The Voyage of the Lizbet

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10

Chapter 10

When the scout ships docked in hangar 2, Lt. Col. Schmidt’s voice was on the P. A. “Alright crews,” he said.“S. O. P. Pilots and crews of Grapevine and ‘Mashie‘, get ready for inspection.”The ships locked down in their positions and they opened everything up.After returning from a mission ships were always thoroughly inspected.There was no way to fail these inspections.They were to make sure that the ship was in perfect operating condition.If it was not they were to note and make any repairs that needed to be made.They would also replenish any supplies that were needed.

“Wing Commander,” Col. Schmidt said to Lt. Arden. “I want a full report of your mission by 13 hundred hours.”That was in about 3 hours.“You’ll have it sir,” Lt. Arden said.When the inspection was over he told Lt. Campbell, “I need a full report from you by 1200 hours.”

“I’ll get right on it,” she said. She then went to speak to Sgt. Collins while Lt. Arden spoke to Sgt. Jones and the two Ensigns.He gave them until 1100.That was in about an hour.That way he would have time to look them over and question them about their reports and make any corrections to written reports that would need to be made.

The General’s personal shuttle went into the much smaller hangar 1. It was there that the two shuttles were kept, one that was being used at the moment and one that was on standby.He let his pilot get ready for the inspection by Lt. Gen. McCoy.

That personage was at the time on the bridge. “We got an-other beacon,” he informed the General when the General went there.“This one is from a Laokan crew.”

“Does it indicate a space faring civilization?” the General asked. In the background a human navigator was adding the planets of the Arvorian system to the 3D display just above his head and stifling a yawn as he did so.

“Yes,” Col McCoy said. “Co-ordinates are 1, 1, 3.These people would have met the Arvorians in a few years anyhow.”

“Thank-you, Marc. Now could you give my shuttle a quick check.I don’t think it will need much, but with another discovery so soon, we are going to have to keep on top of these things.”

“Right,” Marcus McCoy agreed. But he did give one order first.“Helm, change course, 1,1,3.”

“Changing coursse to 1,1,3,” Maj. Sissass repeated. Her hands worked the controls and the ship made the change.They avoided the outer planets on their way out of the system.They would remain at sub light speeds.The human working on the 3D display shook off his sleepiness and worked faster.

Lt. Arden got his reports on time. He did not feel any great need to question Sgt. Jones except on one subject.“What did they do to the ship?”

“Just what you’d expect,” Jones said. “They reverse engineered it enough to discover that there were no great differences between their designs and ours.They are probably just grateful to know that their designs will work.They didn’t even scratch up our paint job.”

“Good,” said Alexander. “Send 2nd Lt. Clearwater to me.”Sgt. Collins got there before 2nd Lt. Clearwater did.He asked her the same question he did Sgt. Jones and got the same answer.As Sgt. Collins left 2nd Lt. Clearwater came in.

“You wanted to speak to me, sir?” 2nd Lt.. Clearwater asked.

“Yes,” Lt. Arden said. “I was going over your report.Why did you say that you thought we were negligent when we let them take the ships?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “It just seemed to me that it was easier than it should have been for them.”

“Do you know why it was done?” Lt. Arden asked.

“No,” 2nd Lt. Clearwater admitted.“It was done,” Lt. Arden was now instructing his student, “to convince them that we were really there on a peaceful mission.We could tell them that we did not have any weapons.But that would not be nearly as effective as showing them that we did not.I told them that we did not build weapons of mass destruction any more.Do you think that they believed me?”

“I don’t know sir,” the 2nd Lt. answered.

“I am almost certain that they did not,” the Lt. continued. “But I do believe that they would believe their own scientists when they said that there were no significant weapons on our ships.If we’d been there, they would have thought that we were trying to hide something.This way it was obvious that we were hiding nothing and that we didn’t have the weapons.”

Lt. Arden also called 2nd Lt. Smith into his office.“I wanted to ask you about your report,” he said.“Yes, sir,” she said, sounding very enthusiastic.“I take it you rather enjoyed the situation,” he commented.“Well not all of it,” she said.“But it was very interesting meeting a whole new race of people for the first time.What did you want to ask me about?”“Actually you’ve answered all my questions,” the Lt. said.

The next few days were a sort of R&R for the crew. Sgt. Jones managed to reconnect with his son, especially when Arben discovered that there were some father-son activities planned every few days for those boys whose fathers had not been there for others.He and Jabin managed to make it to a father- son 0 - g ballgame held in the 0-g gym at the ships core, right next to the large main engines.Jabin Jones explained some of the intricacies of the game to his son.“The purpose,” he said, “is to give our pilots and crews the ability to move with subtleness in space.Here is where they learn and practice the moves that they use on EVA’s in space when that has to be done.There is only one goal and the object is to get the ball through it to score points.This can only be done if your team is in official possession of the ball.While you are trying to do that, the other team tries to stop you.”That was all the further he got before Arben yawned.He didn’t get to explain that teams were usually three men, women, or of both sexes.

Alex had a chance to take Cate Carstairs to dinner again. They went to the O Club where the McInnis twins were entertaining again.He also had supper with his father and sister again.He also took in a 0-g ballgame.

2nd Lt. Clearwater and 2nd Lt. Smith visited the O club and some friends aboard the Lizbet .They also spent sometime writing letters home.They tried to convey how they felt meeting a new intelligent species for the first time.But that was difficult since so much of the mission was secret for now.They could not give any indication of where they were or what species it was that they contacted.In fact the only thing they really could discuss was their own emotional reaction to what had happened.

After a few days the crews were assigned to the same ships and sent out again. The Lizbet had picked up some new broadcasts. For the Grapevine this mission turned out a bit differently than the first one had.They were headed into an area that was more particle dense then they had been in.

“Change course to pick up our pilots,” Lt. Gen. McCoy ordered. He took the report to Gen. Arden.“This doesn’t look good, Ev.” he said.“Eviss says that these people are too war like to contact.”

The information that came in from Lt. Eviss when they came within the system was not good. “We are reading radiation in their atmosphere,” he reported to the Lizbet .“We believe that indicated weaponss testing.We have also noted the recent use of weapons on variouss sspace bodiess in their system.We have retreated out of what we think iss their range and are waiting for pick-up.It iss my considered opinion that we should not contact thesse people and as the senior officer here that is what I am officially advissing Lizbet .”He also up loaded the scientific readings from both ships.At the same time he up loaded what appeared to be a recent newscast.It was full of references to war and to violent crimes.

“What does the evidence look like?” Gen. Arden asked.

“Supports him pretty well,” Marcus said. “I’ve ordered a change in course to pick him up.”Gen. Arden looked it over quickly and agreed.“We’d better mark this system as off limits for the time being.Give them another couple of generations before contact.”

“Right,” Marcus said. He returned to the bridge and gave the necessary orders.The space buoy was ejected out one of Lizbet’s ports.It began broadcasting and the communications officer blocked the coherent signals coming from that system.Within a couple of hours their pilots were aboard and the ’Lizbet was on her way out of the system and toward more particle dense space.

“This area is particle dense,” McCoy informed General Arden. “Right,” the General said.“Advise all hands to be on their toes.”

The Lt. General made an announcement to the ship at large. “Attention, attention.We are now entering a particle dense part of space to pick-up some of our pilots.All hands should be prepared.If there should be a sudden loss of pressure standard L.O.P. procedures will be followed.No E,V,A’s will be permitted until we are out of this area of space.Any current E.V.A. parties to be recalled now.”That now was clearly an order.Responses were not required.Doing it immediately was.As it happened Lt. Gen. McCoy knew that there were no E.V.A. parties scheduled out now.But in space one did not take the chance that an emergency did not require a quick E.V.A.But there were no E.V.A’s out now.Reports came back from all over the ship that all departments were prepared.The Lizbet changed course.

“Contact our ships that are out,” the General ordered the communications officer currently on duty on the bridge. “Tell them we are going to change course to pick-up the …” He paused a moment.Lt. Gen McCoy checked the computer record.“The ISSS Igasuu,” he supplied.“…the ISSS Igasuu, all ships are to await new rendezvous points.”

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