Defender's "Hidden Perfection"
Chapter 15 - A Golden Opportunity,
Copyrightę 1992-2006 By:
Larry K. Hockman, "All RIGHTS RESERVED"
A Golden Oppertunity
Abe programmed the shuttle's guidance system to take the craft to the polar outskirts of the interior cavern. Next, it would pursue a series of sweeps toward the core, reverse direction, and return by criss-crossing its previous passes. In this way, the maximum amount of data would be recorded. Much could be learned from the new disc. The collected information would later be transformed into a topographic map.
With the entire sequence programmed, Abe added a ten second delay, punched the activation switch, and gingerly stepped aside. The power level seemed perfect as the shuttle gracefully lifted off for its solo mission and pivoted into a parallel along Rainbow Falls. Abe whistled for the eagles when the shuttle disappeared from sight. From afar, he heard the male's gruff screech and knew they were headed back.
The first eclipse they would witness on Hydrocryst would occur sometime shortly after supper, and Abe had no intention of missing it. He knew Babe would also enjoy the spectacle immensely. He returned briskly to the tent for the eagles' rations while enjoying the tantalizing, aromatic smell of Babe's cooking wafting across the gentle breeze.
After feeding his friends, Abe caught Babe's subtle call to supper and returned to eat. The meal was superb by any standards. She had raided the seafood stores aboard the New Hope. Babe had expertly prepared Maine lobsters, Alaskan crab legs, plus a divine shrimp salad. Abe almost felt as though he were back on Earth. Hush puppies, seafood sauce, melted butter, and fresh lemon added an extra flair. The soft, romantic glow from delicate pink candles and a glass of dry, white wine was Babe's final touch of class to the exquisite meal. Abe was keenly aware of her plans for post sunset entertainment, and he was looking forward to a relaxing night of intimacy on Hydrocryst. Outside, the low-pitched hum of the shuttle signaled its timely return.
Abe figured an hour of full light remained before the eclipse would begin. He put on his protective glove, raised his powerful arm, and whistled for the wayward eagles. Abruptly, they were circling overhead. The large male gracefully spiralled down and hovered momentarily, but would not land. With a rush of his great wings, he regained altitude and streaked toward the saltwater river. Abe whistled again, but the predator only repeated the procedure. Abe sensed the bird wished him to follow. He relayed the message to Babe, adding that he would return shortly. She replied by thoughtfully reminding him of the encroaching eclipse and lovingly telling him to be careful.
Abe brought the shuttle back to life and trailed the birds diagonally across the salty river. More outcroppings of large red and green crystals materialized below the flight path. Then, another small river suddenly emerged from a dazzling array of strange crystals. The new stream glistened with an eerie yellow tinge to its waters as it slowly meandered towards the interior. Abe guessed the water to be saline from the total lack of vegetation along its course.
Presently, the small river cascaded over an exposure of shining amber crystals, disappearing into an oval sink-hole rimmed with dancing reflections of yellow light. When the eagles landed nearby, Abe gently set the shuttle down and stepped out to investigate. The birds immediately flew to the edge, seemingly fascinated by the reflective material. Abe's deductive mind was already speculating, thinking their composition to probably be metallic in origin. When he neared the sparkling edge, his suspicions were confirmed.
Large nuggets and flakes of pure, glistening gold lined the perimeter of the depression, reflecting all of the available light! Abe picked a lump of the bright metal up and bit the edge, leaving the imprint of his teeth in the lustrous glow of the pure, soft metal surface. He decided not to mention the gold to Babe when he related the presence of the new sink-hole. Curiously, he tasted the water, confirming the fact of its suspected salinity. Satisfied, Abe made for the shuttle while the eagles took flight in the direction of the base camp. He lightheartedly paced the birds on the return flight.
While en route, Abe noticed the male's powerful talons reflecting the waning sunlight and guessed they had acquired a light coating of gold dust from the sinkhole. He appropriately decided to name him "Goldclaw." Smiling to himself, he appropriately named the female "Amber" to match her buff color with the afternoon sunlight filtering through her wings. Abe was ultimately pleased with the names.
Back at the camp, Babe expressed her pleasure at his choices, also. She had spread out a soft blanket on the grassy knoll to provide them an unobstructed view of the "sunset". Abe allowed her to pick his thoughts revealing the data concerning the river and its destination, but he was careful not to think about the precious metal. Puzzled, she inquired on how he had settled on the name of Goldclaw, when in reality, the actual talons were coal black. His chosen thoughts told her they had reflected the golden rays of the sunlight as the bird flew near the crystal barrier of the ceiling. Satisfied, she dropped the subject.
Goldclaw and Amber took wing to take advantage of the fading light. Olive and Love were thoroughly content to rest comfortably on Babe's delicate shoulders.
The new light pattern appeared irregular on the crystal canopy above them. Abe speculated that the lone mountain range on the back edge of the Dead Planet was responsible. Babe agreed with her mate.
The outstanding colors of the eclipse were occurring behind them, but were steadily advancing toward the interior. They both wondered what patterns were dancing across the rushing waters of Rainbow Falls. Babe noticed the absence of some colors they had witnessed during the sunrise (actually, the end of the eclipse). Again, the mountain range was the suspected cause. The entire scene stimulated the body and soul, spawning yet another appreciation for the unlimited aesthetic values of light.
The eagles returned as the sparkles of light slowly retreated into the depths of the interior, leaving only a faint glow of reflections which quickly dispersed into total darkness. Unable to navigate in the blackness, Goldclaw and Amber waited for Abe to power the overhead lights. Briskly, they flew to their respective perches, accompanied by Olive and Love, close behind.
Hand-in-hand, Abe and Babe slowly strolled to the tent in the cool, fresh air. With the birds home and resting, Abe doused the bright lights, and Babe re-lit the candles she had used at dinner.
The loving couple undressed quickly and silently within the soft circle of flickering candlelight. They were eager to be engulfed by the intimacies their love-making would bring forth. The next hours proved to be as comforting and fulfilling as they had anticipated. Fully satisfied and content, they finally settled into a deep, restful sleep. The soft glow of their union lingered long after the candles were extinguished.
Author's Note: Feel free to copy/paste the text contained herein to build your personal copy of "Hidden Perfection". However, as this is COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL by ME, the ORIGINAL AUTHOR, please DO NOT copy for UNAUTHORIZED DISTRIBUTION in any form or fashion. "ALL RIGHTS RETAINED & RESERVED" by Larry K. Hockman! Please don't hesitate to E-Mail me for permission to use my works in the classroom, etc. ThanX for Visitin'! I hope you enjoyed the story and pass it on to your friends. LKH
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