The large pod landed on the barren, dead planet, and a plume of dust scattered as it thudded quietly. The LED readout went from green, to red, then back to green, and then it read, ‘Initiate Ecosystem‘.
A large panel lifted, and the sides expanded, then the panel flipped, and spread into four, large sheets, which appeared to be solar panels. Then the sides opened and changed shape, and formed a box, with solar panel sides. Inside, the glass dome reflected the sun’s rays.
Small drones detached from hidden compartments underneath. The first one moved two meters away, then whirred loudly as it began doing it’s pre-programmed job. A long arm reached into the pod and took resources, and it laid them into a semi-circular area around it. Then the second one, third one and fourth ones did the same. A fully formed circle appeared around the dome, but the domes didn’t stop. They created layer, upon layer and built a sizeable wall around the pod and the dome.
Another drone slowly began to dismantle the pod, using the resources within the small complex and converting parts as instructed. It then formed a new device, which illuminated red. Over the day, as the sun’s light charged it, the panel turned green. With the newly changed panel, the device switched on and a loud rumbling was heard as plums of black smoke began to escape the compound.
Dust and particles were dug and moved by the outer drones into the centre drone, which funnelled them into the loud device.
A gentle breeze wafted over the contraption, but all of the hard objects were untouched, and they continued undeterred.
Inside the dome, which was about eight meters wide, a tray filled with well-cured soil waited. Small, wafts of cotton could be seen extruding the various holes, which were spread every few centimetres.
Condensation quickly accumulated on the glass dome, which ran down the sides, and fed into an internal sprinkler system, that ensured the targeted jets hit their targets.
Over the first few days, little sprouts began to form in the soil and small larvae could be seen in a small clump within the dome. Small vents around the perimeters, gently blew oxygen into the contained area.
The sprouts grew quickly, and soon the potatoes, arabidopsis’ and rapeseeds began to grow. Then the larvae hatched, and small fruit flies went in hunt of food.
The outer droids had built a wall of over ten meters high, to protect the dome and inside colony, and the terraformer inside, continued to heat the area and create gases.
Once the plants began to sprout, the outer drones fanned out and began collecting more soil, which they funnelled back to the inner drone. The inner drone had multiple arms, and it used these to create small, glass pieces, which it put in the side shelves. The outer drones took these small pieces of glass and begun to seam them together, using special glass sealing devices, and fairly quickly, there were four new domes just like the first one.
The drone inside the first structure was busy, it had been manipulating soil by-products that had arisen from the manufacturing, and it sent these back out as curated soil. Drones took this soil and created a new environment, and as condensation built on the glass, they build sprinklers and adjusted them.
The first dome’s plants began to sprout seeds, and these were cultivated by tiny drones inside the dome, and transported to the edges, where small vents waited. The inside drone took these and distributed them to the outer shelves, and the outer drones took the new seeds, and the new larvae and they created their own environment.
About a month after the initial landing, twenty-five domes had been built, and the drones were able to manage these autonomously.
Small compartments opened on the pod when the outer drones signalled, and a tray of new seeds was provided to the inner drone, who split these seeds into the twenty-five domes.
Each of the five groups of domes were within one habitat, connected by multiple tunnels of glass, so that each of the habitats could produce specified products.
When the eco-systems were complete and matured, the central pod came to life and opened drawers, where eggs waited to be fertilised. The drones placed the eggs in the domes, then fertilised them when ready, and adjusted the temperatures accordingly.
Small plants, trees, flowers, insects, birds and reptiles emerged from all of the domes and they quickly used the tunnels to find ways to move between the other domes.
As the drones watched the trees grow, they raised the walls so that the domes were higher and could allow the trees some space to grow.
The terraformer then beeped, about eighty days into the original landing and then the drone dismantled it, and sent it, with new parts, and the outer colonies created five terraformers with the parts.
When the central drone dismantled itself and sent instruction to the outer domes, they reassembled it, in a larger form, outside the compound.
It hunted for resources within the barren soil and used them to create new terraformers. When a new terraformer was created, automated, and set with it’s own drone for monitoring, the terraformer drone then went further out and created more.
One hundred and ten days after the initial landing, the terraformer spread more than a kilometre from the original landing site, and it continued to use local resources, to create new terraformers.
The terraformers used local soil and energy and sunlight, to transform the local air and to heat it. Temperature gauges on all the terraformers remained in contact, and when eventually, the inner terraformers reached the desired temperature, they moved out into the land and assisted the terraformer drone.
Large trees and plants began to grow, and the domes were in full-scale production by the drones, standing at an impressive twenty meters.
Birds lived among them, and soon other life forms, either winged, or furry, or hairy.
On day two hundred, the pod released the monkeys and apes, pigs, chickens, sheep, dogs, foxes, cows and all the other animal embryos for the drones to curate.
On day two hundred and eighteen, the terraformers on the first mile beeped. The drones set to work on this day, and worked through the day and night until completion. They took the glass dome and they built extensions, and tunnels and portals, so that an impressive network developed within the colony.
The central dome was no longer the largest, with an outer dome reaching new heights of sixty meters, and birds capable of soaring into the tops of them.
But on the extremities of the domes, where the terraformers continued to change the environment, small clouds began to form above the domes. Toxic rains began to fall, small at first, then large raindrops that splashed the dome glass and then slid down to the ground around it.
Pools of toxic water accumulated, and soon life grew inside these.
The drones analysed the puddles, and watched and monitored the life-forms, but continued to focus on the inner colonies.
Over time, by day three-hundred, a sizeable area, of one-hundred and fifty miles had been terraformed and domes sprawled through much of this land.
Naturally, the animals grouped into their own areas, laying claim to places that attracted it. They lived in harmony and went about their own lives, with curiosity in the world around them. The ecological balance was monitored by the domes, who ensured that all consumption was met with abundance, but not wastage.
The external temperature began to change, and the rains became less toxic as the atmosphere began to change.
When the time was right, around day four hundred, the drones took the manipulated seeds and planted them outside. They took longer to grow, but they did grow eventually, and they grew tall. The drones nurtured them, and when they produced oxygen, and the air around them was safe, the drones took a variety of bacteria, and larvae, eggs from various insects that would help the ecosystem, and they let them alone and watched.
The rains spread, to other parts of the land, and soon the drones watched as the terraforming process went ahead without their intervention.
Day five hundred came, as any other day did, except that this was the day that all the readouts flashed green, and so for the first time, the drones opened all the dome doors and let everything out.
Birds flew high and soared above the planet, and watched the scene below with fascination. Instinct told them not to venture too far, so they stayed within the ecosystem and found new homes outside.
As plants and trees began to form forests outside, the animals found homes among them. Some stayed within the domes, but many enjoyed the adventure of life outside the domes.
Life spread quickly across the planet, and lakes formed, then rivers, then oceans and seas.
The planet temperature had reached the ideal point, and the water levels rose as expected, and the atmosphere was as it should be.
On day six hundred, without fanfare and without warning, all the drones and all the electronics shut down.
But the planet was not quiet, with the lack of electronics and technology, as the insects, birds and animals talked excitedly, they sung, they played and they roamed their new habitat, undeterred and without threat.
Thunderstorms raged occasionally, while rains fell, dry spells happened but balance evened out the seasons.
Day eight-hundred came and the pod illuminated, and codes were sent out to the drones, who were alerted to duty immediately. They whirred, slightly dusty, but with capabilities for self-cleaning and diagnostics, which they did immediately. Some drones helped each other access hard to reach areas, but soon, all drones were back on duty and began to move to the location as instructed by the pod and central drone.
They built small habitats, among the trees and they helped to cultivate new fruit and vegetables, which the animals enjoyed, and the drones managed.
When the environment was ready, the drones were instructed to create a new drone, built from pre-defined plans. They worked together, and efficiently, with the parts distributed by the pod and central drone, and produced the ten larger drones as per the schematics given.
These larger drones were powered on when ready, and with a slight whir, they lit up and they stood. With two legs, two arms, a chest, pelvis, neck and head, they were human-like but did not stir when the breeze came through the forest.
On two legs, the walking drones received information from the pod, and their eyes lit and then they walked in different directions. They lifted heavier equipment than the smaller drones could handle, and they setup the large structure, which was mostly made up of glass and wood. Once complete, they built the incubation chambers along the walls, in stacks and in rows, as instructed, then created machinery to monitor them.
The incubation chambers had LED readouts that provided external information to the walking androids, which continued to setup the entire colony. Once they completed the entire complex, they then returned to the pod, and received the first incubates. These smaller pods were taken to the structure, placed inside the chambers, and then the chamber was set.
Within days, the small pods opened, and inside were human embryos that were already formed. The androids then opened the pods and attached the small cable to the foetus and closed the glass door and returned to their charging stations and waited.
Many more days passed, and the embryos grew into small children. The chambers were opened again and new electrodes were attached, along with an adjustable helmet and other necessary wiring.
It took ninety days for the first eight humans to reach full maturity. When ready, the androids attached a new device to the humans and reset the incubation chambers. The download took mere seconds, and the humans began to move as it happened.
Then the first human jerked, and opened her eyes. She took a deep breath and then was startled, and quickly looked around her at the chamber. The android walked over, and hit the green button, which allowed the chamber lid to lift up.
She slowly sat up, with some difficulty, and felt the back of her head. The blonde hair around her pretty face seemed strange, and she felt it with trepidation, then looked at her hands, and her naked body on the firm bed.
When she looked around again, it was with curiosity and eyes wide and then she smiled. Slowly, she moved her legs over the side of the chamber and found it difficult to move them over the side. An android came over and stood beside her, and held an arm out. She studied the android for some time, then tentatively put an arm out and the android took it. With some assistance, she was able to stand.
“Thank you,” she croaked. Then, “water.”
The android opened its chest and pulled out a glass vial filled with fluid and passed it to her. She nodded and drank the fluid, then returned the vial to it.
Next to her incubation chamber, another human was waking. The woman slowly walked towards the chamber, using the bench for support.
The man had a strong jaw, perfect features and when they opened, sky-blue eyes. He seemed disoriented at first, and the woman smiled, but he didn’t recognise her.
“It’s me, Joanna.”
He registered then, and smiled.
“You?” she asked him.
“Ah…” she said, and nodded appreciatingly.
“Will take some…getting used to,” he said.
She nodded. “Groggy.” Then gave him her hand and he took it. With a little effort, he was soon standing. When he realised he was naked, he saw his naked form, then hers and he looked at her eyes.
“They don’t dress us,” she said, and laughed, a musical laugh.
He grinned and then looked around. “Clothes?” he asked the android.
The two nearest androids snapped to attention and retrieved tunics from a nearby cupboard.
After the two humans dressed, they begin to explore the chambers.
“Just us?” she asked.
He nodded, “pretty sure that was the procedure,” then, after a walk around the internal facility, he added, “we’ll get the others when we’re happy.”
She laughed, looked down at her body and at his, and said, “oh…I’m very happy! We did it!”
With a big smile, he nodded and said, “we sure did. A long way from home, but we did it.”
A Short Story by Fox
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