This chapter had to be written twice. The first time I wrote while I was not feeling good. It was too depressing. I think this one is better. I also know I have added some people to my book list. If you want chapter 1 or 2, I would be happy to send it to you.
A few hours later I was still working on Charis. The intruder had cut several wires. I had never been neat about my wiring, but when you work alone you don't need to be neat, right? As I worked, I worried about Charis. There was something wrong with her vocal program or hardware, I was just praying that there was not something wrong with the program.
Finally about 4:00 am I called Ted. "Ted, someone has tampered with Charis. I have worked on her for about 5 hours, but I cannot get the speech synthesizer program running. Do you know a good expert that I can hire?" Most people would have wondered one of three things.
Ted did not ask any of these questions. I guess that he has heard of Charis enough times to understand that she was more then the sum of her hardware and programs. He immediately went to action. Within minutes there was a signal at the air lock. The guy introduced his name as Lance.
Lance and I got to work. I continued to work under the cut wires while Lance worked on testing the system. This way we could work twice as fast. It was noon before Lance called halt. I started to refuse.
Lance answered, "Ted told me that I would have to watch you. The International Federation of Laborers has stated that no employee should be enforced to work more then 5 hours without a break. We have been working more then 8 hours, and you have been even longer."
"Come on let’s go get something to eat." Lance said.
We went to Ted's Place. As Ted served us he said, "So who broke into your ship?" I guess the look on my face was blank. He continued with “I guess you have not even called the station security."
Lance and I had to admit that we had to been too busy to call station security. I guess in the back of my mind I was thinking that the station police could not do any thing. I never saw the invader for more then a second.
I only answered "Let's get back to work, Lance. Ted put both meals on my account"
Ted knew me too well, “I take it that means you are not going to tell the station police, and I should mind my own business. They do know their job. Just watch your back. Who ever broke in did not get what ever they wanted the first time. You know those supplies you ordered, I think that I will start getting them together, you just might need them sooner then you think."
With that encouraging thought Lance and I returned to the ship. Within a few minutes we got Chris’s speech synthesizer working. You would think that she would be grateful; instead she said, "What took you so long? I bet you have not even checked the rock. By the way when are you going to get my visual sensors up?” I had no clue that her visual sensors were down, but neither Lance nor I decided to argue with a blind computer.
Lance and I decide to humor Charis. So we went into the science lab. Charis had locked it down as soon as the scientist had left. When the door opens, we had a surprise. The rock had a faint glow about it. "Chris did you know that the rock had a luminance ability?"
Charis answered, “No, Bill it has not shown that ability before."
We had very little time to think the rock or anything else. Charis said, " Bill, there is a call from Ted, he says it is urgent."
I did not need to tell Charis to put it through. She knew already what I wanted. It was good to have her back.
"Bill, it is time to go. I have your supplies packed and a trusted courrier is going to drop them off. I just got word. The station scientists have decided that your rock is a biohazard. They are on their way to put you and your ship in quarantine. It would be a good idea to put Lance’s wages on your tab. I will pay him so station security does not know that he has been on your ship."
Too many things were happening at the same time. I did not wonder if the information Ted gave me was true. When he said something would happen it would.
Once again Lance showed clarity of thought that I lacked. "Ted did you happen to put double rations in those supplies."
"Yes, I did. I thought you would want to stay on board." Ted's voice answered through the com.
"Then I will talk to you later Ted. We have a lot to do to prep this ship for flight. Thank you for everything. I know that Bill would thank you too when he catches up." Lance answered.
I am usually fast on my feet but you must remember that I had been working repairing Charis for longer then I care to think about. To top it off I had had almost no sleep. The only question I could think of was a dumb one. “We?"
Lance answered as he started for the control room. "Sure, I need to get to Jupiter Station. You need some one to help you finish repairs. I think I could do enough work to pay off my passage. I notice that you have two extra rooms. I could use one."
The next half hour was a blur. Lance and I started the pre flight check up. When the supplies came Lance went to stow them in the cargo hold. We made it out of Moon base in time but several questions were on my mind.
Why did they want the rock this much?
Who was Lance, and why did he need to get to Jupiter Station? I knew he could be trusted because he was a friend of Ted. Right?