01/07/21 Snippet, GHOSTS ON AN ALIEN WIND.

This month’s story for Patreon. Not Fermi Resolution, but people may recognize the setting.


The rain had started again as I maneuvered the cargo-hauler down to the landing pad. It’s always a crapshoot when it comes to salvaged alien equipment, but this time we had lucked out; the control configurations were within human norms. It wasn’t just the big stuff like ‘Can I reach all the buttons?” either: the colors made sense to human eyes, and the layout was intuitive to humanoids with binocular vision and thumbed hands. I didn’t even have to retrofit a cushion for my ass, which is pretty much standard operating procedure when it comes to adapting alien chairs for human use. The folks that made this hauler must have been a lot like us: it’s a real shame I’ll never meet one.

As I made my vertical landing I saw but did not immediately react to the way the landing pad was remarkably free of gear and pallets, or the way that people were rushing around, doing various things with an unmistakable air of urgency. Contragrav thrusters may be easier to maneuver than Earthtech turbofans, but you still don’t casually sling around a forty-ton flying brick. If there was a problem, I’d be told after I landed; and, if the problem was big enough, I’d have been told already not to land.

The other nice thing about contragrav is that the landings are whisper-quiet. You don’t feel the impact because there isn’t one; the energy field merges with planetary gravity and puts you both in instant equilibrium. Or something like that. The techies back in human space are trying to work out the details, so that we can make our own. It’ll be nice when they finally do, but they’ve been trying for the last eighty years, so I figure we’ll be salvaging Amalgamation tech for just a while longer.