Come In Number 13, Your Time Is Up!

Contributor: Ray Daley

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When we first found the new world, it fascinated us. It had water across much of its surface, most unlike our home. Our home is mainly plains, valleys and desert. What little water there is exists as underground rivers, aquifers and the occasional oasis.

We are the people. Our life is simple, we hunt, we gather, we explore. Much like our ancient ancestors who travelled all across our world in the endless pursuit of food, water and shelter.

The most simple things but most important to sustaining life.

We do the same, even fifty centuries later. But we do them in space, across the myriad galaxies. We find worlds, we seek out new food sources, plants and seeds that we can bring back home.

Our probe ships are autonomous, they know our needs and fulfill them as best as possible. Mapping each new world like a little oasis of comfort out in the vastness of space.

We found the new world much like we find our other sources, we listened to the universe, seeking out that which does not naturally belong. Their radio transmissions led us to them and their gigantic world.

We named it Mega Domus, parts of it reminded us of home. The many deserts and canyons.

It took a long time to understand their transmissions, we discovered time ran differently for them. At first their transmissions appeared to us like the calls of the water fly with its high pitched buzzing, we strained to find any meaning until one day a tape running one of the messages started to run slowly as the solar battery that charged it was going flat.

The tape played slower and slower until we were able to understand the language, they spoke just like us. Only many tens of times faster.

It was clear to us that our technology was more advanced than theirs, we had the ability to not only leave our planet but to travel great distances across space with our faster than light drives. Our probes sent back much information but we discovered this was a difficult planet to live on as each probe eventually succumbed to some new danger we were previously unaware of.

Autonomous probes can only deal with so much, they have a limited amount of intelligence. So it was decided that we would finally send a manned mission to explore this new world, to see if we could establish some kind of trade between our two peoples.

Twelve probes had given us as much information as a dumb computer can, a mule is only as smart as the horse that leads it. It was decided, the journey would only take a few weeks. We would make short hops to established outposts and then make the final leap into the unknown on Mega Domus. The journey was exciting, news reaching each outpost before our arrival and we would be greeted each time like heroes.

They were more than aware of our destination, this journey was into a new kind of unknown for us. The final planet-fall before our destination was the biggest. We were sent on our way with the greatest of ceremony.

The great leap.

Mega Domus lay ahead through previously uncharted space, new discoveries were made daily. More than enough to keep our crew busy on the twelve day journey that finally found us entering the system which was like many others we had previously seen. Cold gas giants, desert worlds, a lifeless grey moon.

And Mega Domus with all its mysteries for us now to unravel.

An initial planetary survey showed they lived where we possibly couldn't but left areas where we would happily call home empty and apparently unexplored. It was one such area we chose for our first landing site. It looked just like the great plains of Nervantes, even The First Hunter himself would have been proud to call this place home.

We were happy to set down and step foot onto this wonderful land that we hoped we might parley some part of for ourselves in exchange for some of our technology. We are sure the inhabitants of this world will welcome the advancements to their sciences.


Even now it is difficult to understand exactly what happened when our people decided to leave their spacecraft, we received badly garbled messages.

"Fireball.... shock-waves, planet lethal..... make no attempt..... landing again."

The transmission ended there, we received nothing further. We decided their judgement was best, they had seen the situation first hand. Mega Domus was placed on the no-go list, the first such occurrence in our history. We have no idea what the natives were doing and never will.


The klaxons sounded all-clear across the desert. In the bunker the tape recorder was still running. "Sir, your notes?" said the analyst.

The man looked at the mic in his hand, the fireball had wiped its very existence from his mind temporarily. "Yes, thank you. This concludes the first successful nuclear test at Los Alamos."

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Ray Daley was born in Coventry & still lives there. He served 6 yrs in the RAF as a clerk & spent most of his time in a Hobbit hole in High Wycombe. He is a published poet & has been writing stories since he was 10. His current dream is to eventually finish the Hitch Hikers fanfic novel he's been writing since 1986.
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