“It’s what the High Commander ordered, Krola,” Deputy High Commander Ari said, “the method of placement fits well with established practice in the area, and will not arouse suspicion.”
“It seems strange, just throwing it out of the boat, kind of random.”
“We’ve studied the images, Krola,” Ari replied, “it’s what they do. Why, we have no idea, but we know that they move along in their boats, boats just like this one, and throw these things out at random intervals.”
“Perhaps they’re just littering; getting rid of their rubbish.”
“If they were, Krola,” Fran observed, “why would they come back later and pull them up again?”
“Perhaps that’s how they do their washing,” Krola suggested, “that would fit in with all these things on sticks. They must be drying after the wash.”
“Ladies,” Ari insisted, “the High Commander and I have studied the images in detail. What we are doing won’t arouse suspicion. Trust me.”
“We trust you, Ari,” Fran said, speaking for Krola and herself, “but there are questions marks over the High Commander’s mental state.”
“He’ll be fine; no need to worry about him. Since the singing incident, his every move is under my personal scrutiny. He believes he is still in charge, but I won’t let any questionable decision from him jeopardise the mission.”
“Okay,” Fran continued, “but how can we be sure the signal will get through?”
“Is it the fluid that’s worrying you?”
“We took density and viscosity data from the sample we brought back. We can measure the depth by seeing how long it takes for the beacon to reach the bottom, and allowing for gravity and drag. Once we have that, we can calculate the signal strength at the surface and remotely adjust the output to give the power we need to get the message home.”
“What if the Terrans detect the signal?”
“They won’t; it’s shielded.”
“But what if they do?”
“We’re overlaying our message with noise of the type many of their radio signals carry; something called ‘RNB’ which we believe, based on its content, stands for Random Noise Bamboozler.”
“Is there any hope, Ari?” Krola asked, her voice shaking with worry.
“We must have confidence that there is, Krola,” Ari replied, “Since the Droidette’s gravity-wave drive was knocked out by the CME, we’ll be stuck here unless the message gets through, is believed and is acted on.”
“How did the Droidette’s database systems knock out the main drive?” Fran asked.
“What?” Ari said.
“The Content Management Engine doesn’t interface with the gravity-wave generator,” Fran explained.
“CME doesn’t stand for Content Management Engine.”
“What does it stand for then?”
“Coronal Mass Ejection; it’s a blast of charged particles from their star. That’s what knocked the engines out.”
“Oh, I see.”
“What does OIC stand for?”
“Not OIC, Ari, Oh, I see.”
“Ah. IC2 now.”
“Meanwhile, Mr Deputy High Commander, Sir, what message are we sending?”
“That’s the brilliant part. Entirely the High Commander’s idea.”
“Well, what is it?”
“The beacon is set to transmit, at intervals of ten Terran minutes, in the High Commander’s own voice,
I’M A SELLABRIAN — GET ME OUT OF HERE!”
I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 58, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.