Howard entered the bridge from the back and moved to where his second officer was.
‘Mr Jona, I would like to hear the report about the sensor malfunction yesterday.’
‘Yes sir, we’ve gone over our data with Exo’s assistance and we believe we have a theory as to what went wrong.’
‘Let’s hear it.’
‘Yessir. So we’ve theorized that the moment we came out of our jump, we were smack dab in the outlying part of the wave that washed over us, it wasn’t enough to get through our shielding, but because the sensor systems are on the outside of the ship, it was enough to trip their safety shut offs. That’s why they switched off and we had to reboot them so suddenly.’
‘Do we know what the wave was?’
‘Yessir, near as we can tell, a star in the area went nova and we got hit by it. Not actually solar material, just the energetic release of said nova.’
‘Why didn’t the scouts from this sector report anything like that?’
‘There’s a small number of late-stage stars on the charts for this sector. None of them had been thought to be close enough to our chosen colony world to be a problem, though.’
‘Well, apparently it was a problem. Upload me the scout reports for this sector to my personal tablet.’
‘And the engines?’
‘The control systems were overloaded by the wave. The new control system being unshielded and not having the usual redundancy systems of the primaries just didn’t have any way of handling it. They just went crazy and started sending chaotic signals to the engines. It was too much for them, and as a result, we lost one of the primary drives as it overloaded.’
‘Why was the system on in the first place?’
’We aren’t actually sure if they were. It seems like they were kicked on by something. Maybe it was the wave, or maybe it was another system fault.
Howard nodded slowly. He had an idea where such a system fault might have come from.
‘How is this going to affect our colony?’
‘Long story short? It’ll take us longer to get into orbit, and we’ll have to be really careful when we try to pull out of orbit again after stripping down the ship. We’ll be thrusting off centre. The damage is also going to make it harder to strip down the ship.’
‘We’ll have to send a request to Axion for a repair ship to meet up with our ship somewhere. The quicker we can get it to full capability the better.’
‘We won’t really be able to use the ship for much of anything until we get more fuel, though. We lost half our remaining fuel in the accident. We probably just have to wait for an Axion ship to get here.’ replied Mark.
‘Look’s like this ended up being a one-way trip. I’ll want to have a meeting with all division heads.’
‘Yes, sir. I’ll arrange one. Anything else?’
‘Send our navigator to my quarters to meet with me. I’d like to go over the scout data with him.’
Howard sat in his room, an old fashioned paper notepad and a pen. He was writing out all the facts of the day he had gathered, trying to make sense of everything that had happened. His security chief was heading the investigation into the death of Sam, but Howard had decided to do his own record keeping. He was motivated by the conversations he had had with Sam about Exo.
The door chimed, and Howard went to open the door. Fritz Irwin, the navigator was standing outside his room.
‘Ah, Fritz, come in please.’
Howard walked towards his seat and sat down, beckoning to Fritz to take the other seat.
Fritz was a middle aged brown haired man of Germanic decent. He had a neatly trimmed moustache and wasn’t known for speaking frivolously.
‘Fritz, I have a special task for you. I understand you used to work as a stellar cartographer before you became a navigator. Is this correct?’
‘I need you to compare the report from the scouts with the scanner information from the last two weeks to try and figure out which star went supernova on us.’
‘Could not Exo make this comparison for you?’
‘I have reason to believe that Exo’s data is unreliable in this regard. Which means you must use Exo as little as possible Fritz.’
‘Okay, sir. It will take me a few days.’
‘The sooner the better. And when you’re done, report directly to me.’
‘Yes, sir. Is there anything else?’
‘No, you are dismissed.’
Howard had summoned Danny Hough, the chief of security, shortly after Fritz had left. He needed to go over the evidence so far.
‘So far there are no witnesses to James’ actions before the incident. Other than Sam and Exo, though Exo’s sensor archives are not present for the period in which the incident took place as the systems were all in shut down. So there is no footage inside the cargo bay,′ said Danny.
Howard looked over the information Danny had brought him. To anyone looking over this, James had had the perfect opportunity to kill Sam.
Howard didn’t think for a moment that James was the killer, he had his own suspicions, but for the time being, the suspicions directed at James helped him pursue his own line of investigation with minimal questioning.
‘Is James still participating in the investigation?’
‘Yes, Sir. Fully.’
‘Good. I’ll need to speak with him myself soon.’
‘With all due respect sir, I don’t think that’s appropriate.’
‘Your concerns are noted, but this is important. I’ll need to see him before the last jump. I’d like to have a sound theory for review by the Colonial Judicial system before we start to set up the colony.’
‘We won’t be able to extradite James or any suspects until after we finish setting up the colony, so there is no rush.’
‘I know, I’d just like to have a good portion of this investigation finished before we have to start ripping apart the ship and potentially destroy any evidence we have.’
‘Yes sir, of course. I’ll have James brought to you soon. Where will you be having the meeting?’
Commander Hough pursed his lips in silent disagreement but didn’t say anything. It was against protocol, and Howard suspected that the chief would attach a formal complaint to the report. If Howard couldn’t pull his suspicions into the realm of reality, he’d be put before an investigative panel himself.
He’d probably still end up standing before a panel of bureaucrats and politicians before long.