Espionage On Ice
by Margaret Price
Several Million Years Ago, There Was A Crash
Deep space was a cold, empty place. Endless expanses of nothingness between the sprawling galaxies, their enormous spiral arms seeming to hang motionless in the black void. A billion suns scattered throughout the ever expanding universe. It was an awe inspiring sight that was completely beyond the comprehension of the small reconnaissance drone’s programming.
The drone moved through deep space, searching out a suitable target, its programming clear on the exact parameters required. Strategic location in the galaxy it approached was paramount, followed by a suitable atmosphere. The presence of any intelligent life was of no consequence unless any advanced technology was detected. And if it was, it would be eradicated.
The drone’s sensors activated automatically as it approached the third planet in the system. The blue-green planet had abundant life, none of which registered as possessing any technology. The atmosphere was clean and unpolluted, which only served to verify the lack of advanced technology. There was also an abundance of water, covering nearly two-thirds of the planet’s surface. An added bonus, which the drone logged and highlighted.
The drone moved in closer, its recording program dutifully collecting the data on this seemingly ideal location.
Suddenly the tiny ship shuddered, an internal alarm sounding. The sensors evaluated the source of the problem and attempted to compensate. The drone had ventured too close to the planet and was now caught in its gravitational pull. More systems kicked in, attempting to correct the orbital trajectory.
The outer skin of the ship started to glow as it skimmed along the planet’s upper atmosphere. Internal systems started to overheat. More alarms sounded, and an automatic distress call went out as the craft moved into the atmosphere, flames erupting around it.
Were there anyone on the ground at the time, they would have seen the alien spaceship falling as a fireball from the sky and crashing on to the ice covered surface of a large island in the planet’s Northern Hemisphere. Steam rose in huge plumbs around the superheated craft, the ice turning to water boiling up around it. As the glacial ice cooled the skin of the damaged vessel, it slowly sank into its depths, eventually vanishing from view.
As the years turned to decades and then millennia, the alien craft became buried further in the ice, becoming part of the landscape, forgotten by its creators and undiscovered by the lifeforms that eventually evolved on the blue-green planet that was later called Earth.
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