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   Chapter 53 No.53

A Girl Named Sandy By Paul Kater Characters: 11157

Updated: 2018-02-11 19:04

Hanging around

Paul frowned. "What do you mean by a bit further away?" The mere words, coming from Samuel, made the tiny hairs on his neck stand up.

"I was thinking that we could have a look at Mars, " Samuel said. "That is out of reach of the earth's satellites, correct?"

"earth's satellites, yes. But do you remember the Curiosity Rover that the Americans sent off to out little red neighbour? That has an orbiter as well, and that could detect us very easily. Then I would rather suggest to shoot to the moon, touch down there and cloak the ship." The tone in Paul's voice made it clear that he was no supporter of that idea. He also noticed that the others on the bridge had fallen silent.

Samuel was taken aback by the immediate rejection of his idea. "Oh. I see."

"If you really want to do something that is safer, I would advise you to go a very different way." Paul suddenly had an idea. "Satellites and surveyor modules are always sent towards Venus or Mars, for the simple reason that there is something to see there. That would also be where most observatories look. If we were to go 'sideways' and hide near the asteroid belt..." At that point the astrophysicist in him took over. He sat back in his chair and requested a map of the solar system from the ship's vast databanks, which was promptly shown in a corner of the immense screen in front of everyone. Paul looked at where all the planets were and made a line from earth to the ring of space debris that lay between Mars and Jupiter. "If we are there, we'll be hardly noticed as there is so much visual interference coming from the other rocks. Most of them will be larger than we are anyway." This time also Samuel remained silent, until Paul asked what the captains thought of his suggestion.

"Uhm, I just thought that your plan will take us very far away from earth."

"True. It does. Do you trust this ship or not? Also bear in mind that even though this trip to the asteroid belt is far, it's nothing compared to where we will be going and where the ship came from." Paul was used to calculating and thinking in astronomical distances, be it only in theory. Clearly the others still had a lot to learn. They still lived in a world where going from Bristol to Edinburgh was considered a long way.

"But what will the others think? Our passengers?" Matilda wondered.

"They're busy talking and playing bingo, " Paul grinned. "We can tell them we're taking the scenic route home once we're there."

"Hello, Bristol friends, " a voice from the other ship suddenly came in, "everyone's far away so it is safe for you to leave, guys. It was great seeing you!"

Samuel looked relieved by the interruption and thanked the person speaking to them. Then he looked at everyone in turn. "Okay. Let's do what Paul suggests. Anyone against?"

No one spoke against the idea. Ben and Jess worked on their course, assisted by Paul who knew more about outer space than all the others combined. Samuel then warned the passengers that the ship was leaving. Laverne, who would do the steering of the ship this time, took a deep breath. Paul saw how she closed her eyes for a moment, then sat back and made the ship jump.

There was a slight tremor as the ship left the earth's atmosphere. The imagery on the main screen changed so fast that everyone understood

e it from you?'

Paul knew that she was well able to do that so he told her what he had asked the ship and how he had been given a view. It was clear that somehow she had noticed how his system had been shocked. Paul was grateful that his explanation calmed her down - and it did so for him as well. And all that happened without any of the other people on the bridge noticing it. That was most remarkable.

Everyone's attention was drawn to Samuel as he came in with the news that it was time to go back to England. "And you can't imagine how odd it feels to say this, " the young man said as he sat down in his chair. It didn't take long for the others to return to the bridge as well. All passengers were asked to return to the safety of their cabins, and then Samuel asked Paul and Ben to initiate their journey back to earth. Paul eased back into the chair and envisioned where they were and where they wanted to go. It proved very easy to create a course that would take them to earth in a way that they would go mostly undetected, and the ship's speed would eliminate that too.

"Ben, will you be able to take over once we're inside the atmosphere?" Paul asked.

"I hope so, " Ben truthfully replied. "The trip we made out here was so fast that we were here before I realised it. Can someone please hold my hand?" No one laughed at his question.

"Perhaps we have to do this together. You, Jess, Laverne, Tamara and I." The five of them followed the line that Paul had projected towards home, all seeing it on the main display. "I'll take us into the atmosphere, from there Ben and Jess will have to make the adjustments to the course. Ladies at the helm, you'll have your hands full on that last part because I have a feeling that we'll be 'home' very fast, so keep your foot hovering over the brake." His remark made Laverne grin nervously.

"Charles and Melanie should monitor all the communication lines to see if we are somehow seen despite our efforts, " Samuel added. "Matilda and I will do that with you, as there is a large communication spectrum to cover."

By that time everyone was prepared to head towards earth. Samuel told the passengers to sit or lie down and then gave the go-ahead.


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