The Settlers (The First Half of the Story)

by Johnny Bear

We'd just broke from the atmosphere headed for the Terra 2 Colony where I and the rest of the 5,000 people aboard USS Noah would now call home. I was one of a crew of four pilots it took to fly this train. It was a train of 4 cars the length of 1 football field each. Very much similar in appearance to that of a mono rail train, Noah, as well as 9 other trains were modified for space flight transporting of 50,000 people and 2 cars each full of crops and domestic stock..

We'd adjusted course toward Terra 2 when I saw it on the view screen. Once a bright vibrant blue so full of life planet called Earth. Now a dying gray ball. Over a time of pollution caused famine and drought, sun radiation after the ozone layer had been completely destroyed by pollution, Earth in 2 months would be no longer livable. My mind drifted to the millions left to die on that now lifeless ball. I'd heard of families celebrating various holidays a few months early. Mainly Christmas and Hanukkah. Having Passover Seders and Easter. Celebrating Thanksgiving.

After about 3 months journey, Terra 2 was finally coming into sight on the view screen. It needed very little Terra forming. The oxygen was found to be breathable after 4 months of testing. After about 8 weeks of testing the soil and vegetation, we found that only 10% of the planet's vegetation was consumable. The soil, we found, was only suitable for growing 70% of the crop specimens we'd brought with us. 80% out of 100. Well. Better than nothing. The planet held no indigenous life forms of any sort, so once our stock are fully adult and breeding, we at least have that for our food source. That of course depends on the success rate of animal breeding in this new atmosphere.

I adjust my ear piece and microphone and gave the order to switch on the comm system "USS Noah to all other trains"

"St. Peter, ready," they began to acknowledge over the comm.

"Exodus, ready."

"Lazarus, ready"

I sent the call over the comm, "This is USS Noah, JD Rodgers commanding. All 10 trains arrived and accounted for. Terra Caravan ready to commence landing sequences."

"Acknowledged, Terra Caravan. Noah, you are first in line. Initiate landing procedure now."

"Rodger that, Control."

"Great hearing you again, my love," a soft familiar voice said over the comm.

I smiled to myself, with that feeling that only she can give me, knowing that no matter where I am in the galaxy, I have the love of a good woman.

"It's great hearing you, Madam President NeVille"

[THE NEXT NIGHT]

"That was quite a shindig tonight," I commented, strolling hand in hand with Desiree through the court yard.

She chuckled and said, "It was quite an event."

"So, Madam President," I said, throwing my arm around her, "We're here now. Getting settled. Whats next."

"What's next," she said stopping and turning to me, "Is you're going to stop calling me Madam President. That title was left back on Earth."

We turned to walk back to the complex when Desiree was startled by a small figure standing a few feet away. It seemed as though the figure was staring at us as it stood there for the longest time but took of running when I asked. "Who's out there?"

I dismissed it, "Probably just one of the children out past curfew"

Walking back to the to the complex, I placed my arm around Desiree, holding her close. The air gets mighty chilly in the evening hours on this planet. Almost fall like despite the 80 and 90 degree summer-like days.

I dropped Desiree off at her apartment and kissed her good night before heading off toward my place. I'd only walked just a few yards when I saw it. The smallish figure just as we'd seen only a few minutes ago, staring at me. I had this sudden feeling that it was one of Earth's children after all. It was just too dark to see. The only noticeable features were cat-like eyes. Before I could call out, the figure was gone as stealthily as it showed up.

Chief Commander Desiree NeVille held onto her temples as her head furious pounded with a migraine. The frustration of the meeting only added onto it. Sitting up straight, she did her best to focus her mind on the newly developed findings and situation.

"Commander Neal Johnston," she began, "You were one of the ones on the exploration mission on Donora 12. Correct?"

"Yes, Ma'am. I was."

"Very well, tell the floor of the missions findings."

"I, along with Professor Emilia Payne headed the operation. A full scale analysis and exploration of Donora 12 was began on Thursday, Feb 26 and was completed Wednesday, March 11. The indigenous plant life was found to be pretty much similar to that of earth. We encounter some animal life---"

"You discovered animal life," Chief NeVille interrupted. The report said 'No Life'. No life detected on Donora 12. Yet since our arrival, we encountered someone or something. How was that 'someone or something' missed in the expedition, Commander John"

Struggling for an explanation, Commander Johnston add, "Th- um, The report was referring to intelligent life."

"Hmm..... What's NASA's definition of intelligent-" she said, but quickly threw up her hand, "-never mind!"

Desiree closed her eyes tightly as a surge of migraine shocked her face. She took a moment to rub her temples, keeping her eyes closed until it calmed as much as a migraine could.

The meeting was an hour, but felt like ten hours to the Chief Commander and and her on coming migraine. She was all too happy to wrap things up.

"Commander Johnston, I need you and two of your men under you. JD," she said looking to me, "You're going to lead these guys on a little hunting trip. We need to find if our neighbors are friend or foe."

[TO BE CONTINUED]

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