(23) All That Doesn't Not Antimatter
The Mora Campaign (026-1120 to 043-1120)
The Marquis Marcus Crestworthy wonders if the 248th
Squadron is really what it claims to be, or if it's just a faction of the
Imperial Navy using that claim to cover its actions. They could go
back to Mora
and check it out now, taking a month or so, or check it after their trip,
in maybe a year. According to Mich Saginaw and Grand Admiral Baron
Bridgehead, there was extremely high tech stuff on the Anastasia.
If those were in fact antimatter explosions, they were not Imperial people
who did it -- they must be someone else.
Mich points out that while the nukes on the Anastasia
(about 100 missiles at 10kt each) could have been used to obliterate the
city of Hope's End, the resulting crater would not be consistent with what
they've observed. That also means that standard ortillery bombardment
would not have resulted in that hole in the ground... especially since
it would not normally have been done with a ground level burst. Mich
and Robert Morris have not yet finished analyzing the data from the crater
to determine whether the blast was nuclear or antimatter.
They are pretty certain that the Anastasia
was not in the Pimane
system when they were there. It was not present itself as far as
they could tell, and there was no freighter large enough to be carrying
The Marquis decides that they will stop at Adabicci
to check with his friend, the son of the Duke there. Anyway, if they
stop on an xboat route
the Grand Am can send a message that is sure to reach Archduke
Norris -- just something simple about there being no construction going
on to rebuild the city, perhaps, with a note about the 248th Squadron overseeing
Misha Ravanos says he believes that something weird
is indeed going on, and the Archduke needs to know about it -- but that
decision rests on the Marquis' shoulders.
Helia Sarina points out that if he does know about
it, they could just be getting into trouble by mentioning it to him.
Marquis Marc decides that the next time they reach
an xboat stop, they will
send a message to the Archduke. That should be just as effective
as returning to talk in person, and won't take any more of their time away
from their planned mission.
During the jump, everyone continues with their normal
activities. Ed "Shark" Teeth is teaching brawling to Misha and Teri
Cralla (while Helia amuses herself by watching); Shark himself will be
instructed in vaccsuit by Teri; Vonish continues to work on his gravcraft
Mich and Robert have the results from their study of
the ground zero bomb site. It was an antimatter explosion.
Given this, says Mich, it makes sense that the Imperial Navy would be looking
into it, since it isn't Imperial
Marquis Marc points out that if that were the case,
why isn't there anyone on the planet looking into it? Or if they
had already examined it and moved out, why weren't they continuing with
the construction on the planet? He would have expected to see either
a Navy presence around the planet, or construction going on. There
were neither of those. If there were information to be obtained on
the planet, and it would take an extended period to gather, they would
ship the residents with a Navy vessel to some other system for recolonization.
Why did they evacuate everybody and then let the aliens blow up the
city? Would the Navy be working with these aliens, in which case
surely the Archduke was in on it? And why wouldn't they just ship
the residents off to another planet?
Mich reminds them that the Archduke's story is that
the Anastasia had been recovered, and was being hauled off in a
freighter, and the freighter blew up with an antimatter explosion.
He then evacuated the city, and the city blew up.
Marc says it might be that they decided to evacuate
the planet because the ship was only a couple of hundred kilometers from
the city, and would be visible from there. The small Anastasia
crashing might not have been noticed, whereas a freighter large enough
to carry that entire ship in its hold would be another matter entirely.
"So," says Misha, "The Archduke's agents evacuated
the planet under the cover of the solar flares story to secretly recover
the Anastasia; pull in this fleet to do all this..."
"...get the ship to orbit," continues Marc, "And
a saboteur or external attack -- probably a saboteur..."
"...took out the Anastasia," finishes Misha.
"Why would they take out the city?"
Marc says, "So. There's a fleet here that's
doing a secretive operation and everything's going off fine, when suddenly
somebody blows up the ship. Three days later the same somebody blows
up the entire city. Your reaction as the Navy is to get the hell
out of dodge, keep everyone here who could have been the saboteurs under
"No, you know what," says Helia, "If they were trying
to keep everyone here who could have been the saboteurs under glass, they
they wouldn't have let us go wandering in there blithely without putting
us under suspicion and detaining us."
"They were watching the heck out of us!" says Marquis
Mich says, "It would have been easier to say, evacuation
of the planet has started, oops, boom! Everybody died!"
Marc replies, "But then you don't know who did it,
"Doesn't matter," says Mich.
Misha asks, "So do we know for a fact the city was
blown up three days later?"
"No," replies the Marquis, "But we do know it was
blown up by an antimatter bomb."
"Ah. So the three day later thing could have
been a total fabrication."
Misha says, "What about this possibility?
They evacuate the planet in order to hide the Anastasia. They
get the Anastasia off planet..."
Marc interrupts him again, "Strip it of everything
they want, and want to dispose of the carcass. So they drop it into
a high-speed impact... but it wouldn't look like an antimatter bomb, would
Misha continues, "Somebody sabotaged, the Anastasia
blows up. Debris is scattered across the planet. They want
time to clean up the debris. So they blow up the city, to give them
time." He pauses. "But they wouldn't need it -- they could
just say that solar flares are still happening."
"There's no reason for the Navy to destroy the city,"
agrees Marc. "They might have wanted to fake the explosion of the
"They pick up the Anastasia," says Mich,
"They're bringing it to the city to work on for some reason, and while
it's in the city..."
Vonish points out that there's no way to get
a ship into the city. The explosion was in the city, not just adjacent
Misha wonders if there's any way to detect the antimatter
in space, particles flying away or something? Well, they could jump
several light-months out from it, and observe the explosion as the light
gets there, but they'd be too far away to pick up much. They'd need
a really good sensor operator, which they don't have.
"Why would they want those people here?" says Marc,
of the population on the Oz. "Other than if you believe that
the saboteurs were still on that ship." He turns to Sagan.
"Hiver. Sir. I have
a question for you. Can your computers control an antimatter explosion?"
"No," sie replies.
"So hivers don't do antimatter... bombs. Zhodani
don't. We don't know of anybody that's higher technology than the
were, and there's still some pieces of old technology around. But
their big field was gravitics, and they didn't have antimatter tech."
Mich says, "Now Professor Farol, he built the ship..."
"But was it based on antimatter... was it?"
"Yeah. The ship originally..."
"I thought you did the antimatter?"
"I changed the way in which it did the antimatter.
It used to have one big antimatter generator, which was then immediately
annihilated and produced energy, and that was augmenting the fusion reactor.
All this energy would then go into the zuchai
crystals, and the zuchai crystals would release the energy into the field
plates as needed. The zuchai crystals are basically a big capacitor
bank, a storage bank. So we could charge the capacitors up, and do
a quick dump of them. What I changed was I got rid of half the zuchai
crystals, and the energy storage that they would have was replaced by six
smaller antimatter generators, in a redundant configuration so that we
could lose one or two of the generators, bring them off-line during jump,
and still live; whereas before if the antimatter generator screwed up,
we were really badly screwed. Now I needed additional computing
power to control the six separate antimatter generators, so that there
was this feedback controlwise handled by a secondary computer."
"So he was working with antimatter, and he was working
"Himself. And he did the Anastasia's
design over twenty years ago, and the ship vanished and one of his graduate
students presented a paper that basically said Farol's ideas of antimatter
were totally wrong and this was the wrong direction to go, and he abandoned
that thread. The main reason was the Anastasia just disappeared.
They did have a misjump. They also had some flaws with the security
computer system that they installed, and the security system took out the
"OK. So there is the possibility then that
there is a person working for the Imperium -- he did work for the Imperium,
right? -- Farol? Where was Farol last time you saw him or heard from
"This was several years ago. It was outside
the Imperium, but it was right on the edge. He had moved from his
last known location twenty years ago. There was an engineering school,
and he was teaching a lot of people, all the grad students. We had
our yearly maintenance done, and then... I've been in contact with him,
even exchanging data on how it had performed. So this is his last
known address: Brod, in the Tardele subsector of Foreven."
Helia pulls up the chart on the bridge holodisplay;
the Marquis considers where they are heading, and where all these locations
are relative to that. Teri also shows them where she's from: Sting
(Foreven 0720; E67A3C3-8), a long way from the Imperium.
The Marquis Marcus Crestworthy continues, "So we
could go where the engineer was -- I'm sure Mich would like that.
The question is what would we learn? Would he be willing? Would
we be able to find out that he has or has not developed said weaponry?
Would that give us anything?"
Marquis Marc leaves the discussion hanging, and states
his plan. "So. Let us continue on our mission. We'll
stop by Lunion,
check there to see what data we can pull up on Professor Farol while we're
there. We'll continue on our way, we'll do the research at Digitis.
Once we finish there, we can decide whether we want to continue on or nearer
to the Zhodani areas."
During jump, Mich has disconnected the shield around
the transponder. When the Third Eye arrives in the Sharrip
system, it is broadcasting normally.
"Where's this Robin Sherwood?" asks Misha.
"Last news reports had her out in the area sort
of between Lunion and the Zhodani.
Didn't the Zhodani want her at one time for piracy against them?"
"OK, then let's just keep going."
Helia looks up the news services: "Here they are.
was the first one, on 244-1119. Then a little bit later, in the Denotam
system. So on our way to Digitis
we're going to run into her anyway. She's jumping around that area.
She only took stuff -- 'sealed cargo shipment.' You know, I wonder
if that sealed cargo shipment was put there and she knew exactly what it
was. So we're not a cargo ship, so we may not be a target.
It is a class C starport
here. The Marquis orders a quick two day turnaround.
Helia takes the Third Eye out to the jump point,
and they jump for Lunion.
They arrive in Lunion,
the subsector capital.
Here the Marquis intends that they should spend an extra day or two to
Marc had hoped to find out about Professor Farol
here. Both his and Robert's inquires, however, come up blank.
All they can find is that Professor Benshani Farol was a faculty member
at Darrian University. There is no other information at all about
There's a new TNS
entry here: dated 355-1119,
it indicates that the Zhodani have lost a fleet somewhere. Everyone
finds this very interesting news indeed, and speculate on what could have
happened to it.
Perhaps it ran into the cockroaches, suggests Mich,
but that gets blank stares from the rest of the crew. He doesn't
A computer search on "cockroaches" doesn't turn up
anything except references to the pervasive pest insect -- surely that's
not what Mich meant?
While in the system, Shark visits some of his old
acquaintances. They're of the opinion that someone clearly dropped
the ball big time, because not only do they not know anything else about
the lost Zhodani fleet, the news announcement was a complete surprise to
them. A casual mention of cockroaches draws nothing.
The time at Lunion
has not been as productive as they would like. Still, the Marquis
has hopes that his old friend, Sir Geoffrey Pears, the youngest son of
the Duke of Adabicci,
will be able to fill him in with more useful information.
The Third Eye takes off from the subsector
capital, heads out of the system, and jumps for Adabicci.