The Second Coming… Again CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 4

Showdown

As the hatch closes, Eddie looks around in the subdued lighting and notices a green creature with black slit eyes and few clothes at a control panel. Screens display scenes from the whole area around the vehicle: “What have I gotten myself into this time,” he mumbled to himself. Dant smiles, points up, indicating that Eddie must sit down in one of the reclining seats, then sits down himself. Eddie nearly freaks out when strong mechanical arms fold firmly around their bodies. For Eddie, who had never even been in an airplane, this flight and fierce acceleration is an experience he is sure to remember for the rest of his life. “My first flight just had to be into space…” he thinks as he sees the Earth rapidly growing smaller on the display screens. The acceleration stops and Eddie can feel his stomach turning. On one screen, a large round shiny sphere appears. As they approach from a slight angle he can see a massive long spaceship appear behind the sphere. One that gets bigger the closer they get.”My word, its huge!” he exclaims to himself involuntarily.

The landing craft starts decelerating. They float slowly to the ship’s rear, a large hatch opens and the vessel sails in neatly. The ship’s hatch closes with loud mechanical noises and the lights turn on. Eddie feels his weight returning. The seat arms open and a wide eyed Eddie stands up, legs shaking slightly.  He follows Dant out the hatch into a spacious area where more such vessels are anchored to the outer wall. Dant points to a stairway that leads to a hatch in the middle of the area and lets the green one go first with Eddie between them. The further they progress the more weightless they become, until they are almost totally weightless again. Beyond the hatch Eddie sees a long corridor and in the distance it splits into three separate corridors. He also sees the landing bay they just left rotating around this long corridor. They walk towards a semicircle of seats, fastened to a central spinal construction and sit down. This time Eddie is not surprised when they are clamped down by the mechanical arms. The green one pushes a few buttons on a keyboard, and they start moving down the corridor. As they move along, Eddie becomes aware of other sections of the ship, sometimes clearly visible at regular intervals. At the end of the corridor they stop. Here they go through another hatch and ladder. Eddie feels gravity returning, and the weightless discomfort disappears the further he goes down the ladder. They enter a large room where a crowd of people stand waiting. There are some green ones as well as ordinary looking people. All the adult men have long beards and hair. Apparently haircuts and shaving are not particularly important to them. All eyes are on him with curiosity and with great interest. One man, obviously a leader, comes closer and holds out his hand to him. Eddie does the same. The man shakes  his hand and motions that he must sit on one of the seats attached to the curved wall. Dant pointed to the man and said to Eddie,”Brato” Eddie nods that he understands. Dant talks to Brato in his own language: “His name is Eddie. He is one of two in the broadcast. We communicate now with gestures. It’s very difficult. ” Brato nods at Eddie and says “Eddie!… Okay, let’s show him who we are. It will also be educational for our younger generation as they are a little lazy to study  our history.”

The light fades, and historical archive footage appears in a series on the venue’s a flat wall. The language is incomprehensible to Eddie, but the history that is unfolding in the picture is clear and extremely fascinating. The planet displayed at the beginning is clearly Earth with the continents slightly differently shaped and placed, yet largely recognizable, except for two large islands between Europe and North America. They are not there today and Eddie immediately thinks of the two mythological continents Atlantis and Mu. The Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea are missing in the images and appear as two large valleys with a freshwater lake in the one where the Mediterranean Sea is currently and another where the Black Sea is currently, but the sea level was clearly much lower. He sees how the spaceship was built in orbit and the ship’s emotional farewell, and a long distance image of collisions with the planet, and much later fruitless visits to other planetary systems, and later several encounters with other space travelers. It is clearly very old footage many thousands of years older than the current civilization, but it is also equally clear that these people have the same ancestors as he himself had, or at least similar. The story is amazing and when the show ends after several hours, Eddie is not even tired, just excited and impatient to tell his friends and family at home about it.

Brato is again at the word: “Captain Dant met two families on Earth. They clearly have the same ancestors as we do and we will not be hostile toward them. Communication is clearly a problem. We will use them to make contact with other inhabitants of Earth and their authorities. I will give this guy historical discs when we return him, but we will also have some of our children accompany him to learn their language from their children because children naturally learn a language more quickly. They can then provisionally serve as interpreters. I do not believe their children start to learn as early or are as well stimulated as ours, and our children should learn their language sooner than theirs can master ours, although it does not matter who the quickest is at learning the other’s language. It will also give them a chance to get used to the idea that we are not aliens here to invade. “

Without further ado Eddie along with four children, two boys and two girls are brought to the landing craft and as dawn breaks they land on the farm. Before he gets out of the craft, Dant gives him two similar devices with a few small discs and shows him how to use it. He again used gestures to make it clear to Eddie that everything must be kept quiet. Eddie explains that he understands and with the four children walks up to a clearly relieved Rob and family. The two landing craft take off and disappear at an astonishing speed.The two other craft on Eddie’s farm also take off and Helga, who has been watching the strange craft at the gate through the lounge window with her children, tried again to call Melody, this time successfully: “You will not believe what has happened here!”

“Really? Well let me tell you, you will not believe what happened here!” said Melody. “Your husband has just returned from a space mission!”

When Helga is upset she becomes frivolous: “What! … And he didn’t bother to take me along, the cheek!… Well? Was she pretty?”

“No silly, it was just a guy with a long blond beard and hair. We need to keep everything quiet. Eddie will explain. I think their lives are at stake and perhaps ours too. Do you think we can still keep the farm laborers quiet? “

“Not for long, but fortunately it is far to town and this taxi need not be very willing.”

Eddie approached, “Hold on, here’s your husband, he will tell you the rest… goodbye.”

“Hi baby… I had an amazing experience… a space flight… a spaceship… I still can not believe it! Is everything alright at home? “

“Here were two strange craft that sat at our gate all night! They just left. The phone and the radio did not work, we have not slept at all and even the laborers have not moved outside. Even the dogs are hiding and the cows must have dried up. My nerves are raw! Where is my husband when I need him!  He was on a space trip … what an excuse! Wait till I tell my Aunt Elsa about this!”

“Honey, you may not tell anyone and definitely not your aunt Elsa!  You know how the retirement home will buzz when you tell her and it will not be long before it is world news. These poor people have roamed space for thousands of years. They come from the same ancestors as we do. If the US generals were to find out where they are… you know their fingers are always itching to test their new weapons. Then we maybe under fire. Please, do what you can to keep it quiet. Hold on, I’ll be right home and then I will tell you everything.”

He puts down the phone: “Rob, he took me to their space ship and showed me their history starting at the beginning of their journey. These children seem to have been sent here to learn our language from our children. He gave me these two gadgets to show the same footage to you. I’ll show you how it works. The children that came with me will also know how it works. “

“Yes, that’s all well and good, but start telling!” said Rob. Eddie tells of his experience with wild gestures and at the same time tries to show Rob how the device works. The children are getting to know each other. Rob’s children are especially interested in their strange clothing and communication devices. Melody walks to the kitchen but Eddie quickly stops her: “Cancel the coffee Melody, I need to get to Helga, she sounded very upset, and farm work can not wait.” He walks towards the door. The four foreign children look up, talk to each other and two of them, a boy and a girl, get up and follow him. They were clearly told to stay with both families. The day dawns with a beautiful display and the ride over the rough farm road in terrestrial gravity is a new and exciting experience for the two space children. They hop over bumps, clinging, gesturing and talking excitedly to one another. Helga and their two children are waiting on the porch. When Eddie stops they all come running to the car. Everyone tries to talk at once. The excitement is great and they do not at first notice the two shy visitors in the car.

“And who’s this?” Asks Helga, noticing them at last.

“Meet Helo and Heli. They come from the ship. I think they are twins, brother and sister. They were sent to learn our language from our children so that we communicate with each other. “

Helga takes the two children by the hand and leads them into the house. “You heard what your father said,” she told her two, “Play nice with them and do not fight. They are very special and they do not know our language… and give them sweaters, it’s cold and their clothes are inadequate. “

She looks at Eddie, feigning anger “I’m going to make coffee and something to eat now… but only your dad can come along.”

In the kitchen the coffee is already brewed. As she pours, she looks at Eddie and smiles, “Well, now you can tell me about your space girl… and the reason you decided to bring her children with you!”

“There was no space girl, it was just a little trip into space. There was a guy with a long white beard and long hair that landed at Rob’s farm, probably with only such aircraft as you saw. They landed at the gate and blocked the way out… probably to make sure we did not run off. Rob let him into his house. He had us understand that his visit must be kept secret.”

“Yes, and how is it that you ended up taking a trip into space with him?” Asked Helga.

“He picked me to go with him. I probably looked the least scared and…ahem…smartest? I was in any case very curious to see the inside of the vessel. There was a green guy with little clothing seated at the controls. I almost wet myself as the craft accelerated and the Earth became smaller and smaller. The weightlessness when we got to the ship almost made not having an accident impossible!. You know how scared I am to fly, and then I pick space for a first flight! “

Helga smiles. She knows what Eddie thinks of flying and could imagine how her big, strong man who can tame a wild horse felt fear: “Yes, and then?”

He  again relives the trip in his mind: “You will not believe how big that ship is… lo…o..ng. And the docking bay, huge… there are many such craft in there… and then we went on funny chairs down a long corridor to a large hall which rotates so we would not be weightless. There were many people, some of them green but most look like us. “

“Green? Good heavens!… Yes, and then? “

“Then they showed me a movie about their history. They gave me a device to bring home so you can watch it too. It starts with the Earth as it used to look very, very long ago, then a spacecraft was built and some of them left. Then something terrible happened. A big object, probably an asteroid or such, sailed past the earth, dragging a few small moons with it and some of them collided with the earth. I could not see many details due to the blindingly bright lightning, smoke, clouds and it was photographed from a distance. They apparently knew of its coming. It’s amazing that we’re here on Earth. Our ancestors had a very difficult time and the fact that enough of them survived and could build up a civilization again makes me proud to be one of their descendants.”

“And then?”

“Generations later they reached other planetary realms, but found nowhere they could settle and start again. Then they apparently decided to come back here, probably to see what was left of their people and whether the Earth has recovered.”

Helga poured coffee “Ah yes, the cat came back. The brilliance of their arrival kept you busy there for a while. You can not say it was boring.”

“Yes, but their time is running out. It’s just a matter of time before they are found by the Americans and they try testing their weapons on them. After all the Alien Invasion movies coming out of Hollywood, you can be sure they’ve been expecting them for a while now. Nothing will stop them from telling the masses that this is a life threatening situation.It is extremely important that we keep their visit a secret until we can prove that they are harmless and their visit is peaceful. Especially the green ones, they should not be seen at all for now. Rob and I will talk about this later today. I just want to take a quick nap, I’m tired and very sleepy. “

“Oh no!… I’ve been waiting all night for you,” joked Helga while walking to the lounge to take coffee to the kids, “Henrie, here’s coffee in the lounge! Bring your friends!” The children are already showing the newcomers their home and necessary amenities. Four happily smiling and content children enter in the living room. Eddie Jr. pointed to the coffee and said “Coffee!” He takes a cup, pours sugar and milk, drinks a few sips and shows the others to do the same… no problems… both newcomers understand and smile broadly after taking a sip.

Helga chuckles: “I do not think there will be any problems with them. Children adapt quickly. Well, you go to bed, I will hold down the fort and threaten the laborers to keep their big mouths shut.”

On the other farm Rob’s curiosity gets the better of him and he can wait no longer. He sets up the device Eddie gave him against a wall in the lounge and took down the paintings. His family and the two visitors watch the full story  despite their exhaustion. Everyone now realizes how important these people’s visit is to the Earth’s future. Melody again serves coffee and when they finish she sends the children to bed, “You boys will sleep in the guestroom, there are plenty of beds. Show your friends where the bathroom is. Lee, your dad will move one of the spare beds into your room so you and your little friend can share … and give them some of your warm pajamas.” After the children have come to rest, Helga and Rob discuss the amazing events and scenes that took place that night. They decided together that these people should be protected and assisted. And so dawn creeps up on them.

***

The broken down Hubble telescope not only upsets astronomers, Pentagon generals are just as upset. General Woodford convenes a special meeting to discuss the issue: “Gentlemen, I think you will agree that the inoperative Hubble and the comet’s strange behavior must be connected. It is clear, to me at least, that some kind of intelligence must be involved now and that the Hubble was neutralized to prevent us from finding them.” The others concur. “I also think that there is a very real danger that we, as the most power nation on earth, will be the first target if earth should be attacked!” Again, all are in agreement.” All defense systems must be brought into full readiness. In the meantime, generals Baran and Zitello… see to it that the nation, the President, and all the other politicians realize the seriousness of the matter, and get approval for us to defend ourselves when we find the intruders. Incidentally, this is also an opportunity to acquire funding to revive our ‘Starwars’ program that will eventually make us supreme Rulers over the rest of the world, an appropriate position for our great nation … no one will then be able to stand up to us any way, any how.”

There are now mixed reactions. General Anstrom replies: “General, I accept the notion that an alien intelligence must be involved now. However, they have demonstrated no aggression, and the fact that they are able to handle a massive comet like they have done, the fact that they were able to come from who knows where, and that up to this point in time we have seen no sign of them, points to a technological level far superior than ours. I suspect that when you speak of defense, you mean a preemptive attack. I doubt that such an act would be advisable. It can only provoke a counter attack and we know nothing about their capabilities, only that it will probably be totally superior to ours. “

Woodford frowns irritably: “Readiness can do no harm, Anstrom! We must inform the nation about our misgivings! Generals Blue and Hoffman will handle the media. I will tend to the president myself. We have to prepare for any eventuality as best we can. I think the fact that they are reluctant to show themselves  probably means that they fear our capabilities. “

Anstrom paused. He knows that he will accomplish nothing further with Woodford. He also knows that Woodford was an opportunist, and once he gets permission and finds out where the strangers are, he is arrogant enough to fabricate an excuse to attack them.

Woodford looked with disapproval in Anstrom’s direction. “This guy is going to be trouble,” he thought, “I must send him somewhere where he can not cause a stir.”

The next day Anstrom receives a memo calling him to Woodford’s office. Woodford also makes no bones. “General, I have an assignment for you. The South African government have apparently forgotten to be thankful that we helped put them in power. They hold out their hand to us for finance, but turn toward the East and the Middle East when they hand out favors, and you know what that implies. They have inherited advanced weaponry, and transfer of that technology creates difficulties for us. Anstrom is agitated:”Yes, I know precisely how thankful they should be. We, our British friends and allies helped them to bring down the previous regime. We stuck a knife in the back of an ally who supported us in all our wars against communism, and then we put a communist government in place instead of supporting their nationalism.”

“It was their own fault, and you know it!”

“Really? It rather seems to me that everything we do Internationally has been to enrich the rich, while we bleed other countries dry to finance the wars we instigate for the benefit of a few Jewish financiers and oil barons, with very little advantage for our own people, if at all.”

“Be care full Anstrom. Just what are you trying to say? “

“Well, we were not this touchy when Palestine was inundated with foreign Jews who now occupy Palestinian land, whilst in South Africa before de Klerk most of that country never really belonged to blacks in the country’s entire history. Tell me honestly that you do not realize that we have been punishing the previous regime in South Africa for trying to maintain their own economy, provide for their own energy requirements, and return to a honest national monetary exchange system, and in the process frustrating our efforts to satisfy the greed of the rich and powerful? “

Woodford smiles wryly: “And how do you arrive at that conclusion?”

“Well, you might remember that we forced everybody off the gold standard and onto a stock market and oil price manipulated dollar standard, unilaterally I might add, and in total disregard of the negative effect on other countries, to save our economy that we allowed ourselves to be plundered by Jews starting in full swing in 1913. When that was not enough, we coerced the leaders of the Middle Eastern oil rich countries that we and the British put in power to accept only dollars as payment for oil. We also allowed the crypto-jew Wahhabist Saudi Royal Family, including the Bin Ladin’s, to control a large portion of our economy. We then raised the oil price fourfold by means of artificial oil shortages, a process we repeated more than once later to boost the spread of dollars and destroy the Economies of developing countries to maintain cheap labor based imports. That in its turn caused unemployment and misery in our own country. Together with the Europeans, they then tried to bring gold back for an honest monetary system. To avert a return to the gold price, we financed communist terrorists, just like we did when they tried to become independent of oil in the fifties and started the oil from coal process and research for a nuclear power system, both potential competition for international oil. We joined our mutual enemies to bring them down, and replaced them with a self serving, parasitic government,most of whom are communists, if not all, who are inherently opposed to western society. We created that situation ourselves, did we not? Should we hide our faces in shame! “

Woodford turns red in the face: “General, it seems you have forgotten I am your superior! You WILL comply with my orders and you WILL work with our South African embassy and the CIA. My secretary will give you your formal instructions.”

Anstrom sees the writing on the wall and is now mad as hell: “I anticipated that you would get me out of the way, but I am not the only one who thinks as I do. It will not make any difference!”

Woodford impatiently shuffles a few documents : “This interview is over, Anstrom… dismissed!”

Anstrom gets up, salutes spitefully and leaves the office. Woodford’s secretary hands him a file with a plane ticket and diplomatic accreditation documents, and the next morning he leaves for South Africa.

***

On the two farms the children make progress with surprising speed. Within a week they were quite able to understand each other, and both sides speak simple sentences in the other’s language. For the new friends from space a whole new world opens up. They love their new experiences; they see whirlwinds and even a terrifying Karoo thunderstorm with an impressive lightning display, rain and hail. Rob’s children keep them calm and explains that everything is normal to this world. On the ship they were used to silence most of the time, just the gentle sound of air circulation and occasional balance machine pumps that disturbed the silence. Now they experience day and night, cold and hot, crickets and frogs at night and in the morning, they wake up with birds twittering, roosters that crow, cattle bellowing, and sheep bleating in their ears. From the farm children they learn about the Karoo’s unique vegetation. They were each given a sweater because the mornings are quite cold outside, but later it becomes uncomfortably hot. All these things are new to them.

Rob and Eddie strictly told their laborers not to talk about the meeting to any other of the farm’s laborers, but the following weekend, one of Jerry’s sons visits a neighboring farm , drinks too much beer, and starts bragging about the things that he saw. The story circulates and soon it reaches the town. A reporter from Colesberg’s local newspaper phones Rob to inquire. He dismisses it as drunkard’s story, and immediately pulled the offender over the coals. It does not however stay there. A CIA agent planted in town on the lookout for political unrest, hears about the story and notifies his embassy. General Anstrom receives the report a day later. He immediately makes a plan and tells the Ambassador that he has little to do and will look into the report himself.

***

Meanwhile, one of the vessels again visits Rob’s farm to determine what has been happening regarding themselves, and how much the children have progressed. The children have personal communication sets, but they were warned to use it only in an emergency. This time it is  Brato that gets off the vessel and introduces himself. It’s much easier than the first time, and after excitedly sharing their experiences, the two children can simplify communication considerably. Rob explains as best he can what happened with the rumor being spread. Brato is clearly very upset and motions the boy Ato to approach: “Ask if we are in danger.” Ato turns to Rob: “Brato asks danger now?”

“No, I think there is still time before anything drastic will happen.”

“He does not think so, Captain. He thinks there is still time. “

Brato frowns: “I’m not so sure. We have to win time. Ask him how he thinks they can find us. “

Ato struggles to find words: “Brato asks how they get us?”

Rob thinks and considers: “They obviously have radar and telescopes, but the danger is the military, geological survey, and weather satellites with imagery capabilities.”

The expression is foreign to Ato: “Not understanding.”

Rob takes them to his computer and shows them the graphics depicting the satellites’ orbits.

Brato understands immediately: “Ask him which satellites can see us.”

“Which ones see us?” asks Ato.

The satellites orbits are common knowledge, and Rob displays the satellites and their orbits on the screen and shows them which ones have cameras. Brato studies the images, picks up a small device, and records the information on the screen. Rob give him his watch and explains on a piece of paper how the timeline works. Brato apparently understands. He hurriedly says goodbye and leaves.

In the course of the next few days several satellites disappear inexplicably. Only communications satellites remain untouched. On Earth chaos erupts, especially in weather stations and the Pentagon.

“Do you see what I was afraid of?” General Woodford shouts at the other generals, “All our guidance satellites and ever other satellite with cameras on board that we could have used to look for them are gone! What are we going to do now if we are attacked? “

General Achladis tries to reassure him, “I do not think you should worry, sir. If they wanted to attack us, they would have done so already. So far they haven’t done a single aggressive act, except preventing us from doing so. That was obviously a purely defensive tactic. I suspect they want to contact us without the danger of us attacking them and forcing them to defend themselves.”

General Watson supports him: “Yes, I agree, they did not have to go to all this trouble to hide from us if they wanted to attack us. I also thought, Considering their power play with the comet, that their spaceship must be extremely powerful and probably very large. Perhaps they do not want to be forced to execute quick evasions, or perhaps they are not sure of our weapons capabilities. I think we should just be patient until they announce themselves.”

After several more arguments the meeting adjourns without any plan of action. Woodford is clearly upset, and the two generals have not done their careers any favors.

***

General Anstrom meanwhile arrives in Colesberg in a diplomatic vehicle and tracks down the CIA agent. During his trip there he convinces himself that the rumors about the visitors and the disappearance of the satellites may well be related. That the men involved in the rumors are the same ones who reported on the comet, also did not escape him. He decides, however, to keep his suspicions to himself, and pretends that this visited is merely a routine to confirm or discard the agent’s report. He gets directions on how to get to the farms from the agent. The phone book provides Rob’s number and he makes the call. Rob picks up: “Good afternoon, Rob Arndt here.”

“Mr Arndt, I am General Anstrom. I represents the United States government. A rumor has come to our attention that something strange has happened on your farm. Would you be so kind as to grant me an interview to provide some clarity in this matter? “

Rob expected something of this nature to happen: “General, it’s late in the day and the farm requires my attention. If  you can come here around three o’clock tomorrow afternoon, I will be able to attend to you. “

“That will suit me just fine sir. Thank you very much. Until tomorrow at three then. Goodbye. “

Anstrom was relieved. The hot summer Karoo sun and the long car ride left him exhausted. He felt sweaty and looks forward to the hotel’s air-conditioning, a cold shower and a cold beer.

Rob calls for Eddie, “de Wit here.”

“My friend, you and Helga have to be here tomorrow afternoon before three. We have a US general visiting.”

“They do not let grass grow under their feet, do they? We will make sure that we are there. You just get the braai going, we will bring chops and steaks.”

“Well, then it’s agreed. A Braai is perhaps just the thing to get him in the right mood. Tell Helga I say hello to polish up on her English.”

He hangs up the phone. The children laugh and talk as they play on the swing under the eucalyptus tree, and he calls from the back door: “Chance, please tell Ato I would like to speak with him!” A moment later Ato stands in front of him with curiosity clearly on his face .

“Ato, please ask Brato to come here tomorrow after sunset. He must meet an important visitor.”

Ato understand much better: “Tomorrow after sunset Brato here? Visitor important? “

“Yes, please Ato. It’s very important. “

“Okay, will do.” Ato presses a button on his communication device: “I want to talk  to Captain Brato please,” he says. A few minutes passes, then he speaks again: “Captain, Rob requests that you come here after dark tomorrow. He’s getting an important visitor he would like you to meet … Thank you captain, I’ll tell him … Brato says yes. “

Rob pats him on the shoulder: “Thank you Ato, you’re a great help. You may go play again.”

Melody is busy in the kitchen. Rob puts his hand on her shoulder: “We’re getting a visits from a US general. You can guess what that is about. We need to make him feel at home. Eddie and Helga will bring meat, we can give the General a real South African braai. O yes, Brato will be coming too, but only after dark.”

She laughed: “It will scare the General right out of his uniform. I hope he brings clean underwear…I will take care of the side dishes. The General probably only knows McDonalds and KFC. It’s high time that an American experiences Karoo meat and Boer hospitality.”

***

The next afternoon a long black car pulls up in a cloud of dust… in any case a car shortly before shiny and black.

Melody smiles devilishly: “Look  Helga. Why are they always in black cars? “

The car stops in front of the house and the General gets out: “Good afternoon ladies.”

Melody smiles kindly: “Good afternoon General. Please come in, it’s hot out here.”

“You can say that again.” said the general as they walk towards the house.

“Yes General, you can be sure the African sun is not the same as the American sun,” says Helga.

Christa frowns in her direction, but the general laughs: “A little humor does not hurt. Call me Erik. We do not have to be all that formal.”

“Well take a seat, Erik. I’ll call the men. They’re in the shed, admiring a new four-by-four.”

On the way to the barn she calls “Rob, your visitor is here!” They appear and join her: “The guy doesn’t look too bad … even laughed at Helga’s nonsense.”

Eddie laughs: “She can not help it, she was born that way … think it’s her father’s fault.”

In the lounge Rob smiles mischievously : “Right, let’s go and scare the living daylight out of an American General!”

Helga grinned: “You’re going to clean his clothes”

After the formal introductions Rob doesn’t beat about the bush, “General, forgive me for being blunt, but time is running out. You have already made the purpose of your visit clear. It’s true that we had a visit from space, but before we discuss that, I have to know what you intend to do with the information.”

General Anstrom makes no bones about it, “I will also be blunt, Mr Arndt. My commanding officer sent me to South Africa to get me out of the way because I opposed him when he suggested an attempt to attack the aliens whenever he found them. At the embassy I happened to intercept the message to the Pentagon from our CIA agent in Colesberg and decided to investigate myself. I have not told the agent what my views on the matter are, however.”

Rob is surprised by the general’s honesty: “It seems the guy has honest intentions, Eddie.”

Eddie agrees: “Yes, I think we can go ahead, Rob.”

Rob smiles: “I have some extraordinary archive material to show you, General. Believe it or not, what we are going to show you is an actual historical recording of events from very long ago, provided by the very people you are interested in and shown by advanced technology from a very distant past. “

Anstrom stares surprised at Rob. He never expected such a direct approach, and he is thankful that he does not have to play cat-and-mouse games. They sit down in the lounge and Melody draws the curtains. On a table in the middle of the room Anstrom notices a small device of unknown origin. Rob presses a button and the story begins to unfold on the lounge wall. Anstrom is glued to his chair. Every now and then he softly exclaims: “Damn!”

For the others it is still highly interesting. The nine children, slightly dusty, have also entered and sit on the floor. When the video is finished, it is nearly sunset.

Anstrom is still taken aback: “Do you mean to say that was actual original footage?”

Rob emphasized in a serious manner: “Absolutely the genuine article, sir. The space ship you have been looking for… That gentleman there, Eddie, has visited it. “

“Yes, quite an educational experience to say the least,” says Eddie.

“Damn!” was all Anstrom could manage.

Rob smiles: “We’re having a braai. If you want to join us out back, we can continue our discussion there.”

The fire has been lit, and after the General has been shown their observatory, the three men go around to the backyard and sit cozily under an ash tree, beer in hand, waiting for the fire to burn down and the coals to be ready. The children also sit on the ground in front of the fire, chatting merrily with lively gestures.

The sun sets with a colorful display behind clouds. It is dusk and the meat starts sizzling on the braai grid.

Rob points to the four visiting children: “Do you see those two kids … and those two over there? They are four of the aliens you are looking for. Pretty dangerous monsters, eh? “

Anstrom only now notices that they are dressed completely different than the other children. “They look like any other kid! Except that they all need a haircut.”

“Exactly! They look the same because they come from the same ancestors we do.”

A second possibility occurs to Anstrom: “It’s almost unbelievable. You are not putting me on, are you? “

Eddie responds this time: “No, this is not a show, General, as you will see shortly.”

Brato’s timing could not have been better. Just as Rob removes the meat from the fire, they hear a soft hissing sound. Rob quickly finishes up and turns to Anstrom: “I think you will want to see this, General.”

They walk around the house, just in time to see the craft land. This time there is not even a “Damn” from the General. He stops dead in his tracks as his jaw drops. The hatch opens and Brato walks over to meet them.  Ato introduces Brato to Anstrom.

Anstrom is amazed at Brato’s appearance: “He looks like Moses!”

Eddie laughs out loud: “Apparently shaving is not a priority on multi-millennial journeys.”

Ato is slightly sonfused. He asks Chance what the General was saying. Chance tries to explain and Ato tries to interpret for Brato: “The other man does not speak the same language as the people here. I do not know what he is saying captain. But apparently he says you look like a man from long ago, named Moses.”

Brato smiles: “Do not worry Ato, we will find out later. We certainly look a bit strange to them. Perhaps it is fitting; we hail from a long time ago.”

They walk around the house together, the smell of the braai lingering in the air as the two women bring out the side dishes.

“It’s such a great evening out after the hot day… we will eat outside,” explains Rob to Ato, who in turn informs Brato. Brato nodded. Ato finds Brato looking suspiciously at the food: “You should try it, Captain. It’s different than what we are used to, but it’s delicious. “

Rob gives Brato a plate. He followed the others example and dishes up a little of everything onto his plate. He tastes each of the dishes separately and nodded to Ato: “You’re right, it’s different, and tastier than ours. I think we will enjoy our new home.”

The General is still taken aback and full of questions: “What do they want from us… what are they planning and why are they so secretive?”

“You will get all your answers tonight, General, just be patient,” says Eddie.

With Ato’s help Rob explains to Brato who the General is and his attitude toward them. The time has come to lift the veil and remove all suspicions concerning their intentions. The General will have to act as an intermediary as the cat was already partly out of the bag prior to their meeting. Brato reflects and finally agrees, provided that the General will not betray them or their whereabouts.

After they finish their meal Rob asks: “General, we asked captain Brato he has agreed that you may visit their spaceship, provided that you do not disclose their position. How would you like to become an astronaut tonight? “

The cozy atmosphere and the beer had done its job: “Are you kidding? Off course I would love to!… It will not be dangerous, will it? “

“No General, Eddie has been there already, and this time it’s my turn. I will be joining you.”

The fact that he will not be alone up there puts Anstrom’s mind at ease and after they finish eating  Rob tells Brato that they are ready to leave. They say good bye to the others and walk to the vessel. Eddie laughs softly. “We still have another surprise for our General… a green pilot,” he said to Helga.

She chuckles “We might end up with a slightly green in the face General tonight!”

***

At Kimberley air traffic control the officer approaches his senior: “There it is again! The signal is too weak for an airplane and a bird can not fly that high or fast.”

The senior muttered angrily: “That’s what you get when your equipment comes from the ark. We will have a technician check it again tomorrow. He had better not tell us again that there’s no mistake. People’s lives depend on it. “

Later in the evening there is again such a signal, but in the opposite direction, and then back again. The two officials are now convinced that something is seriously wrong with the equipment.

***

The General is back and the vessel has departed. Anstrom is excited and his eyes wide: “They’ll never believe me! Woodford will have me certified! He is itching to test his new weapons … this was the experience of a lifetime… Boy, that thing is big!… And the technology is out of this world… excuse the pun.”

Rob agrees: “Eddie told me before what he experienced but the size still surprised me. Nevertheless, we have some serious planning to do now, General. “

“Drop the formality, Rob. My name is Erik and we are friends, I hope. Yes, we certainly  have some serious planning to do. “

“OK… Erik, it’s almost daybreak and we have not slept. We have an additional guest room. Why don’t you stay over? We must have clear minds to do this right. “

“I agree, and thank you. I’ll have a nap and then we can talk. I hope I can sleep after all this.”

After the hectic evening and some hot showers the beer and meat did its job and everyone was soon asleep.

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