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My muscular two meter frame is well proportioned in complete accordance with my height and weight. I have brown hair, and steel blue eyes, that some say, can look right through a person. I'm of dark complexion, do to my French ancestry. Although, I hate to admit it, I'm a proud man, bent toward stubbornness, and have a rather short temper. Being a highly competitive person, I hate to loose at anything I contend in, and hate failure at anything I attempt!
I've been told, I'm a rather handsome fellow, and although, I've known quite a few lady friends, and have even went with one or two fairly steady, none of them held any lasting entrust for me. My father married late in life, and it looks as if I will probably do the same? For now, I'm just playing around.
The forth moon of Jupiter is a frontier world, but we do have advanced technology. There is only one major city and a few sparse villages on the entire moon, with a few thousand square miles devoted to agriculture. Looking down from the stratosphere, it looked like one huge farm.
In the late nineteenth century, J-4 was thought to have a hydrogen atmosphere, but upon closer scrutiny, by deep space probes, later it was determined that the dense cloud cover seen by the early deep space probes, was caused by thermal air currents and violent volcanic activity in the mountains.
J-4s molten core made it one of the few extraterritorial bodies beyond Mars capable of sustaining life as we know it, much less have the right conditions for agriculture.
A large sea covered more than half the surface, while nearly a forth was cross patched by irrigation canals, those canals gave it the same appearance as grid lines on a navigational map. Those canals were absolutely necessary to the farming of J-4, due to the, highly arid, lower planes and very few natural streams flowing from the mountains.
Large reservoirs had been built in the mountains, and the water was channeled from them to the farmlands below via the canals.
J-4 had only one space port, but it was more than capable of handling any and all incoming and outgoing freighters. With the newer, more efficient, nuclear engine capability shuttle craft were no longer needed to lift cargo to and from space. Since J-4 had only two thirds Earths gravity, and the food stuffs were all pre-processed, a single freighter could handle an enormous payload.
The spaceport was located thirty kilometers south east of the mountain range and the city five kilometers west of that. Our farm was located ten kilometers south of the city.
Our family has farmed this land since the first Earth colony was established on J-4 some five hundred years ago. We haven't become rich, but we have always been able to make a good living. The first few years were hard, but my family was tough and did prevail.
I was born at home, as were the past fifteen generations. I was a rather gifted boy and was already talking by the end of my first year. By age four, I was already able to read and write. By my tenth birthday, taught by my mother, who had been a teacher before I was born, and with the aide of a computer, I was at college level.
I spent the next four years at Mars Central Institute where I added astrophysics, electronics, communications, and advanced horticulture to my repertoire. Because of my age, I had few friends at the institute. Because of that, I took up flying, as a hobby. It gave me something to do in my spare time, and I became quite proficient at it.
After graduation, I returned to J-4 and home. I studied horticulture only to please my father fore I had no interest in farming at all.
My real interest was in space exploration. That fascinated me. I would often sit fore hours, in the evening, looking up at the stars and wondering what lay beyond my own solar system? I would sit for hours listening to my grandfather tell stories about the Earth with its one moon and twenty-four hour day, and the final war that nearly annihilated mankind. Stories that had been handed down for generations, and I wondered just how much of them were true, and how much was just tall tail?
As a youngster, I was always in trouble for one thing or another. There was the time that I was playing around with electrical experiments, in my room, and blew all the electrical circuits in the house. That resulted in a terrible spanking, and the, immediate, removal of all the equipment from my room to a shed, far, away from the house.
I can still remember that, even though I was only nine at the time. But the worst time was when I had just returned from the institute! That time, my family was not the only ones involved in my mischievousness.
I was in very serious trouble with the spaceport authority. My problem had been that I should have known that my, experimental, high intensity, transmitter would disrupt the spaceport com-link transmissions. My electronics expertise should have told me that would happen, since both transmitters were on such close proximity frequencies, although, I hadn't known the spaceport frequency until the accident happened.
As a result of that innocent, disruption of communication, I received a severe reprimand from the local authorities. Yet, as a result of talks, that ensued, with the port commissioner, I was guaranteed a permanent job, in the telecommunications division, at the spaceport upon graduation.
Most of my idle time, after my return from the Mars Institute was spent, hunting small game, or fishing the reservoirs to the north. I also liked to experiment with new ideas for electrical equipment, mostly in the field of telecommunications. But fishing has to be my favorite pastime. My father and I had spent a lot of time, up at the reservoirs before I went off to college.
Once the crops were in, my father and I would take a one or two week fishing trip. Since we had automatic watering systems, after the first harvest, the fields could go for weeks without any attention.
My love of hunting originated while I was at the Mars Institute. A student, who didn't seem to mind the difference in our ages, had been both a father and friend to me while I was at college. He taught me how to hunt, with both a laser rifle for food, and with a camera for sport.
My mother didn't like the idea of me hunting and fishing in the mountains alone, but she didn't appose my father's decision to let me do so
I had just reached my eighteenth birthday when I faced, what just might be, the biggest decision of my entire life? I had to decide whether to stay on the farm, as my parents wanted, or take a job that had been offered me at the spaceport, contingent upon my turning eighteen and graduating college.
Although it had been four years ago, the offer was still open, I was told it would remain open, giving me a chance to make up my mind. It was not an easy decision to make. I needed time alone to think things out.
I loaded up a camp cruiser with enough provisions for two weeks and headed off for the mountains to be alone and think.
I arrived at one of the reservoirs late in the morning, and by early afternoon had my camp setup. I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking of what my parents response would be if I were to take the job at the port?
Night had long since fallen. Two of Jupiter's other moons were high in the sky, and their light gave the effect that the day had hardly waned at all, and the night air had a brisk chill in it. Still, I hadn't moved. I sat staring off across the lake, watching the moonlight dance on the ripples of the lake's surface.
Heavy, black, clouds were forming off to the southwest. It would be raining before the long night was over. I got up and entered the cruiser. The sides and back of the cruiser folded out to form a shelter five and one half by four and one half meters s, being quite large for one or two persons, and was completely self-contained, including extra ion storage batteries and generator.
I activated the lights as I entered, stepped over to the thermal transducer unit and activated it also. It would get rather chilly before night was over. After making a cup of coffee, I sat down again, and gazed off across the lake.
Storm clouds were obscuring the moons now, and lightning ran across the sky in, brilliant, jagged patterns. The sound of thunder rolled through the mountains, echoing, like the explosions of some faraway cannon shells.
Moments later, the first drops of rain began to spatter the ground behind the cruiser's lounge deck. In a few more minutes, it would be coming down in torrents, and the wind was picking up. I just sat, watching the storm carry the rain in under the deck cover, and lost in thought. Starting to get wet, I went back inside, fixed myself a meal, exercised, and then retired.
Five of Jupiter's moons were high in the sky when I awoke from a long night of tossing and turning. Even in my sleep, my problem rose to the surface. I poured myself a cup of coffee and set down at the, small, drop-leaf table. I sat sipping the coffee, gazing out over the lake, and pondered the decision that I would eventually have to make. Long minutes passed while I sat there motionless. Suddenly, I banged the table with my fist and stood up.
"Damn it", I said aloud, "I have to live my own life. I'm taking that job at the spaceport, no mater what mom and dad think," and with that, I picked up my fishing pole and headed for the lake.
I spent the rest of the two weeks fishing and hiking near the lake. All the while, I dreaded the time when I would have to tell my parents of my decision to take the telecom job, for I knew how disappointed they were going to be. However, my two weeks of leisure was up, and I would just have to face up to the distasteful task that was at hand. I packed up the cruiser and headed home.
The next day, I woke to see the sun shining through my bedroom window. I looked at my chronometer, and realized that I had slept way too late. I dressed and went down stairs.
"Mom", I yelled.
"In hear dear", Came the reply from the kitchen.
I went into the kitchen, poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat down at the table. I just sat there and said nothing.
"You've decided to take that job at the port haven't you son?" said my mother. "Yes mom, but how did you know," I replied?
"By the way you were acting. It isn't like you to sit and stare into your cup like that," she said.
"Are you terribly disappointed, mom?" I asked.
"No son, you have a grate gift and it would be a shame to waste it. Your father and I understand."
"I'll still help out until Jimmy is back from college to help dad. After all, the port is only about twelve minutes away by levi-cruiser," I said.
Jimmy was my senior, by a year, but was not endowed with my exceptional ability for quick learning, the means of which enabled me to graduate three years earlier than normal.
Unlike me, Jimmy was right at home on the farm, and loved working with his land. He would be home in another two years. Then I will be able to devote full time to my job at the port, and to the electrical research that was so fascinating.
I told my father, over lunch, of my decision to take the telecom job at the spaceport. After lunch, I went to the port, to talk to the Commissioner, and work out the details of the job.
For the next two years I shuttled back and forth, from the farm to the port, from port to the farm, helping out my father as much as possible. As time passed, I gained more responsibility at the port. It was becoming harder, and harder, on me.
Do to my quick learning ability, and photo memory, I advanced rapidly at the port. Now, at the end of two years, I have been named head of telecommunications. Jimmy will soon be home and I will really be glad of that! Trying to help out on the farm, and run my office, at the port, is really becoming quite a hassle.
Jimmy will be arriving on the planetary shuttle today. I busied myself doing paperwork, while I waited for the shuttle to arrive. I had missed my older brother these keeping my mind on my work.
Just before midday, the com-link, in my office, sprang to life.
"Planetary shuttle Paul Charlie three niner four to J L four control; entering standard orbit, request landing vector, and telemetry for final approach, over".
"JL four center to shuttle, Paul Charlie three niner four. Telemetry computer on, turn to vector 59, you are clear to start your approach decent at 90 feet per second. Touchdown will be on pad #3."
"Roger center, starting decent on vector 59 at 90 feet per second for touchdown on pad #3, e.t.a. fifty-eight minutes, over."
"Roger shuttle, we have you in the pipe 5 by 5, you have the ball, center clear."
"Roger center, shuttle clear."
I left my office, and headed for the pad, to wait for the shuttle. While on my way, I stopped off at the main terminal to take care of a few things, so by the time I reached the pad, the shuttle was on final approach.
After the shuttle had settled to the apron and cut it's engines, I ran, very, undignified, and unbefitting a man of my high position, to the ramp descending from the shuttle.
I began to wonder, as passenger after passenger descended, if possibly my brother had missed the flight? No, there he was, the last person to leave the ship. I ran up the ramp and hugged him close.
"God, it's been a long time," I said.
"It's sure has," replied Jimmy. "What have you been doing to keep out of trouble?"
"Oh, I've had plenty to keep me busy, Jim. You know that I'm head of communications, here, now. With this job and trying to help out on the arm too, I've had plenty to do, so, I've no time to get into any trouble. In fact, I've had to let my research go for lack of time. But, enough about me, let's go to the port lounge, have lunch, and talk about what you've been up to."
"Sounds good," Jim replied.
Arriving at the lounge, they ordered sandwiches and two, large, brandies.
"Well Jim, do you still plan to work the farm with dad, or have you changed your mind since you went off to college?" I asked.
"No, nothing's changed, except that I have some new growing techniques that I want to try out, and I'm going to have to start building a house pretty soon."
"Why can't you stay, in your old room, at the house," I inquired. "I can, for a couple of years. But, by then I'll need a house of my own, because, I'm getting married as soon as Nina graduates"
"Woe, hold up, old son. Who's this Nina?" I asked.
"Nina Watson," replied Jim. "Sean, you've never seen such a girl! She's the smartest, most witty girl I ever met."
"You sure kept her a secret. How long have you been building up to this," I asked?
"I met her a year ago, at a party, and we hit it right off. We've been going together ever since. We decided on marriage just before I left Mars." "She has the loveliest sky-blue eyes you've ever seen. Her hair is like corn silk, and when she smiles, its pure heaven, like the kiss from a goddess"
"You sure got it bad," I said.
"She's about one and three quarter meters tall, and weighs one hundred and fifteen pounds," he continued
"Aside from all that, what makes her so grate, Just kidding Jim. She sounds, just, wonderful. When do we get to meet this, lovely creature?"
"Not until she graduates in two years," replied Jim.
"Well," I said, "let's get out to the farm. The folks are anxious to see you again." Leaving the spaceport, in my levi-cruiser, we headed for the farm, and a family reunion, long awaited.
Excerpted from PATHWAY TO DESTRUCTION by William Potter Copyright © 2011 by William Potter. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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