“Approaching vessel you do not have clearance codes, depart our restricted zone. You do not, I repeat do not have clearance to land.”
Gater came to a full stop relative to the orbiting base. “Good morning. Could you direct me to your visitor parking?”
“It’s the middle of the night, not morning. On your way before I wake security. They are very grumpy when they get awakened in the night.”
“Hmmm. That doesn’t sound good. We were just stopping by because we found this strange thing on an asteroid. It looks unnatural, but it looks too old to be human and we just thought MNES would be the right folks to give it to. Well if we ever come back through this system and it’s daytime when the important folks are up, maybe we’ll try again.” Gater turned and began a slow acceleration toward the jump gate.
“Just a minute. Just wait there. I’ll be right back with you.”
“I don’t know. If your security wakes up in the night and checks the screens and sees us here. I wouldn’t want that. Best we just get on our way.”
“Alright, alright. You can dock, but stay in your ship until I come to get you. You’ve got to be badged to go anywhere on the station without setting off alarms.
Gater reversed course, entered the docking bay, docked and made a seal with a personnel tube. Jown, Johann and Hildi waited dutifully for their escort. When he came he wasn’t alone. The younger red headed man had to be the duty officer they had verbally dueled with.
The older man with graying hair introduced himself, “Hello, I’m Samuel Hamson, MNES archeologist. Not that I ever do any, mostly collateral duties. Young Fred will need your identities in order to process badges for you.”
Johann went first, “I’m Johann Gieorn, retired scientist and this is my wife Dr. Grunhilda Gieorn, retired Expert Linguist.”
Then it was Jown’s turn, “I’m Jown 43580129584, independent trader.”
“Hmmm. I find Jown, clean record, and I find a Johann Gieorn, but listed as a retired science aid, and I find an Ex Dr. Grunhilda Gieorn.”
Samuel took over, “EX Dr.? What do they mean EX Dr.?”
Hildi replied, “I translated some ancient text that wasn’t flattering to our government. That’s how I became an Ex Dr.”
“I remember that! It was what … 5 years ago? Those despicable bureaucrats. And you sir.”
“I started as a lab helper as a lad. Educated myself and rose to the position of full scientist. When my dear wife got in hot water they decided that I shouldn’t be scientist because I didn’t have a degree and took away my title.”
“Titles mean something to politicians, but are worthless when the real work needs to get done. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Take me for example. Poor excuse for an archaeologist. Never had a real live piece of artifact in my hands, but I have the title. Badges ready?”
“Uh, no sir, uh I thought because of the irregularities …”
“Haven’t you been listening? Just list them as my personal guests. I am allowed guests aren’t I?”
“Oh yes sir. Just a minute, uh printing now … Here you all are. Sorry for the delay. If you’ll excuse me I’ve got to get back to control.”
Sam turned to escort them to his rooms, but Hildi took his arm and lead him onto the Gater and back to the hold. Holding up here hand to signal him to be quiet, she took a text block, activated it and handed it to him.
Hildi whispered, “Now you can say you’ve held and actual artifact. Only it isn’t really a very old one, just no human.” Hildi waited to let it all sink in.
Sam’s hands were shaking as he looked at the block and all of the strange characters. After a moment he looked up and whispered “I just don’t know where to start …”
Johann quietly interjected, “Starting isn’t the issue. We’ve worked on this for over a year. There’s much more to say but we need to find someplace secure to talk.”
Sam took them to a secure room and heard things that forever changed his life. When without waiting for morning he went and woke the MNES Chief Executive (Glen Holbert) and brought him to the secure room. While he was gone Johann and Hildi brought her scan data and translation program. At 8:05 the chief was paged because he hadn’t been seen and was late for his daily staff meeting. He changed the meeting location to the secure room and ordered breakfast to be brought for all of them to the room. While the five of them ate the staff set up a projector and connected Hildi’s computer. None of them knew what it was all about until they activated the text block and passed it around. Then there was no more thought of the meeting excuses or the day’s work. No more thought of the long-range strategic plan or even the plans for next week. All their minds were blank waiting to hear what this would mean, where it would take them. In a surprise and shock Johann and Hildi agreed that Jown would give the brief. Hildi would put up appropriate scans, but Jown would lead the brief and the discussion to follow.
Posted by strailon Saturday, December 15, 2012 @ 00:00:00 UTC