Saturday, April 27, 2013

Starting on a new story...

...because what's the point of actually finishing one?

My Kuiper-Kuiper-Kuiper blaaaAAAAaaaades...

This is the rough-first draft of the opening for the story, which I hope to turn into something fairly lengthy, nerdy and full of something that may pass for the layman's version of accurate 'hard' science fiction.


     Late in 2342, the Titan based astronomer Ruth Lawrence was nearing the end of her term-of-duty on the moon of Saturn. Soon she would be transferred to some other outpost in the Solar System after a short re-acclimation period on Earth.  With just six-weeks of her eighteen-month assignment left, she had not yet received her next set of orders, which meant they were still evaluating her current performance.
    Exhausted and bleary eyed, she poured over the holo-plates beamed from the mega-telescopes orbiting overhead.  Titan’s thick, hazy atmosphere rendered ground based telescopes impractical very early in Titan’s colonial history.  For nearly one and a half Earth-years, she had been analyzing the still-mysterious Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud for city-sized or larger objects, as well as potential Earth-threatening cometary bodies.
    By her own clock, she had been at the desk for 16 hours and it was nearing midnight.  She exhaled with an air of stale boredom and absently sipped at her coffee, trying to pull together her focus for these last few plates.  As she glanced across the edges of each plate (she used the pattern she had learned during a childhood full of putting together complex puzzles by starting from the edges and working in) her eyes skipped quickly past a queer looking shape at the the far three o’clock side of the plate at the right of a line of six.
One thing she had never been told about the air of Titan, and this was true even in the airtight habitat modules, was that it smelled uncannily of pesto.  It was typically easy to ignore, but Dr. Lawrence’s lab wasn’t completely airtight.  Instead it used a simple airlock system more to compensate for the pressure differential than the contamination of the air, making the odor far more difficult to ignore. She sniffled suddenly fighting back the urge to sneeze (she had to get those filters cleaned).  Confident she had held back the tickle in her nose she lost her self again looking over the final details of the last plate.
Without warning, Dr. Lawrence’s body seized abruptly as her sneeze forced its way through her nose and down her spine.  She jostled her coffee, sloshing some over the lip of the non-lab-approved cup that dripped down the long, angular arm of her holo-plate lamp landing, by pure chance, on the object she had previously missed completely.
“Damnit,” she groaned reaching for her towel to dab up the small puddle that had formed on the plate.  As she wiped up the mess and decided to going back to her quarters for the night, she took one last look at the area where the spill had been.  Her eyes crossed awkwardly trying to focus on what may have been just more coffee.  To prove to herself that it was actually there, she wiped the spot again more aggressively.  
She pulled down her glasses and noted it’s location, then moved across the holo-plates, sequentially from right to left.  “What is that?” she asked herself in the dead, spiced air of her lab.  She immediately turned back to her console and began to overwrite the megascopes programing for the following cycle - she wanted the scope to stay trained on the same patch of sky to keep track of the anomaly.
Within two weeks of the end of her assignment, Dr. Ruth Lawrence had discovered the 32nd dwarf planet of the Sol System.  She was granted extended Earth stay after her re-acclimation, as well as the honor of naming the body.  Instead of naming after herself, or some obscure mythology of past centuries, she relied on her passion for collecting antiques from a particular electronics manufacturer of the 20th century.  And while she would never know it, the dwarf planet Casio-Beta would one day prove to be one of the most important discoveries in the history of mankind.

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