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DIATA
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DIATA

CHAPTER SEVEN

 

Diata was three months pregnant and according to Comp the unborn child's development was equal to foetus of at least six months. Diata was beginning to become very concerned at the prospect of giving birth to a giant. Comp had told her not to worry, as the child would be born as soon as it was fully developed. That would unlikely be at the full nine months of a normal human pregnancy. She would therefore give birth prematurely. In the meantime Comp had been researching all recorded births, normal and abnormal so that he would be able to observe Diata's pregnancy through to the time of delivery. He refrained from telling Diata that he was also preparing robo One and Two for use as midwives. He did not wish her to be more anxious than necessary. Should surgery be necessary, robo One would be the one to operate under his direction.

Eelan was excited about the birth and constantly talked about it to Peto and Diata, asking all kinds of questions. Her interest was also for her own future benefit as she was keen to bear children herself one day. She was not a little disappointed that Peto had shown no interest in her in that respect. She did not know how to approach him regarding the subject but realised that there was plenty of time. She was young and was in no hurry to become pregnant but she was also sexually aware of herself.

Peto was excited too, but kept his feelings to himself. He felt that as the man of the family he needed to show some control over himself. He had shouldered a great deal of responsibility since their arrival on Diata, his mother having to call upon him so much from an early age during the hard times of preparing the home base in the beginning. Circumstances had forced him to learn to be a man whilst he was still a boy.

Now he was busy making tools. The metal clay had proved to be invaluable once it had been used. His first attempt was to make an axe head. He had simply carved the shape of the axe head out of some of the firmer clay and heated it in the furnace that Two had built for him. The result was more successful than he had hoped for and the axe head was put to use at once. The metal was extremely hard and ideal for an axe head. Comp had also discovered that the metal varied according to its density. The firmer the clay, the less flexible it was after heating.

The softer clay being quite flexible while still retaining its strength. Both needed to be heated to the same temperature to reach optimum strength. Comp had explained to Peto that this was an extremely useful quality as it could be used for a variety of tools and other things. He had suggested nails, springs, wire, knives as well as building uses that would be needed as the community expanded in the future.

It was Comp's reference to an expanding community that started Peto thinking about the role that he was expected to play here on Diata. He had deliberately avoided the issue as he did have some reservations. He still worried about the outcome of the incestuous relationship, that in spite of Comp's assurance that Diata's unborn child was normal in all outward appearances. The only abnormality was the rapid progress of its development in Diata's womb. This was no more startling than the discovery of Peto and Eelan's gradual increase in their rate of development or Diata's ageing process slowing down.

Peto was deep in thought when robo One appeared and entered the workshop.

“Peto. If it is all right with you, may I have use of the workshop and the furnace for tomorrow? There are a number of instruments that I would like to make which are of some importance and may be needed in the near future.”

“Sure One. You can use it any time that you want. What are you planning to make?”

“Surgical instruments, Peto. It would be advisable to have them ready in case they are needed when the child is born. Comp has given me a number of different designs to make. It would be appreciated if you would refrain from telling Diata about it though. There is no need to cause her any anxiety.”

“Who's going to do the operating? Comp can't do it and neither can I.”

“I will be the one to perform any operations if there is a need. Comp will direct me to make the incisions as necessary. Of course. It will probably not be necessary. It is entirely a precaution.” The robot turned to leave, “I would like to commence making the instruments first thing in the morning, will that be all right?”

“Yes, any time. Will you need any help?” asked Peto.

“No thank you Peto. I'm sure that I can manage.” The robot left. Peto returned to his thoughts. So much was happening all at once. So many preparations were being made for the birth of his child. His mother had said it was the first of many that would populate this planet. He was to be the father of a race of people that would spread all over this world. Peto could not see that happening. He thought back to when the idea was first discussed between his mother, Eelan and himself. His mother had also said that Eelan would play a greater part in producing offspring to fill the planet. He remembered Eelan grinning at him as his mother said this. Peto smiled to himself and shook his head. Eelan and he were so different. He loved her dearly but she could be most annoying. Her humour was exasperating at times. How often she had driven him almost to frenzy with her poking fun at him, knowing just how far to go before stopping.

How they could ever become intimate enough to copulate he didn't know, and yet that is what their mother expected of them. He thought about his relationship with his mother, how that had become so close. They both looked forward to their mutual sexual satisfaction, both enjoying the experiences without any embarrassment. Before that first time, he would never have believed that he would be the father of her child. Perhaps it would be the same with Eelan, if she would be a little more serious about things. He imagined making love to her while she was grinning at him. He shook himself and decided it was time to go for lunch.

Eelan was busy getting lunch ready and had the strange feeling that Peto was thinking about her. She had not been thinking about him and yet the thought had come into her head that he was having serious thoughts concerning her. Why she felt that way, she did not know, but she was convinced that it was a fact. She was also sure that it concerned their relationship. She tried to get a grip on the thought before it was lost but it had already gone. She shrugged her shoulders and continued to prepare lunch for them all. She was slicing the Kandeer meat when her mother arrived from having another check up by Comp.

“Eelan. Comp thinks that the baby will be born in a few day's. He believes that it is fully developed already,” said Diata, “It is only six months. It will be three months premature. I can't believe how big the baby has grown in such a short time.”

“Mum, don't worry. I don't know anything about babies, but I'm sure that everything will be all right. I have this feeling that everything is under control. Everything is being prepared for the baby’s arrival. You look great. How do you feel?”

“I feel great. I haven't had any of the upsets that I had with you and Peto when I was carrying you.” Diata recalled that she had gone through a bad time with Peto just before he was born.

“There you are then. Sit down and have lunch.” Eelan placed a glass of fruit juice in front of Diata and got her a plate. Diata looked at her and noticed that she was not her usual bright cheery self.

“What's wrong, Eelan? Are you all right? You're not sick or anything, are you?”

“No Mum, there's nothing wrong with me. It's just that a few times in the last week or so I have had a funny feeling that I can't describe. I had it again just before you came in.”

“Go and see Comp. Go straight after lunch. We don't want to take any chances on you getting sick. Comp says there are some unknown radiation's coming from the sun. Maybe they are affecting you,” said Diata.

“No, it's nothing like that. I had my check two days ago, Comp said I was as fit as ever. No, it's just that I keep getting thoughts in my head. They come and then they are gone.” Eelan shrugged. “It's nothing really.” Diata looked at her and thought about the ability of the robots to project their thoughts. Were they trying to project their thoughts to Eelan? She wondered if Comp was experimenting again.

“Is it about the robots or Comp? These thoughts, I mean?”

“The robots? Oh no, nothing like that. I sometimes get the feeling that Peto is thinking about me. That's all, don't worry.” Eelan was beginning to wish that she hadn't said anything.

“Eelan. The robots can project their thoughts to one another and so can Comp. It's something like telepathy. Comp thinks that it has something to do with the radiation from the sun. The robots may be causing these thoughts. Maybe you or Peto is being affected by the rays It might just be starting to affect you. Go and see Comp. I don't want any arguments about it.”

Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Peto.

“Hi! I'm hungry. What's for lunch?” he asked brightly.

“Kandeer, carrotats and fruit juice. Sit down and eat,” said Eelan, “And if you say you had that last week you can get lunch for us in future.”

“Wow! What's the matter? What have I done to deserve this?” said Peto in mock alarm. Diata frowned at him.

“It's nothing Peto. Eelan is not feeling too good today, that's all,” she said. Peto was immediately serious.

“What's wrong, Eelan?” Peto wanted to know. He looked at her and thought, 'I would hate anything to happen to you.'

“I'm sure you would,” said Eelan, ruffling his hair.

“Would what?” asked Peto.

“Hate anything to...happen to me. You didn't say that did you?” Eelan looked at her mother. “It's happened again, Mum. This time it was as clear as a bell. I heard his thoughts.”

Peto stared at both of them, one after the other, “What's going on? I didn't say that. I thought it, yes, but I didn't say it. What do you mean, you heard my thoughts?”

Eelan sat down and began to cry. Diata moved to her and put her arms around her, comforting her.

“Don't cry, darling. This is something we have to know about. If Peto can project his thoughts then it will probably be us next. It took the rays several years to affect the robots and Comp, and it was gradual until they could control it. Maybe it has just started to work with Peto.” Diata could see the advantages of being able to communicate with each other in this way.

“Will someone please tell me what's going on?” pleaded Peto. Diata turned to Peto and explained what Comp and the robots were able to do.

“Peto, were you thinking about Eelan just before lunch?”

“I don't know, maybe. I often think about her, and you too. Why?”

“She believes that she can pick up your thoughts, sometimes. That would suggest that you can project your thoughts like the robots can,” explained Diata.

“But I didn't project my thoughts at all! At least, not knowingly. It's true, I did think that I would hate anything to happen to her, but that's natural enough.”

“That thought came to me as clear as if you had spoken it, Peto. I don't know how or what caused it, but it did. I have been getting something in my head now and then for a couple of weeks now, but that was clear,” Eelan said, her voice filled with awe as she thought of the clarity that she had received the thought.

“Well then, let's try it again. I'll concentrate on something and you see if you can pick it up,” said Peto. They tried for an hour without further success and finally gave up.

That evening they talked about Eelan's experience. Comp confirmed that it was possible that they had begun to be affected by the sun's rays. He suggested that Peto try to project his thoughts to one of the robots or to himself. This would enable him to practice the ability without the frustration of not knowing whether it was Eelan that was blocking his thoughts without realising it or Peto's inexperience at projecting them. Peto tried to contact robo One and Comp but neither were able to receive him. Eelan was tired of the whole thing but she promised to let them all know if she had any more telepathic experiences. They eventually retired to bed.

Peto lay in his bed thinking about his new ability and how he could improve it. If it hadn't have been for Eelan he would not have known about it. He, like Diata, could see the possibilities that were open to them if they could all communicate by thought. His thoughts turned to Eelan and wondered how he had managed to reach her in the first place. He must have been thinking about her at the time. His mind went over the days' events to try to pinpoint what he had been thinking about. He was just about to give up again when he remembered that just before lunch he had been thinking about him and Eelan making love. He tried to remember how he was thinking. Yes, he was picturing her in his mind's eye. She was grinning up at him as he was trying to make love to her. They were his thoughts at the time she apparently received them. He had thought, if only she would be more serious he might be able to do it. He made a mental note to try the next day to reach her by picturing her as he did so. Turning over, he closed his eyes and prepared for sleep. Eelan entered his room and sat on his bed.

“Peto?” Peto sat up and looked at her. She was quite beautiful, very much like her mother. Full firm breasts, square shoulders, her straight back giving her the same elegance and poise that her mother had.

“What is it, Eelan?” he asked, “Are you still worried about it?”

“No Peto. I'm worried about you. About you and me. Peto, I wouldn't laugh at you while you were making love to me. You don't really think that, do you?”

“You mean you were listening to my thoughts just now?”

“You must have wanted me to listen. You were the one projecting them.”

“I was just thinking to myself, Eelan. I was trying to think what it was that made you pick up my thoughts. I think it is because I have to picture you in my mind. That's what I was doing just now.” Peto was excited now that he had found a way to reach her mind. Eelan took him by the shoulders and shook him.

“Peto, will you listen to me? I said that I wouldn't laugh at you. I respect you too much to laugh at you.” He looked at her in the dim room and realised what she was saying. He had hurt her feelings with his thoughts. He reached out and hugged her.

“Oh Eelan. I'm sorry. I didn't mean that in a bad way. You know I didn't.”

“I wish you wouldn't treat me like a baby, Peto. I'm not a baby any more.”

“I know Eelan. I'm sorry. I suppose it is just a habit. Here get in, you're shivering.” He through the sheet back and made room for her and she got in the bed beside him.

“Peto, there is so much happening all at once. I'm not sure that I like it. This telepathy is frightening when you think about it. I don't want to know what you are thinking all the time. I won't be able to think myself.” She had visions of constantly hearing Peto's thoughts as the 'gift' improved. Peto put his arm around her.

“It won't be like that, Eelan. We will learn to control it like the robots and Comp. I will ask Comp how he controls it. Meanwhile, it should be allowed to develop. It will be so useful in the future when we can all do it. Anyway, it is something that we are going to have to live with.

“I suppose you are right,” said Eelan. She snuggled up to him, feeling comforted. It had been a long time since he had shown her any affection. She kissed his cheek. Peto responded by kissing her gently on her lips. Her lips were full, soft and slightly moist. He kissed her again, his tongue tasting the moistness and probing deeper, exploring her mouth. Her own tongue met his as she too, responded. Peto gently caressed her neck, moving his hand down over her shoulders to her breasts. The warm softness of her flesh inviting him to feel the roundness of them. His lips moved lower to kiss her nipples, to gently suck them as they hardened. Peto felt her trembling as he continued to explore her body with his lips and hands, becoming aroused as he did so. He felt her stiffen slightly then relax as his hand touched her pubic hair and his fingers probed into her, discovering her clitoris. As he gently massaged the sensitive organ, he heard her breath quicken with desire. Her natural juices lubricating her in readiness for him. He withdrew his hand and moved upon her, supporting himself with his elbows, gently prying her legs apart with his knees. As he entered her she gave a little cry of pain and he stopped but her hands were on his buttocks pulling him closer and deeper into her and he continued with a slow rhythmic movement. Eelan gave an involuntary gasp of pleasure as the sensations of her orgasm flooded through her, seeming to affect every nerve of her body. Her gasping enjoyment hastened Peto's own climax and he came immediately after.

Exhausted, they both fell into contented sleep.

Diata lay in her bed listening. She had heard Eelan leave her room and go into Peto's. Her acute hearing had interpreted the sounds she had heard for what they were and smiled to herself. She patted her swollen belly.

“It looks like you will have someone to play with soon,” she said quietly then she too, turned over and went to sleep.


 

CHAPTER EIGHT.

 

Diata gave birth to a boy which although three months premature was fully developed and weighed a little over eight pounds. The child was born without the need of any surgery in spite of Diata's fears. Diata said that the birth was easier than those of either Peto or Eelan were. Robo One did not have anything to do apart from cutting assisting in the umbilical cord and the removal of the afterbirth.

After extensive checks Comp gave the child a perfect bill of health. None of the defects that were feared were apparent. All this good news was greeted with squeals of delight from both Diata and Eelan. Eelan had gazed at the newborn child with eyes wide open with wonderment. It was of course, the first baby she had ever seen that she could remember. Peto was also filled with awe at the sight of the tiny form that was his son.

Diata had announced that she would name her child Shak, after her father. This came as a surprise to Peto and Eelan as they had expected her to name him Nyel.

It was just a few weeks later that Diata began to realise that there was an unusual rapport between the baby and herself. She seemed to know just when the child wanted to be nursed before it cried for attention. She was aware when he needed to have his back patted or rubbed to relieve wind. She would be fast asleep and would awake at just the right time to feed or care for the child's needs. This enabled her to sleep soundly at other times.

Eelan also felt a kind of rapport with the baby. Whenever she had Shak in her care she would understand when he wanted to be played with or cuddled. Peto only felt it occasionally, not having so much to do with the caring of the child's needs.

Shak grew rapidly compared to a normal child. Comp had told Diata that the increased rate of growth was faster than the rate of growth that Peto and Eelan had experienced whilst they were growing to maturity. He also said that Shak's mental growth was faster. By the time he was three weeks old, Shak's IQ was comparable to a child of at least four months older. Comp put it all down to the environment or more likely the sun's rays.

Shak was three months old when Diata made a startling discovery. She had been occupied for a while and had not noticed that Shak was missing from the room that she was in. She panicked for a moment.

“Shak! Where are you!” she called.

An immediate calm came over her and she knew that he was safe. She then saw in her mind a scene of her bedroom from a viewpoint of about a foot or so from the floor. It was just a brief flash in her mind and she rushed into her bedroom. Shak was sitting on the floor playing with a toy that Peto had made for him. She stared and it dawned on her that what she had seen in her mind was the scene from Shak's point of view when she had panicked and called him.

“You're a telepath!” she said, “That explains it. You're a better telepath than any of us. You little so and so.” She picked him up and cuddled him.

“Don't you leave the room without letting me know again, do you hear?” Diata went back to what she was doing and thought about the way she had been calmed by Shak. 'He must be able to control emotions too,' she thought, 'Whatever else can he do? What will he be able to do when he is older?” She decided to tell Comp about this new development. She concentrated her thoughts on Eelan to tell her and Peto to come home. She was not as good at doing it as they were but since Peto had explained how he had improved his skill, she and the others had been practising and were getting better.

Eelan had been working with Peto, helping him to gather the rockwood that he had chopped. She sensed that her mother was trying to call her and had to concentrate on allowing her thoughts to come into her.

“Mum wants us to go home, Peto. I can't quite understand why. There's nothing to worry about, that I am sure.” Peto straightened up. Eelan was more receptive to thought projection than him or Diata. He took her word for it.

“Let's go then, Eelan. Let's see what she wants. I think we have chopped enough for the time being. He looked over to the house. The white prefabricated panels shining in the sun. The sloping roof with the dome that housed the beacon that had now been turned off. Then he looked down at Eelan's belly. He smiled and patted the swelling that was already quite noticeable.

“We are going to have to build another room or two soon, aren't we? That house was made for six. There will soon be five of us.” He chuckled and began walking back to the house. “We will have to get the robots to plan what to use for materials.”

The panels of the house were made of Zennalloy and would last almost forever but there was no more. The house was a prefabricated structure designed to house six people in the event of a crash or a forced landing by a spacecraft. There were no spare panels to build more. Peto had seen pictures of houses on Earth that were made of timber but he didn't think they were very durable.

They arrived back at the house and were met by Diata with Shak in her arms.

“Shak's a telepath,” she exclaimed, “He can project thoughts. He's three months old. Looks like he's a year old he can crawl and can project his thoughts. I think he can also read minds. I'm not sure about that, though.” She shook her head in amazement.

Peto looked at Shak and then back to Diata, “How do you know that he's telepathic?” he asked. Diata explained what had happened to them, telling them of her concern when she saw that he was missing from the room that she was in, her calling for Shak and the mental picture she had of the room that he was in.

“I had such a clear picture of the bedroom just for a moment. It was as if he was telling me where he was when I called him. Showing me the room that he was in.”

“Have you tried to project to him?” asked Eelan.

“Not deliberately. I suppose I must have done when I didn't know where he was and he answered in his own way,” replied Diata, “I was afraid that he might hurt himself while he was out of my sight.” She put Shak down on the floor and he crawled away towards a toy that was in sight. Peto was looking intently at Shak, and then the child picked up the toy and crawled back to them. Stopping in front of Peto, Shak reached up and handed the toy to him.

“Yes, I believe that he is telepathic. I wanted him to bring the toy to me and he did.” Peto bent and picked up Shak. “Good boy, Shak, good boy.”

“Oh boy. What have we got here? He is going to take over in no time,” said Diata.

Shak's progress continued to amaze them as he began to experiment with various things that came into his hands. Diata caught him just in time before he began to put the holograph on. It wasn't that he could hurt it or himself but he could have upset the settings that she had for future viewing.

Eelan's baby was also born three months prematurely. She too experienced an easy birth without any excessive pain. She was delighted to find that she had given birth to a girl. She and Peto had already decided on names for the baby. They had chosen Lan for a girl.

Lan, too, was an amazing child. They had been prepared to expect the rapid growth and progress, but they had not expected the obvious attention that Shak was paying to Lan. Diata and Eelan had made sure that Shak was included in their activities with Lan. Shak would often sit quietly looking at the new baby.

“Maybe he's communicating with her,” suggested Peto. “Who knows what is going on with a telepath like him.” They had by now all experienced the vivid pictures that Shak could project into their minds. Peto wondered if Shak found it frustrating that they were not as competent as he was at using telepathy. He had tried to project pictures to Shak but did not know if he had been successful or not.

Shak was a year old when they discovered that he could communicate with the robots and Comp. By then Shak had the appearance of a child of four. This disappointed Diata somewhat as she said she was missing the pleasure of having a baby to play with. He was growing up so fast that he had outgrown baby play. Eelan, not having the experience of her mother, did not understand. She was enjoying motherhood Lan being a constant delight to her. Her endless chatter and willingness to help her mother and Diata was a quality that Eelan loved in her.

Peto became father to four more children during the next two years. Diata had given birth to another boy, Nye, and a girl, Peta. Eelan had two more girls, Kita and Ata.

The next discovery they made left them in wondrous awe at the talents of the children. Peto had been felling a large tree to use as timber. He had failed to notice that Lan, who was now three years old, had wandered into the area that the tree was to fall. As the tree began to topple, Eelan saw the danger and screamed. She began to run towards Lan, screaming at her to get out of the way. Peto, horrified, also saw the danger and he too rushed to grab Lan. As he ran he knew that he would not be able to reach her before the tree fell. Lan, for her part, looked up to see what all the screaming was about, saw the tree and stood there. Incredibly, the tree seemed to pause in its fall and then swayed to one side and fell to the ground well away from them. Peto had not seen what happened as he had his back to the tree, but Eelan had seen it all. She stopped in amazement, unable to believe her eyes. It took her a while to realise that, somehow, Lan had caused the tree to sway away from them.

“Did you make the tree move?” asked Eelan. Lan's answer came immediately.

“Yes, Mummy. It was going to fall on me. She looked at Peto, “I'm sorry Daddy if I made it move wrong,” she said, almost on the verge of crying. Eelan picked her up and hugged her.

“Oh, darling, that doesn't matter. I was so frightened that you were going to get hurt. How did you do that?”

“I don't know, Mummy. I didn't want it to fall on me,” said Lan, shrugging. Peto looked questioningly at Eelan.

“What does she mean? What happened?” he asked.

“Somehow she made the tree fall to one side. It was fantastic. The tree just stopped in mid air then dropped away from us.”

“What?” Peto frowned, uncomprehending and turned to look at the tree, “You think she did that? You think she has some power that did it?”

“She must have done! Either she did it or I did.” Eelan looked at Lan, “Darling, it was you that made the tree move, wasn't it? It wasn't me, was it?”

“No, Mummy, it was me.” She looked crest-fallen, “I didn't want it to fall on me,” she repeated. She began to cry, thinking that she had done something wrong.

“Don't cry, Lan. We are pleased that you did it. We just didn't know that you could do things like that,” said Peto, kissing her, “Have you done it before?” Lan stopped crying and shook her head, “No, but...” She looked at them as if wondering whether to continue. “I moved a Kandeer that was going to throw a stone at me. I didn't hurt it though, really.” She buried her chin into her chest, expecting to be scolded.

Eelan and Peto looked at each other and then burst out laughing. Lan looked up and smiled with relief.

Later they spoke to Comp about it. Comp explained that it must have been what was known on Earth as telekinesis. On Earth, some had claimed to have the ability to move small objects and bend spoons, forks, keys and other objects. Apparently, under laboratory conditions it was never proven, in spite of the claims. Although some of the results were unexplainable, most people were sceptical, claiming that it was just a clever trick, rather like a conjurer's skill. Some sceptics claimed that it was impossible to move objects without applying physical means, but magnetism and gravity can move objects without the need for physical contact.

When they questioned Shak, they found that he too, could move things. He had often done it without realising that it was an unusual ability. He had assumed that his mother and father were capable of doing what he could do. He had used his telekinetic power to carry things that were too heavy to lift and had also used it to throw stones back at Kandeer. He insisted that he never threw them hard enough to hurt them. He just enjoyed watching them try to avoid the stones as he guided them through the air towards them.

It was a week after the incident with the tree that Diata, Peto and Elan were given a demonstration of the awesome power that the children had. Comp had suggested that they test the strength of the children's telekinetic powers. They were taken to the rock mountain and asked to lift various sized rocks by means of their power. No rock proved to be too heavy for them.

 When the largest rock, which must have weighed about eight tons, proved to be child's play to them they decided to give up testing the children. Shak was interested in the spacecraft that lay nearby which he knew housed Comp. Peto told him all he knew about the craft, explaining that it should have landed upright, but unfortunately it had crashed and ended up on its side.

“Why don't you put it upright then?” asked Shak. Peto smiled at him and replied,

“It is far too heavy to lift, Shak. I'm afraid it's there to stay on its side.”

Diata was listening to them and said, “It would be a lot more convenient if it was upright. Everything is on its side in there. The medical room, control room where Comp is. Everything. It's quite difficult to get around in there sometimes.”

“ I can put it up, Mummy.” It was Peta, Diata's two-year-old daughter. Diata smiled, “I'm sure you can, darling, you're a clever girl,” she coo-ed.

“I can. Really I can,” insisted Peta, nodding her head vigorously to emphasise her conviction.

She looked at the spacecraft and they heard a grinding screech of metal. They turned to see what was happening. The huge craft was lifting up from the horizontal position and turning in the air to an upright position. They watched, open-mouthed, as the craft settled down, tilted and lifted again. Once more it began to settle only to begin to tilt again.

“It's all right, Peta, I've got it. Let me have it all.” Shak spoke to Peta with calmness that none of the adults felt. They watched as the craft was held in the air.

“How do you want it put down, Dad? Lying down or standing up?” Shak asked.

Peto was staring at the spacecraft with equal astonishment as the others.

“What? Oh! Um, upright. Upright if you can,” he said. The craft settled slowly with its nose pointing skyward. There was no tilting this time. It settled and remained upright.

“I could have done it, Shak!” said Peta, her mouth drooping at the corners.

“I know, Peta. I just wanted to help and make sure that was what Daddy wanted.”

Peto looked at Diata. Shak's tactful answer showed insight and wisdom that was far advanced for one of his age. Peta had tried to settle the immense craft down as a small child might have tried to balance a top-heavy object and was having a little difficulty. Shak had taken control and had tactfully explained to Peta why he had done so without hurting her feelings.

Peto entered the craft to make sure that Comp was undamaged.

“Thank you for your concern, Peto. I am perfectly all right. It will make things easier for me to carry out the medical checks now that you don't have to stand when you should be lying down and lie down when you should be standing.

“It's really interesting what these children can do. I wonder what they will reveal next? It appears that as each new child is born its abilities become stronger and more positive. Your own abilities took some time to develop and you needed to learn how to use them. Peta knew how to use hers without having to learn. I have no doubt that the other children are just as competent or even more so. Any other children you have will probably be even more efficient until a limit is reached. I would be interested what your grandchildren will be able to do. Only time will tell. We will have to wait.”