Archive for the ‘ABC Shorts’ Category

ABC Shorts: Caitlin O’Riley…

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

[A bit early for St. Patrick’s Day, but what the heck…there was plenty of Guinness and Jameson imbibed yesterday!]

Caitlin O’Riley

Copyright 2018, A. B. Carolan

The shuttle from the starship Brendan touched down in the forest clearing. Security personnel were first out; Dr. Carlos Obregon was the last to leave. He’d wangled a trip from the captain because he needed some fresh air and the new planet seemed mysteriously beckoning to his aging eyes.

“Looks like ancient Humans’ idea of paradise,” he said to no one in particular as the plodded along the perimeter of the camp security was already setting up.

“Doc, you never know what might await us in that forest,” said a member of the security team.

Obregon nodded.  He spotted the twelve-year-old on the other side of the clearing.  “Where’s that kid’s father?  He acts like he owns this place.”

“He just about does,” said one of the exobiologists.  “I still have my doubts about this whole process.”

Obregon wasn’t the only one who was an unusual presence in the landing team.  He had read the files available on the solar system and the planet, although they were about two centuries old.  The Space Exploration Bureau rarely returned to a potential colony world unless some group wanting to colonize had enough leverage to convince SEB to do otherwise and make a more complete survey.  Joran Kilgud led such a group.  He had insisted on accompanying them—not unheard of but unusual—and had brought his son Yindon.

“Hey, kid, stay within the security perimeter!” Obregon looked at the urchin and frowned.

“But I want to explore!”

Turned out that Joran was helping the security detail establish the perimeter. I’ll give the old autocrat that, he thought.  He pitches in.

“I recommend you wait until you’re father’s free.”

Yindon ran toward his father. “Can I explore, father?”

“Dr. Obregon is right, son. Wait until I’m finished here.  We’ll both go exploring then.”

Obregon smiled. The father seemed level-headed; the boy was like all boys. But the doctor didn’t think anyone should be exploring so soon after landing on the planet.

He decided he’d better start unloading medical supplies from the shuttle. They would soon have the hospital tent up.  He was already missing his quarters on Brendan.  You have to be careful what you wish for.

***

Like many pioneers, Kilgud’s group was fleeing the more populated worlds of the Interstellar Trade Union of Independent Planets, better known as ITUIP.  As far as Obregon knew, the group were all Humans, something he objected too because it often led to planetary xenophobia as an isolated colony worried more about their own future and welfare rather than the future and welfare of near-Earth planets as a whole.  Gilgud’s group practiced pantheism, which Obregon considered a strange religion—the believers deified all of nature.  I wonder what they eat?  Although he could imagine and had seen worst cults, Obregon expected planet SB1167 to become provincial too, a colony out-of-touch with the mainstream.

As he took out the last crate of medical supplies, he saw Gilgud father and son enter the woods.  The father was carrying a long rifle. Obregon hoped he wouldn’t shoot something in front of the boy.  But not likely because they must be vegetarian.  He hadn’t noticed aboard Brendan.  In fact, he’d avoided the two.

***

Obregon was helping set up tents when Joran Kilgud returned carrying Yindon in his arms.

“Doc, I need some help here!”

Obregon unfolded a cot and placed the boy on it. “What happened?” He was already taking the child’s vitals.

“A little man appeared and put a spell on Yindon.”

Obregon smiled.  “Littl man?  A spell?  What the hell does that mean?”

“He pointed a finger at Yindon, there was a sizzle, and my son fell.  I covered him with my body to protect him from any further discharge.”

“Where’s your gun?”

“I must have dropped it.”

“And your attacker?”

“He ran away.”

“Maybe you two aren’t the first colonists here,” said Obregon.  Or maybe you’re just crazy in a new way?  He peered into the child’s eyes and noted that their whites were now yellow. The pupils were enlarged too, and the irises had become emerald green. “Probably a weapon of some kind.”

“He just used his index finger, I swear.”

“Was that little man green?  Your son is turning light green.  Either he’s very sick, or that so-called spell produces a weird skin color.”

“As a matter of fact, the little man’s skin was green.”

***

The boy’s condition stabilized but didn’t improve. Obregon told security to go find the little green man. They were professionals, so they didn’t question the request…at least, not verbally.  Three hours later they returned with a little green woman. Given the pointy ears and yellow eyes, Obregon knew he was dealing with a new group of ETs. ITUIP won’t permit colonization here after all, he thought. Sorry, Joral.  But, for the moment, that was irrelevant to the present situation.

He examined the ET, planning to put the little woman under and install the implant that would eventually allow them to communicate.  While security people restrained her, he examined her head to decide where to place the device.  The big ears will complicate things.

But he discovered that the woman already had an implant.  Of course.  How do you communicate with new civilizations efficiently?  You get an AI to learn both languages and then translate.

He asked a specialist to analyze the ET device’s signal.

“Frequency-hopped spread spectrum signal similar to ours.  Smaller device, but more powerful.  She’s probably in contact with her people.  They’re technologically advanced, Carlos.”

He nodded.  “Saves me some work.  And it’s always challenging cutting into an unknown ET body.  Set her up.  Get our AI to match the signals, and then it can start learning the ET’s language and teaching her ours.  With our help and her cooperation, of course.”

(more…)