A short tale of epic…whining
by Angus H. Day
Brkorvitz “I am firing repulsers to bring the ship into a low orbit of the third planet’s moon. Though we keep picking up communications in the FM and Microwave bands they do not seem very interested in maintaining a presence off of the planet.”
Exo-explorer Council Chairman Flartz “What do you hope to gain by orbiting the moon?”
Brkorvitz “Chairman, I believe that we can make some kind of assessment by inspecting what they left here when they visited fifty of their solar cycles ago. A civilization can be measured by what they believe is disposable.”
Flartz “And right you are when there is a plethora of discards to examine. Alert us how it progresses in seventy units and we will decide how to proceed.”
The connection terminated.
Brkorvitz “Kovor, we need to have the full passive scan suite up and running the entire time we are here. They are primitive which can also mean dangerous.”
Kovor “Yes Brkorvitz, the mass proximity scanner has just warmed up and s running a test cycle. We…”
Brkorvitz “We what Kovor?”
Kovor “There must be something wrong, the mass detector test is showing a proximity alert but we are forty flogs from the surface. What could…”
Kovor’s explanation was interrupted by the clang, screech and squeal of something metal impacting the ship from above them. There was no more time for talk as whatever it was ripped a chunk of the left engine nacelle off of the ship in passing and the view skewed so that all of the third planet filled the forward screen. Beautiful color that would have to be appreciated at some other time without terror.
Brkorvitz brought the scouting vessel down near the impact of what ever had crashed into the ship. The ship was not going anywhere without some extensive repairs which they began to catalogue.
Scientist Impuslost joined Brkorvitz and Kovor on the surface of the body to examine the damage. Brkorvitz spoke “You see Impuslost, we’ve lost our directional vaning. There is no way to control thrust until we fix that.”
Impuslost “Well it could have been worse. What did the damage?”
Kovor pointed to the far edge of the crater where laying on the slope was an enormous tube of painted metal. They all went to examine it. ‘USAF’ were the symbols on the outside of the tube though they seemed corroded with micrometeorite holes. The symbols meant nothing to them. At the end of the tube, half buried in the dirt, was the assembly that the tube had torn from the scouting vessel. Retrieving this to help with repairs took a full unit but would save three units in becoming operational again. On the track back to the ship the intensity of the light around them ramped up and just as they looked to each other to begin to look up a large body of metal crashed into the surface by way of Scientist Impuslost. The light returned to it’s previous level as Brkorvitz and Kovor looked to each other prior to running for their ship. There was nothing to do for the scientist.
Once on board they replayed the recordings from the passive scanning suite for the last unit. Two objects in orbit had ignited a primitive fuel burn and impacted the surface of the body.
Brkorvitz “Did somebody just attack us?”
Kovor “If they did then their aim is really bad. The second object impacted twenty flogs away from us.”
Brkorvitz “We better go back out and see if we can recover anything of Scientist Impuslost, for closure.”
Kovor “You really want to go back out there?”
Brkorvitz “I thought you said it didn’t appear that they were attacking us?”
Kovor “True but I don’t remember saying it was safe.”
Brkorvitz “Okay, let’s fix the ship and decide later.”
Seventeen time units passed by the time the thruster vanes were repaired. They had to repurpose material from the object that had crushed Scientist Impuslost. There really wasn’t anything left of him except for a clasp that held his methane breathing unit in place. At time unit twenty two the ground began to shake violently and they decided staying alit would be more hazardous so they lifted off keeping half of the sensor suite facing the body and the other half facing away to detect more intercepting objects. That half was clear until they were ten flogs above the surface. There seemed to be a sporadic shell of junk that was beginning to reflect light from the local star. Using passive scan they hadn’t detected that before because it didn’t reflect on the dark side.
Kovor “We need to push out from the body to avoid most of this Brkorvitz. I think if we stay we will have to switch to active scan or we are done for.”
Brkorvitz “I agree to push out with minimal thrust. Remember neither of us is a ship fitter and our repair may not hold. I’m taking us to fifty flogs and maintaining station relative to the body. We will have a much better view of the third planet this way also.”
Kovor “Won’t we be seen?”
Brkorvitz “We can only worry about and plan for so much. From everything we have experienced I couldn’t tell you that they are even looking. We’re so advanced we weren’t looking.”
Kovor “You’re right my friend. Perhaps if we stay here until the pod host comes back we will learn what we need. Can we send a message to them detailing what has happened so far?”
Brkorvitz “Sure thing. It will give us something constructive to do. Make sure to play up how much of a hero the Scientist was before he died. That’ll make us heroes for giving him credit.”
Kovor “That is pretty smart. You running for Chairman?”
Brkorvitz “I’ll settle for pensioned retirement.”
At fifty five time units an enormous explosion occurred one thousand flogs between the scout ship and the planet.
“Brkorvitz, are you all right?”
Brkorvitz “What is your problem Kovor? If I was not all right after that neither would you be. By the way, stop using my name dumbass, there is only the two of us here right?”
Kovor “Yes. Starting over. What the Schnizzlebot was that?”
Brkorvitz went very still as he replayed the recording at have speed. “It was one of the pod host scout vessels impacting with something at speed. What the hell could have been there? I had no echoes from that area during the passive scans.”
Playing the recording at one tenth speed they not only witnessed the impact but read the symbols on the scout.
Brkorvitz “That was Kvacknutz and Hrsackis ship. They impacted another of those tube segments. We didn’t get a return because the opening was facing us.”
Kovor “We have one option. It is to go on active scan and paint all the area debris. Then we need to send that to the pod host ship for safety. Don’t argue with me.”
Brkorvitz looked at Kovor “Why would I argue at this point? Those were our crèche brothers. I’ll paint and compile. You compose the message.”
Ninety time units had elapsed since Brkorvitz, Kovor and the deceased scientist had entered the orbit. Brkorvitz looked into the view screen as the passive suite began to alarm. Half a time unit later a huge vessel, three times the size of the pod host, materialized into view. The large antenna at the forward end began to glow as the mass attractor pulsed, pulling all the debris in the space between the moon and the planet to a single point. This point began to emit radiation as the debris impacted at high velocities to meld into one large body. The scout ship was just barely able to maintain station until a tractor beam secured them and pulled them aboard.
Supreme Chairperson Blimpsie met them at debarkation, gave them each a medal and sent them to the barracks brothel. Not having had sexual relations for over eighty cycles alone should entitle them to another medal.
Supreme Chairperson Blimpsie met with all of the national leaders of the planet one solar cycle after the ‘Cleaning’. The meeting was broadcast all around the planet as the Chairperson presented the leaders with symbols of unity and brotherhood among the stars and planets. An interpreter was on hand to ensure there were no misunderstandings.
Blimpsie “I represent the Galactic Federation and we welcome you into the fold. Here I present you with your membership credentials, the technology for intergalactic travel with out expending scarce resources, a method of real-time communication with your fellow members among the stars and a bill.”
Most of the assembled crowd had been roaring approval and affirmations until the last word was translated. Then they all were very quiet while the single person selected to represent the planet asked “A bill for what? And payable with what?”
Again a time unit passed with nothing but quiet contemplation on both sides. Blimpsie responded “It is a bill for cleaning up all of the navigational hazards your primitive attempts to leave this planet have created. Resources are not disposable. The normal sentence for such a violation would be specie annihilation but you didn’t know. Now you do. Payment is expected in the form of all of your ferrous metals that have been processed.”
The silence was so profound on the dais you could detect a flea passing gas. “When do we have to have the payment ready?”
“We will collect it, don’t you worry. Your job is to learn to be good citizens and neighbors of the GF.”
From the bottom, there is only one direction to go.