In Verse Proportion; Chapter 132, Brown 239

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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 132:  Brown 239
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Slade 209


The homonoid turned toward his second officer.  “Yes, Commander Vashti?”

They had been reporting to the bridge every day for long enough that Derek had lost track of the weeks.  They had been less rigorous about it, but the Captain had not complained because, having little else to do, they were usually there for a few hours on their days off.  Everything had been rather routine, compiling data on nearby space debris and stellar patterns, and monitoring settlement progress on the surface below.  Rarely did they have much to say beyond discussing what they might do when they were dispatched to the settlements.

“Sir, I don’t know what this means,” Vashti continued, “but my console is warning me about some large object which it says is going to pass dangerously close to our position.”

“How close?”

“The number keeps changing, sir, but it seems to be about fifty thousand--whatever those units are called.”

Derek quickly did some math.  “That puts it within twenty miles.”

“But it keeps changing.”

“Yes, because it’s tracking the object relative to our position, which is now fixed to the planet, which means we’re moving both around the planet and around the star in different orbits.  So the rotation of the planet would move us farther and closer, and the computer is not compensating for that because it is geared to track such objects with us moving in free space.”

“So we don’t have to worry about it?” she asked.

“No, I think we do.  Twenty miles is close enough that given the potential error from our movement that might pull it into planetary gravity and result in a collision.  Get on that, Vash.  See if you can get a better plot of the object as against the planet.  Take Wanderer out of the equation.”

“Does it matter if this thing gets close?”

“Well, I’ll work on that.  I’ll have to try to do an analysis of its mass, size, density, and composition.  A lot of space debris misses the planets, and a lot of it burns up in the atmosphere, and very little of it ever reaches the ground.  But the fact that the ship has alerted us to this means it’s large enough to be a navigational hazard for Wanderer, and that might mean it’s large enough to hit the ground hard and cause major climate changes.  Impacts like this have destroyed planetary ecosystems on a massive scale.  We want to know whether we’re in danger.”

“Yes, sir,” she said.

Having given those directions, he began scanning for the object himself, pulling as much data as he could concerning its movement and its interactions with other objects, the spectrum of light reflected from it, and whatever else he could learn.  He quickly determined that it was not a comet; that suggested an asteroid.  However, it was huge, massive, very dangerous.  He could only hope it missed.

“Sirs,” Vashti said, perhaps an hour or so later, “there is a high probability that it will collide with the planet.”

“Hi?” the captain asked.  “How high?”

“I make it eighty-seven percent?”

“Why the uncertainty?” it asked.

“Sir, it is going to pass close to the smaller of our moons, and might collide with that, or have its course altered in an unexpected way.  It is not impossible that the moon would stop it, but it is also possible that a collision there will fracture the moon and send pieces of it into our atmosphere.  The composition of the moon is inadequately known to determine either whether it would stop the object or what effects an impact would have.”

Great, Derek thought.  Then we would have two potential objects.  Maybe more.  “Time to potential impact?” he asked.

“Six days, planetary time.”

Roughly 180 hours.  Derek nodded.  The Captain spoke.

“By this time tomorrow I want proposed action plans.”

In chorus, they said, “Yes, Captain.”

“Dismissed,” it said.  “Get to work.”

Next chapter:  Chapter 133:  Kondor 218
Table of Contents

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 #456:  Versers Prepare.  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:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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