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Page 5

“Structures!” he announced. “Living beings!”

They began to grow, their large triangular sides standing stark above their surroundings.    

“Intelligent life, maybe they can help us,” he suggested, ignoring all the negative possibilities.   

The seraphim didn’t comment.

“Why wasn’t this declared when we surveyed it?” the Pilot asked.

“Very primitive, of minor significance, at the time,” droned the HER.   

“Living, intelligent beings,” he countered.  He smiled at the seraphim as if expecting them to share his enthusiasm. 

“There are possibilities if we can get down. They might be our salvation. What about the oxygen and carbon dioxide ratio?” he asked.

“No indication that they have burned fossil fuels.”

“That doesn’t mean that they haven’t,” he retorted. “If they are advanced, they would have cleaned up the waste eons ago.”

“Clarification, sir, I didn’t say they had not burned them.”  

“Of course, but are there trace contaminants?”

“No trace contaminants,” droned the encyclopedic one.     Then silence. He waited for one of them to say, “It is impossible to wash out all contaminants and you know that.” Of course neither did.

He flashed the pointer at a land mass, flanked by two fingers of sea.   

“There,” he announced, “set down there.”

Seraphim Two began preparation, and, of course, there was a preferred way, a best practice, for crash landing. The manual suggested that the survival unit be ejected prior to touchdown, thus it would survive the crash. Hopefully the ship would survive the landing, but if it didn’t, the survival gear would be intact.  

“Where do you want your survival stuff?” Seraphim Two asked. 

“It stays with me. I don’t want the life forms down there to mess with it.”

“I’ll record your decision,” Seraphim One informed.

The decision made, he tried to relax, allowing his mind to wander

 back to the daydream by the lagoon, the kids tugging them toward

 the water, his wife, smiling, holding his arm. In a daze, he

 watched Seraphim Two begin to place the protective shields around

 him. Then he felt the hand on his left shoulder, followed by a

 solid pat, the gesture of

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