This section covers the occurrences immediately after Admiral van Wijk was rescued.
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Martha and Boku arrived at the Rear Admiral's office to report their activities. They were unaware that the others present had seen what had happened. They were most surprised when everyone including the Rear Admiral stood up and bowed to them.
Martha spoke first. "Sir, Everything seemed to be going
the way that the kidnappers wanted at first. I was met at Piccadilly
and the man was very polite to me. He thought that I was the actress
and asked me how my day had been. I said that I had found the
Spacers Club to be a very smart and well-organised place and I
had been treated as an Admiral should be treated. He asked me
how the interview with George went and I said that it was very
interesting in parts but rather dull on the whole. I said that
I found the explanations of the rock stratigraphy very informative.
He seemed to lose interest after that. When we were going along
Shaftesbury Avenue on the strip there was a police warning that
it was going to stop. We would all have to get off. The man became
rather agitated by this. I said that it sometimes happens because
an equipment failure. One just has to put up with it. Every now
and again he would look behind to see if someone was following
us in the crowd. I knew that it was his accomplice who was trying
to check if we were being followed. Neither of them noticed that
someone was keeping us company and was most of the time beside
us. Boku did a wonderful job. It was very reassuring to know that
she was so close.
When we got to the house the call button didn't work. The man with me got very angry and had to use the door knocker. When we went inside, his colleague looked very worried, almost haunted. The man who had been following us wanted to know what was wrong. he wouldn't say anything in front of me. They had to keep up the pretence that they were from a vidcom company. I was told to go into a room and sit down. It was dark in there. The lights didn't work and very little light came through the downstairs windows. When I became accustomed to the dim light I saw the Undepoldus had been there. There were images of people burned into the wallpaper. I realised then why the man looked so worried. I had no idea what Undepoldus could and would do. I guessed that he had been responsible for the power failure but I couldn't work out how he could have done it without getting a shock.
Then I heard a loud noise coming from the front door. Boku had smashed the lock and had opened it. One of the men went to investigate but didn't come back. Then I heard the door open in the next room and close again. I peeped out and saw a man going to the door to see what had happened to his friend. I crept up behind him and stunned him. I then dashed back to the room before anyone saw me.
The woman came out to find out what was going on. From inside the house she could only see that there was a big crowd around the doorway. She was suspicious and I think she produced a gun. I was trying to stay hidden so I did not see too well. Anyway, within seconds she had gone too. Then there was an almighty crash and a moan. A man had fallen through the floor from upstairs. Boku dragged him away. I then went to the front door to tell Boku that I had heard a woman's voice upstairs and pointed to the window where I thought she was. I then helped push the crowd back so that a floater could land.
I went back into the house to see if I could help rescue the Admiral but found that the stairs were a wreck. A man had fallen through the stairs and was trapped in the hole he had fallen through. I got him out and took him outside. Because Boku had bowed to the crowd, I bowed too for the fun of it. By the time I had rescued the man who had fallen through the stairs, a floater had arrived to pick up the Admiral and another lady. That concludes my report sir."
"Martha, you carried out your mission to perfection. You will receive my personal commendation. Boku, before you give me your report I have to tell you that Superintendent Abdullah would dearly like to have you on his staff on a permanent basis. If you had been on his staff, he would have recommended you for the highest possible commendation. His best trackers lost you several times and only found you again because you kept so near to Martha. We saw you in action on the vidcom and how quickly you changed your appearance. We also saw how you dealt with a man twice your size and then how you demolished a pistol. Most of the crowd thought that you were in a vidcom play and what you were doing had been stage managed. We know differently. You do not need to give me a report. The vidcom recording will speak for itself. Your future promotion is assured but at the moment I cannot promote you beyond the rank of acting Lieutenant Commander. If you wish, I will recommend that you become an instructor at the Spacers College. Your skills should be passed on to as many Spacers as possible. I will see to it at Admiral van Wijk knows what you did to assist in her rescue."
"That will not be necessary Leonov. Superintendent Abdullah has told me about Lieutenant Commander Adedyo's accomplishments.
Nobody noticed the Admiral arrive. She continued.
You may disregard the acting rank Boku. I promote you now to the full rank of Lieutenant Commander with endorsements. You have been severely injured during the course of your duties. The Spacers hospital could not undo the loss of both hands. It was thought by the surgeons that you might not retain enough ability with prosthetics to remain a Spacer. You have shown them how wrong they were. You can use the old joke 'Look, no hands!" and beat most Spacers with hands as you say it. I endorse what Rear Admiral Chebychev has said. You should pass on your skills to other Spacers including me. If I had had your talents, I would not have been kidnapped. If you choose not to go to the Spacers College, that will not lessen in any way the commendations you have received. The choice is entirely up to you. I would like to add that you may like to try out the life of an instructor here for a while before you make your decision. If you would like that, I will grant you two month's leave to prepare and give a course to the Spacers in London and volunteers from the London Police."
Boku was very moved by the Admiral's speech. She composed herself before answering.
"Thank you ma'am. Your words are very generous and your offer is a great honour to me. I don't know how good I will be as a teacher but I would like the chance to practice before trying to teach at the Spacers College.
I learned, as all Spacers do, that what most civilians think is exceptional in a student is average for Spacers. I therefore tried to develop ways to become exceptional among Spacers in fields that Spacers do not specialise in. I miss the softness and delicacy of touch that I had with my own hands but I have learned to make some use of the new talent that my metal hands have given me. I can do some of the things that were shown in comic books about super men and women. I can catch a bullet, I can squash a gun. I know that I am not invincible but my metal hands have given me the confidence to play at being a super woman when the occasion demands. I cannot always succeed in fooling people with changing my looks but I did today. Today I had the chance to play the Walter Mitty part while doing my duty, knowing that if I succeeded, you would be rescued unharmed. My training as a Spacer has made me able to take advantage of any situation as it arises. My metal hands have given me the confidence to attempt to do things that could be life-threatening. I could use them to get out of trouble if my disguises were discovered. My disguises enable me to get close enough to be able to use my hands at close quarters. The two are complimentary. I am glad for your sake that I was able to help to rescue you today."
Boku's answer met with spontaneous applause.
Lan Fang stood in the doorway, waiting for an opportunity to speak. When it came she said. "Superintendent Abdullah is in reception sir. He wishes to see you."
The Rear Admiral answered. "Escort him here Lan Fang. I want to see him too."
The Admiral congratulated Boku on earning her promotion. When she went to shake hands she said. "Please be careful, I don't want squashed fingers." She was surprised to find that Boku's hand felt almost like a real hand. The others followed the Admiral's example with enthusiasm.
Superintendent Abdullah arrived with a big smile on his face.
He began. "Sir, I would like to start by congratulating Miss
Adedeyo here. Madam, I would like to convey on behalf of the London
Police our heartfelt thanks and congratulations for the job you
did today. Miss van Wijk, your superior, has told me that you
have artificial hands. Many people would regard you as handicapped
yet nobody would have known that your hands were different until
you averted a possible tragedy. That was spectacular. You made
it clear that your hands worked like normal hands by the way that
you made those quick changes. Many of our officers have specialised
in covert surveillance but none could equal your performance today.
The ambassador saw you do one change on the vidcom. We have recordings
of two changes but we know you changed at least five times. It
was only when the schoolgirl who had been walking beside one of
the suspects changed into a hippie that we realised that the schoolgirl
was you. Two men were looking to see if they were followed and
neither noticed you, even when you could have held their hands.
We would be very much obliged if you could spare the time to show
our officers how you do it."
Admiral van Wijk answered for Boku. "Superintendent, you have already made it clear to me that you would like the help of Lt. Cdr. Adedeyo. It has been agreed that she will organise a course that some of your officers may attend. It will also provide the opportunity for your officers to get to know some of us Spacers a little better. I must warn you that most of the Spacers attending the course will be women."
"Thank you Miss van Wijk. Your help in this matter is much appreciated." He turned towards the Rear Admiral. "Mr. Ambassador, I understand that the worm has played an important part in locating where Miss van Wijk was held captive. We observed that Mr. McFigg and Miss Agonistes went directly to the house where Miss van Wijk and Mrs. Fisher were held. It was a puzzle to us how you found out the address. Can you tell me how it was done?"
"I'm sorry superintendent. I haven't a clue. I know that Undepoldus guided Lieutenants McFigg and Agonistes directly to the house but how he knew where to go escapes me."
Admiral van Wijk asked. "Please tell me about this worm - Undepoldus you call him. Who or what is he?"
The Rear Admiral answered. "I'm sorry ma'am but that was the purpose of you coming here. The existence of the worm is still more or less confidential. It was discovered in rocks brought back with the Undepoldus Mission. It is a small intelligent entity that looks a bit like a giant white furry caterpillar. It eats rocks. It likes Lieuntenant McFigg."
"I believe I have seen it but I wasn't aware of what it was. I only saw it for a few seconds. It went behind me and then the ropes that were tying my wrists suddenly broke. Then I saw it on the window sill as I got into a police floater. I thought that it was the end of a cobweb duster. I can explain the address but how the worm Undepoldus made use of it leaves me cold. When I was kidnapped, I was told to strip naked, my clothes were needed. I knew that I had been taken to 15 Romilly Street, so, as I was undressing, I was able to turn away from the man for the apparent cause of modesty and write the address on the strap of my brassiere. I hoped that it would not be noticed. Lieutenant Dawson, remove the brassiere that you are wearing and show it to the Rear Admiral."
Martha immediately did as she was ordered. The Rear Admiral studied it intensely. As he was doing so, George said. "I remember now, Undepoldus crawled onto the imposter and went up her arm onto her shoulder. Then he went down one side of the jacket collar and up the other side to her other shoulder. He could have seen the writing on the strap then. Later, after he had unmasked the imposter, he was left alone in Commander Sincayvitch's Cabin. while we went to lunch. When we returned we found him on lying on a map of the London strips and moveways. My estimate of his intelligence has now gone up a hundredfold. By the way Superintendent, where is he now?"
"He is here, Mr. McFigg, on my collar." He turned around. Undepoldus had practically blended in with the grey hair on the back of his neck. "You see, Miss Adedeyo has competition."
George went up to the Superintendent and put his hand up to his shoulder so that Undepoldus could climb onto it. The Admiral watched in amazement as Undepoldus crawled onto George's arm. George moved close to the Admiral so that she could see Undepoldus more closely. George said. "Ma'am, I can tell that no matter how hard you look, you will not see any obvious features apart from the white whiskers on most of his body. The brown patch at one end is his digestive organ. He can produce acids that will dissolve almost any mineral, including glass. He does not like organic material. He seems to like humans as company."
"Thank you Lieutenant. May I hold him?"
"I'm afraid that is not my decision to make ma'am. Undepoldus chooses who he wants to crawl onto. Put your hand near my shoulder slowly and see if he will crawl onto it. I warn you, he tickles, so don't flinch ma'am."
The Admiral slowly raised her right arm as George had said and Undepodus obligingly crawled onto it. He crawled up onto her shoulder and found no easy route to her left shoulder. She was wearing a tee shirt that had been given her to replace the blouse and jacket she had been wearing. She sensed that he was trying to find a way across to her left shoulder so she bent her right arm and put her hand on her left shoulder to form a bridge for him. He progressed down towards her elbow then paused to inspect her cleavage. He pressed his brown patch against her chest for a few seconds then withdrew and made his way to her left shoulder. He then pressed his brown patch against her neck, under her ear. She found his touch pleasurable. "He is kissing me, how sweet! she said. She put her right hand on George's shoulder and Undepoldus used it to get back to George.
"He is a fascinating creature. I presume that the people who kidnapped me wanted to find out more about him. I wonder, why do you treat him as male when he does not appear to have any sex organs."
"Well ma'am." George began. You know that because most Spacers are female, it has become a tradition to treat all processors with a personality as male and give them male voices. This little chap is like a living processor. He has a personality, and Undepoldus is a male-sounding name."
"That is good enough for me." replied the Admiral. What are your plans for Mr. Undepoldus?
"He is only very small now but we had planned to arrange special accommodation for him when he gets bigger. We estimate that he will grow to between fifty and one hundred metres long. That was one of the purposes of your visit. We wanted to ask you to support our suggestion that a building should be provided for him in Regent's Park in conjunction with the British Fauna Preservation Trust. It will provide a place where the public can see him where he will be safe and a proper supply of minerals can be provided for him to eat."
"Would he like that?"
"We don't know. We haven't asked him. However, he will need somewhere to live, he will need to be protected and he will need a regular supply of his chosen food. Pardon me ma'am, but you should realise that I was deputed to tell you all this when you arrived. I ended up telling it all to the imposter." George paused. "With respect ma'am I suggest that we adjourn from here and reconvene in the lounge or the dining room in half an hour."
"Of course Lieutenant. Your presumption is justified. I am sure that all of us would like to freshen up and continue our discussion in more informal surroundings. Leonov, do you concur?"
"Affirmative ma'am. I am sure that Lieutenant Dawson would like to get back into her own clothes."
Martha had apparently been quite content to remain in her bare-chested state but appreciated the Rear Admiral's discreet reference to her situation.
"As you wish sir." she said.
The rendezvous was left open, but many of the group who helped
to rescue the Admiral arrived in the dining room a short time
later. Marita joined them and was curious to know about everything
that had happened that day. George summarised the events for her.
After she had heard the narrative she asked. "What was the
motivation for these people?"
George said. "I don't know Marita. There are occasional oddballs who find an excuse to have a grudge against Spacers but this group had the elements of an organisation behind it. The actress was hired, so she was not involved. There were four men and one woman in London and three in Southampton who were arrested today. The London group has been charged with kidnapping and the Southampton group has been charged with conspiracy to kidnap. Superintendent Abdullah said that none of the people arrested would admit to anything when they were charged."
"What about the plan for a building for Undepoldus?"
"Admiral van Wijk has already been in touch with the council secretary. We may hear what they propose to do later this evening. Their time is several hours behind us, they are probably having lunch."
"How is Undepoldus?"
He is here, Marita, where he usually parks. He seems to like resting on my collar at the moment."
"You didn't answer my question George. I asked how is he, not where is he?"
"He seems to be OK. He doesn't say much. He had a meal of rocks about half an hour ago and drank a little water. Then he came and sat on my collar again. I have the feeling that he is a little bigger and heavier than he was yesterday but I have not measured him. I will have some idea how fast he is growing when he finds it difficult to rest on my collar."
"George, thank you for what you did today."
"What was that Marita?"
"The Commander said that you had told him about my bed problem. He asked Charlie to arrange things so that any male Spacer would love to come to see me in my room at any time and then would not want to leave. When I saw it I could hardly believe my eyes. It is a larger room than I slept in last night. It had to be because the bed is nearly four metres long and three metres wide. The room decorations would suit a princess. The holo mirror is a voyeur's dream.
As soon as I sat on the bed, the bed robot asked me what level of levitation I wanted. I said five centimetres. The robot told me I had to lay full length on the bed before the levitation circuits would operate. when I was lying comfortably I felt my weight decrease until I was floating. I then said. 'Raise me to fifty centimetres.' It was quite not like free fall but more like floating in dry water. It felt perfect. I would have gone to sleep then if the robot had not said. 'Madam, if you wish to sleep, please remove your clothes for your own comfort. If you do not wish to sleep now, I will continue to talk to you to keep you awake. I said. 'Lower me slowly until levitation has ceased.' It was dream-like. It was like the bed came up to meet me. There was no sensation of movement. I am sure that you would love to see it but I am not sure if you would like to share with me tonight. Would you?"
"Marita, I have been waiting for you to ask to share with me for ages. You know the unwritten protocol. A request from a male Spacer is usually taken as an invitation to a long-term or even a permanent share. I will be delighted to sample the delights of your new bedroom tonight."
Marita beamed. "Oh George, you don't know how happy that makes me. You have made my day." Marita's smile vanished suddenly. "Oh George, what shall we do with Undepoldus? We can't let him come between us."
"Don't worry Marita. I shared with Sil last night and Undepoldus left us alone. He had a small tank with rocks and water in it. He stayed in his tank until we went to sleep. When I woke this morning I found him lying between Sil's breasts. When Sil woke she was pleased that he had chosen to rest on her. She tried to stroke him but found that it was not a very pleasant thing to do. It is like stroking a scrubbing brush. As she lay there on the bed, Undepoldus began to explore her body. She was happy to let him go anywhere he wanted to. If you have any doubts, ask her. I am sure that she will tell you that it was a pleasant experience."
"Well, that is a relief George. I was wondering how he could be cared for if we had to keep him outside."
"Marita, I will arrange that a tank of rocks and water is delivered to your room for Undepoldus. I have no great desire to wait to hear the Council's decision. If you haven't either, I will join you in your room shortly."
"Oh George, you are a darling!" Marita replied.
The next section covers the introduction of Undepoldus to the public.
Viewers familiar with this subject may pass on to the following section.
Please select PASS or CONTINUE.