The Imperial City
The computer of the space craft alerted the captain and awoke him from his hibernation on the last remaining ship from earth. The AI program that was looking for signs of intelligent life in the galaxies had detected something it only knew from archives of human civilization patterns.
All the earmarks of an ‘imperial city’ were on this planet out far beyond any place earthlings had been known to have travelled before. The AI went thru the checklist before it woke the captain up just to be sure:
There was water. A sea and some tributary rivers right by the city. And what appeared to be surrounding farm land. Outlying buildings and fields of greenery, with animals roaming in some of them. Some grazed and some were playing some game only animals know. There was a surrounding wall with turrets for the guards. And a couple buildings stood out; a temple, a palace and what appeared to be a mall of sorts. And a wall defending this part of the city from the rows of houses that looked like a couple of villages for their workers. A couple obelisks were guarding the cities’ gates as well. They had some kind of lights and some greenery at their bases. So they looked like well tended memorials. There was a second city just the other side of a hill with what looked like lecture halls and libraries as well as student housing. And a few nicer houses, probably for the teachers? And over another hill were a few industrial parks with small cottages for their workers. This was guarded with a wall and some small turrets for the soldiers on security. Which made the AI program cue toward slavery or serfdom. There wasn’t enough data to say which yet.
The city was built in the better part of the planet, where the land was ripe with trees and different grasses. And obviously plenty of stone, since that’s what the majority of the buildings were made from. It was unclear what the stone was, since it was dissimilar from earth’s varieties.
At the top of the highest hill, away from all other things was some structure that appeared to have no purpose but design. Some objet d’art that was breath-taking in it’s beauty and originality. It seemed to be there to mark the city. As a call sign for aircraft and perhaps even land and boat travellers since it was high enough to be seen for miles when on approach.
The AI even noted some changes in style within the cities, as if they had been raised at different times. The city obviously had been there for some time and was willing to mark it’s own evolution in architecture and art. and one place had obviously suffered a fire or flood and had to be rebuilt. All the buildings were the same style and there was an obelisk there to show the place was important to the people.
The AI snapped pictures to show it’s marking the critical elements and woke the captain. It needed a human to confirm the findings before sending it’s report. This was an exciting day for those left behind, if there were still any.
The captain was happy to confirm the report. And advised the AI to find a place where they could survey the comings and goings long enough to know if the city was at peace. And went back to his berth.
The AI was now under instructions to watch for marauding armies or civil unrest. And it would be a few months before there was sufficient evidence for a report. So the captain thought he might as well leave it up to the program, with some alerts that would wake him. Including the ship being detected or under direct threat.
The AI took to this next phase and let the crew and captain continue their hibernation undisturbed.