So, I’ve been doing a few things lately aside from taking pictures of kitties – though that has been one of my main pastimes. One is I started a series on SKF called The Ladies from B.R.A.T.
It begins thuserly:
“It’s worse than we expected.” Lieutenant May Livingstone bit her fingernail right down to the quick, then wished she hadn’t.
Colonel Jane West, a robust woman with an auburn bouffant and a penchant for red lipstick, nodded in agreement. It was indeed worse than they had expected. It was also better than they had expected. That was because they had not expected anything at all. The discovery of something where nothing was supposed to be made things simultaneously better and / or worse, depending on how you looked at it. In space, perspective was everything.
Both women wore the simple navy blue uniforms of the Coalition, heavy blue coats buttoned diagonally from left to right across their chests. Colonel West wore the badge of the gold carnation, indicating her rank. Lieutenant Livingstone had two silver daisies pinned to the lengthy lapel under her chin, indicating her relative lack of rank.
Locked firmly in orbit, those aboard the coalition ship Archimedes had an excellent view of the surface of planet Sub-Beta-69. It was supposed to be an uninhabited, albeit potentially life bearing planet suitable for carbon based life forms. It was supposed to be the next port of call in a chain of galaxy wide rest-stops. Once the coalition work teams got down there, there’d be a few convenience stores, a couple of space toilets, some place to recharge the reactors, that sort of thing. Maybe a mall.
But the great stone pyramids clearly visible through the Archimedes’ long range cameras were currently putting paid to that idea. Sitting in the middle of a verdant grassy plane otherwise inhabited by ungulates, three large triangular monoliths rose into the clear sky.
“Patricia,” Colonel West said. “Give me an analysis of those rocks.”
“Calcium oxide. Silicone. Aluminum. Limestone. In other words, concrete. Not rocks.”
The ship’s computer spoke with a bland tone that still managed to be snippy. Patricia, short for PAT, short for Personal Android Thinking Machine, had been designed by the late, great Martha Stalwart. Somehow, no matter how many times PAT was calibrated, she retained a certain snotty quality. Some said PAT was haunted by the spirit of Martha Stalwart herself. Certainly PAT had more opinions on lace doilies than the average ship’s computer, and suggested using pine cones as centerpieces at every single meal time in defiance of the fact that the nearest pine tree was a good four human generations away.
“Concrete,” Colonel West said, tapping long, manicured fingernails against the console. “What does that tell you?”
“An advanced civilization,” May said. “But where are they?”
“Not extinct,” Patricia cut in.
“Are you reading signs of humanoid life?”
“The lawns have been mown recently.”
PAT zoomed in on the strips of grass around the pyramids. Sure enough, there were the tell-tale signs of a well mowed lawn. Sixteen light years away from planet Earth, someone was landscaping.