For several weeks I had felt off, tired and listless, disinterested, was a better way of putting it, cancel tomorrow, it's too hot, a hot summer is not my favorite time, especially when not too physically busy, reading was not a good way to go, three books a week, and a little writing between, a break was just what I needed, and I figured I knew just the place.
For a month now my mind had been irresistably drawn to this place, any slack time, and there it would be, rugged and isolated, just the place to recharge my batteries, a few days in the bush, and if one were quiet there were a few Deer visited the dam. Well that was O.K. by me so long as they didn't stamp their feet or bellow, and wake me up, they could do as they liked, mind you I did put some film in my camera, and I did put the telephoto lenses, on the table, just in case, then managed to forget to put them in.
With some money and a few other necessities, like food, and clothes and of course, notepad and pens, funny I didn't feel right without them, and yet they were just what I wanted to get away from, but they didn't take much room anyway, they just fell in on top of the mattress and blankets. Any way the old Van had plenty of room, so no worries about pitching a tent. Just pick a good spot and settle down, walks, exercise, relax especially the last part, I wouldn't even be close to people, little did I know.
When I rang my friend Tom to see if I could camp down the back of his property, well away from the house, I just caught Sally Tom's wife, who was going shopping, they were preparing to go away for a few days themselves, and were wondering who would keep an eye on the stock. I volunteered. The place was mine to enjoy, They were wonderful friends so this opportunity worked out well for all concerned. For my part It was the only place I knew of guaranteeing complete privacy. I left at first light next morning, arriving mid morning on Friday to find my friends had already left, a note under the doormat with the key said it all. Had to leave early, have a good time, home Thursday, regards Tom and Sally.
Checking around to see if everything was O.K. I marveled at the growth of the young break wind trees, proceeding to the far end of the paddock, through the middle gate and down to a patch of trees that would make a good break wind, and selected an old gum tree and a smaller one near it to tie the hammock between, and only a hundred meters to the dam. The sun was strong so I decided to erect the hammock in the shade and have ten minutes, or an hours Kip while I was about it.
Climbing into the hammock, and settling in comfortably I watched the birds for a while busy with their young, squabbling over who got what, The breeze was lovely, very restful, I tried to doze off, but an uneasy feeling would not let me, It got stronger, I had the feeling that I was not alone, I was being watched, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Tumbling out of the hammock and a bit cross now, I should be alone, this is private property after all, I had shut the front and middle gates, no one was in sight, my nerves must be worse than I thought. Climbing in again I determined perhaps I do need an hour and settled myself to rest, fifteen minutes and I felt erie, the hair on my head was tingling,
Nerves jumpy, I could imagine a hand grabbing at my throat. Hell who could rest like that, swiveling around to get out, I nearly fainted with fright, there edging towards the dam, about ten meters above the ground was the biggest whatever it was imaginable. It looked like an overgrown cigar about one hundred meters long and had like large
Windows with covers on them on the top as well as oval shaped ones on the side I could see, there were about six small observation ports that even as I watched three of them opened their covers, revealing transparent lenses, and movement behind them, The whole machine looked like it had had a battering showing real damage in a couple of places, especially the nearest top covering, to say I was scared was not on, I was petrified, who were they, were they friendly, if not, what could I do about it, all alone and three kilometers from the nearest anybody.
My wits slowly unscrambled and I would be happy when my heart got down to two hundred beats per minute, on rubbery knees I eased myself behind the big tree and peeped around it, silly of course, only real people could build these things, It had to be real because I didn't think I was an idiot imagining things like that, a non drinker, and not sick with anything I knew about, well if they were not friendly there was not much I could do, they had to know I was there.
I walked down slowly towards the vision and could see two figures looking down and one of them raised his hand in friendship, immediately I did likewise, didn't seem to be any antagonism there so I raised my cap and bowed, they looked at each other, then left for a few seconds, then several more crammed the port hole in excitement. I thought yes I might look funny but try looking in a mirror. A rope dropped down on the far side, so I walked under the strange craft feeling an energy, making it hard to walk, I will go round the dam in future however the craft was moving about a bit and needed tethering so grabbing the rope it turned out to be hollow and was on the edge of the dam wall so it was a hose, I threw it in to see what would happen it looked pretty small though. Immediately it started pulsing, so they were after water, not too particular I reckoned.
Though the water was clear it would need to be strained and could do with a good boil. Just at that point a small door sagged open and a stairway slid out, it came almost to the ground with a small platform on the end, the craft lowered till it touched the ground then three small men came down to the landing, there seemed little difficulty with our air, though it seemed a little strange to them.
One of them had on the remains of a uniform jacket, otherwise they all had on the same silver colored all over suit, he raised his hand in friendship then the other two did the same, I returned their wave, they, like their craft looked the worse for wear. The little men about one and a half meters tall stepped gingerly on to the ground, The Commander walked towards me waving his hand, I did likewise and asked, "Who are you people, where are you from," He replied, but we did not go to the same school, his high pitched voice didn't mean a thing, so I pointed to the damage, he took several paces looking at the damage too, he hadn't seen it either, and put his hand to his head and spoke to the other two who walked out to get a better look, pointing in obvious dismay at the damage.
Then the Commander called out and two more came out and down the ladder, several more poked their heads out and craned their necks to see the one cover within their range, they had a conversation and two of them left to climb the ladder holding the rails, clearly they were weak or sick or both, and not that thin from choice. It occurred to me that if they had crossed a galaxy and had hit a shower they could have been drifting around for months, Their power source down or out altogether, repairs were the order of the day.
Several men staggered out with some strange tools, two small levers, I recognized what they were. So they were going to attempt repairs immediately. I pointed to the levers and to myself then the van and headed off, I had a jimmy bar a mechanics hammer and some handy gas leads and a bottle of gas to cook with if it was wet, I retrieved them and a bag of small tools, The Commander and two others followed me but could not keep up, perhaps they thought I was leaving, It crossed my mind several times when the nerves took hold but decided against it, they needed help and were not aggressive or I could have been fried by now, I decided to offer them food, and coffee and see what happened.
I gave them a slice of bread with butter on it and a slice of cheese, their attempts to eat it said they were starving I made coffee with plenty of milk in it so it was not too hot, they managed about half a cup each to help the bread down, right on, they were starving.
I grabbed a bag of apples, half a dozen oranges, some bananas and held the fruit out to them, they took them and headed back to the ship struggling under the load, they were no threat to anyone. I took a mixing bowl and put a packet of dried potatoes in it with a good knob of butter and the last of the billy of hot water, with some milk for extra moisture, left the fork in it took that and the rest of the loaf and went back with the bag of tools, a coil of rope, and the gas bottle.
Several had donned suction, or magnetic boots and were working on one hatch cover on the sunny side trying to prize it open, but were not strong enough, It was a meter wide and a meter and a half long, they were very vexed. They brought out a small platform two meters long and one wide and clamped it to the side just under the cover, they worked but could not manage it. I faced the Commander and indicated that I would go up and try with the hammer and the jemmy bar. He waved both hands indicating (" Yes please.")
I had to throw a rope up and one worker fixed it to the bar on the platform, then I tied the bag with the tools in it, then went up hand over hand, It was some time since I had done this exercise and it seemed to have got a hell of a lot harder, but I got there dragging myself onto the platform, I hoped it held, I was five meters above the ground and about one third of the way up the side. Pulling up the bag I took out the jimmy and the hammer,like the other covers it had been hit on the leading edge jamming it. There was a small space one could fit a pencil in, whether the workers did it or that was how it finished up I don't know, but it took the toe of the jimmy nicely. Several good reefs and it moved so I belted a cold chisel into the crack, and got more movement, now we were winning, the funny cries of the workers told of their approval.
Five minutes and it was free it was then easy enough to pull the cover away three hundred mls. by hand, one of the workers touched my hand and indicated that it would slide back. I stood back and watched as the workers cleared away the powdered stone and polished the beautiful light green faceted lens, which made me worry as I had belted the cover with the hammer, fortunately it was O.K. I wondered why the cover hadn't moved, When I felt rather than heard a motor whine slowly to life, after a minute the cover moved a little and this was the signal for a worker to push the cover and it moved slowly backwards till it cleared the lens as more light shone on it the motor slowly wound up,so this worked on amplified light power, that explained why they had no power. All the hatch covers were damaged
The Commander called out to one of the workers who touched my arm and pointed to another hatch, forward and higher up, It was round and over a meter across, the worker indicated the rope and the other end he would tether to something, looking at it there was a part of the shank of the cover that would take it, He fastened it and I took the bag end, I would pendulum to the center then climb up, this was less than funny. Then like a whale turning over the ship tilted over and I could climb in comparative comfort to the port.
Dragging the bag up I noticed that two more had joined the others, they unhitched the platform and brought it over to me altering the angle to make it more comfortable, the ship slowly returned to its original position, Two returned to cleaning the first lens, clearly to gather more light, now it sparkled. The second one being round had withstood the terrible bang dinting the cover itself, I don't know what the metal was but it was barely four mls. thick, then with some encouragement from the hammer, cold chisel and jimmy bar, after ten minutes it too came free folding right back, and to my amazement once the pressure was off the cover returned to its original shape. only the flange remained distorted. Now three of them attacked the cleaning with all they had, happy to be doing so, I didn't understand then why.
There was a third, back a bit center top, this could be walked to, it was jammed shut, but not too bruised, It was a thin screwdriver driven in first then the cold chisel and it opened folding right back, and apart from space dust was nearly clean, it must have been closed as the rocks hit it. The man with the rope was pleased, a worker came over and soon had it glistening like a jewel. It was very hot and I'd had enough for one day, it was four o'clock and I had not had any lunch. I lowered the rope with the bag, then worked my way down, The rope didn't reach the ground from here, and the cries from the ground alerted me to the fact, and to move forward to co-inside with the ladder, I was glad to be on solid ground, my knees were jelly, I walked over to a log and sat down, my head in my hands. The commander came over and put his hand on my shoulder, and spoke to me, I've no Idea what he said, but he wasn't growling.
He left to oversee the cleaning, then went aboard, If these were what I thought they were, like a version of solar cells, then the gear and the storage would have to be serviced, to operate properly. The door had been open all the time and the fetid air had nearly made me fall off the rope as I passed the door. No wonder they were crook, they had been breathing and re-breathing this air for how long. Getting up I headed for my van, to rustle up some lunch. Walking under the nose by the dam, I noticed they were still pumping water in a small hose, I heard a small whirring noise near the first lense, either, an air pump, or for water I couldn't tell, but some power was being used, the top two should have about another three hours, of sunlight, that should help a little.
I set about making some waffles there were enough coals left of my fire, If I made half a dozen or so they should keep for my tea, eating my second with two in a double Iron cooking , and two more on a plate for later and fresh coffee, I turned around to see the Commander and two men and a woman, she didn't look much different, just her mannerisms were different. They had come to see my van and my set up, even curious about the fire, and I did feel guilty in front of them with food. I took a knife and cut them in two and offered the slices to them. Not sure but too hungry to refuse, they took them and ate them, washed down, two with coffee the woman and the Commander, opting for cordial. I wondered what they did for food, they hadn't had much lately, I gave them the second loaf of bread, a bag of potatoes, with two packets of dehydrated potato powder, the rest of the butter, a couple of kg. of onions and some carrots. I would go into town and get fresh supplies for myself, and whatever I could for them.
I had two unopened packets of long life milk, and got them out, indicating they were for children, holding my hands low, the woman understood, nodding and took charge of them , so I presumed they had children on board too, that shook me, these people were either pilgrims, migrants or refugees, apart from the crew, which was which. The Commander walked ahead a little and beconed me to come. I took the waffles out of the iron and put it into the back of the van, with the hot water in the billy made a thermos of coffee, one never knows, and followed them.
It was now quarter to five and still hot when they returned to the ship. In the shadow of the ship, near the trees more than thirty were spread out lying on the ground or sitting on logs or anything handy another five were sitting on the bank of the dam, in the shade, just watching the water. I thought, boy you are easy pleased, then I wondered how long they had been on the ship, it might explain things, the trees, grass, even a small dam would be a change, just to watch the ripples on the water.
The Commander called out, and two crew came out and took the food, and made up the stairs with it, the Commander gestured for me to follow, I will never complain about fresh air again, all those bodies cooped up here for months, and none too clean, they were out of fresh water and the how many times recycled, was all they had. A trip to the beach would work wonders for the lot of them, but they were kindness itself, the Commander taking me on a tour of the ship. It was certainly ingenious with their own Hydroponic system, now in real strife without water. Their showers were filthy the walls grimy, probably run out of any cleaning methods and who knows when last used.
The drinking water looked worse than that in the dam, at least it looked clear, The Commander pointed to the lights only one in four, and that dim, he flicked a toggle and nothing happened, no power, a small motor hummed near the first lense, it was running a pump on the water system, at least it was a start. The air conditioning plant had been shut down since the meteor shower, when a bearing burnt out manouvering in the meteor shower, without power for the cranes, they couldn't fix it. The motor was a massive thing as big as the motor in an electric train, it was silent, also one of the two medium sized auxiliary and none of the light amplified ones till the one started while we were in the ship.
While we were talking with our hands, the air conditioning plant started up, shrill cries showed their pleasure. With a little power now available the cargo hold was opened, we walked into the bay and there to one side were two little scouts, flying saucers, one on top of the other, they measured about four mtrs. across. I shouldn't have been stunned, if they could travel the galaxies, of course they would have them, it was just so matter of fact, the Commander indicated with three fingers, the capacity, and if he and I, that is if I went, would take two.my knees were jelly, and they were so casual, the bottom craft had a cable running from it to jump start the motor powering the cargo hold doors. They were seven mtrs. long and three mtrs. high. This was to vent as much air from every nook and cranny, as possible.
Inside it was huge with four levels of activity, and the lower used as storerooms and the like, the crew quarters were more dormitory style taking about twelve or so people.
With twelve dorms. Medium ranks had twin shared rooms adjoining small lounge rooms and four exec. Suites, small room with adjoining lounge from what I saw would take one hundred and eighty people comfortably with a small cafeteria seat thirty. They mostly ate snack, dehydrated meals when on duty. Staff were rosterd around the clock, like any shift workers they ate when they felt like it, often at their stations. The Craft seemed to be constructed around the motor in the center of gravity or middle of the ship with strong girders bracing the frame, in some atmospheres it may be needed. Three recreational rooms, with a couch, four chairs and a small table close to work stations.
Saving the best till last we went forward to the bridge, on the third level, it was not grand but sufficient and very comfortable, a semi circle desk with a big screen in front with two chairs, to be able to constantly monitor progress in some circumstances, and all the knobs and dials one could wish for. Each side there were small screens, computers and things I don't understand.
While the Commander was talking to another engineer, a young man walked over to a crate with books and heavy things, he merely took a short rod off a ledge about the size of a small torch with a rod four hundred mm. long with a knob on the end, he placed the knob in a cut out hole in the handle, and flicked a switch, it levitated to about four hundred mm. from the floor, and he towed it down the corridor like a dog on a lead. I turned around in time for the commander to touch my arm and indicate a screen. The engineer waved his hand over a small plate and the screen lit up, he then adjusted a control, and there was the meteor shower in three dimention, a small circle indication the ship. It was the most terrifying thing I have seen in my life, a second screen was activated, and the view from the control center was shown, how they had dodged the larger rocks, some as large as the ship itself missing by a few yards, these shown in slow motion told it all, just how lucky they had been to survive at all. The bone jarring hits and sound registered through the ship, slowly the screen faded as it ran out of power leaving only the first navigational screen going.
Out of the shower, a course was plotted and set for a tiny speck of light showing to the side of the screen , this proved to be earth, the Commander waved his hand about him and shrugged, as he did, the picture faded and only a small screen at the control panel showed pictures no bigger than a T.V. monitor, apparently they had guided it in with only the little one as the main power source broke down. When I moved back a little I became aware of six others crowded in behind me, they were staring and shaking their heads in disbelief, at what they saw, apparently it was new to them.
Two navigators started working on the small screens plotting a small part of the flight path, when the tiny lazer lights met they glowed and this section of progress was locked in. one plotting, the other checking, as they moved through the large screen a couple of inches at a time, monitoring as they went, sometimes correcting, as the picture changed.
Somewhere in the ship another motor started, a minute later a second light came on. The Commander looked up and smiled, he then showed me how to navigate in three Dimention. Because everything is moving in their own orbit and often different directions to each other, their distance, direction, and speed must be calculated in relation to your own, then anticipate how long in your time and where, then organize to get there at the same time, miss it by half an hour and be a couple of million Stegars away, the different Galaxies move at different speeds as do the planets around them. The dark planets must be known as well as their gravitational pull and their radio wave lengths, these can upset your own directional instruments and must be compensated for.
The endless variables must be done in a few minutes and checked about every fifteen minutes especially the timing of a change of course, its angle of change, sometimes curving to allow for changes through some areas, there is no room for error, not at the speeds they had traveled to get here, and they must have known about us.
Because I was a pilot, I understood something of navigation, and know about the celestial progression of Astronomy, I could follow reasonably what he pointed out, and where they were going, They had prepared their flight plan for home and ran it, checking as they went, I didn't know the language, but I knew what they were doing.
The Commander then turned to me and took my hand, put his finger to his lips, then put his free hand over my eyes, then touched my ears. I then repeated it to him, I would say nothing while they were here and never divulge where they come from nor went to.
He smiled, then put his hand in the air, a young girl came with a tray with several biscuits, that is all I could describe them as, and three saucers with glasses of colored drink, pink or red. He took a biscuit and dropped it in a glass of pink liquid and it immediately started bubbling and swelled a little, he fished it out with a spoon onto a saucer, out of the fluid it swelled to the size of a tennis ball of what looked like mashed potato, after boiling the liquid was not hot to touch, yet the mash was quite warm. He broke a biscuit in half, chewed it up and washed it down with a half glass of pink liquid I tried the same and immediately felt like I had just a meal, The drink was palatable enough, but the mash wasn't up to much, I'd sooner have mashed spud any day. `
It was nearly dark when I got back to the van, I made a cup of coffee and a couple of Jaffas then turned in. It was a warm night so I used the hammock, under the trees, what a day that has been. Dawn saw me up break-fasted, and down to the village, The first customer. A couple of sacks of spuds, 10 kgs. Onions, four lettuce, four cabbage, and three bunches of silver beet, they were tired but they were green. One box of packets of dehydrated potatoes, a handful of packets of dried green peas, one box of bananas, one of apples and a bag of oranges, half a dozen loaves of bread, 2 kgs. of butter and a tub of salt. Then three bottles of hospital grade detergent. and disinfectant. The shopkeeper said "I might as well close for the day, you've got most of it." I left him none the wiser.
Returning to Tom's house I collected his porta power, hot water cleaner, fuel, a long lead, and more rope. I drove back to the ship and under the nose to be near to unload, and as I parked there I realized there were many of the people carrying black bags to the far edge of the clearing, with the levitation sticks, these were the ones who hadn't made it. About twenty walking, then with a ray type tool they dug a hole, and placed the bags in and covered it with logs, to make a huge pyre, then fired it, using a tool that generated huge heat. Sadly they returned, sitting under the ship, the day was now heating up. A couple of cooks appeared with the Commander, then I opened the back of the van and he set them to unloading, they didn't raise a sweat, they just got a couple of levitation sticks hooked them into a string or whatever was handy, and walked up the stairs, so I left them to it.
The Commander looked very pleased and patted my arm then spoke to me, I wished I knew what he was talking about. He then pointed to the top lense, I nodded . An engineer came over with a back pack gadget, the man with the rope from yesterday complete with sticky boots, stood at the side and tied the rope to him, the engineer pointed a tube at him and he rose to the lense, stuck his boots on the ship, then tied the rope on, throwing the other end down. I got the bag of tools from the van in time to see two carting the platform around the front of the ship placing it on the ground and standing beside it one spread his arms to balance then he rose into the air on to the top near the lense, as soon as he was close enough he turned his boots on and stuck to the ship, the other one tied the end of the rope to the platform and held the other end he rose and fastened on, then the platform was sent up and reeled in, then stuck to the ship. The rope was dropped down to me and I fastened the bag on to the end and started to climb and went up as easy as going down with just a little assist, and I was there, boy are these fellows smart. It occurred to me that these things ran on power packs and now they could generate power it was different.
I worked on the cover for nearly half an hour and had hardly budged it, I wondered if Tom's grinder would shift it when the Commander came up, only a sixty foot jump, He was wearing a tool like a pistol, and the others moved away a bit, He came beside me, took the tool out, made a couple of adjustments and burnt the offending piece of metal, under the heat it softened, I jammed the jimmy in and it popped up, another purchase and it came free, folding over backwards, as the other had done, marvelous what they could do with power, now the lense was cleaned in short order, and the lid had returned to shape, it would give no more trouble.
Confident now I walked to the other front lense and it jemmied up easily, I moved the rope to the side and slid down very gently. Down on the ground again, I watched facinated as they cleaned the lens, untied the rope and were floated down. The commander came by and I pointed to the other lens on the right hand side, He shook his head and indicated that it was broken. I made signs indicating is there a generator there He understood, paused, then nodded, then beconed me to come. We went inside and down to the closed airlock, two engineers came as well.
They opened the locked door, and cleared some gear out of the locked room, then went to some cells behind the lens, they checked behind the seals, then the lens itself, it had a small crack in one corner sufficient to let air escape in deep space. An engineer unlocked a keeper threw a switch and the lid slowly opened, light beamed in, it had cracked previously and had been closed when the meteors struck. An engineer spoke to another person who went away and returned with a clear sheet of material that looked like perspex. The commander returned with the ray type tool, evidently they only had one, or it was the only one that still worked, and set to, they melted the crack together. Then as there seemed no other damage and taking no chances, they spread a solution on the frame, then he placed the clear sheet over the lens frame and welded it into place, it took an hour. The photo cells were replaced after service and checking,
The Commander looked at it and pulled a face and shook his head, clearly he did not like a patch on his ship. He nodded to an engineer who moved over and pressed a switch, It took a while to get going, but he let it run, evidently the patch had reduced the efficiency of the lens to some extent, but they seemed happy enough with it. The commander went to the wall and an engineer went around the other side of the wall and they changed the controls to the other room, then making sure the room was empty they sealed and locked it, they were taking no chances. By now it was afternoon tea time and I indicated that I was hungry, the commander offered me something, but biscuts and coloured water was not what I had in mind, At the van I had a couple of cold jaffas and a cup of coffee, then setting up and fuelling the porta power, and taking the end of the lead, the hot water cleaner and three bottles of hospital grade cleaner I went up the stairs to the first shower room, it had five nozzels. I sprayed it out, with concentrate, and fitted up the universal coupling to a tap type outlet, while the tap was computerised the outlet was round, so it would take my fitting, I then went down and started the porta power, a dozen or so with nothing better to do, stood around watching it, five minutes with the cleaner and the shower block was like brand new, a person in charge of this detail was jumping for joy, you did not have to know the language to know he was overjoyed, the toilet block and the second showers and block got the treatment, at last things were clean, now half a dozen were getting under my feet trying to be helpful so I let them take the things back to the van.
I went to the water treatment plant and eventually convinced the operator to dump that lot outside, the detergent would fix the germs and the hot water would fix the rest, he did not like wasting all that water but that lot they would be better without. Their water tanks were full and the dam was empty, but with being spring fed, it would fill in a couple of weeks. Returning to the engine room the engineers had restored a second main auxiliary and fired it up as I came in, the ship stabilized, firm like concrete, not bobbing about, all the lights, all the air conditioning and everything else started working, the air was venting rapidly now and was certainly more breathable, some of the engineers were taking the covers off the main motor others were undoing the bearing covers, It was easy to see the scorched metal and why it had given up.
The commander came in, then came over to me, touching my arm, I walked around with him, looking at the construction of the ship. Basically the frame work for the motor is the backbone of the ship, it was built around this energy generator. The commander was polite, but I got the feeling he didn't want me around at this time, I went down with him to the loading bay, he spoke to two men who were standing around who then uncoupled the top scout car, got the hoist and lowered it to the doorway, then he went to the console in the corner and waved his hand, this started things moving, the scout vibrated and the side panel, hardly noticable began to open slowly, He motioned me in, it was the chance of a lifetime, yet I felt it was a trade off, maybe the secret of how the ship flew would be exposed.
We levitated just clear of the deck, we were close to a gum tree, but we drifted by, no drama, I watched him adjust several dials, It was built to take three of them but I took the space of two, then he pushed some little computer buttons then a larger brown one, there was a sensation of gentle movement, and when I looked out I nearly fainted, we were just under the clouds, about twelve hundred feet and above the ocean, over my left shoulder I caught sight of the land, we must be three minutes slowing it down with a twist of one dial we went over the coastal plain, to get a look at the place, we had slowed to about three hundred knots, on the west twenty miles out and the land was going by in a blur. We lapped Tasmania in under three minutes at the coast we came to some rapids in the savage river.
We dropped to six feet and stopped dead while he had a good look, later I found he had videoed it too. We drifted down stream for five minutes or so, then around the southern coast at tree top hight, and a hundred or so knots, while we had a good look. Cutting across country we came to New norfolk and flew up the Derwent at about fifty knots. I saw a fisherman in some rapids playing a fish, when he saw us he tried to move backwards and fell over, when he struggled up he was still staring, I hope it wasn't a big fish he lost, but boy what an excuse to put to his mates, when he tells of the one that got away. We flew up over the ridge and towards the midlands, then he pressed a small red button and a needle on one of the dials moved to one side, he then centered the craft on the top, and then I knew what that was, an
Air direction finder, as a pilot I had used a similar type myself to home in on the airport. We hovered over the clearing, did a landing, then a takeoff backwards spun around and headed for the ship.'Oh momma I want one of these for christmas.' By now it was almost dark. At close range we were controlled from the shipand docked in the landing bay, we turned facing out and a helper pushed us against the wall, a small clamp fastened us to the ship. I patted his hand, he nodded and smiled, I smiled too, a lot.
The other craft was out also, it occurred to me that they needed a good workout , sitting there for months probably and the motors had been used for reserve power
The other one had just enough room to get in beside us with care, it would be then stacked like they had been.
We got out leaving the loading ramp, and went up to the bridge, there he started turning knobs and waving his hand over a wall panel, then a screen in front of us lit up and replayed the flight in three dimention all over again, of course I marvelled at the technology, half a dozen others clustered around and watched in awe at the rapids in particular, and then the southern coastline. When the beaches showed, their excitement knew no bounds, they were pointing and shoving, perhaps some other world they had visited or memories of their homeland.
This was lovely but I was now curious about the big motor or generator, from what I could see it could drive everything, but what drove it. I had heard of free energy, maybe this was how it ran, but how. The two auxiliries operated the same way, to me I couldn't see what drove them, the scouts were the same. Maybe that was what the commander did not want me to see or work out, so I decided it was tea time and headed for the stairway, we detoured via a workshop near the bridge, and did not go near the engineroom. The engineers had what looked like a mould with clumps of metal in them, they attatched two rods, one to each end and turned the power on, the metal melted before my eyes, they took it out immediately, quite cold,
Here was cold fusion in action. The commander was very polite, but he was glad to see me go, it was dark outside anyway, and I was glad to return to camp to sit by the fire and try to figure it out. After a while I prepared a meal of Waffles and Coffee, and sat down to eat it. six of them came over to the fire and sat there watching it,
four males and two females.
I offered them a slice of waffle as I had cut three into quarters for them. The women and three males took a piece each and ate them very slowly, the other wasn't keen, I took a bottle of lemonade and a bottle of coke, and a bottle of water with some paper cups over to them, and left them to it. They understood the water well enough and used it to wash down the food, the fizzy stuff was something else again
I wish I had a camera.
They sat at the fire for a while staring at the coals, talking to each other, after an hour they left waving to me as they went, most of the people not working had been out in the air, there seemed a difference already, certainly everything in the ship would be fresh now. I listened to the radio, just the same old stuff, boy could I tell them as tory, And the T.V. they would go wild.
I climed into the hammock and as it swayed in the breeze I slept like a log. It was well after sunup when I awoke, I rose lit the fire and had breakfast, the lights were burning in the ship, perhaps they didn't turn them off, about fifteen were walking around, staying in the shade of the trees perhaps so they wouldn't get sunburnt, they looked very pale. They looked around then up at the sky with an air of expectancy and I realised they would soon be leaving, I had seen that when they were working out their flight plan that it would be this morning.
The ship was almost silent the auxilaries could just be heard as I walked around the clearing, I looked up at the ship it was huge, towards eleven the portholes were covered and checked for secure working them open and shut several times to be sure, then the loading bay closed, a loud gong sounded, and they all hurried back and struggled up the stairs, The commander and two engineers came down the stairs and I went towards them they saluted me and the commander gave me a small disc like a coin, and I gave him three coins as keepsakes then they returned, the stairs retracting after them, he then gave a signal and a low whine started, with a little vibration, fading as the revs increased then the whine became silent. The commander waved me back behind the trees as the door closed, the ship rose slowly above the trees and drifted away at a walking speed, as it did so a stream of mud squirted out, when it was finished a small cover closed over the outlet.
After a hundred meters or so the nose rose at a good angle and moved half a kilometer away and about six hundred feet up, then as quick as an eye could follow, it was at five thousand, then pow, they were at twentyfive thousand, a light blinked three times, and they vanished straight out into deep space, no more than five or six seconds and they were gone on their journey. I had a lump in my throat, poor little guys I hope they make it.
I had to go back to the house and wait for Tom and Sally, I couldn't tell anybody else, after all who would believe me, and maybe even they may think I need a good rest.