Here is the first chapter in a book I am writing while it is too warm to sleep. So if it turns cold it might never be finish, but if it stays warm this might become a long book.
I walk out of the space station to my ship. What would hatch from the green rock? I worried that what ever would happen it would mean trouble.
I guess this is not the way to start a story. People are always telling me that I take logic leaps and forget to take the listener with me. Let me start again at the beginning.
My name is Captain Samen or Bill to my friends. I have been the captain and only crew person on the mining ship Skyway for the last ten of my thirty years. I am 5' 8” with sandy brown hair. No one would call me good looking. I am just your average guy.
I won the Skyway in a card game when I was twenty. I have never been very good at cards. At the time I had been young and adventurous and willing to try anything once. I always went to my favorite bar, the Zero Gravity Bar and Grill, after work. Since I can't cook I would have supper and a few drinks. That night an old man joined me at the table. He had invited me to join him in a card game and since I had a few extra dollars I joined him. I am still not sure how it happened but the night ended with the deed to the Skyway in my hand.
That night had changed my life though I hadn't known it at the time. The next rest day, I went to see what I had won. The ship greeted me with a monotone voice stating, “Deed please”. This was weird had the former owner always shown the deed to the ship? Had the ship had several new owners or was today different?
I held the deed in the not quite sure were the camera was. I must have found the camera because “Welcome, Captain, please state your name for voice recognition.”
I stated my name as requested and entered the ship for the first time. The place was neat and sparse. Since I have always been an engineer, I immediately set to work looking the system over. I found the ship to be old but in good repair. It looked as if the old man had really loved the ship.
A little while later I toured the rest off the ship. There were no personal items on the ship.
For supper that night I went back to the Zero Gravity. When Ted delivered my meal he said. “I hear you are the new owner of the Skyway." Ted knows everything so this commit did not surprise me.
I asked him if he had any information about the skyway or its former owner. Ted told me the owner PJ Garret or something like that had died the night of the game. I have always wondered if he knew he was dieing and had decided to give his ship away or had he died because I had won his ship. I like to think that he wanted someone to have his ship that could care for her.
I don't know when I first started the idea of leaving my good job as an engineer and become a miner, and captain of the Skyway. But since the idea first started in my head I could not remove it. That was how I found my self out in space with the worst paying job in the universe. Unless off course, you happen to find the one asteroid with the one mineral that every one needed that week.
As captain and crew of the Skyway I am often alone so I programmed my computer to talk to me. This is not unusual. The talking computers have been around for a long time. What is different is the fact that I have even programmed it for random conversation. My AI's name is Charis.
Most of the last 10 year I have made enough money to feed myself, and fuel my ship without dipping into the saving I had as an engineer. Once or twice I had to stoop to fixing other ships for income but it has been a good life on the whole.
On May 5, 2103 , I was mining an asteroid for gold deposits. I had hoped to find more precious metals on this asteroid but it did not seem to be my lucky day. As I was about to call it a day I saw a green stone off to my right. I have always liked peridot and this stone looked to be very large. It might bring me enough money to spend time on earth. I had not had a vacation since I won the Skyway. I walked over to the stone, and started to dig. The stone was bigger then I thought. I continued to work trying not to chip the stone. Many miners have ruined their find by trying to remove it too quickly.
“You have 15 min of air left.” Charis chimed in my helmet. “You need to return to the ship immediately to remain with in the safety limits.”
I couldn't stop working. Maybe if I had listened to her I would not be in the trouble I now find myself. Instead I replied, “Just give me 10 more minutes. I will need a warning at the end of that time.”
“As usual, you know that you can return tomorrow, Bill”
I definitely need to revise Charis's programming. She has too much personality. I made a mental note of the fact and gave the order, “Bring the servos in. I will be along soon.” It took me only 5 more minutes to excavate the stone. By the time I returned to the Skyway I was out of air but this was not the first time that has happened. I learned early on that a person could continue to work long after the computer controls said you had no more air.
It was after supper that I finally got a good look at my rock. It was not peridot or any other stone that I had ever seen. The shape was oval with one end skinnier then the other. It had a mottled green color. The surface was completely smooth. At least I would not have to pay a jeweler to clean the stone before selling it.
“Charis have you taken a look at this?” The face I had given Charis appeared on the screen in the room. I know the AI did not have to “appear” to be able to talk to them but it helped my sanity in a long voyage. For Charis face I had chosen the girl of my dreams. She had long black hair and a slightly oriental face. I had also chosen a voice to match.
“Yes, I looked at it when you were removing your gear. The stone is roughly 102 centimeters long, had has a circumference of about 80 to 96 centimeters. It weighs 32.45 kilograms in standard earth gravity”, stated Charis.
Annoyed I answered,” I had guessed that much, but what is it. I have never seen anything like it.”
Charis hesitated, “I don't know. There is no correlation in the data base.” This was weird I had just updated my database on my last stop to Lunar Base III. The new data base on minerals had cost me most of my last find.
Charis and I spent the next several hours looking through the database for a possible solution. When Charis had to wake me the second time, I finally stumbled to my bed.
I don't know if I had asked Charis to turn off my alarm, or if I had slept through it or if Charis had decided I needed more sleep. It is not in her programming to make that decision but she has some interesting errors crop up lately. When I finally woke up showered and started breakfast, Charis appeared on the screen next to my table. “I have recorded a temperature change in the rock. It is 5 degrees above the room temperature.”
“Was there a heating element near the rock?”
“No Captain.” I need to start seeing people; that sounded like the computer was irritated. I decided to ignore my imagination and continued the questioning.
“Is there a record of a rock that maintains a temperature above the temperature of its environment”? I had never heard of one but as I stated earlier Charis had a database with every known rock and mineral. Once again she answered with “No Captain.” This time there was no sound of irritation good I am not loosing my mind.
“Well what do you suggest we do about it?” I asked.
“I believe the regulation state that we need to close of the room and return to moon base for further instructions.”
“I guess it is time we restock the food and got you some more fuel". I radioed ahead and told the station about my find. I thought it was no big deal. On our arrival a team of scientist flooded the ship. They started combing through combed Charis's notes on the rock, as if I wasn't there. On the return trip not much had happened except the stone maintained a constant temperature, so that job must have been very boring. Finally after a battery of test they entered the room. I found their caution foolish I had spent hours in the same room with the stone and have no side effects.
Please answer the following questions