Chapter 3 - Calm before the storm
470 days ago
Chapter Three; Calm before the Storm
“Mom, Dad, Come in, this is Yelid calling” Again no answer, Yelid glanced over the communication board, flipped a switch and repeated,
“Mom, Dad, Do you read me?” he was interrupted by a message telling him that they were out, and asking if they should be paged.
“Yes” Yelid cried, exasperated. They were already four hours out, The grouping device on his Monopod had been set to work in sync with Cory’s. The ships were locked together, That’s how the groups in Mrs Graf’s class stayed together.
“Any luck reaching them?” It was Cory.
“No, and I left them several messages.” Then he lowered his voice, as if anyone else could hear,
“Are we still being followed by that “Phantom Blip” Yelid thought he heard a faint giggle on the head set. They had noticed the craft following them, almost as soon as they launched. Up till now there had been no radio contact.
“Oh, fer gosh sakes” He swore.
“Punim, answer me, Over” Nothing.
“Punim I know you are there. You’re busted, now answer me” A squeaky voice replied, as Cory gave Yelid a knowing thumbs up, on the monitor.
“How did you know it was me?” Punim asked.
“You never mind that” Said Yelid in an angry voice,
“What are you doing here? You know Mom and Dad said no! Why did you follow me? What am I going to do? I can’t baby sit you, and do my project” Punim looked down with a frown,
“I won’t get in your way, you can still do your work”
“No,” Yelid said sharply, “You’ll have to go back."
“But I wanna be with you” Said Punim, “I don’t wanna go back” He was going to start to cry. Yelid rolled his eye’s up, Just great, he muttered to himself. The incoming message indicator on the console interrupted him, he flicked a switch,
“Son, I got your message, We noticed Punim was gone, and called all his friends. They told Your Mom and I how he was going to follow you. We checked for his Monopod, back at the house. Then we contacted Mrs Graf and the authorities. She told us that you had already launched. Son, Is Punim with you? And is he safe?”
“Yeah Dad, He’s safe, I think, we just got in touch with him, he had silenced his radio.”
“Hook us up three way,” A pause, “Punim, can you hear me?”
“Yes Dad” came the faint reply.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes Dad, I’m OK”
“You know you did a bad thing, leaving without letting us know. You had us all worried sick. Your Mom and I are relieved to hear that you are OK. Now listen. I have a good mind to tell you to return home immediately”
"Yes!" Yelid thought as he breathed a sigh of relief,
“But I can’t ask you to do that”
“What?” Yelid gasped in surprise. His Father replied,
“Listen Yelid, I understand that this is a unexpected burden for you, but we can’t have Punim traveling back on his own, for five days unescorted. And there is no way to get an escort for him”
“But Dad” Yelid protested, “He’ll get in the way, and ruin my project”
“We already spoke to Mrs Graf, she will take into consideration your situation”
“But Dad!” Yelid’s heart sank, He almost guessed what his father was going to say,
“Listen son, We are counting on you to be a man, and to look after Punim, and make sure he’s safe at all times. We have already increased your credits to cover him. He is your responsibility now, like it or not, and we are counting on you to make sure he’s OK. Now lock him into your group, if you haven’t already done so, and keep in contact, particularly if you need anything, now have a great exploration. Good luck! Now Punim, I’m talking to you and you listen. You will do whatever your brother tells you to do, He’s your boss, and you will not get in his way, Am I clear? Over”
“Yes Dad” Punim answered. Satisfied that Yelid would take care of things, he signed off.
The technological mastery of communications allowed that conversation to happen almost instantaneously, an ingenious series of relays extending along the interstellar paths, extended communications considerably, but not forever. Once a five light year marker was reached, there could be no relayed communications past that point from the home base. When the boys reached their assigned region, there would be virtual radio silence from the outside. Except for those random signals that could be picked up on a receiver like the Wave Detector device, that Yelid had hooked up.
Yelid was in a dark mood. He had to take care of Punim, but he didn’t have to like it. Cory sympathized. It was a good thing that each of the boy’s crafts, were equipped with provisions to cover most situations; An Entertainment and Education module was programmed for each of the boys personalities. Punim would be entertained with his games and cartoons, Yelid and Corys systems were adjusted for their age and intelligence levels. Yelid was much into gaming with Cory, and into problem solving puzzles. Cory liked music, and could improvise on the Gramaphonic keyboard.
The Health Module of each craft was in constant operation, monitoring the body functions, Respiration, food intake, waste disposal, and sleep requirements for each of the boys. Navigation was preset; Technicians would be able to monitor the position of all the crafts as they were assigned and en route to their destinations. Guidance would be automatic, It could only be bypassed by manual control, which required special pilot skills to operate. Landing was best left in the hands of the Auto navigator.
The random meal selector sensed Yelids upset mood, and cooked up for dinner a combination of his favorite dishes. It worked in cheering up his mood some.
“Well” Yelid said, “It looks like we are six sleep periods away from our destination.” It was a vast distance covered as the craft headed for the crab nebula. We have a lot of time on our hands”
There really wasn’t a lot to see looking out the observation window. Under normal travel, the glowing star field punctuated the pitch black of the background. Stars looked like powdery dust, and appeared to be set in place and unmoving, like a spatter painting on black velvet. When the craft was traveling in the wormhole at hyper speeds, there was even less to see out the view ports. Just a pulsating effect that was both hypnotic, and boring.
“Are we there yet?” Punim asked again. Yelid rolled his eyes,
Two sleep periods in, Yelid was randomly scanning the void for signals, he picked up something that was very hard to discern, but it was absolutely different from the background noise,
“Hey Cory, listen to this” Yelid transmitted the signal,
“Try to find the strongest frequency, and I’ll have my ship locate it’s source” Yelid adjusted a few dials, switched on some filters, and was able to almost isolate the signal. It was rhythmic and there were voices and it captivated both boys, It lasted about three and a half earth minutes. When it was over, Cory replayed it, This was something for him to study, it was strange, for some reason it made him feel happy. Yelid liked it too, and hoped he could track the source of the signal, maybe there would be more. It was Punim that gave the sequence a name, it sounded kind of like what was found in the signal.
“You should call it, “Uganurry Luf “ Yelid and Cory both agreed that it was a fitting name, and Punim was happy to at last break the freeze.
They did find more signals, Cory was able to copy the tunes on his keyboard. But the boys could not pinpoint the source, it was uncharted. This in itself would have been a momentous find. The translators were calling for more information.