Eddy waved goodbye to Glafco and watched him drive away with the two prisoners. He was still thinking about Glafco's cool job of ensuring humans and the rest of the planet are in balance as he squeezed through the door and past the water barrier that allowed humans to remain dry while working with delfinians. He was about to close the door when a car pulled up and parked in the exact spot Glafco had just left. A girl jumped from the car and bolted up the ramp. Eddy watched her make the ramp bounce just as he liked to do before she reached the door and squeezed herself inside to stand next to him. A second person trotted up the ramp behind her and edged in sideways as well.
The girl was dressed in a flight uniform, as was the man who had followed her aboard. “Hi,” the girl introduced herself, “I am Rima and this is Ambrose.” She glanced at Eddy’s hand on the door switch, “You may close it now,” she said.
Ambrose reached out to shake Eddy’s hand, “We are the new copilots you and Captain Pearl will train.”
“Where is the captain?” Rima asked looking around the control room.
All three heard the whine of working machinery and turned toward the captain’s chair just in time to see a section of the floor rotate like a horizontal revolving door. The Captain was suddenly visible lying flat on the floor. He rolled a body-length clear dome back into the revolving floor mechanism, bobbed to the surface, and handed translator callers to Rima and Ambrose.
Eddy showed the new copilots how to wear the translators. He couldn’t stop noticing that the translator looked like a dog collar on Ambrose and a pretty necklace on Rima. She suddenly looked more like a beautiful young woman than a girl.
“I’m sorry I haven’t had time to learn your language yet,” the captain said, interrupting Eddy's reverie. “I’m Captain Pearl.”
Rima and Ambrose introduced themselves and asked how they might be of help.
Captain Pearl pointed to the navigator’s seat at the back wall, “There is a release button underneath the seat. Push the button and then bring the seat forward and position it with the other two. Eddy will show you the controls as I explain them during actual use.”
Rima was closest to the chair. She found the release button and immediately started sliding the bulky seat to the new position. Eddy and Ambrose reached to help place it behind the other two copilot seats but Rima moved it so quickly they weren’t needed. A second push of the button and the seat was solidly attached. Eddy sat down in it. Rima and Ambrose buckled themselves into their seats just in front of him.
“Perfect timing,” Captain Pearl said, nodding toward the setting sun. “We are going to lift out of the sea and off the planet, now. Notice my index finger sets the control ball to lift. Here we go! Three. Two. One. Lift-off.”
Eddy leaned over Rima’s shoulder and showed her how a hand fit over the rolling ball built into the arm of the flight seat. He checked to be sure Ambrose had also seen and understood the most important and totally fun flight control. He then glanced to Captain Pearl, who indicated that he should continue his instructions by pointing upward.
Eddy nodded and then looked forward between the two copilot seats. “Okay, you’ve both figured out how it works. Now push the ball down into the socket for greater speed,” he said, reaching forward and pushing both their hands downward until they all felt the power of increasing acceleration. Both new copilots quickly mastered the well-designed flight control that fit a human hand perfectly.
The huge Delfinian spacecraft gained speed rapidly and was soon high above the atmosphere. Captain Pearl turned on the view screens and maps when the planet began looking like a sphere in the distance rather than ground far below. He used the computer keyboard to stretch a straight yellow line to their destination on the navigation screen located on the wall behind them.
They were headed for the gravitational balance point between the moon and the planet. This mathematically precise location where the pull of the moon and the planet are equal provides maximum output for joy beams soon to be trained on Doom Cloud. The straight yellow line that the Captain had placed on the navigation map was accompanied by a gradually lengthening florescent green curved line marking their actual progress, the journey would be complete when the curved line lengthened to meet the end of the straight one. They would then be in position for battle with maximum joy power. The delfinian battleship was more powerful than all the land based weapons at this point.
Captain Pearl used the keyboard to enter some current data into the ship’s computer and then turned again to look at the map on the rear wall. A red line leading straight to the planet appeared on the map. “That’s the centerline of Doom Cloud’s path,” he said. “The entire thing won’t fit on this map.” He changed a few settings on the computer and moved the course map to a smaller screen. An image of Doom Cloud replaced the map on the large screen.
“Here is the magnification zoom control for that screen,” the Captain pointed out. “I am going below to the water decks and check on progress.” He then slipped under the water in his pilot station, pulled the clear dome out of the floor and over himself and then quickly revolved out of their sight to the ceiling of a mostly water filled deck below.
Rima looked at Eddy, “I’m surprised the captain would leave us alone on the flight deck.”
“This ship is so large that computers do most of the work,” Eddy answered. Reaching for the screen controls he zoomed in for a closer look at Doom Cloud. “Maybe we can magnify the image enough to see the battle fleet,” he mused quietly to himself.
Rima joined Eddy at the computer as he unsuccessfully tried to further magnify the view. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that slider bar zooms into full magnification and the button is just for fine adjustment,” she said.
Eddy pushed the slider and the view magnification instantly jumped to maximum. Deep folds and billowing crowns of Doom Cloud’s stormy surface became frighteningly clear.
Rima reached past Eddy and rolled a small white ball mounted next to the slider control. The view of Doom Cloud’s surface changed according to the direction her finger rolled the ball.
Eddy looked at Rima with a startled expression. “How did you know it worked like that?” He asked.
“My mom and dad are both involved with computer imaging,” she replied, “I guess it’s in my blood.”
Eddy rolled the ball around with his finger and watched the changing view screen. “Doom Cloud may be weaker but it’s still a huge, it would take a month to find the fleet by hand, even with that neat little ball control.”
Rima bent over the controls for a closer look. “The computer could locate it in a split second if we knew how to enter a search command,” she said as she continued her inspection of the computer control buttons. “Here it is!” She said in an excited voice. “I’d say that’s a microphone and the computer will accept a spoken search word.”
The same thought came to both of them, “Delfinian,” they said in unison. The wall screen blinked and the image instantly changed. Small specks in the center of the screen were clearly Delfinian spacecraft. The specs were surrounded by a double halo of inner green and outer golden yellow.
“That central green area must be energy transfer from the delfinians to our battle fleet,” Ambrose said walking to the screen for a closer look. “I’d guess the outer yellow glow is our joy beams.”
Eddy clicked the fine tune button hoping the view would zoom in a little closer, and it did.
“Look at this!” Rima exclaimed pulling Eddy’s attention back to the computer controls. “The slider moved all the way back to zero when you clicked the fine tune button to maximum.”
She moved the slider Zoom control forward halfway and the screen blinked again, suddenly the entire fleet was visible. “Delfinian computer technology is amazing,” she said, “as soon as we defined a search criteria the computer filtered out everything else and restarted with what we wanted right in the center of the screen.”
The battle fleet was clustered around the delfinian ships and was being continuously recharged from their virtually unlimited gravitational power source. A huge gaping hole in Doom Cloud had opened up under the relentless assault of the fleet’s combined joy beams. All fighters were deployed using Walker’s saw blade attack. The smaller ships used the fleet weapons as a protective cover for their smaller joy beams to contribute their strength as they plunged inward before turning and using their engine exhaust to blast the cloud on their way back outward for a moment of safety before turning back in to do it again.
“They’ve made a hole in that thing big enough to fit quite a few large Neptune or Saturn sized planets,” Ambrose said in admiration.
“It would be nice to know where it’s brain is rather than simply trying to evaporate the whole thing,” Rima said as she joined Ambrose for a closer view.
“Our sensors can’t probe inside it,” Eddy said. “But I’ve been in there far enough to see that there are planet sized spheres tangling in what looks like a spider web made out of the same black stuff as the main cloud.”
“Maybe Doom Cloud would lose its power if that web was cut to pieces,” Ambrose said, thoughtfully.
“The problem is getting in their alive and then staying alive long enough to do any good,” Eddy answered. “Doom Cloud sucks the life right out of whatever it surrounds, including entire planets.”
Rima walked to Eddy and put her hand on his shoulder, “We all saw the pictures of what it did to you,” she said.
“That’s exactly why our fleet maintains sufficient distance to be safe,” Ambrose concluded as he turned away from the screen.
A soft whine of machinery announced the return of Captain Pearl. He rolled the clear dome off himself with the same kind of motion one uses to pull back blankets and get out of bed. With a flick of his strong tail he broke through the surface and waved to the copilots. Three attentive humans gathered near the water barrier for news of ship battle preparations.
“All the weapon systems are working perfectly,” he said. “We have almost as many of the larger land-based joy beams as on the planet or the moon. Our range and power is enhanced because, like the moon based weapons, we don’t have planetary atmospheric interference to contend with. Additionally, we are at the balance point between the moon and the planet and can use that as a harmonic expansion of gravity power we have not yet experienced or calculated.”
The Captain then turned to the screen image of Doom Cloud and watched the battle fleet chipping away at it. “We have nearly five times the range and power of the entire fleet, fighters included. I don’t doubt that we could beat that monster if we are granted sufficient time.”
He was interrupted by a warning beep and a flashing light above the main control panel. The Captain pointed to the map display screen, “We’re almost in position. Eddy, you go through the upper dry deck and take the second stairway down to your ship. Don’t rush, we have plenty of time for you to launch before Doom Cloud arrives.”
The captain then reached across the water barrier and shook Eddy’s hand. “Good luck,” he said, with a determined look of encouragement. A slow, wide grin then lit his face, “Take Rima to help with the checklist, I’m told that she is among the best human computer experts on planet Pacifica. We need to be very sure you successfully download all battle fleet ship logs to the data records on Admiral One.”
Captain Pearl didn’t immediately release Eddy’s hand, instead he looked him fondly in the eye and continued, “If I don’t see you again, please be sure this desperate alliance between Delfinians and Humans is remembered as an example of Life’s family working together for the environment and future happiness of all living beings.” Eddy then felt a more familiar yet still surprisingly powerful flash of Delfinian mind power pass between their eyes before Captain Pearl let go of his hand.
Eddy briefly wondered if this aspect of delfinian mental abilities might be related to their experience living in the ocean but didn’t have time to give it much thought as Captain Pearl continued with their instructions. “Now it’s time that you two go prepare the Admiral's ship for launch while Ambrose and I finalize our position here.”
continue to the Delfinian Battleship Chapter 23