“Yeah,” Ivan Dostenko agreed. “Of all the planets I’ve seen, this is the most like old Mother Earth.”
The rest of the crew in the scout ship agreed as they stared at the beautiful blue and white ball floating in the darkness of space. They had been exploring planets for five years now, and of the twenty they had visited, none were such a close twin to Earth.
Suddenly, the intercom squawked “urgent, urgent, attention all scout ships. Get away from the planet as fast as you can go! Main engines at full thrust! Go, go, go! Move it, guys, you are in extreme danger! A sudden spike in biomass shows tremendous explosion is imminent!”
At the first “urgent”, pilot Hilda Neumann had started the port thrusters, causing the ship to swing in an arc, and then tapped for full power on the main engine. The little ship shot away from the plant, pressing everyone back into their seats. The speed built up to eight gees before she eased off on the engines, watching the dials carefully. When they were at least 10,000 clicks from the planet, she cut the engine, and used the port thrusters again to turn the ship until the planet swam into view.
The planet was a large bright star, but there was something wrong. It seemed to be swelling. Suddenly it seemed to jump closer as Parry Thomas zoomed the camera, and they could see what was happening. In what seemed to be slow motion, great chunks of brown and blue matter were rising from the planet, slowly spreading out.
“Holy St. Brigid, what is that? What happened? It looks like those pieces of whatever are reaching out to our orbit – we could have been smashed!” Nora Connors exclaimed.
Commander Radcliff Ashcombe took a deep breath, ran his fingers through his hair, and said “We surely could have, Ensign Connors, we surely could have. Thanks to the sharp eyes back on the old Mother McGee, we are safe. But I wonder if anything will be left of that planet, and if there is, will we go in and explore? Might be interesting.” He looked around with a sparkle in his eyes. “It just might be interesting.” The crew sighed. Commander Ashcombe did love exploring dangerous places.