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Sol and Centauri (all new!) [light language]

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Author Topic: Sol and Centauri (all new!) [light language]  (Read 661 times)
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« on: April 25, 2007, 06:21:48 pm »

Looking forward to seeing what you can come up with! Smiley

Anyway, here's a slightly longer and more detailed version. I reckon, if you think it's good enough for an introduction, that I might just leave it as it is. But have a look at this and see if it's better. I corrected some typos, too, and managed to fit in a bit that I had wanted to write but forgot to - describing the Noctis as a jellyfish Tongue
Plus a little more emotion, as this is really where the story kicks off. If Peter Connor had told Sagong about the signal, I wouldn't have a story Tongue. Well, maybe I would, but it would be very different.


The Noctis appeared over Odin, ten thousand kilometres above the moon’s equator. It was not a ship designed to be beautiful. The main hull was a hemispherical assembly of off-white vacuumplate segments, the symmetry ruined by dozens of small sensor spires and life-support clusters. From the bottom of the half-sphere protruded the main sensor booms, eight metal arms laden with short- and long-range sensory gear, ground-survey apparatus, and the concentric hoops of the Noctis’s pinhole generator.
Odin was probed with radiation, waves undulating into its very core and through, revealing its secrets.
The Noctis disappeared. It appeared again, a hundred kilometres from the planet. The radiation returned, this time much more intense. The little world’s heart lay open, dissected by crisscrossing patterns of energy. It was a silent and invisible process. On its surface, the planet was a dull jewel. No clouds obscured its greenery, no waters divided the land into continents beneath the ugly jellyfish of the Noctis.
We’re doing this by the book, thought Peter Connor, deep in the heart of the Noctis. But this is Odin we’re talking about. It’s the younger of Alpha Centauri’s sons. Nobody’s interested any more except the romantics who want another world to live on. He examined the sensor analyses, then shut off the probes. The planet retreated back into itself, the prying eyes now gone. Well, if they want this done by the book, who am I to say there’s no bloody point?
   “Communications reporting, sir.” He spoke to the Noctis’s master, commander Sun-Ho Sagong. He sat in the middle of the cavity the crew laughably referred to as the Bridge. It was the only space inside the Noctis; the ship had been designed for the Odin mission, and the Odin mission was to last only five hours. The other four crew members sat in recessed bays facing towards the centre – sensors, communications, ship’s systems, and engines.
   “No signals detected on any known communications frequency. Qradio link with Sol is strong-”
A flash from one of his displays cut him off. The readouts were projected on plex plates that surrounded him, inlaid in the structure of the commander’s pulpit. His own personal constellation of coloured text and images. It was the radio monitor that signalled for attention. He waved a hand. The hand didn’t move; instead, his control was shifted to the radio monitor. The warning showed him a timelog of a weak FM signal that the computer thought originated from a spot halfway between the pole and the equator. It was almost over the planet’s horizon from the Noctis’s position.
Peter Connor froze. There should be no radio signals; the only man-made object within millions of kilometres of Odin was the Noctis. Training as a bridge officer took over, and he calmed himself down with a twinge of pride that he hadn’t panicked. He found the signal’s frequency and filtered it. The signal burst wasn’t an isolated incident – there was a constant murmuring of not-quite-noise on that channel, all emanating from the same source. The signal that had alerted the Noctis’s radio receiver was merely a boost in power of the constant broadcast. The signal wasn’t especially strong – about the level of an old-style local radio station’s broadcast. But that was too much to be here.
Not here. This was Odin, smaller offspring of Alpha Centauri. It was a moon orbiting the system’s only gas ‘giant’, one of five. It had been discovered in 2207 when humans first journeyed to Alpha Centauri, forcing their ships through tiny ripples in space that became known as pinholes. It was one of two worlds in Alpha Centauri that could support human life – an amazing twist of fate for the human race. But it wasn’t inhabited, and the only things that made radio signals were people and stars, and unless there was a miniature star of variable strength down on Odin, it was people making that signal. He felt a sudden wrench, the wrench of someone who has had their victory snatched away in the final stretch. The marathon runner overtaken in the final hundred metres. A brilliant flower of anger unfolded in his chest, not at anyone in particular but at that insolent radio signal. Not here. Not on Odin.
Odin was going to be theirs. Peter Connor knew that with certainty. Humans had waited a long time for this prize. Humans as a race, and humans as the crew of the Noctis. What a crew it was. Five experts, men and women who were at the tops of their fields – but not the best. They were the second-bests of the human race, the B-team. They were the ones who weren’t picked to fly the first mission to Forseti, to be the men and women who would, for the first time ever, step onto a world other than their own, remove their helmets, and breathe. Odin was offered as their consolation prize. It had come as no surprise to Peter Connor when the Odin mission was offered to him. He would have preferred that it was left to somebody else, but he agreed.
   “Sensors, any trouble?” Peter realised that he had broken off his report to the commander mid-sentence. The second between commander Sagong asking and his answering were filled with a rush of thought. But no way was he giving up Odin.
   “None, sir. Sorry.” He shoved the radio signal from his mind, into his mental version of a time capsule. Think about it later, when you’ve got time to do something about it. Later, when it won’t seem like such a problem. Everything looks better later.
He closed the time capsule and buried it.
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