Sparkling Meteor Part 2
A Solar Guardsman on comet patrol out beyond Mars suddenly falls silent after reporting a mysterious sparkling asteroid. The boys are sent out to investigate and the Guardsman turns out to be out cold, suffering from what is eventually determined to be acute radiation illness.
Interestingly, the sick man is not alone, although he is supposed to be on a one man ship. It turns out he has a small boy with him, his son, to help with the crushing loneliness out in space by providing company.
The boy gets left behind with the cadets when the commander races the sick man back to Earth. This means the cadets get to experience the unalloyed charms of having a small, energetic child on board a space craft in deep space and since Roger thrives on confrontation, he's the one who bonds with the boy. As a direct result of this, he misses a chance to get a fix on the orbit of the odd asteroid (although this oversight is later corrected, in such a way that requires the cadets to ignore direct orders to head right back to).
Down on Earth, the powers that be eventually figure out that the asteroid, whatever it is, is implicated in four previous deaths. It's not at all clear how it caused them but clearly the asteroid is too dangerous to leave uninvestigated. The cadets head out again, this time to help work out what is up with this rock.
The kid was supposed to stay on Earth but he stows away. Very happily for him, Solar Guard ships have an excess of capacity and he is not immediately thrust out into space.
This turns out to be very lucky, because while the Polaris' jet boat is on its way to collect samples from the surface of the asteroid, the boy finally gives an account of what happened just before his father fell ill and that is enough to let Dr. Dale work out that they are dealing with a Contra Terrene asteroid! One touch and the guys in the jet-boat will be vapour! And since the radios are being jammed by the emanations of the rock, a thrilling in-person rescue must ensue!
When the boy turned up, I actually wondered if they were going to use a variation of the time reversal plot from SeeTee Shock and </i>SeeTee Ship</i> but no, it's just a common case of a lonely sailor putting a small child into stores.
It seem to be the cadets find reason to ignore orders an awful lot and nothing ever comes of this. Unless it's Roger, in which case he may end up polishing brass-work for weeks.
Dale seems pretty convinced getting rid of this asteroid will be as easy as ramming it with a similarly massed object but A: even a puny billion tonne anti-asteroid when combined with a billion tonnes of matter is going to produce a lot of energy over a short period of time (IIRC 9x10^28 J or two trillion megatons of TNT, expressed in a short intense pulse of gamma rays), and if they fumble it and just blow the anti-asteroid apart, now they've fill a set of related orbits with small fragments of antimatter.
Rockets Labs Cadet Missing Sick Injured Episode W D W D T A R T A R T A R Trial in Space 4 1 1 1 1 Asteroid of Danger 2 1 2 1 2 Giant of Mercury 1 1 Atmosphere of Death 1 1 Mission of Mercy 1 Double Cross in Space 1 Sparkling Meteor Total 3 5 1 1 1 4 1 2 2 1 Supporting Cast Good Guys Bad Guys Episode Missing Injured/ Killed Kidnapped Injured Killed sick Trial in Space Asteroid of Danger 1 Giant of Mercury 9 9 1 4 Atmosphere of Death 1 2 1 1 Mission of Mercy many many Double Cross in Space 1 Sparkling Meteor 1 Total* 11 1 11 1 1 6 * Does not include totals for Mission of Mercy Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment(s); comment here or there.