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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 108: Brown 229
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Slade 202
Derek was not really surprised when the ship computer reported that the planet warranted further investigation. After all, if The King had sent him here to bring those people to their new home, that home was going to have to be quite near at hand, or he was going to be here for a very long time. He realized that he could be mistaken--his purpose here might be to restore education to the indigs, but he had already begun that process as well, so he felt fairly confident that whatever he was supposed to do, he was doing it. Settling the new world seemed to be the next order of business, even though the education systems were still running primary school lessons.
Of course, it was neither his decision nor that of the ship’s computer. The Captain would have to authorize the mission. He broached the matter on his next shift.
“Captain, the ship’s computer reports that the planet beneath us warrants further investigation as a possibly suitable colony planet. Request permission to take a shuttle, along with Commander Vashti and such equipment as seems appropriate for a planetary survey, and examine the surface conditions.”
The Captain had turned toward him, and seemed to stare for a long enough moment that Derek began to wonder whether something had gone wrong with the language processing program. Finally it responded.
“Are you sure this planet is suitable for such investigation?”
It occurred to Derek that the homonoid did not really want to complete the mission, but that because of its programming it could be compelled to do so.
“The ship’s scans indicate that it is.”
“Perhaps. But that is not conclusive.”
“Captain, you have been an officer here longer than I. How many planets has the ship ever identified as warranting further investigation?”
There was a pause; Derek guessed it was checking records.
“None,” it finally said. “This appears to be the first.”
“And how long has the Wanderer been seeking a suitable planet?”
This did not take so long to answer. “Sixty-three thousand four hundred forty-six years.”
Derek was momentarily stunned. That much time, it occurred to him, was sufficient for evolutionary change. He pulled himself back to the point.
“Given that we have found only one potentially suitable planet in almost sixty-four millennia, I think we ought at least to examine it more closely. Certainly we might find another suitable planet next year, but the odds seem to be against it, and even with our constant repair systems the ship won’t last forever.”
The logic of the point was not lost on the Captain. “Very good,” it said. “Prepare for a shuttle landing mission. Keep me informed.”
Almost everything was ready, Derek thought, but that Vashti had to pack.
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 #452: Versers Ready. 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: