Ann guessed that the Texan had Cormellia. I had no clue what to do to confirm or deny that this was true. I was getting use the feeling of being clueless. It seemed that it was my position on the ship to think of all of the problems and the crew's position to think of the answers.
The next morning I called a meeting. Charis showed every one the message. Most everyone agreed that Ann was right. The probability that all four pods would have gone completely undiscovered for the last 100 years was very low. It now seemed that the last pod was on earth. We now knew that the Texan had knowen exactly what he was looking for when he sent Ann.
We were divided on what we should do. Jobo wanted to install the jump drive go home and bring back the cavalry. Ritzer wanted to immediately storm the compound of the Texan and demand that his wife would be returned. The rest of us fell some where between the two extremes.
I did want to rescue Captain Ritzer's wife but we had several problems:
- Was she awake for the last 100 years or did she sleep? How old would she be?
- Did the Texan have the pod and Cormellia, or had he just heard of the pod?
- How could we get near the Texan? He had an army of guards larger then most small countries.
- How could the Skyway land on earth? The altered radio signal worked on Jupiter where security was loose, but earth landing zones also took photo of the ship and compared them with the photo on record.
- How could we keep Lance or the Faree from being seen on earth?
- How could we keep the Texan from killing Ann?
That thought gave me an idea. It took several days for the idea to come together, but the thought occurred to me what if Ann had not failed to steal the pod?
We decided that we should go to earth. Where we should land was decided by Lance. We would go to his family estate. No one would dare ask Lance's family about the spaceship that landed on the tennis court. The Skyway still couldn't land, but Ted with Lance's brother's help got permission for the Prometheus to land. We did not need to land on the tennis court the family had a private landing area. Just the idea of a private landing field made me wonder again why Lance had given up the life of a noble.
Landing at Lance's family home had one added advantage. It was near the old Faree underground base. We could use the equipment there to try and find the final pod. The humans could go and meet Lance's family while the Faree could use the more sophisticated equipment at the base to locate the remaining pod.
During the trip the Faree carefully striped one of the pods of all of the equipment. If the Texan did not already have a pod, they did not want to give him the ability to find it. Then they used the extra packing equipment was package the pod as requested by the Texan. They also had to create another bed for Jobo since the Faree had been using there pods as beds.
The story we came up with for Ann was that she had hid on the Skyway when it had quickly taken off. This was the first time that the Skyway had landed on earth or Lunar Base III. We all knew this story was lame but we were pressed for time. Mars was unusually close to Earth this rotation.
When we landed Lance's mother, Char, greeted us at the airlock. She was tall and noble looking. Her beauty was in her bones, the type of beauty that did not fade with age. You would still know who she was even if she was wearing rags just by the way she carried herself. I would not have been surprised if she could have walked through the hidden gate on Phobos.
After she hugged Lance and was formally introduced to the humans on board, she stated "Now let me meet the Faree."
I think we were all in shock. Did Ted tell her? How could she know? What gave us away? These question and many more ran through my mind.
Char continued "Well that is ship plant. The last ship plant left earth over 90 years ago. Trust me when Lance decided to go into space I searched the globe for this plant. Not a single seed was left."
Captain Ritzer walked in at this moment. "Captain Ritzer, I am at your service. I believe I meet your ancestor when I was a boy. This is Jobo, Amair, and there son Bilance. He was born on this ship."
Char stoop and gather Bilance from his mother. "I have always wished to meet the Faree. The woman of my family have always protected the base on earth. When your people left, my Grandmother created a book detailing your history and what needed to be done to care for the base. She knew that her kin would have to continue guarding the secret without the help of the Faree. I would have given the book to Lance if he had not left earth. His sister Jo is too flighty. She wrecked another shuttle last week. All of the drivers have been given strict orders not to let her drive, but she can be very persuasive."
Lance stated automatically "She is young I ruin a shuttle or two in my time." This was obviously an old argument.
Char smiled "That was true, though you were not driving the shuttle you ruined. I think you took one apart at the age of five. At least by the age of ten you could repair, and even improve any system you damaged."
Bilance let out a scream. After weeks of babysitting duty, I knew that cry. He was hungry. Char also seamed to under stand the cry. "You all must be hungry. My tour can wait. Come the airfield is completely empty and I have a shuttle standing by with tinted windows. I knew Lance could not be seen on earth so I took precautions. Your brother is doing a great job in the world government, but there are still many who would prefer that the eldest sons ran the world. Brainless idiots. I still think we should try elections again but too many are against it. Come all of you this will be a tight squeeze but we should all fit."
We ate real food that night. The servants were forbidden to enter that area of the house so Char served us herself. I have the feeling this precaution was for Lance's sake and not for the Faree. After dinner Char showed us the book. It was a pictorial history of the Faree, and how the woman (and some men) of Char's line had helped the Faree. The history was similar to the one that Captain Ritzer had told us. The drawings were obviously created by a skilled person, who loved the subject.
The next morning we went to the old Faree base. Captain Ritzer was almost child like while we were there. He showed all of us the room where he had grown up, and the place where he had gone to school. We were all very uncomfortable during the tour. Even Ann had to bend to fit into the living quarters, and Mav had to crawl on her knees. Mav amazed me again, she did not complain about her discomfort even when the tour became too long.
We finally end up in the control room this room had high ceilings to allow the Faree to fly from station to station. It was a good thing that Char had continued the maintenance on the equipment, because the system started up easily.
First we started a methodical search for the signal. None of us expected results because Charis had done the same search as we entered the atmosphere. Two hours later no results were found. After that Jobo started a search of the historical logs starting at the time of the crash.
Since Lance had to return home to meet with his brother, we decided that the human would return and the Faree would stay. Char had packed a picnic lunch that would have feed all of us for two days so they had plenty of supplies. I was beginning to see from where Lance got his common sense.
On the way back we stopped by the Skyway to give Char the tour she had missed. She was fairly knowledgeable about spaceship. This fact surprised me because as a noble and married to a noble she was not to leave earth. Char seem very pleased with Charis. She did not think it odd that she was talking to a computer. Maybe working with the Faree systems had made it seem not unusual. Soon the two were discussing possible improvement to the ship to make it space worthy for a trip out of the solar system. The fact that I was leaving the solar system, something no human had done yet, was news to me. I was the only one in the room surprised by the idea, so I left my moth shut and just listened. As I said I was getting use to being clueless.
Charis also made a promise to Char to bring an electronic copy of her grandmother's book along for our journey. After Charis and Char made an appointment to copy the book, we returned to the house.
Lance's brother, Mac, looks and acted as a Lord should. He had his mother's character and bearing. Lance on the other hand looked like he was more comfortable under a control panel. I had to agree with Char's “Brainless idiots”.
At Lord Mac's insistence Lance gave an accounting of the last several months. He explained that he had joined the crew when the scientist had tried to remove a rock with unusual mineral content from my ship. Ann had been sent to steal this mineral by the Texan and had bee caught on board. Mav had signed on as a passenger to view here husband's remains. It was a cleaver reinvention of the truth. I would have believed it, but Lord Mac did not believe the story.
Lord Mac simply stated “Considering the fact that there were nine at supper, I fear this is only half of the story. By the way Mother, I saw that book you keep in your safe, very interesting reading. Brother, whether you told the whole truth or only half is neither here nor there. The main question is what help do you need while you are on earth?”
Lance never blinked at the fact his brother guessed most of the truth. He stated, “Ann needs to get the mineral to the Texan. If she doesn't do this she will continue to have a price on her head. We also need to have a look around the compound to see if he has similar minerals. She needs to contact him on a secure, untraceable channel set up a meeting at his house. According to the story she has been hiding on the Skyway since it took off and finally escaped. “
The way they were talking reminded me of a spy story where everything is said in code and there are nuances in every word. I could not have lived in this world. I am a terrible liar. I prefer stating the plain truth, unless it would hurt someone, then I say nothing at all.
“Won't work,” Lord Mac replied, and after several minutes of pacing he added “Ann couldn't hide on a ship for the length of time you have been gone. I think instead the Captain should fall madly in love with her and give her the mineral to clear her name. The Texan is a romantic; he just might buy that story. Plus it allows two people on to the compound. The captain certainly would not allow his beloved out of his sight. I really don't like the idea of sending this girl in alone, even if she is a great thief. ”
Lance quickly offered to play the part of the captain, but even before Lord Mac strongly objected to the idea I knew that I would be the one going to Texas. Funny this thought scared me more then the trip to Tarna.