A Chunk of SciFi – 2.07 – Wandering Satellite
“Where in the name of Old Terra did THAT come from…?”
Recorded transcript of an encounter with a PH-1L class Wandering Satellite in deep space
In the early days of humanity’s first footsteps into the great void, many satellites were sent up into orbit. Most of them harmless or used for such tasks as GPS or transmissions. There were a few military grade ones, orbital weapon platforms and such, plus a couple of deep space scanners. Combined with accidents from impacts and older satellites never activate their return to earth protocols or even just blowing up, the safe orbit points were becoming congested and dangerous to travel through at an acceptable speed.
When the Space elevator and other more compact and combined satellites were put up, it left one glaring problem. What to do with the debris and reduce materials in orbit. Some of them were quite large and a few could not be returned to earth for safety reasons. Several ideas were put forth, from a net been dragged around to pick it up to a laser vaporising the debris. After much debate the 1st PH-1L converter was placed into orbit – It’s role was simple: to convert any debris it encountered into harmless space dust or material that could be collected later. It was fitted with a form of nanotech that would allow it to adjust itself to the various debris it encountered and make self-adjustments. The only problem was it was very slow, so 20 were placed in orbit, some of them working in tandem on the larger targets.
It was a resounding success. Within a month, the skies around Earth were cleared of 90% of the previous debris. Only 1 PH-1l was lost when it was hit by a stray micro-meteor. The problem then became what to do with them. It was decided they should be destroyed in orbit. Before the signal could be sent, however, every PH-1L suddenly fired its thrusters and headed off in different directions, away from earth, at a fairly high-speed with no way of tracking them.
Several years later, it was discovered why this occurred. The nanites within each PH-1L had developed rudimentary sentience. They had configured and reconfigured so many times their circuits were more like brains. One that was recovered was shown to have duplicated itself with material gathered. There is a common protocol that if a Wandering Satellite, as they are dubbed, is encountered it must be destroyed and as much of its remains as possible returned to earth. So far, the WS encountered are peaceful, but if one does latch onto your ship or station, you need to remove it quickly, before it can consume enough material and duplicate itself.
If reports are to be believed, there are now, several hundred years after the first PH-1L was launched, over a thousand of them. They are not classed as a problem yet, but some reports, especially of the new generation of models, have hinted that a few of them might be in possession of offensive weaponry. For now, authorities simply recommend that you stay away from them and report where you see them, as a debate rages on to decide if they are to be classed as a new friendly species or a possible threat.
Today’s chunk was suggested by Phil from Tales of a GM