Charis and Ann took charge. Looking back on it the scene was funny. Our quiet Ann quickly and efficiently kicked all three guys out of the lab. Then Charis locked the door behind us. Captain Ritzer was flying about head height yelling. He was very angry and most of what he said made little sense to Lance or myself. We guessed that he was upset about the fact that a member of his crew had dared not tell him that she was going to have a baby.
Lance and I move the Captain into the kitchen. He and I finished our tea while the Captain paced over our heads. I was considering tranquilizers for Captain Ritzer, when Ann walked in.
“Amair is alive and well. As far as we can tell, the baby is doing fine also. You may come in and talk to her, but no yelling.” With this last statement Ann glared at Captain Ritzer.
When we entered the room Amair was sitting up. Ann must have been optimistic about us finding more Faree, because Amair sat on a stool identical to Captain Ritzer’s stool. This is the story she told us.
“To answer your question yes I was pregnant when we left. I left I figured that with 2 months to Earth, a month looking around, and two months back, I could make it home before I even started showing. I never bothered to tell you because I had not been certain myself in the beginning. Later, Jobo and I did not want to bother you with minor details.”
“I went to my sleep pod as you commanded but I did not put myself to sleep right away. I never heard of anyone who was pregnant being put into cold sleep. I was three months pregnant when you gave the order to evacuate. I spent two long days hoping some one would come for me but as you know there is no food in a sleep pod. I knew I would be no good to the baby if I starved to death. I commanded my pod to wake me every four month to check on the baby. I did that for about the first 25 years. I guess I was not fully awake because I never noticed that the baby got a day older every time I woke up. Since the pod’s computer keep reassuring me that the baby was fine, I decided to sleep until I was found. “
“I never questioned the fact that I would be found, even when my pod was almost hit by another asteroid. That happened about the 10th year on the asteroid. The asteroid’s impact did not do any damage to my pod but the dust that was kick up covered my pod. Each year that I woke up my pod reported that more layers were covering the ship. I never thought it would be 100 years later, when I was found.
Captain Ritzer was a lot calmer by the end of the story. The humans decided to leave the Faree alone. Captain Ritzer had a lot of history to tell Amair.
That night Ann made a celebration supper. The hydroponics unit was finally starting to produce food. We ate salad and the stir fry that Ann had promised. Ann had also made a cake for dessert. I guess there had been a more pans in one of the junk piles that Ann had explored. She also had Lance make her something called a wok.
That night Ann and Amair told us we needed another hydroponics unit. When the alarm sounded Amair had grabbed her seeds. One of the seed that she wanted to start was soy beans. If we would be able to grow this plant we would have to rely less on our diminishing supply of protein bars.
This meant we would have to go to Jupiter Station. I was against any stop on Jupiter Station. As far as I knew there was a warrant for my arrest. The Faree did not want to be seen by humans. Ann had several people who would want her. As far as I could tell Lance was the only one that could show his face in public. I was quickly vetoed. We needed too many supplies.
The trip to Jupiter took use several weeks. It was on the other side of the solar system. We decided that we could continue scanning for the other two pods as we traveled. We would also stop and mine at we continued.
Amair took up quarters near the hydroponics unit. She wanted to watch her new plants. I guess that Faree ships have plants everywhere. This helps the air circulation system and adds color to the ship. Soon I had plants hanging from the ceiling. They were a Faree variety. The leaves were large and they grew quickly. They also produced seeds very early and often. The girl's spent a lot of time planting new plants and making sure the old ones did not get too big. Amair one night told the story about a ship that had been lost its crew. When a salvage party boarded the ship they found that the ship plants had completely filled the entire ship. The leaves they harvested made an interesting addition to our salads. I guess that the ship did look better, and the air quality was definitely better, but it would take time for me to get used to plants on a ship.
Soon we would have an infant Faree on board. Lance started to make a cradle for the baby instead of placing it on the floor he designed it to hang from chains from the ceiling. At first I thought this was odd. Then I remember that the Faree could fly. Having the cradle hanging from the ceiling would give it the ability to rock and still be a safe place for an infant if we had a rocky trip. Ann spent several hours studying to be a mid wife. I was glad that she took the initiative; I could barely put a band aid on a cut.
Amair and Ann both worked the kitchen now. In her bag of seeds Amair had several spices. Some of the spices came from earth and some came from other planets the Faree had colonized. I have always eaten bland food, so meal time became an adventure.
On the way to Jupiter Station we continued the same routine. Charis would stop every four hours and listen. Since we need money, if I found something worth mining we would stop.
On the second Asteroid we found a piece of luck. Lance and I suited up to do the usual mining while Charis scanned the area for the pod signals. We sent the servos out ahead of us. One servo Ann used to look for garbage. She still amazed me with what she could find in the stuff that other people through away. This time she found a ship that had crashed into the asteroid. It looked like the captain had died in his sleep. His computer system was not as advanced as mine. Charis could navigate through anything. If I should die Charis was programmed to return to Lunar Base III. My will stated that Ted would have ownership for the vessel until he found a captain that could care for the ship. This computer system had been headed to Jupiter system and had failed to miss the asteroid it now rested on. We searched the ship. It looked like the captain had been the only occupant of the ship.
The right of salvage stated that if you could use anything found on an abandoned ship. If we had been on Earth, the property would have been sent to any living relatives. People who make a living in space seldom have family, so the informal rights of salvage were created. Lance and I loaded the servos with anything that we could use. We found another space suit on board and Ann took her first walk with both Lance and I in attendance. She wanted to make sure that we did not over look anything that we could use. Just before I left I downloaded the computer logs so we could notify the captain’s family if he had any. I was glad to find good memory sticks. With the information from the Faree pods and the logs from the downed ship I was worried that Charis would not have enough space on her memory chips.
While I was on board I decided to download my messages. I am glad that I did. Ted had left me a message saying the science community had quarantined my ship. I was charged with carrying a dangerous substance. If anyone found me, they were to seal the ship until it could be taken into custody of the health authority. Someone with a lot of power knew what I carried on my ship and wanted it. Ted had also sent me several news items. Lance’s brother was the subject of several of the articles. I saved those messages for Lance to read later.
One of the articles was about our hurried departure; I surprised to learn that they believed that I was alone on the ship. Part of me wished that were true, and part of me knew that it would be hard to go back to eating protein bars and being alone all of the time. The article hinted that the dangerous substance on my ship had made me crazy. I guess the scientists that I kicked of my ship were the ones who started that rumor.
The news that Ted sent me made it impossible for us to go to Jupiter Station. We held a meeting to discuss the problem. I wanted skip the trip and continue looking for the other pods. Ann and Amair said we had to stop. Amair was going to have a baby within the month. Ann said she needed more medical supplies then what we had now.
After several hours of discussion we finally decide to take on the identity of the ship that crashed. The Skyway became the Prometheus. Since terrible thing happened to the first Prometheus, I was concerned about taking on the name. Changing the ships identity was easy. Each ship is identified by series pitches that it broadcasts when requested. This code is given to the computer and the captain is not supposed to find it. But I an engineer and programmer I found the subroutine shortly after I became captain.
I would not be able to leave the ship, because I was now a wanted person. Lance would have to take on the identity of the ships captain, Lar. We had to take another walk to get his ID. We decided to leave the dead captain were he lay on his bed. Ann did not trust Lance to get the supplies that she needed so we decided that she would become his girl friend. It was not unusual for a Captain to take a companion along. Often these companions were not registered as part of the crew.
I did not like the plan, but since I decided to have a democracy I decided to go ahead with the plan.