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 Outside - There Will be a Future

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TerishD


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PostSubject: Outside - There Will be a Future   March 21st 2011, 7:52 am

Outside - Story Thirty
There Will be a Future

Part One

“There was an old man / Who had a wooden leg / He would not steal / And he would not beg
"He took four spools / And an old tin can / And he called it a Ford / And the darn thing ran”

“All right, Diamond.”

I was laughing my butt off, but still managing to heap abuse upon Castle. “You know what Ford stands for? Fix Or Repair Daily.”

“All right, Diamond.”

That chittering that you heard in the background were the aliens. I was not talking about just Clyde and Theta, but those from the space station via the retransmitter along with a couple of warships that were just close enough for us to catch their signals. We were moving to the aliens’ home along with a couple of the large vessels designed to fight their enemies. Luckily, we were not being treated as antagonists, although they wisely kept us under observation. They did not have our technology, yet, but we had placed more retransmitters so we could listen to them and they to us.

They were not like us, but we were finding things in common. They were more social, like insects, although they did have separate personalities. The aliens did not challenge their leadership – period. Political humor went nowhere with the aliens. While we bitched and moaned about the stupidity of our government, the aliens simply stayed quiet. Slapstick did not really work on them as a whole. That was an acquired taste however, so many felt that a percentage of them would come around. Personal humor, among equals, they could relate to. We suspected that they would love our sitcoms, which was supported by the fact that they were enjoying my picking on Castle.

He had finally accepted the offer from Ford to develop his Jane engine. Even Clover had to admit that the offer was generous. While Ford had managed to keep themselves independent over the years, they were an old company that had plenty of connections with the government. There were thus a lot of Outsiders that did not like Ford, and, truthfully, Castle had been in that number. Having to accept the offer did not sit well with him, which made my picking on him very enjoyable.

In another attempt to change the subject, he asked, “Have you been inside an alien craft?”

“No. Sandra did, and I spent time listening to her as she rattled about what she saw. She said that if we put one of their power generators along with one of your Jane engines, we could zip to another galaxy.”

“I doubt it. Jane runs hot. She has her limitations simply in material strength. Right now, getting her above thirty Cs would quickly result in failure due to material fatigue. Our regular engines don’t care about speed. If you can feed it the proper vector, it locks on. Jane cares.”

I calmed my laughter as I allowed Castle to hear some support from me. “Them Ford boys have always made their own metal. Give them time, and they will figure out how to get your little darling cruising at fantastic velocities.”

“That is one of the reasons that I accepted their offer, Diamond.” After a short pause, he groaned, “She will still be a Ford.”

A voice from our military, somebody on board the Chavez, asked, “What is happening?”

I did not know, but a glance to my monitors told me the answer. “The aliens are powering themselves back down. They are nearing their home world.”

It hurt me to actually hear them making that transition. The physics people said that the aliens had the same problem with light speed that we did. While we looked to take advantage of a natural fault in the light speed problem, the aliens took advantage of another loophole. The physicists knew about the answer, but considered it impossible to achieve. Radiation coming from materials did not have the energy that the equations said that they should have. The theory was that the released quanta tunneled through the energy barrier in some fashion. The same logic meant that one should be able to tunnel through the light speed barrier, although getting up to enough speed to try was unimaginable. Luckily, our physicists had not been around to speak to the aliens, because those guys went for it. They found the method. While the energy levels really did not change in the process, the momentum shift was radically extreme. The stress on equipment and personnel was tremendous, and if I had been paying attention I would have turned my sound off before they did that.

The military voice now asked, “Menlo Park, how long until your ETA.”

Darlene replied, “Two days. Forty-three hours to give a ballpark estimate.”

The aliens traveled at about five times the speed of light. They could adjust that, slightly, but it seemed that where they figured out how to tunnel through light speed was at that energy level. Our present vector had us only about three times the speed of light. Thor did not complain however, as he felt it proper that the warships should arrive first.

The voice of my captain came over my speaker. “Diamond, you are chosen to go down on the surface.”

“Thanks for the honor, but how did I gain it?”

“Age. Clover and Naomi are young. Doug cannot handle the gravity, so you get to be our elder.”

“Does Sandra get to go with me?”

The voice of our mechanic said, “I heard that, Diamond.”

Before I could try and soothe any ruffled feathers, Thor replied, “No. The aliens are just going to have to accept that our women stay pretty.”

“And us men stay ugly.”

I heard the aliens chittering on that one, but Thor’s voice stayed even. “I am certain that they will have their own opinions of how we look.”

“Well, how many of us are going down?”

“Rachel and I will be in the Next Experiment. You and Watson will be in another boat. You can decide which one is used. Watson was elected because he has been working with the language. It has nothing to do with him being homosexual, although the homosexuals are elated that he is going. Anyway, Naomi and Clover will also be going down.”

“Even with her being pregnant?”

“Even with her being pregnant. I already said that Rachel will be with me. Neither one are that far along, and the planet’s gravity is close enough to ours that any effect should be negligible.”

There was a pause, then Thor spoke some more. “I was giving time for the United Ids to reply. Theta had a problem. Basically a miscarriage, because she did not have an Ottoman. I hope that we can meet one of those, because our translations go from midwife to some third sex of creature.”

I really detested how our translators tried to associate sounds with words. I knew what an ‘ottoman’ was, and associating the name of some creature to something that I placed my feet upon did not seem proper. The manner of how our two races produced sounds did prevent easy translations, but I would prefer the alien language to sound like alien language instead of normal words used improperly.

“Okay, boss. I will make certain that my best suit is clean.”

The voice of Sandra said, “Already working on it, Diamond.”

That cheered me, as it meant that she had not really gotten mad over my previous statement referring to her age. Our mechanic was cute, but she also had a rather strong personality. The sex was fun, but things stayed feisty even during normal daily affairs. I really did not know what to think about our relationship, but I did try to enjoy her when I had her. The response let me know that at present I still had her, and that brought me relief.

“Get the one with the brass buttons, Sandra. The metal might not mean anything to the United Ids, but I might as well try to look important to the folks back home.”

“*The metal will look good to us.*”

I cannot say who said that. All that I can say was that it was an alien. Watson would probably be able to identify the voice, but their ships tended to have large staffs. All I could do was speak in favor of the statement.

“You heard that, Sandra? The one with the brass buttons.”

“I heard. Will be polishing everything. Might even make you fancier ones.”

I considered that problem solved, so turned my attention to something else. “Thor, any idea about what we are going to do upon our arrival?”

“Smile and wave at the camera, Diamond. Anything else is up to other people to decide. Actually allowing President Sanchez have some say-so. All I need is that picture, and my place in the history books is secure.”

Somebody female, I want to say that it was Red Dove, said, “You have basically made it already, but that will be the ultimate prize.”

I asked, “What is the money for that?”

I believe it was No Nope from Outside control that answered, “Fifty million.”

I whistled, then said, “And that is all profit.”

Thor replied, “Yep, with the successful journey that we had, that is all profit. You could actually retire, Diamond.”

“I might have to give it a thought.”

A beep caused me to move my eyes to a panel on one of my monitors. I looked to see a private message from Sandra. Most such messages are coded, as they contain some document or video. This one however only had a short two-word message. It thus showed along with the sender. Seeing that Sandra sent a simple ‘Why Not?’ in a private message caused me to look to my clock and wonder when I would be able to finish my duty.”

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PostSubject: Part Two   March 26th 2011, 7:57 am

Outside - Story Thirty
There Will be a Future

Part Two

It was hard waiting for me to return to the Menlo Park. When I finally docked, I rushed through the corridors to reach the engine room. I knew that Sandra would be busy. We were coming into a new solar system, so she had to be alert for a number of peculiarities of the local environment. She however met me at the doorway and planted a kiss upon me as if I had not been the only one impatiently watching the passing of time.

We talked about a lot. There was quite a bit for both of us to discuss. We spoke to each other as I helped her with her duties, then as we retired to her cabin. While I listened to her, and I felt that she listened to me, it still all came down to one question.

“Why me?”

“Because you should not die, Diamond. You have done so much, and here we are about to meet another alien race on their own planet, and you are one of those for that occasion. You should not be a forgotten figure in the photograph. There should be people wanting to look at photograph because you are in it.”

Yeah, that was something I did want, but that forced another question, “Why you?”

“Because I don’t want to die either. I might not be old, but I have a lost a number of good years. My body is not like yours, Diamond. It will shut down in about a decade. I want children. I want good children, and that means finding a good man. I am not saying that I could not do that when we go back Inside, but that is even more years off my clock. You are a good man, Diamond. You are someone that should not be forgotten. I sat and realized that I will be one of those looking at that photograph wanting to see you in it, and I would like to share my memories of you with others. It would be nice if it could be our children.”

“Okay.”

Not the best response, but I feel certain that I was not the first man to find his vocabulary limited in such a circumstance. I thought about actually having this lady for my own and growing old with her. They were good thoughts, but I remembered other decisions that I had made to keep myself positive.

“I told Thor that I wanted to sign on for his next mission.”

“Can we talk about that?”

“Sure.”

I had never held a steady job, but Sandra only had steady jobs. Yes, the first one was with the military, but no disrespect to her years of service. The second one was with the Menlo Park. That meant she was not unwilling to continue her service, but she also understood that she had a good resume so could probably get an even better job coming back Inside. She wanted to know if I minded being a house husband. I did not know, as I never had kids, but I found myself really wanting to spend time with children, my own children, so told the lady that I would love to do it. She hugged me, then said that she would continue to speak to me.

While everyone else was worried about making a good impression upon the aliens, I was worried about losing something that I felt that I would never have. Sandra smiled every time that I went to her, and cheerfully spoke about our decision. No announcement or paperwork was made, yet I guess we began to speak as a newlywed couple. I thus did not find it strange when Felix came to me after a discussion of certain formalities once stepping on the planet.

“I hear that you got Sandra.”

Like I said, I did not find it strange that he knew. We were a slightly close group of people. Also, Felix once claimed Sandra. If there was someone that deserved to know, it was he.

“We are talking about a future.”

“According to Indigo, Sandra is going off any protection.” I just nodded, but that was enough of a response for Felix to slap me on the back before saying, “I wish you well. I will see that you get a proper celebration.”

“Make sure that Indigo gives Sandra whatever women do. She deserves it.”

“You deserve it as well, Diamond.”

“No, I don’t. I am damn lucky to be here. The only reason that I am going down is that I am old. I have never found a special planet, black hole, or whatever. I never even had a steady job. I don’t have anything speaking for me.”

The man’s arm went around my back as he said, “You have never been a weak link, Diamond. Think about it. Clover is rich. Not only is he heir to a successful company, but he discovered a livable world. I am rich. I found that black hole. Indigo and I were the first to meet aliens. Watson has his own fame in the homosexual community, and is responsible for handling the translations. He also is going down. Castle has his claim to fame with Jane. You are the only one of our group that cannot claim their own moment of glory. That is why we need you going down.”

I just glared at him, which caused his smile to grow even wider as he slapped my back again. “To Hell with humanity. Make Sandra proud.”

“Yeah. Yes, I will.”

I want it said that I did my best to make everyone proud of me. Watson had a lot of work handling a number of translations. While he sat in my co-pilot seat, he kept his attention to his own activities. Never once did he make an action about being concerned for my piloting. Kert fields did work in an atmosphere, but they expended fuel. There was also the problem that in landing we needed to assure that the momentum of our ships was equal to that of the surface. None of that was a new problem, but one I had been facing for decades. I thus easily made the transition to the atmosphere as I began firing thrusters to give my boat real momentum. When I dropped the field to trust in the gravity plates, almost no shock was felt as I finished adjusting my momentum. Of the three boats, mine came down with the smoothest descent and the softest landing.

There was a crowd. I gained the impression that millions had come out to watch the event. They had been kept at a distance, I guess expecting a large amount of thruster power to slow our descent. We however displayed that our technology rested on efficiency, as no one even felt the heat from our engines. Soon, the throng closed, although I still only saw them from a safe distance.

There was a long period of time where went through certain motions while exchanging names. Our differing styles of speech made this process rather awkward, although both sides tried to accept the humor in the bad pronunciations. Someone however had a problem with me.

Watson spoke softly to me to let me know the situation. “They heard your name, Hardy Vaughn. As a pilot, you have been seen and heard through the communication system, but only heard you called Diamond.”

I whispered back, “You are not Watson.”

“They haven’t introduced me yet.”

“Well, let’s see just how good you are at translating.”

I went into a short history of radio. I let them know that we had long had radio as they had it, but that it was slow for use in space. I then simulated the way that our early attempts at tachy transmissions would sound. Those words led to me explaining our solution to come up with log names, unique words of three syllables or less that could easily identify us even with a poor transmission. While our modern tachy broadcasts were now almost as good as radio, the tradition of log names continued even as most recognized that there was no longer a need.

The aliens liked what I said, then began asking me more questions. I guess that I have to give Watson credit for handling the translations, but everyone accepted that I knew the answers to what was asked. Not only did I have the facts, but some history as well. The aliens clearly accepted me as not only having the wisdom to state the truth, but to do so with the authority of having lived through much of it.

We learned a lot about the aliens that day. They had a completely different society than us, but we also found a lot in common. A lot of the discussion was on technology, but such was not an easy subject without also mentioning culture. There were historic reasons why they had developed their industry along their paths, and those rationales were a part of understanding why they did some of the things that they did. That was again where my presence helped, as I could give some explanation on why we turned our focus in ways that they had not.

Clover did work to sell his gravity plate technology to the United Ids. They had technology that his business desired as well, so they settled into negotiations. The aliens also wanted our method of moving through space, but that broke down as they learned of Jane. Some did want our present field technology with the confidence that once they gained certain secrets they could figure out Jane for themselves. Ford told Castle to head to the United Ids to work on a deal, as the aliens had methods of designing really dense materials that could take the stresses that the Jane engine would exert. With both of us feeling that we had things to share, time was spent in real discussions.

The United Ids did not like speaking of their enemies, but even they settled down to watch the arrival of the saucers. Those in the round crafts had worked with Sandra to duplicate our retransmission equipment, so also filled channels of tachy broadcasts with alien communication. They also had to work with Watson and his team to learn how to translate. By they time they arrived at the planet of the Tuxtepecs, all was ready for a proper show for those back Inside.

We all gasped when some that stepped out were not humans. No half-humans as some claimed existed. While most were indeed humans, even the United Ids and Tuxtepecs understood that a few were something else.

The story came out that the saucer people had been on Earth for millennia. They had discovered a method of using wormholes to move through space. The problem with that technology was that they moved from point A to point B without any knowledge of what lied between. Thus, when their technology failed, they had no method of returning or even clearly understanding where their true home lied. Why a new wormhole had never been created to restore travel, they did not know. They waited in hope, but it had yet to happen.

Those left on Earth did not have the machines to remake broken technology. They also found humans to be much more physically powerful then they. They thus went into hiding. They however watched, and as humans discovered technology the saucer people easily grasped some of its uses. They thus stayed ahead of humans in their application of technology. What took them by surprise was us following paths of discovery different than they. We had not sought wormholes, even as they had assured our science-fiction spoke about it often. While the aliens began to lose hope of ever refinding their own kind, they looked in wonder with what our technology was allowing us to discover.

The saucer people had thus taken the chance on following the Menlo Park. They gained the displays of their old methods of travel, then fitted them with the best machinery to operate. While they understood the problems of the saucer design with field technology, they were determined to hopefully pull out of hiding any of their people that would be in seclusion along their path. While the journey of the Menlo Park had indeed found alien life, those of the saucers felt even more alone realizing that they were not finding their own kind.

We all listened as the saucer people spoke of wanting to come out into the open. They spoke of being able to provide some history to the human story that we had forgotten. They however also spoke of being a glue to cement our two completely different cultures. While we were both a people capable of war, their presence would remind us that there were even other races out there to be contacted.

I was with Sandra while watching the saucer people tell more of their story. I wondered about the future while I shared my time with someone willing to provide for me things I had lost any hope of having. As the lady snuggled up against me, I found myself speaking a simple rhyme.

“There was an old man / Who had a wooden leg / He would not steal…”

Sandra interrupted to ask, “What are you doing?”

“Trying to remember nursery rhymes.”

“That is not one of them.”

“I guess that I need to get on the computer and read some real ones.”

She patted my chest to let me know to hold my position as she said, “You have time.”

“Yes, but their world is going to be so much different than the one we knew. I want to start looking at things I consider it important for them to not forget.”

“That is why I am marrying you, Diamond. I don’t want anyone to forget you.”

And with those words I am bringing a close to our journey. This has been the record of those of us that went out to discover those other than men. While you go into the future hoping to make grand discoveries of your own, don’t forget those of us that have paved the way for you to begin at the point you are. If you want others to remember your journey, then you should work to remember the journeys that brought you where you are.

Diamond, speaking for all of us of the Menlo Park, out.

_________________
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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Outside - There Will be a Future
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