Canto Nine – Aboard Wing One Under the Cloud Cover
“What do we know about the place below us?” asked Biznap.
“The continent is called as a whole Pincara Bolo,” said Starbright, reading from her monitor. “In Galactic English that means the deadly wastelands. According to the Pathfinder’s Geophysical Guidebook it is one of the most densely populated places on this high-population world. The city directly below us is the regional capitol known as Kabiss Pincaralay, the Ruined Palaces.”
“Why do they call it an awful name like that?” asked Farbick.
“If they are like us, they call it that because they were too stupid to call it by a better name,” answered Starbright. “The Guidebook says they are a very warlike people and their mega-structures in this city have had to be rebuilt and repaired more times than anyone could keep track of.”
A break in the orange-brown cloud-cover revealed the city beneath them. It was an endless maze of gutted structures, craters, and smoldering ruins. There really didn’t seem to be a habitable structure anywhere.
“Life signs?” questioned Biznap.
“Scanners indicate there are only a scarce few small life-forms. None seem to be any larger than a Skoog Monkey,” said one of the two crewman whose names Biznap had not bothered to learn. Skoog Monkeys were small furry primates from the planet Misko Skoogalia, a part of the Telleron Empire that had been easily colonized because it had no intelligent creatures on it. Skoog Monkeys were green-furred and just smart enough to make pleasant pet animals. They also came in handy as a quick snack on long journeys.
“Odd,” said Biznap. “One would expect a capitol city with so many buildings to be better inhabited than that. Surely they are masking their presence from our scanners, somehow.”
“Really, I doubt that,” said the stupid cadet. “This planet is listed as Tech Level Nine just like the planet Earth. It is a society just beginning to discover the capability of space travel. We are Tech Level Fourteen, and should be invisible to their primitive detection devices. They can’t have developed much beyond primitive sonar and radar capability.”
“Sound waves and radio waves bounced off objects for the purposes of detection,” supplied Starbright to the Commander.
“There! Straight ahead!” said Farbick. “I see a big, intact, domed structure with what appear to be electric lights. That has to mean some kind of people.”
Biznap looked and saw it too. It was an impressively large structure, larger than things like football stadiums back on Earth. Usually Tellerons tried to avoid such things as population centers, but if they had any hope of finding a population at all, it would probably be there.
“Okay,” said Biznap, “Land near there. We have to risk contact sooner or later. It might as well be here and now.”