The last entry in The Omicron Matter – A Practice Voyage. The journey is finished and the crews are pouring over the data. Smith and Millicent are meeting for a cup of tea to discuss the trip and interactions. Millicent reveals some information that surprised Smith and will create complications when they finally leave.
For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the book home page is a good place to start.
This was a fun chapter to write as I spent some time working at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the Radar Remote Sensing group. I was a lowly data tech. But at the time, they were planning remote sensing missions that are now producing or have produced images and data that have completely changed our view of the solar system and the planets. It was an exciting time then. Today, new missions are now revealing the secrets of Pluto, asteroids, Saturn’s moons and even comets. Even better – other nations such as India, China and Europe are getting into the study. We move one step closer to being one humanity instead of many nations.
Thanks for your support. Look for a new chapter to start on Wednesday
The jump back to Earth had taken a bit over an hour. Which was a bit shy of four times the speed of light. The data had both teams looking at the devices and devising ways to speed the journey. It was a welcome bit of cooperation. Both teams had dealt well with a taste of the vast strangeness of the galaxy. Her team was acting like a unified crew. She set her tea down and spoke, “I think our biggest problem remains the issues around neural acuity during the jumps.”
John Smith answered, “We could just say it is the price of travelling faster than light.”
Millicent said, “I have no problem saying that for a start, but we need to research it and see if there is a solution. Besides, we can sell the potion for the trip. We may have to plan more trips for Miss Weiz’s pet rats. “
Smith chuckled, “The gruff Miss Weiz has found attachment…to rats?”
Millicent said, “She is keeping them in her quarters. She says it’s to better study their behavior. Charles reports that she lets them lose and it is causing him fits. It seems they have taken to sitting on her shoulders while she reads.”
Smith pursed his lips in thought and said, “Probably some side effects of the nano technology. Those rats maybe smarter than some humans.”
Millicent smiled a bit this time and said, “Possibly.” She chuckled and wondered what Charles had wrought in the rat population of Eagle Wharf road. She straightened a bit and said, “There is one more matter. Mr. McNeill reported a drone leaving your ship.”
Smith stopped his cup in mid sip and asked, “And you are sure of Mr. McNeill and your systems?”
Millicent said evenly, “Quite.”
Smith put his cup down and said, “Why am I hearing about this now?”
Millicent said, “I could ask you the same question. We notified your crew and were told we must be mistaken.” For the first time that Millicent could recall, Smith looked surprised and upset. His brow wrinkled and then he put his head in his hands.
He finally asked, “Miss Stanhope made the reply.” It was a statement; not a question.
Millicent said, “We checked our instruments thoroughly. They are functioning properly. Charles and I reviewed the data. Jason was not mistaken – a drone left your ship while we orbited Triton. Then it disappeared.”
Smith said in a tired voice, “The field would account for that.” He sat up and then leaned back in the chair and said, “It seems I underestimated Miss Stanhope.”
Millicent said, “She is becoming a problem.”
Smith pounded the arm of the chair and said, “Damn her ambitions…I will deal with the matter. I will find out what she has managed to do.” He groaned and said, “I will be severely shorthanded until we reach the trading post. I will have to lock up Findley Brown as well I suppose.”
Millicent said, “That is a problem with potential solutions. I am more worried about what Miss Stanhope has wrought.”