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Return to Sender

by andre

34R7H woke up or at least that is how it seemed if there was anyone to observe the large space ship that had arrived on the outskirts of the solar system of a class K star. 34R7H had been traveling for more than four hundred years and it had finally arrived at it’s final destination. Ten years prior to this moment long range sensors had detected the star system and had initiated the gradual slow down using the now antiquated fusion rocket engines, 34R7H had up and until this point been traveling at almost five percent of light speed.

The engineers that had created her hull and programmed her core systems were long since gone and could only have hoped for the success of her mission.  Her purpose to find and terraform a habitable class M planet in the Eta Cassiopeia star system had resulted in the AI computer system determining no suitable matches being found and the return protocol had been initiated.  34R7H carried a full compliment of flora, fauna and biota to establish a full ecosystem once terraforming had commenced.  Various fauna and flora would be introduced as the atmospheric transformers succeeded in creating the correct environment for the various forms of life to survive in.

34R7H had been built with full redundancies, in fact it was due to these redundancies that she had managed to survive so long with her precious cargo intact.  Her outer titanium shell was home to millions of self-replicating, solar powered micro and nano bots which had never failed to repair the punctures from meteoroids and asteroids along her journey.  Some damage was more than other damage, and could take months, even years to repair.  The nano bots consumed the debris from each meteoroid and asteroid strike as fuel in repairing and creating more of themselves.  The rules governing their propagation ensured that there was always a constant number of micro and nano bots and that their numbers never overwhelmed the purpose of the ship they protected.

The three probes that 34R7H had sent out on arriving on the outskirts of the solar returned to their bays and their data was captured into the central computer system.  Out of the nine orbiting bodies there were two sub M class planets.  The fourth and third planets seemed to show the most promise of being made suitable for life. 34R7H had the full capabilities of transforming a sub M class planet into a full M class.  A sub M class planet was a planet which could be terraformed into a full life-giving planet if it showed the potential of retaining an atmosphere and if it was the correct distant from the star that it orbited to support life eventually.

34R7H’s computer systems were deciding which planet it would terraform, it was much too large a task to transform both planets in the system, a choice would have to be made.  The fourth and third planet were compared against each other.  Both had at some point retained an atmosphere.  Both had at some point had a large ratio of water to land mass.  Both planets had satellites orbiting which although not needed for terraforming would assist in creating a homely environment for the flora and fauna which was currently in stasis.  The fourth planet was slightly smaller than the third planet which would make the available resources last longer when terraforming commenced.


At this point the computer AI decided that probes would need to be sent to the surface of each planet to determine which planet would make the most suitable candidate for the terraforming exercise.  Both probes reported successful landings after two months of being dispatched, the data of the probe that was sent to the third planet was the most interesting.  Apparently the third planet had once been home to life, what was most distressing about this fact, if anything could distress 34R7H’s computer system, was that this life had only recently ceased to exist here.  In fact, if 34R7H’s had arrived a hundred years before it would have encountered the living habitants of the third planet.


The AI in the computer weighed up the information that was being streamed to it by the two probes.  Somewhere in the depths of the ship a multitude of nano bots finished repairing the links between the AI computer and the star chart database.  The star chart database system, which had been offline for a year now after a large asteroid encounter just outside the current solar system, was not so critical to 34R7H’s mission and had been placed at a low priority for repair.  The AI was now able to find the names of the fourth and third planet of the current system, not that it would not make much difference to the choice it had to make.  Perhaps it should be mentioned for the reader’s sake, that in the star chart database the fourth planet is called Mars and the third planet is called Earth.