Excerpt # 7

November 25, 2007 at 4:59 pm (Writing)

Here is the next installment of my NaNoWriMo project.   Hope you enjoy it.  This passage occurs immediately after informing the crew that life existed on the 4th planet.

Jamison went directly to the bridge.  Because of the all-hands meeting, the ship was running with minimal crew.  He opted to give the crew a little while to come to terms with the announcement before requiring too much from them.  The ship was maintaining its orbit, and there was very little to do at this point.

*** secondary storyline removed for readability ***
‘Are you here to relieve me, ensign?’ Jamison asked
‘Yes sir.’
‘Then I stand relieved.  The ship is yours.  We are currently maintaining solar orbit with no difficulties.  All systems reporting within tolerance.’
‘Thank you, sir.’
‘Ensign, since you were one of the ‘inner circle’ so to speak, for the last 48 hours, have you had to answer any unusual questions?’
‘Surprisingly not, sir.  The current rumor factory seems to be concentrating on whether the aliens are reptiles, insects, or mammals.’
‘Well, what do you think?’
‘I enjoy playing devil’s advocate, sir.  I told them that I think they were probably some kind of aquatic creatures.’
‘Any bites, ensign?’
‘Of course, especially when I explained that their higher gravity would favor a species in the water, where the bouyancy could lead to the evolution of larger creatures than would be possible on land.  That also explained why we haven’t detected any manned space vehicles – assuming manned is the proper term.’
‘That was evil, ensign.  I like it.  Were you picturing some kind of mermaid, or something else?’
‘I wasn’t asked, but I think I would have to go with some kind of tentacled creature.  It would be much more interesting that way.’
‘Just don’t cross the line between speculation and knowledge.  You could get yourself in trouble that way.  I’m heading to engineering to see how the progress on our stealth probe is coming along’

Jamison arrived in engineering, but it still was minimally staffed.
‘Crewman, has commander West returned yet?’
‘Yes, sir.  They are all in the pod bay, working on the probe.’
‘Carry on, crewman’ said Jamison as he turned to leave.
‘Sir?’
‘What is it, crewman’
‘What do you think the aliens are like?’
‘I really have no idea.  We’ll know more once the probe gets close to the planet.  I just hope they don’t want to eat us.’
‘You must have seen the same vids I did as a kid, sir.’
‘Judging by your age, they weren’t the same ones.  But the stories probably haven’t changed all that much.  I just hope that if we determine that they are safe, that HQ allows us to contact them instead of sending some diplomatic ship.’
‘Do you really think that they would do that?’
‘It’s a possibility.  Unfortunately, the way I see it, the more likely they are to be a threat to earth, the more likely HQ is to allow us to make contact.
‘Why’s that, sir?’
‘If our probe shows that they are just barely technical, or significaltly behind, then obviously they are not a threat.  We haven’t invested much, and HQ can easily send someone else.  On the other hand, if they are technically advanced with space flight, then it will take us a lot longer to determine their danger.  We will probably have to learn their language, and therefore HQ couldn’t easily send someone else to make contact.’
‘Oh, I see.  What level would you guess that they are?’
‘It’s way too early to tell.  I think they fall somewhere inbetween.  They have satellites, and appear to have reached at least their closest neighbor with automated probes.  It will be a tough call.’
‘It’s still your call, isn’t it Captain?’
‘At this point, yes.  It is.  Is there anything else, crewman, or can I check on the probe progress now?’
‘Sorry, sir.  I didn’t mean to detain you.’
‘Not a problem crewman.  I understand that this is probably the most shocking news any one of us has ever received.’  and with that, Jamison left engineering and went to the pod bay.
The pod bay was buzzing with activity.  The two shuttle pods had been moved as far out of the way as possible.  What appeared to be a kidney shaped meteor about 3 meters long was sitting in a modified pod cradle.
‘Is that our probe?’ Jamison asked.  ‘It definately looks natural’
‘It certainly is’ said West, proudly.  ‘Watch this.’  He pushed a button on a mobile console, and the meteor opened up, revealing a standard probe inside.
‘That’s amazing.  How did you do it so fast?’
‘We used the packaging container from the probes for the base.  One team was modifying the probe, while another camoflauged the casing.’
‘It looks quite real.  What did you make the camoflauge with?’
‘It’s the hull patch compound.  We mixed some rocks and minerals with it, and tinted it to match what exists in this system.  Not only is it visually accurate, it’s looks like a meteor on quite a few of our scanners also.’
‘Incredible.  Will it’s thrusters still work?’
‘Yes, these are the thruster ports.  They look like impact craters, but really they’re the thruster exhausts.  We ran some ducting to them.  The probe’s navigation system had to be adjusted to take the different thruster location into account, and I’d like to test it before we send it away.  It should be ready to go tomorrow.’
‘Mr West, your team never ceases to amaze me.  Have you heard how astrometrics is coming on plotting the trajectory for the probe?’
‘No, sir.  I asked earlier, but all I got was that they were having problems between gravity wells.’
‘Well, since you have everything well in hand here, I guess I’ll check with them.’ said Jamison as he walked out.
David was in the corridor as Jamison stepped into it.
‘Captain!’ he said ‘This didn’t seem like anything at the time, but given the new information, it may mean something’
‘What is it?’ Jamison asked.
‘Well, when we were doing the survey on the 6th planet, there was something that struck me as odd.  Nothing impossible, really.  Just somewhat odd.’
‘David, I’m somewhat pressed for time right now.’
‘Right, well there was this deposit on the surface.  It was a very small deposit, but it was nearly pure.  A few different minerals – copper, aluminum, titanium.  Not unusual per se, but they were very small, and very pure.  Do you think that it may have been from the aliens?’
‘You found … you found refined materials on your survey?  And you didn’t tell me?  And you wonder now if it is important?’  Jamison had turned red, and was struggling to control his temper.
‘Well, I didn’t know that it was important.  I just thought it was unusual.’
‘IMPOSSIBLE you mean’ Jamison was nearly shouting, and quickly lowered his voice.  ‘Refined materials don’t naturally occur.  What you found was remnants of a probe that crashed on that planet.’
‘Sorry, I didn’t realize you would be so upset…’
‘Mr Whittaker.  Upset doesn’t accurately describe my condition.  You found an alien device that we could have learned quite a bit from, and chose to ignore it.  I …  I’  Jamison stammered.
‘Again, I’m sorry that I didn’t report it sooner, but..’
‘Mr Whittaker, please send ALL, and I do mean ALL the planetary scans of that artifact, and surrounding area to both engineering and astrometrics immediately.’  Jamison turned and walked off.
‘Of course, captain.  Again, I’m sorry…’ Whittaker said to his back.

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2 Comments

  1. Blogmaster said,

    So…..is the writing going to continue and are you going to post any more excerpts or are you waiting for the next NANOWRIMO? I posted another couple of excerpts on my site, but I am finding that without the pressure of the writing deadline my writing sessions are fewer and shorter. Which is OK, I think I am still on course to have the complete work finished by May. That will give me the next couple of months to read through and edit the first draft and do the necessary filling in of holes so that everything clicks the way its supposed to.

  2. capitalggeek said,

    The writing will continue, and I will post excerpts. Unfortunately I have only amassed 650 words since the end of NaNo. If Life(tm) had happened in Nov. like it has been in Dec & Jan, I probably wouldn’t have finished. I had originally intended to have it completed by May, but that is looking increasingly unlikely.

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