Finally a time of silence … of peace …
How long did he wait for it? He couldn’t say that. Jarmo Dorak looked at his own picture in the mirror.
Have you gotten older, old buddy? He asked himself. His brown hair – has it gotten lighter? His blue eyes, did they show he was almost 34 years old?
He hoped they don’t.
A rumble shook the shuttle. Landing. The arrival. They had finally arrived.
“Commander”, said the pilot from his seat, “we are now in the parking position. Shall I wait?”
“What are your general orders?”
“To ask you if I should wait.”
Thanks for that exact answer, thought Dorak. He moved his hand around his chin.
“Well, as far as I know, there are many transports waiting, it won’t be wise to keep you waiting here. Contact VERI’S BASTION and let them know that you are ready to depart. I will inform you if I need a return transport. “
The door opened and Jarmo got off the shuttle. The little ship had landed in front of a castle-like building made of sand-colored stone. A shipyard. In front of it lay a ship that was almost ready to sail. A sailing ship. But Dorak knew that inside the building was one of the most modern shipyards for spaceships. He walked towards the building. A guard stood near a staircase leading up to the stairs.
“Sir,” he said, “may I see your ID?”
Dorak took his identity card out of the pocket of his uniform trousers. Of course he was wearing the ASTROCOHORS uniform, but the guard had to make sure. He took the ID card and inserted it into an electronic reader. A few seconds later, the device confirmed the identity.
“Everything’s alright, Commander!”, Said the security guard and gave Jarmo his card back, “You can pass!”
“Thanks very much.”
The commander went up the stairs to a door. He opened it and finally entered the building. Inside was a large room. Dorak was in a kind of gallery, a path along the wall to the other side of the room, where he disappeared into a door. The shipyard’s construction hall was located below. And there was a small ship in it. It was in the shape of a rounded triangle. To be precise, all of the shapes on it were round, even the front went up in a round. It looked sleek and elegant. On the front there were some letters that read:
He could only see one side from where he was, but assumed that name was on both sides of the ship. A prototype. A development from other ships. Something completely new. “SCSV” stood for “Space Cruising and Submergence Vehicle”. It could fly in space, in the atmosphere of a planet, and it could even dive, swim, and submerge in water. At least in theory. But half a dozen technicians ran around and climbed onto the little ship. One repaired the hull with a welder. Sparks flew everywhere. Another was looking at a blueprint.
Suddenly Dorak heard a woman’s voice. He could not understand the first words, but thought they were spoken in a language of the continent of Europe. The next few words were in the common language so that he could understand them.
“No! No!” Said the woman, “That belongs here and that belongs there!”
Then Dorak saw her. Before she had stood behind the ship, now she came around, another technician followed her. She looked like she was under stress. The technician looked like that too. But she wasn’t a technician. The overalls she was wearing indicated that she was a pilot. And she had a hard hat on. After all, it was a shipyard and they worked hard here.
Dorak walked down the path to the other side. When he came through the door, he finally found another flight of stairs down. He went down the stairs and now entered the construction hall on the lower level. Up close, the ship looked even more impressive. But now Dorak saw the other side of it and saw that a part the size of 1 square meter had been removed from the fuselage. And there was a technician working there.
The woman came back around the ship. She looked at a data pad and again said something Dorak couldn’t understand. But he thought it was Portuguese.
“Excuse me,” he said.
“Yes?” She looked up and was surprised to see him.
“I’m Lieutenant Commander Jarmo Dorak from ASTROCOHORS CLUB,” he said, “Are you the officer in charge of the ATLANTICA project?”
“Yes I am,” she said.
“Nice to meet you!”
“Nice to meet you too, Commander Jarmo Dorak.” Jarmo found the way she called him a little strange, but he didn’t let it show. “May I introduce myself,” she continued. “I’m Lieutenant Commander Beatriz de Almeida. I’m Brazilian. Almeida comes from my father’s family. He was from Portugal.”
“He was …” began Dorak.
“Yes, he’s already …”
“I am sorry!”
“That’s okay! Actually, both of my parents are dead. They died in an accident. It happened during a trip to Earth seven years ago.”
As she talked, she moved back to the spaceship. She gave the technicians some final orders and let them go on with their work.
“It’s noon,” she said then, without taking her eyes off the hull of the spaceship. “Would you like to join me for lunch? We could talk about the project. That was what you wanted to talk about in the first place, right?”
“Yes, that’s right. I accept the offer. Let’s go!”
A restaurant in an ASTROCOHORS spaceport isn’t exactly a glamorous place to be, but that wasn’t a “real” date anyway. Beatriz felt awful when she excused herself to go to the bathroom and saw those big black bags under her eyes in the mirror. The result of three nights of work without sleep. She worked pretty hard on the ATLANTICA project and because of her intense commitment, her superiors decided to give her a very special mission. As always, she looked in the mirror and started talking to herself again …
“Do I really look thirty-four? My friends say I don’t, but how can I trust them? They like me. I don’t really like that light brown color in my hair. I should have listened to my brother and kept the red as he did. It’s too late now! “
She left the bathroom feeling even worse. She felt older and even more tired. Still, she managed to resume the conversation and ask Dorak what he wanted to eat. They also found something on the menu. Jarmo wanted to be polite and asked if Beatrice would like to drink wine.
“Not for me,” she declined. “I’ve worked so hard these days. A glass would make me fall asleep for days … Sorry!”
“No problem.” In his mind he rebuked himself. What’s the matter with you? He asked himself. You act like this is a date. You don’t drink alcohol yourself, so why now?
He tried to focus his mind on something else.
“Are you telling me about the project?” He asked her. “Something tells me it’s busy. Is that correct?”
“Yes, that’s right and I’m glad you came because I was supposed to see you earlier, but I really didn’t find the time.”
“Well, then I’ll tell you what I know about this mission. Very little, actually. Our mission, in a few words, is to get the ATLANTICA up and running and to test it.”
“Yeah, pretty much that, but we have to do ‘something extra’, Mr. Dorak.”
“Please call me Jarmo. What would that ‘extra something’ be, Miss Almeida?”
“You can call me Beatriz, okay? We’re partners now, so … I’m telling you everything I know. ASTROCOHORS has some reason to believe that there might be a place on Earth that is hidden underwater Its location is not entirely clear yet, but scientists believe it is somewhere in the southern hemisphere. Geologists say volcanic activity has submerged large areas of land. Just think of Doggerland. “
“But … if it was a volcano, then there shouldn’t be anything left of the land masses.”
“Special laboratories have been searching the oceans for some time. They use special ships like the ATLANTICA. They found significant evidence that there is life in certain regions. And it is underwater.”
“I understand. In addition to flying, our ship is also equipped for underwater trips.”
“Yes,” confirmed Beatriz, “we also have diving suits on board for a wide variety of water depths. However, the armor for the extreme depths must be touched up again. Something is wrong with the energy generators. If someone uses such a suit, he is at the moment more som sort of walking bomb. “
“But wait, what exactly is that land mass we are supposed to find there?”
“I’m not sure yet. That’s why they want us on this mission. What I know is that this is the first time we are to use our ship underwater. We will be the first to dive with the ATLANTICA. Isn’t it great? Aren’t you looking forward to it? “
She was very excited. It was almost contagious.
“Okay,” she smiled. “I’ll tell you what I know. Have you ever heard of the Cita Nalur icosahedron?”
Dorak’s eyes lit up. “Now it’s getting even more interesting!” He said. “The icosahedron is said to be part of a network to which the temple of the wind harp also belongs. It could be a trace to the temple.”
Now Beatrice smiled too. “Yes, and what is hidden under the water is supposed to be Cita Nalur itself! And what do you say now?”
Jarmo was flabbergasted. He was silent. Then he hugged Beatrice. Simply that way. Quite spontaneously. He had to express his exuberance of emotion. Beatrice was surprised, but not averse. It had been a long time since anyone had hugged her.
Then Dorak broke the embrace again. “Sorry,” he muttered. “That … was the excitement.”
“That’s fine,” she replied. “With the enthusiasm we both have, we should have succeeded in locating Cita Nalur!”
“And to see what is true of all the legends and what is not,” added Jarmo.
The waiter came and brought them the drinks, chilled mineral water.
“Mineral water or not,” said Dorak, “we can toast with it. I think this is a great moment. And we have something great ahead of us! To a good cooperation!”
Jarmo and Beatriz raised their glasses. “To a good cooperation!”, Said Beatrice.
The glasses rang and both looked into each other’s eyes. Then they each took a sip.
“This is how we continued the story of the ASTROCOHORS CLUB,” said Dorak. “Maybe at some point we should open departments.”