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Journey to Dendara

by Ken Sanes

It was the year 2107 and the Earth had almost 18 billion people. There were flying cars and cities were full of sleek skyscrapers that rose up into the clouds.

Overall, life was good. But things were also just a little bit crowded. With the average floating shopping center hosting a million shoppers a day, people tended to see a lot of other people as they went about their daily chores.

Maybe it was because things were so crowded that the human race decided in that year to build the first space ship that could go to the stars. Its purpose would be to take 100,000 people beyond the solar system, so they could find and colonize another planet.

The space ship would be the most advanced work of engineering anyone had ever created. Contained inside it would be offices, apartments, factories, and shops, as well as farms that would provide all the inhabitants' food. It would be a self-sustaining world, drawing its energy from light from the stars that it would pass on its long journey.

In building the space ship, there was, however, one concern -- would they be able to find passengers willing to take the trip. After all, the space ship's passengers would never see the new world they were going to. Nor would their children or their children's children. The trip would take centuries because the ship would have to cross the vast distances of space.

But much to everyone's surprise, millions of people volunteered for the trip. It seems there were still plenty of people with a sense of adventure, who wanted to help spread the human race across the galaxy.

In the year 2125 the great ship was finally finished. It then orbited the Earth for 22 years while humanity got up the nerve to send it out. Finally, in the year 2147, the passengers were chosen and the giant ship left on its long journey to distant space. It passed Mars and the asteroid belt, and then passed the orbits of the giant planets beyond -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Finally, the ship passed beyond the furthest point of the solar system and switched into the super-fast "hyper-drive" that would take it speeding to the stars.

The ship's passengers were now set on their course. But they weren't alone because they had each other -- and their ship was a secure and comfortable world. Inside it, people married, had children, went to school, had arguments, held elections for mayor, and made advances in science. In short, they did the same things that people on Earth did. But they were floating in the vastness of space, like a seed waiting to be planted on another world.

In the year 2223, Jonathon Perry was elected mayor of the space ship on a promise to turn back to Earth. Then, the people changed their minds and voted him out of office. Onward they went. In the year 2294, crazy hats that floated over your head were in fashion. And no one even thought to ask what was happening on Earth.

Finally, the space ship came to a planet that looked like it might be livable from a distance. But it turned out to have dangerous chemicals in the atmosphere. A half century later the space ship arrived at another planet that looked like it might be able to host a human colony. But this one had a surface covered with poisonous string-like creatures. It too could not be inhabited by human beings.

Then, in the year 2578, the space ship came to a planet that looked just right. It could well have been the Earth's double with a blue ocean and green and brown continents.

But they were disappointed to discover that the planet already had people on it.

Well, maybe not people exactly, but something much like people. The inhabitants of the planet were taller than human beings, with big hands and feet, and they had higher foreheads, smaller eyes, and gray skin. Apparently, they were simple farmers who lived in villages and had primitive technology.

So, at last, the travelers had found a perfect world -- and it was already claimed by someone else. The question now was what should they do about it?

"I say we go down there and simply take over. Their primitive guns will be no match for our weapons," said one of the mayor's advisors in the giant ship.

"I say we land on another location on this world. Those creatures will never even know we're there," said a second advisor.

"This is their world," said a third advisor. "I say we make friends and see if they will invite us to stay. We have a lot to offer them."

Down on the planet, the people of Dendara, as they called their world, knew something was happening. They had seen a new light in the sky, which was the giant ship seen in the distance. And, as it grew larger in the sky, they feared it would crash into their world. Little did they suspect that a discussion was going on that would decide their future.

At last, the discussion was over. "I have decided," said the mayor of the ship. "Throughout history people have arrived in new lands as conquerors. The result has been a great deal of pain and suffering. We won't repeat that mistake. We have to recognize that this is their world and we are guests. If we're lucky, they will ask us to stay."

With that, everyone agreed. So 30 men, women and children headed for the surface of the planet in a landing craft piloted by the third advisor. They carried, not guns, but food and tools for plowing the fields.

"Lets hope their taste in food is somewhat like ours," said the third advisor, as he steered the craft toward the planet.

A few minutes later, the people of Dendara were shocked to see the landing craft set down on a nearby hill. They ran for cover, clutching their guns, as they prepared to fight. But when the people from Earth came out bearing food and tools -- and with children by their side -- the Dendarans emerged from their hiding places for a better look.

A half hour passed and the mayor on the giant ship couldn’t sit still, wondering and worrying about what was happening on the planet below.

Finally, he could wait no longer. He spoke frantically into his radio transmitter: "What's going on down there" he asked the third advisor on the planet's surface. "Is everyone safe?"

"All is well," his advisor radioed back. "As a matter of fact, we just finished the first dinner in history that combines human and Dendaran food. And we're about to have a very interesting looking dessert that was prepared by our new friends."

"Dendaran?" said the Mayor, as if to ask what the word meant.

"Yes, Dendaran," the advisor said. "We may have come from a distant planet but we've arrived in our new home. We're all Dendarans now."


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