Reception at Spaceport Pacifica
Three returning travelers walked off their ship. They were all very happy to be on Mother Earth once again. The journey had been long in distance yet so short in time that they were all still exhausted from a long and terrible struggle with an immense destructive power that had attacked their new home; Planet Pacifica. Three pioneers returned to their old home, a country that borders the gray whale's coast of north America, a country now known as Nation Pacifica.
Three pioneers standing on Earth had returned from their new home on the far side of the fifth galaxy away from Earth's galaxy, the Milky Way. The human pioneers had chosen to name their new planet in honor of their old home. That is how they came to name their new home Planet Pacifica. They had returned from where they started and brought a new intelligent specie with them called Delfinians, a highly intelligent and technologically advanced water specie. The delfinians were were still on the ship in their travel tanks as the humans stood together in alert silence warily peering toward an odd vision.
Rising spaceport runway heat waves created a rippling mirage difficult to see through. Rapidly approaching vehicles were stretched upward from distorted ground level heat waves extending about three stories high to crystal clear and magnified roofs. The top half of each vehicle hovered on a ruler-straight line which was the same eerie height for large trucks as well as small cars.
Something about the combination of flashing lights and the determined approach worried the small group's leader, a kindly, soft-spoken old admiral named Inocente Castro. Almost everyone but his closest friends simply referred to him as the Admiral. The travelers stood in a line with the Admiral in the center. They had embraced in celebration upon reaching solid ground. He still had one arm on the pilot's shoulder and the other around the co-pilot and navigator, his granddaughter.
Eddy, the pilot, felt the Admiral stiffen. His granddaughter, Rima, felt it too. She looked at her grandfather questioningly. Their Delfinian passengers sensed something interesting was happening and stretched to see out the windows from their water filled tanks. Delfinians are water people who are not comfortable on dry land for long periods yet are okay on land for short periods of time. They had traveled to Earth so they could meet dolphins and whales.
The Admiral let go of Rima and Eddy. He shielded his eyes from the sun with both hands and strained to see inside the mirage. "Now I'm wishing that we hadn't turned off the ship's engines," he mused quietly to himself.
"What's the matter Grandfather?" Rima asked.
"I didn't turn the engines all the way off," Eddy said, unconsciously adopting his leader's quiet voice, including the soft growl. He had spoken at the same time as Rima and the Admiral had heard them both..
"You didn't turn the power off?" the admiral asked.
The sound of fast moving helicopters suddenly came from behind them. First they heard the high pitch scream and throbbing blades of a small attack chopper, then the more distant booming of large and heavy props echoed from beyond view. The big helicopters were over the ocean and behind a line of sand dunes. They were flying low at top speed directly toward the the pioneer trio.
"You two run to the ship and get it started. I'll be right behind you," the Admiral shouted over the pulsing roar that suddenly surrounded them.
Rima looked at her grandfather with concern.
"Move!" He commanded. "I'll be in the door before you're ready to go."
Rima spun around and saw Eddy bounding up the ship's ramp. She cast a worried glance back at her grandfather and started running.
They were at the bottom of a small boarding ramp and not far from the ship. Rima was up the ramp in a flash. She hooked the door frame with one hand, yanked herself around the corner and flung herself toward the flight controls. A quick glance over her shoulder confirmed her grandfather was not far behind. Eddy was already in the pilot's seat and frantically bringing the ship to full power as she slid into the copilot seat. They heard the Admiral burst through the door and hurry aft to the cargo area where the delfinian's were waiting in their travel tanks.
"Close the door!" Eddy shouted as he eased the lift-off and speed controls forward. They were actually off the ground before the boarding ramp was retracted and the door was fully sealed. Eddy didn't want to hurt the Admiral with sudden movement but he had to consider the safety of the Delfinian's and the ship as well. He gently eased forward on the controls, then, gritting his teeth, he turned the ship directly at the approaching helicopter fleet and briefly turned on full spaceship power.
The attackers boomed over the sand dune crest and immediately began a desperate scramble for safety. Helicopters scattered out of the way like windblown leaves as Eddy plowed the spaceship straight into their formation and then quickly accelerated far beyond their speed and range. The spaceship was fifty kilometers out to sea before the helicopters had a chance to turn around and regroup.
"Are you all right, Admiral?" Eddy asked over the intercom as he swung the ship back toward shore and turned on the weapon systems.
"No problem here, son. That was close, though."
"What do you think is going on?" Rima and Eddy asked in unison.
"I don’t know what to think," the admiral responded. 'Run a radio scan and find out what you can learn. I'll help work out a plan for the delfinians back here in the cargo area." The Admiral turned to the five delfinians, who were calm but had concerned and curious expressions as they waited for his explanation.
Admiral Inocente Castro straightened his posture and put on a translation collar delfinian scientists had developed for interspecie communication. He turned and addressed Cecric. She was the first Delfinian he met and he had grown quite fond of her during the life threatening struggles they had recently endured together. He especially liked her playful sense of humor, a trait many of her kind seemed to share. Her keen intellect was respected by everyone who knew her, himself included.
"Our greeting committee seemed a little less than friendly," Cecric said in her wry understated manner that accentuated questioning eyes that said more than her words.
The other four delfinians, Perko, Sudor, Dawn, and Landra swam to the edge of their tanks. They folded their arms and laid their chins on their hands just like any person in a swimming pool leans on the pool side while in the water. "We're all ears," Landra commented dryly.
The Admiral unbuckled his seat belt, stretched his arms, and shrugged, "We've been away from Earth almost three years. I suspect the United States of Earth has somehow muscled its way into Nation Pacifica. It must have happened when we were fighting to save ourselves and Planet Pacifica. We were too busy to keep track of what was happening here on Planet Earth."
He stood up and switched the computer monitor views to examine a full circle around the ship's position. "We can't hover out here for ever but it's obvious we can't land at the spaceport either. What do you want to do?" He asked the delfinians.
"Well, we came here to contact Cetaceans and there really isn't much we can do to help you when we are in these travel tanks. We might as well get off the ship right here." Perko suggested. "This place is as good as any other."
Inocente was suddenly a concerned friend rather than an admiral. He bagan pacing nervously and when he spoke his voice was slightly strained; "But Melodian technology accelerated the trip unimaginably. You have not had time to study Earth's Cetaceans."
The Admiral was referring to the almost instantaneos travel time accomplished with the extraordinary technologies given to them by Melodians; a third sentient specie in their alliance for survival. All of them, humans and delfinians alike would have perished without the Melodians.
"We'll do just fine without the study." Cecric answered, assuringly. "Bring us some towels so we can get out of these tanks and avoid spreading water all over the ship."
The Admiral was completely surprised but as a good friend quickly walked to the bathroom linen closet and returned with a stack of towels. "I've never seen you out of the water," he said as he handed them the towels.
"It's not hard for us," Dawn answered his unspoken question. "We can stand on our tail hand, and somersault from one spot to the next as fast as you can walk." She dried off her upper body with the towel, flapped it once, leaned over the tank edge, and spread it on the floor. She then vaulted out of the tank and onto the towel. "Hand me another towel," she said with a smile.
Dawn patted herself with the dry towel and then quickly somersaulted to the viewing port next to the cargo room loading door. She unwound gracefully to a standing position and looked out. "We appear to be slowly drifting away from shore at a height of about one kilometer," she said as the other delfinians repeated her moves and joined her at the windows. Admiral Castro noted for future reference that delfinians really could move as quickly and easily as a walking human, for a short distance on a smooth floor.
Sudor was visibly the most excited when he saw the vast Pacific Ocean. He gazed quietly for a moment and then slid down to a sitting position. He curled his lower tail hand under himself appearing equally as comfortably as a human sitting and leaning against a wall. "That is one beautiful ocean," he sighed. "I didn't have a chance to get in the water back on Planet Pacifica. I'm ready to swim, let's move this ship down to where we can jump."
The Admiral, normally a quick thinker, was almost speechless with surprise. He looked at the delfinians and thought to himself how beautiful and strong they were. He worried briefly about their safety, then realized any hungry creature that tried to eat one would surely regret it. The third paddling hand at the end of their tail looked to him as if it could almost reach around a human waist. Their upper arms could easily be as strong as his legs, probably much stronger considering his age.
He watched Cecric bend her neck downward and press her somewhat dolphin-like face against the window. Although her face in some ways looked like a high-speed, streamlined dolphin, her face and head were also proportioned and set on her neck very much like a standing human. "She is as pretty as any mermaid could possibly be," he thought as he reached to switch on the ship intercom.
"What's going on out there?" He asked.
"A squadron of planes has taken off from the spaceport," Eddy responded. "I'm maintaining the distance between us and the planes. Rima is monitoring radio communications. As near as we can figure out; Nation Pacifica has been taken over by the United States of Earth."
"More airplanes are coming toward us from the south," Rima interjected just as they felt the ship turn and accelerate upward.
"They are launching antiaircraft missiles at us!" Rima shouted out a warning.
"Okay, that's the last straw," the Admiral said grimly. "Shoot them down."
"No-no. Just the missiles."
"Yes, Sir." Eddy said with an audible sigh of relief that impressed the delfinians.
"He actually doesn't want to hurt anyone, even though they are trying to kill us," Sudor commented approvingly from his position on the floor. He was holding onto a cargo tie-down ring between the computer monitor and the windows and quickly stood up to watch from the nearest window.
They felt the ship turn toward shore and heard a low whine as the joy generators briefly surged. The ship then made a coasting turn in a southerly direction and accelerated gently along the coast on a slight angle toward shore via the Santa Barbara Channel. Eddy knew Melodian technology completely eliminated gravity forces when maneuvering the Admiral's spaceship, even so, joy power harvests the force that binds the atomic nucleus and stores it in a surprisingly small container. He always touched lightly on controls capable of delivering time warping deep-space speed, especially when flying as close to a planet as they were.
"What's happening now?" the Admiral asked.
"Eddy wants to scatter the fighter planes and herd one of them out to sea," Rima answered.
"Don't hurt anyone," the Admiral responded with a chuckle. He glanced to the delfinians. As a fun loving specie, they were grinning widely, too.
"No, Sir," Eddy and Rima answered with unintentionally sarcastic laughter on their voices.
"Those young warriors are having fun," Cecric said. She used the title Star Song had bestowed on Eddie after giving him advanced flight training. A training that Rima seemed to have absorbed in her own way as navigator and ship's copilot in cooperation with Eddie and the Melodians during the battle for survival. They fought together and defeated a planet and life consuming form of evil designed to grow faster and faster for ever. A gigantic, almost star sized monster they called Doom Cloud,
The Admiral nodded, turning to address the delfinians as a group. "We should finalize a plan for all of you leaving the ship so we can tell the pilots. I'm suddenly feeling sad. How would you like us get back in touch with you?"
Cecric turned to Sudor with a look which would have been raised, questioning eyebrows on a human. He turned slowly to the Admiral, who at that moment realized Sudor was the delfinian's leader and that he probably should have noticed it sooner. Though Sudor spoke less than the others, when he did speak it was usually at a point when agreement was close yet something was unsettled or not clearly understood. Now Sudor was visibly pondering what to say. Everyone, including the Admiral, could feel him weighing his words carefully.
"We are not exactly planning to, as you put it, 'get back in touch.' I am what you might call a president, though my position among Delfinians does not carry the same notion of command or authority that humans bestow on presidents. Although we have not yet told you our complete story, we have not lied to you, either. We actually didn't know exactly what we were going to do until this hostile reception at the spaceport. We have seen Earth's ocean and now we know what to do. The time has come for us to be free in the sea."
"But why did you send your president on an exploration mission?" the Admiral wanted to know.
"We are not exploring, Admiral. We are the first permanent Delfinian settlers on Planet Earth. It was never our intention to leave before others arrived. We are colonizing your home planet. You are the first to know."
"Others are coming?"
"Yes. Full transport ships will soon be on the way. One day there will be a half million delfinians living here on Earth. Nobody can stop us. Though your frigate spaceship may be more powerful than anything on this planet, it would need help to defeat even one of our large transports."
Sudor waved away the Admiral's next question. "No delfinian would be alive today if it were not for human pioneer bravery. We will never forget what you have done for us. Even so, we've studied your home planet and decided it is a good place for us to live." Sudor eyed the Admiral for a moment but gave him no chance to interrupt.
"From now on, whatever comes next, that awful power out there must attack two planets at once to wipe out what remains of the Delfinian race."
"Just as importantly, Cetaceans need our help." Dawn interjected.
The Admiral walked to the window and and stood beside Cecric and looked out at the Pacific ocean. "I don't care if you wish to live on Earth, but why didn't you say something?"
"Try to understand," Perko said softly. "There are a little over a million delfinians back on Planet Pacifica. Each and every one totally loves human pioneers. You saved us from certain death. Yet, at the same time, we are not happy about what other humans are doing to the cetacean environment here on Earth. Some day you will learn our full history and then you will know that we actually have no choice in this matter. We are compelled to do something to help whales and dolphins."
"We are here to save the whales and dolphins from human pollution and greed." Cecric said firmly. "When you know us better you will understand why we have no choice."
Sudor smiled warmly at his delfinian companions before turning back to Inocente. "We are here to help Cetaceans. We do not intend to let them suffer the terror of human attacks or sickness from human pollution any longer. Dolphins and whales are part of our family even though we are from far, far away. We have no choice. We are bound by family and our unique history to defend all cetaceans."
A warning beeper suddenly interrupted them. At the same time a red light began flashing, and Rima's voice came over the intercom. Hang on everybody! The fighter jets are all around us!"
The ship banked one way and then the other, next it began to climb rapidly. The passengers all lunged for the nearest hand holds before realizing Melodian technology ensured that they were okay standing as they were.
"I've caught one," Eddy yelled. "It can't get away!" He let out a hoot. "Hang on! They're shooting missiles as thick as hornets!"
The joy generators changed to a slightly higher pitch as they blasted their way through a thicket of missiles and darted after the plane. Eddy had indeed cut one of the fighters out of the formation. He was forcing it to fly further out to sea every time it tried to elude their ship and return to the other planes. The sound of Rima's laughter came over the intercom clearly.
"What's so funny?" the Admiral demanded, as he started chuckling along with the sound of his laughing granddaughter.
"Eddy's skidding and twirling around like a kid on ice," Rima giggled.
"Be careful," the Admiral admonished, "and put your views on our wall monitor so we can see what's happening." He was still chuckling and Rima heard him.
Everyone watched spellbound as the lone fighter jet struggled to find a way around them. Eddy deftly blocked it each time the human pilot tried a new move. The distance between the fighter and its companions gradually grew larger. They knew the jets had used half their fuel when the main squadron turned back toward shore. The lone fighter tried desperately to fake a roll one way and then dive under the spaceship, which suddenly moved in front and forced it even further out to sea.
"It looks like he will be able to run it out of fuel and the pilot will have to parachute into the ocean," Sudor commented.
"What are you going to do when it runs out of fuel, Eddy?" Sudor asked.
"Pick up the pilot for questioning."
"That would be a good time for us to get off," said Perko.
"The delfinians want to get off the ship when we pick up the pilot," the Admiral reported, sadly.
"What? No, not yet," Eddy responded. "We've received a brief message from Luna. We think it might be Walker and Shawn's parents. I think we should fly up above the atmosphere and park in orbit for awhile. We can figure out what this message means from there. We'll be safe in orbit and we can question the pilot at the same time."
The Admiral glanced quickly at Sudor. He nodded an agreement, "It's okay with us, that jet is burning fuel so fast it won't be able to stay up too much longer anyway."
"There it goes now," Cecric said, pointing to the computer wall monitor.
Eddy brought their ship closer to the fighter and followed along behind it. A small puff of white vapor blew outward as the pilot ejected from the plane, which slowly rolled to one side and then plunged into the sea. They were hovering over the pilot within moments of splash down. Rima clicked the door switch and the cargo room door slid open. She then let down a rescue line and quickly winched the pilot to the cargo bay hatch and then into the ship.
The Admiral and the delfinians reached out and helped the wide-eyed pilot into the ship. Eddy immediately began a slow climb to a higher elevation. When the cargo door was closed he swiftly moved above the atmosphere and locked into an easy orbit.
"We might as well go back to our tanks and moisten," Perko said. He smiled and bowed in an exaggerated version of a butler comedian that he'd seen in an old black and white Earth movie as he handed a dry towel to the downed fighter pilot, who slowly reached up and took it from his hand.
Earth Base One continues the story of Pacifica. The question remains whether a peaceful human relationship with Earth will forever remain political fantasy.