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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 102: Brown 227
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Slade 200
Vashti scanned the positions of her three objects--the star, the comet, and the Wanderer--once each hour, four times in all. She then calculated the trajectories, and contacted Derek telepathically.
Could you check this for me? she asked.
What have you got? he responded.
It looks to me like we’re pretty close to a collision. Anyway, I think we should do something to avoid it.
All right, let me look.
He thought about what he should do, and then decided that the best option--the one least likely to catch the Captain’s attention before he was ready for that--was to tap into Vashti’s station from his own. It took him a moment to do this, and it threw him because of course he had set her station for Arabic, and he needed a moment to get oriented to it.
She had done well, and she was right. Wanderer and the comet were on course to intercept each other, which would be excellent if they were a scientific research vessel, but terrible for a colony spaceship. He was going to have to recommend an evasive course.
But he could do something else.
“Captain,” he said.
“Based on Commander Vashti’s calculations, I recommend altering course to avoid collision. I am sending the recommended course change to your console.”
The Captain looked at it for a moment.
“That’s rather elaborate, Commander Derek. I’m sure that there is a simpler evasive course we could initiate.”
“Yes, sir. However, sir, it is in the mission statement for Wanderer that we investigate potentially habitable planets, and long range sensors suggest that the fourth planet in this system has a suitable oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere with sufficient water vapor to suggest that there is surface water, acceptable levels of gravity, a magnetic field creating Van Allen belts to protect against radiation--enough acceptable conditions to warrant closer inspection, sir.”
The homonoid had no facial expressions Derek could read. He knew it was not really eager to complete the mission, but hoped that the fact that there was a mission directive would set them on that course.
He was also counting on something else. He believed The King had sent him to this universe for a purpose, and if that purpose was to get these people to a habitable planet, he would have arrived when he was going to be needed. It was possible that he was needed to prepare them, and that the years it would take to reach the next star system were part of the plan, but he hoped that this would be the right place. After all, he knew how rare habitable planets really were in the universe. If they had found one, it was unlikely they would find another for a very long time.
Whatever the Captain was thinking, it finished. “Enter the proposed course and engage,” it said.
“Very good, Captain,” Derek responded, and began for the first time genuinely to steer the massive colony spaceship in a new direction.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #448: Inventive Versers. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: