Ken, Len and Den accompanied Carrie back onto the Tony Robinson.
“Carrie! Good to see you again. Welcome aboard. I hear that you have been having adventures without us?” asked Danno.
They had put their little misunderstanding behind them and embraced like old friends.
“Nothing as adventurous as yours by all accounts,” replied Carrie.
“I hate to break up this happy reunion,” interrupted Ken, “but we should get back to Time Control as soon as possible.”
Carrie was in the slide arrival zone of the solar system when she got word that the Eric Laithwaite had returned and made contact with TIO Rio. She received instructions from Stakus to make contact with Ken and the others to lure them to returning the Slider to the control of Time Command. In case persuasion didn’t work they also gave her the codes to take over Eric remotely.
Taking one of the inter-planetary Slip-Streamers, she manoeuvred close to the Eric Laithwaite and radioed Ken. He seemed to be in a good mood and even invited her to Jaunt aboard.
The String Slider Tony Robinson emerged back into the normal three dimensions in the Telubi region of space. It took Lisa some time to get a fix on their co-ordinates.
“I’ve never done a directed slide before,” said Tibor, “It feels kinda weird.”
“That will be the time displacement,” said Lisa, “you feel it most when you are directing and it is worse when the destination is ages ago, as the photon flies.”
Tibor got up from the Slide Guide chair and immediately wished he hadn’t.
Cathy had been exploring a planet in the Telubi three system, looking for a suitable destinations for her tourism company. She ran New Worlds, a tour company for the new age as it says in her publicity.
New Worlds looks for planets that haven’t developed a dominant intelligent species yet and then adds then to their catalogue of holiday destinations with a list of the attractions.
Tibor woke with a start. “Oh no!” he exclaimed aloud to no one in particular as he was alone in bed at the time. It was six in the morning. Hurriedly he got dressed and headed out from his New London hotel room. Tibor was from Canada and there was no time on this stop-over to get back there so he had been put up in the Brannigan for the duration. It was a good hotel though not one he would have chosen himself due to the high cost. A Slider crewman’s wage did not reflect the importance of the work they were doing for mankind nor the dangers.
The Eric Laithwaite emerged from its short slide away from the Tony Robinson in the vicinity of the Crab Nebula. That is one of the joys of having a String Slider at your disposal; so long as you didn’t worry too much about when you were arriving, you could take a slide to anywhere in the universe. To be certain of the time of your arrival took more energy and a more precise choice of string to slide. That sort of accuracy and energy could only be programmed by the boffins back at Time Control on Earth.
The next day Tony reported to captain Danno in his quarters. “We have had some amazing finds down in trench one. An almost complete set of Guger Royalty paraphernalia has been discovered and it is being put on display in the finds room.”
“You mean Lisa has ’fessed up and is, as we speak, putting the jewels out in the mess for us all to see?”
“Yes captain,” said Tony disappointedly.
The time keepers obeyed captain Danno’s request and, via some more purple gymnastics, returned the Tony Robinson to Guger.
“An immediate scan shows that we are still in time. Tony lock your attention on the continents and their missile silos,” commanded Danno.
All they could do now was wait. Waiting until a planet commits planecide when you are the only people there to stop it is a bit like playing the role of some cosmic super Samaritan. Only with more powers to intervene before the duffing-up.
Stakus and Uli didn’t have to wait long for TIO Rio to make his move. They were already watching him very closely since he tried so abysmally to put them off his scent regarding the possible explanations of the signal echoes and Captain Danno’s cryptic message.
Lyral six was about to commit planecide for reasons that made perfect sense to its inhabitants. The reasons always made perfect sense except to an outsider. To an alien, observing their planet having just arrived in their star system, a planecide never ever made any sense at all.