Aphelion Issue 224, Volume 21
December 2017 / January 2018
 
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Kraugg’s Choice

by C.E. Gee


Around a sweet smile, Gail announced,
“Mr. Anderson, the reason I’m here today is that you are the highest ranking NASA employee at the Prescott Research Station with whom I could arrange a face-to-face meeting. I must now urge you to stop today’s test flight.”

Gerald Anderson settled back into his chair, returning Gail’s smile. Gerald appraised Gail’s slender but well-proportioned form.
“Well, Ms. Samuels,” Gerald purred, “You’ve certainly stirred my curiosity. What do you mean, we have to stop the test flight?”

“Please, call me Gail. It’s my theory the planet Mars is in actuality the inner core of what was once Mars. The iron oxides that compose much of the surface of Mars are what was once its outer liquid core.

“Since no known natural event could eject sizable amounts of the mantle or crust or liquid outer core of a planet out into space, what transformed Mars was artificially induced.”

Gerald made no reply. His smile disappeared. One eyebrow inched upward.

Gail rushed to elaborate. “As you know, your XMR-1’s lift system uses powerful magnetic fields generated by its super-cooled coils to repulse against the magnetic field of Earth.

“The rhythmic pulsing of the XMR-1’s lift coils during today’s test flight will cause harmonized oscillations within the molten iron of Earth’s outer core. Those oscillations will cause the outer core to fling the mantle and crust of Earth off into space as that liquid outer core surges upward. The surface of what remains will then cool off. Much of the heavy, iron rich liquid core that was ejected into space which was beneath the crust and mantle will fall back and solidify.”

“Earth’s water, vaporized by this event, will eventually condense, raining down upon the new surface, creating iron oxides and also carving out surface features not unlike some of those of Mars.”

Open-mouthed, Gerald stared at Gail, his eyes mirroring his incredulous disbelief. Although Gerald made no immediate comment, Gail must have sensed a change in Gerald’s demeanor, for Gail now spoke much slower, with a decided emphasis,
“Millions of years ago, perhaps even billions of years ago, Martians accidentally destroyed their planet by utilizing the same propulsion system we’re preparing to use today. You’ve got to believe that!”

Gail pleaded, “Look — you’re my last chance. The clock’s ticking. I’ve glossed over the details. I’m sure if I explain some of the finer points… Please?”

Gerald glanced at his watch. “Okay, okay, I’ll give you a few more minutes.”

Gail continued, “The asteroid belt — ever wonder where it originated? It’s portions of the original crust and mantle of Mars.

“The theory that microbial life on Earth came here, delivered by meteorites from Mars? My own theory explains all that and more.

Gerald’s reply began with a smirk. He said, “Interesting. Maybe we can discuss your theory in more detail. Perhaps over dinner this evening? I know this delightful Mexican restaurant downtown. The owner and I are old…”

Gail’s back stiffened. She interrupted Gerald, snarling,
“You just don’t get it, do you? If we don’t stop this test flight, there won’t be an evening.”

A ferocious scowl marring her otherwise pleasant features, voice trembling, Gail continued,
“You’re not going to stop the test flight, are you?”

Gerald smirked a wry smirk as he held out his hands, palms up, shrugging a gesture of helplessness.
“Honey, I’m just this region’s Press Relations Officer. I also double as this site’s Public Relations Officer. I don’t have the authority to stop the flight, even if I wanted to.

“In all my years at NASA, I’ve never heard a more ridiculous story. Believe me, working with the both the press and the public, you hear a lot of ridiculous stories.

* * *

Kraugg looked down from her pedestal, sneering at the array of supplicants filling her grotto.

The present duty cycle had been unusually busy. Now that the problem of predicting the intensity of the magnetic field induced by the nearby mythological mother of planets had been solved, the test flight could occur. It seemed all of Europa’s swarms were interested.

Kraugg felt she was due for some relaxation. After the test flight, it was her turn in the secretarial pool; she knew exactly in which corner she was going to spawn. Her eyestalks quivered as she thought of the cute little male with the reddish tinge to his mantle.

One of the supplicants took advantage of Kraugg’s daydreaming. Edging closer, tentacles splayed in the formal manner of a high-caste male, he summoned enough courage to make his plea.
“Your Immenseness, may I solicit permission to speak? I’ve amazing news. We need to talk.”

Diverted from her thoughts, Kraugg stared at the supplicant, noting he wore the austere chains of an academician. Kraugg snapped,
“Speak now, and make it quick. “I’m busy today.”

The male dared to creep closer, pausing when Kraugg, as a warning, unsheathed her imposing beak.

The supplicant then spoke.
“I’ve formulated a theory. Have you ever wondered about the iron oxides found by the probes we’ve sent in to the third and fourth planets? Why it is that those two planets are very nearly the exact same size? Also, why is it we have two completely separate asteroid belts in this star system?“

Kraugg replied, “This is beyond strange. Let me think about it…"

THE END


2017 C.E. Gee

C.E. Gee (aka Chuck) misspent his youth at backwater locales within Oregon and Alaska. Chuck later answered many callings: logger (choker setter) meat packer (Norbest Turkeys), Vietnam war draftee infantryman, telecom technician, volunteer fireman/EMT, light show roady, farmer, businessman. Chuck now writes SF stories, and maintains a blog at https://kinzuakid.blogspot.com

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