VOYAGE TO THE STARS

Chapter One

Missing in Action

Major Larry McDonald was in a cheerful mood as he nosed his plane onto the runway. It was one of those days when everything seemed to be going right. The Axis was being pushed back on every front. Better yet, the love of his life, Jenny Campbell, had just agreed to marry him. He could not have been happier. His orders for the day seemed fairly routine. His squadron was to provide fighter cover for the 918th bomber group. He paused for a moment as he waited for the signal. As his hand gripped the throttle he thought about how he loved the sound of his new Mustang.  It was the most powerful fighter that he had ever flown, and its Merlin engine made it more than a match for anything the Luftwaffe had ever sent against him.

As the signal was given he pulled back the throttle and was quickly airborne. By the time the planes were in formation he could see the coastline ahead. The bombers had left earlier, expecting the speedy Mustangs to catch up with them before they crossed the German border. After flying for more than an hour his thoughts began to drift to his Jenny. He did not expect to see any enemy aircraft this soon. How he longed to be with her. Perhaps he allowed his plane to drift too far from the others. At any rate, before he knew what was happening a German plane was on his tail. He quickly went into an evasive maneuver, confident that he could give the Kraut the slip. He dived, turning first one way and then the other, but the German plane kept up.  Nothing he did seemed to work. Suddenly he realized that he was up against one of those new German jets that he had heard about. As he went into yet another evasive maneuver he could see flames coming from his engine. As the flames began to reach for the cockpit he adjusted his chute and tried to pull back on the canopy. Something was wrong. He pulled again and again, but it refused to budge. As the plane began a downward spiral flames surrounded the cockpit. He uttered a brief prayer and then everything went black.

As he slowly regained consciousness his mind was fuzzy. When he first opened his eyes everything seemed to spin. When the spinning stopped he could see that he was lying in a hallway.  It looked like he was on a ship, But how? Before he could think too much about it his mind drifted back into darkness, he was not sure for how long. When he opened his eyes again he could see one woman and several men standing around him. He did not recognize their uniform. The men wore dark blue slacks with a blue shirt that had a green collar and green cuffs. The woman had on a blue dress that had a green collar and green cuffs. The skirt on her dress came about to the knee, but under it she wore dark blue slacks, or were they slacks. The legs flared widely just below the knees. And the symbols of rank seemed to be little colored circles or dots on the collar. He lost consciousness again and when he finally awoke he was in what appeared to be a hospital room.

As he sat up he must have triggered an alarm of some sort for a nurse quickly appeared in the doorway. She disappeared for a moment and when she again appeared a doctor was with her. Without saying anything the doctor began to check him over with a strange looking instrument. When the doctor had finished, he said, "your temperature, pulse rate and other vital functions seem to have returned to normal. Would you like something to eat?" Major McDonald nodded in the affirmative and a tray of food was quickly brought to him. He had no sooner finished eating when the doctor appeared again, and said, "If you feel up to it , the Captain would like to see you. He is waiting in a conference room just down the hall." As they walked to the conference room, Major McDonald noticed that the floors were carpeted and the walls did not appear to be made of metal.

As he entered the conference room, the Captain, who was seated at a table, arose and, offering his hand, said, "Allow me to introduce myself as Captain George Richards."  After a quick handshake the Captain said, "Won't you be seated?" As they sat down Captain Richards opened a folder that was lying on the table.  Looking through the papers in the folder he then said, "According to our information you are Major Larry McDonald of the 362nd fighter squadron. Is that correct?"
"Yes sir,"
"Your appearance on this ship three days ago has stirred up a great deal of curiosity, Major. Do you have any idea how you got here?"
"No sir, I do not."
"Our ship" -the Captain continued- "has complete records on all military personnel going back for many years. Yesterday I used the information on your dog tags to do a search. According to the information I found, you have been a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church. You are an ace twice over. You were twice cited for valor. You were awarded the silver star. And you had just gotten engaged to a Miss Jenny Campbell at the time of your disappearance. Is that correct?
Hearing Jenny's name Major McDonald stood up. "Yes sir. It is correct!" He exclaimed. "But how did you know about Jenny? We just became engaged! Is she here? Can I talk to her?"

Captain Richards paused. He seemed deep in thought. He looked at Major McDonald as if he were finding it difficult to know just what to say. "I do not know quite how to tell you this," -he said slowly- "but this year is the year of our Lord 2864. According to our records Miss Campbell died over eight hundred years ago."
Hearing that Major McDonald felt stunned. He sank to his chair. His mouth hung open as if he were at a total loss for words. After a few moments he said, softly, almost pleadingly, "You've got to be kidding."
"I'm afraid not." -Captain Richards replied. "We found it almost as hard to believe as you do. However, your appearance, uniform, arms, dog tags and blood type all point to the fact that you are the same Major McDonald who disappeared on March 25th 1945. Whatever doubts I still had were satisfied by your reaction to my mention of Miss Campbell.
Major McDonald paused for a moment, and then said, as if deep in thought. "I still find it hard to believe."
"I'm sure you do" -the Captain replied- "but have you ever seen a ship like this one?"
"I must admit that I have not."
"Well" -the Captain continued- "I am sure that you will see many things in the next few days that  will be far more convincing than anything I could say."
 
 

Chapter two

The Observation Deck

When Major McDonald awoke the next morning he was glad to find that his uniform had been cleaned and placed on a chair by his bed. This was the first day since his plane was shot down that he felt alert and well. He had been invited to breakfast with the Captain so he dressed quickly. As he dressed he thought about how good it felt to be back in uniform. He had never liked hospitals, and he liked hospital garb even less. Once dressed he proceeded to the nurses' station. She summoned an orderly who would guide him to the Captain's quarters.

As he followed the orderly through the corridors Major McDonald noticed that there were no light bulbs. The light came from glowing panels in the hallway. After walking about 400 yards they stopped at what looked like the door to an elevator. However, when the door opened he could see that it had seats which faced sideways.
"This is a shuttle car." -said the orderly, as they stepped on board- "The shuttle system connects every part of the ship."
After a few minutes the shuttle stopped. From the place where they got off, it was but a short walk to the Captain's cabin. As the orderly knocked on the door, Major McDonald was thinking about how clean everything seemed to be. He did not see a speck of dirt anywhere.

When Captain Richards saw Major McDonald, he stepped forward and greeted him with a warm handshake. As the orderly departed, Captain Richards said, "Won't you come in Major. We've been expecting you." As Major McDonald stepped into the room, Captain Richards said, " I would like you to meet my wife, Mary Beth."
Looking across the room Major McDonald saw a woman that appeared to be in her early forties. She had on a pink blouse, trimmed in black, and a black skirt, which, he thought, looked very similar to one worn by Jenny.  Mrs. Richards smiled as the Major said, "Pleased to meet you Mam."
"I've been looking forward to meeting you, Major. Breakfast is ready. Won't you be seated?"
As he seated himself at the table, Major McDonald looked around the kitchen. Little seemed familiar. It was quite different from any kitchen he had ever seen before.

As the meal progressed the three engaged in light conversation. However, the conversation took a more serious turn when Major McDonald asked, "Who won the second world war? You say this is the year 2864, if so tell me. Who won world war two?
"The Allies." Said Captain Richards. "Germany and Japan both surrendered before the end of 1945."
"What happened after the war?"
"There was a period of economic prosperity coupled with social decay." -replied Captain Richards- "Even though the socialists had been defeated in Germany they continued to have a strong influence in America. Their morally depraved ideology ultimately led to the death of far more people than Hitler killed. By 1980 over one million babies were being put to death legally each year."
"That could never happen in the America I knew!" -exclaimed Major McDonald.
"Perhaps not," -Captain Richards continued- "but the America you knew was the America of Margaret Sanger, Margaret Mead, and B. F. Skinner. They and others like them held ideas that differed little from the views of Hitler. Their collective influence had far reaching effects, all evil. I thank God that their cruel ideology was discredited centuries ago."

After pondering the Captain's words for a few moments, Major McDonald said, "Well what in your opinion has been the greatest scientific breakthrough in the last eight hundred years?"
Captain Richards thought for a moment. "I would say that the greatest scientific breakthrough came when we learned how to harness the power of gravity."
"How to what?"-the Major asked, with a puzzled look.
"It involves controlling the power of gravity so as to put it to practical use." -Captain Richards replied. "For a long time scientists thought it was impossible. However, once our technology advanced to the point where we were able to understand the inner workings of subatomic particles, we discovered what causes gravity, and learned how to control it."
At that moment Mrs. Richards said, "George, you simply must invite Major McDonald to the party next week."
"Yes." -Captain Richards replied. "That is a good idea. We would be disappointed if you were not there Major."
"What sort of party is it?" -asked Major McDonald.
"It's actually a celebration. The crew is excited because we will be arriving home in two weeks. Several of the work crews are planning parties. The one you are invited to will be held in the officers' lounge."
"Home?" -queried Major McDonald. "Which port do you call home? Is there any chance we will be arriving in New York?
Hearing that Captain Richards could not keep from laughing. As soon as he regained his composure he said, "I'm sorry Major. Please excuse me. I suppose that I have had too many things on my mind. I did not realize that you had assumed this was an ocean going ship. This ship is the DSS Victory, and our destination is the city of Victoria on the planet Devonia, over 50 light years from earth."
Hearing this, Major McDonald said, "Now I know that you are pulling my leg. You almost had me fooled, but when you start talking about space ships you've gone too far. Seriously now, tell me where we are really going."
The Captain looked for a moment as if he were deep in thought. He then said, "Perhaps the best way to convince you is to take you to the observation deck. There you can see for yourself. As soon as you finish we will go there."

As they came up a stairway onto the observation deck Major McDonald could see that it was covered by a great glass dome, a dome at least 30 feet in diameter. As he looked around he could see stars in every direction, many more stars than he knew existed. The sky had never before looked so clear. As he looked out over the ship he was astounded. It seemed to stretch to the horizon in every direction. He could now see that it was discus shaped.

"What do you think of it?" -asked Captain Richards.
"I Knew that this ship was big, Captain, but I had no idea that it was this big."
"It is actually ten miles in diameter, and over one mile thick in the center." -said Captain Richards. "And do you see that convex place on the hull, about one mile from here? That is actually the top of a battle cruiser which is nested in the hull of this ship. There are three more like it. They are each over one mile in diameter and over forty stories thick at the center."
"Battle cruisers?" -asked the Major.
"Yes." -replied Captain Richards. "I am sorry that they have become necessary, but an organized band of space pirates has been attacking ships like this, unarmed ships designed to plant colonies on new planets."
"How many people does it take to man a ship like this?" -asked Major McDonald.
"This ship has over ten thousand personnel assigned to it. Almost one thousand more are assigned to each of the battle cruisers. We also have over thirty thousand colonists, as well as the wives and children of our own personnel."
"Wives and children?"
"Yes." -replied Captain Richards. "We learned long ago the importance of the family. Much of the social decay that followed world war two, was caused by disregard for the family unit. The beliefs of Darwin led many people to think of themselves as animals. As a result, many of them began to behave like animals. The resulting immorality had a devastating effect on people emotionally. It almost led to the destruction of civilization."

"How are people able to get around on a ship this large?"
"You have already seen the shuttle system." -replied Captain Richards. "Every third deck has a network of shuttle tubes, radiating from the central hub like spokes on a wagon wheel. There is also a shuttle that runs the entire circumference of the vessel. There are also lateral shuttles that connect the spokes. It is possible to take a shuttle to within two tenths of a mile of any place on this ship. Because the shuttle cars float on a cushion of air they are able to travel at almost one hundred miles an hour."  After a pause, the Captain also added, "This observation deck is located in the center of the ship. There is one just like it on the bottom of the ship."
"Wouldn't the people down there wind up walking on the glass?" -asked Major McDonald.
"No." -the Captain replied. "Because we generate our own gravitational field, the people on the bottom half of the ship are actually walking upside down in relation to us."

"How is the ship propelled?" -major McDonald then asked.
"Because we generate our own gravitational field, we are able to move the ship by shifting the gravitational field in one direction or the other." -replied Captain Richards. "For example: If we shift the field so that it is slightly off center to the front of the ship, it pulls the ship forward. However, to get the speed necessary to travel fifty thousand light years in just over five years, we focus our gravitational system on the gravitational pull of a large star which lies in the direction we want to go. By amplifying the gravitational pull of that star, we are able to accelerate very rapidly, and to maintain speeds which are several times the speed of light. Interestingly enough, because the increase in momentum is transferred through the gravitational field the people on board do not feel the acceleration."

"I thought a person would go backwards in time if they exceeded the speed of light."
"We have found that not to be true."
"Wouldn't the ship be destroyed if you hit a large rock at that speed?"
"A small rock would do great damage, Major, but our gravity shield would cause a rock to fall around the ship instead of hitting it. By the way, this dome is not glass. It is a synthetic material that is ten times stronger than steel. The entire hull is made of the same substance. It is three layers thick and designed to filter out all deadly radiation. One of the layers is an aerogel material that insulates so well that even though the outside temperature is over 200 degrees below zero, the dome does not feel cold to the touch.

"How are you able to provide food for so many people?"
"We have a large store of dried food." -Captain Richards replied. "We also have several hundred acres under cultivation. One entire floor of this ship is devoted to agriculture.  Crops are grown there under ideal conditions without natural enemies. We have another floor where animals are kept, as well as two large aquariums which we use to transfer aquatic life from one planet to another."

"That sounds impressive, but tell me, Captain. How could a ship this size be constructed in space?"
"Actually it was built in the Arizona desert, or floating about 20 feet above the desert. A gravitational lift system built into the ground held the whole thing up until it could be completed. This is our maiden voyage. After a two-month layover in Devonia, we will leave to plant a colony on a new planet.
"A new planet?" -asked the Major, with an air of surprise.
"Well one newly prepared for human habitation." -said the Captain. "Centuries ago many people were terrified by the thought of overpopulation. Millions of babies were killed in the name of preventing it. What those fearful people failed to realize was that God had already prepared for it. When the population of earth actually did start to skyrocket, He provided the technology needed to deal with it. First we learned how to harness the power of gravity. Then as we began to explore the stars we found that many of them had a planet that could support life. Often God had placed these planets far enough from their sun that they were frozen, thus preventing erosion. We then used our ability to control gravity, to move them into orbits that were just the right distance from their sun for them to support life. Entire cities moved to other planets. As a result there are now twenty five inhabited planets, while Earth has less people living on it than it did in your day."

"That was quite an accomplishment, Captain, but what about plants and animals? How did you get enough of them to sustain life on a new planet?
"I'm getting to that. As soon as a specific planet thawed, we seeded it down with the necessary bacteria, algae, and other carefully selected life forms. Using our knowledge of the environment, we introduced the life forms in a specific order. In some cases we did not introduce their natural enemies until they had a chance to multiply rapidly. One of the hardest jobs was that of getting sea life established. It was also difficult to quickly get the ground covered with plants, without depleting the atmosphere of carbon dioxide."

Glancing at his watch, Captain Richards then said, "I have some pressing business to take care of . Let me guide you back to the infirmary. Someone there will help you get moved into regular quarters. Could you meet me on the bridge at oh eight hundred (08:00) tomorrow morning?
"Yes sir. I'll be there."
 

Chapter Three

The Command Center

When Major McDonald arrived on the bridge he found it totally different from any he had ever seen before. It consisted of a circular room at least 30 feet in diameter, deep in the heart of the ship. On the wall, going around the room, was a row of monitors, which gave those on the bridge a three hundred and sixty degree view of the outside. In the center of the room was a crescent shaped desk or console. The Captain's chair was in the center of it, with three others on either side of him. As soon as Captain Richards saw Major McDonald, he arose and welcomed him with a warm handshake. Turning to the others present he then said, "Major McDonald, I would like to introduce you to my first officer, Commander Isaac Simmons, our science officer Commander William Lieberecht, and Lieutenant Commanders Henry Rogers, John McPeak, Nathan Thompson, and Allan Randolph.
"I'm pleased to meet you." -Major McDonald responded.
"Commander Thompson is head chaplain." -Captain Richards added.
"How do you like it here?" -Commander Simmons asked.
"To tell you the truth sir, I would rather be back in my own time. I miss the people I knew, especially my fiancÚe. Other than that I find this ship fascinating, and quite different from anything I ever thought the future might be like. In fact" -he added with a twinkle in his eye- "I thought that if there were people on other planets, they would be monsters."
At that everyone chuckled, and Commander Randolph said, "We find the ancient science fiction stories, with their tales of monsters in space, amusing. People back then expected to find strange life forms in unknown areas, just as the ancient Greeks expected to find harpies, mermaids, and a Cyclops in unexplored areas. However, when we actually did begin to explore space we did not find so much a one microbe. Every life form known to man has come from earth."

 " One of my reasons for asking you to the bridge was to show you our command center." -said Captain Richards. "The view screen enables us to see in every direction. I also have a monitor, on the console in front of me, that enables me to see anything directly above or below the ship."
"How do you see what is on the screen behind you?" -asked Major McDonald.
"I could turn my chair around if I needed to," -replied Captain Richards- "but that is rarely necessary. If our sensors tell us that something is approaching us from the rear, I can rotate the picture so that whatever is approaching us will appear on the view screen right in front of me. Because this ship can go in any direction, that, in effect, changes the direction that the ship is facing. For example: Our direction finder now indicates that we are going forward. However, if I rotated the picture 180 degrees it would indicate that we were traveling backwards."
"To tell you the truth sir," -said Major McDonald- "I am totally baffled by all of these lights and machines. I have no idea what any of them is for."

"That is another reason I asked you to come to the bridge," -said Captain Richards. "I would like to assign you to a work crew so that you can learn more about how our electronic hardware works."
"How can I be of any use if I do not know the first thing about what is going on?"
"With your permission, major, the clinic will plant a tiny electronic device under the skin on your head. That device will enable your brain to get information directly from our computer system."
"Head surgery sounds pretty serious to me. I don't know if I want to go through something like that or not."
"Believe me," -assured Captain Richards- "this implant is a very simple operation. We all went through it as children. One of the things that convinced me that you were from the past was the fact that you did not have one. It makes learning so much easier."
"What will happen if I get one of these implants?" -asked Major McDonald.
"The doctor will numb a place on your scalp. You will not be put to sleep. He will then make a small incision and attach a tiny electronic chip to your skull. A sensor, much thinner than a human hair, will be inserted through a microscopic hole, into the brain." Holding up what looked somewhat like a wristwatch, Captain Richards then said, "Once the sensor is in place you will be given one of these. This looks like a watch, and it does tell the time. However, the buttons on it enable you to turn your computer connection on and off. They also make it possible for you to concentrate on certain specialized topics. It also works as a telephone."
"Well if you are sure it is safe: I'm game to try it." -said Major McDonald.
"It is very safe." -replied Captain Richards.
At this the Captain turned to Commander Randolph and said, "Allan, would you take Major McDonald to the infirmary, make arrangements for the implant, and see that he is assigned to a work crew."
"Yes Sir." -said Commander Randolph. "Follow me Major."

As they walked toward the shuttle Commander Randolph said, "Major, tomorrow is Sunday. Most of the officers will worship in the main chapel at oh nine hundred. I would like to invite you to worship with us."
"Will the service be Catholic or Protestant?"
"We no longer worship separately. After World War Two the push for world government eventually forced most people into one worldwide religious association. At the time that religious system was totally corrupt. However, that corruption led to a second reformation, a worldwide reformation, which resulted in almost universal acceptance of Evangelical doctrine."
"I'll be there." -said Major McDonald.

As soon as they arrived at the infirmary Commander Randolph made arrangements for the implant. Major McDonald was surprised at how quickly he was taken to the operating room. He was even more surprised by how quickly the surgery was over. As he walked out of the operating room he said, "Doc, that could not have taken more than ten minutes, and I cannot even feel the place where you cut. Don't I at least need a bandage of some sort?"
"No." -the doctor said with a grin. "I glued the incision back with a glue very similar to the bonding agent which holds your cells together. As a result the incision is already ninety percent healed."
"Amazing. You sure have my vote doc."
"I'm glad you are pleased. By the way my name is Southwood, Harold Southwood." The doctor paused for a moment, and then picking something up from the table, said, "Before you leave I want to give you this link-watch. It is set to the same frequency as your implant chip. You can use it to turn your computer link on or off. You can also use it to set your link to access information on specialized topics. It also functions as a telephone."

The next day passed quickly for Major McDonald. He enjoyed the worship service. He was pleased to find that some of the grand old hymns of the faith were still being sung. He was also impressed by some of the newer songs. The preaching seemed to stir his heart as never before, and the people all seemed so friendly. He was invited to dinner after church. In what seemed no time Sunday was gone and it was time for him to report for work. Commander Randolph had called Sunday evening to tell him that his work crew would meet in hallway 10, section A. When he arrived there he found that Lieutenant Leonard Scott was in charge. After a brief introduction Lieutenant Scott said, "Major, you will find that most of the members of this work group are colonists, not crew members. In a long voyage like this one, everyone has to do their part." Pointing to the wall, he then said, "I would like you to work on this electronic panel. It controls one of the doors to our shuttle system, and is not working."
"I have no idea where to begin." -said Major McDonald, looking somewhat dumbfounded.
"Richard, Richard, will you come over here." -Lieutenant Scott called, while motioning to one of the men down the hallway. As the man walked over to them Lieutenant Scott said, "Major McDonald, I would like to introduce you to Richard Watzek. Richard will help you with this panel. I would like you to work on it together."

The two shook hands and then Richard dropped to his knees, pushed a hidden release, and the panel opened up. Major McDonald watched everything that Richard did, and before he was aware of it, he was understanding whatever he saw Richard do. He seemed to sense which step would be next. As the electronic module was taken out and opened up, Major McDonald found himself saying, "Better check the solenoid. That is the part that most often goes bad."
Lieutenant Scott, who had been giving the others on the work crew their assignments, overheard that statement and said, "I see you are catching on Major. Your brain is learning how to use the computer link."

As soon as the panel was repaired, Lieutenant Scott gave Major McDonald another assignment. This time he jumped into it with confidence. The more he did the more he wanted to do. The computer link was enabling him to learn so quickly that by the time Captain Richards stopped by to check on him, he was ecstatic.
"Captain, Captain," -he said- "I never knew that learning could be so exciting. And I never dreamed that I could understand all of this electronic equipment. It is almost as if I had memorized an entire encyclopedia.
"I'm glad to hear that it is going well," -the Captain replied- "but experience is still an important factor, and we do require training before we assign anyone to a job that could be dangerous.. You will find after a while that your own memory will record the information that you are now getting through the computer link. When that happens, you will be able to handle the job like a seasoned technician. I have to go now, but I will see you at the party in three days."
"I'm looking forward to it," -said the Major- "have a good day."
 
 

Chapter Four

The Party

Major McDonald was so enthralled by all of the things that he was learning that he did not give much thought to the party, or to what he would wear. However, on the day of the party, some of his friends on the work crew gave him a suitable outfit. Many of his friends were giving him things, and sharing what they had. He now had a drawer full of clothes as well as a shaver and other personal items that he needed.

When Major McDonald arrived at the officers lounge, Captain Richards, who was sitting with his wife, motioned for him to join them. As he walked over to their table, he could see that a young woman, whom he had not met, was sitting with the Captain and his wife. When he got to the table, Captain Richards said, "Major McDonald, I would like to introduce you to Rebekah Simmons. Rebekah is the daughter of my first officer, Isaac Simmons. She was only 16 when we left earth, last week she turned 21. You might say that she has grown up with us."
Nodding politely, Major McDonald said, "I' m pleased to meet you Rebekah. Two months ago I was 25 years old, now I am 945 years old."
At that they all laughed and Miss Simmons said, "Well I certainly hope that I look as young as you do when I reach that age."
As they laughed again Captain Richards said, "Have a seat Major. They are about ready to serve the food."
As the food was served a band began to play. Most of the tunes were unfamiliar to Major McDonald. However, the style of music did not seem that different from what he was used to. As they were eating, Captain Richards said, "What do you think of the music Major?"
"I'm surprised that it sounds so familiar."
"We have a musical heritage going back for many centuries." -said the Captain. "We try to use all of it, not just the latest tunes. Big band music is often used at parties. Because you come from the era in which it originated, the committee that planned this party wanted to include it."
"I appreciate that." -said Major McDonald. "Do they dance to it as well?"
"They dance," -said captain Richards- "but the dances are not quite the same as they were in 1940. Many of the dances back then stirred up lust. We often wonder why so many people were willing to allow close body contact between unmarried men and women."
"Many people did not like it," -said Major McDonald- "but they did not know what they could do about it."
"Didn't any of them think of coming up with a different way of dancing to the same music?" -asked Mrs. Richards.
"I guess not." -said the Major.

About that time some of the people walked out onto the dance floor and began to form a circle.
"Would you like to join in this dance, Major?" -asked Rebekah.
"If the dances are all different I would just wind up making a fool of myself."
"Let me set your link watch to the right frequency for dances." -said Rebekah. "You will be surprised at how quickly you catch on."
"Just do what the others do." -said Mrs. Richards, as she and her husband got up from the table.
As they walked out onto the dance floor, Captain Richards said, "This dance will be done to an arrangement of the Blue Danube Waltz."
When they got out on the dance floor the men formed one circle, and the women formed another circle, inside the men's circle. The men and women faced each other. When the music began everyone took a few steps to the right and clapped twice. They then took a few steps in the other direction and clapped twice. Each time the major seemed to anticipate what was going to happen. The two circles then began to rotate in opposite directions. When they stopped each man joined hands with the woman who wound up opposite him [her left hand in his right, her right hand in his left]. To the music they then took five steps in a clockwise direction and bounced twice on one foot, then the other. Then five steps in the opposite direction, bouncing twice on one foot, then the other. Then five steps in a clockwise direction again. However, this time instead of bouncing, they turned around together. First 180 degrees one way, then 360 degrees the other way. This reversed the position of the men and the women so that the men's circle was now on the inside. The routine then started again with everyone taking three steps to the right and clapping twice. When the music ended they all returned to their table in a jovial mood.
"Well Major, How did you like it?" -asked Mrs. Richards, once they were seated.
"I loved it." -said the Major. "I seemed to know exactly what to do next."
"The band loads each dance into the computer so that the steps are communicated to you through the link." -said Captain Richards.
During the evening the foursome joined in several dances. Most of them were new to the Major, but one was the Virginia Reel. A few of the others seemed like square dances, except that there was no caller. The moves were communicated to the dancers through the computer link. Toward the end of the evening, Major McDonald happened to mention that he played the trumpet. Hearing that, Captain Richards urged him to play something. At first he was reluctant, explaining that because of World War 2, he had not played for over a year and was out of practice. However, Captain Richards told him, "The computer link will help you remember which notes to play. Just pick out a tune and start trying to remember the notes."
For a few moments Major McDonald seemed deep in thought. He then said, "You are right, the notes are coming to me."
"Will you play for us then?" -asked Mrs. Richards.
"I'm willing to try, but I don't have an instrument."
"I'll take care of that." -said Captain Richards, as he stood up. "May I have your attention please." -the Captain called. In a few moments the room grew quiet. "I have just found out that our guest of honor, Major Larry McDonald, plays the trumpet. Would you like to hear him?" At that a resounding yes came from the crowd, followed by a round of applause. One of the band members then stepped forward and offered to let the Major use his trumpet.

Major McDonald was a little apprehensive as he walked to the center of the dance floor. Before starting he said, "I want you all to know that I have not played in over a year." However, once he started the apprehension quickly melted away. The notes just seemed to flow into his mind. Soon the band began to accompany him and the people joined in to sing along. At first he wondered how they could all know the songs. Then he realized that they were getting the words through the computer link. He started by playing, "When The Saints Go Marching In," and followed that with, "You Made Me Love You," "California Here I Come," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Home On The Range," "Blue Belle," "Sentimental Journey," and several others.
When he sat down Mrs. Richards said, "You have really made it an outstanding evening Major. I don't know when I have enjoyed myself so much."
"I certainly agree with that," -said Captain Richards. "It was a pleasure having you play for us."
"It was my pleasure." -said Major McDonald, with a laugh. "Now I know how Harry James feels."

"Well things seem to be winding up." -said Captain Richards. Turning to his wife he then said, "Are you ready to go, honey?"
She nodded in the affirmative and they both rose to leave.
"Rebekah has already left with her parents." -said Captain Richards. "May God be with you Major."
"And with you." -replied Major McDonald. "Goodnight."
 

Chapter Five

The Dinner
On the second day after the party Commander Simmons asked Major McDonald if he could come to dinner that evening. The major was more than willing to accept the invitation. He had been in high spirits since the party and a chance to see Rebekah again made things seem even better.

When he arrived at the Simmons apartment, Commander Simmons opened the door.  As Major McDonald entered, commander Simmons pointed to the sofa and said, "Dinner is not quite ready yet. Won't you have a seat?"
"I appreciate the dinner invitation." -said Major McDonald, as the two of them sat down.
"We are glad you came. Since your arrival here from the past you have become somewhat of a celebrity." -said Commander Simmons. "However, there is one important matter that I wanted to talk to you about."
"What is that?'
"We will be arriving at Devonia the day after tomorrow. Have you given any thought, Major, as to what you will do for a living when we get there?"
"No I haven't. Frankly I have no idea what jobs I would be qualified for."
"Well the reason I brought it up" -said Commander Simmons- "is because we will be needing a number of new crew members when we get to Devonia. I am a career officer. However, many in the crew have been away for over ten years, and want to spend some time on their home planet."
"I thought this was a five year voyage." -commented the Major.
"It was. But many members of our crew traveled to earth specifically to bring this ship back to Devonia. We plan to have a two-month layover at Devonia. We will then leave, taking most of the colonists on board to a new planet, which has been in preparation for several years. Many crew members will not be leaving with us."
"Are you suggesting that I stay on as one of the crew?" -asked Major McDonald.
"I guess what I really want to ask you is if you would like to be a Starfleet officer."
"Me?" -asked Major McDonald. "How would I get the necessary training in just two months?"
"Our Starfleet academy has an intensive training program. You will be surprised at how much you can learn with the help of your computer link. If you sign up as soon as we get to Devonia, you could receive an officer's warrant by the time we are ready to leave. You would then receive the rest of your instruction on the ship, along with on the job training."
"I have no idea how to sign up, and I cannot even be certain that they would accept me."
"That's no problem," -replied Commander Simmons. "If you want the training, I can get you signed up."
"If that is the case, then I think I will take you up on it." -said Major McDonald. "I need a job and I would like to see this new planet."

As Major McDonald continued to discuss space academy requirements with Commander Simmons, Mrs. Simmons entered the room, and announced that dinner was ready. As they filed into the dinning room, Rebekah entered from the other side. Major McDonald thought that she was stunning to say the least. She had on a dark blue skirt, which came to her ankles, and a pink blouse. The blouse had a blue collar, blue cuffs, and blue buttons, as well as sleeves that puffed out around the shoulders. Her long blond hair fell free and loose, and her smile seemed radiant. When they were seated, Commander Simmons asked God's blessing on the food. Once the meal was under way, Major McDonald said, "Captain Richards mentioned space pirates. Could you tell me something about them, Commander?"
"Actually there is not a lot to tell. We are not sure where they come from. They have looted several large ships like this one. That is why this ship was built to carry four battle cruisers."
"Surely you must have some idea as to where these pirates are coming from."
"Well, I cannot make any official statement," -Commander Simmons said slowly- "but my personal opinion is that these pirates are coming from a planet called Barium."
"Would the government of that planet allow piracy?" -asked Major McDonald.
"Not officially," -replied Commander Simmons- "but I suspect that there may be some undercover dealings going on."
"Why do you suspect that?"
"I suspect it because of the kind of people who govern that planet. There are at present, twenty-four inhabited planets. Twenty-three of them have governments that respect God's Word, and, therefore, allow every community to govern itself. Barium, is the one exception.
"Why is it different -asked Major McDonald.
"When it was first colonized, one group of colonists still held to the outmoded views of Robert Owen, Charles Darwin, B.F. Skinner, and others of their ilk. These people and their descendants were able to influence the universities and political system of that planet. They mocked at freedom and dignity as they sought to impose a socialist system on all the other colonists. Now one of them, who is openly hostile to the Christian religion, has made himself dictator."
"He sounds like another Hitler."
"He is similar to Hitler in many ways, and he is using the computer link, on Barium, to deceive the people. As a result most of them now follow him fanatically."
"Is there any danger of war?" -asked Major McDonald.
"I suppose there is always a danger," -replied Commander Simmons- "but at this time it seems unlikely. Most of the inhabited planets have a mutual defense alliance. The real danger lies in the vast spy network that he has set up. The preservation of freedom depends on a clear distinction between fact and opinion. Whenever this distinction is removed, people begin to reason from false premises. The end result is always tyranny. If his people can get control of the computer network, they can deceive all those who depend on that network, by replacing the truth with lies.
"Can't the people ignore his false opinions?" -asked major McDonald.
"Yes they can ignore it," -replied Commander Simmons- "but it puts them at a disadvantage because it is difficult to use the computer link when you constantly have to filter the information."
"Does he pose a serious threat to Devonia?"
"Not at present. But he has a large underground organization on earth. If his people ever get control of the computer link there, the people of earth may see mass deception on a scale never known before."

"Alright, enough of this gloomy talk." -said Mrs. Simmons. "Do you play cards Major?"
"I enjoy Bridge."
"we've played that." -said Mrs. Simmons. "Modern forms of it have replaced the versions popular in the twentieth century. However, we still have the rules to Contract Bridge and even to its forerunner, Whist. As soon as I clear the table we will get a game started."
"That sounds good to me." -said the Major

For most of the evening the foursome had an enjoyable time playing bridge. Major McDonald was able to show them a few tricks that were not in the rule book. As the evening was drawing to a close, major McDonald noticed a strange looking instrument next to the wall, and asked, "What is that thing that looks like a piano keyboard without the piano."
"That is a musical keyboard." -said Rebekah.
"What kind of music can a keyboard make without the rest of the piano?" -asked Larry.
"You would be surprised. As soon as we put the cards away I will play it for you." -said Rebekah.
Major McDonald followed Rebekah to the keyboard. She started by playing through a couple of beautiful tunes that he had never heard before. She then said, "Set your link watch to the music frequency."
After setting his watch, he began to concentrate on the tune Rebekah was playing, letting the music flow through his mind. Soon the words began to come to him. When Rebekah began to sing he joined in. Soon Mr. and Mrs. Simmons came over and joined in also. As they sang one song and then another Major McDonald would have liked for the evening to go on forever. However, after about ten songs he said, "I'm sorry but I must be going. I want to thank you so much for your hospitality. Mrs. Simmons, your cooking was superb. I have not had such a good meal in a long time."
"Thank you. We appreciate your coming."
As he walked to the door, Rebekah walked with him. Pausing before he exited, he asked, "Do people go to the movies anymore?"
"We can watch movies on that screen on the wall." -Rebekah replied. "However, there will be a projection at the cultural center tomorrow night. The story is one of my favorites, 'Pride and Prejudice' so I plan to be there. You can meet me there if you like."
"I'll be there." -he said. And with that he departed.

The next evening Rebekah was already seated when Major McDonald got to the cultural center. He was expecting to see a movie theater, and was totally surprised to see the people sitting in a row of chairs along all four walls of the room. When he spotted Rebekah on the far side of the room he went over and sat down next to her. As he sat down she said, "I see you found it alright."
"Yes." -he replied. "The computer link must include a map of the ship because I seem to know where everything is now."
"Well you are just in time." -she said- "The projection is about to start."
As the projection began Major McDonald was startled to see the characters standing right in front of him. A projector in the center of the ceiling was projecting life size three-dimensional figures into the room. As the characters talked and danced and sang it seemed, to Larry, as if they were real people, in the same room with him.

After the projection ended, Major McDonald turned to Rebekah and said, "I'm stunned. It was like actually being there."
"I'm glad you liked it." -she replied.
"Like it! It was terrific. I thought the movie version with Lawrence Oliver was great, but it cannot compare to this." After a pause he said, "Would you like me to walk you back to your apartment?" Rebekah nodded to the affirmative, so they began to walk back together. As they walked they talked and laughed about various scenes in the story.
 

Chapter Six

Devonia At Last
When Major McDonald reported for work the next morning he found that the work detail had been canceled. The Starship was already in orbit around Devonia, and most of the crew members were busy packing and otherwise preparing to disembark. Having little to pack, Major McDonald made his way to the bridge. There Captain Richards, Commander Simmons, and the other officers, were busy bringing the ship down. As soon as Captain Richards saw Major McDonald, he greeted him with a hearty, "Hello Major."  Major McDonald returned the greeting, and walked over to the console.
"At our present rate of descent it will not be long until we are docked, Major."
"What is our rate of descent?"
"Approximately forty miles per hour. By the time we are fifty miles above the planet, our rate of descent will have slowed to twenty-five miles per hour. It will have slowed to only six miles per hour by the time we are only one mile above the surface."
"What keeps the ship from just dropping like a stone?"
"Our artificial gravity field has been shifted so that its center is just above the center of the ship. That causes it to pull upward on the ship, countering the gravitational pull of Devonia."
"Doesn't that put a great deal of strain on the ship?" -asked the Major.
"Not as much as you might expect. The competing gravity fields do not create a tug of war. Instead they tend to neutralize each other, in effect making the ship very light."
"How will you anchor the ship once we are down?"
"There are six telescoping legs on the bottom side of the ship. Our gravity controller will let the equivalent of five tons rest on each one of them. That will effectively anchor the ship."

Major McDonald continued to watch what was going on for a few minutes, and then left the bridge. He was not the type who could stand around and watch others work. He went first to the observation deck and from there to his quarters. There he packed what little he had to pack and made sure that he had not forgotten anything. When the announcement came, just before noon, that the ship was docked and passengers could disembark, he was first in line. He had wondered how people would get off, seeing that those on the lower floors were upside down in relation to those on the planet's surface. The method was actually quite ingenious. The gangplank, which was actually a large rectangular tube, had a stairway on one side, an inclined plane on the other, and was wide enough for people to walk down ten abreast. Once the ship was anchored, the gangplank folded down from the bottom of the ship. Because the upper entrance to the gangplank curved around like the handle of a cane, and because it had its own gravity field, Major McDonald simply followed the curve of the floor and came out with his feet pointing the opposite direction that they were pointing when he went in.

When Major McDonald stepped off the gangplank he at first thought that it was nighttime. It was very dark. However, as he looked off into the distance he could see sunlight around the edge of the ship, about five miles away. As a large crowd began to form around the end of the gangplank, the Major was not sure where to go next. As he looked up he could see people, who appeared upside down to him, standing on the lower observation deck. As he stood there looking at them, he heard the voice of Commander Simmons say, "Stay close to me. We must move quickly."
Commander Simmons then directed those who were standing on a metal plate to get off of it. Once it was clear, he held his link watch close to his mouth and said, "You can open it now." In an instant the metal plate folded back to reveal a wide stairway going down into the ground. Commander Simmons led the way down and soon the large room at the foot of the stairs began to fill with people. As he followed Commander Simmons, Major McDonald could see that the large room opened into a large underground concourse. As Commander Simmons turned into a long hallway, he said, "I have made arrangements to borrow a car. It is important time wise that I get you enrolled in the Space Academy today."
"It is already past noon."
"It is past noon according to the time we followed on the ship, but here it is only eight in the morning."
Because Commander Simmons was walking quickly, Major McDonald had to hurry to keep up. After walking for about fifteen minutes they came to a room. As they entered the room Major McDonald could see a large door at the other end of the room, and what looked like a convertible with no wheels parked to one side.
"Get in." -said Commander Simmons, as he seated himself behind the steering wheel.
"How far will we get without wheels?" -asked Larry.
"Just watch." -said Commander Simmons, as he turned the key.
Immediately the car rose from the floor and headed though the large door into an underground passage. After a while the underground passage began to slope upward. When they emerged from the underground passage they were still under the shadow of the DSS Victory, but in a matter of minutes left it behind.

As they sped off through the country, Major McDonald could see that the road was not paved. Instead it was covered with carefully mowed grass. There were mowed sidewalks on either side of the road, and a two foot high strip in the middle dividing it into lanes. However, because the cars floated along, about one foot above the ground, there was no need for pavement. On either side of the road were grassy fields. Beyond the fields were tree covered hillsides. From time to time he would see cattle, goats, or a cottage. He leaned back in his seat and was thinking about how peaceful it all seemed when he realized that there were no fences. He looked all around to be sure and there was not a fence in sight. Puzzling over that he turned to Commander Simmons and asked, "How do the farmers keep the cattle from straying when there are no fences?"
"There is an underground wire. If the cattle get too close to it an electrode placed under their skin gives them a prick. It is much more effective than barbed wire. After a while the cattle will not cross a boundary even if the electric is turned off."

After a pause Major McDonald asked, "Where are we going?"
"To the city of Victoria." -Commander Simmons answered. "I have a friend there who teaches at the space academy. He will help you get enrolled."
"Are there any laws that I should be aware of?"
"I don't think so, Major. The political law set forth by Moses is the law of the land."
"Do you mean to say that it is a crime to eat pork?"
"Not at all." -answered Commander Simmons, with a laugh. "The Bible does not specify any punishment for eating pork.  Only the laws which carry political punishments, if violated, are political laws."
"Doesn't the Law of Moses say that someone was put to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath day?"
"Yes it does. But you are thinking of the Jewish version of the Ten Commandments. In our legal system that Commandment has always been understood in the light of the New Testament. We do require most businesses to close on the Lord's Day, but we do it to protect the right of the employees to worship. Rightly understood, the political law of Israel is the most fair and just system of law ever given. It was basic to English common law, which was in turn basic to the American system of government."
 

Chapter Seven

The City of Victoria
The miles seemed to melt away, as the air-car sped silently through the countryside. Soon the open fields ceased and they entered an area that seemed like a huge park. As they entered this area Commander Simmons said, "We are now inside the city limits." but Major McDonald did not see a building anywhere.  There were many people using the park. There were children on the swings and playgrounds, players on the ball fields, Picnickers at the picnic tables, and so forth.  However, there was not a house in sight.

Suddenly the roadway turned downward, and they went through an opening into the ground. At the bottom of the incline was a large doorway. Once through that doorway they were driving on a street in what appeared to be an urban area. There were sidewalks, curbs and even fire plugs. The light was so bright that Major McDonald at first thought that they were outdoors. As he looked upward, however, he could se that they were in a huge underground mall. The city was underground. The ceiling that arched over the street was at least one hundred feet above them. It was covered with light blue panels that glowed softly, and looked very much like the sky. From place to place bright lights flooded the mall with artificial sunlight.

As they drove through the underground city, Major McDonald was amazed. He could not help but marvel at its beauty. The buildings ran together, like many in the cities he was familiar with, but they were so much cleaner. None of them were blackened by soot. The shops had flowers planted in front of them. The sidewalks were wider. And there were benches, trees, flowerbeds, and fountains. The people also seemed to be neat and clean in their appearance. The women dressed modestly, and the styles emphasized their femininity.

"How safe are the streets at night?" -asked Major McDonald.
"Very safe." -replied Commander Simmons. "There is an additive to the water supply which makes the sex drive more easily controllable. It does not at all interfere with normal relations between a man and wife, but it does keep impure thoughts from dominating a person's imagination. Since we have been using it, rape has almost disappeared and adultery is at an all time low."

As they stopped at an intersection, Major McDonald saw an animal, no bigger than a house cat, that looked like a Bengal Tiger. "What is that?" -he exclaimed. "Is that a tiger?"
"Yes." -came the reply. "Centuries ago, people who were afraid that tigers might become extinct replaced the growth gene in some tiger embryos with that of a house cat. Their genetic engineering produced a tiny species if tiger."
"What else has genetic engineering produced?"
"Its most remarkable accomplishment has been to eliminate many inherited afflictions. However, it is not without a dark side. Centuries ago some scientists used genetic engineering to mix animal genes with human genes. They produced a race of people that were half human and half ape, which they sought to exploit as slaves. Those deformed humans were the most miserable people on earth. They were intelligent enough to know that they were freaks, but could do nothing about it."
"It is hard to believe that anyone could be that cruel."
"I know." -replied Commander Simmons. "They would not want to be deformed, but they thought nothing of causing someone else to be deformed. They even tried to pass such cruelty off as progress. It was only after a major expense and years of effort that the descendants of those people were restored to normal. I thank God that it is now illegal to introduce animal genes into a human."

As they turned down a side street, Major McDonald could see that they were now in a residential area. The buildings looked like town houses rather than stores. Each had a flower bed on either side of the doorway, and they looked trim and well kept. As they pulled up in front of one home, Major McDonald expected Commander Simmons to parallel park. Instead he simply pressed a button and the air-car slid sideways into the parking spot.
"Where are all the people?" -asked Major McDonald, as the car came to a stop.
"Either indoors or overhead, in the park." -replied Commander Simmons. "The park is as large as the city, so everyone has access to it."
"How do they get there?"
"Above the ceiling over each street is another street, which is for pedestrians only. All of the houses have a door, on their upper floor, which opens into it. That street has a stairway into the park on every block."

As they got out of the car, Commander Simmons walked over to one of the doors and knocked. After a few moments an elderly gentleman opened the door.
"Professor Evans, do you remember me?"
Of course I remember you." -came the reply. "I talked to you on the phone not more than an hour ago. But I must admit that I would not have recognized you if I had not been expecting you."
"I suppose ten years does make a difference." -said Commander Simmons, as he broke into a wide grin. "It is good to see you again." Then moving his hand in the direction of Major McDonald, he said, "This is the young man that I told you about over the phone. His name is Larry McDonald, but we all call him, Major."
"You say he is from the past?"
"Yes, but that is a long story and I do not have a lot of time. The reason that I came to you is because I need your help to get him enrolled in the intensive training program at the space academy. We must leave in two months so he does not have time to go through the ordinary enrollment procedure. Could you see that he is enrolled and accepted today? I would regard it as a personal favor if you could."
"Well, I know that you are a good judge of character." -said Professor Evans. "I will do it on your recommendation if you will promise one thing."
"What is that?" -asked Commander Simmons.
"Promise that you will be my guest for dinner next Saturday evening."
"Done." -said Commander Simmons. "I will look forward to it."
 

Chapter Eight

The Space Academy

As Commander Simmons sped off, Major McDonald turned to Professor Evans and asked, "What do I do now sir?"
"I was planning to drive over to the space academy this afternoon. " -replied Professor Evans. "However, in order to have time to get you enrolled, I suppose we ought to leave now." Musing for a moment, as if deep in thought, he then pointed to a car parked by the curb and said, "This is my car. Put your bag in the back seat and we will leave as soon as I get a few things from the house."

In a few minutes Professor Evans returned, carrying a small case, and got in the car. As the car slid sideways and began moving forward Major McDonald could not help but marvel at the beauty of this underground city. As his eyes looked to and fro, eager to take in everything, he noticed that no one was obese. He had not seen an obese person since he had arrived in the future. As he thought about this, he looked carefully at every pedestrian he saw, intently searching for one that was overweight. Finally, turning to Professor Evans, he asked, "Is there some reason why I do not see a fat person anywhere?"
Professor Evans did not answer right away. He seemed to be thinking about the question. After a few moments of silence, he said, "Yes there is. I suppose I take it for granted and do not often think about it. However, a few centuries ago we learned how the body triggers fat cells to cast off stored food. Since that time our doctors have been able to have the body cast off excess weight naturally. They can even cause the weight loss to be confined to a particular part of the body, such as the hips and thighs, or the stomach."
"Is it painful?"
"Not at all. Your body does it all the time. All the doctor does is tell your body when to do it."

As Major McDonald pondered what had just been said the car began to climb a ramp, heading toward the surface.
"Isn't the space academy in the city?" -asked Major McDonald, with an air of surprise.
"No." -replied Professor Evans. "Victoria is our biggest city, but it is not the capital. The space academy is in the capital city."
"What city is that?"
"The city of Cambridge, about 30 miles north of here."
"Is that city underground?"
"Most of it is. But some government buildings and monuments are above ground. It is really quite beautiful. Some of the design was copied from Washington D.C. Like Washington we have a Capitol building, greenway, and reflective pool."

As they emerged on the surface, Professor Evans said, "Now I would like you to tell me about yourself. Isaac Simmons told me that you have come to us from the past. I am curious to know more about that."
So as they drove toward Cambridge, Major McDonald told Professor Evans what had happened to him, and answered any questions as best he could.

As they entered the city of Cambridge, Major McDonald could see that everything above ground was park. The government buildings only enhanced the beauty of the park. There was a reflective pool in front of the Capitol building, as Professor Evans had said, but the greenway around the reflective pool was bordered with hedges and flowerbeds that reminded Major McDonald of an English garden.

The lane leading up to the space academy was bordered by a row of huge oaks on either side. The branches arched over the roadway, reminding Major McDonald of the entrance to an old southern plantation.

As they parked near the front door, Professor Evans shut off the car. The porch in front of the entrance was semi-circular in design with a row of marble columns along its outer edge. Major McDonald followed Professor Evans as he walked through the row of columns and into the building. Once through the door they turned to the left and entered an office. There, after Professor Evans had talked with certain people, Major McDonald filled out the necessary paperwork and was enrolled in the academy.

Once enrolled, Major McDonald found every waking hour, except for Sundays, filled with activity. He had never in his wildest dreams imagined that learning could be so easy or so much fun. Because of the computer link it was as if he had started school with every textbook, every lecture, and every test question, along with the right answers, already memorized. For that reason, the course of instruction consisted more of hands on experience and research, than lecture.

On Sundays Rebekah would come to attend worship with him. After worship they would go for a walk in the park. As the weeks went on these walks became the high point of his week. The pain of losing his "Jenny" was fading and he was looking forward more and more to being with Rebekah on their voyage to the new planet.

One week led to another and almost before Major McDonald knew it, the course of instruction was complete and it was time to return to the DSS Victory. Two days before they were scheduled to leave, Commander Simmons came by to take him back to the ship. On the drive back to the space port they discussed the coming journey, and in the conversation Major McDonald mentioned that he was looking forward to time with Rebekah. When he made that statement Commander Simmons looked startled.
"I thought you knew." -he said, with a puzzled tone in his voice.
"Knew what?" -asked Larry.
"I thought you knew that Rebekah was not going with us. Hasn't she told you?"
This bit of information seemed to knock the wind out of Major McDonald. He sat speechless for about a minute. He then said weakly, "She said nothing to me about it."
"Well," -said Commander Simmons, slowly- "she is tired of life on a starship and has made arrangements to stay with some relatives.
Hearing that, Major McDonald sank down in his seat and said nothing more for the rest of the drive.

As they neared the port, Commander Simmons said, "It is not practical for a ship as large as the DSS Victory, to remain on the ground for more than forty eight hours. Right now it is in orbit around Devonia. We will spend the night here, and tomorrow a shuttle will be sent down to pick us up."
As he walked to the room that had been assigned to him for the night, Major McDonald's mind was in turmoil. He liked Rebekah, but up to this point he had been too busy to think about marriage. He had taken it for grated that he had plenty of time to think about that later. However, the possibility of losing her had shaken his whole outlook. If anything it made her seem far more precious to him. As soon as he was alone he fell to his knees in prayer, pouring his heart out to God. When he finally retired for the night, he felt a strange peace. However, because his mind was racing through plans and ideas as to how he would handle the situation, he still found it hard to get to sleep.

Awaking early, Major McDonald made arrangements to use one of the air cars. He did not want to call Rebekah too early, so he started driving toward Victoria without knowing if he would be able to see her or not. He was thankful that the phone number to Rebekah's link watch would never change. He could get that number through the computer link.

As he entered the city limits, he pulled his car over to the side of the road and dialed her number. He could hear her link watch ringing. It rang once, twice, three times. All the while he was holding his breath, waiting for her to answer. Then...
"Hello, this is Rebekah Simmons."
"Hello. I hope I didn't wake you up."
"Larry? Why are you calling so early?"
"Did I wake you up?"
"No. I was just getting up. Why are you calling?"
"I just learned last night that you would not be going with us."
"Oh, I thought you knew."
"How could I know? Anyway I just have to see you before we leave."
"Can't it wait, Larry? I'm just getting up."
"There is no time. I have to leave today."
"I wish you had given me more notice. I already have plans."
"I did not know until last night. Is there anyway you can rearrange your plans?"
"Perhaps. Let me call you back in about fifteen minutes."
"Alright. Goodbye."

As Major McDonald sat in his car, waiting, the minutes seemed to drag on like hours. He looked at his watch once every fifteen seconds, on average, wondering why the time was passing so slowly. As the time went over fifteen minutes, his heart started to beat faster. Drops of sweat began to form on his brow. Then his heart skipped a beat as his link watch rang.
"Hello. Rebekah?"
"Yes."
"Were you able to rearrange your plans?"
"Yes I was. I now have one hour before I need to leave."
"Where can we meet?"
"I will meet you at the corner of Pleasant Avenue and Elm Street."
"I will be there in a few minutes."

Slipping the car into gear, Larry looked for the nearest down-ramp. Because of the computer link he would have no difficulty finding the corner of Pleasant Avenue and Elm.
When he arrived, Rebekah was sitting on a park bench, reading a book that was being projected in three dimensions by her link watch. When he saw her, he pulled up to the curb and walked around to open the door for her. Once she was in the car, he asked, "Would you like to go for a walk in the park?"
"That would be fine, but I don't have a lot of time."

Hearing that, he slipped the car into gear and they were soon in the park. Leaving the car under a large tree they began to walk along one of the paths. As they walked, Rebekah asked, "Why did you want to see me?
"I just had to talk to you."
"What did you want to talk about?"
"I wanted to talk about us."
"What is there to talk about?"
"Haven't you felt that you would miss me?"
"I suppose I have, Larry. But I have been on a starship for a long time and wanted to get on with my life."
"Does the life you have planned have any room for me?"
"It could I suppose, but I did not see things going in that direction."
"Did it really have time to go in that direction? After all the only time I have had with you has been on Sunday afternoons."
"I suppose you are right, but I have planned for a long time to stay on Devonia."
"A long time?"
"Yes. I told my father over a year ago that I would like to stay on Devonia."
"I wish I had known that before I committed myself to the coming voyage."
"Would it have made any difference?"
"Perhaps not. But only because I hardly knew you at the time I made that commitment."

The two of them walked together for a few minutes without saying anything. Then Major McDonald said, "I suppose what I really am trying to tell you is that I would like to marry you."
"Marry me?"
"Yes."
"Why this comes as a surprise. You never expressed an interest in marriage before today."
"I thought that I had plenty of time to think about that. Perhaps I took our relationship for granted. However, that all changed when I learned that you would not be going with us. It was then that I realized how much you meant to me."

Again, they walked a few minutes without saying anything. Then Major McDonald asked, "Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
"You must first ask my father for my hand."
"And if he agrees?"
"If he agrees, then the answer is yes."
 



Copyright Gary Ray Branscome
After word:
I wrote this story because I know how science fiction captures the imagination of the younger generation. It was written to provide a theologically correct alternative to the humanist science fiction that is flooding the minds of American youth.
My Model for Major McDonald was Jimmy Steward. Coming from a Midwestern town in the early twentieth century he finds himself more at home in the Christian culture of Devonia than he would have been in America during the 1990s. I see captain Richards as reflective, serious thinking, Mature Christian. His personality would be very similar to that of Captain Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation. My plan for the rest of the story, if I ever get to it, would have Major McDonald traveling to the "new planet" as a starfleet officer. He and Rebekah would be married en route, using traditional marriage vows. They would take walks through the fields and forests of a ten mile in diameter deck, devoted to growing plants for the new planet. Rebekah would be given a pet elephant, genetically engineered so that it would grow no bigger that a poodle. Arriving at the new planet they would be attacked by space pirates. Thinking that the pirates were defeated they would land, only to later learn that the pirates, who were really half human half ape, had a base on the new planet.   Capturing one of the pirates Larry would learn first hand how miserable these deformed humans really were. Later Rebekah would be captured during an attack and taken  to Barium. Larry would follow becoming involved in one intrigue after another as he tries to find and rescue Rebekah. There he sees just how cruel "liberalism" really is. Babies are aborted if they are the wrong sex. Deformed children are called human trash and killed. Some people are deformed with ape genes in order to justify enslaving them. After many adventures Larry and Rebekah are able to escape, and Barium, which has been sending out the pirates, is then defeated. However, what of the agents Barium sent to earth?