Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Blood on the Stars - Part 1: Secrets & Lies - CH.1 (3)

It only took a couple of weeks till it all started to become nothing more than routine for Hans. Morning paper work and afternoon charters, lessons and certification testing – it didn’t take long for the days to start to blend together. Duke had been true to his word and hadn’t been an issue for him, but it was obvious that he still hadn’t earned his respect either. Therefore, it came as a surprise when Marietta knocked gently on his door one morning to tell him that Duke had asked for him to come to the shop to take a look at something.
Hans dropped everything and went straight to the shop. He was pretty sure that it had to be important if Duke was asking for him specifically. He arrived in the shop to find Duke and Jessup, one of the pilots, staring at a diagnostic display for one the larger commercial transport planes. Hans said nothing, but just walked up behind them to see what they were looking at. It didn’t take long for him to see what the issue was.
“Well now that’s interesting.” Hans wasn’t aware he had spoken out loud till Jessup jumped at the sound of his voice. Duke just grunted and turned to face him with a frown.
“Interesting isn’t my choice of words for this. Seen anything like it in all your years of experience?”

Hans ignored the sarcasm in the statement and stepped closer to the display so that he could manipulate it and get a better look at a few details. “I’ve seen something similar once, but not quite to this extent. Give me a second here.”
Duke and Jessup both stepped back as Hans worked with the display, bringing up a few different reports and asking the computer to do a few more scans for him. He kept at it till he was sure that he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. He tried his best to suppress the excitement that he felt rising inside as each new report confirmed what he had been thinking earlier.
“Where were you flying when the error first popped up?” Hans said as he turned to face Jessup, ignoring Duke for the moment.
“I was taking a short cut over the Mantou Islands. I know it’s not the usual route, but I was a little lower on fuel than I had expected. Client asked for a small extra side trip and I didn’t really think it would be an issue if I just took the short way back. I know it’s not an approved flight path, but…” Jessup let his voice dwindle down and looked away.
“I’m not going to fire you. We’ve all done something like that at one time or another, just don’t let me hear about something like that again. So did the issue present before, during or just after the islands?”
“Almost as soon as I was over the landmass, maybe a bit before. Everything just started going wonky.” Jessup didn’t bother to keep the relief out of his voice. He knew he had just dodged a bullet and he was more than eager to fill in any details now that he knew he wasn’t going to get fired.
“Okay, you do seem to know what’s going on here so do you mind sharing already?” Duke interrupted before Jessup could say anything else. It was obvious to Hans that he was annoyed. He wasn’t enjoying being left out of the loop on things.
“Thank you Jessup, that’s good. Go talk to Callie about getting a new craft for the next few days. It might take a bit before this one will be back in the hangar for regular use.” Hans deliberately ignored Duke knowing that it would anger him even more to wait. Once Jessup was gone, Hans turned his attention to Duke.  “It’s an error caused by a very specific type of magno-electric field. It’s very rare and I’ve only ever seen it once before when I was in the Armed Forces.”
“So this is a military thing then?” Duke stepped back closer to the display to get a closer look at some of the diagnostic tests that Hans had requested of the computer.
“No, not exactly.  That just happens to be the only time I’ve ever encountered anything like this before. It was a training flight on a remote planet that was still in its natural state. It was considered unsuitable for terraforming. We used it for target practice with new weaponry.” Hans tapped one of the scans that he had requested, bringing it to Duke’s attention. “This one is the big tip off here.”
“So what caused this magno-electric pulse and should we be reporting it to the authorities?” Duke stepped back from the display, scratching his chin.
“No clue, it was a singular occasion back then and I wouldn’t doubt that it would be so now. However, I would think that the authorities already know about it since they don’t want any travel over those islands already with the exception of emergencies. Just make sure the pilots are all aware and respecting this restriction.”
“Fair enough.” Duke smirked, “Looks like you’re proving yourself around here. System wipe ought to take care of the errors and I’ll run some more diagnostics and give her the once over myself.”
“Sounds good,” Hans gave the time a quick glance. “I have a lesson to do in an hour until then, if you need me, I’ll be in my office. Thanks for calling me over for this Duke.”
As soon as Hans was back in his office he pulled up the initial planet survey for the Mantou Island chain. He glanced at the clock, wanting to make sure that he had enough time to do what he needed to do. He read over the initial survey findings. Unique metal compounds and an extensive cavern system had been noted, but odd magno-electric readings.
Hans made a few notes about the island chains and glanced back at the time. He would have to put further research on hold, but it was looking promising. Very promising.

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