Archive for June, 2013

June 22, 2013: 11:52 am: Pavaria, writing

Bev Bora had become a mini-celebrity in Bridge town, the common name for the occupants of the Bridge area of the Longship Primavera. Her notoriety came first as a result of her obsession with watching the broadcasts from the other three longships, two of which were out of range and one of which had suffered a catastrophic disaster, presumedly wiping out all occupants and leaving the transmission focused on a surviving meadow somewhere inside the longship Zima and nothing more.

All that changed when a woman appeared in the meadow wearing a red dress, who walked up and shut off the camera. That led the Zima’s internal system to switch to another camera, the first indication that anything inside the ship was working.

Now Bev Bora was no longer the crazy obsessive watching a dead ship, but the foremost expert in determining what might be happening on the Zima. The four longships were headed in different directions, but the Primavera was very interested in what happened on the Zima in order to avoid it themselves.

Bev laid out several schematics of the Primavera and the Zima alongside several photos of meadows. The command team on disaster prevention gathered around along with Marnly who had been with her when the lady in red had appeared.

Bev pointed at the photos. “These top two images are stills of the Zima’s previous camera and the current camera. These bottom two are of the meadow we think is the equivalent here on the Primavera.”

The top two were empty meadows. The bottom two had several command staff walking through them.

“Is that the same person in both?” asked Marnly.

“Not just the same person, but at the same time,” Bev answered.

“It’s the same meadow?” asked Specialist Lombardozzi.

Bev nodded. “The schematics show how we identified it. We eliminated the vegetation from both Zima images to get an estimate of the contour of the terrain,” as she spoke the vegetation disappeared from the top images, replaced by line-drawings of the ground. “The lady in red helped us make a much more accurate estimate of the first image since we saw her walk up, but it’s still pretty accurate for the second.

“As you probably know, terrain and camera placement in all four longships was standard. Ground level varies because of soil placement, vegetation and erosion but we factored those conditions out. That led us to 5 places on Primavera that could correspond to what we know of thirst image and 12 that could be the second.”

“So how did you narrow it down to these two?” asked Specialist Hahn.

“You mean one,” said Marnly.

“Exactly,” agreed Bev. “One location showed in both lists. This one,” she tapped the Primavera images and they merged into a 3D representation showing the command staff member from all sides.”

Bev turned to the Distance Monitors behind them. Only two were active. One of them showed a series of images from cameras within the Primavera. The other showed the current still from Zima. Bev manipulated some controls and the Primavera screen stayed on one meadow.

At first glance it looked similar but not identical to the Zima’s image. Trees were in different places and the ground cover looked slightly different.

“If you look past the trees and grass, you can see this is the same spot. Were 99 percent certain this is the equivalent location. What we don’t know is–”

Bev stopped. Nobody was listening to her anymore anyway.

The lady in red was walking into the meadow again on the Zima’s screen, heading straight for the camera. She smirked a little as she got close.

“No!” Bev yelled, “Don’t do it again.”

This time instead of just disabling the camera though the woman looked into it and mouthed some words, then shut the camera off. Just like last time the screen went blank. If things proceeded as last time it would be awhile before the Zima found another camera to show, if there was one.

“What was she saying?” asked Marnly.

Bev scanned back to show the woman again. She called up a speech emulator and a computerish voice said “Are you listening? Because I’m watching.” then the video showed the woman disabling the camera again.

“What is she watching?” asked Marnly.

“The meadow,” said Bev.

June 12, 2013: 10:47 pm: Pavaria, writing

Bev Bora sat at the Distance Monitor Consoles as she did every day. Two monitors showed nothing but static. The third, labeled ‘Zima’ showed a dark area of vegetation. She watched as she did every day for a sign of non-plant life.

It wasn’t her job. Her job was to calculate and program inertial distributors for the Primavera, who’s bridge she sat on. She was incredibly good at this job. So good in fact that she could usually get her day’s worth of programming down in two or three hours. She chose to spend most of the rest of her time at the Distance Monitor Consoles.

This was volunteer duty, so she didn’t risk a reprimand for goofing off during work hours. And nobody else really wanted the gig. Only Marnly showed any interest. Beve was pretty sure he was just being friendly.

“Any apes?” Marnly said from behind.
She turned and grinned. “Whole pack. I just missed them though because I turned around to say hi to you. They’ll be gone but he time we both look.” She turned to find the same empty area of trees and grass. It was their usual joke.

Tell me Bev, what do you expect to see. The ship is dead. It’s a fluke that the distance transmitters are stills ending this one camera. And since the ship is dead, that camera will operate forever. All you’ll see is the trees die slowly.”

Bev didn’t believe that. She’d seen things. Shadows. She’d reviewed the records to make sure she wasn’t imagining it and they were there. She’d reported them with great excitement but the Command team determined it wasn’t enough to take any action and just ordered monitoring to continue.

The Zima, was a Generation ship like the Primavera. Along with the Qiu and Majira, the four ships and set off in different directions to explore and possibly colonize. The ships were great works of engineering meant to last for inestimable periods of time.

It hadn’t worked out that way.

The Qiu and Majira had stopped transmitting years ago. Officially they were designated out of range but Bev had reviewed the stored last transmissions. Both ships had been in trouble.

The Zima had never stopped broadcasting After a containment breach and a freak disease outbreak, the Captain had declared ship wide emergency and ordered all survivors to the Bridge. The last transmission from the Bridge had been the Captain’s inspiring survival speech interrupted by an explosion and data indicating all hands were dead.

Then the transmission flipped to this scene of trees and grass from inside the ships Park. The Primavera had a park just like it and a camera observing a similar scene. All four ships and been laid out the same.

Everyone had expected the scene to show death by fire or vacuum breach or just to stop transmitting. But none of that happened. Apparently environmental controls were working well enough to keep the vegetation thriving. Basic power for life support was provided by passive stellar collectors, so the camera operation meant power was still on and as Marnly speculated, would probably last forever.

The mystery of what had happened on Zima consumed the attention of whole command teams for months. The containment breach must have been fixed. According to the Captain’s reports killed 44% of all life on Zima? So the Park’s continued existence meant it had been outside that number and the breach never affected it. The disease that finished off so many of the rest of the crew wouldn’t have affected the plant life. And the bridge explosion? What caused that? why would the system switch to a park view rather than Medical or Engine Room?

Eventually no answers and no new data came along, and only Bev was left obsessed with the transmissions.

Marnly finally convinced her to get dinner and they left. He failed, again, to convince her to take the train on from the Barracks to Galley for a fresh dinner instead of commissary food. She pleaded, as usual, that she mated to head back to the bridge after they eat and she only had two train credits left for the day.

“Don’t you want to transfer to another department eventually? I mean you say you don’t want a command job. What about Observation? They have the best views in Primavera and they’re close to the park. OUR park.”

She laughed. “Yes I know. But I really feel connected to the Zima. And I don’t believe everyone there is gone. So I think we can discover what happened. maybe even make contact again.”

He gave up and they switched to talking about sports. Bev’s only other interest besides the Distance Consoles was the Handball League. She oddly supported Tactical’s team, even though she lived in Barracks and worked in Bridge both of which had a team.

After dinner, Marnly accompanied Bev back to the Bridge from the Barracks even though it meant spending a valuable train credit.

They were laughing about the chances of Galley’s Handball team ever scoring against anyone when both stopped short.

On the Distance Transmission Screen for Zima in the middle of the trees, stood a woman in a red dress. She was beautiful. As Bev sat down and began priority log and forward of the scene, she shook and began to cry.

“I’m not imagining it?”

Marnly sat down slowly. “no,” he whispered.

The woman in the dress began to come towards the camera. She climbed up a tree and stared into the camera. The transmission did have audio but the woman did not speak. She reached forward towards the camera and the transmission went blank. Not static, just blank. The transmission was still chive but the woman must have disconnected the camera.

“No!” yelled Bev.