Per Ardua Ad Astra
Chapter 35: The Seabees Come Through

Copyright© 2013 by normist

After the Council meeting, Kah escorted us back to his house. Standing there was a panting horse-like creature. Beside it was a nervous man who appeared to be a messenger waiting, cap in hand, for Kah.

"What is it, man. Speak up."

"Sir. There's a huge shape moving around in the sky above Krust. I was told to ride and let you know so that you could help us."

"Calm down. It's all right. These visitors are going to help us to increase the water supply to Krust. Go into the house and tell Mel that I've invited you to the mid-day meal. Then, after the meal, I would like you to go to the coal mine office on Loos street. There, if you would be so kind, ask Joom to visit with me."

The midday meal was excellent, although there was a slightly strange taste to it. When I mentioned it, Chubby said that it was the different herbs that went into the cooking. After we had finished, the man from Krust went in search of the mining manager, Joom. A short while later they came in.

"What did you want to see me about, Kah?"

"I believe that the reason you're not starting the mine by Krust is the lack of sufficient water?"

"Yes. They're already short. They can't accept any more people until the water supply is increased and can't spare the people to do anything about it. I can't see a way round the problem."

"Let me introduce our new visitors to you then. Bil, Filis, and Tom meet Joom, our coal mining leader. Bil says that they will need additional labor if they help us."

"Oh good! There are signs that there is an ample supply of coal in the ground at Krust. The current shortage is getting worse, and, what's more, it's pushing up the price of coal to too great an extent. How many men will you need Bil?"

"I don't know yet, Joom," I replied, "let's wait and see what we can do to help, first."

I tapped the comms badge on my chest and said, "Susan, Bill here."

After a short wait, "Yes, Bill what is it?"

"When you have assessed the water supply situation at Krust, can you send a drone home requesting the services of Lieutenant Commander Bollinger and his men. Don't try and assess what materials are needed. That's his job. Just send the parameters of the problem."

"Right, Bill. Will do."

"Well, that's all we can do for the moment. I think I'd like to visit the site soon."

"How long will it take," asked Kah, "Before you hear what you are able to do to help us?"

"Several days, I should think. If we are able to help you can you tell me who owns the land we may want to work on?"

Kah looked somewhat taken aback. "We all do. The state owns all the land. People lease the land they need. If the state needs land that is leased, we buy the lease back."

"Are you sure that you would get a reply so quickly?" Joom asked.

"A reply, yes, but actual help may be many more days in coming."

"I had better get back to work now that we may be getting help. There's a lot to organize if we are to be ready. Thank you, Bil. Thank you, Kah." he said and left.

"Now, Bil," said Kah, "What do you people do for leisure? Do you have what we call music?"

"Ah, yes," I grinned to myself, "I think that's what you call a protracted series of atmospheric pressure variations that are pleasing to the mind?"

Kah paused a moment while he processed my words before he realized that I was pulling his leg.

"Nicely put. You had me wondering for a moment. What I wanted to say is that there's a concert tonight, here in our town. Perhaps you three would care to be our guests?"

"Thank you," I replied on behalf of the three of us. So after an interesting evening meal, the six of us walked into the center of town to the hall where the concert was to be played. The music put me in mind of Beethoven with overtones of Mozart.

That night we walked back to Kah's home where he insisted that we stay. I felt that this was native hospitality rather than keeping us where he could see us. We had had a pleasant day of first contact.

Next morning, we were breaking our fast when my comms unit alerted me.

"Bill, Bill, this is Susan."

"Yes Susan, what is it?"

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