Detective Brin heads for a moon called Riet, wanting to find and arrest the shape-shifting robot that murdered Dr. Nof.
Can Brin find the shape-shifting robot that murdered Dr. Nof? Because it can hide in this moon’s jungles or its deserts tracking down the android will be difficult.
It was the year 4020. I was sitting in a cocktail bar on Galactic Space Station Six. In the near distance, a beautiful Dseo woman with orange skin glanced at me, smiling.
My phone rang, and Tesk appeared in my contact lenses. He said, “We have some new information on Seoom.”
I frowned, wanting to spend more time with this woman.
“A week ago, when a satellite orbiting a moon called Riet was over the Soor Jungle, photographing it, PRE detected a settlement. Two hours later, PRE picked up a radio signal, a message coming from one of its buildings. According to the signal, the settlement is called Seoom.
“Four days ago, we sent two UA’s to investigate. Forty-five minutes after a PTC dropped them off in a clearing that was a seventh of a mile from Seoom and left Riet, video cameras and scanners in both robot’s foreheads shut off, stopping an SA probe.”
I winced, concerned. PRE, Pattern Recognition, software detected villages, towns, and cities even if they were cloaked or hidden beneath jungle canopies. It also noticed important radio and neutrino signals, ones that were cloaked or disguised as primary cosmic rays.
SA, Shape Analysis application, recognized sixteen billion different faces and bodies, making it easier to solve cases.
Seventy percent of the time, using neutrino movement, it could tell me how long a suspect had been in a specific area three seconds after these subatomic particles recognized their DNA. “What was in the video?”
“Dimly lit bushes and foliage, meaningless information.”
“That doesn’t help.”
“I agree. At any rate, IT personnel haven’t heard from either UA since.”
I blinked, worried. Although humanoid UA’s, Utility Android’s, carbon nanotube bodies and hip-mounted AUW’s, Automatic Weapons that fired smart bullets and laser beams, had been improved within the last two months, several problems had been overlooked. “The UA’s might have broken down because IT didn’t test their BOC enough.” BOC, Body Coordination software, made it possible for these robots to keep going even if they had to climb mountains, hike through jungles or cross rivers.
“That’s impossible. IT personnel tested them six hundred times.”
Although IT, information technology, personnel were thorough, their budget was limited. As a result, they took shortcuts. “Where did IT test them?”
Tesk glared at me. “In three-dimensional holograms.”
“They should have done that in the real world.”
“IT knows what they are doing. Your flight for Riet leaves in twelve hours.”
My adrenaline started pumping, a worried reaction. “Do you have any more information about Riet?”
He glowered. “Your pilot and PMA will.”
PMA, Planetary and Moon Analysis software, provided over nine hundred terabytes of information.
After an ITC, an Interstellar Transport Carrier, docked on a PTC’s, a Planetary Transport Carrier, back, a hatch opened. I climbed inside the PTC, a spacecraft named the Introa, and sat next to the pilot, he was an Aito male humanoid with blue skin.
He said, “Brin, they call me Yorn.”
I nodded. The Introa dropped, ramming us against our seats. I exhaled, trying to relax. “What else do you know about Riet?”
“Fifty-one percent of it is a desert. The rest consists of two jungles, the Soor and the Gonn. The only sentient beings on it, maarn humanoids, live on an oasis, close to the Soor.
“An Aito spacecraft called the Yizza was sent to this moon nineteen years ago to excavate niobium.”
I nodded. Niobium, a valuable superconducting mineral was used in computers, robots, and spacecraft.
“Dr. Clu, a geologist, was in charge of this expedition. A week after their PTC landed on Riet, Clu emailed four three-dimensional holographic reports to an ITC called the So Na, a routine procedure. So Na responded within minutes. Clu did not. In a desperate attempt to figure out why Clu wouldn’t talk to them anymore, So Na’s crew sent twenty-five three-dimensional emails to him. They never heard from Clu or any other members of his team again.”
I frowned. “Did they send any rescue ships after that?”
I glowered. “Why not?”
He paused for a long time, his forehead tight.
Ninety percent of the time, the Aito, a race from the planet Faway, who loved to explore deep space, alien planets and moons they had never been to before, worked around the clock organizing their journeys.
“No reasons are mentioned. Many Aito historians looked for So Na’s ship logs in sixteen billion archives but couldn’t find them. Aito and I have spoken to say that many of their early space missions to Riet were poorly organized and understaffed.”
I winced, shocked by their lousy planning.
“Nine spacecraft have gone to the Soor since then. Their crews wanted to excavate billions of dollars’ worth of gold, niobium, and other valuable minerals. Eight left this jungle before they accomplished all of their goals. If any of these crafts had ORA and DAL, we would know a lot more about them and Riet.”
“Do you, yourself, have any more information about those eight?”
“No. Check my ship’s databases.”
“What about the ninth spacecraft?” A new invention, ORA, Organism Analysis software, detected six trillion types of viruses, eighteen trillion categories of viroids, nine hundred billion kinds of phage and eight hundred trillion bacteria classes. DAL, Daily Activity Log software, organized and saved the crew’s important comments and essential scans regarding their journeys to the planet Cirok and several of its moons.
Yorn blinked. “Three months ago, a PTC, the Charc, the ninth, touched down in the Ler, forty miles northeast of Seoom, a short walk from the edge of the Soor. Dr. Moga, a software engineer, the expedition leader, had studied Toen’s maps and notes for months.
“Forty minutes after they arrived, Moga and his crew, six geologists, a PIM, a SR, along with four GSA, stopped sending text emails and three-dee holographic emails to an orbiting ITC, the Scaut.”
I raised an eyebrow, curious and baffled. PIMs, Physicians who specialized in Immune Systems, knew how to use genome enhancement methods to treat patients with eighty types of fevers, thirty-five classes of plagues and other illnesses. SR, Surgical Robots, operated on those with heart conditions and six million other medical problems. Geological Scan Androids scanned as they walked. They could extract three million different types of minerals as long as the minerals were four miles from a moon or planet’s surface or closer.