“Asteroid 25Palmer2102”

Jamie Lomax

All rights reserved by the author

 

            Everybody sat at a large table in the center of a room.  Wood paneling on the walls made the room appear dark.  The room, which was buzzing with noise, grew silent as General Jefson walked up to the podium, starting the meeting. 

            “I must remind you all that everything at this meeting is strictly confidential until an announcement is made to the public in the following weeks.  Please do not tell anyone about this until you are informed by me that it is ok.”

            The room stirred as General Jefson’s words sunk in.  There were about 50 people in the room, all of which were tricked into coming to the meeting.  A few were prominent scientists; there were also government officials and top ranking military men among the audience. 

            “I would now like to introduce Dr. Maitland.  He is an astronomer.  He will explain as much of the situation to you as he can.”

            As Dr. Maitland walked up to the podium, the audience in the briefing grew impatient.  They shifted nervously in there seats; no information had been released telling them what to expect of the meeting at all. 

            “Since you do not know what this meeting is about, I will give you as much information is as known about the situation at this time.  A few weeks ago, I found an asteroid while conducting observations at the Palmer Observatory.  This newly built observatory has the best equipment money can buy.  After finding that the asteroid was not listed in any catalogs, I proceeded to calculate its orbit.  This lead me to discover that the asteroid, now named 25Palmer2102, will crash into Earth in about thirteen months.  The asteroid is about 20 miles across, and will kill, almost instantly, the entire human race when it hits Earth.  No one left on the planet is expected to survive.”

            “I am told that Ambassador Lemark can explain more on what plans have been made to deal with this situation.”

            Ambassador Lemark now took Dr. Maitland’s place at the podium.  The room was deathly quiet now.  Everybody sensed the urgency of the situation.

            “The Poloxians have decided to help us with our problem.  As you know, we have had relations with them since the discovery of extraterrestrial life.  In case you don’t know, they are an alien race from the planet Polox, which is in the 70 Vir system.  We have some reason to believe that they genuinely want to help us even though we have only known about their existence for 50 years.  They have shared information with us about an extrasolar planet that they found.  They believe this planet, which orbits the star Zeta Tucanae, about 23 light years away, outside our solar system, could be terraformed to fit our needs.  They have started the process of terraforming the planet and have decided to help us build a biodome so we have a place to live while the planet is being terraformed.  We have developed a ship that could take approximately 2000 families on it for transportation to the planet without their help.  They are willing to visit our ship during the transportation process to help us with anything that might go wrong. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time to build more than one ship.    In the meantime we need to set up some sort of system that will decide who can go to colonize the planet and who must stay on Earth.  Also, some of the governments around the world are looking into the possibility of destroying the asteroid or seeing if there is a way to alter its orbit.  I have been told that there is little hope in this so we must start preparing for an exodus from Earth as soon as possible.

            “If you have any questions, Dr. Maitland, General Jefson, and I will answer them to the best of our ability now.”

            One high ranking government official stood up and asked, “What do we know about this extrasolar planet?

            “It orbits around another star other than our own sun, Zeta Tucanae to be exact.  In this case, the planet is about 23 light years away and the planet is about the size of Earth.  The star is close to the size of the Sun.  The planet is about 0.9au from the star so this will be an excellent place to live once it is terraformed.”

“How long will it take to terraform the planet?”

            “According to the Poloxians about two thousand years,” said Ambassador Lemark.

            “And our best scientists have double checked, and they have given the same time frame,” agreed Dr. Maitland.

            “Where will future generations live while the planet is being terraformed?”

            “We plan on setting up a bio-dome to support life during the process.  The ship should have enough room to hold everybody while the bio-dome is being built,” answered General Jefson.  “We would like to tell the world soon, and in the coming weeks set up a lottery system where everyone is assigned a number.  We will draw about 1500 numbers and those people and their families get to go.  The last 500 spots will be filled by leading scientists, government officials, and other important figures and their families.  We also hope to include lots of families from the academic world.”

 

The Poloxians were considered to be a superior race because they have been around longer than humans.  This is evident in their technology, which is centuries ahead of human technology.  The Poloxian head is round but looks squashed at the same time.  Some people even claim that their head looks something like the round flying saucers that some humans thought visited Earth long ago.  They have six tentacles that come out of the center of the bottom of their head close to the strings.  The strings support the head and attach the head to the body.  The body has three tentacles coming out of either side and two legs coming out of the bottom.  The mouth is in the center of where the strings attach to their head, and their eyes look like lots of tiny balls clumped together.  They have no nose, and their sense of taste is not what we generally think of as taste.  It is rather hard to describe what Poloxians mean when they talk about taste.

Ambassador Lemark was assigned to the job of coordinating the efforts between humans and the Poloxians.  One such Poloxian walked up to Ambassador Lemark before one of the multiple meetings taking place to decide the fate of humanity.  They were outside the buildings where the meetings were held.  It was a nice spring day; not too warm or too cold.  It was the kind of day that people would call in sick for work because they knew there wouldn’t be too many more days like this one.

 Ambassador Lemark, we have started the terraforming process for you.  We are almost ready to start building a biodome so that it will be ready for you when you arrive to the planet around Zeta Tucanae.  I would suggest that you should start loading the crew onto the ship to make sure you don’t forget anything.”

Thank you Ambassador Zylstra.  I don’t think the human race could thank your people enough.  You have been very generous to us.  It is unbelievable.”

“Well we are not like humans.  Your history is full of war and killing.  We prefer to try and help life thrive, not kill it off in a pointless war.”

“But you have only known about humans for 50 years.  You could just walk away from us so easily.”

“Ah, but that is the difference between your people and mine.  You are a sentient life form, you need help.  We want to help.”

 

One day the ship was filled with silence.  Everybody on the ship couldn’t help but think about the friends they had to leave behind.  Some people even thought of their families that they left behind because not all the families could come.  The people on board the ship now felt the need to make it to their destination safely.  They were the only humans left in the universe.  It had been about ten years since that day.  The day that the asteroid hit Earth had come and gone. The crew was about half way through their trip.  The children who were born after the exodus would never know about Earth except through stories told by their parents, the computer files, and the books that were brought on the trip.

Everything seemed to be running smoothly.  Since humans were the only ones on the ship, every once and a while a Poloxian official would come by on routine checks to make sure everything was ok.  While they were visiting the ship they would tell of their progress on the planet.  The terraforming seemed to be running smoothly, although everyone agreed it would be nice to find a way to speed up the process.  The biodome was ahead of schedule.  The construction of it was supposed to take about 40 years.  The last ten years humans would be there to help with the process, but it seemed as if the biodome would be finished by the time the crew arrived to the planet.  This provided a little relief to the humans.  They could move into new homes as soon as they arrived.

Everybody aboard the ship was in as good health as could be expected.  Most of the crew had accepted their situation, but there were a few people who seemed to try to be living in the past.  Music and artwork were being made by a few of the people aboard the ship.  A radio station had been set up so that people could still listen to music and an art gallery was under construction.  There was one night a week were old movies were shown.  Some people had even made plans to try and make a few movies in their free time when they arrived on the planet. 

The Poloxians had taken pictures of the sky on the planet at night by request.  Some of the crew even started making and naming constellations.  Some of the old constellations could be seen, but they were skewed.  Stars in them looked out of place.  They kept to old Greek and Roman legends when they made them, and even made stories about the constellations.

 

Ambassador Lemark aged considerably during the 30 years it took to get to their new home.  He was still active in the relations with the Poloxians although he was relieved from most the work he did when he was younger.  He was just a figurehead now; all of the real work was done by others.

A few years later, the humans had just arrived at their new home.  The planet was very unlike Earth.  It was slightly smaller and there were no visible pools of water yet.  The terrain of the planet wasn’t the same.  The mountains looked unforgiving and everywhere the surface was rocky.  The humans hoped that in a few thousand years the planet would be full of life and water, but for the time being the planet resembled a desert.

A Poloxian walked up to Ambassador Lemark while he was taking in his first sight of this planet. 

Ambassador Lemark, we hope to have everybody moved off of the ship within the month.  That way we can start taking apart the ship for necessary resources to completely finish the biodome,” said Oortha, the Poloxian who replaced Ambassador Zylstra when Zylstra retired. 

“We hope to have everybody off the ship as soon as possible.  It seems to be taking longer than we originally expected.  It feels as if we have more to unload than we originally loaded even though we made no stops along they way, and ate most of the food on board.”

“Please inform me when you have finished so we can begin the next phase of our plans.”  Oortha left Ambassador Lemark and went to the office building that the Poloxians had set up on the planet to run the operations out of.  There he went into his own private office where he found Zylstra waiting for him.

“Did you speak to Lemark?”

“Yes, I am just coming from our meeting.”

“What did he say?”

“He thinks they may have fallen a little behind.  He will tell me as soon as everything is off of the ship.  Then we can inform Polox High Command that all remaining humans are on the planet.  Once the ship is taken apart we can proceed with our plans.”

“Hopefully they don’t fall too far behind schedule.  I hear the Polox High Command is getting anxious to finish the job.  We have been working on it for over 30 years now; you would think a few more months wouldn’t change a thing.”

“Well, if any other life form finds out about what we are doing, we’re done for.  It’s been hard enough to keep the existence of humans a secret for this long.  It would be a pity if any other life forms find out and try to stop us.  We could lose many important trade deals.”

“Not only that, there would be serious repercussions taken on every Poloxian.  We would no longer be allowed to roam the galaxy at our own free will.  We would constantly be watched.  If they find out that we’re tricking and killing off a race of life…”

“Yeah, I don’t really want to think about it.  We’re doomed if this doesn’t stay a secret.”

“Let’s just hope we finish the job before anyone finds out.”

 

The humans completely moved into their biodome and had completely taken apart their ship is about three months.  The Poloxians now decided to complete their plans.

“Zylstra, the ship the humans had has been taken apart.  It is now time for us to leave our offices on this planet.  Some of the Poloxians who are on the building and upkeep of the biodome crew have rigged the life support system here to fail within a few days.  They are all leaving tomorrow, but the High Command would like us to leave today.”

“It is a shame that we had to wait so long for this day to come.  If only this had happened earlier we wouldn’t have had to wait for the humans to travel to another planet.  They develop technology too quickly.  I would hate to see them a hundred years from now.  They would threaten the power we have in the galactic trade routes.  We are lucky that the asteroid killed most of them.  There is no way we could have killed them all on our own.”

“Well at least we’re taking care of the situation now.  Their air will slowly be poisoned.  By the time they realize it, if they do, which is unlikely, it will be too late.  They will all be on their death beds soon.”

 

Three days later almost every human on the planet started hallucinating.  They all died within hours.  There was one human who was outside of the biodome studying some of the planet’s surface features at the time.  He was the last survivor of the human race.  I am the humans’ computer.  My data bank contains all the information that the humans had.  Plus, I controlled the biodome so I have a record of everything that went on.  The humans nicknamed me HAL after the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, because I see all, I hear all, and I know all.  The last human died over a thousand years ago but I am still here.  So if you run across a Poloxian in your travels, they are not who they say they are.  Beware.

 

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