Friday, 12 July 2019

Chasing Pebbles

It was as I feared. I found Maria T’s spare pod at the L3 point, and my probes had picked up a signal from it a couple of days ago. Presumably it sends data on a regular basis, in case it isn’t received. Given that it would now make no difference, I decided simply to destroy the pod and then go looking for whatever receptor might have got the message near Saturn.

On the way there, I had another look at Psi-spy. Or at least, I tried to. The Galactic Web seemed to know nothing of its existence, which was a bit odd. I mean, it had taken me a bit of digging around last time to find it, but this time there was no trace of the company at all. Was it possible that they were on to me and had put up some extra hack shields? It wouldn’t surprise me.

I got to Saturn and began a laborious search of the rings, that being the last place I’d managed to find one of Professor T’s pods. It took quite a few hours, during which time I also scanned all the moons I could, to make sure they were clean.

The scans of both moons and rings all came up negative, which I found particularly exasperating. There had to be a pod here, surely! I switched to a visual search, which soon took its toll on my eyes. I won’t list any of the names I was calling Maria at this point, but several of them are actually banned in some parts of the galaxy.

Pausing only to get some sleep for an hour or two, I resumed the search and was about to give it up, when at last I spotted something. It was almost invisible! A tumbling spot of black, falling through the rocks that made up the ring system. It was quite lucky I managed to see it because I wasn’t expecting it to be tumbling. A pod would have attitude jets…

I moved in closer and used a tractor beam to stabilise it. A quick scan revealed the truth: it had suffered a power failure! My heart leapt in anticipation, but I had to be sure it hadn’t sent data out to anywhere else, so that meant boarding the thing. I popped across in an EVA suit and spent an hour figuring out how to access the dead computer without enabling the comms relays. And I had my answer. The pod had been dead for over a year! Long enough, in fact, to mean that there wasn’t any chance of its having sent out any data that could harm me.

It’s been quite a circuitous trip, I must say! But, having destroyed the pod and completed my visual scan, I’m now confident that Maria T is gone for good. Finally, I can breathe easy again. I’m looking forward to a day or two back on Earth doing not much at all except drinking hot chocolate.