9) The Day of Days

The operation to get rid of the roaches was completely bogged down. Pheledra was growing more anxious by the moment. She needed to solve these problems and refocus back onto the mission. She knew the cataclysm was well underway and needed to check on Biltar. Without a doubt, the roaches were a planned obstruction. It was proving much harder to lure them out of their microscopic state than anyone had imagined.Pheledra, Wave, Fabby and the droids took up positions on the power deck and the droids put up electromagnetic cloaking to disguise their presence. Pheledra wanted to be close at hand when the roaches came back to feed, but nothing was happening. She was losing patience.

Wave shook his head as he looked over at Pheledra and communicated telepathically.

Apparently the roaches are smart enough to know they’re being tricked.

Pheledra nodded in agreement. You’re right. I want everyone, including the droids to evacuate the power deck. Maybe that will lure them out.

Yes, Fabby agreed. We’ll keep an eye on this area by remote monitoring.

Fabby, Wave and Pheledra quickly ascended the ladder to the control deck followed by the five droids. They watched carefully for a long time.

Suddenly, the roaches appeared right at the base of the array. The droids shot down and everyone was right behind them, but Fabby was barely able to whistle a few notes before the three bugs merged into one gigantic roach and completely devoured one of the tachyon tubes. Immediately, stray energy bounced and crackled all over the power deck forcing Pheledra and Wave to scamble back up just in time to avoid the deadly tachyon bolts. The droids instantly put up their shields. Fabby, being a Frequency Adjusting Bioborg B, generated a protective field around his body. His whistling, which was a multi-layered cacophony of piercing warbles and overtones, managed to immobilize the enormous thing, but not before it began chomping into another tachyon tube. He quickly shut it down. If the roach was removed, he could repair the tube and they’d have five — ample power. Until then, they could still run on four but it was doubtful if they could make it back through the wormhole without that fifth tube.

Red, Blue and Green moved in and activated a broader three-way containment field, then froze in place wondering what to do next. Orange and Violet clamped onto the thing but would not try to move it until they received further instructions from Pheledra. Even if they pried the roach loose, they would then have the major problem of getting it through the evacuation hatch because the bug had now grown so large.

The droids soon discovered that they could not maintain the containment field for very long. They were in dire straits and Pheledra could feel their distress.

“Green, what’s the problem?”

“Energy depletion,” he said. “The roach sends out tendrils which lash around us and suck out our energy. Periodically, each one of us must disengage to recharge. Our capacity is severely taxed. When we take the recharging breaks, the field is weakened and the roach starts to wake up and move. Fabby intervenes with his whistle to put it back down, but the whole process is less than satisfactory. It’s like holding onto a wild animal and having to constantly readjust your grip.”

Fabby was continually whistling, trying to find a frequency which would kill the thing.

“No dice,” he said, “anything I could do now to kill it would shatter the tube and put the whole ship in peril. We must keep up that containment field.”

“Okay,” said Pheledra. “See if you can figure out a way to tap into one of the other tubes and transfer energy to the droids.”

“That’s going to be touchy, the tachyon tubes don’t like imbalance and the droids have no input receptacles, but I’ll do my very best to come up with something.”

“Thanks Fabby.”

Pheledra and Wave watched him on the monitor as he moved over to one of the tubes and began to examine it carefully. “Pheledra, we’ll need to shut the power down completely in order for me to get up inside and look for the best way to put a tap on it. The Firefly will be extremely vulnerable during that shut down period. You and Wave must decide if it’s worth the risk. If anyone is monitoring us during that period, such as the Kultaki starship, they will know immediately we are dead in the water and might come calling while they have us at a disadvantage.”

“You’re right,” she said thoughtfully, “they’d probably rush here under the guise of coming to our aid. I don’t like the idea of being dead in the water. Are there any better ideas?”

“Perhaps,” said Fabby, searching through his computer files. “Wave, the information I have on Galvernian crystals reveals they have the capability of focusing and transferring energy in the physical, etheric and thought planes. Is that correct?”

“Yep,” replied Wave. “Also, the Galvernian crystals can blend energy and resonate it with other Galvernian crystals which are in near physical proximity and aligned correctly.”

Pheledra took a deep breath. “What do you have in mind, Fabby?”

“Wave could grow crystals in the replicator. I surround the four remaining tachyon tubes with the crystals by placing them around the magnetic base with the points facing the three field-maintaining droids. Then, one at a time, the droids shut down while I install crystals inside their sensor rings with the points facing the ones at the base of the array. When the first droid is outfitted, I open a bleed-off circuit at the base of the array just a crack to power the droid. Each time a droid is outfitted with crystals, I open another bleed off circuit. Finally, all three droids have crystals and can receive power directly from the ships tachyon system. The energy is distributed evenly, keeping the ship’s four remaining tachyon tubes happy and balanced. Thus, the droids are well able to maintain the containment field and secure the roach and we don’t have to shut down the whole ship.”

“What do we do then?” asked Pheledra.

“I don’t know … yet,” replied Fabby, “we’ll have to plan as we go. When we find a way to get rid of that roach, I’ll repair the damaged tube immediately so we’ll have ample power to make it back through the worm hole when the time comes for us to leave.”

Pheledra put her hands on her head. “Did you understand that, Wave?”

“It’ll work, Pheledra,” he answered, “I’ll stay in tune with the Firefly and she will indicate to us when her systems are running optimally.”

Pheledra paused. An idea was coming to her. “You know, this might be an opportunity to perform a little theater of our own and not only work on the roach problem, but get Boots back at the same time.”

“How’s that?” Wave asked.

“Well, if we can lure His Pestilency’s ship, we might find a way to grab Boots. I certainly don’t relish pursuing the Ambassador half way across the universe while wasting precious time for the mission. I’ve been receiving telepathic communication concerning some very important recent happenings. Meteorites have already reached Miraba and destroyed several major cities. There are more on the way and severe volcanic and quake activity is taking place at this very moment. We have little time, so we must gather all our wits, courage and strength to solve this roach problem quickly.”

“We’ll do it,” said Wave. “While Fabby is preparing the droids, I’ll be thinking about what to do with the roach and a possible theatrical production for the Kultaki.”

“Great,” said Pheledra. “I’ll be up on the observation deck. Biltar and so many others, are desperately crying out and I must offer prayers of hope and encourangement.”

The three went their separate ways to do their jobs.

CONTINUE: 10) Empathetic Agony

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