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THE DISTANT PAST….
The armada of silver saucers hovered ominously above the lush green world. Clouds wrapped around the blues and greens of the oceans covering the majority of the planet like a blanket of soft, white linen. The armada had traveled vast distances from their home world to reach this fertile planet, the fourth planet in the Sol Solar System. They had gone through the furthest reaches of the known universe on their trip here to the outer arm of this spiral shaped galaxy. This, to them, was literally the backwater of the galaxy. Compared to the rest of it, the small, fragile creatures that inhabited this planet were mere newborns.
The machine race was here for a purpose, though. This was not just another routine surveillance mission. Over the past thousand years, they had begun to detect violent changes occurring in the planet's make-up. The civilization that lived here was completely unaware. They assumed their gods were angry and they were being punished on some unknown whim. The machine race had come here to protect their investment. They wanted to ensure this civilization would continue, if not on this planet, then on another.
The lead saucer gave the signal to the rest of the armada to ascend into the atmosphere. The mighty ships slowly sank below the clouds of the blue-green world. They hovered, undetected, while observing the civilization in its final days.
Massive crowds had gathered around three large structures: massive pyramids built on a grassy plain surrounded on both sides by two rivers. The area was known as Cydonia. They were holding rituals on the steps, trying to appease their gods.Humanoids were on their knees bowing before the giant structures, while priests led them in prayers. The humanoids were sparsely dressed, only wearing a few light cloths around their chest and waist. The priests, on the other hand, were lavishly garbed in silver and gold with flowing red and white robes billowing around them. Blood from their sacrifices stained the steps of the pyramids.
Turning away, the armada of ships traveled a small distance across the planet to another huge monolith. The humanoid civilization had taken an entire mountain and over a period of years, carved it into a face that peered off into space. Workers were still completing it standing on their immense wooden scaffolding. Chipping and cutting into the rock, the massive ornate headpiece the face would be wearing was starting to take form.
This baffled the machine race. Why had the civilization determined the need to recreate their likeness on a massive scale? Did they need to show future generations they were indeed here? Or was it to please their gods so they would show favor when the spring harvest came? The machine race knew they had made a good choice to save this civilization. There was still so much they wanted to know about them.
Alarms started to blare inside the saucers. They had detected an immense upheaval in the crust of this planet just beginning. The machine race knew this planet's life was about to end in a fiery blaze. They watched as a quake rocked the land, sending the wooden scaffolding and the workers tumbling to the ground. Next to the face, the ground split open spewing molten lava everywhere. The fragile humanoids tried to run from the burning substance, but were quickly swallowed by it.
Accessing its scanners, the main saucer pulled up a geothermal map of the planet. Volcanoes were forming and erupting all over the surface. The sky had begun to darken due to the thick ash being tossed into the atmosphere. The main saucer quickly relayed orders to the other ships:
TAKE EVERY SPECIMEN YOU CAN FIND.
The saucers rapidly shot off to different areas of the globe on their mission, while the main saucer still loomed over the face. Turning its attention away from this dying planet, it slowly rose out of the atmosphere into space. Accessing its scanners again, it looked across the millions of miles to another planet in this system. It was the third planet from the star, another small blue and green world with one small moon orbiting it. Life was just beginning to evolve there after a major cataclysm with an asteroid, and just like here, it was experiencing a few growing pains. The saucer scanned the planet's core. It seemed much more stable than the current planet. The machine knew it would be a suitable home, though not quite as hospitable as this one.
A beep sounded inside the machine signaling the other saucers had completed their mission. Relaying the coordinates of the new planet, the armada set off toward the tiny world. It began searching through its records. The databanks returned several entries on the planet. It had been catalogued under the heading 'BCE-121887-3'. That wasn't fitting for its new inhabitants, though. It began to search again for a more fitting label. Quickly, its memory came upon the perfect name. One used previously by the being that originally constructed the machines and gave them life. The machine thought it would be appropriate to call this new world "Earth" in honor of the creator. It saved the file as it continued on its way.
Copyright © 2005 Terence West