Sardath opened his eyes. He prodded the keypad into giving him a location fix, and he smiled when he saw that he had crossed the globe from California to Australia in about three seconds.
But he saw that he was a little off from his calculated position. Still, his keypad fed a small sensor reading to his eye as it detected the Rannian ship buried for so many years and then discovered by the human McCabe and this Adam Blake and his team.
If only it could provide a means to travel home. He was sure, though, it was a wreck only fit for salvage. Still, it might be enough to increase the range on the teleporter he had built from Mr. Carter’s museum.
Sardath followed his sensor to an indentation in the ground. Spindly shrubs had grown up as a cover to the burial place.
The blond alien pondered the problem for some time, not caring about the hot sun and glare. Rann had hotter days than this. He wondered how he was going to get to the relic from the past. He had not thought to bring tools with him. He realized he had been in too much of a hurry to reach his goal and hadn’t thought ahead.
Sardath checked his sensor for anything that might be useful. He found that, whatever type of ship it was, it had suffered a full power loss and was missing most of its mass.
Something then occurred to him. He walked to the rear of the detected mass, playing with his keypad.
When Rann had possessed star flight, certain sections could be commanded from the outside the craft if you had the encrypted code. One of these sections contained the escape pods that most spacecraft carried. The codes could be used to fire the pods from outside to grant crash teams access without having to cut through the hull.
Sardath sat down to wait after programming his keypad to search for and send the fire command. He didn’t know how long he had to wait, but he felt he had nothing but time.
Eventually, after Sardath had waited for a while, two plumes of dirt suddenly leaped straight up and fell in a small shower across the area. He brushed himself off after the last of the dirt had fallen.
The escape pods were still in place where their covers had been blown out. Firing one of them into the air, however, would do more than merely rain dirt.
Sardath examined the two pods and their cradles and found a manual release to open the cradles’ grapples. He punched the lever, praying that time hadn’t corrupted the workings. He waited as the holding arms opened slowly. He had a way to get aboard the buried ship and look around.
Hopefully it would also provide a means to go home. Earth was a nice place to visit, but he didn’t want to live there.
Sardath pressed the external switch on one of the escape pods. What he needed was to be able to fly the pod out of the cradle. That would leave the airlock unobstructed.
The cockpit of the escape pod slid back to allow access to the pilot’s seat. The controls were at once familiar and strange to Sardath. It had been some time since Rannians had a grip on the sky. Personal flying machines were restricted to the Emperor’s private guardians, just like weapons were restricted, and just like research was restricted.
Sardath climbed into the cockpit. He tried to identify the various instruments with a visual exam, as he had a working knowledge of the things involved, thanks to his forbidden research. Time to try out what he knew.
He flicked on the ignition and listened to the engine purr. Sardath smiled.
The escape pod bounced up out of its cradle under Sardath’s shaking hands. He floated it forward as gently as he could. He thought he was doing a good job for his first time.
He thumped the vehicle hard against the ground as he landed it and cut the ignition. Historically, escape pods were known to be fragile as glass. His inspection revealed nothing, so he breathed a sigh of relief.
Then he climbed down in the cradle and pushed buttons, but the access hatch refused to open.
Sardath frowned in thought. He went back to the pod and reached inside, pulling out a detachable box from its small compartment. He placed the box under the stubborn lock, then flipped its lid up. He smiled at the contents laid out for his use.
A laser cutter was the first thing he selected. Its thin, shining blade ate at the panel for the door lock. In seconds, the metal cover laid on the ground.
Sardath replaced the cutter with a set of clamps, which he used to clamp the individual wires for the door into two bunches.
He cut the wires easily with the energy blade. Then he clamped the ends together. He took a small surger out and clamped that to the wires. He pushed the trigger on the surger.
The metal hatch complained as it tried to slide open under the command from the altered wires. Sardath put his shoulder to the hatch, trying to push the heavy door out of his way. When he had enough room, he slid inside the derelict.
Sardath started by searching for anything he could make work, but it was very dark, with his only supply of light being that which shone down through the open hatch above. So the first thing he needed was a source of light other than the laser cutter, which was back in its box.
Cautiously searching each room he could find that was close to the escape pod bay, Sardath eventually found a light square under a wrecked crew bunk. He activated it, smiling at the change the bright omnidirectional beam made in the formerly gloomy corridor.
He went back to his search with a calm patience, expecting to find a treasure trove of some kind with the light of the cube to guide him.
Sardath quickly amassed the tools he needed to modify his device back at the museum. All he needed were materials and a power source to last a single jump to his laboratory.
He would need a way to cross the ocean indicated by the globe Harry Carter had pointed out. He already had a small idea about that. First he needed the materials. It was time that he planned instead of jumping into things without consideration.
Searching the broken hull quickly and surely, he gathered every spare part he could and loaded them in foot lockers with protective padding scavenged from bunks. Then he turned his attention to acquiring the power source he needed.
Sardath made his way to the engineering section, his keypad sending an all-clear signal to any interior defenses that might still be in operation as he went. He shook his head at the devastation he encountered. The main drive in the center of the room had been completely ripped from its base. Uniforms were all that were left of the crew, as time had corroded the corpses to dust.
He quickly checked for the power crystal that went in the main drive tube. He saw footprints in the dust and a regular outline on the floor. It was an easy assumption that the person who had taken the guardian helmet had also taken the crystal.
Frowning, Sardath realized that it might not be as easy as he had thought. Then, surveying the section with the help of his light cube, he saw just what he needed on the wall. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so difficult, after all.
Sardath went to the wall and keyed the instrument in his arm for several seconds. A door popped open. The scientist smiled at the locker’s contents.
Inside were several power crystals of varying size. All he needed to do was charge them. Then he could load them into a beam generator and use them to power his teleporter. Sardath placed the crystals in a light metallic box.
He had everything he needed now except for a working teleporter beam home. That would surely be child’s play to obtain, now that he had a plan.
Back at the Hero Museum in California, Sardath looked at his new teleporter. Harry Carter had helped him disassemble and reassemble the device on the roof of the building. The escape pod rested in front of the cannon barrel as coordinate calculations were performed and checked for accuracy.
Sardath aimed the barrel into the night sky, trying to match his aim with Rann’s orbit.
“Are you sure about this?” Harry asked.
“Yes… I… am… sure,” said Sardath. “Goodbye. Thank… you… for… the… food.”
Sardath climbed into the escape pod. The flight across the ocean had given him time to practice the controls. He smoothly stepped through his startup and lifted the small aircraft off the rooftop. He hovered in place as he waited for the target to enter the firing limit.
Finally, the signal beeped at him in his ear. The cannon fired automatically. Then several key components melted down.
The scientist was on his way.
Days after the execution of the renegade Sardath of Ranagar, an area in the barren Glass Mountains suffered a small tremor. The cause was undetermined by the Science Council, so the matter was set aside until some type of study could be done.
It was noted that something fell from the sky near there, but an impact crater was nonexistent. These two facts were linked together by the advisors to the Emperor, but none would hazard a guess on what it meant.