Wanted-7 Fearless Engineers! - Cover

Wanted-7 Fearless Engineers!

Public Domain

Chapter V: Voyaging to Another World

During each waking period, Barrow spent many hours in the room with the miniature domes. They were beautiful models, which could be opened or moved as desired, by small levers on the foundation. Wires as fine as hairs were strung from one spot to another, while metal the size of thread represented heavy cables.

Slowly, an understanding of the strange civilization formed in Dick’s mind, and he drew sectional maps of the location of all mechanical equipment. Other maps pictured the streets, so that it would be easy to reach any desired destination. When this was done, Morquil sent one of his men down to make as many copies as desired. Each engineer was to have a complete set.

The earthmen had learned to keep track of the time according to the system on the ship. Each “lix” included the time spent in sleep as well as one waking period. It was twenty-seven hours in length, but they all thought of it as a day.

Each lix was divided into thirty-six “migs.” Each mig being just forty-five minutes in length. They were able to keep track of each mig, by their watches, although the time pieces were useless for any other purpose.

One lix, Dick returned the friendly smile of a member of the crew, and to his amazement the man spoke. “Chickiboo.” For a moment Barrow was stumped, then realized that it must be a greeting.

When he was greeted the same way, by a second and then a third man, he tried to imitate the words. The man from Jupiter was so pleased that he almost danced, then spoke again. “Gootmording.”

Dick’s jaw almost dropped open; the man was trying to speak English!

Suddenly Barrow laughed. Morquil had been instructing his crew in the strange language, as well as telling them to greet the earthmen in their own tongue. He must speak about holding classes to learn the language. They would have to understand it, and the sooner they started the easier it would be.

The following lix, Dick stopped on the ramp to the machinery hold to listen. McCarthy was humming the tune of a song that had been the rage at home, but the words were “chicki-boo--chicki-boo--chicki-boo.”

Barrow smiled as he approached, but the big Irishman didn’t realize the reason. He was almost bursting with news.

“I’ve got it, Dick! I’ve found the key! Don’t laugh, but I’ve discovered the working principle of this little machine, and it will lead to the secret of all others. In a month I’ll know how this crate runs.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not laughing, John. I think it’s great that you’ve got this far. I only wish the others would show as much interest. Not one of them has been down here for more than a few minutes, and they know little more than when we started.”

“Aw! Don’t take it that way, Dick. It isn’t their fault. Didn’t you ever see their wives? Those women won’t let the men out of their sight for three minutes. Your wife and mine are different--they trust us! If we tell ‘em the ship’s okay, it’s okay; but them--say, they can’t tell their wives anything. The women in their families do all of the talking.”

Dick laughed, but knew that it was close to the truth. The other men in the party were tied to their wives’ apron strings. Aside from Dolores and Eileen McCarthy, none of the women trusted the space ship. They were afraid it might fly to pieces at any moment, although they had overcome their fear enough to find means of entertainment.

Small devices in the cabin showed miniature movies, with words in the tongue of the dome cities. Discovering this created desire to understand the language, and they eagerly attended the classes.

One lix Dick found Jerold Brown examining a piece of machinery. A few lix later Andrew Smith had joined him. Soon every earthman was spending his time in the machinery hold, with McCarthy acting as instructor. He would accept no excuse for being late at his classes--and they all arrived on time!

Weeks slipped by as the ship drove on through space. The earthmen learned to admire the men from Jupiter for their constant good-nature, although they were slightly childish.

The crew of engineers were slowly learning the rudiments of Jupiter’s science. Barrow through his study of the domes, and McCarthy through study of the machines, far surpassed the others. At times both men spent hours in the model room, at others Dick examined the machines beside the Irishman. They compared notes until each knew the other’s findings.

Dick took all the men into the model room once every third lix, and spent four hours instructing them in the civilization. Each man had his own set of maps, and marked down facts about his future location. Dick copied their notes on a large map, that covered all the cities. They used numbers to signify different mechanisms, to make it easier to describe equipment that was duplicated in more than one dome.

In a month they were able to carry on light conversation, and from then on mastery of the language was faster. The women far surpassed the men, due to desire for entertainment.

When he was able to question the crew, Dick received a terrible shock. They knew less about the ship’s operation than his own men! They didn’t understand their own equipment!

The people of the domes were content to enjoy the mechanical wonders of their ancestors--without bothering about how they ran. They used equipment for every purpose, without the slightest interest in why it worked. The earthmen suddenly realized what a gigantic task they faced. Seven men--to rebuild a civilization!

The men at the controls knew what reaction would take place by movement of a lever, but didn’t understand why! Dick became slightly worried about reaching their destination--it was beyond all reason. Earthmen wouldn’t have attempted to operate equipment they knew nothing about, by movement of controls to obtain the proper action.

The source of this story is SciFi-Stories

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