Soooooo, here is a rather long excerpt from my current work in progress that is tentatively titled 'Ghost Fleet', book two of the science fiction Home World Series. It is the sequel to 'Star Eagle Six', book one of the series. The passage involves a brilliant young ensign and scientist Jeff Sinclair, giving a report to Stuart Joseph the captain of the starship Parras. The ensign is accompanied by lieutenant commander Sinna DuClair, a bridge commander. I hope you enjoy the selection.
“Okay, give it to me.” Stuart Joseph leaned back in his chair and folded his arms. Ensign Sinclair and commander DuClair sat across from him in the bridge conference room. Joseph had a slight scowl on his face. He didn’t like being pulled off his bridge to listen to a report. “This had better be good.”
“We have a clue to the destruction of LeLairn, Captain.” Sinna was sitting up straight, her posture rigid, her hands folded across her lap. She always felt uncomfortable sitting in front of the captain. It reminded her of being called before the principal in school, or being in a job interview. She was much more relaxed when she was on her feet, moving around; more on equal terms. “I think you need to hear ensign Sinclair’s findings.” She nodded as she looked over to a nervous ensign. “Go ahead Jeff.”
“Well sir,” Jeff began nervously, stopping as captain Joseph held up his hand.
“Son, make sure you bring this down to my level, okay?”
“Yes sir.” He looked over to Sinna quickly before beginning. “You know of background radiation as a constant throughout the universe I assume sir. It’s the single remnant that points back to the Big Bang.”
“I’m aware ensign. I’m not stupid.”
“Sorry sir. Well, what we found was a path that cut across the LeLairn system that shows a clear disturbance in that radiation. It measures approximately one-quarter an astronomical unit across.”
“What caused it?”
“That is something we don’t know yet, but it is a definite interruption in the local field. I didn’t have time to begin to analyze its structure yet. As the duty cycle finished I started working on the report to send up.”
“Reports can wait when you’re on the cusp of finding something tangible.” Joseph let his eye move to his commander before returning. It was enough to force a nod back in his direction.
“We did measure a difference in width from where it seems to have entered the system to when it exited, although the it seems to have broken up at some point.”
“And that point being?”
“Likely when it interacted with LeLairn prime, sir.”
“Interacted meaning …”
“Yes sir, when it collided with LeLairn.”
“Very good. What’s next?”
“There are several things to look at. We need to calculate the variation in width to begin to determine a point of origin. We also need to investigate what could have caused it. It’s possible it was a weapon, or, it could be a naturally occurring phenomenon we have never encountered before.”
“What’s your best guess, son?”
“Well sir.” Jeff paused and swallowed hard. “I can’t think of anything I’ve ever even dreamed of that would point this in the direction of a natural occurrence. If I had to guess, I’d say it was not natural.”
Joseph let his head drop. He pushed himself away from the desk and turned toward the viewport behind him. He watched the stars in the background as the destroyer Victory loomed at her station off the starboard beam. He let his mind go blank for a few moments, lost in the dark solitude.
“Ensign, how can you be sure LeLairn interacted with this anomaly?” Joseph turned back to his officers.
“I’ll have to run a time line to see where, or if they interacted.” Jeff sat silently for a moment before continuing. “Although I don’t want to point out the obvious sir, we went looking for a smoking gun, and we found it.”
“How long will that take?”
“Only a couple hours sir. There are a couple problems we face to do this however. We don’t know the velocity of whatever it was that caused the disturbance in the radiation. I could take an educated guess at that and plot the orbital path of the planet back in time. We’ll see if they intersect.”
“What’s the other problem?”
“You said there are a couple problems. You’ve told me one. What’s the other?”
“It’s the variation that we might encounter since we don’t have all the facts.” Jeff’s eyes narrowed as he began to think through his rationale. His voice lowered like he was speaking only to himself. “If the variation is more than plus or minus seventy-eight hours …”
“Jeff, stop mumbling,” Sinna said as she nudged his arm.
“Sorry sir,” he said as he looked back up. “If the time frame is off by a factor of seventy-eight hours then this likely isn’t the cause of the explosion.”
“Why seventy-eight hours?”
“That’s the length of three LeLairn solar days. The path of this disturbance cuts obliquely at an angle of twenty-six degrees across the plane of the system. It’s not horizontal to the plane. If it takes longer than seventy-eight hours, it would miss LeLairn prime.”
“Go find me some answers Ensign,” Joseph replied. “Make sure I see it as soon as you’ve reached your conclusion.”
“Do you want any help with this?”
“No sir. Others just slow me down.” He hesitated from his statement. “Sorry sir, that didn’t come out right.”
“I know what you mean Ensign.” Joseph turned back to the viewport just in time to see the stabilizers on the Victory fire keeping her at station. “Carry on.”