Springingtiger's Blog


Chapter 30: Sigma Seven
December 1, 2016, 02:04
Filed under: Politics, Religion, Technology, Travel, Writing | Tags: ,

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Sigma Seven was one of three planets in the system that had been identified as capable of sustaining human life and of the three S-7 needed the least work. The major task would be to ensure soils suitable for Earth crops but first came providing the atmosphere. S-7’s atmosphere needed little tinkering as it was classed as ‘Earth like’, a few adjustments to the balance of gasses and we were ready to roll.

My team were among the first down after the perimeter of the first settlement was established. While no life forms other than some vegetation had been identified, over the centuries we had learned not to take any unnecessary chances. Once we were down we set about putting our Zeppelin together and inflating it. Because S-7’ s gravity was lower than that of Earth which took as our baseline we didn’t need as much lift. I was pleased as I always liked to have spare Zeppelinium, just in case. We flew the scientists out to collect soil and mineral samples as well as water and vegetation for analysis back at base.We carried the cartographers and the surveyors who generally worked together rather than duplicate measurements.

Eva and I didn’t get much time together as I was out so much and she was busy. Fortunately the Colonisation protocols enforced a day off in every ten so we synchronised our off days to spend time together. Sometimes she came out with me on my flights so that she could study specimens in situ. We even went swimming in the great lake – more like a freshwater sea – Lake Kennedy. The fish stocks were flourishing so that night we and the crew had trout for dinner caught by the crew on rods that had mysteriously found their way on board. Eva packed several trout in ice ‘for sampling by the laboratory staff’.

“Scientific sampling?” I asked.

“But of course…it will be an opportunity to field test some of our outdoor crops.” Eva grinned, “Besides why should you cowboys get all the fun?”

While we were exploring and the scientists were confirming the safety of the planet for the colonists, we had construction crews preparing the accommodations for the first colonists and the landing pads for the ships. Meanwhile the agriculturalists were trialling the first crops. The colonists wouldn’t be revived until the Professor was content we could feed them which would be after the second harvest. However during the intervening months there would be an increasing number of specialists awakened and brought to the surface.

The one group of specialists we had no intention of waking early was the diplomats. Both the military and the scientists preferred to get their work done without the meddling of politicians and civil servants. So while the politicians slept we got on with preparing the settlement. We surveyed the possible sights for the main settlements and the routes in between them.

The one benefit of the Shoggoth attack was that we no longer had to worry about Governor Osbourne. He had for some reason insisted on a transfer to the Arthur C. Clark rather than remain on the Roddenberry when the expedition was gathered. I must admit that however glad I was that he was not with us, the thought of him being devoured by a Shoggoth horrified me. It was I who suggested that we should name the administrative building in his honour a suggestion that was well received by the diplomatic community who seemed to hold Osbourne in higher regard than the other groups. The administration was taken over by the Mayor Thomas Jackson.

In the ordinary scheme of things as each settlement was established a member of the Diplomatic Corps would be appointed Mayor each reporting to the Colonial Governor. Jackson was the most senior of the trained mayors and so the first to take up office when the first base was established. Surprisingly he retained his title as Mayor of Obamopolis rather than that of Governor of Sigma Seven. He argued that the governorship of the Colony should be settled later once there were more settlements established. As long as there was only one settlement there was no need for a governor and he was quite able to undertake the functions of both roles on a temporary basis.

The Commodore – Eddie Hussein – with his work done and his deep space career finished took on the job of Chief of Security. We saw the destroyer crews only when they came to the surface for shore leave, but that was fairly frequent. DC, the Chief, Eva, and I managed to get together for dinner quite often. As chief scientist on the agricultural and horticultural programs Eva had access to some of the best fresh food so these were occasions to which we all looked forward. I’ll never forget the expression on DC’s face when he was presented with what Eva called ‘just simple fare’. His eyes widened then closed for a moment and then he exclaimed,

“It’s bacon. It’s real fucking bacon! Oh my god it’s years since I tasted real bacon.”

I interrupted. “Technically it’s centuries, but you were asleep for much of the time.”

“Whatever, it still tastes good.”

When Eva announced there were three rashers each, DC groaned in ecstasy. I commented,

“I wonder how Roddenberry would interpret that groan.”

Eva blushed.

As the settlers were being awakened in groups it soon became time to set up a second and third settlement. The best thing about this for me was that it meant the construction of the Bennie Railplane tracks. The first two were over gently rolling country, but after that the tracks had to be built over the mountains. It was much easier to construct a Railplane track than dig tunnels through mountains. There were a couple of steeper sections that required a chain drive to lift the plane up the gradient, but the modern Railplane could handle most of the gradients with which it was confronted. I was friendly with most of the Bennie Company engineers, I didn’t mention that I was the one who had suggested the use of the Railplane for colonies as it would render sealing my files a waste of time.

##

My Zeppelin was moored above Bennie’s construction camp in the Shiva Mountains when I received a text from the Chief of Security in Obamopolis. One of the technicians in the Diplomatic Corps had discovered anomalies in the expedition logs that suggested that I had remained out of stasis for the whole voyage. As I wasn’t in either the civil or military structures I should have been safe enough, but it was almost certain that I was going to come under unwelcome scrutiny. I was grateful Osbourne wasn’t around to make an issue of things. He might have used a judicial process to access my records. It was about eight months since I switched from Zeppelins to the Railplane. Riding alone troubleshooting the Railplane lines meant I was out of sight and less likely to remind people that there might be a mystery to investigate. It’s a lot easier to sneak in and out of town on horseback than it is to arrive unnoticed on a Zeppelin. I had suspected that something was in the wind when Roddenberry told me that the Dip Corps were auditing his records. My papers – thanks to General Sikorski – identified me as a full colonel in Deep Space Tactical.Had my records been unsealed the investigators would have found plenty of other ranks and titles, but a DST commission was explanation enough for my sealed records.

It wasn’t long after my message from the Chief that I delivered the dragon meat into Obamapolis. It was well received and I made a tidy amount on it even after the cost of refrigerated transport. I put the money into Eva’s account. She objected, but I explained my reasoning,

“Have you any idea how rich I am? I have caches of valuables across the Earth and the universe, I have bank accounts that have been accumulating interest since commercial banking was invented.”

“You can’t be that rich!” She argued.

“Can I buy you something ridiculous to prove it?” I asked.

“Don’t be silly!” Eva laughed, then something in my expression stopped her. “Okay,” She challenged, “Buy me the Roddenberry”

I opened a comms channel and organised a communication to Fleet Headquarters asking to buy the ship. It would take weeks for the reply to arrive. Although as we travelled we left a chain of comms satellites along our route the distance still made communication a slow process, but quicker than the physical process of transporting people long distances. I sent the signal and then forgot all about it.

The next day I was asked to visit the Mayor’s office. I attached my DST Colonel’s insignia to my collar just to send a verbal signal of my untouchability. When I entered the office Mayor Jackson stood to greet me. In the room were the Chief, an old man with a clerical collar and an officer of the Archaeology and Antiquities Corps.

“How can I help you?” I asked taking the empty chair beside the Mayor’s desk.

“Colonel Cain…” began the Mayor, but I interrupted him.

“Just ‘Cain’, please.” I said.

“Cain, may I introduce Doctor Gustav Steiner of the Archaeology and Antiquities Corps and the Right Reverend Simeon Cain Bishop of Sigma Seven?” The Mayor said.

“Bishop? Not much of a diocese.” I grunted.

“It’s a missionary and pastoral role.” Said the old man.

“You said your name was Cain, how old are you, Bishop?” I asked him.

“As you say the title ‘Bishop’ is meaningless, I just think of myself as an ordinary Shepherd. As for my age, If you deduct the time spent in stasis I am now a hundred and seventy.” He looked at me expectantly, I think I inadvertently gave him the opening he sought when I continued,

“It’s a very good age and you look well for it.”

“I blame it on good genes he said.

“Go on.” I invited

The old man produced a series of photos which he said proved I was very much older than I professed to be. I asked him if he could show me his genealogy. I examined it and then said.

“There is a good reason that my files are sealed. Anything I say now is in strict confidence some of these pictures are indeed of me but Henry Cain-Barker isn’t me merely a descendent who resembles me at that time I was working under the name ‘Scot Cain’. And in answer to the question you so obviously want to ask, yes you are descended from me.”

“Actually,” said Simeon Cain, “I wanted to ask whether it is true. Are you the Cain?”

“And if I were you’d have lots more questions, if I had time perhaps I would answer them, but I’m busy.” I said with finality. I felt a little sorry to see the disappointment on my great – I wondered how many greats – great grandson’s face.

The Mayor spoke, “It’s about being busy that I asked to see you Cain. The Zeppelin explorations have found what appear to be man made structures in a valley at the eastern end of the Shiva Mountains. However they can’t put down because of the treacherous winds through the valley. Archaeology wondered if you would take a team in on foot. No one knows the mountains as well as you. Bennie’s have said they’ll release you for a while if you agree, but it has to be your decision.”

“I very much any structures you have found will be made by ‘man’, but I’d be fascinated to see these structures. Be prepared to be disappointed, most of these things tend to turn out to be natural phenomena. I remember when people believed the Giant’s Causeway was made by giants…”

The Bishop let out a triumphant shout of, “I knew it.”

I sighed. “Okay, I’ll lead your expedition…” I pondered for a moment. “We should be able to fly most of the way. Why don’t we take a Zep out tomorrow to reconnoitre for a safe landing as close as possible?”

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