“Okay, this is Walker Andrews recording an audio log. I’ve been going over the images that Hermes sent back, trying to figure things out. Our initial idea about Hermes’ location has been confirmed, it’s 87 light days from our solar system. We confirmed that through photos of the surrounding star field, and magnitude of the sun from its position.
“No, no, I’m not going to talk about that stuff. The chief wants a theory, and I think I have one. The Hermes has more than one camera, mounted on booms that can be positioned, kind of like the rover we sent to Ceres and Mars, but more articulated and sophisticated, obviously. Anyway, so we sent instructions to the camera to take pictures of Hermes, using every instrument on the camera. Just about everything came up negative, mostly because we were looking for some kind of residual energy, or something. And I almost missed it, but I didn’t.
“See, right here, on this model, is the ion drive. There’s a mesh, a grid on the outside, to keep debris out, act as a cathode, and to focus the ions. It’s a platinum-cobalt alloy—well, not on this model, obviously—and it’s missing.
“See, look at this photo. The mesh is gone, and not removed. The retaining screws are still in place, but the mesh has been torn away. Not a scrap of it is left. Poof, gone. So either the mesh was consumed in some kind of weird chemical reaction, which I don’t know what that could even be, or it was torn away from some kind of great force, maybe a force great enough to push Hermes to its current position. Maybe it’s tachyons or some kind of bending in spacetime, I don’t’ know. But it’s the only thing on Hermes that’s out of place.”