Chapter Six, Then and Now

Chapter 6. Now and then

“It’s time,” said Max he then continued, “we need to get ready.”

Helen said nothing as they both walked out of the house and stood on the veranda.

“I will miss this place,” said Helen.

“All right lets go,” said Max as he took Helen by the hand and they walking away following one of the small defence robots, the communications robot and the second defence robot brought up the rear.

As they approached the force wall Max asked, “what now?”

“On the other side of this force wall is a desert environment, it will be very hot and with a bit of luck there will be a sand storm,” said the computer.

“How do we get through the force wall?” asked Helen.

“There is a door, when I activate it the view of green paddocks will distort in a two metre square, that is the door,” said the computer, it then added, “when you go through there will be an electrical flash, now the inhabitants of this environment will not know what that means but it will get there attention.”

“How far will it be to the next force wall?” asked Max.

“Three hundred and two metres,” said the computer and then adding, “the life forms that live in this environment are attracted to the movement of the sand, I suggest you run.”

Max took Helen by the hand and they followed the small defence robot through the force wall.

A wall of heat hit them on the other side and they started to sink into the sand.

“Keep moving or you will sink, run, run,” said the computer.

“Where is the sand storm?” asked Max.

“Keep running,” said the computer.

A mound of sand about a metre high ahead of them seamed to be moving towards them as well as one appearing behind them. The small defence robots started firing their energy weapons at the moving sand. Both mounds of sand stoped moving but more mounds of sand appeared all around them and started moving towards their position.

As they ran passed the mound of sand in front of them Max could see that there was some sort of creature in the sand, it seamed to be dead or stunned from the small defence robots weapons fire.

As they approached the force wall Max looked back, all he could see was like a mini sand storm and flashes of some sort of life forms, it looked like they were eating the creatures that the small defence robots had shot.

The computer activated the door in the force wall and they all passed through.

They found themselves standing in angle deep water, the temperature was about the same but the humidity was off the scale. There was a thick fog which reduced visibility to only a few metres.

“Follow the small defence robot closely, do not deviate and move slowly,” said the computer.

“Why,” asked Helen.

“Don’t ask why,” said Max.

“The life form that live in this environment live in the deep water and are attracted to fast movement,” replied the computer.

As they moved slowly across this swampy environment the computer outlines the procedure they would need to follow when they arrive at the next force wall.

The next force wall was located at a junction between a number of environments, one of those environments had failed so there was no atmosphere, it would be cold and they would not be able to see. It would only take a few seconds to pass through but if they were to make a mistake or become disorientated, well they would not get a second chance.

All they needed to do was to take one step through a door in the force wall, turn ninety degrees to the right and then take one step through another door. To help with this they would all be tired together.

It was slow going as they could not take a direct route across this environment, they had to keep to the land or shallow water which resulted in them taking a winding route across the environment.

Once at the force wall Max tired a rope to the lead small defence robot, then to himself, Helen, the communication robot and finally to the second defence robot.

“You will need to take a big breath and hold it,” said the computer before adding, “you will want to exhale but you must not.”

“What is the environment we are heading for like?” asked Max.

“It is a hot jungle environment,” replied the computer.

“Is there anything there that wants to eat us?” asked Helen.

“Many life forms live there and most of them will want to eat you,” replied the computer.

“Thanks for that computer,” said Max.

“You welcome,” replied the computer.

“Alright lets do this,” said Max.

Max and Helen took a big breath, the computer activated the door in the force wall and they walked through.

Moving through the lifeless environment went well but now they were in a thick jungle. The small defence robots went into full alert mode as they all started to make there way through the jungle. It was dark, wet and hot but there was not all that much undergrowth so they were making good time.

They were about half way across when the small defence robot at the rear fired it energy weapon into the darkness, followed by the lead robot. As they moved on the small defence robots were constantly firing into the dark. Max could hear a thud after each shot which sounded like some sort of creatures falling to the ground. That would be followed by the sound of creatures fighting.

Max could see the power indicator on the small defence robot was getting low so he asked the computer, “how far to the force wall?”

“Ten metres,” replied the computer.

As they approached to force wall the computer activated the door, Max and Helen went through followed by the communication robot then the two small defence robots but before the door could be closed one of the creatures came through as well. One off the small defence robots shot it and it fell to the ground, lifeless.

“Computer can you get some lights on in here?” asked Max.

The lights came on, they were in a long corridor that stretched out as far as they could see. Max walked over to have a closer look at the creature, it was cat like but very much bigger.

“Be careful, it might still be alive,” said Helen.

“Alright lets keep moving, which way computer?” asked Max.

“Follow the small robots,” replied the computer.

They walked along the corridor and as they did they could see through the force walls into the environments. It was apparent that they could see in but the creatures could not see them. All the life forms seemed to be animals without any technology but Max knew there were some life formes that were advanced somewhere on the ship.

“Computer, how far to the air lock?” asked Max.

“Four hundred and eight metres,” replied the computer.

The next environment they came to was different, it was farm land with crops growing. They paused for a moment to see if they could see any of the life forms. After a few minutes a life form came out of a building and started digging in the ground. The Alien was tall, thin with long arms and legs.

“Computer is there any way to communicate with them?” asked Max

“There is a panel on the wall, press the blue button to talk to them and if you press the red button then they will be able to see you,” replied the computer.

Max walked over to the panel but Helen stood in front of it and said, “are you sure about this?”

“We have to,” replied Max.

Helen stepped aside and Max pressed both buttons and then said, “hello my name is Max and this is Helen.”

The Alien was taken by surprise and ran into the building.

“I just wanted to worn you guys that this ship is in a bad way,” said Max.

Three Aliens came out of the building and walked toward the force wall, “go and get our parents,” said one of the Aliens to another, who then ran away.

“They can understand me,” said Max.

“There is a translator in the communication device,” said the computer.

Two older Aliens came out of a second building and walked towards the force wall.

“Why have we been kept captive and I demand to let free at once,” demanded the Alien.

“Hey, I’m not your captor, I was captured and I’ve just escaped, replied Max.

“How did you escape?” asked the Alien.

“My ships computer has gained access to this ships computer,” replied Max.

“Can you free us?” asked the Alien.

“Computer can you open a door into this environment?” asked Max.

“Yes,” replied the computer.

“Yes I can but all sorts of things have tried to kill me over the last few hours so I think it might be best if I don’t open this door until we are safely in our ship,” said Max.

“We want harm you,” replied the Alien.

“Of course you want, tell me, how were you captured?” asked Max.

“We were court in some sort of beam,” replied the Alien.

“There are a lot of ships in an air lock down this way,” said Max as he pointed down the corridor. 

Helen and Max start walking down the corridor.

“Please let us out,” called out one of the Aliens.

“I will,” said Max who then stoped and continued, “don’t waist time getting out of here as this ship is in a bad way and my computer is off the opinion that it will blow up some time in the next few weeks.” He paused for a moment and the said, “I will be opening doors to a number of environments that contain intelligent life forms so be aware that there will be others in this corridor who may not be friendly. You’re the only ones I have spoken to so unless the others are looking they want see the open door. On top of that the air lock is only about two hundred metres down this corridor so you should be alright, good luck.”

Max and Helen continued walking down the corridor.

Once at the air lock Max asked the computer, “is the air lock pressurised?”

“Yes,” replied the computer.

Max looked through a window and said, “but I can see that it is open to space.”

“There is a force wall,” replied the computer.

“Can you shut it down?” asked Max.

“There is no need, the ship will pass through it,” replied the computer.

“Get this door open and lets get out of here,” said Max.

The computer activated the door, Max, Helen and the small robots all went into the air lock and over to the ship. They boarded the ship, the small robots entered there recharge areas while Max and Helen headed to the cock pit. Max helped Helen get strapped into the spare seat before climbing into the pilots seat.

“Hello computer,” said Max.

“Welcome back Max,” replied the computer.

“Let’s get out of here, computer, arm weapons, as soon as possible after leaving the air lock we will be firing on the source of that beam. If we don’t destroy it this will be a short trip,” said Max.

“From the scan I took as we were being pulled in when we were captured the beam originates from three points, unless you destroy all three points before we are captured this endeavour will not succeed as the weapons will be deactivated as soon as we are captured in any of the beams,” replied the computer.  

Max just sat in the cock pit like a defeated man, like this was one problem to far. After a few moments he smiled and said, “computer.”

“Yes Max,” replied the computer.

“What if we eject the two small defence robots into space as we exit the air lock and they can target two of the beams while I target the third,” said Max.

“That could work, I estimate you will only have five seconds to destroy the beams before it captures the ship and the two small defence robots are not yet fully charged so they will only have one shot,” replied the computer.

“They will only need one shot,” said Max.

“Will we be recovering the robots?” asked the computer.

“Yes, program them and let me know when they are ready,” said Max.

“It will take two minutes, thirty seconds,” but before the computer could finish Max said, “just let me know when everything is ready.”

Max got out of the cock pit and checked on Helen.

“How are you going? Are you alright?” asked Max.

“What’s happening?” asked Helen.

“Just a few last minute problems, nothing to worry about,” said Max.

“Doesn’t sound like nothing,” replied Helen.

“What we are about to do has some dangers, we could end up back were we started, or,” he paused for a moment and then continued, “we could be killed, but I just want you to know.”

Helen put her finger to his lips and said, “I know.”

Max climbed back into the cock pit and strapped himself in.

“All systems ready,” said the computer.

“Computer, open the doors in the intelligent Alien environments,” said Max.

The ship lifted from the air lock floor and the landing gear retracted. It then rotated through one hundred and eighty degrees so it could exit the air lock backwards.

“OK, computer, small defence robots, be sharp we will only have one go at this, good luck everyone,” said Max.

The ship moved towards the force wall, passing straight through it and as soon as it was free and clear the small defence robots were ejected and Max fired as did one of the small defence robots but the second did not fire. Only two of the beams had been destroyed, the third beam activated but it captured the small defence robot instead of the ship, Max fired again, destroying the third beam.

With the two small defence robots back on board Max moved the ship away from the Alien ship to a safe distance.

“Computer, launch a communication buoy and set course for Earth at best speed,” said Max.

Max climbed out of the cock pit and then helped Helen out of the spare seat.

“We are safe now, would you like a tour of the ship?” asked Max.

“How long will it take to get to Earth,” asked Helen.

“Computer,” said Max.

“Forty two day,” replied the computer, who then added, “we are receiving a signal from the communication buoy.”

“Lets see it,” said Max.

The picture on the screen showed a space ship leaving the Alien ship.

“I hope that was the Aliens we talked to,” said Helen.

“Me too,” replied Max.

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