Capter 4 - 20 Years of work, gone?

Christopher rose from his kneeling position as his son hesitantly asked him if he was hurt. Christopher turned and opened his arms to his son, who then took a running jump into his fathers arms. "*I am un-injured little one...*" he soothed his shaking son, stroking his son's antennae back, "*... be calm.*".

He stood, and continued watching the MNU vehicles leave, slowly clicking thoughtfully, he thought to himself, /*Something was going to happen soon.*/, he wanted no part of it. He and his son were going to be leaving soon, they just had to retrieve the fuel cylinder from Paul's shack.

"*We will be going out tonight*" he told his son, turning and walking back to into the shack, "*we must retrieve the fuel and leave.*".

His son chirped enthusiastically, "*Then we go home!*".

His father nodded, agreeing with his excited son, "*Yes little one, then we go home.*"

Christopher lowered his son to the ground, then rolled up the floor covering that hid the trapdoor in the corner of the shack. Oliver opened the trapdoor while Christopher told his son, "*Go and start a full diagnostic run of the module command systems, while that is running, we will go and retrieve the fuel.*"

As Oliver scampered down the ladder into the module, Christopher walked over to a large hap-haphazardly displayed pile of crt displays, to anyone else, it would just look like a pile of old monitors, however, they all worked, and when Christopher flicked the switch on a power strip, they crackled into life, for the most part, they were blank, having no input yet.

As Christopher watched, they started to show diagnostic information, status displays started scrolling, and system displays with wire-frame representations of the command module started to rotate on the screens. As he watched the flickering displays, he saw with some satisfaction that the repair work he and lately his son had been working on had fixed most of the failed systems.

One by one, the repaired systems were flashing up the welcome blue "OK" messages, with only one or two systems flashing up with warnings.

He looked out a window, it was still light outside, they had a few hours until darkness fell, time enough to look at some of the systems still showing warnings.

As all the the essential systems were functional, these repairs were not strictly necessary, but as the initial failures had demonstrated almost 30 years ago, systems that everybody thought failure proof could indeed fail, with disastrous repercussions!

Christopher clicked to himself, flicked off the displays, and clambered down the ladder to the module.

When he reached the bottom, his son was standing by a mound in interconnected human computers, comprising the cobbled together patches to the command systems. Although crude in comparison to "*people*" computers, they did seem to be able to handle the computational load placed upon them by the modules remaining systems, and so far, none had failed, even when power surges from the damaged sections caused the whole system to crash.

That hadn't been happening as much recently, not since most of the damaged sections had been bypassed with parts of human computers. While it wasnt going to win any design prizes, it was functioning, if it held together long enough to get home, he was confident that the homeworld would send help for the rest of the "*people*" held in virtual bondage by the humans.

Time passes, **to do : put some technobabble in here, describing the technical aspects of fixing a system of the command module. **

Having spent over an hour placing another patch into the systems, Christopher made the final connection, and stepped back, the patch looked ugly, but again, it worked. Christopher started the diagnostic running again, and climbed the ladder.

Outside it was dark, /*Come up little one, time to go out!*" he called to his son. There was a chirp below as Oliver acknowledged his father. While he waited for his son, he flicked on the monitors again, this time, the system he'd just finished repairing was showing the "OK" message. Good. Another working patch, another potential obstacle to their leaving was removed.

Oliver climbed out of the trapdoor, and pulled it shut, unrolling the floor covering to hide it. "*Ready father?*" he asked.

Christopher flicked the monitors off, and replied "*Yes, let's go.*", walking to the door of the shack. He exited, his son dancing around his legs following him outside. "*Be calm*" he admonished. Immediately, Oliver stopped scampering around, and shadowed his father as they moved away from their shack.

In the distance, they could see the fires and lights from the Nigerian section of the district, distant laughter and a smattering of gunfire could be heard, it seemed that they were content to stay there, good, he hoped that would continue for the rest of the night, they didn't need to waste time hiding from them tonight!

They approached Paul's shack cautiously, not wanting to walk into an MNU ambush, but they needn't have feared, it was quiet, no humans around. The ground where his friend had been slain was still marked by an ugly dark stain where Paul's body had pumped itself dry, he clicked mournfully, his son looking at him, "*Father?*" he clicked softly.. "*Do not worry about it little one*" he replied, "*lets get what we came for.*".

They entered the shack.

Inside the shack, they entered the lab and started their search, "*It's a silver cylinder.*" he told his son, as he pulled boxes from the piles in the room, searching in them for the cylinder.

"*I cant find it*" replied his son, who was searching the cupboards at floor level, pulling items onto the floor as he searched.

As Christopher continued to pull items from the piles left around the tab he told his son, "*We must find it. It contains the fluid.*".

"*It's not here.*" complained Oliver, now pulling items from shelves to the floor.

"*It has to be, keep looking.*" replied Christopher as he waved a torch around the room, throwing boxes away from him. He was now getting worried. Had the humans found it after all?

After 3 hours of fruitless searching, Christopher finally admitted defeat, the cylinder was gone. The humans must have taken it when they took all the "*people*" weapons.

/*Damn!*/ he thought /*That took 20 years to find!*/

"*Enough little one, we need to leave here.*" he told his son, he could hear more gunfire, and laughter from the Nigerians, he did not want to be out if they were on the prowl.

Oliver let out a distressed chirp "*Where did the cylinder go father?*" he asked, "*Did somebody take it?*". Oliver climbed up his fathers tall frame, and nestled in his arms, he was tired and frightened.

"*I do not know little one. I will ask the elders tomorrow*" he re-assured his son, not wanting to tell him that humans had probably stolen it. Maybe he could get it back!

As he walked back to his shack, carrying his sleepy hatch-ling, he thought furiously, /*Why do these humans hate us so?*/

Admittedly, some of the "*people*" had acted foolishly, behaving little better than animals, but they were mostly the labourers, the menial rank of the "*people*" who needed the guidance sorely lacking here. Those that could supply the need for guidance had been the first taken by the humans, as they had been the most intelligent. They had hoped to make the humans understand why they needed to go back to the ship.

They had been ignored, and imprisoned, those left were too few to control the workers. Christopher shook his head, antennae flicking agitatedly, this line of thought always made him angry and upset. He re-directed his thoughts to home, to the seven moons, to the beautiful landscapes, he would see them again, he was sure of it.

As he neared his shack, his son was asleep in his arms, he watched him as he walked, he was constantly amazed by his offspring, he had never thought of himself as the family type, he had never even thought of having offspring before his mate had approached him about it.

He clicked mournfully, the loss of his mate had been hard. Just before Oliver had hatched, his mate had been caught by random gunfire from the Nigerians, on one of their random joy rides around the district. He had promised to take care of Oliver when he had been asked by his mate. Then he had watched the life flee from those beautiful eyes.

He blinked rapidly, eyes stinging, that memory hurt.

He hadn't come out of his shack for over a week, until Oliver had hatched. Then he had to leave, to get food for them both.

He sighed through his gills, enough, this train of thought was going nowhere.

He entered the shack, and moved in the dark towards the part of the shack they slept in. Settling onto the dirty mattress he made a rude nest with the pieces of cardboard and rough cloth. A poor imitation of his bedding at home, it would have do to.

He would get home.. For his son.. He would get home... Christopher closed his eyes, his breathing slowed, and he slept, antennae still flicking occasionally.

Another week, another chapter, how am I doing folks, is this thing on? :D

Things will start to kick off in the next few chapters, some action is coming, lots of guns, gore, etc.. hope you are enjoying it so far!

My D9 book came from WETA this week, should give me some more ideas, shame I can't read it till I go home next month :( Oh well.