DISCOVERY

By Rudy Chase

 

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THE interstellar probe I.N.N.NOAH had reached its objective, the star known as ALPHA CENTAURI-A after nearly five years of travel between the stars. It was now in orbit around the second planet,  a world three quarters the size of the EARTH, but even so it was rich in diversity. Three major continents and a number of smaller islands and one moon the size of MARS, its own bio-sphere. NOAH was fully active now.  His BIO-CELICON sensors were even now recycling themselves. His NEURO-NET was still groggy. After all, he had been shut down during the long journey.

POSITIONED well above the northern polar ice cap, he began mapping the landmasses as well as the seas. NOAHíS self awareness was increasing as the minutes dragged into hours; his secondary systems were doing the mapping. As a novel idea the scientists at JPL developed an emotion chip which had been neatly tucked away out of harms way, this enabled NOAH to make decisions from a moral view.

HIDDEN away in the belly of the probe is a golden-skinned android named SAMPSON who is incorporated with the same basic software as NOAH although he was clearly in charge. SAMPSON had not been activated yet. As soon as the primary work had been done, he would be awakened from cyber sleep. IT took two months to map the entire globe, but it was time to activate SAMPSON. A KALEIDOSCOPE of imagery swirled in his mind. This was due in part to his awakening and his PROGRAMMING and it took several hours for him to get a handle on the problems, but finally he was fully functional. "Well, it certainly took you long enough to come around," remarked NOAH  and SAMPSONíS rebuttal was "Hey, a computer with an attitude!" "Very witty,"  NOAH snapped back. AS SAMPSON turned around. Out the portside window a view that almost took his breath away,  if he had any; the planet of their explorations and expectations, a beautiful blue, green sphere hung there in space and on the horizon the sun was just appearing sparkling like a diamond, reflecting its light off the seas. "What a sight," WHISPERED SAMPSON. "Yes it is," NOAH commented rather dryly.  "Well are you ready for the grandstand of the ages?" Ages, he says, when the both of us were only a few years old.

. AS, the android approached the landing pod the iris opened up and he slid through to the impact seat. He seated himself and buckled up and then pressed the intercom switch and responded to NOAHíS constant nagging.  "Yes I am ready for launch;  its about time, you're slower than my creatorís grandmother.  Quit your griping; it's just the two of us out here and so we must get along, ready for launch."

THE underside of the probe slid open and out dropped the landing pod or sphere, for it was in the shape of a sphere, twelve feet in diameter. A blast from the side thrusters and the sphere fell rapidly away; he began to view the data downloaded from NOAH. "What it boils down to is that there are three continents and a number of islands. We or rather you are going to land on the western continent, actually on a high plateau," NOAH told him, "and the plateau lies squarely in the middle of the landmass. A glacier feed river runs right down the middle of it. If there are any intelligent life forms they would be in that area. LOWER and LOWER fell the pod until it made contact with the atmosphere and then anti-magnetic braking was applied, slowing the craft down quite a bit as the pod plunged further into the swirling atmosphere where it was buffeted by a jet stream which carried for quite a distance. "These bothersome winds do have some positive use," quipped SAMPSON.  "We are actually over the landing zone. It's time we left this river of air in the sky."

APPLYING the side thrusters to get out of this five hundred a mile an hour wind is no easy task, to much force and the pod would be crushed, not enough and it might skip out of the atmosphere, so he let the onboard computer do it. He felt a wrenching movement and the pod cleared the jet stream. "Well done my boy," NOAH said.  "You just full of chuckles today" shouted SAMPSON over the communicator. "Oh well. Prepare for landing in four minutes." commanded NOAH. "Yes sir, the golden-skinned android said. THE wild life of the region were your HERBIVORES and the PREDATORS, vast numbers were collected on the grassy plain, along the icy cold river, deep in the brush. They were catlike creatures, and larger then the AFRICAN LION waiting for their moment to strike, a loud rumble shattering the peace of the grassland and scattering the grazers in large numbers, running over some of the cat creatures. This must have been unsettling to them, for it was a while until they regrouped to continue the hunt "

 THE braking on the pod worked to perfection, causing it to hover motionless until the landing pads were deployed and then with a slight bump the craft sat still, but the silvery craft looked out of place. After a few minutes the plains animals continued their grazing. NOAH to SAMPSON: "Are you ok?" "Yes I am sir. Stay in the pod until all possible dangers are checked out." "Now what could possibly harm an android with a DURA-STEEL FRAME," he shot back. "I see you are in good spirits on this occasion, but to answer your question,  how about some unknown radiation coming from the sun."

 IT seemed like hours, but it was only ten minutes that had passed. He heard the air in the airlock being withdrawn and a signal from NOAH that it was safe to go outside. He operated the lever that opened the inner hatch and the one in the airlock. For all the vaunted technology you would think humans would have made this easier to do. He presented his right hand which was scanned by a sensor; on the palm of the hand were the microscopic codes that identified him as SAMPSON. The iris opened and the sounds of an alien world greeted him. He jumped to the ground with a thud. He felt the sunís heat on his face. This was possible because microscopic sensors were woven into his plastic skin, millions of them. There were scent sensor in his nasal area too. HE walked to the underside of the pod where the hovercraft was stored and punched in the prime numbers to open it. The panel slid silently aside to reveal its contents. Besides the hovercraft, there was also a portable transmitter, and a pulse rifle, (yeah like he needed one of those - in the coming days he would find out that he did). THE supplies were lowered to the ground by the use of a lift that they were attached to. He was so busy that he did not notice the huge cat stalking him like a prey animal. The animal was a mere fifteen feet away when he noticed it. This was a humorous event. If he were human (which he is not) he would be in dire straits. The cat attacked at a blazing speed for its size, but SAMPSON was also quick. He waited until the last moment. Then he crouched down and with his two hands pushed the animal some twenty feet into the air were it fell with a booming thud. The poor animal never had a chance. Dazed, it ambled off. "Very well done SAMPSON, how did you know we two have much in common, in that we are interconnected? I can sense what you feel and do and you can do the same thing although those senses have not kicked in as yet; they will over tim. They are programmed to do that."

 

HE packed the pulse rifle and the other equipment into the hovercraft and stepped onto its platform and fed in the data for which direction to go. He headed due east along the river. What a pleasant world this i. One might actually have some fun here. Since the course was set all he had to do was to watch and observe. There are some mighty dangerous looking creatures here, he thought to himself, but he was not alone for the ever present NOAH was in his mind, lurking in some corner.  "I wonder if this how a tumor feels," he said out loud. "Real funny smart guy, just you remember this. I am your boss and I can yank you anytime I please so stop with the cracks." After that scolding he was a bit more careful of what he said and thought. After he was still learning and he impressed this on the boss.. HE had already traveled several miles when, suddenly, the terrain changed from hilly and wet to flat and dry.  He was traveling along the rim of a narrow canyon that led out onto a desert, stirring up dust as he went. On the horizon he spied an object, as to what it was from this distance he could not tell. As he got closer his bionic vision zeroed in on the object and low and behold it was a crashed spacecraft and from the looks of it, it had been here a very long time. THE approach to the wrecked ship was littered with broken tools, empty food containers and an assortment of odds and ends,  so he skirted around the mess and upon voice command from SAMPSON, the hovercraft settled down on the desert floor. He approached the ship with stealth, his pulse hand gun at the ready. The interior was pretty much intact. This was definitely an alien vessel from the markings on the hull. SAMPSON entered the DERELICT with great care. A gaping hole in the hull told the story, from the burn marks on the shipís skin this craft had been attacked.  The approach to the bridge was twisted and torn and it was clear that some of the crew did not make it. Strapped in to the seats of navigation console were the remains of two humanoid beings and these were bleached bones. Roughly, from the height and dimensions of the skulls, he spoke. "I say these two were closely related to mankind back on EARTH.  Hmm," he continued, hinking out loud to himself. "If we could get some power into the grid works of the bridge, then we could access the main computer and quite possibly find out what happened here."

 

AFTER conferring with NOAH it was decided to bring a portable generator aboard and tie into the main grid, which took some time to find. These alien systems may or may not work with our electrical systems. After several hours of tying in and rerouting the electrical gridwork it was time to see if all his work was in vain  SAMPSON went to the generator and flipped the start switch. To his surprise the ship's computers and other electrical device began to hum all over the craft. Lghts turned on and air began to circulate from the air ducts. "Ah Refreshing, nothing like it," he said. From somewhere deep in his mind he heard a quiet chuckle. FROM studying the computer interface and diagrams glued to certain pieces of equipment, he found the restart switch. Gently pushing down on the switch, he heard the sweet hum of power coursing through the mainframe. "Well, let's see what this button does," he said, playing it pretty much by ear. The more he learned the more curious he got. WITH all the switches turned on the bridge was alive with power from the portable fusion generator. He then began to test certain systems; nothing happened. When that failed, he tried feeding prime numbers into the computer. Since it had no point of reference to the alien numerical system, all it did was sit there and hum. He was getting perplexed when an idea struck him - voice command. "Try anything, utter any word," chided NOAH, "perhaps it will work."

"ALL right I will try the word NOAH." "Very funny you rust bucket, now what makes you think saying my name will activate the onboard computer?" "It's worth a try." So he spoke the name "NOAH". "Something is happening," muttered SAMPSON, although the computer did not recognize the name, but the sounds were the perfect tones.  "You got lucky," chided his mentor. STRANGE symbols appeared on the main viewer and they kept repeating over and over. "Gosh  I am stumped. Well, donít give up now," came a voice from somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind, and so he tried his name and low and behold a different set of symbols appeared. "It's beginning to recycle its software. We're getting some place now." After the recycling was complete an image formed on the view screen, this was of a man speaking a foreign language. Listening quite closely, SAMPSONíS POSI-TRONIC brain picked up certain vowels and pronouns as well as verbs from this and he was able to assemble a crude language from what the man was speaking.

"IF this transmission is received on the home world of our kind, the planet TELLEVAR our sweet home,  my name is DENNITAR MARSINS, captain of this colony ship. Beware if any more ships carrying colonists come this way. Know that there is a ruthless, vile race of savages with a high degree of technology and starships; they tolerate no quarter.  It's them against any other race of beings in this sector.  We tried to communicate with them  but this only angered them more and this being a colony ship it was not equipped with powerful weapons."   THE recording continued on, well in this realm of the galaxy, "We picked up strange transmissions that were somehow familiar at least in the voices of the beings. They were similar to our own voices. Could there be dwelling somewhere further out towards the rim of the galaxy another race of men and women, since interstellar exploration began five hundred years ago? We have explored and charted some four hundred solar systems, well finding life, especially intelligent life. None were human. We can only hope that we have another branch of the human family out here. Time is growing short. We have taken several hits that have damaged our propulsion system along with the fusion reactors and the ship is out of control. How sad we have reached the planet that we intended to call home only to crash and die upon it." Then the image faded.

 

ALL was quiet for several minutes. This was not the time to be hard and cruel with each other. "So they were human," SAMPSON said in a quiet voice. "Do you suppose any survived to colonize this planet?"  "I suppose it is possible," chimed NOAH. "Did you record everything he said?"  "Yes I did." "Well did you download all technical data concerning the technology of this vessel? Those nacelles on each side of the ship could be capable of faster then light speeds." "I downloaded everything I could including all the technical information." "THERE is no further reason to stay here; only one more thing to do," his mentor said and that is what SAMPSON asked, to bury the dead. WITHIN an hour two separate graves were dug and the remains of the two crew members were buried in a quiet resolve. "We must continue on and make sure this world is a safe haven for the colonists coming from EARTH. They will be here in two years and also we must search for survivors, if any, from the alien vessel. So onward they pressed toward the unknown. Miles from the DERELICT more skeletons were found, five in all, and the same grim task had to be performed.

THE desert region ended at the foothills of a high mountain range. From its heights poured waterfalls crowed by rainbows. Night was coming on so it was decided by the two which are one to make camp for the night. There was no need of a campfire for SAMPSON was not flesh and blood and he did not need sleep so he stayed aboard the hovercraft and turned on the force field. "WHAT is it TELLIMAN?" "Oh nothing I guess. I thought I saw lights down on the desert floor for a brief moment," his companion laughed, "the desert can play tricks on the mind with the coming of the night. The interchange of heat and cold can cause such a phenomenon."  "Come to bed," she urged him, "we have much work to do in the morning. The transmitter needs work. Oh, that rust bucket is a big pain to keep working. Well, we must try. Perhaps some day a ship from home may pass this way and pick up our signal. We have been transmitting for two hundred years or rather our forefathers have. So far only static. OUR lives on this alien world have been hard for the five hundred who started out from the home world. More then half perished in the crash," he stated. "Well, for now this is our home and we must make the best of it." THE first rays of the morning sun were just peeking through the morning mists. TELLA rose first, a tall and athletic looking women, with skin the color of bronze and emerald green eyes that seemed to look into the very soul and probe its secrets.  WHAT TELLIMAN liked most about her was her dry humor. The smell of food cooking on the stove was as alluring as his mate. He rose and bathed and donned his work clothes; it would take all morning to get the transmitter working again. DOWN in the valley the villagers were just stirring, some going to the field to work their crops, others to repair various machines that had broken down. OLD MAN ZAYGRON, one of the last original colonists had claimed to have found a rich deposit of iron ore. If this stood up, we would have solved one problem. We will have obtained the metal we needed to construct a new ship just big enough to take the remaining survivors back home.

WE can return to the wrecked ship and retrieve the nacelles and the fusion reactor along with the master computer and its various components. A group of younger men were going to go with back him to the site to make sure. He had been wondering around these old mountains for years; after the crash he was never the same. THE force field shut off with the first rays of the morning SAMPSON had spent the night pouring over the maps made during upon arrival in this solar system, trying to figure out what route the survivors from the crash might have taken. The desert did not end until it reached the sea and that was in an easterly direction, and to the west were the mountains and to the south the high plateau. The only logical step to take was to journey into the foothills. The hovercraft could ascend to a height of five thousand feet so no problem there. The probe ship in which they had arrived was on the other side of the planet, so he could not communicate with NOAH. What a treat that would be. WITH deciding on a plan of action, SAMPSON hopped aboard the hovercraft, the familiar hum from its engines  comforting. With the emotion chip tucked away firmly in his DURA-STEEL cranium, there was no danger of damaging it. Besides he needed it; it helped him to make moral decisions on a solid basis. THE hovercraft rose into the morning sky and passed the tree tops going in a westerly direction controlled by the onboard computer, which freed him up to make observations of the fauna and flora and fresh water supplies for the colonists. Like it or not, if there are any survivor from crash of the alien ship, they were going to have company. The U.E.S. CONCORD was due to arrive in this system within two years, and that was why we were sent ahead to locate fresh water, farmland and forests, oh yes  plenty of forests, and so far the labor of the survey had borne fruit.

THE scanner aboard the hovercraft showed rich deposits of iron ore, tin, gold and silver. What else could one ask for when settling a new world"  HE heard a silent laugh in his mind and knew that his companion and sometimes tormentor was back. "Well I was wondering when you were going to show up. REPORT what have you found so far." "These mountains are rich in valuable minerals, iron ore being one of them." "Excellent," his mentor said.  "What about fresh water?" "Well there are glaciers and a very deep show pack high upon the peaks and the river is deep and cold and loaded with plenty of fish." "Very good and now how about telling what you spotted from on high." "This planet has a settlement not far from your position and there is also a lone farm house with a radio dish transmitting on an unknown frequency.

"THE farm house is a mile up the slopes and then the ground levels off, the soil is very fertile." "I think you should pay a neighborly visit ,donít you?" "Of course," hooted SAMPSON, "when you get back to the probe I am going to have to do something about that mindset of yours. Oh donít bother. I like it the way it is." WHEN he had finished fine tuning the radio dish, it was past mid morning. So TELLIMAN took a much deserved break sitting down on the warm ground. His mind began to wonder. This world was not all that bad, the ground was fertile, the climate mild with plenty of wildlife.  He laid back to gaze up at the cloudless sky to find something that did not belong there, a machine and an odd-looking man and it was moving toward him. This frightened him and he yelled for TELLA to come running and to bring the laser rifle.

TELLA came running and shouting. "What is it?  What is wrong TELLIMAN?" He pointed a finger skyward. "Thatís what is wrong."  she stopped in her tracks and followed his finger skyward and when she saw, first joy coursed through her being and then fear that it was not one of their people, "He has golden skin and we have no hovercraft. Do you remember last night when I told you I saw lights on the desert floor? They must have landed last night! Could it be one of the Aliens that attacked our ship? I do not think so or we would already be dead." THE hovercraft landed a mere ten feet from them, seeing the fear in their eyes. He spoke in their language that there was nothing to fear.  The blood drained back into their faces. He raised his hand in greetings, "I come from a distant solar system.  My creators sent me and my mentor who is presently in orbit around this worl. We found the wreckage of your ship out on the desert and I was successful in putting power into the computers and bridge lighting and we hacked into your main frame and heard the message of the late captain. After that we buried the remains."

STILL stunned by the alien's appearance, they had a hard time finding the words to speak and when they did they said, "From what world?" "A world called EARTH near the rim," he said, "and they are human like you and that's not all - a colony ship is on its way here it will arrive in two of this planet's years." "Why so long," inquired TELLA. "They donít have warp drive like you do but something tells me they will in the very near future." "Quite possibly," he grinned. "WHAT are their natures?" TELLA inquired. Peacefully he commented. She let out a sigh of relief.  "And we are going to remain here until the ship arrives." " Excellent!," moaned TELLIMAN. "May we offer you anything to eat or drink?" "No,"  he replied. "I am an android I do not require food or drink. I knew there something different in you. YOU say your companion is in a ship in orbit above us?" "Uh yes"  "He did an extensive mapping of your adopted home. The colonists will need the information, which is what your friend like TELLA asked. Oh he is an annoying busybody but I like him. He also has ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, only he is bolted to a platform on the ship.  Is your vessel a large one?"  "No it is not." "Oh  I had hoped it was. Then you could have given us a ride home." He shrugged his shoulders and said "Sorry, but you will like the EARTH PEOPLE; they are friendly and helpful. If anyone can get you home it is them."  HIS questioning nature got the best of SAMPSON and he asked why you want to leave. Tthis is a big world, big enough for both your people and the EARTH FOLK. "Oh we miss our people and our home world. I was just an infant when my parents left our world and came here and then we were attacked by an unknown enemy. We do nor know were they came from or where they are."

"SAMPSON," a voice spoke within his mind. SAMPSON responded, "Yes what is it NOAH?"  "You and the couple should enter the village and call an assembly to inform the other villagers of the approaching colony ship." "Good idea," quipped SAMPSON. HE turned to the man and woman and told them that the villagers should be informed of the ship from EARTH.  TELLA and TELLIMAN thought for a while and agreed with him. "Very well then, we should call a meeting while most of the people are still in their homes."  "I quite agree," said TELLA. "To save time we will go in my hovercraft; it will only take a short time." WITH all three aboard the craft, it rose into the air and climbed to a height of a thousand feet to clear the BEHEMOTH-SIZED trees and proceeded in southerly direction, NOREEL was tending to the crops in the field, thinking about their home world, deep in thought. She did not hear the low hum of the hovercraft as it passed overhead, its shadow passing her, alerting her to the craft, and she threw down her hoe and ran in the direction of the village. "It's about time!" she shouted. "Someone from the home world has shown up!"

BY the time she had reached the village, there was a large crowed gathered around the hovercraft. Forcing her way through the huddled members of the village to the front, her gladness turned to dismay. The being stationed on the hovercraft was not from a rescue ship of her people. In fact she had never quite seen anyone like him, his skin all golden and lightly colored hair. He raised his hand for quiet. "Please everyone I must have your attention. I have some news for you. It is good news." "Well," one of them shouted, "it depends on your version of good news. "No I am not from your home world of TELLEVAR, I and my companion who is in orbit above this world are part of an advanced scouting party from a world called EARTH, and I must tell you all that there is a colony ship on its way here. It should arrive in two years more or less." SOME of them started belly aching, "Now what do we have to do to leave this world?"  "No," he explained, "they are a peaceful race. Over crowding on EARTH has forced them to migrate to other worlds." "What do they look like?," a man shouted from the rear. "They look like you."  A stunned silence fell over the villagers. "What?" "Like us we have been exploring space for five hundred years and have found no one that remotely resembles us."  "Well you did not go far enough," SAMPSON shouted out, "I see very little dissimilarities between the two races." "HOW big is this ship?" a young child asked." "Oh, it is one mile long and a half in width and thickness."  "Wow!" ne of them said "Thatís big!"  "How many people?," the same child asked? SAMPSON reached down and saw the young girl and held her close to him. "There are fifteen thousand people aboard her and they are well stocked with food and medicine and equipment, which I am sure they would be glad to share with you." "Are they the ones that attacked our colony ship?" another asked? No,"  he said, "As I said before they are peaceful, the whole of EARTH are united as one." "HOW did you learn our tongue? How did you; you probably have been spying on us looking for weakness. Well we have none."  "WE found your wrecked ship in the desert. Most of the equipment was still intact. We were able to power the instruments that were in place, with a portable generator, and managed to restart the computer and the rest is history. IN the meantime time my companion and me will stay here with you, I on the ground with you and he in a stationary orbit to smooth things over when they arrive." "Where do you sleep?" one of them asked.  "I require no sleep. I am an android and do not need rest as you do."  This revelation brought hoots and shouts. "What?" A man by the name of SIMIENEL commented, "You mean we have been cementing the relations of two groups of humans with a machine?" "Not just a machine!," cried TELLA, " sentient being and as intelligent as you or I. He has feelings and can be hurt. We should show him the same respect as we show one another."  HER chiding of the man in question brought about an apology. "You're right," the man said, "I am sorry. It's just that life has been hard here with most of our equipment smashed in the crash. It has frayed our nerves." "No apologies are necessary," SAMPSON said. "I understand your problems here." IN the I weeks that followed the meeting the pair from EARTH helped the colonists from TELLEVAR repair the broken equipment and in so much as going to the wrecked ship and bringing back all of the spare parts they could find that were not damaged in the attack.

"AS the weeks melted into months, the villagers with the help of SAMPSON constructed a storage tank for the cold river water that would be pumped into the homes of the village. A pump was designed by NOAH and built from spare parts from the colony ship and fitted into place and powered by the portable generator given them to them by NOAH. After running pipe made from the iron ore that was smelted by their recently built smelter and shaped into pipe, the power was turned on and the water flowed. A shout went up and everyone burst into tears. "WE have at least one creature comfort and you shall have more than that. Even as we speak teams of men have returned from the DERELICT with wiring for the villagerís home and with the light fixtures from it you will have light at night to see by. We are becoming a civilization again," TELLA said with tears streaming down her cheeks. "Yes thanks to our friends from EARTH, in a little while we will be able to irrigate our fields and have a bumper harvest," cried SIMIENEL, THE man who earlier was so rude to SAMPSON. THE time has slipped by so quickly, in a meeting prior to the arrival of the U.E.S.CONCORD, the huge ship now just beyond the orbit of the fifth planet. It was in constant communication with NOAH and SAMPSON. The captain of the vessel was briefed of the TELEVAR development and assured all the parties concerned that there would be no trouble. In fact the captain was excited about meeting people from another world, especially if they were another branch of humanity. NOW in high orbit around the planet, they have been advised of the attack of the unknown aliens on the first colonizers and have put in orbit automated battle stations in orbit. A total of twenty were laid, equipped with long range sensors constantly scanning space between the stars for enemies of mankind. A shuttle craft left the CONCORD with the captain aboard along with several high ranking officers and non-military personnel and came to rest just outside the village alongside the landing pod that brought SAMPSON to the surface. THE craft,  elongated with two nacelles one on each side of the shuttle, and with the name stenciled on its side BETELGEUSE, opened its iris and two guards disembarked followed by the captain and the other high ranking officers and the civilians, with the others remaining behind him he introduced himself as CAPTAIN WILLIAM BRICE and this my second in command JUDITH MASON and my communication experts JULLIAN BRINKLEY and the gentlemen behind me, this is the top civilian in charge of colonization, TODD CAMBELL and his wife JUNE. WITH all the social graces out of the way, they toured the village and all the improvements made to it. WHEN the tour was finished, the captain and the village's heads met in secret aboard the BETELGEUSE. "Well ladies and gentlemen," as he spoke SAMPSON translated for the captain, "We have put into orbit a total of twenty automated battle stations to protect everyone concerned and the CONCORD will remain in place for at least five years until planetary defenses can be built." "What about your world of EARTH?," asked the leader of the villagers STOAN GILLER, "EARTH has been advised of the current status here by sub-space radio. They have been alerted and an all-planetary defense is on standby as well as the fifth fleet patrolling the outer solar system.

 

"NOW I would like to ask permission from the village heads to start disembarking the colonists from EARTH," translating for the captain, SAMPSON asks STOAN GILLER. For that go ahead he shook his head, "Yes go ahead."  "Good," replied the captain, "and I would like to say we are more than willing to help any problem you have here."  MONTHS after the colonists had disembarked from the CONCORD, they had built settlements in various places near the mouth of the river, others further from the shore, closed the thick forests and still others on the high plateau. Huge earth moving machines labored day and night to bring the colonization of this planet to fruition. Trees were cut to provide homes. Pumping stations were installed along the banks of rivers or lakes to bring fresh filtered water to the people. THE work continued on; no one rested for very long. The settlements had to be finished before the onset of winter, although it did not get that cold during the winter season, more like NORTH CAROLINA in the fall of the year. Iron ore sites were located and mining operations started, taking care not to pollute the biosphere. Smelters were built right on the mining site. The forges glowed day and night. The colonists worked hard and the settlements were beginning to take shape. THE captain of the CONCORD and SAMPSON were discussing the wrecked ship out on the desert. "Is there anything of value in the ship?" "None," he said "everything that was of value was gutted and taken to the settlement, including the nacelles and there even talk of using the skin of the ship.Too bad, BRICE, I would have liked our technical people to have a look at the propulsion system. Warp capable, huh?"  SAMPSON shook his head "yes", but not to worry captain, I downloaded everything from the computers, especially the engines and power systems. "Well done my boy,"  forgetting that SAMPSON is an android, he grinned at the thought of being called a boy.

IN the coming months the two met often to discuss various subjects: how the settlements were doing and their relations with the TELEVARIANS. "They are very much like us," the captain mentioned to SAMPSON. "Yes they are very much like you, forgive me. I keep forgetting that you are not flesh and blood." "Thatís quite all right captain, I understand completely, and what of the planetary defenses? How are they coming along?" "They are nearly finished, counting the orbiting battle stations we have installed with plasma canyon in every settlement that includes the TELEVARIANS. A communications grid has been built to keep in contact with all the settlements and if we can get the planetary shields online we will be ready for anything. OH  SAMPSON, by the way, I would like to have a few of the aliens examined for medical reasons of course, just so see how much they are like us, if an outbreak of a virus takes place, I would like to know if they could take our medicines, I will speak to their leaders and see what they say, after all they were here first, you must not make the same mistakes your forefathers made with the NATIVE AMERICANS. You know about that do you?" "Yes I have been programmed with all the knowledge of the history of the EARTH."  "SO ask TELLA when are your medical specialists going to examine us to see how closely related they are to us."  SAMPSON looked shocked. "I have not asked yet," he said "How did you know?" "It's what we would have done if the events were reversed," she commented. "Then it's ok with your leader?" "Yes it is quite ok." "Thatís awesome," he said. "How are things proceeding here", he asked, quite well actually to what she had alluded to. WITH dealing among the tasks at hand, SAMPSON had forgotten about NOAH. "Thatís quite all right my boy," taking a line from CAPT.BRICE.  "Very good," hooted SAMPSON. "You're such a barrel of laughs, the medical check ups went without a hitch. Wow!" The amazed CAPT.BRICE commented according to these reports, "We are kissing cousins then?" "Yes the chief medical officer announced, and they will respond to our medicines too." "WE need to have all the settlements under one roof,"  CAPT.BRICE exclaimed,  including the TELEVARIANS. Do you think they would go for it?" "I donít know. So far they have gone along with anything we have asked of them. FROM the U.E.S.CONCORD the view from the observation deck is spectacular, ladies and gentlemen. We are the newcomers in this system. We would like to make one more request of you. We feel the need to have all the settlement under one government, with the leaders of each community being part of that government, so we ask our senior members to comment on the proposal, the TELEVARIANS, what  is your take on the idea  we have been discussing?"  "The possibility, since you arrived here, is that we are for it. Since you are so closely related to us, we are for the proposal. The hardest part so far is learning your language," TELLA and TELLIMAN stressed, "the sooner the better we have full support from the other members of our modest community." THEN we must work on a governing document, they all agreed and one more thing we have not given this world a name yet. "How about NEW TELEVAR?" All present gave their approval and then the gave a toast to their new beginning. WITH the planetary defenses in place and the atmospheric shield online all for the first time felt safe, secure. "Have there been any unknowns spotted?", CAPT. BRICE asked.  "We have had a few blimps on the long range sensor array but thatís all. "Have you sent out any patrols out?"  "Yes sir we have; the solar system is well defended. "And what of EARTH?  Have there been any subspace communications from them?" "Yes sir," JUDITH MASON his second in command handed him a report from EARTH, from HIGH COUNCILMAN BROCK STILLWELL. He read the report, "The defenses of the solar system have been reinforced."

HE continued to read the report. "Two new battle wagons are even now patrolling our space and they are fitted with the new warp engines and another one is nearing completion. It will be sent to bolster your defense grid; it should be there in the next six months." THE captain smiled a smile of satisfaction. "We should make this news known to our senior members, the TELEVARIANS. We should be open with them," he thought  This will make for better relations. "Also, with a planetary alliance between our two systems, we will be much stronger in case of a showdown with the unknowns," he quipped. "MEANWHILE on NEW TELEVAR, the work continues to build a thriving culture, with all of the infrastructure in place. The settlements begin to thrive. The seeds of a new civilization have been planted, schools are built, clinics, the foundations of industry, the two races mingle quite often curious about each other's cultures among other things, the once-dirt roads that connected the prospering communities are now paved highways, the freshly plowed fields are planted with new crops, both indigenous and the seeds brought from EARTH.. BY EARTH TIME it is the year 2200.A.D., a full three years after the ship from the EARTH, had arrived. The first of the new starships has arrived, a heavy cruiser, the U.E.S. DAUNTLESS, it bristles with weapons if any would be attackers show up they will be in for a surprise. THE foundations for an hydro- electric plant have been poured. It has been estimated that it will take three years to complete. When it is finally finished then full scale factories can be built and with the concerns of the nature world taken into consideration. We donít want to make the same mistakes of the past.  THE ruling council has convened for its first full session.  Then it agreed to send a contact ship to TELEVAR, a science vessel heavily armed of course since we will be going into unknown territory, plus the crew there will be three members of the original crew and three from the EARTH. You have the data for the journey there, TELLA." "Yes we do. It was downloaded from the wrecked ship." "Fine then we will reconvene a week before your departure." THE shuttle ORION carries the intended passengers up to the science vessel which is in a stationary orbit around the moon. As they approach the ship they have a chance for the first TIME to view their world since the crash. "It's a lovely world. I guess when things were hard for us, we did not appreciate its stark beauty." Hardly anyone speaks until they reach the vessel with its elongated body and the warp nacelles one on each side if the ship."

 "ORION this is the VALLEYFORGE.. You have permission to dock at launch bay five." "Understood, VALLEYFORGE, the door has been opened, but what keeps the air from rushing out," asks TELLIMAN.  "Force field," commented the pilot of the shuttle. "Oh," he says, his voice trailing away. THE captain was on hand to greet the passengers one by one as they were introduced. "Well it's like this. We must prepare for departure in two hours. Are you ready to see your home again," he asked the TELVARAINS. "Yes we are," they said at one time. CAPT. GORMAN smiled.  "LT.CASTILL will show you to your quarters; after you get settled in, meet me in the conference room. Someone will be here to guide you there. Nothing to be concerned about. Just trying to get a handle on your customs." GORMAN was waiting for them when they arrived, three TERRANS and three TELEVARIANS, "Please be seated everyone. I have called this meeting for safety reasons. We just donít want to barge into your home system unannounced. That could cause some problems. Can you fill us in on the right PROTO-CALL?" he injected. TELLA was the first to speak up, "Yes I think I can help there. Upon approaching our solar system, a coded signal must be transmitted so you wonít be attacked," she volunteered, "and upon reaching it, I will provide the right set of codes."  "Excellent," he said, "But you were very young when the crash occurred. "Yes I know they were given to me by my parents. I have memorized them." THE U.E.S. VALLEYFORGE left orbit an hour later. "Captain I see you have developed warp technology in so short a time. That is quite a jump. It took our people two hundred and fifty years before we had that kind of technology." "Yes, well it can happen." His face turned a bright red, almost like a kid caught in a cookie jar. There was a slight jar as the craft jumped into warp. "It seems you have improved upon our technology. Our ships were always a little rough when they went into warp."

 

"PLEASE donít make waves," TELLA lectured him, "we are their guests and they our friends so what if they stole our technology, the ship has been lying on the desert floor for nearly a century. If they had not found it, others would have, better our friends and allies than an enemy." "You are right, my sweet, I will behave myself,  I promise."  "LET'S go to the lounge," she urged him "and try their brews and relax; we have a journey of several weeks and who knows what can happen in the meantime." "Lead the way my love," he teased her. There were several off duty crew members talking and joking with reach other. When they entered the lounge a hush fell over the place. "Hello,"  TELLA said cheerfully  and went on their way to a table opposite the large observation window. "Wow, what a view of subspace; a milky whiteness where stars should normally be." He gave her a big grin.  "It's been an exciting two years," he said a lazy sort of way. FOR a while they both just sat there and sampled the beer which was beginning to affect them, letting down their guard and forgetting that they were among aliens. "It will be nice to see home again," TELLIMAN said in a whimsical sort of way. They had an opportunity to watch people coming and going. "They are so much like us," she said. THE time went by quickly.  "It's time for the coded signal to be sent," the captain ordered, "send for TELLA." "Yes sir,"  LT.CASTILL remarked. Two crewmen found her in the lounge getting to know the various men and women who frequented the place.  "The captain requests your presence on the bridge," one of them said, a tall muscular young man with blonde hair.  She said, "Yes, right away, it's time to send the signal or we might mistakenly be shot at. Very well, let's go," she cooed. The door to the bridge hissed open and in walked TELLA proud and cocky. "You wanted to see me," she shouted. It was the beer talking, the captain noticed right away and just smiled.  "Yes," he said in a pleasant voice. "WE are nearing the space of your world and we want to let your people know we are coming. We donít want to surprise them. Now, if you please, the code."  She handed him a slip of paper. "Here you go, CAPT.BRICE, thank you."  "TELLA, stay for a while. We may need you to reassure them." "Consider it done captain," the communications officer fed the codes into the navigation computer and transmitted the coded numbers with the subspace radio. THE minutes seemed like hours. So far no answer. "Are you sure about those codes?", the captain asked her. "Yes I am sure." The effects of the alcohol were wearing off and her speech became more coherent. THE young officer sat at the monitoring station when the code of prime numbers began registering on the computer. "Send for the commander," he ordered one of the junior officers. "Yes sir,  right away."  The orbiting platform was used for repairs to ships, unloading cargo from other worlds and monitoring for the ships of the CORRIDON, a raider species. They were more of a headache than a threat. There ships would lay in wait for passing cargo ships and colonists on their way to some new world discovered in the area of the nebula. "WHAT is it?" ordered the commander of the platform. "Sir an obsolete code which has not been used in nearly a century." "How far away he said."  "Just outside the solar system.  Could be a trap by the raiders or pirates," the young officer said. "Signal them in our tongue and see what happens in the meantime. I will divert two battle-ready cruisers to escort them in." ON the VALLEY FORGE, there were long moment of nervousness not knowing what to expect. "Sir there's a message coming in and it's in TELLAíS language." "What does it say," he asked her. "They have ordered us to approach at low planetary speeds." "Excellent!," shouted CAPT.BRICE.  "Helmsmen, sub light speeds," he ordered and the ship proceeded with caution at yellow alert. "Sir there are two blimps on our sensors." "Do nothing, just proceed as ordered."  The blimps became military craft. THE captain of one of the escort vessels viewed the mysterious ship. "It's not one of the raider ships and not one of ours, so that makes it an unknown, a new species. Then perhaps," he said with excitement, "Come alongside of her," he ordered not to close. They might take it as a sign of an aggressive move. "Radio this ISSUE message to command headquarters. "The ship is of unknown design, not a raider ship." The GRAND ADMIRAL looked at the report.  "Well this is interesting."  The three ships approached the space platform. The commander warned LT.CASTILL, "They have activated a tractor beam. Well then shut off the engines and let them guide us in."  "Yes sir," he said. THE ship was docked in a large cargo bay, with the landing pads extended. On the view screen they could see a group of people approaching the VALLEYFORGE. "They are your people, TELLA," BRICE said. "Test the outside air." Corpsmen had already done it, slightly richer in oxygen, but otherwise safe to breathe. "OK then let's go and meet our cousins. You will lead the delegation with your husband bringing up the rear and no weapons. We donít want to start a war.

THE exit door slid aside without so much as a whisper and TELLA appeared first with her hands up as if to show her people, they were without weapons in her own tongue. She introduced herself and said that she had been a member of the colony ship FLAME STAR. The crowd look stunned. That ship was presumed lost with all hands aboard. "We were attacked by an unknown ship and then we crashed in a desert on the world we have been living on for nearly a century. Then we found some new friends." "Oh, who"? the commander asked. She then motioned for the others to disembark. NO ONE was prepared for what they would see next, four figures appeared all human. "What  in the world, they are human, from where?," he said.  "A world called EARTH, eleven hundred light years from here." "Why they are the spitting image of us, nearly,"  he said. "THEY had sent a huge colony ship to the solar system we have been living in. bThey saved us from slow death." "Welcome to our world," he echoed.  They thanked him in his tongue. "CAN you believe this, humans from another unknown world and possible allies?" TELLA and TELLIMAN both went to the observation deck to view their world. It was shimmering with early morning sunlight. The view caused both of them to shed tears.  Finally she said, "Home, I thought we would never see it again!" He hugged her and held her for some time. "We owe the people of earth quite a lot. We'll start by speaking up for them at the council meeting that is going to be held, so much is happening in so short a time."  THE shuttle touched down on the TARMACK with ease and the engines roared to a stop; shortly thereafter the outer hatch opened and the passengers disembarked, three TERRANS and five TELIVARIANS, an odd-looking group. There was a large crowd on hand. The news of the alien humans had spread quickly and they came to see their cousins from another star. "An alliance you say," remarked one man, "if this is true better times are ahead for us and dire straits for the CORRIDONS, those beastly reptiles anyway."  People were pushing their way forward to get a look. "It's they who are like us," a woman said. BRICE, LT.CASTILL, and SAMPSON were hurried into a waiting land vehicle and it drove off into the misty morning. THEY passed over the streets of a graceful and beautiful city. There were few people on the streets this early in the morning. They were rushed down the broad avenues. They turned off by a tall building that looked like it might be the seat of government, and then turned right and drove into a basement garage. As they exited the vehicle and were ushered into an elevator and slid a card with special markings on it, the door hissed closed and they were hurried up the elevator shaft. WHEN it stopped the door opened to reveal a party of men and women who welcomed them to their world. "If you would, please follow us," a middle-aged man said, and they entered a plush room with seating for about two hundred. At the podium stood a young, graceful woman, After ever one was seated, she spoke. "I wish to welcome the people of the EARTH to our humble world. We owe you much." CAPT.BRICE spoke up with great emotion. "Reward is not necessary," he told them. "Our reward is knowing there is another human species dwelling among the stars and I have been authorized to establish diplomatic relations with you and to establish a trading agreement and a mutual pact to come to the aid of your world in case we are attacked by some future enemy." EVERYONE of the TELIVARIANS looked surprised. This is what they secretly hoped for, and now it was going to come true. From his briefcase, CAPT. BRICE pulled out a treaty. "This is written in your language. Please read it carefully and then, so that they wonít be any misgivings, and if you feel it straight with you ,sign it and we will do the same." "Captain you have taken all of the work out of it. We felt it was necessary to push this treaty through." AFTER several days they met again with the EARTH PEOPLE. "We extend greetings and tell you the treaty meets with our approval and we are prepared to sign it this day." "Excellent!," BRICE said, "this is going to be a great day for both of our peoples!" There was much fanfare from everyone present. AFTER the signing of the peace treaty, the travelers from EARTH were given the grand tour of the planet, which included visits to their industrial base, where components of their starships were built. Then they got down to serious business. The problem of the CORRIDONS issue - hey are a cowardly bunch  - they hit a run, usually attack unarmed freighters, or the lone scout ships although they have been know to attack a new colony, which have not had time to erect defenses. "Have you had any trouble with them," asked MEEACK, the head of the council.  "No, in fact your people are the first intelligent race weíve met. We have been listening for more then a century for signals and have picked up nothing."

"WE like your proposal of joint military patrols in the effected sectors. Then it is agreed, in two of your months, two new cruisers will hook up with your ships and that way they can cover more areas. They will be needed since cargo ships will be coming and going to your planet," commented MEEACK. "Well then let us toast to a new era of peace and prosperity for both our worlds.". BACK on board the VALLEYFORGE CAPT.BRICE and his staff were making ready to leave for ALPHA CENTAURI and then the EARTH. BOTH TELLA and TELLIMAN were returning with them, SAMPSON would stay behind an as a go-between for both worlds and as for NOAH he would be refitted with warp engines and a new android for further explorations closer to home.

IN two months, as promised by BRICE, two brand new cruisers were provided, coated with a composite material that would soak up any scanner beams or radar. In fact they were stealth ships.   The three warships from TELIVAR would have missed them completely if the recognition signal had not been given. Greetings came from the cruisers LEXINGTON and COLORADO. "Welcome, men of EARTH are ready to give the enemy a bloody nose?" asked the senior commander of the three TELIVAR ships. "Yes we are, but we have never been a combat situation," CAPTAIN BOWMAN said, "so you will have to be patient with us while we learn." THE five ships split up, with one of the TELIVARIANíS ships going with the ships from EARTH. "All right gentlemen, be smart; we are in dangerous territory. They could jump us at any time. CROG, we have two possible targets on the scanners and they are moving in our direction." "Excellent,"  he said, "we are three and they are two and an even match Iíd say." His reptile eyes glowed with the thought of battle. "We will destroy the warm blooded mammals. It's us or them," but deep inside of his mind he had his misgivings, "I donít know. This does not feel right.  We will not win this fight. In fact we will not survive it."  CLOSER and closer the human ships came until they were in range, still just two targets. CROG fire attacked. The three raiders at full speed came at them with all their weapons blazing. Suddenly they were taking fire from an unseen ship. The lead ship was destroyed along with GROG. The other two were seriously damaged and took flight and retreated. "What happened," the captain of one of the two surviving ships roared, "I donít know. The scanners showed only two vessels, but GROGíS ship took hits from another ship. They must have they developed a cloaking device. I donít know," hissed DORGíEL the scanner specialist. WHAT roared and hissed?" the EMPEROR of the CORRIDON EMPIREsaid. "The humans have developed a cloaking device. Why then were the other ships without cloaking devices?"

"I donít have an answer. For all I know our lead ship took hits from an unseen craft. If they have developed such a device, then the battle is lost and it will spell the end of our empire." THE five ships returned to port, their crews flushed with success. Wow,  five kills in all, and they did not have a chance. "Is your government willing to share the secret of the stealth ship?" "Yes, then together we will rule this sector of space, and we have five stealth ships under construction," remarked  CAPT.BOWMAN. "WE are to remain here with your people and instruct your military on how to use the stealth technology." CAPT.BOWMAN stated it is an old technology, dating back three hundred years  UPON locating the captain who was resting at a pool while watching the women of this world swimming, "Captain I have news from your world. They are sending three more ships to assist us here in our battle with the raiders." LOMAIVIC's statement was fairly correct. He had already had been briefed before they left SOL. They should be here in three weeks. Wiith the combination of your ships and ours, we should be able take the battle to the enemy." THE ships that arrived included one fighter carrier and two battle wagons. "With your six stealth ships and our combined fleet we will be victorious," LOMIVIC expressed, who was the chief of operations for his world. "We have for some time known where the enemy home world is located  IT is a brilliant giant star located on the other side of the DRAGON NEBULA, that is your name for it. We called it the HORSE HEAD NEBULA," BOWMAN interjected. "Well it does not matter what name it goes by, all that matters is that we crush the bothersome raiders."

WITHIN two weeks they were ready for the invasion of the CORRIDON EMPIRE. A total of twenty ships, most coming from TELIVARIANS, engaged the enemy while the stealth ships attacking their ship-building yards and attacking their war making abilities which involved their factories. No civilians were to be involved. BY the morning the task force had left their territory and set a course for the other side of the nebula. They were picked up by an outpost inside the nebula. All fourteen ships. A signal was sent to the EMPEROR. "So they are brave enough to enter our territory - we will give them a battle they will never forget," he said. While the main force broke off to engage the CORRIDON fleet, the six vessels from EARTH headed for the home planet of the raiders and their space-borne ship- building yards. THE main force of TELIVAR SHIPS engaged the enemy with hit and run tactics. The enemy's fleet had them outnumbered by two to one. These tactics drew them further and further away from the raiderís home territory, and that was the cue for the stealth ships to attack the ship yards and the home world of the enemy. CORRIDONS two ships attacked the shipyards, taking them totally by surprise. "Where is the fire coming from?" commanded DORKí TAR, "I do not know," replied his subordinate, "There are no ships on the scanners." " EXCELLENT" remarked CAPT.BOWMAN, "we have destroyed the shipyards, nothing much left. Just some smothering twisted metal." The word had reached the EMPEROR, who grew steadily worried how they could  do this. The other four ships began their attack, unseen by the enemy scanners. The carrierís fighters attacked from out of the direction of the sun, while the battle wagons dropped H-BOMBS on the factories and military bases. The EMPEROR was terrified at the destruction happening around him. In disbelief he boarded an escape craft and with an escort left the planet, not knowing that the fighters from the carrier were converging on them. His ship was rocked with lethal fire. The main bridge was on fire. In his hopelessness he caught a glimpse of the fighters that were attacking them. It was not an TELIVAR ship. Its design was alien, so he thought they had found allies. With their combine fleets they were able to overcome the might of their fleet. All is lost. The home world lies in ruin, with the exception of a few small ships the fleet was gone. These unknowns had tipped the balance of power in this sector. Those were the last thoughts he summoned for in an instant he was dead alone with his ship. THERE were joyous celebrations back at TELIVAR. "Well at long last we are free of the raiders and no loss to a single ship, neither TERRAN or TELIVARIANS. Now at long last we can again begin colonizing other worlds and building a true interstellar civilization along with our friends and allies the people of EARTH."  Never had so many owed some much to so few.  CAPT.BOWMAN handed the high councilman LOMAIVIC a letter he received from EARTH. Three of the stealth ships were to be handed over to their new allies, with complete plans on how to build them. With the usual goodbye and emotions of tears, the allies said farewell, and with that the overloaded ships left for home, for EARTH!

 

 

THE END

 

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