Back aboard the Antares, Comet informed the crew of the facts in the case. Omniac was the first to suggest something. "Perhaps an examination of professor McGiness' ship will provide some information that will be of use," intoned Omniac.
"Hey! I was going to suggest that," said Rusty.
"Sorry, Cadet Rusty. Next time I will allow you to voice any ideas you may have," said Omniac
"Omniac's right about checking out the ship," said Sparks
"Omniac, investigate for anything out of the normal around The Pyramid. Liana and I will be on the professor's ship," said Comet.
"What about us, Skipper?" ask both Rusty and Sparks.
"I want you two to get the Antares ready for liftoff," said Comet.
* * *
His head felt like someone had run over it with a truck. Opening his eyes, all he saw was blurry images.
"Captain, the prisoner is awake."
"Thank you, Number Two," said the Captain.
"I trust that you had a good sleep, professor. May I call you Tim?" said the Captain sarcastically.
"You stunned me! Why?" demanded Tim.
To answer Tim's question the Captain gave Tim a backhand across the face.
"Let's get the rules straight. I ask the questions and you answer them," said the Captain.
Shaking his head, Tim answered, "What do want to know?"
"How did you acquire this … this artifact?" said the Captain pointing toward the small tetra on the desk.
"It was a gift from a graduate student. He got it from some small shop in Marstown."
"How did you know this artifact was connected to the Pyramid?" said the Captain.
"When I saw an article in the archaeology magazine about the Pyramid and saw the photo of it. I guessed that I had the missing top piece and .... when the Pyramid turned transparent and I saw the map of Mars."
"What is on Mars … Tim?"
"I don't know," said Tim.
A quick backhand and the Captain said, "I'll ask again. What is on Mars?"
"I don't know. You can beat me all you want and I still don't know," said Tim.
"Shall I ready the ejection chamber Captain," asked Number Two.
"No, I have a feeling that we are going to need the services of an archaeologist and Tim is going to help us, aren't you Tim?" said the Captain smiling at Tim.
* * *
Princess Liana and Commander Comet had just cycled the airlock of the Loki and were removing their spacesuits.
"What are we looking for?" asked Liana.
"I really don't know Liana. Just looking for something out of order," said Comet
Liana started looking in the main cabin while Dan went below deck to the engine room.
Dan was impressed with the Loki's engine room. On the bulkhead was the Rocket Patrol Certificate of Space Worthiness. The Loki had only been inspected three week ago. Checking all the maintenance covers, Dan found nothing out of order. I hope that Liana has better luck, he thought.
To Liana, this was similar to the game she played when she was a child. One of her friends would hide an object and she would find it. She used to be very good at it and wondered if she could still concentrate and feel where the object was.
Closing her eyes, Liana let her mind go blank and let the feeling of openness fill her. As if in a dream, Liana was drawn toward the main control panel. Opening her eyes she saw the main control panel and felt that there was something behind it.
Aboard all spacecraft are maintenance covers and access ports for ease of repair in case of an emergency. Most of these covers are released by pressing two unlocking studs. Liana pressed the two studs for the control panel and, with a soft click, the panel could was lifted out of the way. There, in the space behind the panel, were several photos.
"Dan … come quickly. I think I found something important," shouted Liana.
When Commander Comet arrived in the control cabin, he found Liana smiling and pointing toward the open control panel.
"How the …?" said Comet
"Look Dan, photos. I feel that these are important," said Liana.
Grabbing the photos, Comet looked them over. The first was just a photo of the Loki. The second was a photo of Tim with what looked like a smaller version of the Pyramid. The photo was taken in the control room. Tim must have set the camera to self-time. The third photo was the Pyramid itself and then the fourth photo. Comet stared in disbelief. The Pyramid was transparent and there was a globe of Mars inside. The fifth, and last photo, was a close-up of the globe showing a marker at the junction of two of the main canals on the equator.
"Commander, this is Omniac."
Reaching for his suit radio, Commander Comet answered, "Yes, Omniac, what did you find?"
"I found a standard issue space camera. From the indicator it appears that five photos were taken. These photos may provide a clue Commander," said Omniac in his very logical way.
"Very good, Omniac. Report back to the Antares. Liana and I will meet you there. Comet out!"
"Where are we going?" asked Liana.
Commander Comet answered with a wink and a smile, "Mars."
© 2002 John Dunaj
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All text, illustrations, photographs and design are © 2001-2002 Dan Thompson, except where otherwise noted.