​Well lit hallways, lined with plants on the sides, lay in a dormant state of early morning anticipation. Soon people would walk through them. Chat, both with their devices and in person, jest, laugh. 

Hurry through them with important news on their minds. 

Like Phineas Branston was, news he thought he’d get from the command centre, but obviously the communication officer just routed information along, without reading much into it. 

Phineas scrambled around a corner, hurried onward to the tube access. Already in sight, he ordered a cab to the port. That was usually frowned upon, as one should use the access terminal next to the entrance to call for one. 

But he didn’t have the patience to wait.

Too much was at stake. 
“Morning!” He was greeted as he entered the meeting room. “Why did you call this meeting?” Clarissa Neubacher continued with a yawn. 

“Because of this.” He pointed at the big screen in the room, after throwing a “Good Morning” to Clarissa and the others. 

On the screen a planet appeared. On the side of the planet that was faced towards the camera that took the still image, was a continental mass spanning from one ice covered pole across the equator, ending in the south sea, and a smaller continental mass sitting on the equator. The rest was blue sea. 

Patches of clouds covered parts of the planet, but it seemed to be a beautiful day on most of the shown side. 

“I have gone over data sent from Explorer, and I proudly present to you, RV-p296!” 
Anticipation in the room was almost tangible, Admiral Mirella Jagodic sat, waiting, at the head of the elongated table. The governors of the rings were present, seated to one side of the table, most of the other side was taken up by various scientists. Biologists, Geologists, Astrophysicists, Physicists, what not.

Phineas Branston, head of Destiny’s planetary development department sat on the other end of the table. 

Normally he and the Admiral crossed paths only once a year, for the annual presentation of the proposed Destiny-colony once the ship reaches RV-p296. “I thank you all for coming!” The man with the curly blond, although receding, hair rose up. “A data package from Explorer revealed the first images of our future home planet.” He stated outright the reason why they all had been summoned. On the displays built into the table the images taken by the advance probes appeared. The north-equatorial continent, the separate equatorial continent, and two landmasses that are seprated by a narrow sea strait around the equator. Then there was a huge sea, only small islands were in it, over a presumed volcanic hotspot.

“It is beautiful.” Mirella smiled benignly, but she still didn’t fully understand why the meeting had been called. 

“After the probe took these images, the onboard AI dislogded the ground surveyors. A group of drones designed to scout the planet and map out for potential sites so we could establish colonies right away when we arrive.” Phineas opened a schematic detailing the ground surveyors.

“There had been a lengthy discourse on Explorer already before the data was sent, Horizon forwarded it right away, but the discourse is still in progress there.” He opened up the image of the two continents that were separated only by a sea narrow. It was a series of still images. Four dots against the image of the planet indicated the descending surveyors. “The probe continued orbital survey as the drones landed. One was destroyed upon landing, due to faulty equipment. A replacement was dispatched.” He explained another dot in the following image. 

After that he followed up with a zoomed in image taken from the landing site of on of the probes directed at the continents with the narrow. After a while he stopped. 

A small red circle appeared. “This is the landing site of the eagle ground surveyor, Hawk landed on the southern continent. Another circle appeared around something in the thick green of forests that seemed to spread over much of the continent. 

“This, is the cause for this meeting.” 

Puzzled the others stared at the screens before them. Only Gale Whittaker, a geologist,  raised her eyebrows and let out a whistle.

“It isn’t a natural formation. Is there a better image?” A sly smile appeared on Phineas’ lips. “The AI was as curious as we are, and therefore, yes there are better images.” A series of pictures opened up. 

“What is it we are seeing?” Mirella asked what was on the minds of the others as well. “Stone structures.” Replied Gale. “A town? Temples? Your guess is as good as mine. But that is not all.” Phineas wiped his hand over the screen, bringing up more footage. A small line of text in the upper right corner revealed it was footage recorded by the eagle drone.
After the landing, it established a connection with the orbiter, a clear line of sight was confirmed with a laser beam. 

Following the connection establishing, the drone underwent a series of self tests, which took up an hour. After that time the Eagle began a preliminary examination of its surroundings, accompanied by a few snap shots. There were green leaves of plants around, not surprising as RV-p296 was earth like, orbiting around a G-type star like earth’s sun. 

The eagle’s commands were simple in the first stage. Scout the land, map out dangers, landmarks, rivers, and coastlines. Only later once a preliminary scouting had been done, would phase two commence. Biological cataloguing. 

Quickly the balloon of the Eagle filled with gas. For now, bottled gas sent along with the drone, soon it would produce its own. It hovered in the air, adjusted the electric fans used to steer and for motion.

Something moved in a shrubbery like growth near the drone, immediately the primitive AI scanned the place. A small animal crept out from underneath the branches, and looked quite curious at the unusual sight, assessing whether it posed a threat and should be feld from, or not. 

Eagle took higher, and steered clear of the tree like plants. Soon after leaving its landing site the orbiter redirected Eagle to investigate the unusual structure. 

If it truly was artificial that meant that the continent was inhabited, possibly not suitable for colonisation. 

An hour of flight had passed, from a distance Eagle noted a volcanic mountain, reported the position to the orbiter, when Eagle’s sensors picked up a column of smoke. 

Slowly Eagle approached the site, way above the trees.