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Book: The Immortal Kings
Chapter 12: Controller of the Winds

Just over a century and a half before our arrival at SCR 1845-6357 we launched two probes, one to provide a detailed map of our destination planet and to further investigate its weather patterns, and one to explore the wider system, including the main star’s brown dwarf companion SCR 1845-6357B.

As I waited for the probes to complete their sixty year journey I returned to my studies of the civilisation I had discovered in the Perseus Arm of our galaxy.  It was still flourishing, its cities and colonies emitting light in confident amounts.  But it remained silent.  There was still no repeat of the transmissions I had briefly received.  I could not fathom out why.  Perhaps the transmission I had received had been a mistake?  Perhaps the shielding they had in place, however it was achieved, had suffered a momentary failure?  Whatever the reason, without further samples of the compressed transmission, even the super computers on my ship were unable to decipher the contents of what we had received.  It was intriguing and incredibly infuriating at the same time.

I also kept a close eye on the Solar-System.  Unlike from the alien civilisation I detected plenty of transmissions, albeit weak ones, from Earth and its colonies.  Most were like the ones we had been used to – propaganda to maintain the Royalist control and suppression of its people.  But some were encrypted.  Those were of great interest, and their frequent nature gave our computers plenty of clues as to how to decipher them.  And decipher them they did.   Within a few years I had built up what I considered to be an accurate picture of the activities of the Royalists, and their intentions beyond the Solar-System.  They were indeed building, and had built, thousands of ships, several of them large generation ships.  The generation ships had all been launched to a variety of locations, their purpose to set up ‘mirror’ Royalist civilisations.  One of them was on the way to 40 Eridani A, accompanied by a dozen smaller ships.  The smaller ships, and indeed the generation ship, were armed with anti-matter weapons.  The purpose seemed obvious.  They were to enslave and indoctrinate Carna to make it part of the Royalist Empire, or wipe it clean and recolonize it.

The only good news was that I could find no evidence that the Royalists had acquired the Alcubierre drive technology from Carna’s probe.  That at least would mean any invasion attempt would take close to a millennium to complete.  Carna, with its far superior technology, would be able to plan its defence at leisure.

I was relieved to find no evidence of plans to send ships in our direction.

I sent a message containing my findings to Carna, and requested any information they thought relevant to us from the new probes they had monitoring the Solar-System.

We started receiving data from our probes to SCR 1845-6357 just a few decades before our deceleration phase was due to begin.  The environment for the colonists would indeed be much harsher than the one found by our original colonists on Carna.  The planet’s close and eccentric orbit with its much dimmer parent star, with a year lasting just under two standard weeks, would produce temperature changes of more than seventy Celsius – from minus thirty to plus forty at the equator – during that orbit.  The colonists, and their plants and animals, would experience a bitter winter and a stifling summer every twelve days.  There would be weekly and numerous hurricanes that would pummel coastal areas, making the permanent establishment of outposts there almost impossible, at least until the development of stable inland colonies and a suitable economic system that would allow perhaps underground facilities to be constructed there.

The good news was that there were plenty of fertile plains on the interior of the planet’s three continents and unlike Carna there was not an endless coverage of tough foliage to clear first.  Once suitable protection from the elements was constructed the soil would easily produce good crop yields.

Three prime landing sites were designated.

After some deliberation the other Immortal and I decided to name the planet Aeolus after the ancient Greek god who was the keeper and controller of the winds.  We felt it was most appropriate considering the immense strength of the wind on the planet.  Perhaps one day the colonists would learn to control the winds just as the god Aeolus could.

In the run up to our deceleration phase the other Immortal and I prepared the education plan for the colonisation generation.  It was more important than ever, given the environment into which they would be placed, to get every detail right and to account for every conceivable eventuality.  We were meticulous in our work.  By the time our ship had turned and our anti-matter drive was ready to be activated to commence our deceleration we had, we believed, developed a plan that would ensure the survival of our new colony.  Their lives would never be as comfortable as those on Carna, but they would, eventually flourish to a reasonable degree.

As well as educating the colonisation generation new equipment would be needed, especially with regards to the protective ‘shells’ for the agricultural areas.  Those would require tough transparent material, many square kilometres of it.  We could manufacture less than half a square kilometre on board, which would have to be shared by the three colonies.  The rest would need to be manufactured on the surface, which would take many years.  Until then we would need to provide enough preserved food reserves to keep the colonists fed, and to allow them to start breeding immediately to increase their numbers.

The day that the deceleration phase began had been a troubling one for me.  Once we had started slowing down there would be no turning back.  We would be committed to entering an orbit around SCR 1845-6357, and we would be using almost our entire anti-matter supply to do so.  There would be no possibility to leave the system, and the ability to create more anti-matter, at least to a significant enough degree, would not exist until the colony developed itself to a sufficient technological level.  With such harsh conditions on the destination planet it would be unlikely they would develop to such a level for a millennium or longer, if at all.  It would in all likelihood be our final destination.  After thousands of years of interstellar travel the thought of being effectively marooned in such a way was unnerving.  But to ensure the survival of our mortal crew’s descendants it was something that must be done.  Our ship would not last for more than another two millennia without external support.  The only chance of that was to set up another colony and help it develop to a point that it could provide such support.  After the incredible success of the colony on Carna I had some hope, but the conditions on the new world would push its inhabitants hard, requiring tougher social and political systems that could limit progress.  I feared that some form of dictatorial regime would develop, or something like the Royalist Council on Earth.  The harsh conditions would easily subdue the population and make them more vulnerable to indoctrination and more desperate for something ideological to cling on to.  Perhaps religions would develop, as on Earth, that would be used to control and persecute the population.  Such strict regimes and a mass belief in a fictional super-being would certainly stifle and retard progress.

As you can tell, I had the time, as always, to over-think everything.  Immortality ensured that.  It has caused me intense anxiety many times, often lasting for decades.  Such a thing is almost impossible for a mortal which is one of the few, if only, things I envy of them.

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