This section covers the visit to Mr. Robinson's Company.
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Kerstin, Marita and George went to the construction company's headquarters the next day. None of them had visited Stanford le Hope before so the trip was a new experience for all of them. The girls carried their sets of juggling balls in very ordinary looking bags. Each bag contained four 7.26 kilogram shot put balls. George could carry two of the bags for a short distance but the girls made a point of showing that the bags were relatively light as they carried them.
Marita and Kerstin used different makeup and wore quite different outfits. Marita wore a dark blue two piece suit with a three-quarter length flowing coat. Kerstin wore a long white winter dress and a full length fake fur coat. Marita had a long hair blonde wig and a broad brimmed hat and Kerstin had a shorter brown hair wig with a petite fake fur cap. George wore a standard business pinstripe suit and a dark hair toupee. The three were unrecognisable as Spacers.
When they arrived George made the introductions. He said, "I
am George McFigg and these two ladies are Miss Marita Andersson
and Miss Kerstin Broberg. We have an appointment with your managing
director, Mr. Robinson."
The receptionist said, "I will just check with Mr. Robinson's secretary. I thought that Mr. Robinson had an appointment with three Spacer friends of Undepoldus this morning."
Marita said, "We are the friends of Undepoldus. Perhaps you might recognise me better with no clothes on." The receptionist blushed. Marita took her hat and wig off to emphasise her identity.
The receptionist called the secretary and told him that the expected visitors had arrived.
Mr. Robinson came though a door into the reception area a minute
or two later.
He said, "I am Derek Robinson. I am so glad that you could come. I must say that I would not have recognised you dressed as you are. You could easily pass for Oxford Street fashion models. Come with me to meet some of my staff."
He led the three into a dining room that doubled as a small entertainment hall. He gestured to his assembled staff to stay seated as he entered the room.
He said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I have great pleasure in presenting to you the three Spacers you saw who helped to rescue the worm Undepoldus a few days ago. I am proud to say that some of you helped in the rescue. You are a credit to the company. Would those who helped please stand up. I know that you have had a bit of ribbing from your workmates.
I contacted Undepoldus at Regent's Park to ask if he was satisfied with the help you gave. He said that you had helped a lot to save his life. I asked him about the work done by Miss Andersson and Miss Broberg here. He said that he would prefer it if I asked them directly. He had only seen a recording of what they had done. After that I invited them to come here and they have graciously accepted."
There was some polite applause.
Derek continued: "Undepoldus told me that Miss Anderson and Miss Broberg are jugglers with a difference. I would like a volunteer to carry their bags of equipment onto the stage while the ladies prepare to entertain you."
Several volunteered and Derek picked the one who looked strongest.
The man went to pick up the two bags together and strained valiantly to pick them up. He then struggled with one bag and managed to heave it onto the stage. One of his colleagues had a try with the other bag. Then the two men took one handle each in both hands to lift the bag more easily.
Marita opened her bag and took out a ball. She said to the
audience. I have heard that some of you think that the men who
helped us to save Undepoldus were weaklings. You have just seen
two others struggle with our bags. Are they weaklings? I can assure
you that they are fairly average. Kerstin and I have a big problem.
We know that we look like giants to you. When I was younger I
decided to try to make the most of my size. I was half as tall
again as most of my friends and I weighed twice as much as they
did. I took up athletics to get fit and found that the things
I could do best were field events like the discus and the shot
put. This is one of my shot put balls. I then thought that I could
develop strength in my arms by handling balls like this a lot
so I took up juggling."
Marita threw the ball into the air as she picked up another.
"I started with two balls like this and then added a third and finally a fourth." Marita demonstrated how she could juggle three balls with one hand while she picked up a fourth ball. Then she said. "I do not advise any of you to try this. If you drop one it could make a nasty hole in the floor."
The audience applauded.
Then Kerstin said. "I had heard a lot about Marita when I was a girl and I compared myself with her because I was as tall as she was. Marita was in space during the time I grew up so I thought that she would be middle aged when she came back to Earth. I was surprised to find that she didn't look much older than me and we looked quite similar. I was in the police when Marita came back. She was famous, particularly in Sweden where we come from, so I got the nickname "Space Girl" from my colleagues. I volunteered to be her double and bodyguard because of my police training. I had my face altered a little so that I could look exactly like Marita and I became her double. I knew that it was fairly well known that Marita could juggle with cannon balls so I would have to be able do the same if anyone challenged me. I can now."
Kerstin repeated Marita's juggling performance.
The audience applauded again.
Then Marita and Kerstin took off their wigs so that the audience could see how they looked alike.
There was more applause.
Marita gave Derek a ball to hold. He was so unprepared for its weight that he nearly dropped it. He used both hands to carry it. He then passed it to one of the men at the front of the audience with instructions to pass it around carefully.
Marita said. "I would like four girls to volunteer to
assist us. You will not have to juggle with cannon balls like
Four girls near the stage stood up and used the steps to get onto the stage. Marita told two of them to stand on either side of her and to clasp their hands with interleaved fingers above their heads and face her. Kerstin gave the other two similar instructions. The girls did not know quite what to expect until Marita and Kerstin lifted them up so that their feet were a metre off the ground. Then Marita and Kerstin lowered the four girls and asked if any of the men could copy their example. They had no volunteers but a lot more applause.
Derek said. "Now you have seen Miss Andersson and Miss
Broberg show that they are both as strong as two average men.
Miss Andersson was an Olympic discus champion 25 years ago. How
fit will you be in 25 year's time? I think that they have easily
demonstrated why the men who helped Undepoldus could not hope
to match them. They are among the strongest women in the world.
Miss Andersson is a university lecturer and Miss Broberg is still
a part time policewoman. They share a partner who has his own
strengths. It would be inappropriate for him to demonstrate his
capability here but I leave you to imagine how he manages to keep
these two beautiful ladies happy at night."
This last remark was rewarded with a lot of laughter.
He continued: "Undepoldus has provided me with a recording of the way he was rescued with a commentary by Josanne Milford. Mr. McFigg knows Undepoldus better than anyone else. His suggestions helped Undepoldus to survive his ordeal. The rescue took four hours but the recording condenses the episode to half an hour. The gallant volunteers who helped Undepoldus will be able to attend all of the forthcoming concerts that Undepoldus will organise during the next few months. The rest of you will receive a complimentary ticket for three of his concerts as a thank you to the company. The recording will be shown here during the lunch period. If you have any questions about the rescue or Undepoldus, our three guests will answer them for you."
George Marita and Kerstin were soon surrounded by the company
staff. Most of the questions were those that had been answered
many times before. Some were new.
One questioner asked. "How does Undepoldus make sounds and music?"
George said. "I am sure that at some time you have run your fingernail along the teeth of a comb. Combs make a vaguely musical sound according to the length of their teeth. You may also have heard the sound of wind blowing in long grass. Undepoldus has a very wide range of hairs and whiskers. Some are very short and stiff like the teeth of a comb. Others are long and flexible, a bit like long grass stems. He can control all his whiskers and hairs individually and make them vibrate to produce a sound. He also uses his hairs and whiskers to hear with. I don't know how he can combine the two functions but I know that he does. Because he is so big and has such complete control of his whiskers, he can talk to a lot of different people at once or make the sounds of a lot of musical instruments at once."
The questioner was still unsure so she asked. "How many conversations can Undepoldus have at once?
George said. "That depends on who he is talking to. If the conversations do not require a lot of analysis, I guess that he could manage up to 30. I know that he found it difficult to talk to 24 university students at once. Although he is incredibly intelligent, he finds it hard to cope with lateral thinking. I suppose it is a bit like a chess player trying to hold a conversation while he is playing. He can do either quite well separately but not both together."
George had the feeling that the lady could not comprehend the idea of one individual talking to more than one person at once.
Marita was asked about her formfit.
She said. "It is made of a special fibre produced from diamond. It is designed to be a protective suit that will even work in a vacuum with a helmet. If someone tried to stab me, I would be bruised but the knife could not penetrate it. Kerstin was shot in the leg by a pistol at short range. She had an enormous bruise but that was all. We Spacers wear formfits nearly all the time because they are so comfortable and protect us so well."
It was clear that many wanted to see Marita wearing nothing but her formfit but non-Spacer modesty prevented them from asking her. Marita was aware of this problem so she removed her outer clothes to show those around her what the formfit looked like. She said. "This is all I wear when I am on a space station or in a space craft. I do not need to wear anything else. Do not be afraid to touch the formfit. It feels smooth but it will wear out anything that rubs against it. I have trouble with ordinary clothes because I wear them out from the inside."
Marita stood still while several of the people around her timidly felt the texture of the formfit fabric. Eventually those around her had seen enough of what they thought was polite to look at. Marita then put her outer clothes back on to reduce the embarrassment of some of the men who were near her. George received less attention than Marita and Kerstin but he was used to the way non-Spacers looked at them. One girl who was as big and powerful as Marita would be regarded by many non-Spacers as someone who was not quite human. With two identical girls to look at, the non-Spacers treated them as if they were androids from a vidcom presentation. He had also seen that all of the people had looked at Marita's genital area in a way that they hoped would not be noticed. None had asked any questions about Marita's hygiene arrangements but all had shown that they were curious.
Derek announced that lunch would be served shortly and invited the three to join him at his table.
He said. "Thank you very much for coming today. Undepoldus told me what I could expect from you and how my staff would react. He was completely right in every respect. He said that there would be questions that would not be asked about your relationships and hygiene arrangements. He also said that my people would think that you were not the same as ordinary humans although you are in every respect.
Kerstin said. "I used to think a bit that way before I became involved with Spacers. Last year Spacers seemed to me somewhat like the Greek gods on Mount Olympus. They could do wonderful things and were not at all like ordinary people. Now I know that Spacers are very human. They help the people of Earth whenever they can but insist that the help is never acknowledged. I think that I am lucky to be in the position that I find myself in now. If more people knew what it is really like to be a Spacer, they would want to be Spacers too."
Derek said. "If I was twenty again, I think that I would like to be a Spacer now I have met you and learned a lot about you from Undepoldus. Undepoldus told me something that I find it difficult to understand. He said that Spacers produce their own coinage but receive no salaries. How can that be?"
George said. "Spacers do not normally own anything. Our only possessions are very personal items like images of families and friends. Anything else we need either temporarily or permanently is provided for us. We do not need money to buy anything because anything we want is free. We use Spacer coins for small expenses on Earth although non-Spacers treat them as jewels."
Derek asked. Are all Spacers treated the same?"
Marita answered. "The only differences we have are in Spacer ranks. Our ranks are largely courtesy titles that reflect ability and experience but include an element of a military chain of command for administrative purposes. An admiral gets the same treatment as a cadet. Her needs may be different but neither receives a salary."
Derek was still curious. He asked. Why is Undepoldus giving concerts everywhere?"
George answered. "Undepoldus wants to have his own launch vehicle to start to travel back to where he came from but he wants to buy it with Earth money to avoid disturbing the Earth's economy. The Spacers League will provide his inter-stellar space ship. Undepoldus likes human music and he loves to perform it because he knows that the way he performs it makes a lot of people happy. He has just made use of the existing market for music as a source of income."
Derek said. "Thank you for explaining things for me. When I spoke to Undepoldus he told me that he loves you three and has great respect for all the Spacers he has met. Today I have had the chance to meet you and understand why Undepoldus thinks of you in the way that he does."
George said. "Thank you for the implied compliment Derek. I would also like to thank you for taking the trouble to find out what we are like before you invited us to come here. Your staff have only seen us as curiosities. They could do well to learn more about Spacers in general. If they want to learn more about us, they can call Undepoldus at any time on the vidcom and ask any questions they like. Although we refer to Undepoldus as "he", he is neuter in all senses of the word. He can describe all Spacer activities dispassionately."
Derek said. "I must tell him how your visit was received today. I can also offer him some work if he wants it. There are a lot of projects that could use his tunnelling ability. I saw how long it took him to make a tunnel near Tilbury. It would have taken us weeks to do what he did in less than an hour."
George said. "You will have to discuss that with Undepoldus. I am sure that he likes to do useful things for people but he has a problem with his weight. He is too heavy for almost all conventional transport systems. He weighs about 950 tonnes."
Derek said. "That is the sort of transport problem that I often have to deal with. I will talk to him and see what we can arrange."
Marita, Kerstin and George took their leave after lunch.
The next section covers the queries received by Undepoldus from Mr. Robinson's staff.
Viewers familiar with this subject may pass on to the following section.
Please select PASS or CONTINUE.