Science Fiction

4 Views of a Perfect Landing
The Lunatic at Lunatech
The Zen Room at Southside

4 Views of a Successful Landing

© 2000 Melissa K. Michael
1700 words

4 Views of a Successful Landing



“Four more shoes and we can both eat supper," Smith said to
the Head Horseman of King Hiram's cavalry awaiting his horseshoes, while pulling the next iron to be shaped out of the fire. As usual, he was covered in soot from his dark woolly head to his bare feet. The horseman grunted over the rhythmic hammering from where he sat near the smithy, out of the line of direct heat. It was a warm summer day. Weary of watching the sweat-soaked, sooty smith toil on shoes due yesterday, he glanced about at ripened fields. Pine Valley had a lot of rain early this summer, then none for weeks. Excellent for the hay he saw acres of across the way. Farther on, a pair of miles or more, he could see the ramparts and towers of King Hiram's castle where he tended the horses. Hiram was a fair king the horseman supposed, but it seemed as too much of the taxes went for parties and extravagant living instead of upkeep of the road and destitute widows, salaries for horsemen and such, as it should.
An odd roaring whoosh of wind sounded in the sky from that direction. The horseman squinted and made out a tiny speck floating down from the very sky. Slowly it grew as did the roaring noise. It became a silver coin, then big as a barn, soon it was nigh big as the castle when it landed. The roaring stopped as suddenly as it had begun.
"Damn King and his damn toys," the horseman grumbled. He hawked up a great oyster and spat in the ashy dust surrounding the smithy.

"Three more and we can both eat supper," Smith said.


"What in the world?" King Hiram asked as he left his seat and slowly stepped with awe toward the window in his private day chamber in the eastern tower.
"My word!" exclaimed Chief Advisor Viro following his king and adjusting his monocle under a great bushy grey brow.
They watched the silver vessel land in silent astonishment. As it neared the earth, all about it, hay burst into flames, which suddenly roared several feet into the air and spread rapidly out from the odd craft.
"Get the wizards," the King whispered, unable to pull his eyes from the eerily threatening spectacle. "That's the whole winter's feed for the cows and horses." Then with a snap, he wrenched his gaze away and strode from the room shouting, "Call the High Wizard! Drat you Apanuga, where
are you when I need you? Get that fire out, now! Find out who they are! Call the First Cavalry! Call up ten of my guard! Prepare my charger!"


"Tandy, you must come see this!" Raquel called from the roof of the School of Wizardry via her farspeech crystal. She'd been taking the sun on her face and arms and enjoying a cool drink while observing the magical power sources of Pine Valley. With a snap of exploding air, Tandy appeared beside her, smartly clad as always in tight black pants and loose, billowing, lace-up shirt.
"Isn't it exciting?" she giggled merrily. "I wonder whose it is. What a grand spectacle for the Invention Seminar."
Tandy frowned in answer, his eyes never leaving the strange apparatus as it roared down and set the hay field afire.
"Gods have mercy!" he cried, whipping out his own farspeech crystal. "Vigilus! Get up to the roof immediately, we've an emergency only you can handle! Everyone! To the roof!"
Pop! Pop! Pop! Wizards began appearing all over the flat roof in various states of dress, from formal teaching robes to very informal sleeping shorts.
Vigilus took one look and spat into his hands. Shouting a spell with great fervor, he cast his spittle in the direction of the flames, near a mile away. Immediately a hard downpour inundated the area, snuffing the flames instantly. There arose a great cheer and no one could refrain from clapping Vigilus on the back.
"Hold!" Tandy raised an arm for attention which he quickly received. "I've a message from High Wizard, Apanuga. King Hiram wants to know the nature of this monstrosity as quickly as possible and he wants us to assemble to meet it with him.
"Bushaya, you're the best at sensing what lies hidden. What is the nature of this loud fiery beast suddenly gone silent?"
Bushaya closed his eyes and one hand of its own accord
curled against his mouth. Presently he again opened his eyes. "Itself is nothing but a machine. But I perceive beings inside." He seemed bewildered by the phenomena.
"Raquel, will you image its inhabitants for us?"
"I'll certainly try," she said with a confident smile. She flicked her long red hair over her shoulders and pulled out her imaging glass from her robe. She breathed on it and concentrated on the silvery machine while casting the imaging spell. Tandy and others looked over her shoulders at the scene it displayed.
"What odd skin. Are they naked savages then?"
"Don't be silly. That's only their clothes."
"But what are they saying? I've never heard such strange sounds."
"Dega? Has anyone seen Dega?" Tandy called glancing around.
"Probably in the barn conversing with the beasts," someone muttered from Raquel's direction
"Summon him, Raquel. We need his language skills. Let us go meet with our King."


"Beautiful! Just beautiful!" Captain Norton said from his command chair aboard the Challenger.
"The landing or the landscape?" Chief Pilot Woodrow asked from his couch as he disconnected the navcomp leads from his skull.
"Both of course. And what luck with that sudden rainburst. Had no idea grass would flame up like that."
Woodrow nodded.
"What have we got on the sensors?" the Captain asked Chief Science Officer Sheffield.
"Paradise!" he answered happily. "Looks like this time the exploratory probe was right. Standard gravity and atmosphere. Like a splendid summer day outside. Anyone for a stroll?"
"I'm up!" Chief of Security Martel called, cheerfully brandishing his plasma pistol.
"Hold that thought," Sheffield called. "We've got aliens approaching. Great Gods, there's hundreds of them."
"Prepare first contact protocol." the Captain intoned solemnly.
"The flinking probes managed to miss this," Sheffield muttered.
"Alien contact party, prepare to disembark. Let's go. How long is it going to take to establish language?"
"That depends, sir," Sheffield said. "Look!" He switched his monitor to repeat on the main screen. "They've got horses. And look at that one with the crown!"
"Must be their local authority."
"Yeah. We're getting a royal reception. Maybe they'll have a red carpet, too."
Challenger's landing party broke their airlock and descended to meet the arriving indigs.
A wizened, old, hunchback in a dung-smelling robe came
forward. "Kneel in the presence of King Hiram of Pine Valley!" he said in clear Intergalactic Standard.
Captain Norton and Officer Sheffield shot each other looks of astonishment. The King, on a champing, snorting black warhorse came close, flanked by ten fierce-looking brutes on equally imposing horses.
"Uh-uh," Sheffield stuttered. "We come in peace."
The old hunchback spoke with the King who shouted angrily in answer. The hunchback translated. "Peace, you say! You come in peace by setting fire to my fields? By wantonly destroying the herd feed for the entire winter? Kneel before your sovereign! Then hear his judgment upon you!" This last was punctuated by the rustle of twenty arrows fitting to twenty bowstrings which were aimed squarely at the landing party.
"Uh, Martel, any suggestions?" the Captain asked his Chief of Security.
"They didn't cover this in demolition school. I could take out a few, but not all of them. And it wouldn't make a very good impression of peaceful intentions in any case."
"True. Well," he moved his head to address the entire party, "what's wrong with a little humility?" He knelt as did the others.
The arrows were lowered.
After rising, he addressed the King. "We burned your fields through an unfortunate error. We have come in peace and wish to coexist with your people and perhaps set up trade."
Through the smelly translator, the King answered, "That is well and good, but first you must make recompense for the damage. I declare you my serfs for seven years!"
"Martel. Shoot at a tree. We'll run back to the ship," the Captain said as troops advanced. The translator spoke as Martel followed orders and blasted a huge 80-year-old pine with a bolt from his plasma pistol. This delayed the guards who sought to capture the party so that they
made the airlock and dogged it shut.
"Whew! That was close. Let's lift off and land somewhere else," the Captain said, panting.
"Yeah, away from hay fields," Sheffield snarled looking at Woodrow.
"Yeah, away from indigs," Martel agreed heartily.
"Stations everybody! Strap in. Woodrow, lift-off at your discretion."
"Aye aye, sir," the Chief Pilot replied and plugged in his skull leads. "Sir! No engine response!"
"Now hear this, heinous dacoits!" a voice boomed from nowhere. The view on main screen went white then cleared to show the King surrounded by his guard and an oddly dressed assortment of individuals.
"My wizards have control of your vessel and have thus
thwarted your attempted escape from justice. Now, you may choose: work off your sentence as I have already offered, or rot in the cell of your own making." With that, the Challenger's bridge was plunged into darkness.
"Life support's been cut off," Sheffield's voice called through the ominous dark.
"Backup?" Norton called wearily.
"No response. I don't know how they did it. But it's done."
"The charge on my pistol is depleted. We've no armament whatsoever," Martel sang out nervously.
"Uh, gentlemen," Sheffield said. "I'm not sure without
checking, but I think we're about to deplete our oxygen since it isn't circulating at all."
"Let's see if the airlock opens," Captain Norton suggested.
"Never thought I'd become a prisoner of war over a burnt field," Martel muttered sadly.
"Thus endeth my first exploratory command," Norton whispered as he stepped out into bright sunlight.


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