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Hours later they were in C&C, examining the flow of data over the screens there. The slash of exotic matter had continued to narrow from hundreds of parsecs wide to a narrow strip under a hundred wide and had grown thicker. Out of necessity, the ram scoop funnel had contracted to restrict the amount of indigestible matter the ship consumed.
Patricia had become quite excited by the readings on some of the organic molecules, as Calvin had known she would.
“I can see solids in there now. We should send a remote out to collect some of the larger pieces.”
“Solids?” Said Calvin said from ‘The Chair.’ “How big?”
“Large enough. Fragments I would say.”
She turned around to face him.
“From what I can determine using mineralogical, radioscopic and several other new and old techniques, this junk came from the wake of a very messy craft. Maybe a garbage scow, but the combined mass from what we have seen so far would easily equal a small moon, and it shows no sign of abating. If anything, the more of this trail we find, the thicker and larger it becomes with some fragments still exhibiting unusual radioactive signatures.”
“Whoa, slow down Patricia.” said Calvin, holding his palms out to her.
He began an elaborate waving of his fingers and hands through the air with an occasional slap against his forehead and chest.
“Me pilot, me point ship and press buttons, go fast in a line. You Head Case, you smart.”
“Yea. Pilot and smart arse in one cute package, Calvin,” She pointed at the Holo of space floating in the centre between them.
“Let me give you an analogy you may understand”
“If say, a cruise ship on the ocean dumps all the passengers waste in the water, the heavy stuff sinks into the abyss and the light stuff would float until it washes up on some beach somewhere. Either way, it follows the wake of the boat”
He looked blankly at her. “What do you mean?”
She sighed. “I think it means, this is either a very large ship and we are following in its wake or God has made skid marks in the sky.”
“Ha!” he said, and laughed in earnest.
He recovered a few moments’ later and wiped tears from his eyes.
“That’s a very visual statement Patricia. I envisioned a streak of excrement smeared across the sky with a very angry Mrs God scolding the old fella for not being cleaner.”
Patricia had continued working the board, all but ignoring Calvin during his bout of laughter.
“Well Holy Saints and Great Grandfathers Ghosts, what is that?”
A yellow icon had appeared on the leading edge of the holographic display in the direction they were travelling. SAL had bordered the icon in a red circle, indicating it was an unknown of reasonable size.
Calvin linked. "looks like we got us a big unn Kapi'tan" he said. using a wand he began jabbing at the air and trying to draw in a close up of the object as he fed information from one computer to the next with a wave of his hands and a few clipped phrases. “SAL, initiate spectrograph and is that really the best we can do on a visual of the unknown”?
SAL: Spectrograph has linked with Lens
Updating of Lens and vector of Sats Real time link to Holograph
On the various visual displays scattered around the chamber, a fuzz ball grew out of the scattering if dust and debris. Gradually, the fuzz began to clarify and sharpen until a circle could be seen.
“I’m arming a WatchSat for an examination of whatever it is. Power down the drive and retract the scoop would you Calvin?”
“I’m not sure the Old Man would allow that Patricia, we have a run to complete remember?”
“Well, in this case I will authorise it using the ‘powers that be’ clause”
“The what clause?”
“Look it up, it’s right there in the ‘he’s asleep and I’m in charge’ paragraph”
“Fair enough, I’m just the grunt
“And you do it so well so, get to it will you”
“Aye, aye XO”. He saluted sloppily with his hand slapped against his forehead, fingers pointing towards his feet and jumped into the pilots chair near the front of the command chamber.
”Scoop retracted, powering down… and we are in drift mode”. He turned in his seat to face her.
“What is thy will ‘o’ kapi’tan”?