The Zoologist

And so we come to the end of the A to Z Challenge. This was a fun challenge for me, and I got to write about Ariadne. For those of you who read these brief windows into the world of Ariadne, thank you for sticking around. Consider this a preview of what’s to come in future books. You’ve met some of the key characters, though there are others who will play a major role. But with this final part, you’ll see one big potential problem for the colonists.  Enjoy.

The Zoologist

Ariadne

Northern Ipeiros Continent

Twenty-ninth day, third month, fifteenth year after colonisation, Ariadne Era (3/29/15 AE)

Preston Moore crouched behind a jumble of boulders. Next to him, Tracy Spacek recorded the scene with a camera. What they saw Preston couldn’t quite believe. The bipedal creatures were mammalian in appearance, though they resembled nothing on Ariadne or Earth. He estimated they were three metres tall. They were completely covered with a brown hair, and had two arms and two legs. But that’s where the similarities to the legendary Sasquatch ended.

“They appear to have two knees and two elbows on each limb,” Preston narrated. “They walk on their toes, and their hands have four fingers, all completely opposable. The oddest features are on the head. No nose that I can see, but their eyes are on the sides of their heads. Their mouth is a long proboscis, reminding me a bit of anteaters, but I don’t think they have any jaws. I can’t guess about their diet. On either side of the neck are two gills or breathing holes.”

Two of the four creatures turned their heads toward the pair of observers.

“Shit. I think we’ve been seen,” said Tracy.

One of the creatures approached them with caution. It stopped five metres from them and its eyes focused on Preston. Then he heard it. Squeals and pops filled the air, but there seemed to be a pattern. It was language, he was sure of it.

“I don’t understand,” said Preston.

The creature blinked its large eyes. Images flooded Preston’s mind. He couldn’t make any sense of it. He saw images of life forms he’d never seen before, one blue with a vague resemblance to an insect. He saw the double-helix of DNA. He saw landscapes, a dull grey spacecraft, and a field of this being’s species dead.

“Stop!” said Preston. “I don’t understand.”

The creature’s shoulders slumped and it turned. It looked back once more at the scientists and walked back to the other three.

“We’ve invaded someone else’s world,” said Tracy.

“Did you see or hear any of that?” asked Preston.

“Everything.”

Wow! Surface Features of Pluto Now Visible

New Horizons is getting closer to Pluto. Close enough so that we can see some surface features. Just take a look.

OpNav3_barycen_v7_lowresFrom these images, NASA’s put together an animated GIF of Pluto and Charon, and this view is only going to get better. It appears there may be a polar cap on Pluto.

Just over two months to go until some amazing pictures of Pluto and its moons.

Who’s excited now?

EmDrive – Has NASA Created a Warp Field?

The latest news out of NASA is that the experimental EmDrive has produced some rather interesting results. While the propulsion system, which doesn’t run on any kind of fuel and produces microwaves to provide thrust, is highly experimental and very controversial, it’s created a lot of buzz recently.

NASA did an experiment where they fired lasers through the resonance chamber to where the thrust comes from. It’s still unknown how it does it and where the microwaves come from. But the strange thing is that the lasers appear to travel faster than the speed of light through the resonance chamber. This means it may be producing something similar to a warp field. Crazy, isn’t it?

This is the set up for the Eagleworks Warp-Field Interferometer Test
This is the set up for the Eagleworks Warp-Field Interferometer Test

Well, they need to be able to reproduce this in a vacuum, which is the next step of the experiment.  If it produces the same effect, that is the lasers travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, then this may verify that faster than light travel may be possible. Of course, they’ll keep doing tests to see if they can get consistent results, and also to figure out what the heck is going on.

This is all happening while there’s a strong push to search for extraterrestrial life, on Mars (which has had exciting results recently), on Europa, on Enceladus, and beyond the solar system. Even Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist predicted earlier this month that we’ll discover evidence of alien life by 2025.

Also, in the past few years, we’ve seen the development of technologies such as tablet computers (PADD from Star Trek), teleportation of photons and information (transporter), 3D printers (replicators), the potential for 3D printing of food (food replicators), injections without the use of a needle (hypospray), and even the possibility of developing tractor beams, energy shields, cloaking devices, and more.  Is Star Trek coming true?

You know what I think? Gene Roddenberry was actually from the future. He came back in time to create Star Trek and plant the seeds of all those ideas in the minds of young people so they would invent everything from Star Trek and set in motion the whole Star Trek reality.

No?

What do you think about everything that’s going on?

The Youth Coordinator

It’s the second last letter of the alphabet! Time for the letter Y in the A to Z Challenge. This was the most difficult job to figure out. I didn’t even know what it would be until about 24 hours ago. But here it is. You get more of Solona. Enjoy!

The Youth Coordinator

Ariadne

New Athens

Sixth day, fifth month, thirteenth year after colonisation, Ariadne Era (5/06/13 AE)

Carl Snyder sat on the sofa, a tablet in his hand. Next to him sat Solona Knight. He had his assignment, one that the Governor hoped would be successful.

“Solona,” he said. “I’ve asked you here to make a proposal. You may be only eleven, but you have shown a lot of maturity, so I’m going to speak to you like an adult.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

“You’ve shown some great natural leadership skills, and you’ve done an amazing job helping the other kids who have the same abilities as you. But Governor Fernandes wants to have something more formal in place. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yeah. I think he wants a group made for us,” said Solona.

“Yes, that’s right. And he would like you to be in charge in the future. But for now, there will be adult supervision, mainly from me. This group will help all of the kids, including you, develop their skills in a safe environment. We don’t want any of you getting hurt trying to figure all of this out by yourselves. We think there should always be a responsible adult around, but it’s better if you could all practice together. What do you think?”

“It sounds like a good idea. You want me to be a leader?”

“Yes, I’d like you to be the leader for the other kids. I’ll just be supervising and making sure no one gets hurt. In two or three years, you could take over as you learn more leadership and management skills. How would you like that?”

“I think it’s what I’ve been doing all along. So, yeah, that’s no problem.”

“Okay, great. Is there anyone you’d like to assist you?”

Solona looked at the list of children on Carl’s tablet. “Mmm, I think Chisa Hara and Danny Bosch would be great.”

“Chisa’s only nine right now. Are you sure?”

“Yeah, she’s great. She’s very responsible. And Danny is great with the kids. They all look up to him. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s good.”

“Okay, I’ll have to talk to them and their parents about this. We can talk more tomorrow about how to set it all up. Thanks, Solona.” He held out his hand for her to shake. She slowly raised her hand and stopped.

“One thing, though. I can’t stop kids from practicing by themselves. I don’t want to be responsible for them making that mistake and getting hurt.”

“I wouldn’t expect that of you. I just think you’ll be a great teacher and role model for them,” said Carl.

Solona smiled and shook Carl’s hand. “It’s a deal.”

Writing Sound Effects

Imagine your character is riding in the pocket of a giant.  Or your tiny character is riding in the pocket of a normal-sized person. What would he or she hear? Probably something like this:

You see, I accidentally left my iPhone’s screen on, and I made a pocket video. It recorded everything from my pocket. So, after hearing what’s on the video, you may be wondering why I posted it.  I’d like to challenge you to do something.

How would you write the sounds heard in the video in a scene? There’s more than just the walking sound, so listen closely. Write a brief scene in the comments that incorporates those sounds. Or just write a sentence or two that describes those sounds as they would appear in a book.

I look forward to reading the descriptions.

The Xylophonist

The letter X! Surprisingly, this was not the most difficult letter of the alphabet to use for the A to Z Challenge. That honour goes to the letter Y.

Before you begin reading this part of the story, I just want to remind you of the calendar system used on Ariadne.  There are twelve standard months of twenty-nine days each. But at the beginning of the year, there’s a Celebration month that is three days long, unless it’s a leap year. Then it’s four days long. The leap year comes every ten years. You can read all about it here.

Now, enjoy the magic!

The Xylophonist

Ariadne

New Athens

First day, Celebration month, eleventh year after colonisation, Ariadne Era (0/01/11 AE)

Twelve thousand people stood before him. Konrad Fleischer occupied the stage with the Governor of the Ariadne colony, Paolo Fernandes. He had never been at such a large event. Half of New Athens must have been there. It was the first day of the new year, the tenth anniversary of landing at this site. This very site, now called Landing Square. This was also the first leap year. The Celebration month this year was four days long. He expected a big party. But here he was, standing on stage with the most famous man on the planet ready to play the xylophone.

Konrad looked around at the audience. Many familiar faces. He noticed that the Governor had been speaking, but had no idea what he was saying. He forced himself to pay attention.

“The first ten years of our colony have been an incredible success. There have been some disappointments, but most of all, amazing surprises. Tonight, we have one of those surprises. I’ve invited Solona Knight to the stage to demonstrate something for you. I’m sure you all know what it is, as some of you with children have seen this with your own eyes.” Paolo Fernandes looked back at Konrad and nodded. “Solona, please join us on stage.”

The young girl, wearing a green dress and her long brown hair tied back in a ponytail, climbed the steps to the stage. She must have been around nine years old, if Konrad’s math was correct. She was the first to display the magical ability of energy control. It wasn’t really magic, but everyone kept calling it that. Some form of telekinesis, or something like that. He didn’t know the terms. He was a musician, not a scientist.

Solona stood next to the Governor. “I’d like to thank Governor Fernandes for inviting me up here today on this great anniversary. I’m sure you know my story, but I’m not so sure if you’ve seen what I can do. I’ve heard some of you may be scared of what I can do. But please don’t be scared. I think this is an amazing gift from Ariadne, and I want to use what I can do for the good of everyone.”

Such poise and confidence, Konrad mused. She was a celebrity, and she knew it.

“Let me show you a little of what I can do,” she said.

Konrad readied his mallets. He struck the fiberglass bars, beginning his own composition, Ariadne Landing Movement Number One. Then he heard the gasp of the audience. He smiled as he saw the fire above Solona form into a dragon.

The Waitress

We now enter the final four days of the A to Z Challenge! It was actually rather difficult to choose the jobs for the final four letters, except for Z. I’ve known what Z would be for quite a while. X is tomorrow, and I had a tough time with that one. Y still hasn’t been chosen. But here is W.

The Waitress

Ariadne

New Athens

Fourth day, seventh month, ninth year after colonisation, Ariadne Era (7/04/09 AE)

“Sal, I’m going on break,” said Kaoru Hara as she walked through the kitchen and back to the staff room.

“Right,” he responded. “Bit slow out there now?”

“Not a single person out there. Shane’s taking care of everything.”

“Enjoy.”

Kaoru grabbed a tablet from her bag and checked her messages. Two messages. That’s odd, a message from the school. She tapped on the call icon and watched the small waveform animation. A face appeared on screen. Margaret Sanderson.

“Mrs. Hara? I’m so glad you called,” she said.

“Is there something you wanted to talk to me about?” asked Kaoru.

“Yes. I’m afraid there’s something I need to see you about. It has to do with Chisa.”

Chisa? She couldn’t have fallen off the table, could she? She’s always climbing up there. “What happened?”

“Well, this is a bit hard to explain. You know the incident two years ago with the young Knight girl?”

Knight girl? Kaoru’s eyes widened. “No. I mean yes, I know what happened. But there must be a mistake. Chisa? She couldn’t—“

“I’m afraid this isn’t the second time a child has exhibited unusual abilities. Chisa has shown the same abilities as Solona Knight. She showed me a small flame. It always seems to start with fire with these kids. I suggest you come over here to see her. She’s really frightened.”

“Of course, I’ll be there in a few minutes,” said Kaoru. She turned off the tablet and ran to the kitchen.

“What’s up?” said Sal.

“Sorry, Sal. I need to go to Chisa’s school. Something happened.” She pulled off her apron.

“No problem,” he said. “Take care of your kid.”

“Thanks. You’re the best.”

Kaoru dashed to the break room and grabbed her bag. Why does this have to happen to my kid?