Chip Morton scratched
the back of his head, thinking, This is nuts! Nothing adds
don't like this," he said gruffly. "Lee, none
of this data makes any sense--kind of like one of Sharkey's
shaggy dog stories. Are we supposed to believe that this
meteor suddenly changed course and speed just before it struck
water? They're not supposed to be able to do that, at
least not that I recall."
Just then, several monitors on the wall flashed
to life with sonar and radar readouts. The standing men
turned to look while the Admiral leaned forward across his desk.
They saw columns of data, multiple photos, and charts accompanied
by tables to facilitate analysis. Nelson thumbed his desktop
touch-screen, and in response, the largest monitor displayed
a summary of the events thus far.
Compilation time: 20:03 hours,
summary of subject object
Origin of object: Extraterrestrial.
Estimated initial entry mass: Approximately 92 tons.
Current mass: Approximately 17 tons.
Configuration: Spherical (See entry photo & sonar
Approximate Diamter: 50 feet (Est.--see sonar report.)
External Temperature: 50 degrees Fahrenheit. (Stable.)
Depth: 6,325 feet. (Stable.)
Nature of object: Undetermined.
The four of them
stared at the screen. Nelson and Sharkey traded confused glances
as each simultaneously thought to himself, Undetermined?
What the hell does that mean? Morton
shifted uncomfortably as a look of curiousity crossed his face
and he said to no one in particular, "Undetermined?
What the hell does that mean?"
Captain Crane addressed Nelson. "Admiral,
what the hell DOES that mean?"
The Admiral was about to speak when Chip
Morton's eyes lit up. "That's no meteor." The
lights had switched on.
|| Sharkey's attention
shifted from Morton to the seated Admiral Nelson.
"If it's not a meteor, then what is it, sir?"
Nelson stood up and spoke directly to
the Captain. "Lee, Let's go have a look."
Sharkey put on his best tough-guy bearing.
"Level three security?" It wasn't really
Nelson nodded agreement to the Chief
and glanced at Crane. "If that's all right with
you, Captain." He knew very well it was.
The Admiral continued, "Lee, I'm going to Observation.
Meet me there in five minutes."
There was a nod of
ascent from Crane, who walked over and fingered the Admiral's
desktop touch-screen. "Sparks, have all data pertaining
to this meteor event--anything that could possibly relate to
it--made available in the nose." He directed his
attention back to the group. "Chip, take over in control."
Turning to Sharkey, Crane continued,
|"Chief, I assume you'll be
busy with security and damage control . . . just in case.
Let's proceed cautiously."
Back on ship's communications, Nelson
added, "Sparks, tell Doc to be on standby. We're
going to level three security. Have Mr. Riley get
the Flying Sub ready for use on a moment's notice."
It was time to move; they all headed
for the door. The Admiral was the last of them to
exit. He switched off the lights as he exited the
room and closed the door. The silence left in the wake of
their departure was tinged with a low-level electronic discharge,
the sound so soft as to be virtually undetectable.
A faint greenish glow hung over the walls, floor and ceiling.
It momentarily clung to every surface of every object in
the room. Seconds later, complete silence and darkness
|----Excepted from The