Story 17 - Aquarius in Ice.
At noon, almost exactly at twelve o'clock, Leslie, the expedition leader, announced that we had arrived. My companion, who drove the
snow-cat that I had been assigned to, a tall man who called himself Ivan,
explained that we had arrived at our destination according to the Global Positioning System. He rechecked his information sheet, and the GPS readout once more, to verify the location.. "Yes, we are on the mark," he said.
Except there was nothing to see. We took the binoculars and scanned the area. There was nothing there to be found. Ivan suggested that we should decide on a search pattern. Leslie suggested to hold off. We had a long trek behind us, we were late, we had been hindered by fallen trees. Also, we hadn't dared to cross a large lake, that would have heightened our exposure to being detected. That, too, had
cost us time. We had argued about it, before the decision was made to take the long and slow route. Leslie had suggested that we should dash across the lake at high speed and take our chances, rather than taking the chance that we would come too late in the day for executing a proper search to find our object. She was reluctant, therefore, to authorize wasting a lot
more of our precious time on driving search patterns. "Let's see if we can figure this one out in a scientific manner," she said. "Let's look for clues. Let our capacity to reason, guide us," she added.
Nobody suggested that we had come for nothing, but driving a search pattern wasn't an acceptable option, I fully agreed. Ivan looked around. He turned to me, "according to the GPS we are within fifty meters, but I don't recognize anything out of the ordinary."
Leslie suggested that we go outside and look close up for clues.
I told Ivan that I was under the impression that the Global Positioning System is designed to be accurate within five meters, not fifty. "On the other hand, how accurate was the infrared sighting?" I asked "We might be looking for something that is miles away," I suggested.
"No, the infrared triangulators are accurate. They are designed to track incoming warheads. They have to be accurate," Ivan replied. "Everything tells us that whatever it is, that we are looking for, must be here, right where we are."
"I suppose we are looking for something like an impact crater?" I said.
"Or what used to be an impact crater," said Leslie over the short distance intercom that allowed us to talk to each other whenever we were close enough. The name Leslie appeared to be a short form short for something, but who knows what. She appeared not to be a native from this part of the world.
The impact crater was eventually found. It hadn't been recognized initially, because Ivan's cat had stopped right on top of it. I had noticed a faint line from our rear window, a minute ledge stood out that was more circular than straight. Luckily, the crater rim hadn't been fully covered over by the drifting snow, or the wind had blown some of the new snow away to reveal the edge of the crater.
Within half an hour the object was located and dug out for closer inspection. It appeared to be totally intact. Ivan and Leslie claimed it first. They quickly wiped several samples off the interior walls, sealed the samples into a bottle, and placed the object itself into a plastic bag,
sealed with a double zip lock. Only then did they allow us to touch it.
Leslie, who gave the object to Anton, said that we must be extremely careful not to damage the plastic bag. We both examined the object. The thing was astonishingly small, slightly larger in size than a
large pineapple. It was made of a ceramic material with an insulated ceramic container inside. It had a single opening that was once covered with a slanted hinged lid that was still attached. The lid had been sprung open by what looked like an air pressure activated release mechanism. The entire object was made of ceramic parts, except for one single steel spring. Apart from this, there wasn't a single piece of metal on it.