Per Ardua Ad Astra
Chapter 36: Can Do
Copyright© 2013 by normist
I had been laughing my head off as the Endeavour landed, for there were about forty shipping containers arranged in one layer trailing behind the spacecraft. They were in pairs, end to end with their doors on the outside ends of each pair. Twenty pairs positioned laterally were trailing the Endeavour. As the Endeavour landed and switched off its drives, the cable towing the containers sagged from its rigid configuration.
Three officers emerged from Endeavour and approached us. The group was led by Lieutenant Commander Bollinger who came to attention and threw me a snappy salute.
"Seabees reporting, as ordered, Sir."
"At ease, Commander."
"I didn't realize that the free ride you promised us when the Voyager arrived at Holloman would be a working ride."
"There's rarely such a thing as a free lunch, Major. Now, what have you brought with you?"
"We managed to squeeze in a whole company. I thought that would be enough to get started. We can always go back for more. We have a water treatment and filtration plant and about four miles of pipe for a terrestrial population of fifteen hundred people. Do you know what the consumption is locally?"
"I doubt that it will be currently that high. They collect and carry their water from a central point. Now Chris, let me introduce you to the leader of this colony. Kah, this is Chris, our builder of almost anything. Chris, this is Kah who is the leader of this world."
"I am pleased to meet you, Sir," said Chris.
"As am I," replied Kah. "What surprises me is that you all seem to speak our language so fluently."
"That is largely due to the efforts of Phyllis and Tom," I put in. "When we were here before we gained a lot of useful experience at one of your schools. That, and the comprehensive information that we gathered from the books we found on your home world gave us a good start in learning your language. Another point that I should tell you is, that on our world, there are many languages. Being used to exposure to different languages has helped us to learn a new one."
Kah looked round and called Joom.
"Joom, come here, please."
"Yes, Kah, what is it?"
"I would like you to meet Chris, the builder that the visitors brought here. He is going to solve your problems.
"Hullo, Chris," Joom said. "Does that mean you will be building the housing for our coal miners?"
The Admiral ... er ... Bill only asked us to provide the water supply, but we also put up buildings. How many people would there be?"
"We think we need about seven hundred people to run the mine. There are presently about two hundred people in Krust."
"Now I need to know what sort of buildings would suit your miners."
They wandered off, deep in conversation.
Kah smiled at me and said, "I think that Joom may be imposing on your generosity. You only offered to upgrade our water supply."
"We're glad to help if we can.
"Thank you, Bill, and now perhaps you would be so kind as to introduce me to the others of your people waiting there."
I called Captain Groves and Lieutenant-Commander Shaw over to be introduced to Kah.
"Gentlemen, come over here and meet Kah, the Leader of this planet. Kah, may I present Charles who commands this other Spacecraft and Gerald. I'm sorry Gerald. I don't know your current job?"
"I'm now the first Officer on the Endeavour, Admiral. Expansion is providing quite a few of us with promotion." He turned to Kah, "we're very pleased to meet you, Sir."
"And I, you. You continue to amaze me with your fluency in my language."
"I don't think that any of our people who have difficulty in learning the language," said Captain Groves, "will be coming here."
"The point that I find amazing is the towing ability of the Endeavour," I added.
"Ah," said captain Groves, "It's the development of an effect discovered by Captain Chalmers, when you were preparing the Enterprise. The electrical connection ensures that the containers form a rigid part of the craft."
"And what about all that?" I asked as I pointed to the heavy machinery that was being unloaded from some of the containers.
"Those machines were made for the planets around Epsilon Eridani to develop the colonies there."
"How are they powered?" I asked.
"They use Sterling radioisotope generators," Gerald replied.
"When we got your message drone," said Charles, "we thought we would try the machines out here."
"I'm very glad you did," said Kah. "I wonder, Bil if I could ask you to take us home. I'm sure that Ger and Horj have things to do."
We made our farewells to Charles and Gerald, before reentering our Shuttle. The return trip was made much more quickly than the outgoing one. After dropping off Ger and Horj, we returned to Kah's house. As we prepared to return to the Beagle, Kah invited us to join them for their evening meal. Needless to say, we joined them.