Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 52:

The packed conference room was buzzing with conversation.  The discussions varied between safety concerns to anger for the operations hold up.  All were unhappy about the lack of information and the communications blackout.

The main screen in the room lit up with Captain Calhoun looking straight out into the room.  “Good afternoon, everyone.”  He paused.

The room slowly quieted down.

“I apologize for not being able to be there in person but we have a few important activities on the station that I have to attend to.” There were some murmurs around the room.  “I don’t actually have much to tell you except that we are working on the issues.  Commander Dickerson will brief you on the current status of transport and mining operations.  She is not able to be there in person at this time, however all of the information you need will be displayed on the screen and that room is crowded enough already.”  He paused for a moment for the chatter in the room to quiet down.  “So here is the commander with all of the information you need to have.”

The screen switched from the captain to the commander.  She was looking out from one half of the screen and the image of the asteroid on the other half.

“Here is what we know so far.” She dispensed with the pleasantries. 
“We have already established the fact that this asteroid is artificial, and we didn’t make it.” She paused a moment “We have also found another one like it just over 1300 kilometers away and we have dispatched a team to bring it to us.” Some murmers started around the room. “We have determined this section,” the image of the asteroid rotated around to show the high gravity section with its markings and the circles of 6 gold pads with the mount points in the middle of each one “is some sort of mount point.  The rectangle in the middle has a higher than expected gravity we expect is artificially created as well and we caution you to stay clear of that area.”

“Wait!” Mikhail Leonov of the Ukrainian Company jumped to his feet and exclaimed “Did you just say ‘artificial gravity’?” the room erupted in chatter.

The commander waited a moment “Calm down.” Another moment and she raised her voice “Calm Down!” the chatter grew a little more intense so the commander finally yelled “CALM DOWN!” She waited as the room quieted down.

“Yes, Mikhail, I said artificial gravity.  We should expect darned near anything when dealing with alien technology.  That is why you need to stay clear of this region and specifically those rings of gold circles.  We are setting up a bot to investigate those things to determine what they are and see if we can figure out what they do.”  The display switched to a list of the minerals detected and their content “Now to the question of all that carbon.” She waited for the room to quiet down again. “It is clearly too densely packed to be life forms.  In fact it looks like there is a huge diamond at the core of that thing.” Chatter started back up and the commander waited for it to calm down. “Don’t start checking your bank accounts yet, we still don’t know how to get in to it nor anything about any security systems.  Don’t forget, one of our surveyors was vaporized.  As far as we can tell he shorted out some power contacts, but we don’t know.  So just focus on retrieving that ice and keeping it as clean as possible.  Blast the dust off the outer shell and block it up while keeping an eye out for anything… interesting.  We expect operations to re-start in approximately 8 hours and we will keep you informed.”

The display switched to Captain Calhoun “Any questions?”

Chen Zhou of the Chinese Consortium stood up “What about the communications blackout?”

“Ahhh yes, that.” The captain cleared his throat. “The direct communications blackout will continue for at least the next 24 hours but you should probably expect at least 48 hours.” Chatter started back up “You are free to lodge your complaints with my office and you can still communicate with your groups by going through our channels.  But I caution you to please understand the very sensitive nature of the information we have here.  We don’t want a panic back home.  And if you don’t think it can happen, I will inform you that my wife here on the station freaked out and almost hurt somebody.  We don’t want any more of that here or back home.” He let them chatter for a minute “And George,” He directly addressed George Calvin of the African Alliance “Your crew will get their Amateur Radio back as soon as the blackout is lifted.  It is well protected and we want you to get back to talking to those school kids as soon as we can.”

“I’m going to hold you to that!” George showed remarkable restraint.

“I expect nothing less.” The captain smiled “That is all I have for now.  We will keep you updated as we have more information.”

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