Word Count 1528
A buzz interrupted Velli Landis' thoughts; it was Deley on the Telepod. “Hey, what are you up to?”
“Nothing, what about you?” Deley was his closest friend and the one person who understood him.
“When do you have to report to the distribution site?” Deley asked quietly.
"I don't want to think about that." Velli wanted to be a space explorer. It seemed a far out desire. No one in the Aeronautics Department wanted to explore space. Watching traffic in the skies above the colonies travel in and out of the Dome seemed all the department members did. They were glorified traffic police, not real aeronautic scientists. He wanted to be a real explorer. Find new lands or at least see if there were others inhabiting outer space.
“Come on over. I see the Department just posted a new job for a Bedrone tester. It’s a perfect job for us. We're the right age. We'd have those cruisers up and running out over the terrain before they could hit the escape key.” Velli sent the listing to his friend.
Deley laughed. “Sure, we could do it, but we don’t have the right DNA. That isn’t our line.”
“So, let’s just make up our own DNA line. Genealogy isn’t everything, and they don’t always check.” Velli's index finger tapped on the lighted squares. “They'll think we've just flown in from one of the satellite training stations.”
“Be careful Velli, you might get caught one of these days. The foster cube isn’t anything fun. Faldon was sent there for two years. If I hadn’t found the key code to his file, he'd have been sent to some out station. I was able to get him to a station close by and then released. He's so clean he glows.”
“I'm careful.” Velli waved his hand in front of the monitor panel, and it went black.
“I mean it.” Deley’s voice broke just before Velli press the disconnect button.
What was really out there? All through Velli’s short life he asked that question. No one would tell him. He took the lens he and Deley lifted from a storage room at the Center. It had taken two weeks of computations to modify it to pick up anything farther than the Dome surface. He trained it on one of the brightest lights in the sky. While scanning, something exploded. Sparks flew in all directions. The light blinded him for a moment. He blinked his over sized eyes and reached for the spray that was always at his side. The loose membranes that covered his large eyes when he blinked were transparent. They did not reflect strong light, so a spray was made to keep the membrane dust free and pliant. It also helped when his eyes were exposed to strong light.
Training the lens back to the sky, he tracked the area where he had seen the explosion. He found residue of particles scattered in space. What had been there?
Velli plugged the modified telescope into his computer. A few key strokes and the result was displayed on the monitor. He zoomed in until the debris was as large as his fist in the frame. It wasn’t rock or meteorite. It was cone shaped with large fins stuck out of the wider end. Some kind of insignia or words were painted around it, and smaller decals dotted its surface. The patterned, intermittent flashes of light came from a beacon on the smaller end of the cone.
Keeping his eye on the screen, he pressed the blue button on the Comm with its pre-programmed frequencies. He tapped out his friend's personal code.
“Deley get over here as fast as you can and bring your PDA. I need to use one of those old codes you are always studying. NOW!” Velli didn’t wait for Deley to answer before he disconnected the Comm.
The cone began to slowly tip; the small end turned away from him. When the large end of the cone faced him, there was a small burst of flame from the side, and the cone righted itself. His heart began to pound. He was right! There was life in outer space. Here was proof.
A moment later, the pad next to him lit, and Deley’s face appeared. Velli pressed the code to open the passage. He smiled. It was good to have a friend that didn’t question or give excuses but rushed out to your rescue when you called.
“Thanks." Velli's three bony fingers and thumb made a sign of peace.
“What do you have?” Deley’s voice was breathless. He set the PDA on the desk and stared at the screen. The cone structure filled the monitor's screen.
"Are they sending some kind of code to their main space ship?" His words were so fast with excitement he could barely get them out.
The flashes blinked for a few seconds before Deley tapped on the PDA. He compared the flashing sequences for a few minutes.
“It is a help sequence. They are in trouble. The SOS, or help signal, is just three short flashes followed by three long ones followed by three short ones. There is a pause, and the same thing is repeated. There is a pause. I can’t figure out the next sequence. Write down the short and long flashes while I check the code.” Deley was busy tapping his PDA. Velli watched for the next group of flashes after the SOS. He called “long” or “short” as he watched the monitor.
“What do you have?" Deley grabbed the tablet from Velli, "I found the code. I knew I had saved it in one of my ancient Lit files. Hmm, this is interesting. It says, ‘planet and station exploded…escaped alive…not enough fuel to return to base…send help.’ They’re just repeating that over and over." Deley laid the pad on the desk beside Velli. "What are you going to do?”
“What can we do? Who knows how far away they are.” Velli rubbed the smooth skin that covered his skull. His long fingers tapped the tablet for a moment, then he turned the tablet to face Deley.
The insignia that Deley saw made him gasp. It was the Space Aeronautic Headquarters logo.
“What are you thinking? Are you hacking into their computer?” his mouth could barely whisper the words. His ears began to sweat. Rivulets of green goo leaked and dropped on his shoulder, but disappeared immediately.
“I don’t really have to hack. I have the codes, I just never used them. I need to find a way to get the computers to direct the porter beam at the ship and pull it in.” Velli was looking at his computer tapping out codes to hide the fact he was logging into the system. He was good at this kind of thing. What did DNA have to do with brains? He was endowed with more than the normal cells. He had more qualifying DNA for that job than the idiots running it.
"Velli, you are fizzygilled. We could get in really big trouble." Deley remained where he sat, his large eyes lit with excitement.
"Deley, you can run the porter beam. We've played on the simulators for ages, and you're good at it."
"Doing it for real is a different thing."
"They need our help. We just can't leave them out there." Velli turned his head to face his friend and watched as Deley processed.
Deley nodded in agreement. "Let's go." He stood so fast his long spindly legs knocked over the stool he had been sitting on. They both laughed.
It wasn't long before badges were printed and permission granted to the deepest part of the Aeronautics Building. Velli stood with his friend at the door marked PODS. Velli scanned the badges and the DNA rec codes they had semi forged.
"Whew. I don't know how you did it, and I don't want to know." Deley followed his friend to the POD closest to the large shielded door. "What's going to happen when they see that the doors are open?"
Velli laughed, "I programmed a simulated testing pattern. Doors open and a holographic POD leaves for a rescue mission. It was already in the system, so they won't think anything other than it's a glitch. Then it will be too late; we'll be gone."
"You're serious about this. I thought we were just going to turn on the Promagnet and put it into the bay." Deley was taking a few steps away from him.
"We would, but they're too far out. The Promagnet won't reach them. We have to go get them." He was walking to the POD nearest the bay doors. "Come on Deley. You say you want adventure; here is our chance."
"What if we don't make it? What if we can't get back?" Deley's voice was low and trembling. His own frog like fingers nervously played with the badge on the flight uniform they borrowed from a locker. "Aren't you scared?"
Slowly, Velli turned to his friend. He could see fear and indecision. "I am scared to death." He saw his friend relax at his words. "Of ending up like my parents and your parents and all the rest of them. Doing just what they're told, not rocking the ship or questioning anything. If I don't make it back, it's because I tried. If I come back, what are they going to do? Send me to the Distribution Center? Deley, at least, I did something. It has to account to someone." The impassioned plea in his voice rang in Deley's senses. He straightened his spine and moved his feet past Velli.
"Come on whatcha waitin' for?"
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