The Ganymede ship landed on Mars just as one of the planet's many sandstorms ended. The Captain and his second in command looked out the view ports and all they saw was sand and a few remains of what once was an old Martian building.
"There's nothing here but some old ruins and sand," said the Captain.
"Shall I interrogate the professor again, Captain?" asked the second in command.
Shaking his head, the Captain motioned to have Tim brought to the view port.
"Well, Tim .... where is it?"
Just as Tim was about to answer one of the crewmen let out a scream. "It's alive!"
Everyone turned to see the small tetra float above the table it was on and slowly rotate. The small tetra rotated once and then proceeded to move off the table.
"Stand back!" yelled the Captain.
The small tetra floated three inches above the deck and moved toward one of the bulkheads. It only stopped moving when it hit the bulkhead.
The Captain moved toward the tetra and moved it with his foot away from the bulkhead. The tetra rotated and slowly returned to the same spot on the bulkhead.
"It is a key!" exclaimed Tim.
"Explain," commanded the Captain.
"Whoever make this thing intended it to be a key for operating the clues they left behind," said Tim.
"Whoever? Professor, everyone knows that the Old Martians had a high civilization with technology that was far beyond us. For some reason their culture declined. This … thing is just a remnant from their past," stated the Captain.
"If this is a key, then we're going to use it to find some of their technology," said the Captain.
* * *
"Course set, Commander. Ready for take off," said Rusty.
"Lift ship, Rusty. When we clear the Lunar territorial limits increase velocity to maximum. Let's see what these new engines can do,"
"Aye aye, Skipper. I've been itching to push these new engines to the limits."
"What do you think we will find on Mars, Dan?" asked Liana
"I really don't know, Liana. All I hope for is to find Tim McGiness alive and to bring those responsible for his abduction to justice," said Comet.
Click on the picture to see a larger version
In less than twenty minutes the Rocket Patrol Cruiser Antares was heading toward Mars at maximum velocity. The Antares was less than twenty-four hours behind the abductors but a lot can happen in that time. Comet and crew prepared themselves for the mission ahead.
"Jumpin' Jupiter, Commander. What do you think we'll find when we get to Mars?" asked Rusty.
"Whatever it is, Rusty, it's going to be trouble," replied Comet.
* * *
"Dan, why don't we have Omniac look at the photos. His eyes might see something that we can't," urged Liana.
"At this point it can't hurt. Here, Omniac," said Comet as he handed the photos to the robot.
Holding the photos, one at a time, in front of the box like attachment on his chest. Omniac made small humming sounds along with an occasional snap of a relay. This went on for what seemed hours but was really only twenty minutes.
"I bet Omniac is stumped," said Sparks.
"I'll take that bet. If the Commander can't figure anything out from those photos then ....."
Rusty was cut short when Omniac announced, "Analysis complete."
"Well, Omniac, what is your theory?" asked Comet.
"The small tetra is a key designed to activate clues in a sort of treasure hunt. The area between the main canals has the remains of what is thought to be a canal lock. Since there are over three hundred of these locks this one was only give a simple search by archeologists. One archaeologist did write an article for a science magazine that pointed to this lock as being of slightly different construction than the others. This treasure hunt is not over. There is an 87.35 percent chance that there will be another clue to the final location of the treasure," said Omniac in his monotone.
"Roaring Rockets! Gold, silver and jewels," exclaimed Rusty.
"No, Cadet Rusty. Not precious metals or jewels. A treasure of scientific knowledge, knowledge so important that Dr. Sinister was even thinking of robbing the museums to try and decode some of the ancient inscriptions himself," said Omniac.
"How do you know this, Omniac?" asked Comet.
"I was constructed to aid Dr. Sinister in his evil plans. One of those plans was to use my electric brain to assist in the decoding of the inscriptions,"
"Let's hope that we get to Mars before they figure out the next clue," Comet said.
© 2002 John Dunaj
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