Thursday, January 19, 2017

Story Fragment: The Scout Arrives at the Lost World

Laconn Pell sat at the helm of his small scout ship, looking out the viewscreen into the tunneling spiral of hyperspace before him, when the alarm signalling his imminent return to realspace went off. He snapped back to attention, hands on the controls, and sat ready for what awaited him as his ship decelerated to sublight speed.

"D0, on the sensors." Pell said, and his robot rolled forward. It jacked into the ship's computer system, and moments later a series of smaller robots on the hull detached and moved into position around the planet. The robot ran the ship's sensors, extended by the drones, to sweep the planet. The data read out on a monitor between D0 and Pell, which Pell glanced at as he guided the ship into an approach vector intended to settle into orbit about the planet.

"Readout conforms to the profile provided, D0. Contact the client."

The robot chirpped, and moments later a hologram of an aged man dressed finely. "Senator," Pell said, "I arrived at the coordinates provided. The planet is here."

The holographic man smiled and nodded. "Well done. What is its condition?"

"No transmissions detected. No satellites. No powered flight at all, but we detected fauna likely used for low-level atmospheric flight. World population is low by galactic standards, but appears that a civilization is present. Signs of terrestrial nautical travel are plentiful. Sign of a re-purposed starship wreck confirmed at the center of planetary population density.

The old man nodded along. "Good, good. Anything else?"

The robot chirped, as if excited, and Pell looked at the monitor. "Senator, we have confirmation on the shipwreck. It is your ancestor's ship, and the population around it seems to be a civilized nation comprised of the survivors' descendants."

"Excellent. I'm giving the go-ahead for the contact mission." the senator said, "We'll need them for what's coming. Stay on station until they arrive to relieve you."

"Back-up protocol is approved?"

"Of course. Given our luck, we may well need it. I must go, Pell. The Senate will resume its session soon, and I must be present. Fare well, Pell."

"Fare well, Senator." Pell said, and the hologram winked out. Pell turned to D0. "Track day-night cycles and lunar phasing. I want a window for low-orbit scanning. When the contact team arrives, I want a proper survey ready for briefing."

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