Dell Sweet’s Star Dancer Space Science Fiction preview
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Up until three weeks ago we could still pick up radio waves from home: For some reason they have stopped, but we learned a great deal from what we did hear.
Nearly the entire Fed hierarchy is missing or unaccounted for: Another quarter of those remaining have been murdered or executed by various factions that remain in power; sometimes less than a day, at the most three or four. Those that are left are casting blame in a wide net. Many say the other half were in the three known waves that escaped the planet: If that is so I have not heard any news concerning them: There are certainly none on Dancer Two.
There was an interim government, or so the radios proclaimed: Things were running. People housed, fed, normalcy being returned via hard rule, but the facade wasn’t believable if you listened more than a short minute. The late, late night broadcasts laid out the real facts: Riots, millions dead, the rivers were lower every day the planet colder: The oxygen content less every day. All the vegetation: Trees, Crops had gone into winter mode because of the loss of heat. Food shortages, mass suicides: Denunciation of the old Fed government and even well wishes if we were out there somewhere and could hear them.
The late, late broadcasts always ended abruptly as though there were still someone out there hunting the signals down and shutting them down: Keeping the lie alive, something like that. But the last few weeks of broadcasts contained no censorship at all, just desultory atmospheric reports. Planet health updates.
The riots had died down. Militant armies were seizing control in areas, but most of the population was already dead or dying and it wasn’t the atmosphere that was killing them, but starvation, thirst, exposure. The power grids were dropping in and out. The supply lines had been destroyed, and there were no supplies to route along those lines anyway.
To be honest I was almost happy when the broadcasts stopped. They were so hard to take, but we all sat and listened to them anyway. Petra, Tom, Marva, a few others in our circle. The first night without them we grieved: It was like we knew then that the world had died; and for all we know it has. Then we became resigned and then the relief came: The relief of not having to listen to the nightly recitation of death and dying and despair.
The pup has grown already, our quarters are adequate, but even if they were not she is such a mood lifter; especially with the babes: If anyone comes near she is alert; as if she knows it is her duty to protect them.
We have discussed several times what the ultimate end of our voyage would be, and finally in agreement we have altered course for Hydrus, HD 10180 and set a course for Hay Vida the fifth planet. We will examine Standard, the third planet, a hot earth and equipped with a Standard mining facility, but a company planet is probably not going to be our best bet, and as of yet we have not been able to reach them via long range com or radio link.
Hay Vida has everything we need to survive. Dropped by Dancer One and several other ships, but not yet colonized; so far as we knew. Officially classed HD 10180 g, Hay Vida is a giant planet with a mass larger than Neptune’s. It has a fairly circular orbit at 1.4 AU and within the system’s habitable zone though its mass is twenty four times that of the Earth. There is sufficient atmospheric pressure and probes launched confirmed liquid water on its surface: Oceans, forests and carbon life forms, although no reports of whether those life forms are intelligent or what they might be.
We had wondered who else might know of it, but we have no way to know. We suspect that none besides our own crew and the crews of three other ships that dropped loads of supplies there. None of the other ships is with us or have been heard from. We have no idea where they were or whether they too might head there or possibly some other planet that has been drop shipped for colony prep. Short of putting our feet on the surface we have done all we can do. And of course we have no way to know if we will be able to land on this planet. Dancer Two carries a small compliment of shuttles, but none able to land on a planet with atmosphere. Theoretically Dancer Two can enter the atmosphere and land safely, but even if it does it cannot lift off again.
Petra and I hope for the best, whatever the best might be now. Lowered expectations of course, we only hope to survive.
I don’t find I am writing as often in this log as I once did. It is as simple as calling up the com link and speaking the words, or even typing them in. No big deal, but I find it hard to do.
Despair has set in. We have passed dozens of derelicts in the last several weeks. Destroyed. Explosions, no doubt, booby trapped. The crew on this ship has become restless and authority has begun to break down. Tom has a firm hand on it, but I suspect even he is wondering how to keep it together. We can only travel as fast as the slowest vessel, and three of our vessels are simply not capable of making this trip quickly: Twice or possibly triple the time we would need on our own is required. And what can be done about that? That is part of the anger in our own crew who have made it known they believe we should leave them behind to find their own way. I have no answer for that except; no. I am not willing to do it yet, maybe there will be a time, but that time is not now. We have plenty of supplies, materials, provisions; time is all it will cost us. Are they really so anxious to conclude this trip? Not knowing what the conclusion will be?
There are no more broadcasts of any kind. We had had some contact with the other ships in our fleet, but that has also ceased. The capability exists so we can only assume there has been trouble on board those ships and they have been mutinied or in some way taken over. Of the ten that had remained we have only five left with us. The others have ceased communication and changed course to parts unknown. The remaining ships are known to us, their proximity, but they are not communicating with us. We have discussed it and find it ominous, but we have no clue what to do about it or what their silence may mean.
The system we are bound for grows closer in the viewers and can now be seen with the naked eye through the bridge ports. We still have two ships with us that are slow, older Star Cruisers and so we are still bound to remain at this pace although we have discussed an ultimatum: Return our communications or we will forge ahead leaving beacons you can follow. Yet we can’t all agree that is the best alternative to the problem.
There are two other pups aboard the ship. Surprise to us and yes one is a male and already interested in our Princess: The babes have named her Princess from a story Petra tells them nearly every bedtime. Their baby talk has progressed significantly with Petra teaching them all of the time.
We have, I mentioned, received no contact from wave one or wave two, but we have found a possible reason while searching our own computer records. Tracing back the orders and messages received by our ship while it was still docked, Petra found other messages that had been sent to the first and second wave ships. They had been warned about the impending demise of the planet and sent to specific planets.
Ten of us got together to discuss the implications. Maybe the rumors that many of the Fed government were onboard those first waves were true after all. The second wave also received messages directing them. When it had come to us we had been left to our own devises we had thought, but we had not been. Although we had not been told the ships in our wave had been directed we knew we had not been; we had simply fallen onto the tail end of that wave and followed them. The actual locations had been encoded, maybe with time they could be decoded, but for what purpose? The reality looked to us as though the feds had known what was coming and sent the waves to different places hoping to preserve human kind in that way: And of course they had only relocated the hierarchy in the Fed organization. What other purpose could there have been for the secrecy and silence?
That only put more doubt in us about Hay Vida. If there had been a large presence of ships coming this way we should see signs of that. Burn trails, chem signatures; there were none to be seen except the few derelicts we had come upon and there was no way to know where they had been heading. The odds of picking a single planet in the vastness of space, as we had done and then having another ship pick that same planet out of the myriad of possibilities would be astronomical. We were much more likely to find ourselves and our small armada of ships the only inhabitants in this system at all. And the fact that they had not picked us or the planet we were heading for was disturbing. Were we unable to land safely? Was the planet thought inhabitable; inhospitable? These thoughts are sobering to all of us.
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