Prologue

A spherical, metallic-looking object about ten inshes in diameter came out of warp-space within a planetary diameter of a planet that was mostly blue, with patches of green and brown. The spherical object rotated slowly, and pointed a knobby protrusion on its surface at the planet.

It then accelerated.

Speeding towards the planet, it agilely dodged numerous satellites that were orbiting the planet. The object recorded the size, shape, and probable function of the satellites, even though it moved past them at speed that was nearly sufficient to bring it back into warp-space. It slowed down upon approach of the planet's atmosphere.

Its programming dictated that the atmosphere of this world was approximately equal in chemical composition when compared with the planet Data, proportion-wise. Previous scout drones had determined the atmosphere to be naturally composed of approximately 79 percent nitrogen, 20 percent oxygen, 0.03 percent carbon dioxide, and 0.07 percent a cocktail of inert gases and halogens. This particular composition was considered to be moderately difficult for most spacecraft that were re-entering the atmosphere.

The drone slowly orbited the planet, running several probability and vector calculations simultaneously, to determine the safest possible re-entry path through the atmosphere. As it orbited perpendicular to the planet's equator, it finally found a patch of atmosphere that was safe (based on its calculations) enough for it to land without overly stressing its structure. The atmospheric safe-spot in question was 2 kilometers ahead, and was not as dangerous due to excessive amounts of hydrocarbons and various other air pollutants that had been released by the humans dwelling on the planet's surface, a dull brown under the location in question.

Reorienting itself on its axis of rotation, the drone was now pointed head-on at the surface of the planet. The safe spot was coming close as it orbited.

One kilometer. Point eight kilometers. Point six kilometers. Point four kilometers. Point two kilometers.

It started atmospheric re-entry. Only giving a short burst of speed by its own power, it plunged into the atmospheric safe spot. A micrometer-thin guiding laser beam lanced out of the drone's knobby protrusion that faced the planetary surface, invisible to the human eye. As its outer hull started to reach dangerous levels of overheating, it recorded the coordinates of the atmospheric safe spot. It noted the presence of a towering, black-colored human edifice on the surface directly below the safe spot. The construction appeared to be a human factory of some kind, but released copious amounts of air pollutants.

Not that it mattered to the drone, which had just breached the atmosphere. It was now free-falling towards the factory, a red-hot mass of overheated metal. Its outer hull had been burnt into a molten slag, but its inner shell and circuitry remained intact. Anti-gravity jets activated, meant to cushion the fall's (highly probable) damaging impact on the drone. The jets failed, at the speed it was crashing at, they fused, the laws of physics being unbreakable.

Twenty seconds to impact. Eighteen seconds to impact. Sixteen seconds to impact. Fourteen seconds to impact. Twelve seconds to impact. Ten seconds to impact.

A particle shield flickered to life, encasing the drone within a sphere of protective vacuum.

Four seconds to impact. Two seconds to impact.

It crashed into the factory's compound, raising a large cloud of dust. It deactivated its particle shield, causing it to fall six inches to the sandy ground. Mini hover jets slid out of tiny hatches all over its spherical body. Rising fifty feet into the air, it sped out of the factory's compound, some sand granules falling in a line behind it.

xxx

Two security guards and their Growlithe partners reached the crash site mere seconds after the drone had left the compound. They approached the hemispherical depression in the ground, curiously but warily.

"Whaddaya think happened here?" the first guard asked his companion.

"Probably just one of those micro-comet thingies those wimpy ass astronomers theorize about," grunted the second guard, "Now we'd better get back to patrolling, or Boss Giovanni'll give us the big B."

Nodding in agreement, the first guard and his Growlithe left the crash site. The second guard eyed the crash depression suspiciously, and then left, Growlithe in tow.

xxx

Two miles away, the flying drone flew into a small town.

Called Pallet Town.