A new entry in the Omicron Matter – The Drones Launch. The drones have left the warehouse and are headed into space. Charles and Camille find the transition from normal space to Omicron space disconcerting and amuse Rachael and Winifred. With the drones headed to the their locations there is nothing to do but wait.
For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the book home page is a good place to start.
In my time at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I found a lot of time was spent waiting even for shuttle missions. The shuttle had to be in the right position to take an image. The shuttle had to be in the right position to send data. Maneuvering took time. And it took over 90 minutes to complete an orbit so frequently one had to send a command and then wait 90 minutes until you actually saw the results of the command. Now imagine over the breadth of the galaxy where signals can take four hours to reach their destination, or more (as in the case of the current Pluto mission). One spent a lot of time waiting for data to arrive. I had a graveyard shift at one of the data reception sites and there were a lot of card games.
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Heroicos iter soricibus
John watched the ceiling doors close. Rachael stared at the closed doors. The others began milling about until Smith said, ”We’ve got hours to wait. The galley is open. “ John watched Smith’s group recede into the ship. John said, “Can’t say I really want to spend the next 4 hours making party talk with them. I’ve done it before and it isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds.”
Rachael laughed and said, “Six months back with the street urchins and you’ve lost your shine already? There’s no hope for the rest of us.”
John said, “Ah yes…well perhaps other options lay in the future.” He looked up at the closed ceiling. Then said, “Charles or Camille, do the drones have viewing equipment?”
Charles responded,”Yes…I’ll forward my drone’s image to your notebook.”
Camille said, “I suppose the others will want to see it as well. I will forward my drone’s work to monitors in the ship.”
Rachael said, “Thank you, Camille. I appreciate the effort.”
Camille said, “Miss Stanhope will want to see it as well.”
John muttered, “Whatever…lead on Miss Weiz. You can hold the notebook and I will make sure doors are open.”
The ships were remarkably similar so finding the environmental lab with its screens was very easy. The screens functioned in a very similar fashion. Charles drone was now skimming across the water south of England. The view was very reminiscent of the view from the gondola going over the channel, but it seemed much higher. John asked, “Is there a rear view?”
The screen now showed England, only it looked like a map and it was next to an equally detailed map of Europe. Clouds obscured much of the coastlines. The sky had become almost black. Rachael commented, “It seems so unreal.”
Camille and Charles now reported that their drones were in orbit. Rachael shook her head and then took a deep breath. She said, “Engage autonomy sequences for both drones. Request drone A send image of London. Request Drone B send image of Prague.” Camille and Charles both acknowledge the commands. Shortly close up images of the two cities appeared. Again, it would be difficult to tell if anyone actually was alive save the structures were clearly constructed. John said, “I think Michael is going to spend a lot of time over the next few years looking at city construction.”
Rachael snorted and said, “I think we are all going to spend the next few years relearning everything we thought we knew.” She said to the two computers, “Camille and Charles please validate autonomous command sequences for each drone. Report any anomalies.” John and Rachael stared at the images as the sequences were validated again. Charles reported back, “The sequence is verified.” Camille reported back, “Sequence is verified.”
John heard Smith say over the communications, “Will you send them off, Miss Weiz?”
Rachael muttered, “Damn scheming, busy body, … Execute sequences for both drones. Off they go, Smith”
Charles reported back, “Dark Energy field rising. Chronometers synced ….Oh!”
Camille said as well, “Oh dear!”
John asked, “Is there a problem?”
After a moment Charles said, “I can’t say for sure. The effect of the drone using the field is…disconcerting.”
Camille added, “Imagine having your limb suddenly disappear in a moment.”
Rachael twisted her lips, but John heard Winifred Stanhope say over the speaking tube, “Do tell. Disarming, is it?” John winced at the comment.
Charles said in an apologetic tone, “I wish there was a better way to describe it, but Camille’s description fits…It must sound…insensitive.”
Rachael smirked and said, “A tad… John and I will stay in the environmental lab. I look forward to your …experience when they return.”
Smith said over communications, “I am not going to stand around for 3 hours waiting for some silly signal. Anyone equally bored may join me in the galley for a brandy and conversation.
John said, “Brandy?”
Charles said over the notebook, “The drone I am monitoring is 24 light minutes away. We will not hear anything for at least that long. I have sent a request for an image, but the earliest that will arrive will be 48 minutes. Camille has informed me that Smith favors Napoleon Brandies – long on the mouth with floral notes and a bit of nut on the after taste.”
Rachael said, “Then Bob’s your uncle – I’ll try that even if I have to be in the same room as Winifred and Findley. “
John scratched his head and said, “How does an AI know about ‘long on the mouth with floral notes…’?”
Charles said, “Trade secret.”
 The heroic journey of the rats