The Shimmering Ship
The Radio Rancher
Edited by The Radio Rancher
The Radio Rancher
Edited by The Radio Rancher
Bish and his men decided to do a thorough examination of the ship before setting off to their home world. They discovered that the hull near the part nacelle, where Delaren had been clinging, was dissolving and would certainly not last the entire journey. Bish was sure that there would, in fact, be a hull breach if the section were not properly repaired. He was quite disturbed about it, because he didn't think that Earth technology had progressed far enough for there to be material suitable to repair the ship's hull.
"You'd be surprised," said Marsh. "It just so happens that my father has been working on just such a material at the lab where he works."
He then explained how he and Greg had planned to build a space ship to rescue Fred, had he been kidnapped, and taken to Bish's world.
"I don't see any reason that we couldn't use the polymer to help you with your ship," said Marsh.
He gave Bish the chemical and atomic description of the material they planned to use, and what its properties were, in graphic detail. It seemed to be just the right composition to do the job.
"How much will you need?" Asked Marsh.
"Well, that depends on the way we do the repairs." Said Bish.
"If we just patch the flaking section where, Delaren was attached to the ship; we will only need a couple hundred square feet, but from the description you gave me of the properties of that polymer of yours, it would be a lot better to use it to cover the entire surface of the ship. That would require a lot more. We could synthesize it with our own equipment, but I am not sure it would be as stable as manufacturing the material from the original molecules."
Bish was intrigued. "I am so glad that we are on a more even level here," said Bish. "It is almost always a touchy situation, when we contact the people of a planet that hasn't been adopted into the inter-stellar community." He said. "There doesn't often seem to be anything the people have to trade with us. We always seem to have the superior technology, and theirs is sort of kid's stuff for us. It looks as though we might be able to do some real trading this time around, and that really makes me happy."
"Well, I don't know what it says about our planet," said Bailey, 'but three of the most intelligent people on earth are sitting here with you right now. If anyone can design and build the needed coating for your ship, I think THEY can do it."
"That's very flattering," said Greg, "but your knowledge of chemistry has given us a lot to work with, and we would not have been able to do nearly as much, if it weren't for the terrific coaching we got from you, Mr. Bailey."
"Thanks," said Bailey. "You have made my days, as a teacher, much more rewarding."
Marsh was able to supply Bish and his crew with enough of the polymer shielding to cover the entire ship.
Bish was so pleased, that he gave Marsh, Greg, Fred, and Gerald each a small bottle containing a medication that Bish was certain would cure most every bacterial infection; a human could contract, in a matter of days. "This medicine is the reason that we don't feel it is necessary to separate ourselves from those people with whom we come in contact," said Bish.
"It will take more than a month to kill a virus, though, so don't get your hopes up too high," he said.
Of course the first thing that came into all of their minds was whether this vaccine would cure A.I.D.S. If only it could.
Marsh and Greg had some friends who were infected with HIV and they were very aware of the death sentence that HIV gave its victims. There did seem to be a glimmer of hope, though, when Bish pointed out that no one from his world had suffered so much as head cold since the development of the vaccine. He pointed out that the DNA of his people was extremely similar to that of earth people and that we probably shared a common ancestor somewhere in the distant past. He, of course, had no way of knowing if the vaccine would have the same effect on earth people as it did on his, but he thought it was worth trying.
Marsh and Greg visited their friends who were H.I.V positive, and gave them each some of the vaccine. They didn't tell them, of course, where they got it. Only time would tell if any good would come of it.
It took all ten of them, Earthmen and Arphoans, almost a week to prepare the ship for the trip to Arphoa where Bish's people lived.
"It's a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of betlejuce," said Bish. This was of course not strictly true. It was, however, funny, when Greg realized that Bish had the Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy with him.
Greg laughed when he saw the words DON"T PANIC in large friendly letters, staring at him from the front of the book.
Bish said, the universe had been a much better place, for having someone as brilliant as Douglas Adams in it for as long as he was, and a much less happy one, now that he was gone.
"Well, there is still that bowl of petunias over there." Said Marsh. "Oh NO NOT AGAIN!" said the bowl of petunias to itself.
Greg was examining Bish's library. "You have all the Harry Potter books!" said Greg "And they are autographed!"
"Yes, I have copies of a lot of fan fic from the Internet, too, and I have every intention of getting the new one as soon as it becomes available. I really love her books," said Bish. "I'm so glad she kept writing in that series. I guess her fans kept after her until she finally realized she had a good thing going and continued her stories. It was also awfully nice of her to allow some of the better fan fics to be distributed through her publisher, with her writing some really nice forwards to them."
"Yeah, that was really cool," said Greg. "A copy of the people omnibus by Zenna Henderson" squealed Marsh, as he began searching through the books himself.
"Is this what you do to pass time during your trips back and forth through space?" asked Fred.
"It's one thing we do. There are other things as well, some of which you might enjoy more, I think." said Bish.
"I am sure none of you will be bored," said Hack, who had just come in from getting supplies at the pick a box store.
"Don't you think we should tell our folks that we are leaving?" asked Greg.
"We could say we're going on a field trip with Mr. Bailey, and Uncle Fred. It isn't even a lie," said Marsh. "After all, Arphoa is quite far afield, isn't it?"
"We had better get going soon," said Shad. "We were supposed to be back home already." Shad is the astrogater who maps out the route the ship will take to its destination. He, like the other Arphoans, was around 5' 7" tall with a good slim body and those piercing blue eyes.
"Yes," said Bish, "We weren't even supposed to be here, this time. We only stopped here because of the problem with the FTL drive."
"Wait a minute, this time? How often do you come here?" asked Greg.
"Oh, yeah, I wasn't supposed to mention that. We haven't made official contact with Earth. It would be rather difficult to make formal contact with the whole planet when there are so many different governments to deal with. That's the main reason we have been reluctant to make formal contact. "WE" meaning all the allied civilizations. Actually, people from all over the galaxy, have been coming here for centuries. We do a pretty good job of blending in, some more than others. I'm afraid an awful lot of legends of strange creatures are formed from a visitor or two showing up, and not being as careful as they should be," said Bish.
"Personally, I like Earth and try to visit several times a year, if I can. When I told you we landed here because it was the only nearby planet with a suitable atmosphere, that was true, but it was only part of the reason we came here. I wanted to be here anyway, and this was as good a chance as any to visit."
"Are you in disguise? Is this how you really look, or are you hypnotizing us to think you look like us?" asked Greg.
"What you see is what you get, Greg. We are a humanoid species like yourselves." Said Bish.
"Not all who have come here are, though. I can't tell you any more about that though, right now, but don't worry, there is no one trying to take over the earth."
"Well that's a relief," said Greg with a giggle.
"After your 9/11 disaster, things kind of tightened up in terms of security, so we became a little more careful to stay out of sight, or so we thought."
"I would have thought you would have noticed your cloaking device losing its effectiveness," said Marsh.
"Well, we are attuned to see the craft even when the cloak is on, so the fact that we could see it didn't seem unusual. We were somewhat concerned, however, when we noticed Mr. Braxton could see it too," said Bish.
"I took the liberty of taking a sample of your DNA, Mr. Braxton and I was rather surprised to note that your DNA is much closer to ours than any other earth man we have ever seen. Welcome to the family, Fred."
"Are you saying that our people could breed with yours?" asked Fred.
"Well, yes of course we could. I should say we could have sex. I don't know if we could actually conceive a child between our races, but it wouldn't surprise me if we could," said Bish.
"In fact, that might explain your genetic similarity. You could have been the result of one of our people joining with a human sometime in your grandparent's generation for instance, and there would be no way we, or you, for that matter, would know."
"We had better call our folks and let them know we are leaving," said Marsh.
"Yes, we will need to clear up all the problems involved in going out of town for an extended time," said Mr. Bailey.
"I somehow doubt that my cell phone will work where we are going and even if it did the roaming charges would be tremendous," laughed Marsh. All the calls to those concerned with the whereabouts of the earthmen were completed and the ship was ready to leave.
"Can we go now?" said Greg, "I am really getting excited!"
"All personnel find a seat and strap yourself down for take off. It might get a little bumpy. The inertial dampers are not always completely effective," cautioned Bish.
They all found seats and put on their safety harnesses. The ship silently and steadily rose from its parking spot. No one on earth saw it leave………….except Jamie Parker, that is, and he didn't see it lift off. He saw it in the sky as it disappeared into space. This was quite unusual, because the cloaking device was working properly, but Jamie didn't know that.
Jamie ran into the house and yelled," Mom, I saw a flying saucer!"
"That's nice dear," said his mom as she looked up from the stove where she was making mac and cheese.
Ellen Parker wished Jamie's dad hadn't gone off and left her, before she even found out she was pregnant. He had told her he loved her and she knew he did. She could feel it. She could see it in his eyes, those beautiful deep blue piercing eyes. She loved the way he looked at her with those beautiful blue eyes. He had to leave, he told her, but he would be back in a few months. He promised her. But now, more than six years later, she was not as sure as she once was. Where had he gone and why?
Jamie was growing up fast, very fast, and he was so smart. He had already skipped first grade and was doing homework at a third grade level in some of his subjects.
Then there was science. He had scored at least a high school level in science, and he loved to read.
Jamie's uncle worked at a certain secret laboratory and Jamie was encouraged to spend a lot of time there. He was learning a lot and having a great time. He missed his cousin Marsh and his friend Greg. They had gone on a field trip with that cool science teacher, Mr. Bailey and Uncle Fred, and he wished he could have gone, too. Of course he was much too young for a trip like that. If he only knew what kind of trip it was, would he be surprised.
Dorn was moping. He did that a lot, lately. He missed Ellen so much. The last time he saw her was more than six years ago, but this new assignment had kept him away. Now it was almost over. He would be home soon, and could get a chance to be with her again. He was afraid she would have found someone else by now. He still loved her and he hoped that somehow she had waited for him and that she still loved him, too. Of course he didn't know about Jamie yet.
The only thing standing in the way of him getting back to Ellen was the distance, well that and the politics, of course.
He thought to himself, "How can I tell her? 'Honey, I love you and I want to marry you but there's this little problem, you see I live so far away from here, Very far away! And by the way, my family is….. different. They don't like foreigners.' Yeah that's it! Foreigners."
Could he leave his family, his folks, his home and stay with Ellen? Did he want to do that? He wanted to be with her. Even if he could, would it be fair to her for him to marry her when he was sure they could never give each other the one thing that would make them happy, a family. Well, he made up his mind. He would tell her and then they could decide together. They could always adopt. Now, how to tell his family? That was going to be the real hard part.
Did I say telling his family was going to be the hard part? Well, there was someone else, that he would have to tell, who would be much harder to convince than his family. Have you guessed who that might be? Yes. Sure you have guessed? You're right, his boss. He hadn't seen his boss for more than six years, since he had been temporarily reassigned to another region. All of that would change soon, as his boss was due back at any time, and he would be working under him again. He would be able to see Ellen soon.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention who Dorn's boss is, now didn't I? Yes, I think I forgot to mention that Dorn is the chief medical officer on Bish's ship, The Dawntreader. It was named after the ship in C.S. Lewis's Narnia story, "Voyage of the Dawntreader". Lewis is one of Bish's favorite authors, by the way.
End of part 2.
To be continued
Didn't I tell you that you would meet some interesting people in this chapter?
Coming up next a much different kind of meeting will take place.
Don't get too upset yet and we will be picking up the story so you won't have to wait very long.
Comments gratefully accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org