The Voyage of the Lizbet

All Rights Reserved ©

6

Chapter 6

In space the flight of the small ships was uneventful. At sublight speeds it took the ships a little more than a day to reach their assigned systems. They began their surveys with the outer most planets.This was done in case the Lizbet was in need of using their raw materials.She had some shuttles aboard that were capable of limited mining operations for ele-ments that could be converted into fuel.They also tracked more of the transmissions. When they got pic-ture and sound they tried to make a dictionary for the computer so that it could automatically translate what was said.

Lieutenant Arden, Sergeant Jones and 2nd Lt. Clearwater were sur-prised at the inner planets. Mechanical sentries challenged them, and their dictionary was not yet complete.Gold 2 with Lieutenant Campbell, Sergeant Collins, and 2nd Lt. Smith were similarly challenged.

“What should we do?” 2nd Lt. Clearwater asked. Just then Lt. Campbell radioed for instruct-tions.Jabin Jones looked at Lt. Ar-den.He knew how much his com-mander hated repeating himself.

“First,” the Lieutenant said, “we send out an all frequencies hail and see what frequency they respond to us on. Then we begin sending them a mathematical progression starting with binaries.”

“Why do we do that?” 2nd Lt. Clearwater asked Sergeant Jones.

“Because these mechanicals oblivi-ously came from a space faring civil-ization,” the Sergeant explained. “They have to understand mathematics.”

The sentinels began communicating with their base. Lt. Arden immedi-ately radioed the other ship.“They are communicating with their base,” he said.“Get a lock on that freque-ncy.We will use a frequency one tenth above it.They should be able to hear us, but have some trouble eavesdropping.”

“Roger,” Lt. Campbell responded.

“Why is he doing that?” Clearwater asked.

“Because early space faring civiliza-tions frequently expect it. It would be reassuring to them.They are often still war like, or just past their war like phase.Our acting as though we don‘t want them to hear us mimics what they would be likely to do if the roles were reversed.” Jones explained.

“2nd Lt.,” The Lieutenant com-manded, “start the beacon to the Lizbet .Let them know that we have something and that they should change their course towards us.”

“Aye-aye” the 2nd Lt. said.

A moment later Lt. Campbell radioed. “We are receiving images now.”

“S.O.P.,” Lt. Arden responded. “Send it back to them with the next figure on the list.”

“What do we send them?” 2nd Lt. Clearwater asked Sergeant Jones.

“It depends on what they sent us.” Sgt Jones responded. “If they send us too lines at a 90 angle, we send it back with the square.If they send us an arc we send it back and complete the circle.If they send us two lines at more or less then 90°, we complete the triangle and send other shapes that might also fit.”

“All ships,” Alexander Arden called out to get their attention. “It looks like they are sending us a periodic table now.Trainees, how quickly can you get this information organized?”

“Immediately sir,” 2nd Lts. Clear-water and Smith responded.

“Do it,” he said and turned off the radio. “Sgt Jones, get something to eat.I’ll monitor the sensors for a while.”

He no sooner took station at the sensors than 2nd Lt. Clearwater called him over to the computer console that he was sit ting at.“What is this sir?” he asked.

“It looks as though they are high-lighting some of the elements,” Arden said. “Those could be elements that they need to sustain their lives. If they match us closely direct contact may be possible.Keep a check on those and have the computer do an analysis of them.”

A few minutes later the chart had been sent. Within less than five minutes the computers on both ships had finished their analysis of the marked items.“It appears that those elements are necessary to their lives,” 2nd Lt. Clearwater report-ed.“It also appears that they occur on their home world in amounts that are within human norm.”

Other elements began to come in that were also marked. “My guess is,” Lt. Arden began and paused a moment to look at the chart, “these are the elements that are poisonous to them in sufficient quantity.”

“Analysis of the atmosphere indica-tes that these are trace elements only,” Clearwater reported.

“Fine,” Lt Arden said sounding a bit tried. “S.O.P., send them a copy of the analysis and another to the Lizbet .”

In the meantime, aboard the Lizbet General Arden was just arriving home for supper.“I won’t be eating with you tonight, Dad.”Jamie said.“I have a date with Ian McInnis.”

“You’re having dinner with one of the McInnis twins?” her father asked, not quite wanting to believe what he heard.

“Yes,” she said with an air of finality that made him realize that she would brook no argument with her plans.

“Where is he planning to take you?” Evander Arden asked. The question was almost moot.There really was only one place for a young officer to take a date, the O club.

“The O club,” Jamie confirmed.

“Well, I really don’t want to eat alone tonight,” he said. “I think I’ll eat at the O mess.”

“The Officer’s Mess,” Jamie said, incredulous. “You’re going to eat with the bachelor officers?”

“What’s so strange about that?” the General asked. “I ate there all the time before I was married.”

“45 Years ago,” Jamie said. “Before you were General Arden.”

“Food is food and company is com-pany,” the General said. “Besides, it’ll do some of those young men good to see me.”

“Well whatever you like,” Jamie came out of her room looking very nice. She fastened a string of pearls in place.The door chime sound-ed.“There’s Ian now,” she said.“You have a good time tonight.”She gave him a peck on the cheek and then flitted out the door.

“Hay,” the General called after the two young people, “don’t I even get to say hello to him.” But they were gone down the passageway.

The General showed up at the O mess and paid for his meal. “Gen-eral,” the Sergeant at Arms said, “We weren’t expecting you sir.”

“That’s alright,” the General said. “I wasn’t expecting to be here.What’s on the menu tonight?”

“Swedish Meatballs,” The S. A. A. responded. “It’s a favorite among the crew.”

“Sounds good,” the General said. “I’ll have some of that.”Looking into the mess, he saw some of his young-er officers sitting in groups engaged in animated discussions of various types.He hated to interrupt them when they were obviously having a good time enjoying each other’s company.So he found a table by himself and began to eat his meal.

A moment later a familiar voice said, “May I join you Ev.”

“Sure, Leach,” Ev replied. Dr. Jer-emy McInnis sat down beside him. “By the way, I wanted to ask you about your latest misses.What’s her name?”

“I don’t know,” Leach said. “I’m betwixt and between at the moment. Abigail just divorced me.I got the word just before the Lizbet left.One of my nurses consoled me a bit the other day, but it’s too soon to know if that will turn into anything or not.”

At that point they were interrupted by a young officer asking, “May I join you gentlemen?”

“Of course Jack,” the General said. “Your father and I were just getting caught up.So what does that make Jere, #5?”

“You’re caught up pretty well, Ev,” Jeremy said. “It’s actually #6.”

“What about you Jack?” Ev asked.

“Ian and I stopped counting with Marcy,” he said. “She was one of the best step mothers we ever had.But neither one of us has taken the plunge yet.”

“I’m glad,” the General said. “You know that he’s having dinner with my daughter Jamie tonight,”

“Of course,” Jack said. “He was very taken with how she turned out.”

“I hope not too taken,” her father said.

“Don’t worry,” his father reassured. “He’ll be a gentleman.”

“Besides,” the brother added, “What officer in his right mind would mess with the commander’s daughter?” The men finished their meal somewhat reassured.

On the bridge things began to hap-pen. Lights lit and the communica-tions station beeped.“We have a contact,” the communications officer told Maj. Cariss, a male Laokan who had the duty that night.

“What ssort of contact,” the Major hissed.

“Beacons,” she said. She listened for a moment to get the identifiers from the beams.“One from the Mashie and another from the Grapevine.”

“Put me through to the General,” the Major commanded. When there was no response in his quarters the com-munications officer put the Major on ship wide page “General Evander Arden, please report to the bridge. General Evander Arden, please report to the bridge.”

Report to the bridge did not neces-sarily mean go to the bridge, as the General was well aware. He simple stepped to the nearest comm. board and punched the button for the bridge.“General Arden here,” he said.

“Sir,” the Major reported, “We have a beacon contact with the Grapevine and the Mashie.They were assigned to patrol a system bearing -3, -3, -5 from our present position.”The co-ordinates meant that they would have to backtrack a little. If the Lizbet dared do that at light speed it would take them about 7½ hours to go the indicated 5 au.But because this area of space was largely un-charted, the Lizbet would take about 3 weeks to get there.

“Change course to met them,” was the General’s first order. “Notify all ships.Those that are close enough are ordered to return to the ship.The others will have to wait for us to come to them.”At that time there were no ships that were so far away that they could not return to the ship.As the mission went on, the only thing that would keep a ship from returning to the mother ship when ordered to do so would pro-bably be damage.The systems get-ting closer together would make that possible.

He went back to his table, leaned over, and whispered to Leech McInnis “I’d better go back to the bridge. It seems that Alexander’s found something.”

“Right,” Leach said. “Well after all that is what we are here for, isn’t it.”All the passengers felt the ship as she changed course.Soon they were all murmuring that someone must have found something.

In other ways life aboard ship was unchanged. Mareesha Jones pre-pared dinner for the children and over saw them doing their home-work.Jamie had dinner with Ian and then had him take her to the obser-vation deck.They enjoyed viewing the stars and did not even realize that the Lizbet had changed cour-se.Most persons who did not have a lot of experience in space would notice.Unless the ship had to reverse course in an emergency the turns would be more like a gentle sliding to one side.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.