Defender's "Hidden Perfection"
Chapter 11 - Race Against Time,
Copyrightę 1992-2006 By:
Larry K. Hockman, "All RIGHTS RESERVED"
Race Against Time
Babe's intuitive thoughts concerning her mate's safety had been infinitely correct. Abe's headlong flight into the unknown interior commanded his undivided attention. The smallest mistake of human judgement would definitely be fatal at his maximum speed. Wisely, he would not allow Babe's plight to enter his mind until he and the silent eagles had safely attained their prescribed destination.
Abe chose a direct course above the river to afford himself a tiny error margin provided by the absence of large trees. He continually caught passing glimpses of large, multi-colored crystals but could discern nothing of their composition at his present speed and altitude.
With every fifty mile span covered, the ambient temperature was rising a few degrees. Abe had inadvertently confirmed his and Babe's previous theory concerning the temperature rise and gravity increase being relevant with the slight descent and decreased distance to the moon's core. He adjusted the shuttle's trajectory to offset the minor increase in gravity.
Abe noticed a gradual landscape change with the elevated heat factor. Eventually, the large trees became sparse and finally degraded to scrub brush and small shrubs. Prairie grasslands appeared near the last of the shrubs and continued on for several miles before swampy marshlands and wet bogs covered the terrain below the speeding shuttle. Navigation became somewhat simpler during this portion of the journey.
After another five minutes ticked slowly by, the marshland abruptly disappeared. Abe's keen eyes detected nothing but solid, crystalline structure above and below! As the numerous outcroppings steadily increased in size, the latent danger of disastrous collision escalated proportionately. Extreme caution would have to be exercised to survive this crucial stage for safety's haven. Remarkably, the river remained uniform in size to this point.
Abe's time calculations reminded him of the forthcoming impact in precisely eight short minutes. The available sunlight necessary for navigation continued to fade ever faster with the steeper angle of descent, combined with the sharply increasing thickness of the crystal canopy.
In the twilight, Abe witnessed the river below dividing into smaller tributaries. He surmised that he was rapidly nearing its headwaters. Eerie wisps of steam began rising from the hot surface water, and a light "rain" began pelting the windshield, further adding to his navigational problems. The freak rain was caused from steam condensing back into water droplets on the cooler ceiling of crystals.
By this time, Abe was sweating profusely from the searing heat rise. He sensed the extreme discomfort of the birds as well. Without warning, inky darkness swallowed up the speeding shuttle! Instinctively, Abe killed the forward thrusters and allowed the small ship to simply coast on inertia. For a brief instant, a blinding flash of brilliant, orange light illuminated the consuming blackness of the very bowels of Hydrocryst! The enormous impact had occurred right on schedule! Braking to land, he activated the forward landing lights, scanners, and the navigational computer equipment.
The shuttle's scanners almost kicked the overload with the sudden deluge of incoming data. Abe expertly landed the sleek craft near a large, red crystal point which appeared to be huge rubies in the powerful landing lights! A new mass of intriguing thoughts flooded his mighty intellect, and he paused momentarily to arrange his priorities.
Readjustment of the climate control to defer the stifling heat increase took precedence, and the internal cabin air quickly cooled to normal tolerance. The external temperature stabilized at 114 degrees Fahrenheit; probably about normal for this region of the interior by Abe's calculations. His radiation scan showed normal levels for the present, but he expected them to rise to surge limits within a matter of minutes. Abe considered himself and the eagles lucky to be alive and stable on a solid surface, but in the frenzy to safely land the ship, he had lost track of the exact time the flash had occurred.
Abe was painfully aware of the scientific impossibility of establishing radio contact with Babe, but he made a futile effort for his peace of mind. If she, the children, and the animals had landed safely, he felt certain they should be fairly protected from the hazards to come. He thought how ironic it was to have to go to the Dead Planet in order to sustain their own lives.
A mild tremor, followed closely by the expected radiation surge, suddenly jolted Abe back to harsh reality. The outside temperature steadily climbed the scale, peaking at 137 degrees F.! Radiation levels were still within tolerable limits when the radio, computer, and scanners all failed from the accompanying magnetic storm. Fortunately, the simple circuits of the lights and the climate control center would not be affected by the electronic blackout. The efficient fusion generators hummed softly as Abe and the eagles all listened to the nonexistent sounds of silence.
The great male eagle spread his wings, indicating that sharp pangs of hunger were annoying him. Abe produced the rations he had stored for them and divided the meager portions to last over the next three days. They were grateful for the small amount he allowed them, bobbing their heads in appreciation. There was a small bag of emergency rations which Abe could eat, but he did not think the predatory birds
would eat the vegetable protein wafers. They would starve without food derived strictly from meat.
Hunger gnawed at Abe, also. Needing to keep his mental faculties in top condition, he reached for the woven picnic basket Babe had become so fond of in the past few months.
Under the lid, where he was certain to find it, lay the rolled up note. It was tied with Babe's adopted trademark, . . a dainty pink ribbon.
Fearing the note might be his loving mate's final communication, a single , salty tear trickled slowly down Abe's burning cheek. He actually hated to read it under these adverse conditions, but he knew he could not possibly fight his inner self. He slipped off the silk ribbon carefully, preferring not to disturb the bow which Babe had used to seal the message. The note read;
We are not together now, but I know in my heart you will be thinking of me. I miss you terribly whenever we are apart. We share a mental and physical bond vastly greater than any humans before us.
While I was in the zoo this morning, I had this tremendous urge just to know where you were on the ship. I could easily read your thoughts, but they offered no indication of your immediate whereabouts. Frustrated, I turned off my mind and physical senses. Momentarily, I felt completely lost, as well as blind. Then, I made a startling discovery new to both of us. If we censor our mental capabilities, plus our mortal senses, we can "hear" life strictly with our "hearts!" I felt a warm rush of total serenity and could even tell where you were! It is an increasingly strong feeling which I believe distance will not dilute as with our telepathy. When I leave you on Hydrocryst, I want to see if my theory is correct, so I want you to try as well. Give me an hour; then try, and you will truly know how deep our love flows, . . I LOVE YOU!
PS: The eagles and doves will love the surface and *I* will love you!
Abe now had tears of joy streaming down his flustered face. He had really blown his act this time! He should have made love when Babe requested it and forgot about the base camp for the day. Her personal wishes would never be denied again! Had he not been so involved in his work, he would not have skipped lunch and missed the note. He had learned a valuable lesson on "normal" human emotion which would save him much mental anguish in the future.
Philosophy aside, Abe was anxious to test Babe's theory. After shutting down the cooling system, he could still hear the steady hum of the generator and the random rustling of feathers from the eagles. The light sprinkle of rain produced little noise outside the shuttle, so he grabbed a small flashlight, opened the cockpit hatch, and stepped out into the hot, rainy blackness surrounding the ship. Even the rain was hot, although it still felt refreshing in the steamy heat.
Abe followed the narrow beam of light toward the backside of the large outcropping, fully aware of the time factor involved concerning the unknown radiation level. He would stay outside no longer than necessary to perform the test. The light threw a scattered beam on the slick ground structure after passing through the red crystals. Abe extinguished the light and stood in total darkness.
Purging his mind and senses as the note instructed, a great feeling of helplessness briefly flowed through Abe's entire body followed by a joyous inner warmth and a strong sense of life, love, and well-being. Beyond a shadow of doubt, he instantly knew Babe was alive and managing quite well for the moment! While basking within her wonderful essence of life, he audibly said, "I love you, Babe." With the sudden break in override, the overall feeling faded quickly, and he reverted back to standing alone in the pitch black dampness, but with a renewed fire for life itself. Abe raced back to the shuttle and activated the cooling system to save himself and the eagles from dehydration and heat fatigue.
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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