Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Saturday May 22, 1999
When they returned to Earth, Charlie followed by Eric and Lisa headed over to where Cindy was working.
“Cindy, I want to take the whole Fire science team to see Air. We need to be aware of what we are finding on each world.” Charlie said. Cindy looked up a little upset at how direct Charlie had been, but the smile that she saw on his face showed that he was happy to see her. Then she realized that he wasn’t treating her like someone that he has just met that morning.
Cindy returned his smile. “Sound like a good idea, but I will have to check with Justin and possible higher up the chain. Simon will be glad to see you taking charge. He was concerned that the new world would distract you.”
“It had but Eric and Lisa showing up broke me out of it.”
“Oh, there’s grandfather, Chancellor Lewis, and General Albright.” She waved to them.
“Cindy, that’s Director Albright. He retired and this is a non-military effort. They are just here to make it seem like your family isn’t in charge.” Eric said.
Cindy laughed. “Our family realizes that we were biting off more than we could chew.”
Ian, Simon, and Jon arrived. “Jon, this is my granddaughter Cindy. She is the coordinator for the Fire world. And this is Professor Charles Siftarski. He is the science lead for the Fire world. Simon, this is Major Eric Lawson and his wife Lisa. Eric is the British Military Attaché. They also grew up with Alice and Jess’s girls.” Hands were shaken.
“Director Albright and Chancellor Lewis, I would like to take the Fire science team on a get acquainted visit to the Air world. I feel that an understanding of all the worlds will be of benefit to all the scientists. I plan to invite the Air science team to visit the Fire world tomorrow.” Charlie explained his plan.
“Good ideas. The knowledge of the different worlds will speed our understanding of each. Did anything interesting turn up? Jon asked.
“Fire has two moons.” Lisa said.
“That means all four worlds have two moons.” Cindy knew who would be the most interested in that information but also that it was late in Washington. Claire will have her pick of all four worlds.
“How do we know the other ones have two moons?” Lisa asked.
“An observation window was left taking images for almost a day. Interval was every ten minutes. We have good images of the sky and we saw two moons for each world except Fire. I don’t know how we missed it.” Cindy explained.
“I expect that whoever was looking at the images was concentrating on the ground. We need to make copies of the pictures available to the scientists. I also think we need to go public with the worlds, otherwise we cannot provide the manpower we need to truly explore the worlds.” Eric felt that they couldn’t do an adequate job and remain secret.
“I agree with your assessment. It’s a political decision, so we can only recommend. If you would include that recommendation in your report, it would help. I plan to make the recommendation to go public to PM Hunt.” Jon looked at Ian Macphater. “What are your thoughts Ian?”
“I think we should wait until we have seen all the worlds.” He wasn’t sure where the idea came from. Ian had passed the question on to those family members who were awake but it was the middle of the night in Britain.
A thought came back. Soon. You will know when.
Then he received Jess’s thought. We should wait. Waiting makes less sense to me than it did earlier this week but we will do as she wants and wait.
Who? Ian asked.
Alice. Jess replied.
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Saturday May 22, 1999
After lunch, Willy and Ian had shown up at the mess tent with a bus. The Air world windows had been relocated and they would take Eric, Lisa, the twenty some members of the Fire world science team, and a three person ABC news crew to the new location. It was a short drive during which Ian explained the reason for the move. The original site had turned out to be wetland. It had been decided to relocate to a nearby hill that was co-located with a hill further south of Lavarack Barracks. It was one of the alternate locations that Ian and Willy had surveyed. With two hills, one on each world, there was a more limited area where the altitude was the same. There would be no moving the windows to load the supplies directly into buildings as Eric had suggested. The central building would have the gates connecting to a building back on Earth. The need to locate the permanent windows in buildings was one of the things on which everyone agreed. Ian told Eric that there was a briefing at 2 PM to pass on what they were learning to the British in Carlisle. The US was also going to have some people at the teleconference. Willy and Eric were requested to attend. Dinner would be held until they arrived.
The trip took them past the family living quarters for the army and back on a dirt road almost a half mile into the hills. Eric had observed the families watching all the large trucks delivering material down the dirt road up into the hill. He couldn’t see how the secret of the other worlds could be kept much longer. There was too much activity and too many people in the know. He expected to see uninvited press trying to get on to the base within a couple of days.
As they got off the bus, Eric was surprised to see three buildings set up. The number of military especially officers was larger than at the Fire window site. He and Lisa dropped back with Willy as Ian led Charlie and the Fire science team to the Air window building.
The ABC reporter approached Eric and Lisa. “I’m Amy Tuckey of the Australian Broadcasting Company. Major Lawson, by your uniform you are with the British Army. Can you describe your assignment here?”
“I am Major Eric Lawson and this is my wife Lisa. I am the British Military Attaché and I have been assigned to observe the exploration here.”
“I am Willy Maclaren. We are observing the exploration just as you. We could make time for you later in the week so that you can get our take on things, but you probably want to go through the window and record the activity there and get comments from those actually doing something.”
“Yes, that’s where the action is. I was just surprised to see a British officer here. Here is my card.” She hands Willy a card.
“Who are the other two in your crew? She appears to be your daughter.” Will takes out a pen and turns the card over.
“Yes, that is my daughter Sharon and Lewis Trumbull. Sharon has worked with me since my husband Sam died. Lewis was assigned from Sydney when we got the assignment.”
“I would have thought that they have known each other for a long time.” Lisa comments.
“No, only a couple of days. It has me a little worried.”
“I wouldn’t worry. I think they are made for each other.” Willy had a big smile on his face. Another pair of Life-Mates.
“Well we need to go look at the Air world. Someone needs to get some better names for these worlds.” Amy led her crew after the scientists.
After the news crew entered the building, Eric turned to Willy. “You have scouting teams on all four worlds.” Lisa glanced at the other two buildings and smiled.
“Did the extra buildings give it away?” Willy asked.
“That was the first thing that I wondered about, but the second battalion insignias on the men at those buildings were what really did it. I knew that first battalion was doing the exploring on Air.”
“To disguise those two buildings is one of the reasons that we moved the Air world windows over here. Jon asked grandfather if we had the equipment to support the military scouting on the other two worlds. He said that Jimmy and he had talked it over and decided that they wanted to check out all the worlds as soon as possible. The Air or Fire worlds might not be the world that we should work with first. Grandfather said that we had enough ATVs if they were willing to delay the long distant exploration. That we couldn’t build complete compounds, but that we could build a smaller compound on Air and four building compounds on both the Water and Earth worlds.”
“This had been our initial preferred site. The Air, Water, and Earth worlds are very close to the same altitude here. This location is by the river in the Fire world so it is too high above ground in the Fire world to place a window here. When it was decided that Australia would start with exploring the Air and Fire worlds and Britain with exploring the Water and Earth worlds, we decided to switch to the other location.”
“I assume that there has been no sign of intelligent life on any of the worlds?” Eric asked.
“No visible signs and the Army is monitoring for any radio communication. They say that the spectrum is extremely quiet. The only radio frequency signals that they are detecting are from our radios and the RF noise from our equipment.” Willy replied.
“Well so we don’t get anybody’s nose bent out of shape, Lisa and I should visit all the worlds as well as Commander Phelps.” Eric said with a smile. They would be one of the first to visit all four worlds.
“That is a good idea to include the American. Grandfather agrees. Let me call him to set up the back story so that our mental communication isn’t exposed.” Willy used the earpiece radio to contact his grandfather.
Lisa was all smiles. Eric turned to her. “Yes, this is as much fun as helping Jess out in his workshop.” He could remember the time about which Lisa was thinking. Then it dawned on them. They could sense the others thoughts. They stared into each other’s eyes for a couple of minutes, reliving some of their most cherished moments. Then they embraced and kissed.
They had become aware of Willy smiling at them. “I guess one of the first things we need to teach you is how to keep your mental communication just between the two of you.” Willy sends a thought to both of them. Both. Then to only Eric. Eric. Then to Lisa. Lisa. He repeated this a few times. “Now Eric you try it.”
Eric switched Lisa and then Willy out of his communications.
Cindy mentally communicated to the three of them. No Eric. Don’t shut only one out. Include only one in. She then communicated to each of the three of them in turn.
Soon Eric and Lisa had learned to communicate mentally in private. When they entered the building, Ian introduced them to his cousin Justin who was the Air world logistics coordinator. They then proceeded to the Air world.
When they exited the window into the building in the Air world, they found that they were right next to the door and the two windows that had been transferring material to this world weren’t in sight.
“We offset the footprints of the buildings so that the material arrived outside of the building. Only the entrance and exit windows are in the building. The backup window for emergency return was in another building. There are two exits from this building. One is away from the material being delivered. The other puts you out in the middle of where the items are being delivered. Let us go out there and talk with my cousin Brad.” Ian led them out the door that was straight ahead of them.
The temperature was at least 10°C lower on the Air world.
Willy mentally called to his cousin Brad but he included Eric and Lisa. Brad, I have Eric and Lisa with me by the door that is next to the conveyer belts. Where are you? They figured out about the windows to Water and Earth.
I am at the mess at the end of the right conveyer belt. Some nuts came loose. Lisa, if you can tighten them down while Willy, Eric, and the rest of us align the pieces, we can get this going in about ten minutes. Brad thought was heard by the three of them.
Can do. Lisa was smiling. Just like Jess Maclaren; always make use of the extra help when available.
That is the best complement that I’ve had in ages. Brad thoughts had taken on a less harried tone.
As the three of them arrived at where Brad and four of the workers are struggling to realign the conveyor belt, Willy called out. “Brad, could you use some extra hands.”
Brad turned around. Eric and Lisa realized that Brad and Isaac must be twins.
Wait to you meet Jane, Joyce, and June. Aunt Karen had twins and triplets. That is why she is in charge of logistic coordination for all four worlds. Willy’s mental comments had a sense of laughter which set a smile to Brad’s face.
“Brad, this is Eric and Lisa Lawson. Eric is the British military attaché. He’s here observing.” Willy said.
”I could use two strong men and a woman who knows how to use a wrench.
Eric stripped down to his undershirt while Brad explained to Lisa what she needed to do. With the two forklifts taking most of the weight, the men aligned the two sections while Lisa inserted bolts and tightened the nuts down.
“Thanks, I was just going to call for some help when you showed up.” Brad said.
“I am definitely going to wear a different uniform tomorrow.” Eric was using a towel to wipe some of the grease off of his hands.
“Brad, some of these new scientists want to go off to the remote sites. I don’t have enough men for all of them.” Major Alvin Wentworth called out as he walked over.
“Was Ian or Professor Siftarski there when you got the request? Who requested it?” Willy knew that they weren’t because he had just checked with Ian.
“No, they weren’t Lieut… Willy. It was professors Laraway and Fielding.” Alvin replied. He had started to address Willy as Lieutenant Maclaren, which he was more familiar with him as.
“Don’t worry about it Alvin. Jon Albright OK’d for them to come over and look around but they were not to impact the work.” Willy commented. Ian and Charlie are heading over to the two professors to straighten things out. “Lisa, Major Lawson, I would like to introduce you to Major Alvin Wentworth, company commander of Rifle Company A of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. Major Wentworth, I would like to introduce you to Major Eric Lawson and his wife Lisa. Eric is the British Military Attaché.
Eric had still been putting his uniform back together. He stopped buttoning when Willy had started his introduction. He and Alvin shook hands. Then Lisa and Alvin shook hands.
“Looks like you have been doing a little more than observing.” Alvin said with a smile.
“It appears that the Macphaters are just like the Maclarens in getting you to lend a hand instead of just standing around and watching. That’s how I knew Eric was serious because he didn’t let a little bit of work scare him away.” Lisa joked.
“I was just using you as an excuse to get in to Jess Maclaren’s workshop. I have to admit things turned out better than I expected.”
“You know Jess Maclaren?”
“They grew up in the same village with my cousins.”
“Alvin might be part of the family if he can get Jane to say yes.” Brad added.
“Your sister wants to migrate with the rest of you. How can I ask her to marry when we’ll be living on two different worlds?” Alvin had become distraught.
“It takes a little bit more when you marry someone in the military. I put off finishing my doctorate when Eric got assigned as military attaché. It’s one of the compromises that you have to make. What is your problem? You are commanding a company in one of the new worlds and you’re only a very short trip back to Lavarack. If you go on a foreign deployment, it’s a lot worse than that. You chose this life. Jane has probably always known you as a military officer. She has plenty of them in the family so she knows what to expect.” Lisa comments had started off hard. She had seen other officers who had had problems with women who didn’t want a husband in the military. She didn’t think any of the Macphater or Maclaren women were like that. As she talked, she saw the understanding dawn in Alvin as he realized he had mistakenly assumed a barrier where there was none.
“Alvin, there’s a landline right in the building behind you. Well, it’s in the one on the other side of the window. Jane is at her office. Go give her a call and ask her out to dinner.” Brad turned him around and gave him a push.
Alvin started at a walk that quickly changed to a jog. Brad, Willy, Eric, and Lisa headed after him.
“Thanks, Lisa. We had been trying to figure out what the problem was between them. They have been dating for over a year. We expected that they would have been engaged awhile back. Jane also probably has the same type of silly notions. When Alvin comes back, I’ll have to go over and contact my other sisters and make sure that Jane gets her head straight before Alvin asks her tonight.” Brad said.
“You mean that they’ve let some stubborn ideas of how things should be stand in the way of realizing that they are Life-Mates?” Willy said.
“Not everybody has it as easy as you. You hadn’t even met Linda when you found out that she was your Life-Mate.” Brad replied.
“You haven’t met her! Who is Linda?” Lisa asked.
“Linda Steele.” Willy said with a big smile.
Lisa was shocked. “She works for Kim.”
“She worked for Kim. She’ll be going to school at JCU after we marry. She’ll be here in a few days. Want to see her picture.” Willy was definitely excited. He pulled a picture from an inside pocket. “Dad included pictures in a security information package that he sent.”
The picture was a typical security pass picture but you could tell that Linda knew for whom the picture was really intended.
Willy switched to mental communication. We met when the family in Washington contacted us to teach us the new abilities. We could tell right off that we were Life-Mates. It’s so obvious in mental communication. Willy looked up from the picture. I didn’t know that she was black or beautiful until I saw the picture. I had to look at the security form to find out her height. I guess I shouldn’t have looked at her weight or her birth date.
You met through mental communication. Eric asked.
Yes, they lost us for a while when we went private. Willy’s thoughts become private for a few seconds as he remembers that time. Did you know that others can tell if two people are Life-Mates who have never met. Tom Reynolds knew on Tuesday.
Kim’s father-in-law? Lisa had first met him over twenty years before when he and his family had visited the Maclarens in Balerno.
Yes, it seems to be his primary ability. He and Beth are also Life-Mates. They found out this week.
Why is all this happening this week? Eric asked.
There are two theories on that or it may be a combination of them. The first theory is that there is a lot of the family with very active abilities gathering together. This occurred in Scotland after Aunt Alice’s death and again in the United States about the time of Claire’s kidnapping. Did you know that Robert learned new abilities from Kim’s boys the night before he rescued Claire?
Didn’t Sir William set up the rescue? Eric asked
Yes, but Robert and the boys knew she was coming and did the coordination. He realized Claire was his Life-Mate when Jason showed him Claire’s location. He actually communicated to her to be calm before the rescue.
Lisa and Eric were surprised at this information.
The second theory is that Alice is doing it. Willy went on.
Dame Alice isn’t dead? Eric stopped and turned to Willy.
Dame Alice is dead, but her soul moved on to Alice, Kim’s daughter.
Eric and Lisa were shocked. If they hadn’t grabbed onto each other they would have fallen.
I believe it’s a combination. You two and now Jane and Alvin aren’t being influenced by Alice, but she may have started it and is controlling some things but I don’t think she had any direct involvement here. Brad commented.
Kim’s daughter has her grandmother’s soul. Lisa statement was almost a question.
Yes, Edna says that the same soul once was her grandmother. Willy added.
Kim’s grandmother Edna. That makes the soul having been Kim’s great, great grandmother. Lisa was having a hard time reconciling this information with her religious beliefs.
Yes, that is what she would be. Eric remembered Edna Farwell, Dame Alice’s mother.
I will see you all later. Brad headed into the building and the window back to Earth.
There was silence both mental and audible as Willy led them up to the roof of the central building. There they found a number of members of the Fire science team. James Moore hurried over and handed Eric binoculars.
“Look at the mountains to the northeast.” James pointed to mountains that must be over a hundred kilometers away.
Eric looked through the binoculars. “There is snow on them. A lot of snow.” He handed the binoculars to Lisa.
“Those mountains must be very high. This is the tropics. Even Kilimanjaro never had that much snow. We are two thousand miles from the equator.” James was staring at the mountains.
“You have noticed how cool it is. What if the temperature on this world is much low than our world? It could even be in an ice age. You are just starting you cold season in Australia. What if this is the warm season on this world and that is the snow and ice that has built up over many cold winters.” Eric asked.
“I need to talk to Harry but they won’t let us have an escort to leave the compound.” James was frustrated.
“He is just over there.” Willy pointed to the roof of the first corner building where one of the enclosures for the telescopes was set up.
“What is he doing over there? We agreed that we had to get away from the compound so we could have good viewing.” James said.
“I guess he felt he didn’t have enough time with the change of the compound location to set up tonight out away from the compound. He probably thought something was better than nothing.” Eric smiled at James.
“Yes, if I hadn’t tried to set up in the field, I could have been making observations in a few hours.” James headed for the stairs to go over to where Harry was finishing his preparations.
“James, ask Harry to make some observations on the mountains and that volcano to the south. Then to do it again when he gets to his permanent location. We should be able to get an idea of the distance and elevation and how wide they are from the numbers he records.” Willy said.
“Excellent idea. Harry and I would never have thought to use our telescopes for ground measurements. I will help him set it up. I will write up a report on how we do it so that others can make the same type of measurements. We will also take some infrared readings of the volcano and the mountains. It might tell us what we have in the way of active volcanoes.” James hurried off.
“He left the binoculars.” Lisa said.
“No, we have binoculars for the observation post up here. I’m surprised there is only one solider up here.” As Willy turned to talk to the solider, another returned to the roof with hot cups of coffee. “Well that explains that. We need to get them some large containers of coffee. It’ll get cold up here tonight with the wind off the ocean.”
“Ocean?” Eric asked.
“Yes. Check southeast and northwest. The ocean is a little closer to the southeast than the northwest, but all we have is open plain in either direction. With the mountains to the northeast and the volcano to the southwest, I expect we can expect a lot of winds and storms here. We saw a really big one on the observation window images.”
Eric took the offered binoculars from Lisa and looked to the southeast. “No, I cannot tell if there’s ocean that way but there’s nothing high in that direction. This is one of the highest locations around.” He turned to the northwest. “There may be one or two higher hills to the west but that is the only high ground that I see.”
“We did take the pictures from the top of Mount Stuart. Well the scouts will let us know in a few days.” Willy took the binoculars and returned them to the soldiers. “Let’s go and check out the other two worlds.”