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When his survey ship was forced to make an emergency landing on the larger of Ciphon’s two continents, Calvin was not terribly concerned. Malfunctions happened. He’d crash landed before. The scout ship had all sorts of provisions for just such eventualities—an emergency beacon, food for a few days, a small shelter, first aid kit and lots of other goodies he’d never needed. Usually rescue came within a few hours. What Calvin never expected was a series of unfortunate incidents that would leave him stranded possibly for good.
He should have been concerned when shortly after launch the scout ship’s proton engine began to sputter. On any other day he would have aborted the mission but this was the first chance he and the other scouts had to fly since landing on the newly discovered planet. Bad weather had kept the whole mapping and exploration crew cooped up inside the camp for weeks and he was anxious to get out and see a world no human had ever seen. Like all pilots he lived for the joy and freedom of flying and when you can fly over a vast uncharted wilderness like Ciphon’s there is no telling what you might find.
So instead of aborting, he circled a few times until the engine smoothed out. Relieved, he took off due West plotting and mapping the unexplored vastness of a new world. He headed for a range of distant mountains. The beauty of the place was stunning. All that pristine wilderness would change once the terraforming engineers and the marketing people got to work on this world. Initial surveys indicated rich mineral deposits, plenty of liquid water, breathable air and carbon based life. A world ready made for human exploitation.
When his ship reached the line of distant hills, Calvin lost radio contact with his base. Some sort of natural interference he suspected, perhaps a high concentration of iron or some form of radiation. Whatever it was, the radio was dead. Not even any static. While he was fiddling with the radio, the proton engine quit and, without power, the little ship went down like a stone in deep water. Between the hills were sheer cliffs and dense canopy. There was no place to land. All he could do was hang on and hope he survived.
He must have been unconscious and rescued but rescued by whom? Where was he? How long had he been out? Who were these people? There wasn’t supposed to be any intelligent life on Ciphon but obviously that was wrong. As his eyes got accustomed to the dark, Calvin got a good look at his surroundings. He noticed someone had left a bowl of water near by. He hadn’t realized how thirsty and hungry he was. He drank the whole bowl. He suspected he hadn’t eaten or drunk anything in days. He got slowly to his feet and limped toward a darker section of wall which he took to be a door. Hopping on his good leg, Calvin hung on to the wall for support. The walls were natural stone. He assumed he was in a cave. On the other side of the doorway was a passage leading to daylight and a clearing. He made his way slowly down the long corridor and reached the cave entrance.
Children and adults danced and chanted around a central fire. Everyone froze and turned when Calvin hopped into their midsts. It was the quintessential meeting of two intelligent species. Here it was, humanity’s most historic moment and it fell to a battered Calvin Perle to utter mankind’s first words.
The aliens looked extremely strange. They were bipedal with triangular heads and greenish complexions. Their skin was the color of pistachio nuts and their general appearance was more insect like rather than a primate. But for all their strangeness, they were not horrible to look at, in fact they appeared well made and had a fierce beauty of their own. God only knew what he looked like to them. Instinctively he raised his hands palms outward. He was about to say, “I come in peace,” when he caught himself up short. It wasn’t true. He hadn’t come in peace. He’d come to change their world. He was the spear point for a huge colonization effort involving dozens of Earth’s biggest corporations. There was nothing these primitive people could do to stop it. Instead he said “Hello. I am Calvin, a human being.”
The natives turned out to be loving and caring and nursed Calvin back to health. He had no choice but to stay with them while he healed. During that time, he learned some of their language and tried to explain what he and his fellow Earthlings were doing there. Concepts like terraforming and colonization were too foreign for them to absorb.
As his leg healed, he began taking walks through the forest. He was treated as a male although how they could tell eluded him as he could see no physical difference between the sexes. As in all hunter gatherer societies, the females stayed in the village taking care of the young, gathering fruits and preparing meals while the males formed hunting parties and went off in search of game. It was the women who looked after him as they did their young.
When he was strong enough, he was invited along with the males on hunting expeditions. And, although he was next to worthless, his hosts were kind and indulgent. His hunting skills or lack thereof were a source of great amusement to the tribe. Calvin felt he was contributing to his upkeep as comic relief.
His hosts were extremely primitive. Calvin placed them as stone age as far as their technology was concerned. They had crude stone spears but they were heavy and useless for killing at a distance. Calvin showed them how to fashion sharp edged points from a glassy substance similar to obsidian. This made the spears lighter and better at killing at a distance.
Mostly what was being hunted was a marsupial-like creature called a K’upp. A docile, arboreal vegetarian that reminded him of pictures he’d seen in old screens of koala bears. Larger animals the size of elephants were feared and avoided as were the several large predators.
Returning to the village with one or two kills was cause for much celebration which included dancing, feasting and imbibing a fermented beverage made from fruit. It was the best time in his young life and he savored every minute of it. Every once in a while he spotted the high contrails of a scout ship but there was no way to signal it or tell them about the intelligent species he’d found.
He pointed to a contrail and tried to explain that he had flown a ship like that. His companions listened intently but the concept of manned flight was too outlandish and it became just another source of amusement. One day on a hunting trip the band came upon the wreckage of his crashed scout ship. It was in so many pieces it was a wonder he had survived at all. Calvin tried mightily to explain that he had flown through the air in that machine. He pantomimed the flight and the crash and this time he felt that they understood. His status in the village rose. He was treated differently. He was a being that had flown. Such a thing was god like but, if they expected miracles, he had to disappoint them. He could do nothing to save them or himself. If he was a god, he was an impotent one.
As the years passed, Calvin embraced his situation and his new family. Slowly he introduced innovations. First he showed them the wheel. It was a while before they fully grasped its usefulness. They first had to learn to domesticate an animal to pull a cart. This was a long, slow process. He showed his people, they were now his people, how to fashion a bow and how to fletch an arrow. This was revolutionary and a instant success. His status rose immeasurably.
Little by little he introduced agriculture which the women took to very quickly. The years flew past. Gardens and better weapons led to more abundance which in turn led to larger and healthier families and longer life spans. The tribe flourished. Without so much time devoted to hunting and gathering there was more time to develop culture and invention. Under Calvin’s watchful eye the people developed their intellectual skills and developed art and began recording their knowledge first in pictograms and later in more abstract ways. They moved out of the cave and built huts.
Time past and the people grew in strength and numbers. Calvin was growing old but he still had much to teach. Exploring the countryside around the camp, he found rocks rich in iron ore. It was most likely such an rich iron deposit that blocked his radio and distress calls so many years ago. He harvested a few pounds of the ore and through trial and error, built a crude forge to smelt the metal. There was no evidence of any metal save for some beaten gold from stream found nuggets. He wanted his people to have the ability to make iron edged weapons. He knew it would be many years before they would be able to do much with the technology but he foresaw a day when his people would encounter the human colonists and he wanted them to be able to fight back.
While he wasn’t sure of the exact process for making potassium nitrate from guano, he did have a rough idea. After much experimentation, he hit on a simple method. Using a formula he remembered from childhood he mixed the saltpeter, sulphur and charcoal together in the right proportions and showed the youngest and brightest amongst them how to make gun powder. It was for their own good. He wanted them to be ready. He didn’t know any other way to protect them for the inevitable storm. His people had almost no chance against his kind. His only hope was to try and make this gentle race more like him.
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