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 Outside - Lady of the Rainbow

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PostSubject: Outside - Lady of the Rainbow   June 24th 2010, 8:09 am

Outside - Story Twelve
Lady of the Rainbow

Part 1

Let me say that I would have been very worried about Felix had Terry still been our medical officer. Naomi is much better at caring for our health, and one can tell that she is working at doing her best. Yes, I check on Felix, but I almost feel that my presence is wasted when I see Naomi in the room.

The rumor is strongly present in the ship that our young medic and young pilot are having marital problems. It does not seem to be serious, and we have seen them already face a couple of issues successfully. The two are truthfully just having to learn to live with each other. It would be more abnormal if they did not have any troubles merging their lifestyles. Still, we in space try to resolve problems long before they will ever flare up. I thus left with Naomi that day as she left Felix, as I felt he did not need me while Naomi probably did.

"Hey, girl, you are doing a fine job."

She was trudging back to her room, but stopped at my words. She smiled as her eyes lifted to my face, but there did not seem to be joy in her eyes. What she said in return was not lightly spoken.

"Thanks, Sharon, uh, Indigo. The military gave me the medicine. Felix deserves just as much credit as me, as he is obeying the instructions just as I am."

Indigo, I loved that logname, and I earned it honestly. It might be just another shade of dark blue, but it is a singular color that the ancients clearly recognized. Those of our modern world however just see one side of the rainbow as blue corresponding to the other side being red. Indigo is overlooked. I knew what indigo was, and interrupted a lecture in pilot school to fill in my peers about its presence in the colors of the rainbow. Just like that color however, I kept being overlooked. My performance was not bad, but it was not spectacular either. The instructors thus kept neglecting my name in their reports. There were those that did well, and those that earned demerits. Of that latter group, those that did not deserve being licensed as pilots had to be issued reasons for the denial. I flew true to my assignment, but never excelled or called attention to myself. I thus seldom got marked down on the sheets of the instructors. Indigo never failed, so Indigo passed, but looking at the records one would never know that Indigo was ever present.

There are those aboard that do not like my logname. Darlene says that it does not fit me. I however believe that it fits me well. The pilots use it easily enough when on duty, although tend to call me by my given name when I am off duty. I have come to let the matter drop, as I understand that Indigo is overlooked. As long as I receive what is due me, my pilot's license at that distant time and my paychecks now, I will not complain.

"Listen, Naomi, you have played the military twice now, so you deserve your credit."

"It is part of our life on Neosalem. We, the Amish, have our ways, but we are on a new planet having to rely on modern devices until God allows our planet to support our ways. It is a time of learning for my people, and part of that is learning how to get what we can use both to support us and our ways."

I signaled for the young lady to follow me as I said, "There is a rumor is that you and Clover are having problems."

She moved next to me as she said, "I love Clover. I trust Clover. It is just that what he is planning does not sound as grand as he thinks it sounds. There is so much duplicity in what he is doing."

“There cannot be duplicity in what your husband does, Naomi. He is light-years away from wherever his money is going.”

She did not looked pleased as she said in return, “He puts a lot of thought behind where he places his money.”

I knew enough about Clover to say, “You are complaining because he is using money to affect changes?"

"Yes, but he is not spending it where he should spend it."

"And where is he spending it?"

She did not seem pleased in confiding with me, but after her eyes darted around a few time she almost said something. Naomi did not make any sounds however, but she looked to markers along the wall to determine where she was. She did not speak until we had entered the privacy of my room.

"Clover has land on Neosalem. He says that he owns it properly, and I believe that he does. I even remember him spending weeks there working the land when he was particularly mad at the elders. The problem is that the elders now want it, and Clover is not giving it to them."

"I can understand that."

Naomi did not immediately respond. I also stayed quiet, although I did open up my refrigerator and point at things inside. She moved up realizing that most of what I had was her cooking that I had stolen from the common refrigerator in the kitchen. I thought it cute that she took a dish of stuffed shrimp that I had heated up from our stores, but I quietly let her try the cooking of mass production while I ate some of her special cuisine. It was not until we were both at the table did I finally break the silence.

"Listen, I know what Clover is working on with Rachel. Space is still not the place for children. Clover chose to live on Neosalem instead of any other place. I can understand him wanting to retain his property there."

"But Neosalem needs to be terraformed. They need his land to do that."

From what I knew of Neosalem, it was almost as big as Earth, so I asked, "Why his land?"

"I don't know,” she said as if she had been asked this question several times. “Something about his land is already set up for farming."

"Clover isn't letting them farm it?"

"Not completely. He does allow some use, and he does not charge them. He lives out here in space with no real desire to return, but he won't even sell the property."

"I know Clover enough to know that he has a reason. Everyone talks about his luck, but I know how hard he works.”

Naomi ate some of her shrimp in silence before saying, "They are willing to make a land trade with him, but Clover is saying that they need to go ahead and start converting other properties."

"Why aren't they converting other properties?"

"Clover's land is on the other side of the planet than our dome. His property gives our people the necessary base to work the other side of the planet."

A tone of confidence came to her voice on the last question, and I decided to keep a positive mood by asking what I hoped was one more simple question. "How are they working it now?"

"They moved a family there. They want to now make it their home."

I am certain that my face showed my dissatisfaction with what Naomi said. Clover did work with the Amish according to their beliefs, but he did keep a part of his life separate. As the young lady had said, he would take off for his own property when the rules of Amish life stressed him. I knew that Clover had built and worked on his spacecraft there. While he had a good media system in his apartment, he often spoke of the stereo system that he installed in his home on Neosalem. While his property was on the opposite side of the world from the Amish settlers, he would comment that he still felt that they heard him when he cranked up the music. I thus did not consider his home as anything one of the Amish would want. Hearing what Naomi had said, I had to ask another simple question.

"How big of a plot does Clover have?"

"Pretty big, an entire valley. He ran supports up the valley walls to hold a containment structure for a better atmosphere."

"A good piece of land.” Keeping a surprised tone to my voice, I asked, “I know that he worked with horses, but he did not speak of farming."

"He didn't farm it at all. He raised some horses, chickens, although he did plant some rye and turnips. It is his processing plant for handling the manure from the horses that makes his property valuable."

I smiled as I thought her response cute, “All we heard about on the last voyage was his horses. You missed those conversations, but by the end of the last tour Castle could not wait to get Clover to Chabron. I was actually eager to learn just how well Clover could support his words about how well he could manage horses."

Naomi smiled in return as she said, "I saw the pictures, and heard Clover tell me the story. Clover mentioned his working with the horses on his own parcel of land. He also said that the family on his property would do better choosing another valley. Clover even said that he would finance it."

"What is wrong with that?"

"He has stock in the companies that sell the materials for reworking our atmosphere and soil. While it sounds like he would be doing it for free, he will end up making money on the transaction."

I believe that I understood the problem, and spoke to see how deep the feelings ran. "Then it sounds like everyone wins. Your people get what they want at a discount, and they will be one step closer to terraforming their planet."

"It just does not seem right, though."

"Listen, your people probably want the land because Clover did some things right. They also probably want it because they don't want any loopholes for others who do not share their beliefs to gain property on their world."

The young lady did not appear happy as she confided, "Yeah, I have heard that argument."

"Clover won't do that,” I said confidently. “I spent a tour with your husband, Naomi. Clover respects your people, a lot. Right now he is probably leaving his options open for the end of this tour. Depending on what decisions you and he make, he probably will end up giving, or selling, the property back to your Amish. You need to trust him, Naomi, as every other move he took with your Amish worked to the benefit of both parties."

"Are you and Felix making any decisions?"

I noticed the attempt to change the subject, but allowed that my own relationship problem might help the young lady. "Indigo always gets overlooked. I am trying to stay in his life, but Sandra is as well, and she has a much better body than I do."

I thank everyone that tells me how well I look, but the fact is that Sandra is more attractive. My body is in good condition, but Sandra has a more physically demanding job so stays in wonderful shape without needing to spend time working out. I am taller, but she has larger boobs. Sandra can also cook, and is able to style her long hair while my short hair is often messy. I found myself glad that Naomi did not focus on my physical assets.

"You and Felix are both pilots."

"Which is a plus and a minus. Sometimes sharing too much with a spouse is not a good thing. You and Clover work well together, but are separate. If Felix and I get married, I am scared that we will be seen together too much. That means again that Indigo will be overlooked, as I will just be the wife of a wealthy pilot."

The eyes of Naomi seemed to say that she saw a few problems with my statement, even as she chose only one to mention in reply. "But Sandra will be the wife of a wealthy pilot as well."

"But she is a mechanic. With her it won't be, 'Oh, you're a pilot, too,' but 'Do you work on your husband's boat?'"

"I find that Sandra gets her hands too much in my pot when we are cooking together."

"Yeah, that is Sandra. She is nice, but a little too forward. Still, I have seen you come on a little strong at times as well. Men really don’t mind an assertive woman."

Naomi went quiet, as I did. A quizzical expression showed on her face while I am certain that one of concern showed on mine. We had been out in space quite long enough for the young lady to become accustom to the sounds of the ship, although not familiar with them. I however knew that we had just come out of tachy space, and waited to hear the reason why.

Chatter filled the speakers. It was the morning shift, so the voice of Harley could be heard speaking to Castle and Watson. Malcolm was normally quiet, although his voice could be heard reading some data on his board. There were other voices as well, including that of Nachez also reading some data on his board at Outside Control.

"After the decimal should be nine two ONE four."

The voice of Malcolm returned, "I am not finding anything. I am having my scanners sweep, although I am having my point pilots to get into position."

I could tell that Naomi intently listened as I did to make sense out of the chatter on the speakers. Somebody was in trouble nearby. Of course, being far into space the word 'nearby' could have meant a number of things. I rose with the young medic as she stridently made a statement.

"The damn military shot someone else."

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PostSubject: Part Two   June 29th 2010, 8:20 am

Outside - Story Twelve
Lady of the Rainbow

Part 2

Thor was sitting in the kitchen eating some of Naomi's leftover cooking. He signaled us to be quiet, then indicated that we take a seat with him at the table. Understanding that he did not want us spoiling his hearing of what was occurring, we obeyed.

Malcolm was presently checking the computations of a vector supplied to him. We could not simply make turns in space, but had to travel along with other extremely distant stars. With us moving faster than the speed of light, the stars that we traveled with were much too far for us to detect. Truthfully, even the fact that we traveled with stars had no support, except that it was the only practical answer to the problem of how we moved. Anyway, if one found a vector enabling our engines to suddenly take off at some grand velocity they were supposed to register it with the authorities. Nobody did that until they were caught traveling in an odd direction or at an unrecognized speed for a known direction. The situation had to be desperate for someone to release one of their private vectors. As the sounds of the ship indicated that we had changed directions and speeds, Malcolm spoke.

"From what you are saying, we should be at least a week on this detour."

The voice of Nachez responded, "You are already marked as giving aid, Menlo Park. Note that this is why you register your path of travel, so such a detour will not allow others to jump your claims."

"Like those damn flying saucers?"

"Yes, like those damn flying saucers."

An electronic voice broke in to say, "We are not interfering, Menlo Park, but on..."

The lights in the ship began shifting between the usual white light and pure red as a low strident whistle began to sound. Thor's face beamed with pleasure in seeing the alarm system work. He always considered it a good omen when some seldom used function of the ship worked properly. His voice however sounded very serious.

"Harley, if we can get the warning, we can talk."

The voice of the communication officer returned, "You are hearing everything, Thor. There is nobody talking from the direction of that signal."

Other voices spoke verifying that they were also monitoring the situation, but not receiving any transmission, although Naomi indicated that she knew something. "That is a signal for disease."

Thor sounded irritated as he returned, "Yeah, but what disease? Our filters can catch viruses, and our instruments can identify viruses. There should thus be something relaying information to those coming."

Our heads turned as Clover walked into the room. He usually traveled with one of his personal computers. The way that he held it indicated that it was being used. As the young man moved to his wife, I caught him whisper a message to her.

"We have stock in this situation. I know that you work to do your best, Naomi, but a mistake here will cost us."

"Those are people, Clover, whether they work for us or not."

"We are in space, Naomi, all of us here have monetary value."

All heads again turned as Rachel entered the room. Clover opened up his computer to show the lady what was on his screen. She nodded, then the two whispered some words. Rachel then moved to kiss her husband before softly letting him know a fact.

"It’s Prastin."

Thor did not speak softly as he blurted out, "Prastin? We bought the stock to assure that they would come to our aid, not for us to go to theirs. They have a settlement, babies, and boats."

Both Clover and Rachel put their fingers to their lips in an attempt to silence the captain, then the young man softly asked, "Thor, why do we go quiet?"

The man looked puzzled for moment, then dropped his voice as he spoke in return. "They are a damn research facility in black object x-ray emissions. The high gamma helps their food production, which is useful so far out here, but what could they find?"

"I don't know, but I really am glad that we get to go to the rescue and not someone else."

He leaned back in his seat to include his wife in his gaze as he asked, "So what do we do?"

Rachel answered, “We stay as open and honest about the situation as possible. That will assure proper aid should Naomi or Terry need it. It will also assure that we get credit for making this detour. Once the trouble is resolved, then we go quiet and see if they found anything that can gain us a profit.”

Thor stressed his whispered words, “Let me say again that they are a damn research facility in black object x-ray emissions. Whatever they were doing, I can assure you that neither Clover’s cute little wife nor Terry can understand it. Hell, I don’t even believe you or Clover understand those geeks.”

“We understood it enough to give them the authority to keep doing it. We want children, Thor, and that station has children. They thus have practical advice to give us.”

The captain nodded before saying, "Okay, but keep me informed. Naomi needs to stay with me. Everyone knows that I am listening, so I can stay here and keep the chatter on standard topics. The alarms are blaring disease, so Naomi can help me keep them thinking that."

Clover told his wife to play along as he began taping things on a computer terminal built into the kitchen table. Rachel came back to again kiss her husband, then looked at what the young man was doing. Nodding at seeing a secure private panel open up on the screen, she left. After kissing his wife, Clover followed. Yes, I noticed that both had entered without speaking to me, but I am used to Indigo being overlooked.

Naomi mumbled as her husband left the room, "It is always money with Clover."

Thor displayed his annoyance with the present situation as he roughly said, "Oh, yeah? So why did he finance a small religious group to take over his world instead of some large conglomerate? He could have also married some wealthy debutant. I can tell you that there are a number that wanted to marry him. He instead accepted a cute poor girl. You had better appreciate that husband of yours."

Naomi was with us because she challenged the elders of Neosalem. While she came to us as the wife of Clover, she had not humbly settled into her new life. She did things about the ship to assure that she was noticed. Her eyes turned to Thor showing no fear of challenging the man.

"He stills spend a lot of time being concerned about money."

"Because he has a lot of money, Naomi. If he had a lot of sheep, horses, or even wives, then he would be spending a lot of time on that."

"Horses? He has horses."

I found myself surprised to see her touch the terminal her husband had activated. I guess that I still considered her the cute little Amish girl. She had been with Clover for a number of weeks now, and had been learning a lot. She typed in some commands that activated a view from a camera light-years away to show some horses on a sand covered rocky slope with only a sparse covering of some sturdy grain. She pointed to the screen as she made a statement.

"He often will watch the horses while working on some equation or computer code."

I said, "I bet that your people are not accounting for his horses."

"No, they want his valley for farmland."

"Talk to Clover about his horses, Naomi. You might find that he is not looking at the money at all."

"Clover is busy, and I am only here for support." She rose from her place at the table as she said, "Thor, I will be in my apartment if you need me."

The captain watched her leave, then looked at me to ask, "Is she okay?"

"Either fine or we are going to have one loud marriage feud. My money however is that she is fine. We all had to listen to Clover talk about those horses last mission. That is why Castle took him to Chabron on our break."

Thor looked away as if losing interest in the conversation as he asked, "What is up with the horses?"

"Neosalem is attempting to requisition Clover's valley."

His head shot back to look at me as he said, "Oh, Hell, that isn't going to happen."

"Well, Naomi is being put in the middle."

"Damn, Amish. They have been wanting to be left alone all these centuries, and now they don't have the decency to leave someone else alone."

The main monitor in the bridge came on, and both Thor and I looked in through the doorway to see what it showed. The view was of a room with walls covered in lush grape vines. The floor was of some rough vinyl intended to enable people to stay standing even in the presence of water. Almost looking like it was bouncing as it slowly moved was a strange furry creature looking like a fat dog with a pug-nosed face. A couple of lines of text could be seen moving at the bottom of the screen. I could not make it out, but watched as Thor moved up to the main control board of the ship to cause the textbox to show previous lines of communication. He saw me watching, so moved his head to whisper to me and Malcolm even as he continued to watch the panel.

"Go get Naomi. She might be our medic, but remind her that she was once a vet."

I don't argue with Thor. Few of us do. I truthfully don't think of Clover as arguing with the man, just able to challenge his words with well researched facts. Thor is a rational person, and if you have a good idea he will admit it. I however saw the same image that he did, and responded fully agreeing with his decision.

I will admit that I did not rush through the Menlo Park. I could have simply called for Naomi over the internal communication network, but there was already enough chatter over the speakers. Thor had assuredly told me to go get our young medic so as not to interfere with the verbal traffic. I moved through the ship listening to what others said, and often stopped to pick out certain lines of conversation.

By now those Inside were studying the situation. Outside Control had not figured anything out, although the fact it was Natchez on duty meant that speculation did not get mentioned. He was one that would not reveal his knowledge, but listening to his comments I received the impression that he had not pieced together certain clues. Stopping to occasionally listen to the words of others, I however felt certain that there were people that more than suspected what was occurring.

Naomi passed me as I listened to a speaker. She did not say anything, but simply rushed by. Worried about what was on her mind, I followed.

The young lady strode into the common room before the docking bays. She directly moved to the corner where Harley had her office. Clover looked up from where he was working at his computer. I could see in his eyes a fear of what Naomi would say.

"She knows, Clover. My mother knows that they are going to kill the horses. I am so sorry, Clover. I did not know."

His features relaxed as he said, "It is okay, Naomi, but I don't have family to speak with. I thus don't want to lose your family. I was trying to be diplomatic."

"You were not doing a good job, Clover. How were you trying to be diplomatic?"

"Nothing, except being obstinate. It is all that I could do."

The young lady moved up to kiss her husband as she said, "I love you, Clover."

"I love you too, Naomi. Now, this new vector should get us to Prastin in three days. I need you to be knowledgeable in some exo-biology. I downloaded some stuff into the computer in my room. However mad you are at your people, I need you to set it aside and study. Okay?"

She looked at his computer, and not seeing something she looked to him to ask, "Are you going to make more money?"

"Knowing my luck, probably. At the moment I am only intending to secure my investment and save some lives.”

"I trust that you know how to spend it."

"It is your money as well, Naomi. If you have any ideas, feel free to state them. I will never argue with diversifying my portfolio.”

She felt the material of his shirt, then said, "I remember seeing pictures of you. You wore clothes from Neosalem on your first mission."

"Well, it was where I spent the years before."

"My story as well. When we get back Inside, I also want a whole new wardrobe."

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PostSubject: Part Three   July 4th 2010, 8:08 am

Outside - Story Twelve
Lady of the Rainbow

Part 3

The front room of Thor's apartment erupted in cheers as Felix walked in after being supported by Naomi and me. The hallways of the Menlo Park were not wide enough for two people, so only by us two ladies moving before and after Felix could we provide the help necessary for him to move. Naomi still feared the man hurting himself, but had to admit that getting him out of the bed would help. He had quickly agreed, and the whole crew of the ship wanted to also state their approval of him again being active.

Sandra was quick to move and help Felix to a seat. I wanted to fight with her, but Sandra and I have been sharing Felix for too long. I thus watched as Naomi moved to sit beside Clover, then I moved to gain a position on the opposite side of Felix than our mechanic.

Seeing that everyone was present, Thor said, "Okay, Clover, let us know what is going on."

The young man sent a signal from his computer to the large monitor in Thor's front room before speaking. "Prastin station is a research facility set up by Avondale early in the days of tachy travel. The sun is a strange green orb heavy with x-rays. The planet is heavy with lead, and as one would suspect of such a planetary mass there is a lot of fissionable material on the planet. The extremely heavy metals, along with the x-ray emissions from the sun, make Prastin station a good place for a number of scientific studies.

"Now, the station is well staffed, and with it being established early in our advance into space has slowly accumulated a number of amenities. It also has the notoriety of being released by Avondale after a series of corporate trades, so is often seeking grants for funding. In planning this mission, Rachel and I both recognized the advantage of having Prastin station in our portfolios. After some squabbling, we bought out the shares equally between us."

Rachel now spoke to take over the statements, "Prastin station is Outside. While it has a history of being corporate, and has worked on a number of government contracts, it is presently independent. That means that it has no loyalties except to whoever is presently supplying the funding. Its loyalties at present are thus Clover and Naomi along with Thor and me. That is why we received a certain video signal from the station. Some computer recognized an authorized transmission. When it became bombarded by others also seeking data, it however turned back off. We have not been able to restore any communication."

Diamond asked, "Well, what research did the two of you fund?"

Clover responded, "What do you think? We authorized them to work on our oxygen scrubber. Both Outside and Inside had their lines of research, but we funded Prastin station to see what they could develop from studying the life form."

Thor added, "We really did not care what they did. We simply wanted them in our pocket in case we ran into trouble."

Felix managed to gain a large enough breath to ask, "But they found something?"

Clover answered, "Not exactly. Once again my luck is paying off. Prastin station is bombarded with x-rays from the sun, and gamma, beta, and alpha rays from the planet. Now, all four can be blocked, but over time all inhabitants get their dosage. What you also have to understand is that Prastin station understood our reasoning for supplying the funding. Some money was thus rerouted to some private projects without any objection from us.

"What you are seeing on the screen is a result of an experiment in exo-biology. This creature might only exist because of the unusual range of radiation available to Prastin station. It however does exist. It is actually a normal dog DNA with some changes in cellular structure to enable certain genetic codes to combine tin instead of carbon in creating some amino acids."

A number of those in the room suddenly had questions. Naomi now took over the floor to provide a lengthy discourse on tin, how it was similar and dissimilar to carbon, and how it had caused changes in the growth of the dog. She was challenged on a number of points, but everyone hushed when she added some information.

"I believe the problem with Prastin station is that their changes to the cellular structure are spreading. The grapes behind the creature also show some combining with tin. At least one baby has been aborted due to tin being mixed with the cellular growth. That is why the disease alarm is being transmitted.”

Darlene asked, “They are talking?”

“No, but as the controlling stock holders Rachel and Clover get private updates. I have been reading those.”

“So, why aren’t they talking? I mean, if they have an infection they need to let everyone know.”

“They are doing that with the type of alarm being broadcast. We go silent in space for one reason only, to secure a source of income. Clover has told me that as the ship going to the rescue, we get to charge our fees. A usual bonus as a sign of gratitude is often included, but Clover has mentioned allowing a ten-percent cut of the profit from whatever this is.”

I checked on Felix as the group discussed the potential value of whatever was found. His chest had suffered a lot of damage from the golden bullet. Naomi had been justifiably concerned with his body healing properly. Stress did show on his face due to discomfort, but he also beamed a smile in assurance that he would rather be up among the others than confined to his bed.

Finally, Thor stated his plan of action. “Okay, everyone, normal schedule until reaching Prastin. Those on point, you are still on regular time. Our stop was due to a change of vectors only. None of you should break your usual routine. I get to charge my wife and Clover for the time since we were alerted, but that should not concern any of you as you know both of them can pay their bills. If they give us a bonus, hopefully it will be enough to have us give them a special thanks.”

After allowing for a number of comments, our captain continued with his orders. “Upon reaching Prastin, hopefully they will speak to us on regular radio. Terry and Naomi have been alerted to be prepared that they might have to pull extended duties concerning the problem at Prastin.”

Diamond spoke to verify a point. “Upon reaching Prastin, all time is exploratory time.”

With Thor’s agreement, all decided that they had heard enough. As everyone left, I worked to help Felix stand back up. Naomi came over, but both Sandra and I assured her that we would manage him. We got help from others than our little medic, as almost all in the room came to congratulate Felix on recovering. Sandra and I almost had him back to his room when the last one left, so were annoyed when he stopped us.

“I want to go to my boat.”

Sandra replied, “Castle moved it to the repair bay. He however said that he would make too many changes in it to do the repairs for you.”

“Yes, as I built it myself from parts I wrangled from the military. I only wanted speed, so did not put the details that he put into his boat. Let me go see the damage.”

“Are you certain?”

“Even my boat has been made to be lived in. I can rest there as well as I can rest in my bed in my room.”

I could tell that the exertion was tiring Felix, but he set his jaw in the manner that I remember a number of the men in the military doing as the work became tough without any sign of a coming rest. I probably set my jaw in the same manner, but I did not recognize the act in other women. Of course, I did not usually focus my attention on them while I did study the men.

It was strange to watch as Felix tried to hold back tears while examining the damage to his boat. He felt his own chest as if to compare the original damage there to what he was seeing on the hull of his vehicle. He had to keep wiping his eyes as he began working at removing the sealant. I felt that he was acting as if the special plastic was preventing his ship from naturally healing.

Sandra left, as she had duties about the ship. I would be off the coming shift, so kept working with Felix. The day off was supposed to be for repair and maintenance to our craft, and I felt close enough to Felix to feel that I was actually doing my job as I helped him.

It was not unusual for pilots to have built their own boats. I built mine in the same manner that Felix had built his. I gained a boat that the military discarded, then worked to put it back into wonderful condition. I don’t believe that I have the same attachment to my boat that Felix showed that he had to his, but maybe if I had the shared experience of sharing a common damaging situation I probably would display my need to restore my life in the same manner. I thus made no statement of complaint or commentary as I worked with him.

The name of his boat was The October Sun. It seemed that many of the changes in Felix’s life occurred in October. My boat was named The Lost Rainbow. It, of course, came from the fact that my logname was a color of the rainbow. The ‘Lost’ part was a reference to the fact that Indigo was usually an overlooked color of the rainbow.

“Indigo.”

Felix and I call each other by our lognames. He knows that I like my logname. I know that he does not especially like his, but I don’t especially like his given name of Ezra.

“Yes.”

“Do you have someone else?”

I looked around for Sandra, then considered others as I said, “Com Off.” Feeling that I could now speak freely, I answered his question. “No. Indigo always gets overlooked.”

“I promise that I have never overlooked you. I did speak to Sandra first, but that was because she works to stay around me. She also has her job aboard the Menlo Park, and you have to spend time flying point.”

I worked to make sense of what Felix was saying by asking, “Are you saying that you don’t want to share us anymore?”

“No. God, I couldn’t have it better. It is still time for us to make decisions.”

“And what type of answer did Sandra give you?”

“Nothing definite. I thought it was supposed to be us men that were supposed to be indecisive when making a decision that could spoil what is presently a good thing.”

I almost asked the same question again, but somehow thought to move the conversation along. “What type of answer do you want me to give you?”

I didn’t know if it was pain or fear that showed in his face as he hesitated before asking, “Will you talk to my mother?”

“Your mother?”

“Yes, she is the one wanting me to make a decision. Sandra won’t talk to her however, so I was wondering if you would.”

Indigo might be overlooked, but that does not mean that I overlook things. I did do what was required to earn my pilot’s license. I did do what was asked of me during my time in the military. I do obey Thor. I thus nodded to Felix.

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PostSubject: Part 4   July 9th 2010, 8:20 am

Outside - Story Twelve
Lady of the Rainbow

Part 4

I kept my promise and put in a call to Inside after leaving Felix sleeping in his boat. He did have a good bed in the vehicle. I knew that from personal experiences inside it both alone with him and with Sandra also sharing the time. I thus did not feel that I was leaving him in any danger, but my tossing and turning body next to his might work against his healing wound.

The female voice that answered sounded very pleased as she said, “Indigo, thank you for calling. Ezra talks a lot about you.”

“I want to apologize for never speaking to you, Mrs. Guiosky. I do spend a lot of time with your son, but we have never really allowed our relationship to get too personal.”

“He says that he has spoken with your parents.”

“I just have a father, Mrs. Guiosky. He lives out around Neptune and often calls me complaining about being lonely. Felix has been in the room on a few occasions.”

The lady paused for a moment, then asked, “What do you think about Ezra being rich?”

“There is not much to spend money on out here, Mrs. Guiosky. I buy movies and music, but it really does not cost that much. I usually speak to Clover about what to invest in, and I can say that I have a rather large bank account because of it.”

“That was a smart thing to do. Clover is quite wealthy, so can give some good advice.”

I originally knew of him as simply being young and horny. I enjoyed teasing him on the last mission, but I did reward him for showing interest in me in return. Being intimate with the young man did gain a few bonuses besides a little diversity in my sex life.

“He mostly invests in companies that support his own projects. He however gets a lot of mail from people with advice and speculation, and if you ask he will let you read those. I took advantage of a couple of things that interested me, and one has paid off rather well.”

“Well, that means you and Ezra could work well together. I am glad to hear from you, Indigo. Do you mind if I call you sometimes?”

“What?”

I feel certain that Mrs. Guiosky heard the shock in my voice. “Is there a problem?”

“No, but… I am used to Indigo being overlooked.”

“Honey, is there someone else competing with you for Ezra?”

I saw no reason not to be honest. “There is Sandra, our mechanic.”

“I will check with Ezra for you. He needs a good successful lady to be with him, and you might be that. He doesn’t need some mechanic, but another pilot, like you.” Only a short pause occurred before she asked, “You do want children?”

“Yes, Mrs. Guiosky.”

“Good. You sound like a good girl. I will speak with Ezra about you.”

I ended the conversation simply wondering how things would work out. The lady sounded sincere enough. I however knew that Indigo tended to be overlooked.

I got my rest and managed to have good spirits as I moved with Rachel, or Black Dove since she was piloting a craft, at point. It was not exactly odd flying point with one of my bosses at point, but the Next Experiment was slightly larger than the boats of the other pilots. I found myself more distracted simply by looking off in the distance and seeing this great craft moving along with me.

Working the night shift put me having to listen to the constant chatter from Darlene. Usually she was entertaining. She never became preachy about topics, but kept the conversations to simple gossip. While her conclusions were sometimes rather damning, they would be supported by such extremes of speculation that no one took her that seriously. Tonight, however, Darlene rattled about some topic dealing with one of Watson’s boyfriends as Black Dove had her own conversation with her husband.

One strange effect of moving at tachy is the constancy of light speed. It was odd seeing how other lights would be affected by our movements. Our front view would be brilliant with light as photons rained upon our craft, but our back would be completely black as no light waves could catch up with us. Light from other craft in our reality would however travel as if we were truly standing still. I could look behind my craft and see the Menlo Park. Anything else sent outside our Kert field returned to normal reality, but strangely light continued to move at light speed in relation to our faster-than-light velocities.

That meant we could use old fashioned radio waves to speak to each other. Tachyon communication waves actually used faster-than-light emissions. When we became able to breech the speed of light, physicists suddenly discovered a method of recognizing particles that they had been looking for. In being able to detect them, they figured out how to create them. Not only did those waves travel exceedingly fast, but they traveled with amazing power. We spoke to others light years away with hardly any reduction in broadcast strength. Radio waves did however diminish with distance, so we could use them among those close by without worrying about those far away listening in.

I listened to Darlene on an earphone while having Black Dove active on my usual communication system. I actually wished that I could have done the opposite, but I could not have those listening to Darlene overhear our private communication. I had to switch systems however when I heard someone speak over the broadcast signal from the Menlo Park.

Naomi said, “Black Dove, I am going to release Felix. This is your last shift.”

Our female boss replied, “This is my last shift. I mean that the next shift is Indigo and Diamond. I would be off anyway.”

“Right. We are also supposed to be at our rendezvous before Felix goes on duty. This means that I can safely release him without worrying about him immediately being put under the stress of duty. If I don’t like what I see as he moves about the ship, we might decide that he has a relapse.”

I knew that someone would not have that announcement made without personally being able to hear it, so said, “Do you hear that, Felix?”

His voice replied, “Don’t you worry about me, Indigo. I am right now having some medicine from our fine medic. I believe it is a fish stew.”

Naomi replied, “It is supposed to be gumbo.”

“Well, I call it medicine. I am going to finish this, then get back to working on my boat.”

I said, “Well, it looks like your return will have Darlene with only men to talk to, as it will be you and Diamond.”

Our helmslady replied, “Hey, I speak to more than just those at point.”

The conversation broke down to again become simple chatter, so I easily switched back to making radio primary upon a signal from Black Dove. “Indigo, didn’t you upgrade your computer system like Clover did?”

“I didn’t go with the new A5 boards, as they had too many conflicts with my software. Clover has the benefit of having written his own code, so could make the necessary adjustments. I have 85 boards, as it basically is just an upgrade of the 45s I used to run and you still run.”

“Okay, but can you expand your sensor range the way his computer can?”

“That is not my computer, but the equipment I managed to purchase from the military.” I did not wait for a response from Black Dove. “Anyway, how do you want me to adjust?”

“I am trying to catch any light wave signals from Pastin. They are a private facility, so surely use them just as we do for private conversations. It won’t be anything recent this far out, but might as well find what frequencies they normally use as we rush upon them.”

It took some work by the two of us, but finally we did manage to pick up some chatter from Prastin. It seemed that the planet and its sun provided the base with a wealth of various emanations, so they had a good amount of equipment set up outside that needed to be periodically checked. I really did not find it interesting, but it seemed that Black Dove appreciated hearing some background details of the research facility she now owned half of. I quickly switched over my communications when my board showed a private message from Felix.

No sooner did I let him know that I was listening than he asked, “You spoke to my mother?”

"Yes. You asked me to.”

“Well, I was just told not to overlook you ever again. I guess that she looked up the public information concerning you and Sandra. She told me that I did not need a mechanic as my wife, but that I needed to share my life with another pilot. I was told how our movements out into space caused a need for more and more pilots, so we needed to get to work to supply that demand.”

While I liked what was said, I really did not appreciate the manner in which it was stated. “I am not that eager to get pregnant.”

Felix replied, “Or even make any announcement. I like Sandra.”

“She has bigger boobs.”

“She can cook. Still, Indigo, I love you as well. Since you spoke to my mother, I have to ask if you want me.”

I cut off the communication. To Hell with him. If he had to ask, then I did not want him. My board showed him attempting to contact me again, and I authorized it ready to curse him out if he said anything else that was stupid.

“Okay, Indigo, I am sorry. Answer this question; how long do we string Sandra along?”

“Felix, if you want me, you are going to have to show it. You cannot ever overlook Indigo again. The question is not how long do we string Sandra along, but how are you going to keep Indigo ever in your thoughts as you deal with Sandra as well?”

“I do that by calling you Sharon. I privately call you my two Ss.”

“No more S, but you call me Indigo and you don’t ever associate me with Sandra.”

I expected to hear him hesitate, but he came back immediately. “Okay, but you start calling me Ezra. It is my name, and if you are going to marry me then you are going to have to take my name.”

“Can we get married?” I suddenly remembered something. “Oh, yes, you are Jewish. Is that how you do things?”

“Yes. It might be a while before we can get a rabbi to do anything official, but I want you just as committed to me as I am to you.”

“Okay, Ezra. You don’t overlook me, and I will be seeing about just how much I can tolerate spending the rest of my life with you.”

“I did tell you that I love you, didn’t I?”

I had no plans to make his decision easy for him. “Yes, Ezra, I heard that. I am not looking for that from you. I expect it, just as I expect you to prove your commitment to me.”

“I will be working on it. I promise. I will figure out what to say to Sandra, but we have years of being out here.”

“Your call.”

“Let us take it slow, Indigo. We can start by me showing you that I will not overlook you, and you learning some things about me.”

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PostSubject: Part 5   July 14th 2010, 8:04 am

Outside - Story Twelve
Lady of the Rainbow

Part 5

I had enough to do at point that I did not call up any database to learn about the Jewish religion. I myself really was not religious. It had nothing with me not believing in God, but simply feeling that he was overlooking Indigo just as others did.

Coming back from duty, I found Felix doing things for me. He gave me a massage before I went to sleep. When I woke up, I found a message from him to contact him in his boat. I did, but did not take him up on his offer to work with him. I ended the conversation telling him that I did love him, but that was all.

I set up a private message to my father. He usually called me claiming to be lonely, and I suspect that was the reason that he called. He definitely sounded glad that I called him. I sat down and explained my situation to him. He listened, then when I finally stopped he tried to offer fatherly advice.

“You have been with this man for a number of years, Sharon. I would say that if all those years hasn’t convinced you that he is the right man, then he probably isn’t.”

Those really were not the words that I wanted to hear, so I tried a different tactic. “Do you have anything about me becoming Jewish?”

“There are a lot of traditions in that religion, Sharon. It is not like you are deciding whether to be baptized by sprinkling or immersion, then seldom darkening the doors of the church again.”

“That’s a ‘No?’”

“That is the usual, ‘I love you, Sharon.’”

Damn, my father was not making my decision easy. “This mission will take a few years. When I come in, I don’t believe that I want to go out again. What is it like on that moon around Neptune?”

“There you go, Sharon. That is what you need to do. Don’t make the guy court you. I mean, you do, but that is not the reason to get married. If you marry someone, you need to devote your life to him and he to you. Make certain that the two of you are committed to life together.”

Okay, at least those words gave me something to work with. “So I should start talking with Felix about the future?”

“You haven’t been?”

“Well, not as in what is beyond this mission. There are so many unknowns out there that we cannot really plan that far ahead.”

“What about the talk of you finding intelligent life?”

My father reads, listens to, and watches everything about me and those of the Menlo Park. You would not know that he has a regular job the way he stays devoted to propaganda about us. He called sometimes mentioning things that he heard Darlene talk about. I trusted him not to say certain things, but I did not need him worrying about certain oddities about my last mission.

“It is not like I am holding myself single in the hope of marrying some alien.”

“Listen, Sharon, if you think Felix is the right man for you, you need to keep part of your focus on him just as you are expecting him to keep part of his focus on you. Marriage is a two way street.”

“We both have jobs to do, Father.”

I was attempting to keep some distance from any decision. While the topic did bother me, I really did not feel like making a decision. Felix’s actions however said that he wanted to start setting us along a common path. Father’s words also forced me to look closely at what I was about to decide.

“I don’t know what the Jewish wedding vows are, Sharon, but I don’t believe that you become unmarried when on the job. Thor and Rachel don’t go around acting like they are unmarried when outside their bedroom, do they?”

“No, Father.”

“If you decide to marry him, whether he is Jewish or not, you have married him for life. That means all of his life. It is not just a yearly thing, but a daily thing as well.”

“You and mother did not stay together.”

“I want you better than us. If she were alive, your mother would want that as well.”

My mother left father and me. Some say that she left us for another man. Father simply said that she did not like things around Neptune. I heard a number say that the trouble with the airlock had to of been an act of God. Whatever caused it, she died. Father never remarried, but devoted his life to raising me. After I left, he began calling me saying that he felt all alone.

“I promise you that I want the best as well, Father. I might call you some more though, as I could use some more advice.”

“I am here for you, Sharon. Always have been; always will be. I love you.”

I closed the connection , then stayed in my room. I thought about my life wondering what I was protecting. I wondered what I wanted. It is funny; the whole time I told myself that I only wanted to be recognized, but I stayed alone.

Going back into the common room on the way to my boat, I saw Clover sitting near Harley. He had his computer tied into the ship’s computer running his own deciphering of the sensor data. I had spent private time with Clover, so moved to speak to him hoping that his words would make more sense than what I heard from others.

“Do you know anything about being Jewish?”

“No. I mean, nothing other than that Jesus was Jewish.”

Truthfully, I really never thought about it, so just moved the conversation along. “Is Naomi still trying to stay Amish?”

“Well, she is actually no more Amish. The Amish are however just a sect of the Mennonite religion. We try to stay Mennonite.”

Again I felt out of my depth, so tried another question. “Have you seen Sandra?”

“She is with Naomi checking out our decontamination units. If we are facing some strange tin-based virus, we need to protect ourselves.”

I could only agree with that, so I asked another question. “Have you seen Felix?”

Harley answered that one. “He is waiting for you, Indigo.”

I saw her point to the door to the berthing hall where I could access my boat. I know that I did not look happy in being given that information. Harley kept smiling however as I moved in the direction that I needed to go.

Gravity is kept off in the berthing halls so those of us that dock in an upper hatch can safely move up and down. There is a hemp netting over the walls as padding and to help in moving whether the gravity is off or not. Felix had a position of floating in the lack of gravity as one hand held a section of netting. When he saw me, he pushed off to meet me.

I said, “Not overlooking me does not mean to annoy me.”

He nodded, then replied, “Then I will leave.”

I grabbed him to assure that he did not take my words wrong. “No, Ezra. I mean, you did not come here to simply annoy me, did you?”

“Yes. I wanted to assure you that I was not overlooking you. That is all. I love you, Indigo.”

“Okay.” If I was going to marry this man, I was going to have to get used to having him constantly around me. “Just how Jewish are you?”

“They have scripts, Indigo. You can follow the words along with me. There are some special meals, but I often substituted them for meatloaf. Oh, no pork.”

“No pork?”

As I tried to remember exactly what type of meat dishes Naomi cooked, Felix laughed before saying, “Yeah, I sometimes ignore that as well.”

“So, you are not that Jewish.”

“No, but I did feel that our relationship had gotten to the level where I needed to mention it.”

I felt better, but I still felt that there were steps we both still needed to take. “Are you certain that you want me? I mean, Sandra has the bigger boobs and she can cook. Why don’t you want her?”

“She wants to stay in space. She talks about wanting to be like Thor and Rachel. She talks about me flying the ship and her repairing it. Hell, if I wanted to keep flying I would have stayed in the military.”

I agreed with him there. “Where do you want to settle down?”

“Let us find those aliens, then decide if we like them or not. If we do, we can find a place where we can be ambassadors from Earth. If not, we can talk about it.”

I actually smiled at that answer. “Okay, Ezra, we can continue to talk. When I come off duty, I have free time. I thus will come to check out your boat, and I might stay a while.”

“That‘s my Indigo. I am sorry if you felt that I have ever overlooked you.”

I kissed him, then moved to my boat. I wanted to think about me and Felix, but as soon as I got comfortable in my pilot’s seat I found out what Clover was doing. He had further increased the processing demands on our sensors to include a number of electromagnetic and tachyon signals. Luckily, I had new processors, so my boat handled the extra workload with only a slight increase in my need to watch certain monitors. Diamond had only fours in his boat, and they were not the best in that series. He thus griped as Clover forced him to shut down some of his equipment in order to keep the sensors running smoothly. As I handled my job, I fell into a routine that did not include Felix.

I recognized that it was nearing the end of my shift as I heard Harley begin the chatter to get the next pair of pilots ready to replace us. I felt tired, but relieved that I had survived. As I was thinking of needing to keep my promise to Felix, I found myself surprised to hear Black Dove call to me saying that she would be arriving at my position shortly.

“Hold it, Black Dove,” I replied. “Weren’t you just finishing taking over for Felix?”

“Yes, but I am taking over for Clover right now. He has been working at increasing the range of our sensors. He has earned his time.”

“You got that right,” Diamond interjected. “My poor boat is hot. This level of operation better not become standard.”

Clover’s voice came over the radio, “If I or Black Dove thinks it is necessary, I might try to install my old boards in your boat.”

Our female boss replied, “It should not be. Diamond should be fine.”

“Just thinking about what might be coming.”

“Uh, yeah, Diamond, think about taking Clover up on his offer.”

Our oldest pilot replied, “Roger, Black Dove, but the rest of this boat is as old as the computer system.”

The voice of Castle came over the speaker, “I might have some parts. We will see how we can fix you up, Diamond.”

“While you are at it, I could use a new heart and liver.”

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PostSubject: Part 6   July 19th 2010, 8:57 am

Outside - Story Twelve
Lady of the Rainbow

Part 6

After leaving my boat, I moved to my room simply to grab some necessary items. I did not try to think about what I was doing. There was a time when I considered it fun to spend time with Felix. I enjoy sex, enjoy Felix, and used to not be against Sandra. I did not believe that the fun had gone, but only that I needed to gain the mentality that life was entering a new stage. Coming out of my room, I wondered about just how fast things were moving as I saw Naomi and Sandra.

“Are you going to Felix?” our young medic asked.

“Yes.”

“Make him fly his boat back to its berth. That should be enough to enable me to sign off on his return to duty.”

I did not bother to comment that such a move was usually done by computer control. I truthfully suspected that Naomi knew, but whether she did or not I felt no need to bring up the issue. Sandra should also have known, but her comment was about something else.

“Felix’s mother is a bitch.”

I smiled at that statement, as I knew how to reply. “You say the same thing about your mother. Still, are you going to fight for him?”

“He came to me first.”

“I take that to be a ‘No.’”

“He gave me the first chance at him, then went to you. Let’s see how long he stays with you.”

Sandra really was not a bad lady. I have enjoyed her friendship. She could be slightly cruel, but it never lasted and she would try to make up afterwards. I thus tried to change the subject.

“Did you know he was Jewish?”

“Yeah, well, my mother is a Wiccan. I don’t believe any of that crap.”

Naomi stated that she was making sense of our comments. “Felix is making a decision between the two of you?”

Sandra answered, “Yes. The fact that he is now wealthy has caused his mother to come on a little stronger than normal. It also put him in a mood to actually listen to her.”

“Well, a decision was going to need to be made sooner or later.”

Both Sandra and I shrugged in response. I didn’t remember either of us complaining about the threesomes. In fact I suddenly realized that I would not have anyone to take over should Felix get into a certain rhythm. As I tried to remember where there was a bottle of lubrication, Sandra spoke in return.

“It could have waited until our trip home.”

I decided to speak a little more diplomatically. “Let me see how long I can hold onto him.”

“Yes, I will take him back. I mean my only other option is Diamond. Castle’s mumbling annoys me.”

Naomi stepped away as she said, “Well, you cannot have Clover. He is mine.”

Both Sandra and I wished the lady the best with him. Each of us had given him some time with us, but did not treat the experience as anything serious. After Naomi moved away, we turned to each other as if to settle the matter between us.

I said, “I will keep you updated.”

“I really wish that you would share him occasionally.”

“Let me see how this develops. I might be giving him back to you.”

She laughed, then said, “Listen, both of you have night shift with Darlene at the helm. Don’t think that I won’t put a bug in her ear to broadcast your attempt at marriage throughout the universe.”

“I can turn that table right back upon you.”

She turned to go as she said, “Listen, go have fun. Just, like you said, keep me updated.”

I headed to the repair bay feeling good that Sandra was aware of what was going on with Felix. I did enjoy her friendship. I was also glad that she said that she would take Felix back. I really did not know how things would work out between the two of us, but I did enjoy his friendship as well. I had long ago assumed that he and Sandra would become the couple, and could not now accept that I had truly won his heart.

I stepped into the repair bay to see Felix relaxing in a chair. In a bucket he had ice. Seeing me, he reached down to pull a couple of bottles of beer from beneath the pieces of frozen water.

He pointed to a place, then showed concern as he saw nothing there. I watched as he sat down the bottles back into the ice, then rushed to the back of his boat. He came back carrying a chair while explaining.

“I was checking out the intakes.”

I moved to get my own beer as I said, “You sit in that one.”

He obeyed as he asked, “Would you rather move to your boat?”

“No, as I just finished two shifts in mine. Clover is pushing our electronics, so I need to check it before going back out in it.” I smiled as I concluded, “We can spend time in mine tomorrow.” I then remembered to deliver a message. “Oh, Naomi said that if you fly the boat back to its berth, she will sign off on your release to return to duty.”

“She does know that the helm generally handles that maneuver?”

“I don’t believe she cares.” I decided to change the subject. “Oh, Sandra does care, but she is going to give the two of us a chance. She said that she will take you back, but presently will spend time with Diamond.”

“Well, she finally called my mother. I don’t believe the conversation went well. Mother would rather have you.”

“Does your mother know that I am not Jewish?”

“Do you have any problems with becoming Jewish?”

I was not going to lie to Felix. “I haven’t looked up anything about it.”

He drank his beer in silence. I drank mine waiting for him to speak. He finally did as he pulled both of us another bottle from beneath the ice.

“I don’t want to rush you… us, but I don’t want you thinking that I am overlooking you either. I don’t want to come on strong, but we do have a number of years of history between us. This should not be a first time for either of us.”

“No, but I can’t believe that you are choosing me. I am so scared that this is not going to be permanent.”

He handed me an opened bottle as he asked, “Why would I leave you?”

“Why didn’t you pick Sandra? She should not be one that you would overlook.”

“I want a wife. I want someone to share my life with and bear my children. Sandra wants fun and adventure.”

“You see me as a good wife?”

“I see you as someone that will be pleased each day to know that someone did not overlook her. I see myself as a rainbow that is missing one color, and that color happens to be Indigo. I cannot be complete without you.”

To this day I cannot believe that Felix said that. He actually somehow chose the exact words that touched me. We made love. He was naked as he spoke to Malcolm while moving his boat to its berth. Naomi should not have any problems signing off on the health of Felix, as I had to use some lubrication when we made love afterwards.

Felix was worried that he would have to go on point duty, as it was not until late in the morning shift that we arrived at Prastin. The first thing that was done was a check of the system. It was actually a requirement set by Insiders that were scared that our initial contact with an alien species would be aggressive. While it was a possibility, most of the stuff we were to check for could only be a result of certain officials watching science-fiction movies. After verifying that the sun was emitting light in the proper frequencies, in its proper place, and that all planets and notable satellites were in their proper orbits, we finally moved to the place that was calling for help.

Prastin showed its age in actually being a number of settlements upon its planet. The planet itself was smaller than Earth, but had a slightly stronger gravitational field. It also had a magnetosphere, but it did not have the plate tectonics of Earth. The mantle mostly of heavy metals actually acted slightly plastic in that it would shift and deform, but not fracture and break. No craters showed on the surface, except for one that had been specially carved into the crust in order to contain the larger settlement.

For a planet that had all the proper components to hold an atmosphere, it really did not have one. The primary reason was that it lacked the lighter elements that usually composed the gases surrounding a planet. Some gases were present from an earlier attempt to terraform the planet, but heavy metal components combined with the lighter elements that made the air poisonous. The attempt to terraform was thus stopped, but we held our position far above the planet to keep from wasting fuel due to what atmosphere was present.

All point pilots were present in the bridge. The first reason was that we generally had to fly to perform the scans to the degree of precision demanded. Our scans were not to map the system however, so none of us were sent out. We wanted to be paid however, so we made certain that Thor saw us ready to do any duty required.

As it had taken most of the day shift to arrive, it was Darlene that took over the helm as we sat above the planet. She knew better than to chat on the tachyon transmitter however, but performed her duty while talking to those of us around her. I sat near Felix, truthfully he sat near me, but as usual I stayed quiet while others spoke and were spoken to. Darlene stopped talking to Watson as she noticed something on her board.

“What are you receiving, Clover?”

“Stay alert, Darlene. I am not receiving anything , but what you are noticing is a scan. We hopefully will get a communication signal once the scan finishes.”

No sooner did Clover say that than our front screen lit up with the face of a haggard appearing man with what appeared to be heavy covering of new growth on his face. “Menlo Park, we are very glad to see you. Is there anything making this signal insecure?”

I did not recognize the man, but our youngest pilot replied showing that he did know him. “No, Siggy. Our tachyon transmitter is turned off. Only radio is active at the moment. Everyone knows that we are here, and they caught an earlier transmission, but at present everything is secure.”

“How much do you believe everyone knows?”

“We suspect that you have developed a virus replacing tin with carbon in some amino acids.”

“Yes, well, that is not our problem. Tin is not that reactive, so to remove the genetic strands from the air we had to flood our environment with a rather acidic substance. It did not just remove the tin, but reacted with a number of other elements as well. Most of our equipment is no longer functional.”

Thor asked, “Why did you go completely silent, Prastin? Surely every facility could not have been infected.”

“How many times do you want to hear me say ‘stupid?’ Mistakes can cost research highly, but mistakes in space can kill. If anyone doubted that this station was Outside, well, we lost a number of lives so we must be in space.”

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PostSubject: Part 7   July 24th 2010, 7:57 am

Outside - Story Twelve
Lady of the Rainbow

Part 7

Rachel said, “My husband asked you why you went silent, Siggy. The only reason to go silent out here is to protect an investment.”

“Yes, which is why I am glad that it is the Menlo Park that responded. If you and Clover are willing to open up your pocketbooks a little wider, I believe both of you might see more than a return of your funds.”

Thor replied, “Our first concern is for your people.”

“Our surviving population is protected. We however have a population of over twenty thousand here, and this problem is requiring us to do an extensive analysis of everyone. There are also the problems of our food being suspect and our equipment has been heavily compromised in quality.”

Our captain looked around and pointed to Naomi before asking, “Where is Terry?” He changed the tone of his voice as he said, “Terry, get your butt up here on the bridge.”

Some heavy rock & roll came over the speaker almost drowning out the voice of our chemist. “Be there in a moment.”

Thor spoke again to the one on the view screen. “Siggy, we want your data – all of it.”

“I don’t want to, but I have to accede to your request, since your wife and Clover actually own this place. Oh, is that your lovely wife sitting next to you, Clover?”

Our young pilot had to turn from where he studied his computer to say, “Yes, this is Naomi.”

After saying a greeting, the man then said, “Oh, and which one of you is Indigo?”

I know that I looked shocked as I replied, “I am Indigo.”

“My daughter is a fan of yours. She calls you ‘Rainbow Lady.’ I will hopefully let her explain, as she survived and has been cleared of contamination. I hope that we can meet.”

Clover said before I could respond, “Siggy, I assume that you need a shipment of essentials, just not by military or government.”

“That is what we are hoping for.”

“Let me find a transport, then we can do our best to fill it up. It will still be over two months before anything will arrive.”

“We are managing on pickled foods. The vinegar actually protected the foods from the tin and the acidic cure. There are people who had their own private gardens. We thus have a supply of fresh seeds and genetic material that has been cleared. What we really need however is water. Could you have your pilots go out and get us some?”

Thor said, “I will have people out collecting water, but I also want others in my crew looking at your data.”

As the transmission ended, Thor had Darlene pull up the initial scan of the system to locate sources of water. Waiting for my orders, I looked to Felix to see his face beam back at me. I however spoke to another.

“Darlene, I didn’t know that I was being called ‘Rainbow Lady.’”

She kept her eyes on her business as she replied, “I didn’t know either, Indigo. Let us get this situation cleared up, then you can ask that fan of yours about it.”

“I cannot just call her?”

It was Clover that answered, “She’s a fan, Indigo, and you are in the system. You thus go meet her. You came trillions of miles to get here, so you might as well go a few more.”

Felix said, “Indigo is not being overlooked by everyone.”

Thor spoke words that helped settle my mind. “Bring her some water, Indigo. There is a moon around the seventh planet out that has a good supply of water. We are to dump into a central aqueduct, but I will have Darlene set up for you to bring Siggy a container of water. You should be able to ask the girl then.”

I said, “Harley, warm up my boat.”

The voice of our communication officer came over the speaker, “I am warming up everyone’s boat, Indigo. Over twenty thousand people means a lot of water.”

I probably could have had the meeting right away. Before we could load water, we needed to dump the water that we had. That was not how things were arranged however. I made the dump, then flew out to the seventh planet to go through the process of locating a relatively pure source of H2O. My boat had filters to further purify it as it was pumped into my reservoir after using lasers to melt it. While all of this went on I thought about having a fan that called me by something other than my logname.

I felt that Felix wanted to talk about the topic with me, but he and I stayed focused on our work. He did not even call me ‘Rainbow Lady,’ but always referred to me by my logname. While it would have annoyed me if he had, it also annoyed me that he did not. I thus simmered as I waited for my meeting with my fan.

Finally, I made my first dump of the system water, then flew to an airlock to make the meeting. It was the first time that I had cameras and reporters wanting to speak to me. I had seen a collection of media waiting for Clover, and as the throng gathered around him some of those on the perimeter would settle for me. This time I was the focus, and there was nobody with me to take up the slack. I found myself needing to make a number of statements before I finally got to meet my fan.

She was not that old. I was told that she was eight. She had short dark hair, like mine. It was not as messy as mine, but I could see that she had a mother to help her take care of it. Mine left me, and my father just did not know how to do more than wash and comb it. I felt that this young lady already had a better life than me.

As the media people recorded the event, I shook hands with the girl. I introduced myself, then heard her mention that her name was Betty. I admitted that my real name was Sharon, but I liked being called Indigo. I then asked her why she called me ‘Rainbow Lady.’

Betty did not act relaxed with the people around her. She however kept trying to smile at me. Finally, with the urging of her parents, her hands came apart to hand me a photograph.

I saw an image of what I assumed to be her bedroom. On the wall was a child’s drawing of a rainbow. In the middle of the drawing had been placed a picture of me.

I wanted to say something to ease the tension in the girl and start a conversation. “I thank you for the recognition, but Indigo is just one color of the rainbow.”

“You are the only one.”

“What?”

She somehow found the confidence to straighten up and speak to me. “We don’t have rainbows here. We don’t have any weather. My teacher however made us do assignments on weather, and I got assigned rainbows. Well, when I went to research rainbows I learned about the colors. You are the only color out there.”

“There are the doves.”

“Yes. There is Red Dove, Orange Dove, Yellow Dove, Blue Dove, and a Green Dove, but you are just Indigo.” Betty’s head turned to her parents, then back to me to say, “Father and Mother said that they felt there would be a violet, but there is isn’t. You are the only lady of the rainbow. I thus call you ‘Rainbow Lady.’”

“Well, I have always liked my logname, but I guess that I am going to treasure it even more now.”

Those words caused her to smile and face me without any concern for the others around her. “I want to be a pilot when I grow up.”

“No reason not to. You are far out in space, but mankind is moving even further out. By the time you grow up you should find yourself not alone with a number of places to go.”

I saw her pause before asking, “Can I be Indigo when I grow up?”

“I will probably still be flying. Still, I am told that they are not going to require log names in the future. Our communications have improved since the early days. There really is not a need for them anymore. You might have the benefit of simply using your name.”

She whispered, “There are a lot of Bettys.”

I smiled as I guessed what she was thinking. “And Indigo is a pretty name.” Seeing her nod, I said, “Stay in contact. If you do grow up to become a pilot, we can probably work something out.”

The girl hugged me. I thanked her for the support, but told her that I needed to get back to work. Her parents helped to take Betty away, and I stayed long enough to make a few more statements before the cameras. I then returned to my boat.

There really was not the chatter about my moment of fame that I expected. Clover told me that I had done a good job. Felix told me again that Indigo was not being overlooked. Darlene simply mentioned that Thor had told her to release the media transmission over tachy. That caused me to go silent as I knew that it would open up chatter later.

It took a number of runs, but we did manage to restore Prastin with a fresh supply of water. I returned to the Menlo Park glad to have done the job, but ready to gain some rest. I agreed with Clover who spoke to his wife about going to refill his tank with water for his own use, then coming in ready to get some sleep.

Naomi said in response, “I am tired as well, Clover. Prastin really did not make a mistake, but they did not build their virus to insert their tin genes as complicated as they should have. It thus was not big enough to be blocked by the filters. It got into the general air system. By the time it showed itself, they had done enough traveling between their communities to have it among the whole population. Still, it did work, so whatever use they have for it should work to provide an eventual profit.”

“So, you are not against me keeping the stock?”

“No. This is a community just like Neosalem is a community. They both might have their odd beliefs, but you are right to support them. I would rather have a home on Neosalem than here, but I am glad to be with you.”

I said, “Felix.”

He quickly came back, “Yes, Indigo.”

“I agree with Naomi.”

He paused for a moment, then asked, “Okay, my boat or yours?”

“Neither, as we have both spent too much time already in our boats. I also know that you have spent too much time in your room. Thus, we go to mine.”

“Well, I am making my final dump now. I need to go back and restore my own water supply, then I will be there. Have the bed warm.”

“No, as I will be on my computer researching the Jewish faith.”

The voice of Diamond said, “You could simply start reading the Bible. Old Testament only, as the Jews don’t go for that new-fangled stuff.”

Clover said, “Sorta like the Amish.”

The voice of Thor now came over the speaker. “I believe that I have asked this question before. Does the fact that we still have religion prove that God does or does not exist?”

Felix said in return, “Well, if he does, I can tell you that he won’t overlook Indigo. Indigo?” He waited for me to acknowledge before he continued, “If we do agree to a life together, let us settle on a planet with a rainbow. As the only lady of the rainbow, our children need to know just how beautiful you are.”

I felt that life with him would be good as I agreed.

_________________
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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