Chapter 19

The Human Settlement

Eddy stuck his head in the hatch and saw Cecric behind a water barrier that reached to the hatchway. The new barrier arrangement left him just enough room to squeeze in.

Cecric turned upon hearing him enter the ship, “I’m glad you’re here,” she said. “We are in an urgent big hurry.”

Eddy pulled the lever to retract the gangplank and walked to his seat. “Hello, Cecric. I’m ready when you are,” he said, using Melodian song instead of his voice.

Cecric turned to him with surprised wide open eyes, “Eddy, I just heard you in my head, you spoke Delfinian and it was music.”

Eddy smiled and nodded. He leaned his seat back and fell sound asleep.

When he awoke, it was to a dull thud that caused the entire ship to settle and sway. Sounds of heavy equipment and voices came through the open hatch. The inside lights had been dimmed and someone had placed a light blanket over him as he slept. Eddy pulled the blanket aside and jumped out of his seat. He quickly walked to the hatch. Bright sunlight temporarily blinded him as he carefully stepped out onto the gangway. The front half of the ship was pulled into a quay that had been dug straight across the beach and almost half the ship length into the land beyond. Cecric had brought the ship to the harbor at the settlement on planet Pacifica. This surprised Eddy until he remembered that the Delfinian ship was being outfitted from bow to stern with a row of the heaviest land-based joy beams. He walked out onto the gangplank, felt the playful bounce, and turned toward the rear of the ship.

A large floating crane was swinging the last of the joy beam generators into an open equipment hatch. Eddy felt the ship settle when the crane released the load.

Ground level was slightly below the hatch he had just left. Walking the rest of the way down the ramp he stood on planet Pacifica and breathed deep; it felt good to be home under the warm sun and seeing fellow humans at work. It was when he turned to the sun, stretched into its warm light, and bent over to touch his toes that the sound of approaching footsteps caught his attention.

Eddy stood up and saw a woman approaching. Her shoulder-length hair was as white as his, it framed a pretty face. Her radiant smile showed a hint of perfect teeth as white as her hair, that contrasted with her beautiful peach-blushed copper brown skin. So much had happened that it seemed a long time had passed since he had been in the company of his own kind. He had come to see beauty in other life forms and was suddenly overwhelmed by how beautiful a human being can be. He watched her walk toward him but said nothing.

The woman stopped in front of him, extended her hand and he took it in his. “Hello, Eddy, I am Gwen,” she introduced herself with a soft and friendly voice, shook his hand firmly and released it.

Eddy liked her frank and friendly handshake as a greeting. Though he immediately liked her, he smiled and forced his mind inward, holding it as quiet and distant as he could manage. In the furthest corner of conscious thinking lurked an unusual feeling of shyness — He didn’t know if he could still use regular words. He wished his friend the Admiral were here now and realized how much he would like to talk with him.

Gwen had returned from directing the first encounter survey at Galaxy Six and continued on as a strong voice within the community. She looke quizically at Eddy and a faint shadow of partial understanding crossed her face. It did not change her friendly smile, “I have learned that you have been with a Being named Star Song and that you carry some kind of gift that you may be able to teach me.” A broad grin replaced her smile, “I’ve also been told that you have received the most advanced flight training of any pilot in our fleet and you have been formally promoted to captain.”

Eddy jumped into the air, clenched his fist in the direction of Doom Cloud and let out a hoot. When he landed, he shot a questioning look at Gwen but still didn’t speak.

She reached out her hand and he took it again.

“Congratulations,” she said. “You are now the youngest captain in history, and assistant to admiral Inocente Castro.”

Eddy was speechless. He stood looking at Gwen and saw a touch of fear break through her smile when she next spoke.

“I don’t know why," she said, "however, I’m also told that you are now also known as Young Warrior.” She embraced him in congratulations and also to cover what she knew was showing on her face.

“We do need to keep going, here." Gwen continued. "I’ll tell you about your new responsibilities and you tell me about your mysterious gift.” She let go of her hug and quickly hid her face a moment longer, “Let’s walk while we’re talking.”

Eddy caught up to her with two quick steps. Knowing his own confusions about war with a deadly enemy that makes no sense, he walked beside her with his eyes looking straight forward for her privacy. “Do you mind if I use regular words for a while?” he asked, practicing the playful tone he had learned from Cecric.

She turned to him with a questioning look and smiled. “Regular words? What do you mean by that?”

“Have you talked with Star Song?” He asked. "That might be my gift."

“No, admiral Castro contacted me and told me that I had been selected by Star Song, somehow. It was the Admiral who told me everything. I just passed on what he said to you.”

Eddy had relaxed enough to let himself hear Gwen’s inner melody along with her spoken words. He felt the sad song of her worrying for the human colony, the planet, and the delfinians and knew she would be an important person in his life from now on.

Realizing he had not become a monster who could pry into other people’s private thoughts, he relaxed with a deep yet unconscious sigh of relief.

Gwen heard his sigh and turned to him with a quizzical look in her eyes.

“Are you ready for a test?” he asked.

Gwen nodded that she was ready.

“Okay, stop walking and close your eyes. Lean forward a little,” he instructed. Placing his forehead against hers for emphasis, he visualized the Melodian Observatory as it slowly came into view through the Delfinian ship windows. He tried hard to play his memory like a musical instrument, savoring details of the glistening spires, the metal pier, meeting Star Song, and seeing the surprising beauty of the subterranean foliage. He stepped back and let his mind sing, “Shall we walk a little more?”

Gwen started to answer but Eddy reached up quickly and placed one finger over his lips. “I was taught that speaking with words is not needed. Can you hear my song?”

Eyes wide open, Gwen nodded, “Yes.”

Eddy heard the brief melodic notes accompanying her nod.

“There you go,” he said in words. “I can hear your Melodian speech inside my head. Star Song says we may be a new branch on the human evolutionary tree.”

“I heard your spoken words with my ears and their melody in my head,” Gwen said.

“It is the same for me,” Eddy replied. “Though I don’t think I’m at all qualified to be a teacher of Melodian communication.”

Gwen looked at Eddy, started to speak and stopped. With a coy smile she closed her eyes and practiced sending her vision directly into Eddy’s mind, without speaking words — Cecric and four other Delfinians were in a covered tank that was in the cargo hold of Admiral One. The tank was a clear material and was hooked up with several devices, some of which looked mechanical while others looked electronic.

“What are Cecric and those other delfinians doing on my ship?” Eddy asked, again without using spoken words. He chuckled out loud at Gwen’s determination to squeeze in more Melodian practice. She was actually prancing around in double hopping steps while holding her hand over her mouth.

“You are taking them to meet Cetaceans, on earth,” Gwen answered. “Delfinians believe the great blue whales may have evolved past the relatively violent life that smaller whales and dolphins are said to endure. We have provided them with our libraries and delfinians will have studied everything humanity knows about cetaceans by the time you reach Earth. Shawn and Walker’s younger brother and sister, Kevin and Grace, have worked with cetaceans and will accompany the delfinians to the sea with a research vessel and surf boards.”

"Surf boards?"

"Yes. I know it sounds odd, but the delfinians asked for them so humans, delfinians and cetaceans could relate while having fun."

Eddy laughed out loud thinking about scientists with surfboards and watching Gwen dance and bow as she acted out the musical rhythms of her Melodian song. “Yes, delfinians really do like to have fun and, speaking of fun, you are so excited you look like a girl,” he said this with a sidelong glance and wry smile beyond his actual age.

She returned his smile and pantomimed a curtsy as if she wore a dress instead of utilitarian work pants. “I am a girl,” she sang, glancing shyly downward.

Eddy had never met Gwen, although he had seen her occasionally and knew she was a central figure within the colony. He liked her sense of humor and saw it as both a source of her strength and a shield against the awful unknown accompanying Doom Cloud’s rapid approach. “Would you like me to show you Star Song’s observatory and musical instrument?” he asked.

“Please do,” she answered.

“I’ll try not to rush us back to the ship,” Eddy said mysteriously. He was also trying to be fun and not entirely conscious of whether he was using his voice, his Melodian music, or both. Sitting down on a large stone he patted it with one hand, inviting Gwen to sit next to him. He then closed his eyes and raised his face to the sun. Bright yellow circles tinged with red superimposed themselves on his eye lids. They vibrated ever so slightly with his heart beat and gave motion to a vision of the stars as they appeared in Star Song’s Observatory.

Gwen heard the song of the singing spheres in her own mind. She sat on the stone next to Eddy, closed her eyes and felt the warmth of their sun on her face. And then she heard the sun sing ! The feeling of stone began to soften and spin, gently. She reached out and grasped Eddy’s arm. The entire cosmos rang out in song as they zoomed past the sun. She heard Eddy join in with his own soft and playful melody.

“Are we really here with the stars?” she asked.

“I think so. We sing with the stars and they sing with us and each other. This is all very new to me, too. Now I think we should return, this a first for me I don’t want to become lost.”

“How will we find our way?”

“Can you hear planet Pacifica’s song?” A new voice joined in.

“Yes, it’s very beautiful.”

“Then sing with the melody of its song, young human. Don’t be afraid. You already have the gift.”

“Did you just call me young, Eddy?”

“No, that was Star Song. We’re not alone. You sing the melody, Gwen.”

Gwen’s voice sang out sweet and sad, for she had greater fears about the planet’s fate than her own. The stone suddenly felt solid, the stars were gone, and the land was once again before them.

“Was that real?” Gwen asked in astonishment.

“You tell me.” Eddy laughed at the look on her face. “I should go back to the ship before it leaves without me.” He stood and started walking.

Gwen jumped up and caught up to Eddy. “What do you think Doom Cloud is?” she wondered.

“I’m not sure. The Admiral says it may be the victorious corporation from cannibal capitalism in some past civilization. It consumed its own planet and now it searches out and consumes new life and planets to keep growing forevermore. Star Song says it’s part of an endless struggle between positive good and the negative Satanic force of evil.”

“Why is it after Delfinians?”

“Delfinians are not sure but some of their scientists believe they might have discovered how to travel between big bangs, which they call, ‘big still banging.’ They think this is somehow either a threat to the dark force or they have become some kind of delicious high energy snack. Either way, Doom Cloud is on the way to drain their lives out.”

Gwen and Eddy stopped at the gangway and looked up at the ship. The hatch was still open. Gwen reached out to shake Eddy’s hand, “Good luck young warrior,” she said, a catch in her voice.

“Good luck to you,” Eddy said hugging her. “Where will everyone go now that there is no time to reach the inner Melodian world?”

“There are tunnels that protect the heavy land-based joy generators, mothers with infants will go there. The rest of us will gather around the joy beams themselves and hope for the best. Perhaps the big, ground-based weapons will carve out a large enough hole to keep us safe even though we’re out in the open.”

A truck arrived and parked at the base of the boarding ramp just as Eddy was about to step onto it. He backed away, giving room for two men hurrying aboard with arm loads of electronic equipment. “When will the ship be ready to leave?” he asked. The second man paused. Shifting the load to his knee he held it with one arm and wiped beads of sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his free arm. “This is a big ship,” he answered. “If we can’t finish the weapons control hookups before sundown it will fight from here.”

He hefted his load into both arms and hurried down the ramp.

“Don’t worry,” he shouted over his shoulder. “Even if it fights from here, this ship will have almost as much power as all the other land-based defenses combined.”

Eddy noticed some delfinians working in the water toward the rear of the ship. Pulling his translator from his pocket he turned to Gwen, “My ship, Admiral One is below the waterline, maybe those delfinians know what’s going on.” He turned and started running. The sound of Gwen’s footsteps running behind was her answer, she was curious, too. They were both gasping for breath after a long run. It was much further than Eddy had imagined, even after they finally reached the half-way point at the floating pontoon pier they still ran on a long way to the delfinian workroom. Bent forward with both his hands leaning on his knees and speaking between heaving gasps, Eddy asked how long the work would take.

The delfinians gave a much more optimistic response than they had been told before their run. “All tests will be completed soon, the ship is scheduled for lift off at sundown.”

“Cecric is on my ship and it’s below waterline,” Eddy said catching his breath a little.

“We are in touch with Cecric. This has taken longer than expected. All the tests will be completed in time,” the delfinian waved a hand full of small tools and dove underwater.

Gwen turned to Eddy. “It’s almost lunchtime and I have enough for both of us in my pack. Let’s hike to a little past those trees where the river comes into the harbor and have a picnic. I want to learn more about Star Song and Melodians anyway.”

She looked at Eddy’s worried expression, “I’ll show you my favorite picnic spot." She said as they walked along side the ship, back toward the beach. "That run worked up my appetite and maybe this will be my last chance to have a picnic there.”

Eddy again realized how worried Gwen was. “Sure,” he said. “There’s not much we can do here, we might as well have a picnic.”

Their slower paced walk back along the length of the Delfinian ship was actually quite interesting. Delfinians and humans were working well together. Most of the ship was below waterline and still flooded, only the extreme upper deck was dry. Humans were visible through open hatches as they were bolting the heavy weapons in place and running cables everywhere on the upper deck. Delfinians were at the same time doing most of the technical work and bringing their unlimited gravity power from below to the weapons. When Gwen and Eddy reached the ramp to the flight deck, he asked her to wait while he checked departure time once more, just to be sure.

Eddy walked up the ramp giving it a familiar bounce and stuck his head in the door. A Delfinian was in the water chamber reading a manual and going over some maps. Eddy slipped his translator back on, “Hello, I’m captain of Admiral One. Some of your crew told me lift-off is scheduled for sunset. I don’t want to miss it. Do you know what the plan is?”

The delfinian looked up at Eddy and pointed to the second pilot seat next to his and another that still had his blanket on it. “You be in one of those seats before sundown so you can help me train another human copilot to replace you. We lift off when the last spot of sun goes beneath the horizon.”

Eddy felt a hand on his shoulder, Gwen had followed him up the ramp to see the Delfinian flight control room. “The Captain says lift-off is at sundown,” Eddy told her. He still had his translator on so the words came out Delfinian.

Gwen also heard the Melodian in her head and understood, she nodded as Eddy took off the translator. When they waved goodbye to the pilot, they noticed he was looking at them very intently. “Do you suppose he heard your song in his head along with the words?” Gwen asked as they walked up the ramp.

“I don’t know, he looked like he might have. Melodian speech is still a mystery to me,” he replied, turning in the direction of Gwen’s favorite picnic spot. “I feel more than a little odd going on a picnic with all this work around us and Doom Cloud so close.”

Gwen laughed and then grew serious. “The Admiral told me to spend as much time as possible studying what you learned from Star Song, that’s why I packed a picnic lunch before I came to find you.”

“Thank you, Admiral,” Eddy said. “I missed breakfast and I’m starving.”

continue to a very brief picnic, Chapter 20