The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 42 Section V Mega Chapter 1 (part 1)

No, we’re not actually back at chapter 42. I realized last month the time sequences of some chapters were skewed because, at this point in the novel, several things are happening simultaneously.

That required some fixing.

For example, this chapter 42 also has “Section V Mega Chapter 1” as part of its title. That’s because this chapter 42 is in Section V, contains a reworked chapters 42 and 43 (which weren’t the numbers you chapter numbers you saw previously. Lots of things got shuffled) and has an extra scene not included before but necessary for what comes later in the novel.

Live with it.

I have to, you might as well, too…

PS) this chapter is huge so I’m splitting it into two posts.


(or not)

The Alibi – Chapter 42 Section V Mega Chapter 1 (part 1)

Sherlock listened to the communications coming and going out of Boston harbor and recognized elements from previous oceanic transmissions. Its extensive catalog of deep sea sounds, some from the first microphones submerged in ocean waters, its googleian knowledge of sound production systems, origins, indications, its massive computing, cohesing, interpolating, recognizing systems worked and worked and reworked every element comparing against everything from the chirp of crickets to the songs of whales and trumpets of elephants, from glaciers calving to seaquakes raising islands to the sun, spinning them, colliding them, solidifying them, separating them, extrapolating them, until its coolent glowed blue.

It reshaped the sonar array and pods, reshaped the hull enough to create sound separation and deflection grids, released two towed arrays to act as direction-seeking ears.

And heard.

Sherlock relaxed. A human would have sighed. Sherlock did its equivalent; it let its cryogenic structures form a slight aboric frost, lining its deepest core with veins like leaves on a tree.

It understood.

Could understand.

And wanted to hear more, partially to confirm hypotheses floating in its nitrogen-helium cooled chambers and partially to test this hypothesis against that, these against those, to confirm what it had been told might exist, could exist, but for which there was no direct evidence, only hearsay, only myth, only stories from cultures so ancient humans only knew of them from symbols on cave walls.

Sherlock would test this from that, these from those, with a single message.

A message from the earliest of its learnings.

A message to let the listeners know it was there, it was awake, it was attending, it was aware.

A message student programmers learned as their first attempt at confirming what they’d been taught.

Sherlock sent out a soft, timid, “Hello?”


Cisily Thorne and Gio spoke well into the night, Gio tending the fire, surrounded by dancers, feet stamping, hands clapping, songs reaching up and capturing stars, a corroboree.

He stood and stretched. “Time for me to go. Follow the canoe. It’ll take you where you need to go.”

“Where are you going?”

“Have to call Uber.”

He jumped over the Eglesia‘s side and sank beneath the waves only to surface a moment later on the back of a blue whale. “Yes. Uber.”

And the dancers were gone. Only the Dingo-man paddling the canoe remained and she spent the night following it, sometimes only seeing it as a darker patch against the night sky, as an occulting of constellations she knew should be there, until she realized the canoe’s course followed the Milky Way’s path through the heavens. Once recognized, piloting the Eglesia to blue water was a child’s task.

Now she watched the sky canoe disappear into the dim, pre-dawn light.

Her parents interviewed some old ones – banman? – who could travel the Milky Way, the demba. They called it Great Star Belt, the place where all aboriginal laws come from. “Is that what this is about? Our people really are star children and our origins got muddied up through the millennia?”

Thorne set the Eglesia‘s automated systems to keep her in place.

“What’s special about this place?”

The sea answered by boiling.

Something huge, serpentine, rose up beside her, towered over her and The Lady Eglesia, made them tiny in its wake.

You have to be a paying subscriber (Muse level (1$US/month) or higher) to view the rest of this post. Please or Join Us to continue.