Chapter 5: Unrest

"Look, John!" Victor Bergman was dragging his friend into the medical unit and to the observation windows at intensive care.

Kevin McMurry was sitting up, obviously still very weak and being supported gently by the shoulders by Helena Russell, but definitely sitting up, looking around, looking more alert.

John smiled at his friend. "That's the best news I've seen in days, Victor!"

"None of them have spoken yet, and they are far from out of the woods, but they are fighting gallantly."

"Excellent! If only progress here on Berg could be so positive. Since we've had that meeting, I'm not sure what to do to lift these people's spirits."

"Time, John. It will take time for them all to process the information. Getting back to a routine is the best way."

"Speaking of routine, Victor, how's the drilling going?"

"A team started up again yesterday. I'm going to head there for a few days, just to keep an eye on things. Paul told me there has been a request for an eagle to go to Erath to pick up some equipment that was in left in storage there; I'll go with that eagle."

"A request for an eagle? I've not heard a thing."

"Oh John, just some building materials from Erath, Paul said."

"Ok. Well, good luck Victor. If I had my choice, you'd stay out of that tunnel, but I guess there's not much chance of that."

Victor laughed. "You know I'll be careful, John. In my opinion you're left with the more difficult situation here."

John stood looking through the observation windows for a while after Victor had left. Eventually, Helena came outside to join him.

"That's a beautiful sight, Helena, seeing the children slowly improving."

She nodded. "They're still very weak, but I'm sure in a few days time they'll be able to start taking food by mouth." She pushed open the door to her office. "I think, from finishing several of the autopsies, and reading the information on the children, that our girls are Sheena Harris, aged 7 and Victoria Delray, 8. Victoria's mother was one of the staff on board the ship. She had been a teacher."

"Yeah, the report on the crew, staff and children was very comprehensive. As was the timeline of events as they started unfolding. It seems that ship was doomed from the start."

Helena indicated the thick pile of printouts on her desk. "I've been reading through it as I get time, but, we've been rather busy with patients apart from the children. Not since our moon first broke away from earth had we dealt with so much depression and despondency."

"We'll get back to normal schedules for everyone by tomorrow. We do still have communities to build, and our own survival is by no means secure. The ship will remain the focus in the minds of many people for a while, but we all need to refocus on Uzazi and Kukua."

"Talk about focus, John, Victor has been showing the children photographs of the ship, and sharing with them much of what he learned about earth just before they left on that ship, from the data they've reconstructed. He's of the opinion that it might help them adjust, might ground them a bit in all this uncertainty. They have no idea where they are and must be terrified."

"What do you think?"

"I think it's a good idea. Of course we're not sharing with them what we found on the ship. It's still much too early for that, but at some point, when they are much, much stronger, they'll have to know some way or another. We've observed them looking from face to face, obviously searching for a familiar one."

"It would have been helpful had just one of those adults survived. Not just for the sake of the children, but it would have given us so much more information about those last, desperate days on the ship."

"I think those adults gave their all to ensure the children's' survival."

"I think you're right. It breaks my heart that they were not even aware of the provisions in those extra storage pods, as in preparing the ship, the remnant had not thought to thoroughly explore the pods. From their notes, they presumed they were fuel pods."

"And when they lost those first two crew members in that tragic space walk, the two most experienced crew, their fate was almost sealed. The life support systems continued automatically, and the ship went on its way, but then their water purification plant became contaminated…"

"Then, finding the chemicals that had leaked onto some of the food supplies when their nurse fell ill. They were just doing their best from that point to ensure survival until someone found them."

"Isn't it strange, John, how that ship found its way to us?"

He nodded slowly. "We've dealt with this before; the feeling that some cosmic force somehow intervenes. Frankly, it scares me sometimes. I just wish that "force", if it is such, had intervened earlier to save all of those children."

Helena's commlock beeped, and she opened her door to find Bob Mathias outside.

"You have a moment, Doctor?"

"Of course, Bob."

Koenig stood up to leave, but Mathias motioned for him to stay. "You might want to hear this too, Commander."

"What's up, Bob?

"Well, one of my girls has not shown up for her shift at all today. She's the reliable sort, so, I had it checked out. Security tells me she's not at her residential unit in Kukua. And we can't seem to trace her commlock."

"Had she been depressed lately?"

"No Commander. She's actually one of those who've not taken the news from that ship too hard."

"She's not with friends maybe?" Doctor Russell asked.

"Melita is not the kind to just not show up for work, Doctor. Even if she was with friends, perhaps not well and them taking care of her, she would have let us know."

"Melita? Melita…?" Koenig scratched his cheek. "Why does that name sound familiar?"

"Melita Kelly, Commander. She was one of the girls helping me on Erath, when we had those dissidents. She infiltrated their group."

"Yes!" John snapped his fingers. "I remember now, pretty brunette."

"She's not with a team on Erath?" Helena asked.

"No, Doctor."

"Wait… Victor told me, an eagle was going there; a request had been made that some things were needed in Kukua. Could she be on it?"

"Once again, Commander, she would not have just left without letting us know."

"Well, Bob, check with Erath. They'll probably be staying until lunar morning time. She must be somewhere. There's not much place for people to disappear to here, they tend to stay close to the communities."

"Yes, Commander."

Helena laid her hand on Mathias' sleeve. "I'm sure we'll find her soon, Bob, and there will be a simple explanation."

By the next day, however, there was still no sign of Melita Kelly. John Koenig, Helena Russell and Bob Mathias were meeting again, in John's office at the command center in Uzazi.

"She's not with any team on Erath, Commander," Mathias reported. "Security gained access to her residential unit, and there's no sign of her. Her commlock is gone too."

"People can't just disappear here," Koenig said, exasperated.

"Even her friends are getting worried, Commander."

"We'll get on it right away Bob. I'll get a team from security to search every inch between Kukua and Uzazi. She may have had an accident between the two communities."

"Thank you, Commander."

As Mathias left, John looked at Helena. "What do you make of this?" he asked. "Do you think the events of the last few days may have unhinged someone… and they hurt her? God forbid. That's all we need, some lunatic on the loose."

"I don't know John. I'm pretty sure we've been treating those who became most upset by the events after we found that ship, but one can never be sure."

"I've never been certain we rooted out the dissidence from Erath completely, Helena. It has always been in the back of my mind. And adding that ship to the equation; most people know that it would be able to help us pinpoint the position of earth. Emotional identification with that ship is just the kind of thing I want to avoid, hence my around the clock guard on the Superswift."

"Do you really think people would want to go back, John, now they know what earth would be like?"

"No telling, Helena. Many of our people must have lost a great deal back on earth. Families, friends… and I'm getting to the point where I believe that even if we end up understanding every atom in the universe, we'll never understand the human psyche. No telling what some people will do." He looked up at Helena, and she read the concern in his eyes. "I've been worried for you… and Victor."

"Why, John?"

"I'm not blind, Helena. I've been aware for a while now that there is a group of people, mostly in Kukua, who are quite openly hostile to the relationship."

She looked down.

"I promised myself when you first came to me, that I wouldn't interfere, that I would allow the two of you to… fight your own battles." He placed his hand on hers reassuringly. "I think, out of respect for my authority, and because I obviously approve, people have been holding back." His eyes met hers. "And I do approve, Helena, with my whole heart. Anyone else… it would have been a different story."

She squeezed his hand. "Thank you, John."

"But, people are not blind either, Helena. Either the beautiful doctor is living so well here on Berg she's put on a few pounds, or… well…" He smiled, somewhat embarrassed. "I know of course, so perhaps it's just more obvious to me, but you are beginning to show, just a little, and… people don't know, but oh, do they gossip."

She sighed. "With everything going on, we've just not even thought about that."

"Both you and Victor have been incredible at helping others, Helena. You've neglected taking care of yourselves. Are you…," He took a deep breath. "I promised myself I'd never ask, but, are you two going to get married?"

"We've talked about it often, John. Victor and I both feel that… it is so "earth". We made some private vows, but we're not encumbered by the laws of earth where a little piece of paper would give us benefits like tax breaks, insurance and so on. We both feel that it is not necessary."

John chuckled. "Free spirits, huh? Would never have taken the two of you for that."

"Our lives have been so constricted John. We're just overwhelmed with the sudden freedom to be human again, to enjoy healthy feelings; we almost want to consciously avoid the trappings of the past."

"Well, it does make some sense. To me, at least. But to those who continue to hold the traditional views, I'm not so sure." He stopped. "I hope you don't mind me talking to you like this?"

She shook her head. "Not at all, John. I value it."

"It would be a little harder to speak to Victor about it," he confessed. "But, to get back to my original point: I've been concerned for the two of you, but I have no idea what to do about it, or if I should even do anything."

"It's just been some remarks here and there, John. Some, hurtful, but mostly petty. People who don't understand my history with Victor, our history as friends, people who look at his age… which is really not that much different…"

"Bob has reported some to me, Helena: a few incidents in the medical unit. And I have noticed some hostility towards Victor while he was working in Kukua, and then at the tunnel site. Of course he hardly notices it, which in itself is a concern." John smiled. "If it was in my power, I'd suggest the two of you head for Bermuda, or the Caribbean, and just enjoy a break together."

They both laughed. "I'm sure it's not as serious, John. New things will come along to occupy people's minds, and we'll soon be old news. The children are a great focus, Sandra's baby will be a wonderful focus, and we do have a few marriages coming up in the not too far future..." She looked up at John. "John, knowing what you know now, would you go back to earth?"

"I don't know, Helena, but I doubt it. I keep replaying everything in my head, wondering if we are meant to go back, with everything that we know, that we have, that we have learned. I keep wondering if we would be the ones to make a difference, to rebuild our planet, but mankind is a resilient species. They will rebuild, with or without us. The idea of crowded cities, millions of people, politics, crime, high finance, the rat race, things I once found challenging and even entertaining, have lost their appeal for me. And we have the only space program left from earth. It would be hard to find a niche."

"Most of those things are gone, John. The cities, the rat race…"

"Maybe not. And if mankind rebuilds, that's what they'll rebuild towards, towards the way it was. We've been through so much on Alpha, but one thing we have gained… you and Victor are correct. We've gained a freedom man has not had in centuries, and I've grown somewhat attached to that freedom."

"So, what do we do with that ship?"

"Our children, or their children, might make the choice to go back, Helena. We'll preserve it, improve on it, even use it for other space travel instead. Alpha Nova does not have to be our only world."

"And if there are people, John, who want to go back? What would you do then? Would you let them go?"

"Luke and Anna have been on my mind often lately, and how we left them on Arkadia to fulfill what they believed was their destiny. We cannot keep people from their destinies, but our destiny may be here, on Berg, away from the continuing effects of the nuclear war on earth, to ensure the future of a healthy mankind in space."

"Commander! Security reports an attempt at breaking through the perimeter guard at the Superswift!"

John Koenig sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "Tell them I'm on my way, Paul. Get Alan and Tony to meet me at the eagles here in Kukua."

"Yes Commander. The breach was unsuccessful, but they couldn't catch who it was."

"Thank you Paul. Keep me informed."

Koenig pulled on his old, familiar uniform. Most of the Alphans still wore their Alpha uniforms for their work shifts, as if they were reluctant to let go. For John it was just convenient.

Alan and Tony met him at the eagles, both yawning. "What's up, Commander?"

"We've had an attempt to breach security at the Superswift."

"Anyone hurt? Do we need to take a rescue pod?"

"No one hurt. We just need to find out what's going on. I don't like it."

"We're on it, Commander."

The eagle touched down beside the Superswift not long afterwards. The Security unit was waiting.

"Here, Commander!" They led the party to an area where the vegetation had obviously been disturbed, and footprints were visible. "We've searched the whole area several times, Commander. We could hear them… look… " They pointed out a tree scarred with laser fire. "They fired at us, but it was as if they missed on purpose, to get us to chase them. We couldn't see who it was."

"Alright. Groups of two. Scour the entire area one more time. Alan, you come with me. We'll check out the ship." But despite carefully combing the area, and going over the ship inch by inch, not a further sign of any intruder was found. It was a tired group of men who finally returned to Kukua after a fresh guard had been posted.

Koenig walked into the command unit. "Paul, call the groups on Erath, check that they're all ok. There was definitely someone at that Superswift, but we found no one. Get me Professor Bergman if you can."

"Yes Commander."

"John?" Victor's face appeared moments later on the communications panel.

"Are you ok, Victor?"

"Yes, John. What's wrong? We're fine. Except for being woken in the middle of the "night" period," Victor chuckled.

"We just had an incident here, Victor. Someone tried to breach security at the Superswift."

"Oh no! Are you ok, John."

"Yes, Victor. No one was hurt. Go get some rest. But Victor…"

"Yes, John?"

"Keep your eyes open. We've had a few strange things happening here. I'll tell you when you get back, but just be careful for now. Return to Berg tomorrow."

"Yes, John. You get some rest too."

Koenig turned to Paul Morrow. "Can you update me on the search for that girl?"

"Nothing has been found, Commander. There is simply no trace of her."

"Instruct the search parties to enlarge the radius of their search when they resume tomorrow, Paul. And schedule a command conference for late tomorrow."

"Yes, Commander."

"I'm going to get a little more rest, but I'll just do it right here," Koenig said. "Wake me if anything else happens." He turned into his small office, closing the door behind him. Then he thought of something and punched his commlock: "Paul, get technical to install some cameras around the Superswift, and record the feed. I don't know if we are dealing with simple thieves, or if something else is going on, but we need to find out." Then he stretched out on his couch, closed his eyes, and tried to get a few more hours of rest.

"What are you doing, Fred!" Toshiro Fujita yelled, rushing at Fred Dobson. "Look at the tension reading on that cable! Tighten it, tighten it!"

"It slipped, it just slipped," the man replied, stepping away from the winch control. "I couldn't control it!"

Fujita stepped to the controls and began punching in commands. "Well, it's responding perfectly now." He looked at the young security man. "What are you doing in here anyway? Where's Smitty?"

"Had to go walk the dog, didn't he," Dobson replied. "He just asked me to watch things for a few minutes. That's when it happened; I heard a squeal and that gauge just went crazy."

Fujita studied the instruments and then turned to the communications console. It had been turned off. He punched it up. "Professor, are you ok down there?"

"Yes, Toshiro, it's just the damndest thing though! The cable seemed to have slipped. I've been trying to call you the last few minutes."

Toshiro Fujita glared at Dobson again. "Get out of here. Get me Smitty. Stay in the eagle and start on a report until I can talk to you."

Dobson turned on his heel and with a furtive smile, unseen by the other technician, hurried out.

"Professor, what is your position now?" Fujita called on the console. "Can we pull you up?"

"Not yet, Toshira. The cable slipped and the cradle dropped a few meters suddenly. It was too sudden for me to get crampons into the ice. And when the cable recovered, part of the cradle became stuck under some of the pipe mesh not yet attached to the tunnel wall!"

"Can you work it free, Professor?" Toshiro turned around as Smitty entered the winch control room.

"What's going on?" He rushed to the controls.

"Look, this is also disabled!" Fujita called out angrily. He turned on the body cam video feed. "What possessed you, Smitty? You were supposed to be in charge here until the Professor surfaced."

"Dobson said I was needed urgently in the eagle, and that he had been sent to spot me. When I got there though, there was no one."

Fujita studied the body cam images from Bergman. "Well, let's sort this first. The cradle seems to be dangling almost upside down in that tunnel, with the back stuck under the mesh here. Professor, if we make the cable slack and lowered you to the end of the tunnel, would the cradle un-jam?"

They watched the scientist trying to turn himself in the cradle so he could look.

"I don't think so, Toshiro. It looks like the cradle harness is tangled in some of the mesh openings."

"Can you work the cradle free somehow?"

They watched as Bergman jerked and tried moving the cradle. "No… it seems…" he said between grunts, "that it's really tangled. The mesh is much stronger than the cradle. I'm not able to break it. And I'm not in a very comfortable position to be able to work at it."

"I can see that, Professor." The upper part of Victor's body was facing down, away from the mesh and the tangled cradle, rendering him almost unable to reach the mesh, which was behind and above him.

"Can you turn yourself around in the cradle Professor? By just undoing one carabiner on your harness at a time?"

"I don't think so, Toshiro." They watched as Victor tried to reach behind him for some of the carabiners. "Wait, wait, I can reach some of these. It'll be much simpler for just me to just get out of this cradle and lower myself to the end of the tunnel. From there I can hook up again and you can winch me up."

"You know the Commander said nobody is to be un-tethered down there, Professor!"

"I know Toshiro! But these are not normal circumstances. I'll be loose for just a few minutes, and except for a few centimeters of water, the end of the tunnel is firm!"

"I have to call the Commander first, Professor."

"No, Toshiro! It's just a small mishap! We don't need to bother the Commander," Victor tried. He was still unaware that the incident may not have been just an accident, but he knew that if John found out, his time in the tunnel may be severely curtailed. John was hardly likely to study every report from the tunnel work detail, and the event could simply be buried in all the other data.

"Sorry Professor, but I have to," Fujito replied.

"This is Toshiro Fujita calling Commander Koenig. This is Fujita from the Erath work team calling Commander Koenig," Fujita started.

"Go ahead, Toshiro. This is Koenig."

"Commander, we've had a small accident in the tunnel. No one is hurt, I repeat, no one is hurt, and we're resolving it, but we need your permission."

"Permission? What's going on Toshiro? Where's the Professor?"

"In the tunnel, Commander."

"Paul!" John Koenig jumped up and headed to his office. "Send that feed to my office. Restricted. And tell Alan to get an eagle ready in case we have to fly to Erath."

Once in his office, the door closed, he punched his console. "Ok, Toshiro. Update me. You communication with me is now restricted."

"Well, Commander, it appears that the cable slipped, dropping the cradle a few meters. When I discovered what was going on and tightened the slack, the end of the cradle became tangled under a section of pipe mesh the Professor had been working on."

"Wait! You said, discovered? Why was winch control left unattended with man in the tunnel? What on earth is going on?"

"There was a man in there, Commander. He said the cable slipped as he was watching, and there was nothing he could do. But…" Toshiro paused. "I'll brief you in more detail when I get back, Commander. I think we need to get the Professor out of there first. He's been down there longer than the allocated 1 hour. Professor Bergman suggests we give the cable enough slack so he can undo himself from his harness and the cradle, drop to the bottom of the tunnel, and then reattach himself to cable so we can hoist him up. Since that would mean a short period of being completely unattached, and it is against your wishes, Commander, I wanted your permission."

"Do you have video feed, Toshiro?"

"Yes, Commander. The Professor's body cam is functional."

"Relay it to me, Toshiro. My secure channel. Sending you the protocol now. And reassure Victor. I need to see, and need a few minutes to think."

"Right away, Commander."

John studied the situation as the feed started coming through. The men in the tunnel worked in their full Alpha spacesuits complete with helmets because of the cold, but without needing the life support pack. The cradle had been a simple device, a lightweight aluminum frame fashioned from a medical gurney, onto which a Kevlar reinforced harness had been bolted. The worker would lie down on his stomach on the cradle and harness, the helpers at the worksite would attach and tighten the harness around his chest and hips, leaving his arms, shoulders and legs free to propel himself within the confines of the tunnel to work. The spacesuit boots would then be fitted with crampons the worker could use to kick into the ice if needed, and a bag of tools was attached to the cradle. The man and the section of pipe needed had then been lowered into the tunnel together from one cable; the cradle effectively inside the round, light, somewhat flexible but very strong carbon pipe mesh, and the worker would drill into the ice wall through the mesh, bolting the pipe mesh into the ice wall in places. John had been in the tunnel himself and had found it very invigorating and exciting, even amusing, almost like something out of an old adventure amusement park.

What he saw now, though, was his friend, still on his stomach in the cradle, but a section of the feet end of the cradle and harness caught underneath a section of the unattached pipe mesh. Toshiro had allowed a little slack in the cable again, but Victor was somewhat head down, unable to reach the problem area. The tangled cradle and harness prohibited him from maneuvering himself in any way to right the cradle.

"Victor! Are you OK down there?"

"John! Yes! I'm fine! I told Toshiro not to bother you!"

"Toshiro did the right thing, Victor. I'm not letting you off that cable." John studied the situation thoughtfully. While Victor's own suggestion may be the fastest and certainly sounded simple enough, John realized the floor at the end of that tunnel was most probably treacherously slick. The older man could slip and end up in an even more precarious position than he was now. The loose end of the cable was heavy, would swing, and could injure a man, or damage his spacesuit. While his suit was intact, Victor was safe from the cold, and John knew supplemental oxygen was pumped into the tunnel via a high pressure jersey-meshed tube, almost like a thin fire hose, while a man was working there…

"Toshiro! The oxygen tube! Is it strong enough to support a man's weight?"

"Yes, Commander!"

"Victor! This is what I want you to do. Toshiro is going to let down a long section of additional oxygen tubing. When he does, I need you to cut off a long section, 4 to 5 meters. Understood?"

"Yes, John."

John watched his friend turn his shoulder to reach for the oxygen tube as it started lengthening. He knew Victor was in good shape, they all had to be, as being part of the space program on earth had required frequent, demanding physicals. Victor's physical would have been doubly demanding because of his mechanical heart. His friend was wiry, but strong. He hoped his plan would work.

"When you've cut that section of hose, Victor, I need you to try turning yourself on that cradle so you are on your back. Do not leave the cradle. Un-clip yourself from what of sections of the harness you need to, but always stay attached to the cradle with one carabiner!"

"With you, John."

John watched his friend's contortions as he tried to turn himself around on the cradle. "Are you monitoring his vitals, Toshiro?"

"Yes Commander. All stable." John prayed silently that it would remain so, because he knew somewhere in the medical unit the vitals of every man working at the tunnel site was always on display.

"Got it, John!" his friend finally exclaimed, now with his back on the cradle.

"We need to get you out of that jammed cradle, Victor, and onto the cable separately so we can haul you up. You're going to use that air hose to fashion yourself a makeshift harness."

The section of air hose had collapsed when it had been cut from the rest of the hose, like a fire hose without water. "OK, Victor, tie the two ends of the hose together tightly to make a big loop."


"Now Victor, you're going to have to get two sections of the hose behind your back: one section underneath your armpits and another around the back of your legs around mid thigh. I've done it standing up, but I'm convinced you can do it on your back in that cradle."

He watched his friend struggling to comply. The cradle was rocking a bit from Victor's efforts, but remained firmly jammed into the pipe mesh. Finally Victor held up two loops of air hose in front of him.

"Now, Victor, reach for the section behind you, by your thighs, and pull that loop up between your legs. Slip the two ends you're holding from the inside of that loop through to the outside and pull it tight. You'll have to undo the cradle harness to complete that step, but stay in the cradle at all times."

John held his breath while he watched his friend work with complete concentration. The Commander's eyes did not leave the monitor feed for a second, as he was checking carefully that each step was correctly done. The Professor finally managed to get it right and ended up holding the two loops in the hose in front of him.

"Put an arm through each of those loops, Victor. Wait… get a carabiner from the cradle harness first. You're going to need it."

"Breathing a little fast, Commander," Toshiro cut in. "Heartbeat steady, blood pressure normal, oxygen level perfect."

John knew that Victor's mechanical heart would just continue beating steadily as long as it was not depleted of power, even while other vital signs might be deteriorating.

"Just the activity, I'm sure, Toshiro. It's not easy to do those maneuvers within the confines of the tunnel and cradle."

"Alert medical just in case, Commander?"

"No! No Toshiro, the Professor will be fine. Now, Victor, you need to attach the two sections of loop around your shoulders behind you neck with the carabiner. Lock it off once you have it in place." John had seen his friend beginning to understand the concept of the tube harness a few minutes ago, and Victor used the carabiner to secure the two ends of the loop behind his neck quickly.

"Now, Victor, take the loop by your stomach and attach another carabiner there. Twist the carabiner and the loop until the harness pulls tight around your waist, then tuck the carabiner end under the tightened section around your waist. Make sure it's tight, Victor!"

"I think I've got it, John!" Victor finally exclaimed, clasping the carabiner in his gloved fist. John nodded to himself. He had watched carefully, was certain his friend had followed each step correctly.

"You need to pull yourself up by the sides of the cradle now, Victor, and turn yourself around so you can stand on the bottom section of the cradle, the section pointing down into the tunnel. But first hook that carabiner onto any section of the cradle frame. This is the most difficult part."

Victor pulled himself up until he could finally draw his legs to his chest and then push them down.

"Reach for the carabiner attaching the harness cradle to the cable, Victor. Once you have a good hold of that, clip your carabiner onto that carabiner, and lock them all tight. Only then, unclip the carabiner from the harness cable, and we'll haul you up."

John watched his friend clip and unclip, checking everything carefully. Finally Victor was attached to the cable by his own makeshift harness, balancing on the bottom of the cradle. John let out a sigh of relief. Victor merely flashed a thumbs up.

"OK, Victor. Let go of the cradle and we'll winch you up. Stay careful; without the cradle, you're bound to swing more. Use your legs if you get too close to the tunnel walls. Most of all; remain in a seated position in your harness, using the cable for support. It won't be as comfortable as the cradle, the harness will cause a lot more pressure in places, but it's going to be quite a ride! Haul him up, Toshiro. Not too fast, keep it steady. We don't want that cable to swing too wildly."

Thirty minutes later, as a tired Victor Bergman was hauled safely onto the winch platform by Toshiro Fujita, Koenig smashed his fist into his palm. "Yes!" He jumped up, the tension that had been building inside him needing release.

"Toshiro get the Professor into the eagle. Get all the data from that winch control, then seal off the control room. Get all the men into the eagle and return to Berg immediately! Then report to me."

"Got it, Commander!"

John paced his room. Something was going on, and he had to get to the bottom of it before something else happened to his people.

(To be continued...)