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DIATA
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SCUDDAR Chapters 015 & 016
SCUDDAR Chapters 017 & 018
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SCUDDAR Chapters 021 & 022
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SCUDDAR Chapters 025 & 026
SCUDDAR Chapters 027 & 028

DIATA

CHAPTER FIVE

 

Six weeks later Peto and Eelan were preparing the shuttle for a trip to the south to bring back some samples of clay that robo One had recorded during his exploration of the planet. He had been sufficiently interested to land and collect a small sample for Comp to analyse. Comp's findings showed that it was, in fact, a kind of metal that was unknown to him. It was a metal that had the pliability of clay but when heated to six hundred degrees Celsius then allowed to cool, hardened to a metal comparable to steel. The usefulness of it was not at first apparent until Peto broke off a portion of an axe blade on a rock while he was using it. He was wondering what he could use in future when he remembered the clay. Maybe he could make a replacement.

The site of the clay was something like five hundred miles away to the south, according to One, so they had decided to do some exploring of the region themselves. They were expecting to be away for a few days, so they were loading the supplies they believed they would need.

As they worked, checking that they had everything Diata arrived, returning from a visit to Comp. She approached them, smiling radiantly.

“Guess what! I'm pregnant!” she announced. Eelan squealed with delight and jumped down off the shuttle to hug her mother.

“That's wonderful! Isn't it wonderful, Peto?” she cried. Peto smiled in agreement. He was not quite as enthusiastic as Eelan. He was still concerned about the possible adverse effects.

“Are you sure? I mean, is Comp sure?” he asked.

“Comp is definitely sure, Peto, and so am I. I have guessed it for the past two weeks, but I wanted confirmation before I told you,” Diata said, happily.

Eelan turned to Peto and said, “Peto we can't go now. We have to stay. We can go another time. We must stay and take care of Mum.” She spoke in such a way as to imply that there could be no possible argument. Diata laughed.

“Don't be so silly. It will be months before there will be any need to be that careful. I'm only just pregnant! No, you go ahead now that all the arrangements have been made. We'll celebrate when you get back.” Diata turned away, “I'll get some lunch ready. You can leave on a full stomach.”

The loading was completed well in time for lunch. They had planned to take robo One with them, just in case he would be needed. Although the position of the site had been recorded and it was just a matter of feeding the position into the shuttle's computer, robo One would be useful in helping them to load the clay onto the shuttle. He would also be useful if they should come up against any problems. They had discovered that the robots could communicate with each other, although they did not know how. Diata had never been aware that they had that ability. She had worked with robots many times while on Earth but they had never indicated that they could communicate by any means other than by speaking to each other within hearing distance.

They left soon after lunch with robo One at the controls of the shuttle. As they passed over the forest, the birds rose in a cloud as they usually did when disturbed. It was an amazing sight. The plumage of the birds had the appearance of thousands of tiny sequins that moved and reflected the sun's rays, each one sparkling with a colour of it's own. When the birds rose it was as if a huge cloud of glittering colour was moving over the treetops.

The colourful cloud parted as they approached, the birds veering either way to avoid the shuttle, allowing them to pass through.

An hour and a half later they were over the site of the clay. Peto and Eelan looked down at the landscape below them silently. All they could see was a sea of metallic grey. The whole area was like a desolate waste that went on for mile after mile.

“It's bigger than I thought,” said Peto.

“The area covers approximately two thousand five hundred square miles,” said One, “it is the only area like it on the planet. That is why I thought it would be of interest to you and Comp.” They continued to fly over the sea of grey. In places they saw great fissures which One believed were caused by earthquake activity. Apart from the huge cracks in the surface and some mounds, the place was uninteresting to look at. Eelan's face clearly showed what she thought of it.

“It's a horrible place. There's nothing living here,” she said.

“No,” agreed Peto, “I suppose nothing can grow on metal.”

“There is certainly no nourishment for anything to feed on in the clay. Anything that grows would need nourishment in order to survive,” added robo One. Peto rolled his eyes at One's comment.

“All right One, put the shuttle on that smooth area, there,” he said, pointing.

“It would not be advisable to land there, Peto. The consistency of the clay varies considerably. You will notice that there are some areas that are higher than others are. The higher areas would be of a harder consistency than the lower areas. Due to gravitational pull, the clay would tend to find it's own level. The lower smooth areas would therefore most likely be the softest and may not be able to support the weight of the shuttle,” said One.

Peto nodded. He was suddenly grateful that One was at the controls. He would have landed without hesitation on what looked like the best place, and may have become bogged down in the clay. He made a mental note to pay more attention to the advice that the robots gave in future, a thing that he was not prone to do.

“Yes, of course. Land her where you think best, One,” he said. Eelan looked at Peto with mock surprise. To her, that was the nearest thing to an apology that she had ever heard him make to a robot.

Robo One took the shuttle to the edge of the desolate area. The grey clay merged with the green of the grass that covered almost every area of open ground on the planet. Although they called it grass, it was more like lichen. It grew only a few inches high and only grew on ground that was exposed to plenty of light, which seemed to be the case with much of the vegetation on Diata. When it was cut or pulled out by its roots, it quickly withered. A day or two later it would crumble into a fine ash-like powder.

They landed well away from the edge of the metallic clay and were preparing to leave when there was a tremendous bang and the shuttle shuddered. Eelan screamed with fright. Startled, they looked at each other. Robo One immediately opened the doors of the shuttle and went to investigate. They heard another thud. Alarmed they rushed to the window to see what was happening and saw robo One lying on the ground motionless. Peto was about to jump out of the shuttle to go to One when he heard him speak.

“Do not leave the shuttle, Peto. Remain still. I am unharmed. There is one of the larger creatures of Diata out here. If we remain still it will lose interest and go away. I'm afraid that I was not aware of its presence and it has butted me. It is quite harmless otherwise. When I investigated these creatures, I found that they charged anything that moved that they did not recognise. I will tell you when it has gone.” Peto and Eelan froze and waited. After what seemed to be an age, robo One spoke again.

“It is going away now but still do not move. We will wait until it is further away.”

As he spoke they saw the beast move past the open door of the shuttle. It was a six-legged monster, standing a good six feet high and nine feet long from head to rear. At first it appeared as if the head was solid bone then Peto noticed that the beast’s whole face was armoured with a single horn that covered the head and face. There were two openings in the horn through which peered the creature's eyes. Six powerful legs that ended in paws and huge claws that dug into the soil supported the immense body of the beast. Peto could see that it was like a living battering ram. It was this creature that had rammed the shuttle and caused it to shudder.

“I think it is safe to move now,” said One, getting up from the ground. Eelan, concerned for One's well being, went up to him.

“Robo One, are you all right?” she asked.

“Yes, I have not been harmed at all, Eelan, the creature cannot harm my Zennalloy body. It just managed to toss me.”

The incident had shaken Eelan and Peto. They decided to have a hot drink to allow them to calm down. The huge creature was the largest living thing they had ever seen. In spite of One's assurances that all they had to do was to freeze when one of the beasts appeared, Eelan suggested they wait until morning before going out to explore and to get the clay.

They rose early next morning and warily looking around for signs of the beast, they left the shuttle. Robo One carried the spades and the container that was to hold the clay.

“There had better be one of us on guard while we are filling the container, I think,” said Peto, “we don't want that monster charging us from behind.”

“If you should see any of them coming, just stand perfectly still and they will stop charging. They only charge moving objects that they do not understand or recognise. It is their defence system, like the Kandeer throwing stones,” said One.

“Yeah, so you keep saying. Even so we want to see them coming. We will have a guard,” replied Peto.

“I just want to get this clay and go home. This place is horrid. I wish we hadn't come,” Eelan said giving a shiver, “I wonder what else is around that we don't know about.”

“So do I,” said Peto. They headed towards the sea of grey metal, Peto hurrying on ahead of Eelan and the robot.

“It would be advisable to tread carefully where the...” Robo One's advice came too late. Peto had suddenly sunk up to his knees in the soft metal clay. He yelled with surprise at the suddenness of it.

“I can't move my legs!” he cried, “I'm stuck!” He tried to claw his way free and sank lower. “Help me One, get me out of this!”

The robot had already acted. He was moving towards the shuttle at surprising speed, “Remain as still as you can or you will sink lower,” he called, “I will get the shuttle and perhaps I can pull you out.”

Eelan, who had been standing helplessly by, suddenly screamed.

“One! Look out!” She had seen two of the 'ramming' beasts charging towards One. Their powerful claws throwing up clods of soil and grass as they bit deep to propel their great weight. The beasts were rapidly closing on One, seemingly intent on reaching him fast.

The robot continued towards the shuttle without any break in its stride. He had already seen the danger. Eelan watched, holding her breath as One got to the shuttle and climbed in. The shuttle rose from the ground and the leading beast thundered beneath it. It veered around and chased the shuttle for several yards then turned aside and began to feed on the grass. The other, obviously its mate, joined it.

Eelan had remembered One's advice and had frozen so that they would not attack her. Now she let out a sigh of relief.

The robot brought the shuttle to where Peto was still stuck in the clay, hovering a few inches above the surface.

“Peto, I think that if you were to attempt to hold onto the shuttle as I get near to you, I may be able to pull you clear,” said One in his usual, agonisingly unhurried way.

“Hurry up then One, please. This stuffs crushing my legs,” gasped Peto.

The robot managed to manoeuvre the shuttle close enough for Peto to grab the metal frame that anchored one of the seats to the floor of the shuttle. Wrapping an arm around it, he yelled to One to pull him out. One inched the shuttle higher and Peto began to rise out of the grey clay. His legs felt as though they were pulled off, the metal clay reluctant to release him. The seat frame that his arm was wrapped around dug into his flesh painfully and he almost let go. Gradually One raised the shuttle and suddenly Peto was free.

“Remain holding on, Peto, I am going to take you over safe ground where you can release your grip,” said One. The shuttle headed back to the grassy area. The beasts had wandered on and were some distance away. Peto dropped to the ground, holding his injured arm trying to soothe the pain away. Eelan came up and hugged Peto.

“I was so scared Peto. I thought you were never going to get out of that muck.”

“I was scared too, Eelan. The pressure on my legs was unbelievable. I thought I was going to leave my legs in there.”

“It was because of the weight of the metal, Peto,” said One, “It was the weight that was pulling you. We had to pull against that weight in order to free you. You unfortunately had to suffer the discomfort of opposing forces.”

“How can a metal be so soft?” Eelan asked. “It's so pliable.”

“There is a metal called mercury that is in fact a liquid metal. There is also a metal called lead, which is quite pliable. Not nearly as soft as some of this metal, though. This metal is almost as heavy as lead,” robo One informed them.

“Can we go home now? I really don't like this place,” said Eelan.

“Yes,” said Peto, “as soon as we've got the load, let's get out of here.”

“Never mind the load, Peto. Let's just go home,” pleaded Eelan.

“No. We need the metal. If we don't take it now we will have to come and get it another time. We may as well get it now we are here.” Peto was determined that the journey, let alone his suffering, should not be in vain. He won the argument and they eventually loaded the shuttle with all it could carry. Robo One insisted that they took quantities of various consistencies for computer to analyse further. Having done so, they left the grey area and headed for home. Peto looked out of the window at the dismal landscape.

“We'll be back,” he muttered, “we'll be back.”

CHAPTER SIX

 

It was the first time that Diata had been alone in the house for a whole night and she tossed restlessly as she slept. She awoke several times believing she had heard a noise and finally, she rose from her bed to make some hot tea. She looked at the digital clock and saw that it was three hours earlier than when she normally rose. She knew she would never sleep if she went back to bed so she looked around for something to do.

Her eyes fell on the holograph base that her mother and father had given her before she had left Earth. She had already seen most of the recordings that were on it. She had stopped looking at them because she became upset when she saw the life-size images of her parents. They had been dead for well over two hundred and fifty years. They had lived their last years while she and her family had been asleep in the sleep pods during the time that Comp had tried unsuccessfully to find Earth. She wondered which one of them had died first. Whether they had died peacefully in their sleep or some other way that she could not bear to think about.

Now being alone in the house, she wanted company. She picked up the holograph base, took it into the lounge and placed it on the floor. Settling down in an armchair, she switched it on using the remote control rather than her voice. She turned down the sound to zero. She did not want to hear a message from them at this time. This time she wanted to talk to them. She knew of course, that they could not hear her but she still wanted to tell them something. She was alone and may never have the chance to do it again. She may never feel the way she did at this moment again.

The images flickered on instantly. This time her parents were sitting on the settee that she knew so well. She had sat on it so many times before she had married Nyel.

Her mother was looking straight at her while her father appeared to be looking at the floor directly in front of her. She remembered him so well. It was his habit to fix his eyes on a spot on the floor while he listened to her mother speaking. Every so often he would look up and add a comment or two. She wanted to go to him and hug him; he looked so solid and real, as if he were there, alive in front of her. Her mother too, her homely face, fuller figure, her hair showing just a hint of grey at her temples. She longed to hug them both but didn't dare attempt to touch the images as although they looked solid, she knew that her arms would just pass through them and spoil the illusion for her.

“Mum, Dad, I've got some news to tell you. I don't know how you are going to take it, but for me right now it's really happy news. I am pregnant again. The father of the baby is Peto,” she said. The images smiled and looked at each other.

“Oh, you are pleased too. I'm so glad. I thought that you might disapprove. You see I was so concerned about it myself. I know that it's not the acceptable thing on Earth but I gave this a lot of thought and I believe that it is for the best.”

She went on to tell them all that had happened from the time of the crash to the time when Peto made love to her. She told them how happy she had been that it was Peto who made the first move. She had not seduced him that time. He had made love to her as though he had the experience of a married man. She told them how she had marvelled at his tenderness as he made love. She told them also of the guilt that she had at first, and the joy that there was now the chance of them surviving indefinitely, knowing that now there would be no difficulty in Peto and herself making love again.

“And that is how you have another grandchild on the way,” she ended.

Her father nodded while her mother made some comment, smiling as she spoke. Diata could not hear her mother speak as she had turned the sound down but she allowed her imagination to believe that they were condoning her action. Her father rose from the settee and walked out of the field of the holograph, disappearing from sight. He came back a few moments later with two glasses and a bottle of wine. Filling the glasses, he faced her and spoke, his lips moving silently. Her mother listening to him, smiling approvingly. Then he raised his glass to his lips and drank, her mother following suit.”

 “You are drinking a toast! To your coming grandchild! Wait a minute, I'll join you.” Diata froze the action and went to get a glass of wine for herself. Returning with the glass and a container of wine, she poured herself a generous drink, switched the holograph on again and drank with her parents.

“I too, would like to propose a toast,” said Diata, “to the best Mum and Dad in the worl... the universe. My parents.” She drank deeply from her glass, finishing it just in time to see her parents rise from the settee and wave to her before walking out of the field of the holograph. The scene gradually faded away. The recording had ended.

“Good-bye, Mum, Dad. I'll see you again soon,” whispered Diata. She looked at the number of the recording on the holograph base, noting it and making a mental note never to play that particular recording with the sound on. Diata felt as though a great weight had been lifted from her through talking to the images of her parents. She went back to bed and slept soundly.

It was late next morning when she arose and Diata decided to busy herself in the garden, replanting some of the blooms that were getting a little too crowded. She had been working for a few hours when she saw robo Two approaching her.

“Diata, I thought that you might like to know that Peto and Eelan will be home today with robo One. They have collected some of the metal clay and have decided not to stay there to explore. I understand that there was some mishap, nothing serious, and that made them decide. I believe that Peto has hurt his arm a little. A little bruised, I understand.”

“How did it happen?” asked Diata, becoming concerned.

“I think that perhaps Peto would prefer to tell you himself, they will be home in about an hour, but if you like I can find out exactly what happened.”

“No, it doesn't matter if it is not serious. I'll wait and let them tell me all about it. By the way, will you take this rubbish away and dispose of it, please, unless you are doing something more important.”

“Of course I will dispose of it, Diata. I was just going to start to build a furnace for Peto. He is going to need a furnace for heating the clay to harden it. I thought that he would be pleased if I did that. I can start after I have disposed of this rubbish for you.” The robot gathered the cutting and weeds up and walked away with them. Diata watched him go, frowning slightly. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but something puzzled her. The robots had often said or done something that seemed quite normal, and yet she felt that it was not normal She thought over what Two had said, trying to pin-point what had puzzled her. Unable to, she shrugged her shoulders and carried on working for a while, then went in to prepare a meal for Eelan and Peto.

The shuttle arrived shortly after and Eelan and Peto came in. Diata's first words were, “Let me see your arm, Peto.” He showed it to her. It was bruised as Two had said. Peto's forearm was beginning to turn blue. He would be feeling the pain for a day or two.

“What on Earth happened?” asked Diata, “How did you get such a bruise?”

“He got stuck in the clay,” said Eelan, “you should have heard him yell!”

“You would have yelled too, if it had been you,” said Peto.

“Mum, if it hadn't have been for One's quick thinking, Peto would have sunk in that clay. He moved like lightning to get the shuttle to pull Peto out.” said Eelan, excitedly.

Diata frowned. There it was again. That feeling that something was not quite right that she could not quite grasp.

“It wasn't that bad, Eelan. I just couldn't move, that's all,” said Peto, “Don't be so melodramatic.”

“What was One doing when you got stuck?” asked Diata.

“He was warning Peto to be careful. Peto was being clever and rushing ahead.”

“I was walking ahead and suddenly stepped on a soft patch of clay and sank into it, Mum. Robo One got the shuttle to pull me out. My arm is bruised because the clay was so heavy that it took all my strength to hold on,” explained Peto.

“One said that there's a metal called...what was it Peto? Leg? No, lead. He said the metal clay was the same weight as this lead, Eelan said, “Do you know what lead is, Mum?”

Diata nodded absent-mindedly, deep in thought. She was just beginning to get a grip on that nagging thought.

“Where is One now?” she asked.

“Probably with Two, or finding something to do, why?” Peto shrugged.

Diata went to the door and called robo One. The robot appeared a moment later.

“Yes, Diata. Can I help you in any way?” he asked.

“One. How do you know so much about Earth?”

“I don't understand, Diata,” said the robot.

“How do you know about the metal called lead?” she persisted, “That information would not have been programmed into your memory banks. You are one of the emergency robots of the spacecraft. There would have been no need to give you that kind of information.”

“I got the information from Comp,” said One, “Is there something wrong?”

“When did Comp give you that information?”

“He gave it to me yesterday, Diata.”

“Was it before or after you left here to go to get the clay?”

“Mum, what's wrong? Why are you asking One all these questions? He wasn't to blame for the accident.” Peto and Eelan had been listening to the questioning and had come out to see what was going on. Diata raised her hand to silence him.

“Wait Peto. I want to hear One's answer.”

“It was after we left, Diata. Really, have I done something wrong? If I have I would like to try and correct it. You know that I and robo Two only want to serve you in the best way possible.”

“So you are able to communicate with Comp while you are away?”

“Yes. It is very useful to be able to communicate with him. His memory banks hold so much more information than mine or robo Two's. He has a greater ability to solve problems that we come across.”

“Have you got a communicator built into you?”

“No I don't believe that I have”

“Then how do you communicate?” The robot hesitated for a moment then said, “I don't know. Comp doesn't know either. We began to acquire the ability some years ago. It started quite slowly at first and gradually improved as time passed.”

Diata thought back to the time when she first began to notice the change in the robots. It was some years ago, she recalled, she was talking to one of the robots and had accidentally dropped something on the ground. The robot immediately bent down and picked it up and handed it back to her. She remembered that it had puzzled her at the time but could not put her finger on just what it was. Now she realised that until that time the robot would have needed to be told to pick it up. They were not capable of acting on their own without being given specific instructions or being programmed to do a job.

“Does Comp control you?” asked Diata.

“No. Comp has no control over robo Two or myself. All three of us are completely independent of each other, although we all co-operate with one another. The only time that Comp has control over us is when we are stored in our positions in the hold of the spacecraft. That is so that he can activate us in an emergency.”

“Tell me One. Are you and robo Two sentient?”

“That is difficult to answer, Diata. We do have the ability to perceive and act on what we perceive. This is another ability that we have acquired slowly. It helps us to serve you more efficiently.”

“So it was the ability to perceive that caused you to act when Peto got stuck in the clay? Why didn't you just go straight to him and pull him out?” Diata asked the robot.

“I saw that he needed help but he was stuck in soft clay. Had I gone to him, I would have been stuck too and would not have been able to pull him clear. I am much heavier than he is. That is why I used the shuttle to get to him and pull him out. It seemed the logical solution. Diata, have I done wrong?”

“No, One. I'm grateful for what you did. Thank you. I think that is all.”

There were still some questions that she wanted answered and made a mental note of them so that she could ask Comp. She dismissed the matter for the time being and went in to enjoy the meal she had prepared for Eelan, Peto and herself.

 

Two weeks passed before Diata decided to have it out with Comp. She got up one morning determined to go to the spacecraft to get her questions answered by Comp. She was still concerned about the things that she had learned from One.

“Comp, why didn't you tell me that the robots and yourself have changed since we have been here on Diata?” Diata asked the computer, with some annoyance in the tone of her voice.

“Good morning, Diata. I did not think it really mattered enough to inform you as the changes are still taking place. I believe that you are referring to the ability of the robots and myself to communicate at distance.” Comp's calm soft voice gave no indication that he was aware of Diata's annoyance.

“Any changes to you, the robots, the children or myself is importance to me. I want to know of all changes. I don't want to have to find out years later!' snapped Diata.

“I'm sorry, Diata, I will inform you of any further changes in future. The difficulty is when to inform you. The changes have been so slight at first that I was not really aware that a change was taking place. Do you require me to inform you of all minute changes that I detect? Or do you prefer me to identify the changes first?”

“I just want to be kept informed. You could have told me about this new ability you have acquired years ago.” Diata's annoyance was evaporating. She could not be angry with a computer that had such a calm, soothing voice for long.

“I am still trying to determine the reason for the changes. I do have some theories but they are not confirmed yet. They are still only theories,” explained Comp.

“Tell me, why have these changes only affected you and the robots?”

“I am afraid that I cannot answer that. It is possible that you have been affected too. Perhaps even to a greater degree than we have. I have no means of knowing, yet”

“Are you telepathic? I suppose you must be to be able to communicate with the robots without a communicator.”

“I have considered that possibility. As far as I can see from research into my memory banks, a telepath is one who is able to read the minds and thoughts of others by means of concentration and without any 'mechanical' means. It has been the subject of much research by humans over many years. Particularly in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.

“It was in the mid twenty first century that humans gave up the search for true telepaths. Prior to that it was considered to be a great asset if governments could have a telepathic group that they could use for espionage in the days when there were many governments throughout the Earth. Large amounts of money and time were spent in attempting to train men and women to become telepaths. Apparently it was all a waste of time and finances.

“If what humans believed to be telepathy is correct, then neither I nor the robos are telepathic. We cannot read the minds or thoughts of others. On the other hand, if they were wrong in trying to read the minds of others, as they seem to have been, then it is possible that we are telepathic.”

“What do you mean. Can you read minds or not?” Diata thought that Comp had just contradicted himself.

“No. We cannot read minds. As I said, humans tried to find men and women who could. They used all kinds of means to train people to do this. They used pictures, shapes, cards with symbols such as circles, squares, triangles, wavy lines and the like printed on them that one person would look at and the so called telepath would try to read his mind to find out what particular card the other was looking at. The percentage of accuracy varied but it was no better than the law of averages.

“If what the robots and I are experiencing is telepathy, then they were going about it the wrong way. We cannot read minds. What we can do is project thoughts. That is different. I can project my thoughts to one of the robots and it would receive them It would them reply by projecting its answer to me. We have to deliberately project our thoughts. If that is telepathy, then what those humans should have done is to reverse their efforts. The so-called telepath should be the one with the cards and should have tried to project his thoughts to the other. Of course this would not have assisted them to discover secrets from another person's mind.” 

“Can you project your thoughts to me?” asked Diata. She could readily see the advantages of being able to receive messages from Comp. It would save her the trouble of coming over to the ship to check whether Comp had any thing new.

“I'm afraid not Diata, I have tried many times. You did not seem to respond to my messages. There was one occasion that I thought I had succeeded in reaching you, but it was probably a coincidence. You made no mention of receiving my message.”

“What was that occasion?” Diata was curious.

“It was when you came to me concerned about the baby's growth. I had tried to project a message to you saying that at your previous check the baby seemed to be growing a little faster than normal for a foetus that age. You came the following morning saying that you felt that the baby was going to be a big one and that you were concerned that you may have to have surgery.” Diata nodded, remembering the time. Her baby was already beginning to show and she knew that although Comp was capable of carrying out medical checks, he was unable to perform any surgery. If she was going to be in need of surgery when she gave birth there was going to be a problem.

“Have you no idea what has caused you to be able to do this projecting of thoughts? You said you had some theories.”

“Yes, I do have some theories. Apart from the known ones, there are four other kinds of radiation's emanating from the sun that are unknown to me. If they are unknown to me then they must have been unknown to the scientists of Earth. These radiations all penetrate the Zennalloy hull of this ship. It is possible that one or more of these radiations have brought about the gradual changes in the robots and myself. I believe that these radiations are probably the cause of the slowing down of the ageing process that is occurring in you. Your checks show that you are still ageing slower than before. I cannot be certain, of course, as I have nothing to compare results.”

Diata left Comp and the spacecraft feeling a little over-awed. Her head was in a whirl over the many things that she had learned from the robot and Comp. She had been a little concerned about the radiations that Comp had mentioned but realised that they were not dangerous as they had lived with them for twelve years without any harmful effects. In fact, so far they seemed to be beneficial.