The Shoulders of Orion


Tags: Science Fiction,

Desc: : A security scout is sent to a distant planet to investigate a disturbance from its sensors.

The ship was plummeting through the ether at a breakneck pace. Seemingly wallowing through the asteroid belt in this new sun forming region off the Shoulders of Orion, there was actually a destination firmly set.

Though merely avoiding the larger objects that would not be pushed out of the ships way, by the far reaching spreader beam, making it safe for the small ship to pass through unharmed and undetected, time was not on Becker's side. It was critical he get to his destination and get there now.

The stars in the local grouping were hot. He noticed another spike on the screen dealing with conditions outside. The space between the close nit suns was active with serious radiation so high it would destroy most things of a carbon based origin.

Thank goodness for the amplified gravity drive some genius had invented years ago, thought Becker. He mused over those flashes of brilliance and their ability to protect the ship and passengers from outside sources, running through space like this at such a break-neck pace. The numerical readings on several of the screens before him, on the ship's forward operational panels, were almost scary to watch. I'd be dead in seconds if not for the shielding and the drive system. Nothing but a piece of charcoal by now, he thought.

He returned his eyes to the navigation reads. Becker had been racing toward OM-2 for three days now, out of the orbiting star-wheel around Fortis 5. There had been a breech in the security field surrounding the planet and as a First Scout, it was his duty to find out what had happened, on the sly.

OM-2 was undergoing terra-forming. It had been in progress for almost ten standard years and was nearly complete, even though it was all programmed and operated under the direction of androids and machinery so huge, very little could disrupt the operation except an all out attack by some competing solar system. But OM-2 was a purchased and secured world by treaty. It was Corbal Industries clear and firm. There should be no breeches in the security field. Not even an asteroid or comet penetration would have set off the alert, if they were big enough to force their way into the atmosphere with all the protection satellites in orbit around it. No. Something serious had gotten through. Something powerful and large.

"OM-2 on screen," said the female computer's voice. "Magnification thirty-four."

The world had huge ocean's and two moons. The one was large and actually did some good, creating tides and had fortunately activated magnetic fields, coming from deep inside the planet, while the other was nothing but a captured meteor in low orbit circling the planet three times a day, not unlike Mars' moon, Phobos. The main one had been imported from one of the gas giants orbiting moons, further out in the solar system, and had an internal structure compatible and comparable to earth's. So, OM-2 had a wonderful and powerful magnetic pattern around it to ward off any threat from most things in space, particularly the nearby twin sun's harmful rays and any and all of the other more distant suns in the region. It was becoming something of a world rich and precious to man kind, now that it was almost habitable. They had already begun to form an oxygen rich atmosphere to the place, those robotic terra-formers, with the seas already teaming with imported life and some basic terra plants in the form of lichens and other simple plants. It looked like a very promising world for future habitation.

Becker began scanning the surface when he got to magnification sixteen. Even this far out, he could distinguish features and metallic based objects on the surface. After several hours, seeing nothing but atmosphere plants and those enormous metallic terra-forming monstrosities, it wasn't difficult to spot the alien craft once he got into near orbit.

It was an aggressive looking thing with a number of protruding spikes and sharp angled geometric shapes to the hull, and quite large, too. A least a hectare in size. No wonder it had set off the warning systems. It didn't fit the profile to any known craft in the computer's memory or his and he figured it had to be alien, not human, in origin, and certainly not earth made.

He slowed his scouts craft, a high performance, one man mini vessel, and settled into the atmosphere in a controlled glide, still in stealth and completely invisible. Becker didn't like the looks of the vessel on the surface and hid his unnoticed craft in a depression outside the view of the intruder, about half a kilometer away. Several features could be weapons, he guessed, so he wasn't taking any chances.

He made a brief report and sent it out, informing station that he had arrived and pin-beamed it and the visuals he had collected already. He hadn't gone through the interior of the strange craft yet, afraid the penetration radars would set off some kind of warning to the intelligence on board the alien vessel, if there was one.

From outside his craft, a door seemed to open up in the sky as Becker exited his ship. It always looked odd to him, gazing back, when he closed the hatch into nothingness. The stealth of his transport was amazing, being completely invisible to the naked eye and most, if not all, detections systems.

He checked the filtering mechanisms to his suit to reaffirm all items were operating correctly. There was no need for an oxygen pack, with the suit. The suit its self was the pack and though the back had several flattened systems integrated into its make up, it was slim and snug fitting. It allowed him greater mobility and more comfort without an oxygen tank strapped to his back, with as much oxygen the atmosphere now contained. The suit merely filtered out the other less useful gases for his bodies needs, duplicating earth' breathable air. With more plant life scheduled for the new future, here, the oxygen levels would soon stabilize so even one of these suits wouldn't be needed.

He stepped up hill, partly, and using an imaging ball thrown into the sky overhead, it floated there over Becker's position, tiny and barely visible. It was unlikely any one would notice the three point four millimeter ball floating in the air, spying down on them.

Checking his control monitor, he sent it in closer to the alien craft and was only about thirty meters away when he first saw movement. It was a robot doing some kind of work on the outside hull. The outer engines, assuming, that's what they were, were being serviced or repaired and he sent the ball closer in.

The robot looked humanoid and seemed quite sophisticated but he figured it was a mere ships mechanic. It wasn't as refined as the ones being produced by earth's corporations as they all were so life-like that it was nearly all but impossible to distinguish them from real men and women with the exception of their perfect beauty.

Okay. They've probably got engine problems, that's why they had to set down, he surmised. But is this craft entirely robotic or is there real life controlling it? More than that, what was it doing in this sector of space? Was this ship doing reconnaissance for invasion, or just mapping out new planets? That's what he had to find out.

He sent the ball towards the main hatchway, as he thought of it, a large ramp in raised position, in front of a large bay door. There was nothing more to see, though, so after searching aft, as the mech-robot continued his work, he inspected another newly discovered personnel hatch. The hatch was sealed and there was no window so Becker sent the device to map the huge ship, and beamed the information off to station. It wasn't long after that that a humanoid form in a suit, similar to his, exited the ship, looking for the little spy ball. It had been noticed.

He watched as the quite obviously female form came outside, something in her hand. It didn't appear to be a weapon of any kind. Maybe it was a locater and soon enough, that was confirmed. She was looking directly into the lens of the ball, knowing exactly where it was. Becker couldn't see her face, her helmet shielded like his from the twin suns bright rays, but when she made a gesture of 'come here', he let the cube drift down towards her. She must have known it was being operated and kept looking around for it's operator, him of course.

He finally made a decision and stepped up over the hill, but switched on his shielding. It would protect him from small arms fire but that was about it. He was taking a chance and wondered if there were others on board her craft, waiting for him to show his self so they could wound or kill him, but hopefully, it wouldn't be that bad. Besides, he was armed himself.

She seemed friendly, yet, still, he also activated his targeting screen in his heads up display. With a mere look and combination eye or eyebrow gesture, he could fire one of several kinds of weapons at the being before him, if needed.

He stored the little monitor on his hip belt, using the heads up display instead, and turned the ball towards him so she would noticed him walking towards her. She saw him coming and waited, staring.

He slowly raised a hand as if to say, Howdy, and watched carefully as she returned the gesture. Friend. Very good. He was recording everything and had the pin-bean sending off results ever sixteenth of a second.

When he got to her, he bowed, briefly, and said, hello, then stepped forward rather slowly and extended his hand. She made the same gesture, mimicking him, though not understanding that they were to shake. He glanced down and slowly took her hand, so it wouldn't surprise her. He pressed her hand, gently, noticing the four fingers and opposing thumb, just like his, and shook it briefly, then let go.

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Story tagged with:
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