A Christmas Short Story by Andreas Rodemund
So, you claim nobody saw you on that planet?
Yes sir, I did not make any Contact
But you are aware that it was the cold season in the hemisphere you landed on?
An atmospheric phenomenon on this planet called “snow” by the inhabitants covered most of the surface in White. Have you been aware of that?
Not before I reached the landing site sir.
So, maybe your choice of a Red environmental protection suit was not appropriate for blending into the surroundings?
It was the same one I used on the last planet in this solar system sir
Yes, you moron that planet was in fact red, and just because you are to lazy to clean a suit and check a new one, does not entitle you to decide it is appropriate for any given mission. This planet here has intelligent inhabitants, are you aware of how easy their culture can be contaminated by your incompetence?
Yes sir, I am aware of that sir, that’s why we choose an unpopulated area for the point of access to the surface sir.
Is that so? But as I see in your report you did not remain in that area. Why did you choose to move around in your red suit, which was no way appropriate to hide you from any sightings?
Uh, sir, I had a crash sir.
I KNOW THAT, you imbecile. But why did you move away from the crash site where we could have easily tracked you?
Sir, the crash site was hidden between these organic pillars that covered the whole area, so I assumed it would be difficult to spot me sir.
Is that so? Organic Pillars covered the area? What made you assume that these pillars would block your distress beacon signal, private?
Sir, the distress beacon was damaged in the crash.
No it wasn’t private, don’t try and lie to me. The only thing that was damaged in the crash, other than the shuttle, was your suit! The beacon was already inoperable when you came back from that red planet. It’s all in the maintenance report, and you failed to replace it, that’s why you had to hover above these organic pillars on your anti-grav platform to give optical signals with a flash light, that could be seen for way, way, WAY too great a distance on the side of the planet that was facing away from the star at that time.
Yes Sir, that’s how it was sir.
And what is all that white stuff on your suit?
That is sealing foam sir
I can very well recognize that Private! But what is it doing all over your chest? Aren’t you supposed to put the foam only on the damaged part of the suit?
Yes sir, but it got blown away, so I had to reapply it several times, and the excess kept dripping on the suit and started hardening there.
Blown away? How did you manage to get THAT accomplished?
This atmospheric phenomenon is a low temperature phenomenon sir, it was quite cold, so I activated the heating system of the suit, where it is blown up to double size and filled with body temperature air, but the air kept leaking out trough the crack on my helmet, and blew off the sealing foam sir.
All right, whatever! Now, lets assume hovering in a ballooned red suit, smeared with sealing foam all over the helmet and chest, was the only way of being discovered by the search drones private. But why in the name of the Life-giving-tentacle did you leave that position?
Sir, the hover platform ran low of energy, and I was afraid I would sink down into the pillars; so, I started looking for a clearing from where I could give the signals.
And? You found one I assume?
Yes sir, just as the platform ran out of power, I discovered a space void of those pillars.
And, that space was completely empty?
Uh, no sir, it was…n’t, I mean, there was…something there.
WHAT was there private?
Uh, sir, there was a Habitat.
A WHAT? Are you trying to tell me, you landed in sight of a local planetary building inhabited by the ruling intelligent species?
Uh, not as such sir, I tried to choose a position where I could not be discovered from within the building.
So, you landed outside the clearing?
No sir, I also wanted to continue my optical signaling to the rescue drones. So i….
You beginning to put my patience to the test private, come to the point, where did you set down that platform?
I landed on the roof of that habitat, which was the only place where I could remain out of sight, as well as to continue my contact attempts sir.
YOU landed on the ROOF?? Are you completely out of your mind? Did it not occur to you, that they might have HEARD you?
Yes, hearing! The detection of vibrations in the atmosphere, a very common ability among intelligent alien species.
Here, we reviewed the outer sensors from one of the rescue drones, and discovered that you radiated vibrations that could be detected by the aliens. From what I learned now I can conclude that the air bursts leaking from your suit trough the foam have caused it, and to the aliens it would have sounded somehow like this: Ho Ho Ho…
I was not aware of that sir…. But I tried to set down with virtually no impact sir, so, I don’t think any alien could have detected THAT vibr….
Yes yes, it is too late now anyway, continue your Report, what next?
Well, sir, I gave my optical signals and was successful in contacting one of the search drones.
But you didn’t wait there for rescue. According to the rescue shuttle crew they picked you up at the site of the crash.
Yes sir, I didn’t want to remain on that habitat any longer as absolutely necessary.
But how could you go back? Since your platform was out of power?
I improvised sir.
I opened the anti-grav unit and used the supraconducting wire around the coil to tie the drone and the platform together.
So, you used the drone to pull your anti-grav platform to the crash site?
Well, I tried that sir, but one drone was not efficient enough to carry the weight, so, I used the drones communicator to call the remaining drones to my position.
All right, let me sum this up now. You landed, with an anti-grav platform, wearing a air leaking, ballooned red suit, on a building, inhabited by aliens that can detect atmospheric vibrations…
That is not confirmed yet sir
…DON’T interrupt me, you are deep enough in it already. So, then you gave optical signals to rescue drones, which could be detected from anyone within direct sight.
After making contact, you called in even MORE drones, and damaged the platform to attach those drones in a inappropriate fashion to your vehicle so you could do… what?
As I already said Sir, i did not want to remain any longer as necessary sir, and I did not want any technology to remain on that roof sir, so I pulled myself and the platform with the eight drones off that roof and to the crash site.
I can’t believe my own receivers here. Are you aware how delicate alien cultures can be? How sensitive they may react to your actions? If just so much as only one of their lesser-developed offspring saw you, it might have unforeseeable impacts on their culture.
Now get out of my sight you incompetent fool, the high command will deal with you when we return to the home planet.
And send in that other idiot who disguised the search drones as planetary animals that usually do NOT fly around.
I walked out of the admiral’s office and thought: “I just hope they never find out about my flashlight and the bag with fruit samples I picked up on the planet fell down that chimney”
© Andreas Rodemund
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