaming and creating lives in profusion.

“What’s the planet called?” I asked the First Mate, for I had never passed through this system before.

“Urth . . . something like that.” he said, with an indifferent shrug.

“Urth?” I thought, “My God! There’s a civilisation down there!”

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