Table of Contents


Francus and Joah had talked almost all day. Both had called in sick. In the end, an oath was sworn. They would escape from this ship and and live on the PIP, or die trying. Francus had christened it Damil-D, and Joah went along with that.

Francus figured that they needed about fifty people to equip and staff an escape vessel. Johua thought that a similar number would comprise a viable community on the planet.

One obstacle was that they knew very little of Damil-D. Besides that it had an atomsphere with oxygen, Joah had calculated that the gravity would be about twice the gravity they were used to. And Joah had calculated the intensity of the stellar radiation on the planet surface. He believed it was comfortable, if some 90% would be absorbed by the atmosphere.

They did not know if the surface was solid, or fluid. They did not know what the temperature was, or how wildly it fluctuated. They were pretty sure that oxygen indicated life, but of course they had no idea what kind of life they could expect.

And who to bring into this conspiracy? They needed access to the auxilary vessels, in order to prepare one for escape. They needed doctors, engineers, at least one navigator and system-operators. They needed women if their colony was to outlast one generation.

An even bigger question turned out to be: how to bring people into the conspiracy? Francus and Josua agreed on one thing: if the Damil-D was unreported, people would doubt whether it was real. Most people would tend to trust the powers. They would not conspire against them, if the powers had not first decided against changing course toward Damil. After all, the ship’s charter still stated that it would travel toward the first PIP that would be found, and that everyone would be free to live on such a planet, if they so desired.

But Joah resisted reporting Damil-D, because it was sure to bring him to OPSEC’s attention. He would be screened day-and-night, which would make conspiring against the powers impossible. He could even foresee that the powers might silence him, if they believe that they could keep a lid on the PIP thing in that way.

The more Joah considered this, the more he realised that his discovery had put him between a rock and a hard place. His knowledge already made him the enemy of the powers. And the life-expectancy of these enemies was very short.

It was decided that Joah would report Damil-D, but not as a PIP. It would simply sit in a lengthy report with all other stellar eclipses that he had scanned. A couple of days later, Joah would casually ask the captain about the report, to make sure that he had read it. Next, Francus would break into the captain’s computer, and would change the report. Now, it would look like a PIP had been reported, but had been shelved by the powers.

Then came the most risky part. They would have to print the report from the captain’s computer, so that his identification showed on the paper. Then, they could show it to other people, to bring them into the conspiracy.

It was clumsy plan. There was a lot of room for error, which made it dangerous. But it was the best they could come up with. Joah went ahead and filed his report. And it sso happened that his captain commented on the improved resolution of the array the next day, which he could have read only in the report. Now, it was up to Francus to work his magic.