Roughhewn rocky cliffs dominated the landscape. Fate was not looking kindly at this situation. Not only had they crash landed in a region of space seldom visited but also on a planet tortured by natural conflict. Volcanos strewn across the horizon were continuously erupting and sending plumes of grayish clouds into the atmosphere. No living organism had ever called this nasty place home.
“My passengers would not last the night. The Serion AI just before it became a heap of junk separated by the impact now glowing orange from the exposed flash entry had dutifully cataloged this planet’s details. Spewing them forth as we pummeled towards the surface the efficient creation sputtered its last fact – ‘night will fall in three Zalon hours’. The day happened to be the same length at forty-five Zalon hours. That meant nothing now. All we could hope for was that our emergency distress message reached High-Command. If we were lucky our stay on this miserable rock would be only a few hours.”
Vantos the senior attaché to the Moless system who should have been basking in a luxurious embassy on the Zalon home world was now dying. A green liquid oozed out from his thin slit masquerading as a mouth. The other two were Zalon diplomats who were sent to accompany this very important Moless guest of the Zalon Kingdom. They were like broken toys sprawled out at odd angles. Their moans barely audible would certainly be cold silent before dusk terminated the golden light coming from this typical yellow star.”
“Not a very gallant end to a career. Those damn Serion AIs, why were they built to be so flawless? Surely, if rescued the sub-atomic linkages of this shipboard savant would positively implicate organic frailty in this crash – the captain’s stupidity – his bad judgment.” There was always enough of these marvels left for High-Command to reconstruct the situations surrounding a tragedy. “Why the hell did he have to take this beautiful white saucer so close to the gravitational field of that pulsar when they entered the edge of this system? Just to get a closer look, to impress his important passengers, and to feel the fling, an exhilaration of unsurpassed velocity he had risked the assured safe uneventful trip, took a gamble and lost. By taking momentary control of the saucer from the Serion AI300 so close to a Pulsar he had bet all, uttering his last very impulsive command.”
“How was it he was ejected from the saucer to land softy on a pile of powdery soft brown sand when the others, his passengers were flung like meteors from the splintered white mess that now littered the rocks across many kilometers?”
Resting comfortably in the cushion of the sand he pondered. “How had it happened that he ended up a simple captain shuttling diplomats around the galaxy when others of equal intelligence and drive were now admirals in command of vast fleets defending the kingdom?”
“Was it that life was really like a spinning roulette wheel? Like one of those games of luck found on Tanger. Our big dreams always seemed too land on lousy outcomes.”
“He was alive. That was how he had to reconcile this prickly situation. At least he was not crunched up on the rocks with his passengers. Did they have families waiting for them back on their worlds? It was a terrible outcome this game of chance he played upon these unsuspecting bystanders. Just to get a rush from the swift kick of a pulsar’s gravitational field he had disregarded the safety of his passengers.”
“You could see the fear in their eyes when the Serion spelled out their doom as they continued to swing ever closer to that orange-yellow pulsing orb. He must have had a lapse of sanity. How else could he explain his thrill of the moment escapade that guaranteed losing control of the craft?”
“Spinning out of control into the nearest planet all they had time to do was look at him in amazement. When they knew they were doomed, falling ever faster with flames erupting across the hull all he could see in their eyes was anger. They took with them to their end the undeniable reality of the situation – his stupidity was to blame for their death.”
“He finally understood what separated the flesh and bone minds from those uncaring, unfeeling, and utterly void empty caricatures acting out sanity and exuberance of passion. They would never feel the warmth of a new day, adding a smile that came direct from a soul. That was the difference between organics and those sterile artificial entities called Serions. He had a soul, a passion that needed recharging every so often. Those pure neuron sub-atomic sentient artificials needed nothing; felt even less, they were always content. They could never even contemplate deviating from their logical well-worn course. Feeling something, anything, meant that rash decisions might be made.”
A nightly flood of lava from the volcanos on the distant horizon was only seconds from fusing all traces of this mistake in an ocean of molten rock.