Hans knew it was ridiculous, some would even call it childish, for them to be giving each other the silent treatment, but he had no idea how to start what he knew would be a hard conversation. He was almost relieved when Duke got up to go get the passengers settled in for the trip to five-C-four. Running his hands through his hair and try as he might, he couldn’t think of any easy way to start the conversation that he needed to have.It seemed like hardly any time had passed when Duke stomped back into the cockpit and threw himself into the co-pilots chair. Hans glanced at the time and realized that nearly an half an hour had passed him by. He had been so lost in his thoughts that he had actually managed to lose track of the time.
“Passengers are in their seats and Chee is back there to keep an eye on them. Ready for take-off?” Duke stared at the console as he spoke, the tone of his voice still hinting to his anger from earlier.Hans picked up his head set and contacted flight control. “Cantun flight control. This Charlie Delta Emu Tango Five Five Niner asking clearance for planetary take-off en route to five-C-four.”
“You are clear to go Charlie Delta Emu Tango Five Five Niner on runway Five Alpha. Flight plan has been accepted and approved by the central system. Have good flight out.”With clearance given, Hans started up the ship and began his taxi up the runway. He didn’t need much room in this ship. Before long he was watching the lavender atmosphere fade into the wonderful inky blackness of space. Hans took a deep breath and felt himself relax a little.
Other than emergencies, neither of them would have much to do other than monitor the systems now to make sure they stayed on course and everything went smoothly. The computer could handle most situations without their input until they arrived at the fourth moon of the fifth planet in the system – their destination for the day. With nothing to do and not talking to each other it was going to be a long three hours for them both.It took only an hour of bored silence before Hans couldn’t put off the conversation any longer. He had to say something, but he still had no idea what he was going to say. It seemed liked anything he could say would be met with disbelief or even more anger. He wasn’t too sure which reaction he was the most worried about. He bit his lip and closed his eyes for a second to gather his thoughts.
“Do you believe that there is life out there besides us?” Hans kept his eyes focussed straight ahead.“What?” Duke sounded more shocked than angry. It was a bold and odd question to ask of someone.
“Do you believe in that there is life out there besides us?” Hans said each word carefully so that there was no mistaking what he was asking.“Never really thought about it before, but what the hell kind of question is that?” Anger coloured the last few words of that sentence.
“If you want to know what I’ve been doing I need to know if you believe that aliens might actually exist here in this galaxy. Not many, just some that were left behind for some reason. Do you believe that there might be other life out there?” Hans finally turned to face Duke so that there was no mistaking the sincerity of what he was saying. “That’s what I’ve been looking into. And if you don’t believe then there is no reason for me to continue this conversation.”Duke scratched at the stubble on his chin and stared at the ceiling for a minute. “Well, I won’t say I do believe and I won’t say that I don’t. What I will say is that I’ve never given it much consideration. My life has been focussed more on just surviving and getting by. I’ve lived all my life on frontier planets, just moving on to the next one every time a place started getting too civilized for me. I like the rough life.”
“Surprised you’re working as a mechanic for Global Space Tech then. Not exactly a frontier type job.” Hans was still debating exactly how much to reveal to Duke but he had a feeling it was all going to have to come out to gain his trust.“They’re great on the transfers. Now what does that magno-electric pulse thing have to do with the Mantou Islands, the possibility of aliens and bright lights?” Duke looked Hans square in the eye, challenging him to give a straight and honest answer.
“Everything, but it’s a bit of a long story. It has to do when I was flying for the Armed Forces as a test pilot. I encountered an exact same issue when flying a test plane on an uninhabited planet and I saw something that I was never supposed to see. I still have dreams about it even though I think they tried to erase my memory of the exact events. For the longest time all I could remember was a crash, but as the years pass more and more comes back to me.“I know that I saw something I shouldn’t have, but I’m not entirely sure what. When we had that same issue crop up here I knew I had to go and find out what it was. I needed to find out what happened over the Mantou Islands so that I can remember what happened back then.”