Retrograde

Dish #20 is, or I guess, was, located at the southern end of the Y-shaped radio telescope Array, which, given the size and spread of the configuration, was about a 30 minute hike from the ARC terminal. When Buzz and I finally reached the impact site, we found what was left of D20 strewn over the ice in tiny, mangled fragments, save a sizable chunk of the metallic collector which had partially melted into the surface, forming a hard blob of blackened aluminum.

Telders was going to be pissed.

I stepped carefully toward the crater, Buzz lingering behind. It was probably 30 feet in diameter, but much neater than I expected, considering the massive fireball that nearly took off my head half an hour before. The flames were fully extinguished—no smoke, steam, or cinders to speak of—and it appeared as if the thing just dropped straight in and stuck there, as opposed to crashing and tumbling and carving out a wide swath of destruction like any good meteorite should.

I peered over the edge. Taking the place of the $500,000 antenna was an oblong, dull, gray thing, dusted with fresh Antarctic snow. I scratched my head and reached in my pocket for the last slice of bacon.

“That’s no meteorite,” I told Buzz, and snapped off a piece of the cold meat. I chewed it up, swallowed, and tore off another chunk and tossed it to the husky, but he barely acknowledged it.

“Alright, then,” I shrugged, and bent over to retrieve a short, narrow scrap of twisted metal from the destroyed antenna. I tapped it in my glove like a baton. “Be right back.”

The husky whimpered as I turned and stepped into the hole with a crunch.