The First Principle of Observation

Here’s a story for the TTA Advent Calendar. It was originally posted on the old Whispers of Wickedness website, if memory serves, after languishing for many years in the files of a magazine that accepted stories but never got round to publishing them.

Oh, and just a reminder that my own Advent Calendar from 2010 is still available for download from the TTA website.


By Peter Tennant

A stray meteor, no larger than a pebble, penetrated the craft’s defence screen and crippled the tachyon drive generator. There was secondary damage to the automatic repair circuits and so the back up system failed to cut in. The odds against an accident of that sort were a billion to one, but it had happened and now the craft was in serious difficulty.

Captain fed data into the central computer. An answer flashed up on her display screen almost immediately. The situation was critical. They were on a collision course with the planet below, a rendezvous there was only one way to avoid. In such circumstances her duty was clear. The First Principle of Observation left no room for compromise. Captain hesitated a brief moment, and then she locked in the self-destruct sequence.

Down in the living quarters the Crew and the Observers were arguing among themselves. There was disagreement as to how the craft might be repaired after the inevitable crash landing. When Captain made her entrance they all fell silent. She told them what she had done, but at first none of them appeared to understand. The faces turned towards her reflected doubt and confusion, and then the bewilderment began to turn to anger.

Regulations, Captain thought at them, opening her mind completely and projecting the full force of her will. Images of duty and obedience to higher authority. The First Principle of Observation. Contact with a subject species is to be avoided at all cost due to possible influence on the natural development of…

After that there was no more time for thought. The craft exploded, transformed into a coruscating ball of white light that sent wave after wave of radiation thrashing outward to dissipate harmlessly in the night sky over a backward world.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Matthew 2 v10.

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6 Responses to The First Principle of Observation

  1. Ooh, good ending! I like it. 🙂

  2. Bob says:

    See? If they’d just crashed into the bloody stable most of the world’s wars and troubles would have been nipped in the bud…

  3. Cate Gardner says:

    Ha! Bloody brilliant. Love it.

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