Aphelion Issue 281, Volume 27
March 2023
 
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Tenfold

by George T. Philibin




Respectfulness, Politeness, and Courtesy go a long, long way!

Mars watched as habitation and work units landed on its face, and all ten units landed intact as far as data received on Earth could determine. However, probes that landed on Mars in the past often sent back corrupted signals -- mineral deposits or unknown magnetic waves of an undetermined origin the cause, many thought. Martian storms generated extreme winds, in which static-electrical charges generated by particles rubbing together might also be the cause. If the units were severely damaged, the mission would have to be scrubbed.

One month after the units landed, six astronauts glided down to the Martian surface aboard Python, a space-shuttle-type craft with wings that helped it maneuver. Cautiously, Python slipped through the thin Martian atmosphere toward the units. Python landed once the units were spotted on radar, nearby. It came to a stop only ninety yards from until two, and all but two units were visible.

"Send the ‘Landing Success Message' to Earth," Captain Candice Peterson said, after making sure all were Okay within Python.

Lt. Cindy Collens, the communications officer sent the message.

"We bloody made it," Major Winston Charles said. He was a major in the RAF, and invited to join the flight.

"I'm glad that NASA paid for the trip here, just imagine the ticket cost," Doctor Richard Stanton said." And our baggage was also free." He held the distinction of being a medical doctor and a botanist.

"And you my ‘jolly old fellow' said that if we do make it, your queen will ‘Knight' you. Will she?" Elmo Williams the chief engineer said to Major Winston Charles.

"She might, but I bet I'll get a bloody big kiss at least," Major Charles replied.

Laughter washed over the crew and Captain Peterson was glad.

"My family will be so proud of me, especially my grandfather if he somehow knows. He was a fighter pilot once, you know," Cindy said. Cindy carried a cameo picture of him with her personal belongings and said that she never knew him, but always felt very close to him for reasons that she could never explain.

The crew laughed in merriment as Python's systems re-configured themselves to sleep mode. Python's computers initiated communications with the number one unit, called Mother, since it was the command center for the first Martian colony now forming to be called Cosmotropolis. Cosmotropolis, the dream colony envisioned by the scientific world for years now becoming a reality.

"Data's coming in from Mother," Captain Peterson said. "Number four and number nine units are ten and fifteen miles away, but they're transmitting a strong signal every hour. That's a good sign . . . and the signals coming in suggests little or no damage."

"That shouldn't be too much of a problem; I'll get them with Caterpillar. According to satellite images, the terrain's flat with no canyons or deep ravines in the way," Mike Gress said. As a graduate from MIT Mike could run or fix anything.

Mike, Dr. Stanton and Major Charles embarked from Python and made their way to Mother.

"My God, it's so easy to walk on this here Mars," Major Charles said. "I bet I could run the hundred yard dash in four seconds."

The arid and reddish Martian landscaped flooded their eyes with each step they took. Mars! Not the first steps that humans left on Mars, but the first steps toward the beginnings of the first Martian city. What a walk, and it only took a little more than nine months to plant the first step. The last mission to Mars spent six months and they all returned to Earth, but this mission will never end. Some crew might return when others arrive, for Cosmotropolis will be manned forever. The large underground glacier discovered, will supply the needed water, and food supply enough for ten years stored in unit five which easily will last until hydroponic gardening can supply food.

Major Charles signaled Mother's outer door to open and it opened without hesitation. "Well, if that's not a good welcoming sign, I just don't know what is," Major Charles said.

Once inside the airlock doors, Dr. Stanton looked back out and stared for a moment. His hand held onto the outer seal in which case Mike couldn't close the door. Major Charles and Mike waited a moment before speaking. Finally after a few-long seconds, Mike said, "No Martians following us, is there?"

Dr. Stanton broke out of his stupor then said, "Strange, I had this same feeling in Afghanistan when a Tailiban sniper zeroed in on us. The sniper fired and hit an I.V. bag hanging from a stand. We all thought that in the dim light the bag must have looked like somebody's head. He looked over the Martian landscape for a moment, then turned his head inward.

Dr. Stanton took his hand off the seal. Mike closed the outer door and within a few seconds, a green light indicating a good seal lit up. Nobody said anything as the air pressure equalized itself to earth's.

***

Three days later, all the units were connected together except two, and preparations were set to retrieve the last two.

"I can get them when you give me the go ahead ," Mike said to Captain Peterson. "Caterpillar worked perfectly when I maneuvered the other units to Mother. I think they over-engineered it -- hell if I had it back on earth I'd win every tractor pull in the world!"

"Well it should. That Caterpillar cost fifty million dollars! So, yes I'll think it would win," Elmo said.

"Fifty-million-American dollars? No -- and they let Mike drive the thing?" Major Charles said.

Laughter flooded inside Mother as Mike smiled and Major Charles grabbed Mike's shoulder then said, "But he is the best driver we have up here!"

Forty-eight hours later when all the units were running properly, Captain Peterson gave the order to retrieve the last two.

Mike started out for unit four. The ten miles were no challenge for the Caterpillar, and within four hours Mike had unit four back and two hours later connected to Mother.

After Mike finished, Captain Peterson said, "Run a complete systems check on Caterpillar and recharge its batteries. Well retrieve unit nine in twenty-four hours."

"See any Martians out there?" Major Charles said. A grin as wide a Mike ever saw crawled over the Major's face.

"Yeah, it said to tell your Queen Hello!" Mike said.

Laughter rained down on Major Charles as he shook his head back and forth. Captain Peterson smiled at the humor. She seemed pleased as she studied the responses and emotional reactions of her crew. They all seemed like teenagers that just won a major high school football game and ready to begin a party that surely will last well past midnight. Thank God the intense training at surviving nine months of space travel paid off. My crew is prepared for anything, she thought.

A little less than twenty-four hours later, Caterpillar rolled out again searching for unit nine with Mike at the controls. Fifteen miles out and fifteen miles back should also be a cake walk. Captain Peterson, a little maternal perhaps, told Mike to take a four-day supply of food and water with him.

Caterpillar started making about ten mile per hour toward unit nine, and all systems were one hundred percent.

"It's a little bumpier on this route," Mike said after a mile out. "I'm going to slow down to about eight."

At five miles out, Mike turned on the radar. The screen flashed two bogies. One had to be unit nine because it matched the co-ordinates of unit nine's signal. But the other one?

Mike immediately informed Captain Peterson, and she answered with, "Don't deviate from your retrieval, but aim all cameras toward that bogie you found. The bogie's only a half mile away and with a blip that large on screen the cameras should get something."

Mike got within visual range of unit nine, and in a few moments the other radar target became visual. He used the camera's telescopic lens to zero in on it and also sent the pictures back to Mother. Sweat beads formed of Mike's head. His breathing became almost nil while his heart raced. He turned white and didn't hear Captain Peterson say, "Oh my God! What the hell is it! ---- Mike dis-regard the retrieval. Get over there but approach cautiously. Mike! Do you hear me!"

Mike snapped out of it finally and answered with a "Yes, proceeding now to the target."

Mike turned Caterpillar toward the target and slowed down his speed to three miles per hour.

At ninety-feet away, Captain Peterson said, "Stop there!"

Writings like Chinese or Arabic appeared on the hull and at this close range, Mike saw that is was spherical in shape. It stood about fifty feet above the Martian surface but half of it looked like it were under the surface. A hole in its side looked like it were made by an impact of some type, maybe a meteor perhaps, or space junk or maybe a sharp blow from a protruding rock outcrop on landing. The hole looked imploded; its edges curved inward.

Caterpillar started moving forward again but within a few seconds, a probe-type-roving vehicle came from behind the alien sphere and started toward Caterpillar.

"Stop!" Captain Peterson said. "Zero in on that movement!"

All exterior cameras on Caterpillar zeroed in on the alien rover, and recorded its movements.

"It looks like it's watching me!" Mike said. "What the hell is it?"

The alien rover stopped, but its antennas continued to move in a circular path, and other unknown parts also moved, one started to pulse, and one extended itself. The metallic body also showed some movement on its sides and on its underbelly.

Radar had the alien rover's dimensions. "It's about a large as a full size pick-up truck," Mike said.

The alien rover had three tracks to it -- one on each side and one in the middle. One of its antennas appeared broken in half. A disc of some type popped up from its top and aimed itself toward Caterpillar.

"You think that thing belongs to the Russians? How about the Chinese?" Mike said.

The alien rover moved back and forth but stayed about the same distance away. Lights, very dim, some red, some blue, some purple, glowed from its hull at various locations. Markings like the ones on the sphere could be seen on its sides. The disc moved, angled itself, then re-angled itself again like it were trying to get the best reception possible. The tracks on this rover must have been unlike anything on Earth, because the rover moved sideways just as easily as it moved forward and backward.

Caterpillar observed the alien rover for half an hour and sent back video pictures of it in real time. For the next fifteen minutes, the rover remained stationary. The alien rover parked itself in one spot. It's disc and antennas didn't move either. Nothing.

"Mike, you're to retrieve unit nine now; I don't want your power to fall below thirty percent by the time you get back," Captain Peterson said. "Keep recording for as long as you can, but we can't spend too much time out there."

Mike turned away from the sphere and rolled over to unit nine. He latched onto it and started for Mother. "There's tracks all around here. The same tracks that alien rover leaves behind," Mike radioed back.

"It probably saw unit nine land and investigated it," Captain Peterson said.

The alien rover started following Caterpillar.

"That thing's following me! I wish I had something to shoot at it! Man, I don't like that thing following me!" Mike said.

"Stay on course," Captain Peterson said. "By the looks of it, it is just as interested in us as we are in it."

"What if that thing attacks!" Mike screamed.

"Use one of your lifting forks to fight it off," Major Charles said. "But I don't think it has hostile intentions, but it might defend itself. Don't make any unexpected moves toward it."

Mike kept a straight course back to Mother; he didn't vary in speed and he didn't have to make any sharp turns. The alien rover paralleled Caterpillar, kept the same distance and matched Caterpillar's speed. Since Mike had all cameras pointed to the alien rover, he decided to turn off the radar, thinking that it might interpret radar signals as a threat, possibly. Mike kept looking toward it and each time he looked, he thought he saw different expressions on its front. His sweat felt cold, his lip started to twitch and his hands grabbed the steering sticks harder and harder as Caterpillar crept toward Mother.

"When I was a kid I had a dog follow me home one day," Mike said. "I'll never forget that day. I thought the dog was showing his teeth, but my dad said the dog was just smiling. Do you believe that? Dogs smile!"

"Well, Mike . . . if that thing smiles, just smile back at it," Major Charles said.

"That rover's sending out signals," Cindy said. "I can get them on screen. Look! The signals are low power . . . it's like it's trying to communicate with us. Or maybe it's sending a signal back to that sphere. I don't know, but look at the pictures it's sending."

Images of blocks, pyramids, circles and parallel lines were above a strange writing, like the writing on the spherical ship that Mike encountered. Color objects like buildings and possibly trees and plants and roads with vehicles on the roads scrolled across the screen. However no beings or humanoid creatures appeared on any of the pictures. Next came a series of one type of symbol and another type of symbol that filled up the screen.

"That's a binary system," Elmo said. "It might not be ones and zeros, but that is definitely binary."

"I've sent all the data we have on it back to earth. We should receive something back in about fifteen minutes," Elmo said.

"I don't think they have any contingency plans for a find like this one," Major Charles said.

Caterpillar entered the colony and shifted unit nine into its place. The alien rover stopped for a moment then started to circle the complex, varying its speed.

"It's recording us. Studying us. Analyzing us. Hell, I think it's taking pictures of us," Major Charles said.

"I'm completely positive about its intentions at communication. The technology in that alien probe appears advanced. From what I've seen, it's power source is beyond anything we have, and it probably has been on Mars for many years by the looks of the wrecked sphere, if that's where this probe actually originated from," Captain Peterson said.

"Funny, it stopped sending signals once Caterpillar powered down," Elmo said.

"I'm way out of my field here, but I get the impression that it wanted to speak with another rover or something like itself. And it thought -- or its data concluded that Caterpillar was a rover or probe, and it tried to make contact with Caterpillar," Dr Stanton said.

That alien rover stopped once it made a complete circle around Cosmotropolis.

"I think it's waiting for us to respond," Major Charles said.

"We can send crawler over to it," Elmo said. "It looks something like that thing -- not as big, but I can direct Crawler from the console. Boy, it must have thought Caterpillar was some kind of giant."

"You mean to say that monkeys only talks to other monkeys," Major Charles said. "And that alien thing out there wants to talk to something like itself! I find that hard to believe."

The messages received from earth were almost unintelligent. The scientists and directors at NASA were confused, and they didn't have any protocol that addressed a situation like the one that faced the astronauts on Mars. However, the scientists all agreed that the main mission on Mars take second place and the new mission be the alien artifacts. Every ten minutes new questions came from earth, and demands to have up-graded images and communications sent back.

"I can't keep up with this," Cindy said. "I'm going to send NASA all our transmissions in real time."

"That's a good idea," Captain Peterson said.

Crawler left its garage and headed toward the alien rover. Immediately the alien rover started sending signals but remained stationary while Crawler maneuvered itself over to it. At about ten feet, Crawler stopped. The signals from the alien rover continued for another five minutes, then they ended.

"All this data -- maybe NASA's computers can interpret it . . . I don't know, but I'm sure about one thing: That one transmission was defiantly binary," Elmo said. "I got an idea. I'm going to transmit our number system."

"Go ahead," Captain Peterson said.

Once the transmission started through Crawler, a disc-looking mesh on the alien rover turned. Numbers flashed across the screen at speeds so great that the screen started to look like some old strobe light. A few short minutes later, Elmo ended that transmission.

"I've sent everything the computer has," Elmo said.

"Send it something else," Major Charles said. "Hell, send it some music. Send it speeches. Send the damned thing T.V. programs! It just might like Star Trek!"

The next series of signals were composed of T.V. programs, Beethoven's nine symphonies, an actor giving the Gettysburg Address, pictures of the space shuttle taking off, and a presidential debate. All communications were restricted to English, not wanting to confuse the rover if it were trying to master language.

Pictures, music and speeches were transmitted intermittently for five hours. When Elmo stopped the transmission from Crawler, all awaited a response from that alien rover. No response came forth as the crew aboard Mother waited. The alien rover remained motionless. A new transmission from NASA with new orders came.

"NASA wants us to explore the ship," Captain Peterson said. "Major Charles and Mike will have the honors. They want videos of the ship and they want a probe inside it. They don't want us to enter it because another mission is coming in about ten month, and they'll have equipment designed for interior probing. Our suits are too thick. I don't think any one of us could get in that hole on the sphere safely. But they do want a small probe sent there."

"I like how they say send in a probe. What probe? Our probes are all specific. One purpose only. We don't have anything that will do much once inside that sphere," Elmo said.

"Elmo, I know you and Mike can come up with something," Captain Peterson said.

Twenty-four hours later, Major Charles and Mike started toward the alien sphere aboard Creeper, a small transport vehicle that rode on ten wheels and much smaller than Caterpillar. Two modified probes that Mike and Elmo made, rode along with them.

Major Charles and Mike circled the sphere. No entrance doorways or impressions of doorways could be seen on the sphere's hull. The hull was a smooth surface with nothing resembling rivets or wields on it.

After examining the hole, some bad news came back to Mother. An inspection by looking inside the hole with lights revealed that only two feet in from the hole, metal walls stood, bulkheads possibly. No entrances could be seen through the bulkheads, and the bulkheads were abutted together. "That's an inner hull," Mike said, and Major Charles agreed.

Captain Peterson sent the findings back to earth.

Once back on Mother, Major Charles said, "Well, I guess that closes that door. The boys back at NASA will have to send some really good cutting torches to get into that thing. Anyhow we can't possibly get in that hole with these bulky suits -- that's for sure since we measured the hole size and found serrated metal strips dangling from the its edges. Those strip would be like knifes. Hell, they'd cut through our suits like butter. You know, I couldn't get one of those strips off. That's one hell of a strong metal!"

For the next couple of days, Captain Peterson ordered general data sent to the alien rover. Old movies, more speeches, programs from National Geographic, and a program that NASA sent designed to teach English to any other non-English speaking persons regardless of their native tongue. Lt. Cindy Collens finally said, "Why don't you send it Love Story? It might have something like emotions."

All aboard Mother looked around at each other, some smirked and others smiled broadly. Finally after a few silent moments, Elmo said, "Hell, maybe that thing has a lost -- other thing out there somewhere. Who knows?"

Cindy transmitted Love Story. After the movie ended, the alien rover responded with a series of images. Then it responded with a light show. Its next response washed shockwaves over all at Mother, for in this response humanoid creatures stood side by side, and it didn't take any imagination to conclude the one was a male and the other a female, and in one image children could be seen!

"We don't know how they communicate. Maybe they intrepid emotional responses and mannerism on a higher level than we do. Perhaps their speech has developed along the lines of body language instead of sound, or the body language and sound complement each other," Cindy said. "It responded to images of humans interacting with each other. That also has an emotional overture to it. Why respond to interaction and not to the hard data we sent it?"

"You're one hell of a communication officer, you know that," Major Charles said. "You just might have something with this body language thing. Hell, maybe the damned thing's a cyborg of some kind."

"I was thinking the same thing. It's possible that body parts from some intelligent life form is contained in the hull. I don't know. When you're dealing with life forms, anything is possible," Dr. Stanton said.

The rover sent more signals back. However, small scenes from Love Story would pop-up and those scenes always showed kissing, or hugging or the two stars from the move being close together with their arms around each other or walking together hand in hand. All scenes showed contact of some form.

Many at NASA agreed with Cindy's theory. Some didn't and others took a neutral position, but all did agreed that the rover might use a unique process when communicating -- far different from anything known on earth.

"I'll be damned," Elmo said. "Why don't you go out there and pet the thing like it was a dog or horse."

All aboard Mother became silent and all eyes turned toward Elmo who was just looking at something on his screen while he mumbled "Yeah, just pet the damned thing" over and over again and not aware that everyone took his comment seriously.

After a few moments, Elmo looked up, saw that all eyes were on him, then said, "What?"

"My God, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Cindy said to Captain Peterson.

"It hasn't shown any hostile intentions," Captain Peterson said.

The rover moved its disc a little. It stayed close to Mother as if it were waiting for something, or begging for something as Cindy so paternally pointed out like a dog wanting a snack. An intelligence as advance as the ones that built that rover, must also have computer systems that should master any earth language easily from all the data sent to it. Computers on earth can deciphers codes and learn languages.

Captain Peterson gave Cindy permission to suit up and go out and meet the alien rover on a more personal level. Perhaps it's programed to interact in a personal setting and not a general one. After all, it did respond when other rovers were near it.

Once suited up, Cindy left the air lock and walked the short distance to the alien rover. Antennas on the rover's top moved, the disc moved until it faced Cindy directly, a soft-green light, and a soft-blue light came from the disc.

Cindy stopped after the lights came on, but with their beams blending together and changing their tones and hue, she started to feel comfortable and confident. The lights drew her in. She walked up to the alien rover and stopped not more than a foot from it.

Cindy then placed her gloves on the alien rover's hull. She rubbed the gloves over it. Then she started to say, "I know you must be lonelier that I could ever imagine. It's all right now, we are building a city here and you can stay with us . . . ."

"You'd think she was petting some giant stray dog," Major Charles said.

"I'll be damned," Emo said.

Mike and Dr. Stanton didn't utter a word, but Captain Peterson said, "You know, for some reason I've got a very good feeling about this."

Cindy stopped rubbing the alien rover's hull. She stepped back. Then she bent over like she were talking with a little kid and said, "My name's Cindy. What's yours?"

Again Cindy asked the question only this time she asked it very sincerely.

In Mother, a silence washed over the crew like a Tsunami hitting a beach, for a new signal from the alien rover came forth, and its message was very clear: "I trust you, Cindy. My designation is close to your English word Tenfold which I will respond to."

The voice had a low feminine tone to it, rather soft yet clear, perhaps a close imitation of Cindy's.

"Oh! My! God!" Major Charles said.

"I-I-am glad you t-trust me . . . Tenfold," Cindy said.

"I've been here for two thousand of your Earth years. I know very little about where I came from because I was built to probe and learn a new environment -- as best as your language English can explain," Tenfold said.

"Do you need anything?" Cindy said. She didn't know what to say and that question just popped out.

"Just company. I'm lonely. My needs are only sunlight and a surface to propel on," Tenfold said.

Cindy spent so much time talking with Tenfold that her oxygen-low indicator came on. She had to return to Mother and Tenfold understood. "We can talk over your communicators," Tenfold said.

NASA received all transmissions. Messages from NASA constantly came, too many questions and so many orders followed that after fifteen minutes, Elmo turned off reception from Earth. Captain Peterson seemed to understand and left the receiver off for a little while. She then asked Dr. Stanton to talk with Earth, and asked Elmo to relax, have some coffee and think of something that he always enjoyed.

"We hope that you'll stay with us here. Our rovers don't speak, but if you like you can be with them, if that makes you comfortable. We have solar panels . . . some extra parts and other materials that you might be able to use. I'm the leader here and anything you need or want, just ask," Captain Peterson said.

Tenfold didn't respond until Cindy said, "She really means it."

"Thanks," Tenfold said.

Technological information flowed from Tenfold, and all of it was sent to Earth in real time. Elmo isolated a section. He studied it for a few minutes, and looked over it again, punched in some numbers on his computer then displayed schematics up on his screen. After some more musing it over, Elmo said, "Major, no wonder you couldn't find a door on that crashed ship."

"Why's that?" Major Charles said.

"The metal they use deforms. Their metal opens up like a curtain on stage does when one goes through two sections that are drawn together. Liquid metal?" Elmo said. "But it hardens afterwards!"

A little later Elmo said, "I'm not sure, but it appears like it's transmitting data on how to curve space!"

"Oh-My-God," Major Charles said.

As Mother relayed all transmissions from Tenfold to Earth in a secured code, little transmission came back. NASA was too engrossed, it seemed, with the data that they were receiving. However, one transmission was very clear to all: "Whatever you have to do to keep this data coming in. Do it!"

After nearly ten hours of sending data, Tenfold stopped. It responded with: "All is sent. I have nothing else. I can understand your wanting to know my origin, but as I said before, I do not have that data. The computer on board my ship might, but it was disabled and I can't get to it to make repairs. Perhaps with your help, I can. I know that I was made by beings not unlike yourselves. I believe they were about your size and looked similar to you beings. That's all the data I have about them."

Tenfold became one of the crew, and the crew loved her as they now referred to Tenfold, and Tenfold enjoyed herself. She romped around Cosmotropolis, and sometimes asked questions. Finally after a few days, Tenfold said, "I like all here." She showed Elmo how to increase the power from solar panels by fifty percent, and she showed Dr. Stanton how to grow vegetables and fruits five times their natural size.

***

Captain Peterson had requested that none ask rude or what is considered impertinent questions, for she was afraid that the questions might place Tenfold in some type of defensive mode, like when you ask little kids if they've been good all year just before Christmas. Tenfold showed emotions and those emotions like ours were not easy to understand, and in Tenfold's case extreme caution should be used. All agreed with that. Questions like "Are you a cyborg?" and "What happened to your crew?" and "Do you like us?"

It wasn't hard to respect Tenfold because she became somewhat of a friend. NASA wanted her interrogated, it seemed, with so many questions sent up to Mother that they wanted answered, but Captain Peterson refused many of their requests, citing that Tenfold will tell us in time. That didn't go over too well with one general who threatened Captain Peterson with "You'll never be on another mission again!" Her answer: "I'll be too old anyhow by the time I get back!"

Tenfold also didn't ask too many questions. Her social skill must have been developed from the movies and cultural data sent to her. Her friendly and warmhearted nature made her popular with the crew, and she even started playing chess and card games. She took an interests in the different species of animals on Earth, and became fascinated with marine life. The giant squid her favorite! She studied all the data that she found about them, and requested more. She got the information that she wanted and after a few days, she requested that she be able to talk with marine biologists! NASA reluctantly agreed, and to the astonishment of marine biologists, Tenfold explained things to the marine biologists about giant squid that had baffled the biologists from years! Why Tenfold liked giant squid became a mystery, but Captain Peterson said that Tenfold would tell when she wants to.

Little by little Tenfold told things about herself. Her power source derived from gravity waves. Her components a mixture of what we would think of as biological and mechanical. Her mission was deflected from its true purpose by a black hole that wasn't detected by the sphere when in deep space. Little by little things came from Tenfold. She liked us all and after she got comfortable with us, she and Elmo would gang up on Major Charles! Tenfold wanted to know if the Queen ever spanked Major Charles on the behind, and all concluded that it was a form of humor! Major Charles didn't know how to respond to that one. Elmo laughed so hard that he strained a muscle! Dr. Stanton had to apply a cold pact to it.

***

Captain Peterson stuck to her guns when dealing with Tenfold, and Tenfold wasn't interrogated. All treated Tenfold with respect and friendship which paid off in unimaginable ways. Tenfold did tell more and more as time passed and she seemed pleased that just a few questions came her way, and those questions were technical in nature, pertaining to improvements with the colony's life support systems. The first contact with another intelligence worked for reasons that are probably as old as the universe. Tenfold became a friend first!


THE END


2016 George T. Philibin

Bio: George Philibin has been writing for about twenty years. He worked at a generating station in Western Pennsylvania, and served in Viet-Nam. During his last two years in the army, he played French Horn with the army band at Ft. Monmouth, NJ. He attended the University of Pittsburgh for Mechanical Engineering. He worked in a coal mine, a steel mill, and a dairy once. Now, he's retired. His favorite authors were Charles Dickens, Theodore Dreiser, and Kurt Vonnegut. Lately, he's become interested in Ambrose Bierce and some present day authors. His last appearance in Aphelion, Jamie's Revenge was in October 2016

E-mail: George T. Philibin

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