By Anoushrayan Deysarkar
“Entering Realspace in 5 minutes.”
The automated voice greeted K’Rell Suga as he exited cryostasis. He quickly got into his anti-inertial luxury couch and strapped in. The deactivation of the warp field and the sudden stop caused by the ship entering Realspace was nauseating, but the couch should help.
K’Rell was going to Earth(as in The G’lander kids), for a business deal. He was travelling in his one-person frigate, upgraded with state-of-the-art security and a powerful FTL engine. He had heard many stories about Earth, and how beautiful it was, both its urban side, and the Biomes. K’Rell was not impressed. Surely it could not be more beautiful than the great cities and vast natural parks of his home planet, L’Orgrehi?
“Entering Realspace in 1 minute. Please strap up your belongings.”
K’Rell didn’t have to worry about that – his belongings were safely stowed away. He simply waited impatiently for the moment when the warp bubble would collapse and he would enter, ‘Lagrange Point 2, Earth-Luna System, Sol System’, as he had been informed.
“Entering Realspace. Warp bubble collapsing in 3, 2, 1… Warp Bubble Deactivated. Enjoy your trip!”
K’Rell deactivated his harness and stepped out to the window. Earth’s moon, Luna, obscured the view of the planet itself, but his ship was moving and soon he’d be able to see –
K’Rell gasped. He had just had his first view of Earth. The entire planet was covered in a single city. He knew the term for this – he had learnt it in school. It was a – Ecumenopolis? Yes, that was the term. A city planet. Beautiful.
But where were the Biomes? Most people who visited Earth refused to tell anybody else about it, saying that they needed to visit it themselves. As a result, K’Rell had heard about the Biomes, but he had never got any real details about them. Either way, he’d get to know, soon.
His ship took an hour to land on Earth’s surface, courtesy of their space elevator, and another hour to check in out of the spaceport. Once he had all his baggage ready, he chartered one of the local automated ‘flying taxis’ – why not use pods, he didn’t know, but the locals just laughed when he asked them, murmuring something about a ‘fifth element’ – and then checked into his hotel. He was on the 56th floor, one of the lower ones.
The next morning, after breakfast, he got to Juk-Rai Market Nexus, and attended his appointment with the CEO of Verision Industries. The deal was successful, and now a lot richer, K’Rell decided to explore this planet.
He chartered an automated gyro-pod – at least they had those – for the entire day. Then, he started his tour.
He went to entertainment parks. He went to shopping malls, holo-cinema halls, and to restaurants. He rode roller coasters, bought souvenirs, and tasted dishes from all over the universe.
When he heard that there were interesting and unique heritage sites, preserved for more than a thousand years, he decided to visit them. He chartered a supersonic bus to carry his gyro-pod to the heritage site of Burj Khalifa. The tower, constructed in 2009, had been the tallest tower on Earth for a long time. Now, of course, it looked tiny, compared to the 5-kilometre-tall skyscrapers rising around it, and the even larger luxury condominiums.
He visited the ancient mega-cities of Tokyo, Beijing, Singapore, New York and London, now absorbed into the Ecumenopolis. He visited museums and exhibition centres.
At the end of the day, he returned to his hotel, tired but happy, having explored the entire planet. However, he still hadn’t found the Biomes, though he had seen several advertisements for them. He had originally planned to stay for only a day on Earth, but now he decided to extend his visit by another day.
The next day, he went to the hotel management, and asked them to charter a trip for him to the Biomes. 1 hour later, he was on a personal supersonic carrier, travelling to the nearest ‘elevator’.
K’Rell wondered what that meant. Was he going to a space elevator? Were the Biomes in space? Well, he would find out, soon enough.
K’Rell arrived at what looked like a reverse space elevator, leading downwards instead of upwards. His carrier docked onto one of the Hubs, labelled Outer Earth, which didn’t make any sense to him. He then followed the instructions on his holo-ticket to a door labelled ‘Murmila Biome Tours’. K’Rell flashed his ticket at the reader, and the door opened. One quick DNA scan later, he was led down a corridor by a human guide.
K’Rell was taken to an elevator, and told to strap in. The couch was comfortable, and clearly inertially damped. The guide checked to make sure he was comfortable, and then gave a signal.
The elevator started moving down, speeding up until it was moving downwards, through solid rock, at breakneck speed. K’Rell, was getting nervous, when suddenly, the rock fell away, and the sight under his feet – because only now did he realise that the floor was made of a transparent material – struck him speechless.
Below him, was a vast grassland, spreading out in every direction.
It took them half-an-hour to reach the hub at the bottom. The guide led him to a gyro-pod for 2, and then proceeded to take him on a tour of the Grassland Biome, colloquially known as G-Land.
They toured the G-Land for the next 2 hours, and finally returned to the Hub.
K’Rell smiled, and told the guide, “Thank you, young man, that was a wonderful tour. I’ll be sure to write a good review.” The guide looked at him strangely and asked, “What are you talking about, sir? This is only the beginning!”
And then, he took K’Rell down another layer, to the Desert Biome. And then to the Forest Biome, and then the Ocean Biome. Each layer seemed more beautiful than the last.
K’Rell spent the entire day exploring the Biomes. At the end of the day, he returned to Outer Earth – that name finally made sense – and got his baggage out of the hotel. 7 hours later, as K’Rell prepared to go into cryostasis for the journey home, he knew he would be leaving Earth with not just a successful business deal, but with extraordinary memories of the planet and its beauty.
# Biomes – a large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat, e.g. forest or desert.
# Cryostasis – process of freezing a person, in this case – while on a long planetary travel.