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Glisten of the Ngirozi

Book One: Angel Planet Series

By Dennis Butler

Smashwords Edition

 

 

Copyright © 2012 Dennis Butler

All Rights Reserved

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database for retrieval, without the prior written permission of the author. Short passages may be quoted or used in reviews without permission.

 

This book is a work of fiction. The story in this book, all the characters and all the places are either derived from the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real people living or dead or incidents or events is entirely coincidental.


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Table of Contents

 

Preface

Chapter One: The Preparation

Chapter Two: The Journey Begins

Chapter Three: The Ngirozi

Chapter Four: Introduction to the Human Race

Chapter Five: Homeward Bound

Chapter Six: Extraordinary Discovery

Chapter Seven: The Landing

Chapter Eight: Spain

Chapter Nine: Our World Upside Down

Chapter 10: Our New Home


 

Preface

 

Kevin Finley was ten years old when he received the narrow-bandwidth radio signal from deep space. The signal came from the general direction of Planetary Nebula M2-9, also known as the Butterfly Nebula or the Wings of a Butterfly because when photographed, the area appears to resemble a butterfly. The Butterfly Nebula is close to Earth, relatively speaking that is. At 2,100 light-years away from Earth, it is somewhat of a neighbor; still unreachable, but at least it is part of our Milky Way galaxy.

It was in 2110 that Kevin Finley received the signal, right there in his bedroom, on his home holo-system. Anyone with a home holo-system could participate in the New World Astronomy Institute (NWAI) program that monitors narrow-bandwidth radio signals from deep space. All you needed to do was download the NWAI software, install it and let it run. Kevin, or Fin as he was known by his friends was a nerd. A third of his room was dedicated to his holo-system which he had been upgrading and modifying since he was about seven years old. His holo-system was the current version of the personal computer, which was basically a 3-D animated display which floated at the center of the viewing area. Fin had it set up so that he could lay on his bed and watch the animated messages arriving from his friends.

Although Fin was a nerd, he was not a typical nerd, somehow finding time to maintain an A-average in school while remaining active in sports. Fin’s holo-phone was almost always filled with messages from friends, both male and female. At ten years old, Fin already had girls calling him just about every day. It must have been the combination of his jet black hair and bright blue eyes, and a dimpled smile with perfect teeth that kept his phone message bank full. Also, he was friendly with everyone. School jocks, nerds and even the burn-outs considered Fin their friend. Fin was usually too busy to answer all his calls, but he always answered when Ashley called him. Ashley or Ash as only Fin called her was in his class and also a science addict. Ashley was not athletic, being more of a stereotypical nerd with only a handful of friends.

Fin and Ash continued their friendship through high school, eventually becoming high school sweethearts. When it came time for college, Ash went to the state college so she could commute and live at home. Ash wanted to be a high school science teacher. Although she was quiet and shy, she was passionate about Earth conservation, especially pollution. Growing up in a world that had already done permanent damage to the air, Ash felt that there was still hope for the ocean. She was active in just about every environmentalist group there was.

Fin had narrowed his focus down to the astronomy sciences so he decided to study abroad at the world’s most famous school of astronomy in Germany. Fin did travel back to the states as often as possible, to see Ash and his family.

During their last year of college, Fin and Ash began making plans to live together after they both graduated. Fin had already written a peer reviewed article on astrophysics and was destined to become a university professor. Ash was already a substitute teacher at the same school they graduated from so she was a shoe-in for a teaching position when she graduated. 





 

Chapter One: The Preparation

 

Fifteen years had passed since I received the radio signal from M2-9. A lot had happened since then. I was proud and psyched about being chosen to be part of the crew of the Viaggio that was scheduled to launch in three weeks. The mission of the Viaggio was to head toward M2-9 in hopes of making contact with whoever or whatever had transmitted the signal fifteen years ago. After the signal discovery, I had received a lot of media attention for a long time. I was known as the boy wizard who had changed the course of human history. To me that seemed to be ridiculous. I had been laying on my bed as usual in my room while a deep space radio signal was recording on my holo-system. I didn’t even hear it when it came in. I had headphones on and I was listening to my new favorite group at the time, The Stingrays. The next day I was getting ready to clear my recording cache when I noticed it. I wasn’t sure what it was so I copied it to a holo-disc and took it to my science teacher who took it to the astronomy professor at the university nearby.

The signal was actually nothing dramatic, but as soon as I heard it, I knew it had to have an intelligent origin. It was a pattern, and only an intelligent life form could make a pattern. Space turbulence would produce random noise, but never a pattern, and definitely not a noise with repetitious musical tones. The signal consisted of two tones repeated over and over for about an hour. It reminded me of one of those old British ambulances. The most significant thing about this discovery was that it enabled the NWAI to receive generous grants and world-wide donations so that they could build a bigger transmitter/receiver. It took several years to fund and build the new system. After it was built, NWAI was able to produce crystal clear recordings of the transmission.   

It quickly became a chaotic period in my life but all the publicity did eventually help me receive a scholarship to the NWAI in Germany. I studied engineering and several specialized astronomy fields including Planetary Systems, Extraterrestrial Physics, Astrobiology, and Galaxy Clustering. I was currently living on the Institute’s campus in Frankfurt.

I was extremely content and excited, although after all this time, there still seemed to be an empty space in my soul and a kind of melancholy seemed to hover over me, most of the time. The human race had made so many advancements over the past one hundred years, although to me it seemed most of it was too little, too late. A cure for most types of cancer had been developed, but one of the criteria for recovery was catching it early. If caught early, there was a 70% probability of remission. After decades of ignoring warnings from scientists about the thinning atmosphere, governments of the world cooperated and a moratorium on the burning of fossil fuels was established. Leaders of the world finally realized that the end of Earth’s atmosphere equaled the end of the human race. Most of the discussion had always been about global warming, however, rising temperatures would not end life as we know it. An Earth with no atmosphere would surely mean the end of human life. By the time the moratorium was established, the damage had been done. Naturally, global warming did result in the complete melting of the polor ice caps. This led to coastal erosion and flooding but life went on and some people were not even affected. It was the thinning of the atmosphere that resulted in the epidemic of extremely aggressive forms of melanoma. Exposure to direct sunlight, particularly in the mid-afternoon when the sun was strongest could cause a new form of skin cancer to appear quickly. It would quickly spread throughout the body striking bone tissue and in some cases it would migrate to the bloodstream.  

There were still mornings when the alarm went off and I went to my holo-system, still half asleep, expecting a message from Ashley. Then that sick feeling would hit me in the pit of my stomach and I would remember that she was gone. She had succumbed to an aggressive form of bone cancer, two weeks before her twentieth birthday.

 Although I had seen the bios of the other crew members, I hadn’t actually met them. On the morning I was scheduled to meet the six people I would spend the next six to ten years with, I was optimistic. I knew that friendships and loyalties would form quickly in the confined environment we were entering. I remained hyperaware of the fact that human nature would make some people gravitate together while alienating them from others. It was only natural. I hoped that I would like at least one of the crew members enough to form a bond with them.

The selection process was long and tedious. First of all the team needed specific kinds of technical skills, but the more important requirement was the psych evaluation. It would require a unique type of person to be confined to the interior of a space vessel for an extended period of time. There were three females selected for the crew, but I was not interested in developing any romantic relationships. I had not dated since Ash died and I thought that the complications of a relationship in such a confined environment could be disastrous.

I had always been highly organized and punctual so I wasn’t surprised that I was the first to arrive at the meeting room, near the staging area of the launch site. Captain Shane Murphy arrived a few minutes later. I introduced myself and immediately liked Captain Murphy. The first thing he said was that from this day forward I should call him Shane. “Since we will be living close together for the next few years, formalities should be discarded right away.”

Shane was a large man, standing over six feet tall and broad at the shoulders. Although Shane was from the UK, you would assume from his round face and reddish hair that his heritage was Scandinavian.

Shane seemed to know all about me, asking me about my family and life in New York. He explained that he grew up in the UK where he became a military pilot, later studying aeronautics. Shane’s parents were from Wales and he inherited his parent’s love for horses. I thought to myself that he wouldn’t be riding any horses for a long time. Shane was married and had two teenage sons.

Lacey and Daya entered the room together and had apparently struck up a friendship already. I was thinking at the time, “Well that is good, but let’s not rush things.” We have a long, long time to get to know each other.

Daya was from Zimbabwe and spoke English and Shona fluently. She was dark and very pretty, especially if you could get her to smile. Daya explained that she wanted to be an Olympic runner, but multiple injuries both prevented her from becoming a runner and also inspired her to study sports medicine, first in Harare, and then in Chicago. She was fully capable of scuba diving, which was her part-time obsession where she did underwater cave exploration. I thought she should be perfect for the mission. Anyone who could enjoy being in a dark cave, with a limited air supply would be perfectly comfortable spending a few years captive within a space vessel.

Lacey also studied aeronautics as well as engineering. Lacey was from Virginia where she put herself through college being a spokes-model for several cosmetic companies. She was obviously pretty but seemed very approachable and friendly. That was a relief. No one wants to spend eight years with someone who is self-absorbed or conceited.

Brian and Gabby showed up next. Brian was not at all what I expected. I had heard he had spent most of his adult life in Special Forces so for some reason I expected him to be more serious. I could see right away that Brian was going to be the person to lift your spirits if you were ever depressed. He had a perpetual, warm smile and a lighthearted way about him, brushing off serious problems as minor inconveniences. I guessed that with all the horrible situations he had lived through, being on board a space vessel for several years was going to be a vacation for him; clean sheets and three meals a day. Brian was not exceptionally tall or handsome but he had that rugged outdoor look about him which I assumed made him appealing to women. From what I had heard he had been married a few times.

Gabby was also military; an Army chef who earned a degree in engineering while in the military. Gabby’s ancestors were from the Philippines but her family all lived in Jacksonville, Florida. Gabby was assigned a dual role, being in charge of maintaining food purity and delivery while also assisting the crew with any maintenance work that needed to be done. Actually, everyone on board was required to perform maintenance work as needed. We all worked together to do what needed to be done to keep the Viaggio functioning properly. All seven of us had studied the engineering of the Viaggio for over a year. I think we had all become experts by the time launch day arrived.

Sometime toward the end of the twenty first century, scientists across the world finally realized that burning fuel to attempt space travel was not dependable or precise enough for a deep space mission. Burning fuel in deep space would only be sufficient for changing direction and if there was a problem with the fuel or ignition, the crew would be stranded. We all knew it was an adolescent form of power for deep space travel. A more controllable form of power was needed.

A team of Italian aeronautic engineers developed the magnetic compression system used to power the Viaggio (Viaggio meaning voyage, journey in Italian). The compression system consisted of cylindrical tubes holding powerfully magnetic pistons in air-tight chambers. The powerful magnets would pull the pistons through the tubes, causing air compression (the air would be re-circulated back through the tubes once expired), causing powerful forward thrusts. To create smooth, evenly distributed power, there were several thousand magnetic pistons firing fractions of a second apart in sequence. Vertical power was created by vertical pistons functioning in the same manner. 95% of the power was used for mobility but about 5% was used to power the life support and conveniences aboard the ship.

There were positives and negatives to the ship design. The obvious positive was that the ship could basically travel indefinitely, assuming the crew could properly maintain everything. On the negative side, the ship would not be able to travel very fast, relatively speaking, due to the weight of the pistons and the rocket-less power. We would start off the voyage traveling as fast as a passenger jet and gradually build momentum as we traveled through the nothingness of space.

However, we would never actually make it anywhere near as far as the Butterfly Nebula. Our hope and our goal for the mission was that somehow whoever sent the original radio transmission would find us, or we would find them. We would continue to send radio transmissions toward the direction of the Butterfly Nebula as we traveled.

The ship consisted of two sections. The lower section was the magnetic piston housing. This was not streamlined looking, but rather rectangular and basically just a huge hulking box with rounded corners. The top half of the ship was a round living section. In the center was a vegetable garden which took up most of the square footage of the ship. The concept was that if for some reason the food supply ran out, the crew could survive on fruit and vegetables. There was an endless supply of sodium chloride (IV), in case all else failed.

The ship designers had originally planned on including some animals such as goats and chickens but it was determined that caring for the animals would be too complicated for this version of the magnetic piston ship. Perhaps future versions of the ship would include farm animals. At the center of the garden was a circular room constructed of a glass-like material. Inside this room was a circular stairway going up to a second level. This was the navigation area or Bridge.

The Bridge was a dome shaped room with windows running around the perimeter of the room. You could sit at the Bridge controls, look out in all directions into space or look over the railway at the vegetable garden below. I thought it was a wonderful design, especially for people who would be spending many hours there in the years to come.

Around the vegetable garden was a circular hallway with all the living quarters, the meeting room, the control rooms, the kitchen and dining area, an infirmary, a lounge, a library with a large holo projector, a racquetball court and another game room with a pool table and an air hockey game. This was important because isolation and boredom would be our worst enemy during the mission. On the outside ring of the living area was a jogging track that ran the entire perimeter of the ship. This area had observation windows that ran the entire length of the ship, so you could look out at the stars while running or walking or riding a bicycle.


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