Chapter 6

Daniel woke up in his car, still in park and still running. He had no idea how long he was out nor if what had happened to him was even real. He found in his hand a small glass bottle of pills that looked like nothing more than aspirin. It lacked any label but did indeed look like an aspirin bottle. Momentarily confused he thought that Jackie had asked him to get her some aspirin while he was out.

Then his recollection started to return and the man he met came to mind. He was indeed creepy, mysterious and rather bizarre. He wondered if was a dream or if it was real. He wasn't sure and had no idea why he was sleeping in the front seat of his car with the motor running. He placed the car in drive, still rather shaky he drove home.

It was now dark outside and he noticed his friend's cars were parked in his drive. He walked inside to find his wife's Halloween card party in full swing.

Worried Jackie came right over, "Honey, where were you? Should have let me know you were gonna be late."

Frank puffed his cigar from his spot at the table, "Yeah, could have brought us some beer."

Daniel looked upon frank and asked, "You drove here?"

His friend gave a strange look, "Yup…Car's outside."

"Did you pass me?" asked Daniel. He couldn't figure out how Frank beat him to the house.

"No," he shook his head.

"Did you see my car on the dirt road, sitting there running?" asked Daniel.

Frank shook his head, "Nope, nothing on the road."

Daniel looked baffled, "I passed-out in the car."

Concerned Jackie asked, "What do you mean you passed-out? You okay?"

Daniel had to make the admission, "He took me. What did he do with my car? Did he take that too?"

"He?" asked Jackie. "You mean my grandfather? He took you too?"

He nodded, "Creepy little man…Just like you described. He gave me a bottle of pills and said you needed to take them. He also said something about a ship…I got this set of number running my head. It's coordinates."

Fred asked, "He finally took Daniel. Ya, know that guy is getting really irritating. You remember what he said? What's the ship?"

"He's giving us a ship to help…He wants us to fix it." Daniel looked upon the concerned faces, "I'm not crazy. Her grandfather is!"

"You talked to him?" asked Jackie for her own contact with the mysterious man had been limited for she never recalled the nightly abductions.

"Yeah, he said the treatment made you sicker but it also eradicated the cancer. He says it's gone and this bottle of pills is needed to keep it away. He said there is a ship and we need to find it and fix it. He also said that the treatment massed up you genetics and you will live longer than normal."

"What's the coordinates?" asked Fred.

Sadie was still skeptical, "You don't really believe all this?"

Fred nodded, "I know there is something going on that we are not being told about."

Daniel warned, "He said the ship belongs to Jackie and Kara. It's some family relic."

Teasing and hardly believing herself Bambi snickered, "Oh, Jackie owns a spaceship now...Can't wait to check that out."

Kara laughed, "He said I owned it too. Daniel, I think you guys have played this joke long enough. We've entertained each other with this flying saucer nonsense. Now let's get back down to earth here."

Fred challenged her, "If we find the ship will then believe me?"

Kara laughed, "If you guys find a spaceship, I will believe anything you say."

Later

The coordinates that Daniel gave for the location of the vessel was most bizarre for the coordinate matched perfectly with a very famous harbor. Pearl Harbor to be exact! Fred wondered if this whole operation, this whole mess was nothing more than some sick joke or psychological warfare operation.

Pearl Harbor! Of all places Pearl Harbor. How could it be so? The harbor had been a naval base for decades and no sign of any odd craft where ever located.

Jackie didn't really care if they found a vessel there or not, the ability to take an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii with her friends was to inviting. She wasn't really sure if she was cured from the cancer and her hair was starting to grow back. She felt much better and her energy level was returning and if this was going to be the last vacation she ever took, Hawaii was just as good as any tropical paradise.

The time they got ready to go to the destination it was now Christmas. Daniel had chosen to take some leave from work and the flight school had been closed for the holidays leaving everyone free to attend the Hawaiian getaway.

After flying to California the group took passage on a liner to the islands as simple tourist; given VIP escorts to the naval base and luxury accommodations under the orders of the Vice President.

After settling into their rooms a small frigate with divers was dispatched with Fred, General Higgins and Daniel to the site. They indeed did find something; it was very big about the size of a small aircraft carrier carefully laying in a secluded area of the harbor.

Work was immediately started to raise the vessel to the surface and arrangements made for towing this strange vessel, under the cover of night, to one of the more secluded islands in the area for top secret work.

The group wished to see the find after it had been raised and secured. They were ferried to the island to view this very old vessel that was allegedly given to Jackie and Kara by a very strange man.

Upon looking at the vessel the groups was speechless. It was small and shaped like a spear. The vessel could land on water or land but the landing gear was destroyed. It was in great need of repair. The wiring was wretched, the navigation system nothing more than a box with small miniaturized circuits and an application of lost technology beyond what they currently had. The haul of the ship was intact; the unique material used was resistant to the correction of the salt water.

Smaller craft were discovered in a small hanger onboard the vessel. The mini planes were shaped most odd, with a bent up nose, flat underbelly and shaped in the similar triangle for wingspan. The enlisted who viewed the find dubbed the smaller craft "ducks" due to the unusual nose and the name stuck.

As they started their tour inside the vessel Frank could comment, "What a piece of junk." He continued to mutter, "Sure grandpa gives you a spaceship and it's a piece of crap…Should have known."

Daniel defended, "He said it was very old."

"Yeah, old piece of junk," replied Frank. "What the hell are we supposed to do with this thing?"

Daniel mocked, "Apparently go fight little gray bad guys."

Jackie clinging to Daniel's arm injected, "If this was the very first space vessel that Earth ever invented that make this bigger than the pyramids. This is a huge discovery and I can't wait for it to take its place as the historical discovery of the century."

Fred walked behind her, "The government will never let this out...We're just lucky enough to get a tour."

"But it's my ship," claimed Jackie.

"Navy will say it's theirs," replied Fred.

"That sucks," retorted Jackie.

"It's better this way, Jackie," affirmed Daniel, "Not like we could afford the gas for this anyways…Or the restoration."

"I know," she nuzzled him, "just still sucks. Finally get my own spaceship and the government takes it from me."

"What would you do with this thing?" asked Frank amused.

"Go to the moon," she told him.

"Why?" asked he.

"Because I could," she proclaimed.

Amazed by the find Bambi suggested, "Go to Mars, Jackie. Let's see if Martians are real."

Jackie snickered, "That would take too much gas for Mister Miser here."

Unenthused Daniel scoffed, "The fuel consumption for this thing has to be phenomenal, no way am I paying for that."

Frank heckled, "You're worried about how much gas this thing takes? Hell, I would be worried about the bill the Navy would give me for raising it."

As they came near the end of the flight deck they could look outside and see over the blow palm trees; the scaffolding erected around the metal craft and the navy men working hard on the new discovery.

General Higgins had walked up behind them as the group looked out at the scene. The man was back in uniform and was now placed in charge of the project.

"Mrs. Garrett, glad to see you around," he got her attention.

She heard the familiar voice and turned to see her old commander, "Colonel Higgins," she then noticed the star, "excuse me, I mean General Higgins."

He heard she had been ill but she looked rather well, "I'm glad to see you…All of you."

"General," stated Frank and Daniel at once.

"Men," he gave them a nod. His eyes settled on Jackie, "So, how do you like your ship, Mrs. Garrett?"

She laughed, "This is awful."

He nodded, "We're trying."

Daniel wondered if he was gonna get billed for Higgins called the ships Jackie's ship, "We're not getting billed for this…Are we?"

Of course he was not but Higgins found the question most to his advantage, "It's in the mail." He kept a straight face as Daniel's jaw dropped. "Mrs. Garrett, since you own the vessel, from what I have been told, who would you like working on it?"

She laughed, "Seriously? You want me to pick who works on it?"

He nodded, "Yes I do. This island is a private island that is under top secret. Without this ship, we wouldn't have this chance. So, I want your impute."

Thinking it was a joke she replied, "Make my father the captain. He always wanted to be the captain of a ship." she went further, "Daniel the pilot, Frank the co-pilot and I want to be the navigator."

Bambi joked, "What about me and Sadie?"

"Sadie can be the ship's doctor and you can do whatever you want?"

Frank chuckled, "Ship's babysitter?"

She slapped her husband.

Higgins assured, "I'm not kidding, Mrs. Garrett."

"You mean you are serious?" asked she.

"As this ship is real," he told her.

Later

It was like the war all over again for Daniel. He felt as if he had just been drafted once more. His life turned upside down, forced to take a leave of absence from his job, close up his home and spend countless hours on some military base under strict security. He couldn't understand what would drive General Higgins to essentially place Jackie in charge and do whatever she requested and for that matter neither could Jackie understand the motivation.

That question was soon answered when the general explained he too had been taken from his bed in the middle of the night by a strange scientist who claimed to be her grandfather. Stated outright that Jackie was to be in charge of the ship and the government would not take it or there would be consequences. Higgins had been abducted himself and was not about to be abducted again. Being taken against your will, while peacefully sleeping in your own bed was quiet the motivator for the military brass and one single scientist with a mysterious vessel was rather persuasive to Jackie's benefit.

As the military restored their only vessel that could repel the invaders Jackie was tasked with filling in a command crew. She did want her father as the ship's captain and he eagerly agreed. Retired Colonel Don Mottler became the executive officer of the ship, Daniel listed as the senior pilot officer followed only be Frank. She wanted Ambrose as the chief engineer and Sadie did indeed become the chief medical officer upon completing medical school. She listed Bambi as a pilot and requested Robert "Bobby" Zeiss as well. She also made a request for Owen to be recruited for the ship and was now tasked with combing through personnel files for potential candidates for this top secret project.

Jackie did not wish for the vessel to be made into a military ship. She hated the idea of a warship and wanted nothing more than the ship to be a sign of peace and prosperity. She envisioned a star fleet with futuristic ships and abilities. Her imagination conjured up peaceful relations with other civilized worlds and the universe being open to all.

Instead she was met with secrecy and military agendas that seemed to be just the opposite of what she wanted for the vessel and the future of mankind. She just served in a world war and to Jackie it was time for peace. Instead the world seemed to be destining for more war; a conflict in Korea with no real end, a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union and now a war on Communism.

It was like her service had been for nothing for the world still seemed hell bent on war and this time the weapons were even more massive and the threat of global thermal nuclear war a real possibility.

The ship was her personal property, it belonged to her family and she was not about to let the military turn it into a war machine. She refused to allow them to add new weapon systems but insisted on restoring the ships original defenses. The defenses were minimal by the day's standards, only one forward gun and small arms mounted for defense on the side and back. The "ducks" were also equipped with only one weapon, a small machine gun that would only fire fifty caliber weapons or the equivalent of a hunting rifle. No fancy energy weapons, no space lasers and no sound weapons; a single defense weapon and nothing more.

To keep herself busy Jackie had one of the smaller ducks moved to a hanger on the island where she could work in restoring the vessel on her own time. After cleaning off the mud and gunk from the outside of the little tiny plane she found the true colors. It was not painted like a warplane but rather was painted white with a black underbelly; much like a shuttle with upturn nose and big enough to fit two occupants but only one pilot.

The little duck she dubbed "Fledgling" and she started to reverse engineer the vessel. She also figured if the navy did remove them from the project she could at least hide the one little duck in her barn. Walk away and keep one small vessel that one day she launch and fly to the moon and return safely to earth just to say she could.

The moon never looked as appealing as it did then, hanging in the night sky, illuminating the beaches. Ever so romantic in the tropical island and at that moment she realized the moon shot would be a much needed target for America after so much death and destruction.

She wrote down the idea of a national space agency and the ideal of sending a man safely to the moon and back in a letter addressed to the vice president and trumpeted the idea of peaceful space exploration and not warfare. With emerging rocketry the race to put a satellite in orbit had begun. All anyone could do was hope people would see space as a peaceful project and not the next war theater.

But war was everywhere in in times of peace. And some of the "wars" were the most ridiculous; war on poverty, war on drugs, war on communism, war on fascism, war on capitalism, war on war itself. It was propaganda and nothing more and more means of taxing people.

The economy was good, jobs plentiful and the depression long gone. New homes were being built, along with fallout shelters. Many opted for back yard pools instead of the fearing nuclear war.

Women went back home to raise their kids, the stores where being built and stocked at lightning speed and new cars with flashy colors and fin tail side panels rolled off the factory line complete with radios, speakers and air conditioning.

Diners were packed with kids eating hamburgs and drinking milk shakes, juke boxes rocked with the latest music and television were in every household. The good times rolled.

And yet, there she was concerned about another war theater and possibly even a global war with Russia now having a nuclear bomb. It ate her up inside for all she ever wanted was peace and prosperity for the people of the world.

She recalled how the golden age of racing motivated people with technology in peace. She wondered if a shot to the moon in a man-made rocket, with small vessel carrying a few men would be just what the world needed. Something to look up to, to be inspired with like the racing planes of her youth. Yes, a moon shot! Sending a man to the moon would be inspiring for a war wary world.

As she lay on her blanket on the beach looking up at the moon, Daniel thought to take advantage of the romantic evening light. He brought a basket with some rations he gathered from the supply tent and sat down with her on the beach looking up at the moon.

"Good evening, Madam. May I have this seat?" he asked as he sat down.

She grinned at him, "Oh no, I'm saving it for my husband."

He played along with the game, "Oh, your husband? That louse who left you here alone. You should dump him and marry me."

She giggled, "I remember that next time we have an argument."

"Really?" he leaned over and kissed her. "You smell good tonight."

"Only tonight?" she wondered.

"You smell good every night," he corrected then his lips gently touched hers. She looked back at the moon hanging above them. "What is it?" he asked.

"I was just thinking…Wouldn't it be neat to send a man to the moon? A new age of technology. A moon shot! Like when man first flew across the Atlantic. It would be historic."

He had to agree, "That would be neat. You realize that would take years, even decades, right?"

"I know," she agreed. "It would take days just to reach the moon. Hard to believe it's so far away when it looks so near."

"They still can't figure out the propulsion of this ship," he told her. "No one has a clue how this things works."

Her mind recalled detailed information that was somehow given to her, "It launches, like a plane. Once out of orbit it uses cosmic strings to warp space around itself." she paused a moment, "What the hell is a cosmic string?"

"I have no idea," replied Daniel. "If that strange man could put the coordinates into my brain, I imagine he could put stuff in yours too."

"I suppose," she seemed stumped. How did she know that? How come it just popped into her mind like magic? "I hope he didn't do anything weird to me."

Daniel held her tight, "Just as long as you keep getting better. That's all that matters to me."