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 Outside - Reasons to Exist

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PostSubject: Outside - Reasons to Exist   April 5th 2010, 8:18 am

Outside - Story Eight
Reasons to Exist

Part 1

This is Malcolm, and this story starts as I was just coming on the bridge. After the discovery of Zulunut, the shift for the pilots no longer matched up with helm. The exchange of pilots would not occur for a couple of hours, however it was getting time for me to replace Darlene. As I entered the bridge, I noticed the lady buzz Clover's room. He was one that normally was quick to respond, but it took a few attempts before Naomi's voice returned over the speaker.

"He is awake, Darlene, but we thought that we had almost an hour more."

The tone in her voice caused me to sit while I mumbled, "Damn, now I am horny."

Darlene smiled at me before saying, "Tell Clover that I have been handling transmissions from the Ghandi. The responsibility for Doug has shifted to that vessel. While we had the old man awake, a test of his systems was performed. Clover is needed to verify the data and assure that there will be a meeting when we get to our next system. He is to go on duty in about an hour, so I felt he had better work with Doug's ship now."

Clover's voice now sounded, "Thank you, Darlene. I will be coming."

I asked, "What did the military find wrong?"

"Nothing, really, but Doug was way beyond our maps, and he is heading to a system that has not been locked in. The military just wants a verification of vector crossings. They are making the effort to come out to Doug, and don't want the trip to be for nothing."

Star mapping was one of those science-fiction jokes that had come to be a serious reality. The information received by Inside observatories is old data due to the time it takes for light to travel. It also is not very accurate due to problems of having to measure over the large distances where gravity can slowly bend the signals. The original travelers into deep space trusted that their astronomers had gained good data, but found discrepancies. You now cannot gain a permanent claim to a system without acquiring exact reading on a number of details. In the early days there were no good tachyon transmissions, so some early claims fell into disrepute when others arrived and double-checked the readings. Now, you can have Inside astronomers arguing with you even as you are looking at what you are talking about. Yes, we map stars.

Clover came into the bridge. I looked back to the kitchen to see if Naomi was about to make breakfast for her husband. He saw me look, so gave me some information.

"My wife is coming, but is taking a shower. What do you want for breakfast?"

"I will eat whatever she cooks. She does a hell-of-a-lot more trying to keep us healthy than Terry. Is she being paid?"

Darlene seconded my words, "Yeah, Clover; I don't remember any bargain between you and Thor."

Clover answered, "I believe it is Terry who needs to check his contract. He was getting double-pay as Chemist and Medical Officer. Both are secured positions upon a vessel with set salaries and bonuses. You can contract for better, but Inside law states a minimum pay scale."

Naomi arrived during those statements, and asked her husband as she came to kiss him, "I am getting paid?"

"Yes, but it is not much. Darlene is correct about us not negotiating with Thor. It is however on record before witnesses that Terry gave up his position as Medical Officer and Thor hired you for that position."

Darlene asked, "Does she get a share?"

"One."

"None of us make good money, Naomi. That one share could end up being more than your salary." Darlene saw Clover point to her board, and she winked stating that she understood that others were listening. "I am certain that Zulunut already has the ship running at a profit."

Thor broke into the conversation by saying, "It was, but I ordered a whole extra load of food. I like the way Naomi cooks, and am considering my health improving because of it."

I watch our numbers, so felt a drain to my eventual pocketbook. Knowing that there was a military vessel coming out to us, there was a possibility that Thor was telling the truth. Clover must have seen my change of expression, because he stated certain facts.

"I bought the food, because I am enjoying her cooking. We really don't have room for it, but Thor gave me permission to use a repair bay."

The captain of the ship said, "Yes, but I am also stating that we need to eat it first. No more MREs until that extra food bin is empty."

A female voice screamed over the speaker, "Out!"

Darlene cut the Kert field around the ship even as all eyes turned to the sensors. A number were immediately concerned because the regular routine was not followed. A code to cut the tachyon transmissions was supposed to be first, so we could evaluate things before others learned about them. Indigo was also supposed to shout something other than, 'Out.' Darlene understood that she was broadcasting, which meant that there would be no way to hide the fact that something had happened. She thus simply began the chatter.

"Speak to me, Sharon. What happened?"

"I would say that I was hit by a missile, Darlene. My ship however is showing no damage. My Kert field is not forming however, and there is some black stuff over my windows."

The entire ship could be run from the main console. Not only could all controls be brought up on the board that Darlene and I worked at, but it tracked what ship activities others performed. I thus noticed Thor opened up a board accessing the maneuvering controls of the ship as Darlene worked with the pilots.

"Felix, what is your status?"

"Excuse me for not responding, but I am checking the data. I see what hit Indigo. It was not a missile, but whatever this is also will only show up on the sensors if you alter the settings."

Thor had to speak in response to that, "What did you have to do with your settings?"

"There are carbon accumulates in this section of space. Some are big, but none are dense. Put Sandra on the speaker."

With the fact that a shift change was about to occur, I suspected that Harley would soon be coming to her station. It would also be time for me to begin my job. Thor however was already active working with the pilots while Darlene checked the operations of the ship. I thus simply leaned back until I was put to work. I listened as the groggy voice of Sandra responded to Darlene’s call after overriding the personal lock on our mechanic’s intercom. Once that was done, I came alert as Thor’s voice started issuing commands.

"Darlene, you are off duty. No complaints, but I am taking over and I know you don’t like that. Malcolm, work with Felix to get information on this stuff. I have us moving to Indigo."

Some Outsider listening in stated his own desires. "Get a spectrum scan on this stuff. There are other reports of such objects, but they did not answer any questions. No money in this, but you are on the spot."

Thor strongly responded, "Understood." He then mumbled, "Not like Terry is doing anything anyway."

The distant voice asked, "Can you send visuals?"

It was Felix that answered, "It is all various shades of black, but transmitting visuals now. Waiting on our mechanic before advancing on targets."

I managed to say, "Visuals being broadcast," before Sandra activated a speaker to speak to Felix.

"The engine is reporting a high degree of impurities in the return gas. The composition of contaminants is mostly carbon. The density is primarily non-solid, meaning we are dealing mostly with single molecules."

"Basically what I am seeing Sandra. My accumulation tank is however showing some particles."

Before our mechanic could reply, our screens responded to a visual signal besides that from his cameras. It was a computer image of our saucer people. I was not at all interested in seeing that computer image, so quickly switched the signal for the main screen back to what our pilots were seeing. Switching the view however did nothing to prevent us from hearing what our shadows had to say.

"Those are accumulations of your own weaponry. You are suffering from the remnants of one, if not more, feuds by people of your kind. That is why we are needed to oversee this mission. Those of other civilizations must be assured of their own safety as they meet humanity for the first time."

Clover was the one that responded, "Ignoring the fact that there are trace elements in the missiles to identify them for purposes of litigation after a conflict…"

"And we saved some of the dust for that purpose."

"Not that we would deny it. Anyway, the drift of these particles does not map back to any large skirmish."

I had to ask, "Uh, Clover, just how many large skirmishes are on record?"

"With missiles?"

I knew the answer, but just wanted to rub the truth in the face of our saucer friends. "Yeah, Clover, how many large skirmishes with missiles, especially carbon ones, are on record?"

"None. As in the case with this mission, one well placed missile ends a conflict. Those doing illegal activities don't like them, because if they are hit by a missile then they are caught. The military uses blasters, giving support for the conspiracy theory that they finance the illegal activity to justify their existence."

I picked up on the line of thought, "Which means, they aren't ours. We aren't as war-like as our saucer people wants everyone to believe. While we are in the area, we might need to check things, because this carbon might belong to aliens. The saucer people might not be wanting to tag along to protect some possible civilization from us, but to begin plaguing another race like you have been plaguing ours for the last few millennia."

"You are the race with a history of war and deceit!"

I saw smiles from my captain and Clover as I worked to further anger the electronically modified voice. "How do we know? You are the race that has been hiding like frightened children for thousands of years."

"We have not been hiding, we have been watching!"

"Hiding, watching, the fact is that we have no way to support your claims of superiority. Still, the only people that go into hiding are criminals and those seeking to find God. You don't give me impression that you have ever attempted to find God."

The saucer came out of tachyon space very close to our position. My board, and Thor's, went red due to proximity, and not because the saucer fired on us. The tone of the one speaking was rather shrill however, even after being computerized, so we feared a serious attack.

Thor attempted to calm the situation by saying, "Welcome. Nothing to claim here, but it is an abnormality that needs evaluating and mapping. Tell you what. We will let you gain credit. It will lend your voyage a degree of respectability, and show that you are not completely hostile."

"Like hell will we …"

Another voice, this one had a strange tone even after the computer altered it, "We would be honored."

The saucer suddenly went quiet. Those of us in the bridge went quiet wondering what was going to happen next. This was a new situation for all of us. The last voyage was rather peaceful. Thor however seemed to understand certain facts, and he barked as he shut down his board.

"That was not an acceptance, but we are going to give those in the saucer time to consider the offer. Hold our location, Malcolm. Points, I want you to come in. Sandra, we should be close enough to catch Indigo."

A voice came over the speaker that did not sound like Outside, "Menlo Park, it is recommended that you keep your communications open."

Thor mumbled, "I thought that was the law."

Harley quickly added a spin to the words, "Menlo Park acknowledges the good advice. Communications at this time however will be handled by the communications officer."

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PostSubject: Part Two   April 10th 2010, 8:16 am

Outside - Story Eight
Reasons to Exist

Part 2

Clover locked back down his board as he said, "Doug is still coming without a problem. Indigo, I am willing to help clean your boat."

The voice of our lady pilot responded, "No, Clover, as you need to be ready to fly. I am certain that Felix and Sandra can help me get my boat back in shape."

Naomi spoke from the kitchen, "Those two are beginning to be a definite couple."

I responded, "Those three are military, so they do work well together."

I saw a wink from Darlene to Naomi indicating some agreement about something. I suspected that I had missed a reference, but I was more interested in the developments with the saucer. We had years to be together in space, so plenty of time to become clued in on developing relationships between ourselves.

The strange voice from the alien spacecraft again came over the speaker, "Menlo Park, I am asking you to stand down."

Thor was quick to respond, "Bull crap! I got people here that I need to pay. Having them sit around, and having this ship stationary, is just too expensive."

"There is no need to have any more aggression between our vessels."

"You are the ones that don't belong out here. Your ship is not designed for long distance travel. Your ship is the one without any claims to the systems along this route. If you want us to halt, you need to pay us."

"How much?"

Another voice came over the speaker. The computer program handing their vocals did alter it, but it was still recognizable as basically human. It was also easily understood to be angry.

"What!"

The signal from the saucer again cut off. I expected Thor to have Darlene completely cut our signal. I could tell that he brought up a crew roster on his board as he listened to Sandra work a gravity plate to pull Indigo into a repair bay. Once a call sounded from Harley that all ships were berthed, Thor spoke with a strong voice that he definitely meant for everyone to hear.

"Harley, stop your clock. Your time is up. Rachel, darling, I need you to help me keep our finances in line. Malcolm, I need you to keep a watch on that saucer. Indigo is repairing her ship. I want Castle in the engine room ready to support Sandra if she needs to handle weaponry. As soon as Felix gets a chance to relax, I want him to go to bed.”

Thor then left his board to whisper to me, "Malcolm, I consider the idiots to have already taken too long. I want you to establish drift. I want to be in charge of a waiting game."

What the captain was saying was that he wanted me to verify all gravity sources. That is the third source of maneuverability in space. The first and second are, of course, power drive and Kert field. Ion drives are nice for robots, but humans get bored too quickly for such. Fuel propellants are what we use to turn or otherwise establish a position and vector. Kert fields get us moving in the general direction and speed that we desire. Clover's father gave us the power of gravity, and we do use it. It is not fast, but it is subtle. No spray of gas or glow of plasma. You simply float. Considering that no one is ever truly at zero velocity to another, drift is accepted. Gravity is not a strong force, but we have the technology to choose the current we move with.

"Are you going to have Castle load one of the really dangerous missiles?"

"Do you think they have one?"

"No."

I based my answer on the arrogance of those in the saucers. While we had used mines and missiles, only blasters had been fired at us. I really did not get the impression that those following us were psychos, but really a group of idiots that thought they could overcome adversity to assure peaceful relations with whatever alien race we might chance upon. Thor must have thought the same thing, because his reply was more clever than practical.

"I want you to try and make it that some glob of carbon keeps getting between us and them."

Clover had moved over to tell Darlene something, but suddenly turned to quickly move out of the bridge. Thor turned his head when Clover kissed his wife, then rushed back into the ship. The captain went to look at Clover’s board, then he rushed out of the bridge as well. Darlene moved up to open a board, then started tracking the men’s movements.

There were cameras inside the ship. They were required by law. They were used by the ship’s computer to help track the movement of the crew. The images were however almost never accessed, except by whoever had the assignment to put together one of these reports. I brought up a duplicate of Darlene’s board, and watched with her as Clover moved with his usual efficiency through the doors of the ship. Once he was certain that Thor was following, he started leaving the doors open for him. Thor was just as efficient in closing the doors, and was present as Clover banged on Felix's door and shouting for him to open up.

It was Indigo who opened the door. "Did you bring Terry with you?"

"Why would we bring Terry? He should have been informed of the particles caught in our intake. If he did not consider it interesting, he can again find himself losing money to others."

Thor asked his question, "There are three 'C's that we want to know about."

Darlene knew the override codes to the private cabins. She did not like others knowing that she knew, but was too curious at the moment to care. We were thus able to watch as Sandra came to the doorway from Felix’s back room.

"Probably less than two carats. The color is not that good, although the clarity looks very good. What gave us away?"

Clover answered, "We are surrounded by carbon that is fine enough to disrupt a field. The particulates could have been some contaminant, but you don't go rushing off because of particulates. Felix was told to go to bed, not to work on a threesome."

Felix came out holding something in a cloth. "The diamond is clear, but something is not right. My guess is that it was formed in a star and not under normal planetary pressures. Terry has the instruments to check, but I would suspect the crystal pattern is compressed. I can verify that this is more dense than normal diamond. This little stone is over two carats."

Indigo asked, "What is it worth?"

Thor replied, "Probably not much."

Felix agreed, "If we can find some big ones, they might be worth something. They will truthfully be more valuable to us as replacement bearings."

"We will need more than one for that."

"And it is probably not worth our time collecting the surrounding material to find them."

Sandra said, "Come on, Thor, wouldn't you want something shiny to give to your wife? Diamonds are pretty, and still a girl's best friend. Insiders still pay for them."

Thor thought a moment before saying, "That is what I am thinking too. I however am not an authority on these things. Rachel, come to Felix's room, please."

They talked a bit more, so were already starting to form conclusions when Rachel finally entered the cabin. Felix had already weighed the diamond, and had ground a spot to determine the color and clarity, which allowed Rachel to form some opinions of her own. She then had the group pick back up the conversation, although was disturbed by her husband's lack of responses. It was not unusual for Thor to step back and allow his wife to run things, so no one really noticed Thor's silence, but Rachel sensed something in her husband that indicated he was troubled.

"Thor, what is bothering you?"

"Why haven't our saucer people noticed? I mean, Clover is right. Here we are in a field of carbon, and we all know that nature doesn't do anything pure. Expecting everything around us to only be carbon dust is silly. They should be looking to see what else is here."

Clover said, "Terry wouldn't."

"Yes, but these idiots have been concerned with the money. They did not like paying an extra twenty percent for their fuel, and sought another seller in hopes of paying a better price. There was also a complaint when one considered paying us for our time. I thus believe that money can be a way to get these idiots off our tails and maybe make useful citizens out of them."

Sandra asked, "So, do we tell them about what we found?"

"No, because it would probably be best if we let these idiots believe that they were pulling one over on us."

Felix verified, "So, we stay quiet on this?"

Thor looked up to say, “Malcolm, internal speakers better be private.

I replied, “You heard Harley say that she was handling communications.”

“I have our mechanic here, but I am sending her back to the engine room. Listen, Malcolm, let’s be subtle, but obvious. As we drift along could we not draw in whatever we pass?"

"Sure, I mean we are not using our field, but extending our intakes is not a problem."

I watched as Thor turned his head to one of the ladies in the room with him. "Sandra, I will need you monitoring the accumulation bins."

She replied, "I like diamonds, Thor, so I will gladly be watching for more."

My captain again turned his eyes toward a speaker as he said, "Malcolm, I believe that Naomi is making Clover some breakfast. I am going to see if she will fix me some of whatever she is cooking, then I am going to stay busy in the kitchen. Might come into the bridge and take a nap. When the idiots act, I want us already in motion. Understood?"

"Sure, Thor, but what do you think they are doing?"

"Having a power struggle, something we aren't, and we better stay in charge."

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PostSubject: Part 3   April 15th 2010, 8:20 am

Outside - Story Eight
Reasons to Exist

Part 3

By the time for my shift rolled back around, there still had not been a transmission from the saucer. Darlene was rather eager to leave the helm as she felt things were too boring. I liked things to be boring, but I did not like sitting in the middle of space not doing business. I was actually hoping to do something to get things moving.

The ship had been drifting according to what had been a sensible plot, but I found it no longer advantageous to continue in that direction. I looked at the scans and determined a new heading. I then fired some thrusters to help set our momentum in the proper direction. The release of gas was no more than a few seconds, but it did get noticed.

The computerized voice that came over the speaker sounded different than the ones I heard before, "Menlo Park, what is the purpose of your maneuvers?"

"Boredom, and the fact that you are not paying us for our time."

"I truthfully do not see why they don't go ahead and allow you to head out."

"They? We are independents. There are rules of courtesy, and we are the ship to encounter this, but we could leave if we wanted. We however are here for the money. I am just adjusting our position among these graphite rocks to …"

Another computerized voice cut in over the speaker from the saucer. It seemed to have suddenly figured out what was being said and was very much against such. A few words were exchanged and then a blaster shot was fired. We had been drifting, but their computers definitely showed that they could maintain a lock on an object. If we had been traveling, the attack definitely could have sent us into real space. As it was, the charged electrons dissipated on our hull.

Thor stomped up to my position, said, "Stall!" then stomped back to the kitchen table.

I looked at him strangely before saying, "That was too clearly a sign of aggression. Retaliation is therefore simply a matter of self-protection, which is authorized."

An electronic voice said, "If you people would simply tell us where you are going!"

"Our path of travel has been registered with all stops properly claimed."

"Stop the bullshit! We know your objective!"

"Listen, you hurt this vessel and we won't call a repair ship. We will call in the military. We will first remove you from space before we venture back into it."

I heard Thor behind me in the kitchen calling certain people to their stations. I did not know what the plan was, but was glad he was not issuing orders at me. I was conceiving my own scheme as the computerized voice responded.

"Listen, we are not as foolish as you think, or as powerless!"

As the sound of some type of scuffle was heard over the speaker, Thor moved up behind me to whisper, "Get us behind something."

I again fired the thrusters. While the idiots in the saucer noticed my firing the thrusters earlier, they did not order me to stop my momentum, so I hadn't. The Menlo Park thus already some motion as I fired the thrusters again. We thus gained the cover of a few graphite clouds faster than those in the saucer expected us to, and I stopped our ship to take advantage of them.

A blaster fired at us, but impacted in a carbon ball. The fact that the object was loosely packed meant that any impact was not transmitted far. Carbon is able to carry a charge, but because it was not solid the energy was transmitted mostly by sparks and heat radiation. I however noticed that a light somewhere on the ship strobed illuminating the carbon ball for barely a second.

Thor whispered to me to keep those in the saucer angry before moving back to the kitchen, so I growled, "Nice shot, superior alien person. You would think that being millennia older than us that your weapons would be able to fire between the rocks."

It was a different voice that returned, "As you have figured out, this was originally a ship designed for show. These blasters were only installed because the excited electrons glow in a manner that look pretty on camera. We really do not have other weapons."

"You mean, besides your annoying personalities."

"Yes, besides our annoying personalities."

Thor moved up to my position to speak over my microphone, "That sounded like the start of an apology."

"Don't expect that yet, but we seem to have a long journey ahead of us."

"Sounds like you have a lot of immaturity plaguing your vessel."

There was a pause, then the electronic voice spoke some more. "Yes, we have quite a large age gap causing problems over here. A little idealism is not however something that we want to punish, although that is what we are being accused of."

"We?"

"The 'older' people over here."

Thor changed the tone of his voice as he said, "There are diamonds in this field. That is why we have been moving around. Interested?"

"Not really, but, yes, I will listen to your proposal."

"Making gems is not difficult, but we are out here looking for stuff different than what we are used to. These diamonds could be worthless, or they could be the answer to some question some company is looking for. Chemical companies go looking for odd molecules, or exotic forms of known elements. There is no registered desire for odd types of carbon, but I will assure you that every chemical corporation will read your report. Carbon is a rather important element to life as we know it."

The electronically modified voice ruined most tones of emotion, but I felt a sense of hope as I heard the response. “Are you trying to say that we could strike it rich? Nothing about our presence here should indicate that we are here for the money."

"But you are wanting some respect. You could prove yourself of some worth."

"Ah, we could become something more than annoying shadows. Wouldn't that change us into competitors?"

Thor wisely changed his voice from sounding hopeful to attempting to show annoyance. "You cannot compete, because we own the claims. Your only hope is that we miss something. We might agree not to file our chemical report of this field. Do it right, if things get complicated we might let you pick up other scraps."

"Menlo Park, you have not claimed anything looking like another alien species. I see this as just an effort to get us off your tail."

"Are you going work with us, or against us? We have already sent one carbon warhead upon you."

"Ah, we thus need to prove to you that we can represent the human race as something other than the more annoying aspect of your race."

Yes, I could tell from Thor's features that he heard the wording, but his voice did not show it. "That would be a start."

"Menlo Park, please wait. I promise an answer within the hour."

The transmission from the saucer stopped, and Thor quickly cut the signal from our ship. He then started pushing buttons on my board. The first was to the actual communications desk.

"Harley, you did get that conversation?"

The lady was obviously at her station, "Malcolm held the settings Darlene had established. Outside heard that, and probably recorded it as well."

"Keep our own conversations off the record." Thor pushed more buttons, then asked, "Terry, how are your tests going?"

"No amino acids. An odd composition of trace elements from lithium to flourine, but no oxygen."

"I want your final report, but don't transmit without my okay." Thor again pushed some buttons, then said, "Indigo, your time is on record, but you are now off duty. Watson, you better be in your boat."

Our female point pilot simply began powering down, but Watson replied, “Already at work saving the universe, Thor. I am playing games on my computer. Let me know when I can play for real."

Thor punched another set of buttons that opened up access to a line that I noticed had been set to priority listening. It had not been showing, and if the captain had not punched his access code then I would not have known it was active. Harley might have been able to detect it from her station dedicated to communications, but under my normal operations it would not have been revealed on my board.

"Rachel, am I missing anything?"

"Don't let down your guard, Thor. I still don't trust those in the saucer."

"Me either.” I actually felt that Thor did not want to command Rachel as he said, “Send Clover to double-check Terry. I want an opinion of Terry's report before our shadows take us up on my offer."

"Clover is with Felix and Sandra. I am here with Naomi. The diamonds might not be worth anything, but they can still be made into jewelry. When Clover looks over the reports, tell him to consider the data as something more than chemicals."

The soft voice of our youngest crewperson replied, "Felix or Sandra might be better if you want a more subjective assessment of the data. Clover will just check the accuracy of the data.”

Rachel said, “I will make the call, Thor. Keep your focus on the aliens.”

My captain closed the connection, then looked to me to say, “Well, back to waiting.”

It was not an hour before those in the saucer again turned on their transmitter, but it felt like many. We were busy, but the seconds seemed to pass even slower with a number of us playing a waiting game. It was interesting all the plans that Thor had set into motion. I was actually hoping for a less agreeable answer than we received.

One of the normal saucer voices said, "Menlo Park, we do have good chemical processing capabilities. As stated earlier, we headed out with the expectation to make necessary fuel. That does take some chemical knowledge, so we can do a study of this location."

Thor was quick to reply, "It needs mapping, uh, what do we call you?"

"The legal name of the ship is XFR-3, but we call it the Zephyr. The two point saucers are the Tornado and Vortex. None of these ships are authorized to make a voyage of this type, so we cannot transmit normal identifiers."

"Okay, Zephyr, you will need to map the position so future expeditions will be able to locate or avoid. You will then need a detailed chemical composition report of what is here. We will check your report against one of our own. We have also been playing with making some jewelry from the diamonds here, but unsure if you have the capabilities to add those details to your report."

The aliens were quiet for time, I believe to discuss certain things among themselves. "Tell you what, Menlo Park. Our report will come to you. It will help pay for any fuel that we need to claim along the way. We would be in the wrong to attempt to face another race of beings while having hostilities with some of our own."

"That sounds wise, Zephyr. I think you are going to be disappointed in this journey, but time will tell."

"We are used to a differing of opinions over here, but we all believe you are lying."

Thor glanced at me with an annoyed expression before replying, "Well, whatever the truth of aliens and our intention to meet them, this place is real. I want to thus see a real report on it. With a little truth working in your favor, our relationship might improve."

"We are not the ones lying."

"Oh, and what is your name?"

"Zephyr Delta."

Thor turned off our transmitter, then gave me some commands. "Get us out of her and back towards our first system. Tell Watson he is off the clock. Warn Clover and Castle that their time will start once you feel we are away from this mess."

"Talking about messes, Thor, are you feeling bad about us going Inside?"

"No. Those idiots don't scare me, and they don't know where we are going. It helps if we can keep them busy behind us though, so I will be looking for other such projects."

Sounds like a plan.

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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