(1) Discovery Nim was distracted from his game by the flashing blue light on the Quadscan Analyzer. It was indicating something interesting in Q-J.18.Y. Most of these notices were blind alleys, but they didn’t happen so often that it didn’t bear investigating. Nim decided to finish his game first before running the data in the …
The ME 116 began to approach Q-J.18.Y. They were not close enough to receive any more than a cursory visual scan showing the sun and its revolving planets, but they were amazed and anxious when they began to intercept a substantial amount of electronic activity.
Nim could hardly believe his eyes when the data from the Evaluator began to come back. Blausten appeared to be the richest Erz source ever discovered. This planet would be able to provide Grunryk with Erz for years to come. The entire surface of the planet seemed to contain greater or lesser concentrations of source. On top of that the surface atmosphere was even more positive than Grunryk itself. It would be a great place to work. On the down side, based on information from the Evaluator and the Electronic Data Interpreter, the planet was literally crawling with life forms that could interfere with the mining process.
The sound of the alarm from the navigation console brought both Rep and Nim running to the main deck. The alarm indicated that they were approaching the final orbit around what they were now certain was Blausten. From this close, the planet was breathtakingly beautiful. It wasn’t all blue as it appeared from farther out, but contained large masses of land and ice. It still had that brilliant shine that was evident from a distance, but it was interrupted with the variety of landmasses. The billowing white clouds whirling around gave the whole sphere a romantic gossamer appearance. Their excitement about their find was becoming more and more intense and they both were looking forward to their first opportunity to land on the surface. The fantastic promises that had been made by those ancient travelers seemed about to be confirmed.
The ringing telephone wakened Charles from another dream about another bad beat poker hand. It was 6:45AM and the call would surely be from Uschi getting him up to feed the horses. Even though she was over in Germany, she would still call each morning when she was gone to wake him up and remind him about the daily chores. He jumped out of bed to get the phone before the third ring, when the answering machine would kick in! “Good Morning sweetheart,” he said when he picked up the phone.
It was true that the people looked very much like those back home on Grunryk, but they were like a completely different species. Their observation of the various forms of electronic transmissions had taught them a great deal about life on this strange new world. One thing that really stood out was that these people were extremely violent. War and genocide was a regular thing in many parts of the planet and violent crimes and murder was a daily occurrence. For both Nim and Rep, this was incredible. Nothing like this was even conceivable on Grunryk. At first it had been difficult for them to differentiate between what was real and what was fiction, but after a while they thought that they had figured it out. But it was even more appalling to them when they discovered that even the fictional broadcasts were filled with murder and mayhem. The people were obsessed with death and disease. Everyone was aggressive and mistrustful. At every turn there was confrontation.