The Founder’s manipulative paranoia and the increasing frequency and magnitude of environmental catastrophes had brought forward his plans for the first trip to Outer Space. It had in fact, unbeknown to the rest of the world, blasted off some fifteen years ago.
In those far off days, Captain Church had settled back in his flight seat, his square chin jutting forwards as he stared at the array of monitors and controls in front of him. Everything was automated, but it gave him a sense of utility and purpose that would keep his mind occupied and at rest during the flight. The monitors and controls were completely unnecessary, as all the relevant information was relayed directly to his mind, anyway. But, just in case the computers failed or they lost contact with Earth for some reason, they had to be provided. Besides, they would soon be out of time-range for any actual instantaneous control from Earth. Everything would then have to be done by the on-board computers, or if they failed, by him, manually.
Beside him sat Owen Welch, the Engineer, a breezy and indefatigable young man, busily, but redundantly, checking all the data. Behind him was the sexy, alluring Aurora, the Communicator, who could well be necessary if they did ever encounter anyone else out there, though Captain Church thought that highly unlikely. At her side sat the equally svelte and slinky Doctor Brenda McFly, the doctor, who may or may not be necessary later.
This was the team personally chosen by The Founder to take the first super-intelligent Crystal-Heads out into space to search for a new, inhabitable planet in the Alpha-Centauri complex. They were either incredibly rich, seeking new experiences and their ultimate destinies in the Universe, or incredibly clever, hopefully guiding the crew through any unforeseen mishaps. There was no space on board for any more bodily humans, but it was hoped that with the combination of seminal fluid DNA and Ovarians, the expertise of the famed Crystal-Heads, housed in their hundreds in the hold, could resurrect their own bodies, or their off-springs, and populate a suitable planet. And of course, if that failed, there was always the back-up of the two couples.
The count-down had started. At lift-off minus ten, Captain Church looked around at his three colleagues, grinned, and gave a thumbs-up.
He tapped on the microphone in front of him, addressing the Crystal-Heads in the hold.
“How’s it going back there, Stephen?”
“We are well, Captain.” replied the eerily mechanistic voice, a throwback to the early days of computerised voice simulation. “But I wish you would stop tapping on that microphone!”
“Soon, be there, folks,” Captain Church said confidently. “Give or take ten years, travelling at half light-speed.”
The Ship, complete with its banks of semen and Ovarians, shot into space. It would be a long time before it was heard of again.
– o –
Ten years after leaving Earth, Captain Church and his lonely, weary crew found themselves in the middle of the Alpha-Centauri complex. They had slowed down to one-hundredth light-speed and had passed a number of stars, some many times larger than the Sun. They had seen planets, large and small, some were apparently inhabitable; but most, according to their instruments, were definitely not.
One small planet they had passed quickly by was about Earth size, and even bluey-green in colour, but they hadn’t seen any land masses on their side. The panic of avoiding its moon, which suddenly appeared out of nowhere, had caused them to reject it and explore further. They did, however, report its existence and coordinates in their Ship’s Log, beamed back to Earth, if there was anyone left to receive it.
Aurora suddenly stiffened in her seat. “There’s an incoming signal! Straight ahead!”
“Is it possible?” said a shocked Captain Church. “We had better investigate.”
The screen in front of them showed a small white dot. The superimposed false-colour radio signal emanating from it was definitely pulsing regularly. They sent their own signal back: “dot, dot, dot … dash, dash, dash … dot, dot, dot.”
The planet’s radio signal immediately repeated it, as if understanding and encouraging them.
Doctor McFly was analysing the planet’s size, motion, environment and other characteristics. “This place looks perfect!” she gasped. “But there is obviously some intelligent life-form here already. Will they accept us?”
“Only one way to find out!” said Captain Church. “Shall we go down, Welchy?”
“Righto, bach!” the Engineer replied. “There we are then!”
They were met by the Aliens, far more superior beings, and were instantly wiped out. The Aliens ridiculed the pathetic amount of information known to Humans – it could all be contained in just a few cells; they needed whole civilisations.
– o –
In his penthouse suite on top of the Tower, The Founder eagerly awaited the latest instalment of the Space Ship’s Log. Of course, it was five years out of date by the time it arrived back on Earth, but he disregarded the time-lag now, convincing himself that this was happening in real-time. Which, as he couldn’t do anything to speed, slow, or change it, was the virtual truth.
He noted the various star-systems and the multitude of planets – far more than he thought possible. Every sun had twenty or thirty planets, some of which must be habitable. There was one in particular, a bluey-green planet about the size of Earth and with a Moon! But the idiots passed it by, preferring the promise of sentient beings with a radio beam. He would have been instantly suspicious of that. It was not at all what he wanted, which was to expand and control human civilisation without any other competition.
He watched in disbelief as they locked on to the radio beam and attempted to land on the planet’s surface. It was habitable all right. It was already inhabited!
Aurora, the Communicator, spoke to the “Aliens” first. “Greetings! We come in peace, from Earth, a planet four and a half light years away!”
The indigenous beings approached with caution. They were humanoid; lithe, athletic beings, full of grace and beauty. They smiled, and held out their hands in greeting.
“We have been watching your progress, expecting you for many light-cycles. Do you truly come in peace?”
“Of course!” said Captain Church, a little too eagerly. “We have many things to share with you. We wish to live again, here!”
The Aliens looked at each other, puzzled. How could they possibly live here? Four alien creatures who knew nothing of their Civilisation, Science, Art and Culture. They would be like exhibits in a zoo, something they were very much opposed to. What could they possibly share with them? Their intellects appeared very inferior.
Captain Church invited them onto the ship and took them on a tour. They were appalled at the sight of the hundreds of “eggs” glowing in the dark. They were even more appalled when Doctor McFly explained that these were indeed real people, old people, who had already lived for more than a hundred years, but who had the greatest knowledge and the best intellects on Earth. They had sacrificed themselves to aid the mission.
The Aliens listened in disbelief and growing ridicule as Doctor McFly explained the purpose of the “Ovarians” and the banks of milky-white fluid stored on racks over the Crystal-Heads. They began to laugh.
“You mean the totality of your existence can be held in a few cells? Then your existence cannot amount to much. It is not worth preserving, and we will not risk contamination!”
The Founder watched in horror as the screen went blank. The experiment had failed. “Oh well,” he thought, dismissing the incompetent crew from his mind. “It was a long shot, anyway! At least I have the time-travel experiment in the Rift Valley under way. There will have to be a change of plan.”