Writing in Public: Story 4 (Novella), Chapter 14
High above the 49er Planet, Colonel Graul tapped his fountain pen on the table top and looked over his handwritten notes in his military green notebook. Looked up at the image of the sun floating over his conference table.
Didn’t like what he was seeing.
He checked the synchronized clock on the wall that the computer displayed for him. Almost lunch on Kangjun; planet time put it at close to sunset.
Lieutenant Parker sat across from him, trying not to fidget. He could sense Graul’s mood. Many commanding officers took their bad moods out on the nearest target, though Graul tried not to do that.
Chief Marotta was parked on the corner of the table, arms folded across her chest. “Skipper, you’re acting like this is bad news.”
To the point. Graul sat back in his chair, rubbing his eyes. It was good news. The solar flares had finally stopped. The geomagnetic storm would be gone soon enough, ending the communication disruption.
Everyone’s gaze on him, he reached for his coffee and took a sip. It was his special blend that he purchased from Earth. Better than the God-awful coffee the military served.
“Can we reduce the power so we can do a deep scan?” he asked.
Parker seemed relieved to answer a normal question. “Sir, there’s still enough energy in the atmosphere that could play havoc with our systems. We could reassess in a few hours.”
Graul tapped his pen again. The drone was still finishing its scans of the planet. They had no information whatsoever.
“Chief,” he said, “get some volunteers and start digging into the history of this planet for that location.”
That, too, would take time. Every planet was required to submit a data drop of their history when they became a GALCOM member, which was included in the information about the planet. He doubted Mel had looked at anything past twenty years ago. The records would still be in the original written text. Computer could translate.
But again, that would take time.
He slapped the pen on the table. Startled Parker. Didn’t startle Marotta.
“My gut tells me something is wrong on the planet. Really wrong.”
“How about we ready another shuttle?” Marotta said. “We can put a team of Marines and a team of medical personnel on standby. If we need either, it’ll cut some time.”
Graul nodded. It was a good idea and it didn’t help him feel any better. His gut was rarely wrong.