Planetfall

March 12, 2234


It was last night when I landed on the surface of this alien planet with the promising name Psi Alpha 212 - 3 . To be honest, landed is not the right word. To say I crashed into it is more appropriate. I was on an interstellar travel through this unexplored region of the galaxy when suddenly the FTL - drive went crazy. So I had to make a decision: Either go infinitely fast and be scattered around the universe or land on an alien planet. Of course I choose the second alternative. So here I am in some kind of a jungle with lots of mosquitoes and I am writing a diary to stop me from getting bored.
Unfortunately all the instruments are broken and I will need more than two weeks just to repair the long range communicator. But the major problem is, that I have no clue if there are any lifeforms on this planet - Well, except these mosquitoes of course.

March 13, 2234


Another boring day is over. I’ve been working on my communicator all day long and have counted my food rations. An unnecessary precaution, because they will last for at least a year. I would be scared to eat something from this planet without sensoring it first. But I have no working sensor, because I can’t recharge the batteries without the main power drive. I tried to use a solar collector, but the sun does not come through the leaves of the trees.

March 14, 2234


I need this sensor! Without it, I can’t repair the communicator. The damage is even bigger than I had expected and I can’t find the source of the problem. The only possibility now is to find a place where I can charge the sensor. Walking through this forest unarmed gives me the creeps, but I’ve got to try it. I will pack all the necessary things - pulser, sensor, a tent and food for one week and leave tomorrow at sunrise.

March 15, 2234


I have almost found a perfect spot. There was enough sunlight and the ground was level for me to sleep on. But when I came closer I saw this huge crocodile sleeping there. So I walked on. I tried to sleep under a giant tree, but some animal howled through the night and I always had the feeling it came closer. Again I packed my things and left.

March 16, 2234


The edge of the forest! I’ve found it! There is a huge green plain spreading as far as the eye can see. Somewhere north I could see a little hill with a strange colored rock on it. Maybe I will explore this planet a little more when I have the opportunity. Perhaps they will name it after me!
But now I have to stay here and wait until the batteries have charged.

March 17, 2234


The batteries are full and I have decided to walk on. The pulser is working, although only on its lowest setting, so I am feeling more secure than before. The sensor still has a malfunction, but I am sure I will be able to fix it that night.
At about 1700 hours I have reached the top of the hill. The strange looking rock was only some ordinary yellow stone. It must have been the sunlight which tricked me. Far away I could see a trail going through the grass. I wondered if it has been made by one big animal or many small ones. For now I have decided to work on the sensor, because it is getting dark and tomorrow I will throw an eye on this trail.

March 18, 2234


Today I have made an extraordinary discovery! When I woke up, I walked to that trail I saw yesterday. It was farther away than I thought, but it was worth all the walking. The path consisted of two parallel lines with some large circles between them. At first I thought about the form an animal could have to produce this kind of trail, but then I realized that this could have only been made by intelligent beings. This was surely drawn by a carriage of some sort with a horse or the planets equivalent of a horse pulling it. I took the pulser out of my bag, but when I looked at my sensor, which told me, that no bigger animals where in the vicinity, I relaxed and put it back. I scanned the trail and found out that it had been made four days ago. At first I was not sure whether to follow that path or to go back to my ship. However when I thought about it, the reason why I had traveled to this unexplored region of space came to my mind. I’ve always wanted to be an explorer, a pioneer who discovers the secrets and wonders of our galaxy and here I had the opportunity right at my feet. So I marched west, hoping that these people were close to their homes.

March 20, 2234


I think I was to over-optimistic when I thought I would soon see an intelligent being.  I have been walking for over two days now and still there is no sign of anything on my sensor. I have made the arrangement with myself, that I will walk on for another two days and if I find nothing, I will turn around and go back to my ship.
My sensor tells me after scanning the trail, that I am going slightly faster than the carriage, so I may be able to see them in two days anyway. I do find it strange that I have not seen any fireplace or some other sign that they rested. It could mean that this species does not require the same sort of food and rest than we do.

March 21, 2234


I have come closer to the carriage. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened, except some heavy rainfalls, which almost erased the trail I am following. Without my sensor I would not be able to follow it any longer. I have found the bone of an animal, which has clearly been held over a fire. So I think I can presume that these beings eat flesh of animals. I can only hope that these animals do not look similar to human beings.

March 22, 2234


This night I did not sleep. Well, I could not, even if I had wanted to. I was so excited, that I would be the one who makes first contact with alien beings, that I walked on. I forgot how tired I was, I forgot the miles I have walked. At sunrise I looked at the sensor and saw, that the trail I saw was not more than 2 hours old. I knew I would reach them today, but my feet were too tired to go, so I sat down and rested for a while. Suddenly I heard a bird singing somewhere in the trees, which was not normal for this planet, where I have never heard many animals before. I stood up and walked to some bushes that grew there along the edge of the woods. There I saw a little bird which sung. I came closer to watch it, when it abruptly flew away. It must have been scared away by something, so I looked around. And then I heard it too. At first it sounded like thunder coming from far away, but then I realized that this were horses, coming from the way I came from. I hid beneath the bushes not a second too early, because I now could see the animals. And every horse had a rider on it. They were definitely human as far as I could see from here. I counted ten. They were armed with swords and shields and looked very war-like. I decided not to show me to them, so I stayed hidden.
The riders passed by without noticing me. I waited a few minutes and followed them. While I was walking I wondered if these knights - or whatever they were - were friendly people. My instinct said that I had to be careful, but the pulser in my pocket made me feel strong and brave.
After about 25 minutes of walking I heard someone crying and swords clashing together. Right in front of me was a little wood, from where the noises came. I left the trail and entered the forest somewhere else.
The trees were standing close together, so I had no problem approaching the scene of the battle unseen. When I came closer I saw the knights standing around twelve men, women and children, all tied together with ropes. To the right was a carriage. The horse was laying dead on the ground, full of blood. One knight, obviously the leader, said something to his comrades, which frightened the prisoners, but the knights laughed. They separated one boy who was about 15 or 16 years old from the others. The boy’s eyes were filled with terror and he tried to struggle free but the knights held him tight. They pushed him on his knees and one knight took his sword. Suddenly I realized what these barbarians planned to do: They wanted to behead this boy! I pulled the pulser out of my bag and aimed at the knight. But I hesitated. Ten knights against one was too much for me, even with my pulser, which worked only on its lowest setting.
The knight raised his sword ready to strike.
Two choices appeared in my mind. Either close your eyes or shoot.
The sword came closer to the boy’s neck.
Close your eyes or.....
The knight fell to the ground. Everyone, the remaining knights and the prisoners, were looking around to see, where the blow came from. They were as surprised as I was. I was sure I pushed the trigger of the pulser, but I was not sure when or if I had made the decision to do it.
The knights were still uncertain what they should do. They had taken their hands off the boy, who then fell to the ground, weeping.
I had to use this confusion or else they would start to search for the attacker and find me, so I fired my pulser nine times. Nine knights followed their comrade. The prisoners again looked around, some were pointing to the sky. I took out my sensor, which told me, that the knights would regain consciousness in about one hour.
I told myself that I had to warn these people, who surely thought that the knights were dead. But then I thought that they would be too scared when they would see me in 23rd century clothing. Again the two choices were formed in my mind: Get involved or stay. Explore or hide. Adventurer or coward.
This time I made the choice myself and walked towards the group.
As I had thought, they were scared when they saw me. When I touched the rope, which bound them together, they tried to move away. But when they saw, that I was no evil monster and that I helped them and opened the rope, they relaxed. One young woman came closer to me, touched my arm and said something like:
„Kuur atta vaas?“
I shook my head to show her that I did not understand.
She touched her forehead and said „Kinesim“
I still did not understand.
She made a disappointed gesture, but then her face brightened. She touched the forehead of a man standing next to her and said „Agna“. Then she touched another man and said „Kiyana“. Now I knew what she meant.  These were their names and she wanted to know mine. So I touched my head and said „Anthony“. She repeated my name. One young girl was giggling, perhaps my name sounded like a word of their language.
The language was a problem I did not think about when I decided to come closer. Of course my sensor was capable of translating any language, but it had to listen to a new language for more than 20 hours before being able to assist in communications.
So here I was, not knowing how to tell them that the knights would soon wake up.
The men and women looked at my expectantly.
I pointed at the knights and made the gesture of sleeping, but they did not know this sign and looked puzzled.
So I pointed again at the knights, lay down on the ground, closed my eyes, made some snoring sounds and then stood up, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.
This time they did understand. The younger ones enlarged the distance between themselves and the knights, the others looked frightened in the direction of the sleeping warriors.
Only the boy that I had saved from death went to the knight who wanted to kill him, took his sword and raised it.
He wanted to take revenge, which was and is absolutely not my way.
I did not want to become a slaughter of alien people, so I ran to the boy, took the sword away from him and shouted "No!"
He made a movement towards the sword, but then stopped. He looked in my face, as if he was trying to find out what I was doing.
I shouted "No one is going to kill anyone here!" forgetting that he could not understand me.
I threw the sword away.
The teenager walked back to the others, looking at me as if I had done something mad. Kinesim said something to him, which was clearly in my favor, judging from the looks she gave me. The boy talked back, but after a while she seemed to have convinced him.
The man she called Agna took some ropes and tied up the sleeping knights. Not a second too soon, because I noticed, that one of them was moving slowly. So the pulser was even weaker than I had thought!
The knight opened his eyes. He looked around, and when he saw his former prisoners running around free he tried to jump up. Of course he could not move because he was tied up, but the children made a few steps back. Now he was shouting something in their language, which frightened my new friends. They looked at me, then back at the knight, as if they were expecting some sort of advice from me. I could understand their dilemma: Their enemies were in their hands, still threatening them, but they were not allowed to harm them.

They talked with each other, obviously discussing the subject. After a few minutes they came to a conclusion and carried the knights to the trees where I had hid before.
The knights were tied to the trees after all their pockets were emptied. Agna pulled me to one of the still sleeping knights and showed me the rope around the knight’s hands, which was a little bit loose, so he could untie himself with a little effort.
The men were making preparations to leave the place. They harnessed the surviving horses in front of the carriage, in which the smaller children were already sitting.
The girl named Kinesim was approaching me. Again she asked a question in her alien language. Again I could not even guess what she meant. So she pulled me in the direction of the carriage, which had already started to move. Apparently she wanted me to accompany them.
Since I was already involved in all this, and they already knew of my existence, I thought it would be best to go with them and learn more about their culture, so I followed her.
I do not know what her motives were for taking me along.
Was she just curious, did she think they needed my protection or did she see the possibility to learn as I did?
So we walked side by side next to the carriage. I found Kinesim and the others staring at me, staring at my clothes, my face and they whispered to each other.
I took out my sensor and looked at the display.
I recalled the translator settings and found that it was too early to attempt communication with its help. But the words it had already mastered were "man" and "strange" and "lightning", because I saw these words flashing up all the time when I directed the sensor to the group of children who were talking to each other on the carriage.
The estimate of the program was about 18 hours until it would reach basic translation capabilities.
I used the sensor to check for life - forms but found none (except me and my companions, of course), so the knights either were still tied up or they stopped following the carriage and went back where they came from.
When I thought about this, the thought struck me that I was working for the bad guys of this planet or at least against their law, which made me feel uneasy a bit. I looked around to see if I would detect any hostility or hate in the faces of this people, but all I saw was curiosity and excitement.
When looking closely to the men's faces I noticed that every man had a certain tattoo on his forehead. It did not seem to me that this was an artistic design, it seemed to be a more functional one, but I could not guess what it meant.
We were walking for about three hours when my legs were so tired that I could barely walk on. The excitement had worn off and so the constant walking for more than a day and a night made itself felt.
I did not want to look weak, so I continued walking, but I fell over a half buried root. A little girl giggled, but stopped when she saw my face, which must have reflected my pain.
Agna, who was sitting on one of the horses and riding in front of the group, turned around and pointed to me and to the horse. I waved at him in dismissal, trying to look as fresh and un-tired as possible, but I think I did not quite convince him, so he dismounted and pulled me to the horse.
Now I have seen horses on Earth and similar creatures on other planets, but I always tried to show these animals as much respect as possible, meaning at least ten meters distance.
Agna must have noticed my hesitation, but misinterpreted it as modesty, so he smiled at me, grabbed me and virtually threw me onto the horse.
I was sitting on the animal, looking from above at Agna and Kinesim so helplessly, that they laughed and Agna said something to Kinesim and everyone laughed (I think my face must have been dark red - I never enjoyed it when someone is laughing about me) and then Agna took the reins and pulled the horse behind him and we continued our march through the woods.
A few minutes ago we stopped and they made a fire.
Some women are preparing a meal and so I thought it was time to write into my diary. While I have been writing, Agna was looking over my shoulder and is now sitting next to me. I am curious what he thinks the sensor is. But this people seem to be more open minded than the people from the dark ages of my planet have been. They somehow accept me to have a weapon which fires light and they even accept it that I have a book without pages.
Well, I guess I will know more tomorrow, when the translator works.

March 23, 2234


The days without sleeping and the excitement of yesterday took its toll. Although I wanted to wake early so I would not miss anything around me I slept until my new friends where ready to leave our resting place and woke me. Kinesim gave me a cup full of hot liquid to drink, which she called “Ajuta”. It looked orange with a slight green touch and I was not sure what it was made of, but I did not want to annoy anyone by sensoring it first. So I took the cup and tasted it. I felt the warm liquid running down into my stomach, then I felt the ground hitting my head. When I came back to myself, everyone was standing around me, staring at me in great concern. Agna helped me up, he seemed to be relieved that I was conscious again. I turned around to look at Kinesim, grinned and said: “No Ajuta”. Now everyone was laughing.
Shortly afterwards we were continuing our journey. A few times Agna or some other man would ride back and check if we were followed. Of course I knew we weren’t, because I used my sensor to check the region behind us. It seemed that the knights had lost interest, or they were so afraid of my pulser that they had decided to get reinforcements.
Around midday I walked next to the boy who I had saved yesterday. I had learned that his name was Egra. While I was looking at my sensor he sung a tune which consisted only of a few notes but had – as it seemed – an enormous amount of lyrics. I looked at the translator, which could now translate almost all the words. The song seemed to be a poem about some kind of wizard, who helped people in need.
When Egra finished the song, he said to himself, looking in my direction: “Kafi ir naajk opamna” which the translator interpreted as “I wonder if you really are a wizard”.
I put my thumb on the “TRANSLATE” button and said: “No, certainly not”. As expected, the words were coming out of the sensor in the alien language, using my voice, a second after I had started the sentence.
Egra’s eyes widened and he said something. I read: “You understand me?”
I answered: “Now I do”.
He shouted to the others: “He understands our language! The wizard talked to me”
Everyone was looking at me and I could read their words:
“Don’t be funny, why should he” - “So he’s really a wizard” – “That’s strange”.
Agna walked to me and said something very slowly which translated as: “Can you talk to me?”
“Yes, now I can”
“This is magic!”
“No, it is not – But it is difficult to explain – my people have invented a technology which can translate unknown languages”
At this moment I noticed, that I had not thought about what I could tell them, if I could tell them where I came from.
Agna looked at me and I saw a hint of suspicion rising. Carefully he said: “The wizards of Ogrino have books just like yours, which can talk. Are you one of them?”
“No, I do not know Ogrino – and I am no wizard!”
“Yes – you would not fight the High Guard if you were from Ogrino.”
He looked relieved.
Kinesim, who was standing next to him, took my hand and said: “Now we can really thank you for saving us! You do not seem to know the terror from which you have rescued us!”
“I could not watch while someone was killing unarmed people.”
Agna placed his hand on my shoulder and said: “Thank you. But you know, the High Guard will not stop looking for us – and they will never stop looking for you! Which is why we should keep moving! Come on, people!”
While we were walking on, Egra and Agna were marching at my side. Both had asked me where I came from, but I did not tell them. They seemed to respect my whish, because neither one did ask me again that afternoon.
Even though I did not tell much about myself I asked them many things about their world which they answered.
The wizards of Ogrino had caught my interest. Agna gave me the following explanation:
“The city of Ogrino has been the biggest city in this land since anyone can remember – and even longer ago – according to our oldest books. It is inhabited by the people of Seemabs, who think they are something better than the rest of all people in the land. And they are right – most of them are fearsome warriors and their leaders are wizards.”
“What do you mean by wizards?” I asked.
“Well, they do the things you do – hurting people with fireballs and lightning – they have talking boxes and they always seem to know more.”
”You have seen one performing these miracles?”
“Yes, I did. A few years ago, when Seemabs threatened our country, I travelled to Ogrino to investigate a few things. It was very difficult, because they do not tolerate outsiders in their town. I was lucky, no one saw me. If someone would have found my hiding place I am sure they would have killed me.
Some night I walked to the palace and I saw one of the wizards throwing fireballs at a puppet. He must have been practicing.
And then I saw another one turning himself into a bear. It was very frightening.
That was enough proof for me and I left the city.”
I do not know what I should make of this report. Wizards? How could that be possible?
We were walking the whole afternoon and nothing out of the ordinary happened. The landscape did change a bit, everywhere were rocks and we were travelling through some vallies with sharp edges.
When the sun was setting, Agna searched for a place to rest for the night. He found a small valley where a small river was flowing.
As I was writing these last few sentences, Egra stepped behind me. He asked me what I was doing.
“I am writing a diary – to remember everything that happened”
“Well – I certainly won’t forget anything about the last few days, that’s for sure!”
He looked at the writing.
“How does this work? There are no pages? You sure could not tell everything about the last few days with these twenty lines of signs?”
I showed him how the sensor stored the text and how to write into the diary.
“I would like to try it someday” Egra said, “but I do not know how to write.”
“Even if you could write, the sensor does not know your letters, your signs. But you can tell the sensor what it should write down. Try it!”
This is his entry:
“What should I say? It makes all this signs while I’m talking. Hallo? I call myself Egra. Ok, stop it, I don’t know anything to tell it.”
It is now a few minutes after dinner, which consisted only of bread and water, because no one was able to shoot some deer during the day, most of the people are already sleeping. I am tired too from this walking and I hope we will reach our destination soon, because it feels like I have been on foot for weeks now. I still do not know what to make of this “High Guard” and if I should be afraid of them. Maybe I should have turned back the moment I saw these knights, I should have walked back to my ship and repaired it. But then Egra – who is now sleeping next to me - would be dead.
But then I think – maybe I have only delayed the inevitable – maybe the people of Ogrino will not stop until they find us and then – well – I should stop thinking about them. I dealt with them once, who is to say that I could not defeat them again?
I really hope we find more time to rest so I can repair and load the pulser. I have to ask Agna tomorrow at which time we will reach their village.
My feet hurt. I hope I find something in the medkit.

March 24, 2234

 
That night I dreamed that twenty wizards in long robes were turning my friends into teddy bears and one looking at me, saying: “You don’t want to try the Ajuta again, Anthony?”
Well, actually it was Kinesim, who said this to me, waking me (Or at least I thought she said that – The translator was offline. But she mentioned the Ajuta and my name). I declined.
When we were continuing our journey, I talked to Agna about their village and when we would arrive there.
“I am not used to this walking. Where I come from, we use things like carriages all the time. No one walks” I added.
“I thought so. I estimate we will reach Leroc Ward around midnight, if nothing out of the ordinary happens.” He thought about something. “You should change your clothing into something more fitting to this region. Not that I distrust anyone in our village, but we often have visitors from other wards here and I do not want them to spread the word about you.”
“But I only have the things I am wearing now.”
“You are about my size. There should be something for you back in the carriage. It is my visitation gown.”
“Your what?”
“That are the clothes we wear for special occasions. I do not know if Egra told you, but we have been coming back from visiting Kinesim’s future husband in Eboda Ward when the High Guard attacked us. We will check if the clothes fit when we make our next stop around midday.”
He told me more things about the man Kinesim is going to marry, the leader of Eboda Ward and how nice he is and gentile and – wealthy and that everyone loves him.
“I hope you meet him someday” Agna added. “If you stay with us a little longer – maybe ‘til Kinesims vow of marriage? What plans do you have?”
I had been thinking about this from time to time now. How long should I stay with this people? A few days? A year? But since no one is really expecting me home on Inos – at least not for the next few months – I would be free to explore this culture for as long as I wished. So I told Agna:
“To be honest: I do not really have a plan right now, so if it’s all right with you, I’d like to stay in your village for some time”
He sure was happy about that.
When the sun reached its highest point in the sky we made rest next to a small spring which was coming out some rocks. Kinesim started to prepare some food which was unnecessary in my opinion because we found a tree full of berries of some kind along the way and ate every fruit in our reach, which was about everything, because the children climbed the tree and threw the fruits, which our hands could not reach, down to us.
After a few pieces of bred and a few cups of fresh spring water, Agna walked to the cart and brought back a few pieces of clothing and told me to try it. I took the clothes and walked behind a bush. I kept on my underwear because I did not trust Agna completely and because I knew that underwear from this level of civilization had to be cleaned more often than ours.
First, I tried Agna’s shirt which scratched terribly – I guess I am used to much finer woven garment – but it did fit. Then I put on the trouser and thought it was too short but then I remembered that Agna’s trousers did also end shortly below his knees.
They do not wear socks but some kind of woolen band, which has to be wrapped around the foot and the lower leg. After about hundred attempts I succeeded (at least I think, I did) in making it look authentic.
At last came the shoes which were more or less a disappointment to me, because they were not much more than a piece of leather held together and to the foot with laces which had to be wrapped around the ankle. I was afraid that I would feel every small stone on the way through this soft sole – and now – as I am writing this - I know I was right.
I finished my dressing with the enormous belt, which – gladly – had a few bags in which I put my sensor and my pulser.
When I finally emerged from my bush the others made a sound not indifferent to a few high and low “Yeahs”. I hoped this was their form of applause.
“You look good” said Kinesim, adjusting my shirt a bit.
“Thanks” I answered “but I’m afraid, only the clothes do the trick.”
After I stored my own clothes in the carriage, we marched on.
As I have remarked before, walking in this “shoes” was no fun, especially for the first miles. And when we crossed a small river and I jumped to short, my feet were wet for more than an hour.
For the first time in a few days I was really missing the comfort of home. I often had been without a Kelvin shower for some weeks and I also ate “natural” food from time to time, but I did always wear my own clothes which were measured exactly to my body size.
We rested for a few minutes around nightfall, ate the food that was left and then marched on. Agna had planned to reach their village around midnight and we did.
Everything was quiet and we saw no one except the two guards at the gates.
There was a short discussion between Agna and Egra about who should have the honor of having me as guest, but when Agna said that he was the leader and that he also had the bigger house, Egra accepted it, also because he didn’t want to wake his parents and ask for permission.
Agna led me to his house and into a room, where an enormous wooden frame was standing, covered with cloth. It took me a minute to find out that this thing is a bed.
Now, while writing these last lines of today’s entry I’ve made myself comfortable here. It is not like home – but surely better than sleeping on the ground!
 

March 25, 2234

to be continued...