Teardrops In The Night Sky (Steven Gordon series) (10 page)

BOOK: Teardrops In The Night Sky (Steven Gordon series)
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The first is on the ships home planet, by their surgeons and advanced medical techniques.  The second is by death.  So you will appreciate the fact that I have no intentions of putting myself in the hands of the President.  Because I have no doubts that he would have me killed to put in one of his lackeys like Sales and steal all the technology these ships have to offer for the States.’

Howe couldn’t find any errors in the man’s argument, but he had one more shot to fire, ‘you still had no right to take over this ship.’

Steven shook his head sadly, ‘you still don’t understand do you.  I didn’t take over the ship, the ship took me over.  I was given no choice in the matter Colonel, not that I would change anything, but that isn’t the point.  It would seem you need a certain level of awareness to link directly with the ships.  Of all the people who have been on them since they got here so far I have been the only one to have that level of awareness.’

‘Excuse me for being blunt but, but before this ship got its hands on you, you were the thickest person here.’

Buzz took a threatening step forward, but a grinning Steve held him back with the wave of a hand, ‘of course you’re right, but what you may not realise is I was a child genius, a protégé.  After my accident my brain rerouted most of my systems, for want of a better word, and utilised parts of my brain that normally lie dormant.’

  Howe got the whole picture in an instant, ‘so it wouldn’t matter who the President chose to be captain of this ship he wouldn’t be compatible.’

‘Very doubtful and if I was killed to do it the ships would simply leave.’

‘For good.’

‘Yes, they come from a nonviolent society where murder is unknown.  They would rather die than be subjected to that level of violence.’

‘You mean like they’re alive?’

‘Not in a way that we would understand but yes, very much so.’

‘So what are they doing here?’

‘That’s a long story Colonel and I don’t know it all myself yet.  To simplify things both crews were subjected to some form of radiation that killed them all off.  The ships couldn’t go home so they came looking for new crews.  This is the first planet they came to that was inhabited.’

‘Do they still want to go home, is that there main goal?’

‘No Colonel, they serve their crew; they live for their crew.  They were just lonely.’

‘They must be very disappoint
ed with Earth coming from a nonviolent society.’

‘They believe our hearts are in the right place Colonel.’

Steven stood up and addressed his friend, ‘so how about it Buzz, you wanna join up?’

‘What's the pay like?’

‘Crap, there ain’t none.’

He burst out laughing and slapped Stevie on the shoulder, ‘sounds good to me, where do I sign on?’

‘Right over here.’

Steven guided him over to the back wall, ‘shove your hand in there.’

Buzz squinted, ‘in where?’

‘I'm a bloody idiot,’ Steven took his hand and guided it into a recess that only he could see.

There was a snap and Buzz jumped back with a yowl, ‘what the hell was that?’

Steven laughed, ‘one of these,’ he showed him the implant on his hand again.

Buzz held his hand up to his face, ‘well cool, stings like a son of a bitch though.’  Suddenly his face paled and he staggered.

Steven caught him just as he collapsed, ‘whoa buddy, you ok?’

‘Feel dizzy, and sick.’

‘Sorry about that, I didn’t know.  I was unconscious when it was done. Close your eyes for a few minutes, I’m told that will help.’

Buzz did as he was bid while Steven held onto him.  Colonel Howe watched on with unveiled curiosity.  ‘Ok beginning to feel a little better now.’

‘Open your eyes.’

Buzz did and blinked, his eyes flew wide in wonder, ‘jezz! Where the hell did all this come from?’

‘It’s been here all the time, we just couldn’t see it.’

  Buzz got up and began wondering around, ‘wow these are beautiful, what are they?’

Colonel Howe’s patience finally ran out, ‘what's what?’

Steven grinned, ‘they’re star maps Buzz.  I’m sorry you can’t see them Colonel.  The implant on our hands injects another implant into the blood stream that attaches itself to the optic nerve.

The reason you can’t see anything in here is because of a certain type of light given out by the ship that reflects off every surface.  It’s a security device.  The implant filters out that light.  This room is actually rich in decoration, much of it star charts.  Every console is covered in touch pads you can’t see.’

‘Damn effective security device.  How come no one accidentally pushed a button?’

‘Without a captain they become inactive.’

‘So all you have to do to cripple the ship is kill its captain.’

Steve seemed to listen to something for a moment, ‘I have been assured it doesn't quite work like that Colonel.’

Buzz was looking about him wildly, ‘who was that Stevie?’

‘That was the ship Buzz.’

‘No shitting, I can hear it too.’

‘It can talk to each member of the crew individually or collectively.’

‘Well cool, eh hello ship.’  Buzz’s face lit up in a grin as it answered him, ‘what's your name?’  His face fell a little and he looked at Stevie, ‘there's no way in hell am I going to try and pronounce that.’

Steven laughed, ‘me neither, but that’s her name.’

Howe struggled to his feet his frustration growing, ‘hey can I get one of those?’

Steven regarded him somewhat coldly, ‘I don’t think so Colonel.  Once you’re implanted you have to become a member of the crew.  Your loyalties still lie with your President and your country.  I can’t fault you for that Colonel, but if he told you to kill me, you would.’

‘Damn it man, I was the first man on board one of these ships and I’ve protected your mother and father throughout this whole thing.  If Sales had been able to get his own way, you and your whole family would have been rotting somewhere in the everglades.

I stopped that happening.  I convinced my superiors it would be a serious error of judgement to have any of you removed.  So if it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t be here now.’

Steven paced the deck for a few minutes in contemplation, ‘I hear what you’re saying Colonel, but how do I know you’re telling the truth?’

Howe shook his head in dismay, but rescue came from a different quarter.  Buzz stepped forward in his defence, ‘I think he’s telling the truth Stevie.  Your mum mentioned he and his boys were looking out for them, saved your father from doing something real silly.’

Stevie looked from one to the other.  Then he turned Howe around and loosened the belt.  It fell free.  The Colonel walked around waving the circulation back into his hands.  He regarded Stevie with a curious look, ‘that was easier than I thought it would be.’

Steven shrugged, ‘I trust my own instincts Colonel, but more than that I trust Buzz.  If he thinks enough of you to stand up and defend you, then that’s good enough for me.’

The Colonel nodded, ‘trust starts with a single step.’

‘Just remember who took that first step.’

‘I will, so do I get one of those gizmos?’

‘Are you your own man Colonel, do you pick your own missions?’

The Colonel shifted uncomfortably realising exactly where Steven was coming from, ‘no I don’t.’

‘I’ll make a deal with you Colonel, if you get permission to become a full time member of this crew from you
r government you’ll get one of these gizmos.  If they don’t and you still want to join me, then if you resign I would still be delighted to take you on.  I’ll make you chief of security, but you’re still going to have to go out there first and find out what you’re doing.’

‘I have your word on that?’

‘I’ll do better than that; I’ll give you my hand on it.’

They shook hands and the Colonel picked up his weapon, ‘I’ll be back, pay or no pay that job
’s mine.’

The Colonel made his way off the ship leaving the two friends alone.  Buzz wasn’t looking very happy about something; Steven had a good idea what it was.

‘Common Buzz out with it.’

‘If he’s chief of security, what am I going to do?’

Steven grinned, ‘what do you want to do?’

A sceptical look crossed his eyes, ‘question is Stevie what can I do?  I’m no scientist or engineer and those are the type of people you’re going to want.’

‘Is that right?’

‘Well yeah, of course.’

‘What makes you think that Buzz?’

‘Commonsense.’

‘What else am I going to need?’

‘Food, supplies, a secure base to work from.  You’re going to have to declare some kind of new space program and get the funding to back you.  I have a funny feeling you could man this thing a hundred times over and not pay anyone a dime but they still can’t eat fresh air.  So you’re going to need backing.’

‘Well since you’ve managed to work all that out on your own what does that make you?’

Buzz grunted, ‘quarter master.’

‘No you daft shit, my right hand man, my number two.’

‘I’m no scientist Stevie.’

‘That would be a waste of a good scientist Buzz.  I mean what scientist in his right mind would want to be running round making sure everything’s ticking like clockwork, worrying where the next meals coming from, when there's a whole universe out there to explore.  Star systems to navigate and map, new complicated mathematics to master, Christ are any of us going to have the time?’

A large grin began to slowly spread across Buzz’s face, ‘you're really back aren’t you.  It always amazed me how you could make a big illiterate lump like me feel good about himself.’

‘Hey I ain’t doing you any favours buddy, once we get this ship fully manned; you’re going to have your hands full.  It ain’t going to be an easy ride.’

‘Did I ask for one?’

‘Have you ever?’

‘Nope, so what's your first order captain?’

‘Hey, captain in front of the hired help, but when were alone like this, you can call me Stevie.’

The friends burst out laughing, like they would never stop.

Chapter 19

 

C
olonel Howe watched the ramp raise behind him and the door close.  It was invisible now and no matter how hard he looked he couldn’t see the seams.  He walked towards the main building with a strange sense of loss.  Instinctively he raised a hand and stroked the underbelly of the large ship.  It didn’t shock him or move away, and he was strangely relieved.

He could see men staring at him from the building but his good friend Beaver was the only one who dared approach.  He ran up his face full of concern, but when he saw the livid bruise appearing on the side of his face his face turned an angry red, ‘who the hell did that to you boss, you ok?’

The Colonel slapped him on his massive shoulders, ‘Chill Beaver, I burst in on a private party and got away a damn site better off than I should have.’

Beaver still didn’t look very happy about it, ‘what the hell’s going on, how did you get on board that thing?’

‘It’s a long story man, I need to see Doctor Gordon, come with me and I’ll explain everything then.  When I’m done there I will probably be summoned by the Whitehouse, but before that I want to see you and the men alone.  Give out the order and get them somewhere quiet.’ 

‘Right boss no problem.’

Brian was waiting for him and they went into an office.  Beaver shooed everyone else out.  The Colonel quickly explained to the distraught father what had happened to his son.

Brian looked frightened, ‘are you sure it’s really my son Colonel?’

Howe shrugged helplessly, ‘I’m sorry doc, I just never knew him well enough to make that judgement, but if it’s any help that Buzz seems pretty sure.’

Brian nodded, ‘Buzz and Steven have been friends since childhood; if anyone would know Steven it would be him.  So that’s why he wanted new clothes and shoes.  It makes sense, but is it medically possible?’

Howe raised an eyebrow, ‘you're asking me that?’

Brian suddenly burst out laughing, ‘I’m sorry Colonel, I know I should be asking top surgeons or someone like that but I’ll be honest, they wouldn’t be able to answer me either.’

‘Why don’t you just give him a call and find out for yourself.’

Brian nodded, ‘now the secrets out I suppose he wouldn’t mind and I’m going to have to sooner or later.’

‘I prefer sooner myself doc.’

‘Thanks for coming to me first Colonel, I appreciate that.’

Howe shrugged, ‘don’t sweat it doc, but I had better go and brief the General, the shits just about to hit the fan.’

The Colonel made for the door Beaver opened for him but Brian had one more thing to say, ‘Colonel.’

He turned, ‘yes doc.’

‘I would just like to apologise to you for my behaviour towards you the past few days.  It was appalling and unwarranted.’

‘No it wasn’t doc; you were up at the sharp end in a personal situation the likes of which I’ve never dealt with before, and you still held it together.  I was the one responsible for what happened to your son.  If I had been in your shoes, I probably would have shot me, or something equally as nasty.  You did neither and you have the courage to do one and the political clout to do the other.  I will always admire you for that doc.  I’ll see you around.’

‘Promise?’

Howe grinned, ‘that’s a promise.’

 

General Archibald wasn’t in a very good mood, ‘what the hell do you mean by getting one of your goons to keep me out of that office Colonel?  They aren’t members of your own private Army.’

‘I know sir I’m sorry.  I had personal information concerning the doctor’s son, I just wanted him to hear it first.’

The General took a deep breath, ‘I want a full report now.’

The General very quickly calmed down as the story began to unfold.  Howe omitted nothing.  One of Sales associates began shouting the odds at one time but the General told him to can it.  No sooner had the Colonel finished that they rushed out to phone Washington, leaving only the military men in the room.

The General sat back with a disbelieving look on his face, ‘somebody pinch me.’

Howe grinned, ‘I know how you feel sir, and I was there.’

He sat forward again, ‘so what do you think of this … new Gordon?’

‘He won’t take any shit sir, not from anybody and especially the President.  I think he somehow holds him responsible for Sales actions.  He made it quite clear, to me an
yway, that if the President tries to pull any funny stuff, we will never see that ship again or benefit from anything it brings.’

‘Do you think the President is responsible for Sales actions Colonel and be blunt?’

‘Yes sir.’

‘I will be as blunt Colonel I think you
’re right.  That whole Sales episode left a bad taste in my mouth.  It could be the military will be left to clean up after those damn politicians again.  This is too important to be pissed up the wall by them, do you understand where I’m coming from Colonel?’

‘Yes sir and I have already begun to take steps to make sure that doesn't happen.’

‘Good man, I’ll do what I can at my end.  I have no doubt you will be called to Washington, so play it cool there son.’

‘I will sir thank you.’

‘One more thing, you were right to tell the Doctor first.  Dismissed.’

Back in the operations room contact had been made with the ship.  Brian stood in front of a computer consol staring at his son.

‘Tell me Steven what did we give you for your sixth birthday?’

The stranger grinned, ‘a yellow slide rule with a picture of Donald Duck on it.’

Brian shook his head in wonder, ‘it is you isn’t it?’

‘Yeah,’ Steven twirled, ‘what do you think of the new bod Dad?’

Brian laughed aloud, ‘always said you’d turn out looking like me.’

There was a round of nervous laughter in the control room, almost all of them had known Steven and each was fighting with their own beliefs.

‘Tell me son, how’s your mother holding out; are you in contact with the other ship?’

‘The ship yes its passengers no.  Mums ok for the moment, but she and everyone else apart from Sales is trapped on the Bridge.  The ship locked it down when it feared Sales was going to go on the rampage with his gun.  They have plenty water for the moment but the food the ship is providing for them is unsuitable and they are finding it hard to digest.’

‘Tastes like bloody grass,’ Buzz shouted, and appeared over Stevens shoulder holding a small green cube.

Steven laughed, ‘actually I think it is grass, or at least a type of alien grass.  I’m beginning to get the impression the race that built these craft were herbivores.  The previous captain left a message and the ship is at the moment translating it into all Earth’s languages.  It will let us see it then.

As for the others, Sales has gone mad and is a serious threat to anyone attempting a rescue and this ship isn’t willing to take the risk with so few of a crew.  Sales and his associates managed to disable the ships main drive, although it did cost one of them their lives.  The coupling they removed has been completely destroyed but there are spares on board.

The fitting of the spare part would only take a few minutes, but again the problem here is Sales.  He holds sway over that part of the ship.  So we
’re going to have to come up with something to stop him, but first I need a crew.’

‘How are you going to go about that?’

‘The ship has given me a list of the type of skilled people it needs to run it and the minimum it will need to affect a rescue.  I’m running a search program to find those people now.’

‘Can’t you man it with people from the institute?’

‘There's nothing I would like better father but the ship says no.  It insists on an international crew that represents the Earth as a whole.  That will take a little longer to achieve.  It is refusing to allow the technology it posses to fall into the hands of one major power.’

Brian grinned, ‘I’m beginning to like your ship already.’

However someone certainly didn’t, Brian was roughly pushed aside by one of the Presidents men, ‘you will do nothing of the sort.  By Presidential decree I order you to surrender that ship immediately.’

‘Get lost, I’ll catch you later Dad.’

‘By for now son.’

There were more than a few muffled chuckles in the room.  The presidents man was livid with rage, he turned to Brian, ‘you will get your son back on the line immediately, and order him to relinquish that ship to the United States of America.’

‘Why should I?’

‘Because it’s a direct order from the President.’

‘And?’ An amused Brian thought the man was going to explode.

He moved forward threateningly, ‘I can have you both arrested as traitors.’

However Brian wasn’t in the mood to be threatened, his eyes darkened, ‘let me give you a little piece of advice son.  I'm not an American citizen, I’m British, and I don’t give a shit what your President wants or doesn't want.  The worst you can do to me is to deport me.  Just say the word,’ he pointed to the screen where the ship barely rested on the ground.  ‘I’m sure I could get a lift and be home in five minutes.  I’ll tell you something else, if you do try anything I’m sure my own government would be delighted to take this project on.’

The Presidents man strode o
ff spluttering impotently.  Colonel Howe had been watching from the sidelines and wasn’t amused.  He made his way to where his men were waiting.  Twenty minutes later they left the room with an air of urgency.  While Howe made his way to a chopper, his men went to acquire some serious firepower.

BOOK: Teardrops In The Night Sky (Steven Gordon series)
6.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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