I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 29

Sometimes the easiest solution…

If I was to assume the recent visit by one of the so-called pirate ships as a benchmark for transporting a person between ships, then we’d have to get closer to the larger transport vessel where our crew member, logically, was being held.

The fact I was contemplating it was after the discussion with O’Mara, which, quite frankly, was like something out of a science fiction novel.

He’d started it with, “We have been working on a plan “

The same plan, I presumed, that the Lt Colonel had been referring to, only this time with more detail.

“You might not be aware that every member of this crew has a specific marker in their system that both enables us to track where they are, within a reasonable distance, and monitor their well-being.”

I was going to ask exactly what he meant by that, but amongst the reading material I’d been given before boarding, was a paper on the advances in medical science and how this related to space travel.

We all had a series of vaccinations, and I assumed one was to give us that specific marker. I suspect another was to give us nanites that would aid in our recovery as well as maintain our health in somewhat trying circumstances.

And, no, we’re were not meant to become super-soldiers, though work was being progressed on that too.

“It gives us the ability to track our people, and, yes, the two crew members’ life signs came back when we arrived here, and we are currently monitoring the scientist. That’s to say we know where she is, and that she had not been harmed.”

There was only one point about the plan that held any concern, we just didn’t transport people, not because we couldn’t, but because of the risk. Cargo was fine, but people were a little different. There had been testing, and it had worked, but then problems occurred, and it took only the slightest of issues during the transfer, for it to go wrong. After three accidental deaths, it was decided to ban it until the process could be more refined.

Of course, in line with everything else of this ship, the transporters were the latest versions with considerably upgraded hardware. The distance was still a problem, but getting a lock onto an individual was easier with the new markers provided to this crew.

We were, for all intents and purposes, guinea pigs for the new system, something else I didn’t know until now.

The question was, would she want to be transported? The fact the pirate ships were able to transport people with success was interesting given they would only have the old equipment, but they had an incentive to use it, it was a primary means for them to escape.

And that, too, had raised another issue, they had to have a marker, not necessarily the result of a vaccination, it could be a small device, and that could only be given to them by the guards, which meant it was likely the off-world prison authority was corrupt, not unheard of since it had been contracted out. It was just another paragraph in a report that was growing exponentially in size.

The Admiral was surprised to hear from me. I thought it best, in one of those cover your rear moments, to give him a heads up on what we were planning to do.

But to a more important matter I was sure he would be interested in hearing, “The trial for running at a much faster speed was a success, and that we are closer to travelling at the speed of light. But it seems we are not the first people to do so. It seems the people who stole the plutonium have the same capability.”

“The aliens?”

“No. Our scans of their ships and personnel show they are not. We believe the ships are older vessels discarded on the edge of space, refitted, and manned by escaped convicts from the Mars mining prison.” Saying it out loud didn’t quite sound the same as it had in my head.

“Or it is the result of a country that is not exactly playing by the rules that everyone agreed to for the exploration and exploitation of space.”

“So it was known we might run into some people who have another agenda?”

“Not in that direction, no.”

“Well, it seems they have a base on or under the surface of one of Uranus’s moons called Oberon. I suspect the plutonium is to fuel their base, which is far enough out of the mainstream that we might not have discovered it for years.”

“You then have to wonder why they told you about it?”

That answer was provided in a sudden and alarming manner.

“Bridge to Captain, we have three incoming vessels, and I think they are not here for a social visit.”

To the Admiral, “I have to go. Let’s hope the weapons we have are adequate.” I cut the call, saying, “Be there ASAP. Is the gunnery sergeant at her post?”

“Yes.”

“Then tell her she has permission to return fire if they attack.”

“Very good.”

I had considered why they hadn’t attacked when they had the chance earlier, but perhaps that visit was just to return the Captain’s body. If they were privy to information about our vessel, they might know of its capabilities, and not wish to engage. Of course, there was another reason, perhaps they were waiting until all three ships were free, and assume there was safety in numbers.

Whatever the reasons, we’d soon find out.

© Charles Heath 2021

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