Gold Star by Zach Hughes

By Zach Hughes

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When the gongs echoed throughout the ship it meant one of two things: Either a Blinkstat directed to the 47 was coming in or the detection equipment had sensed the pre-arrival signal of a blinking ship. If either of those things had happened the gongs would still have been bonging. The signal-indicator light was off. No Blinkstat, no call, no pre-arrival signal had come into the big bank of electronics. Pete sat down in the padded command chair and stared at nothing. He felt, rather than heard, Jan come into control.

He was a good officer, an all-around officer capable of command. He had dark good looks, and a flair for the dramatic word. "I assume, then, that you all felt something unusual," Richards said. " Paul asked. " Richards asked. "I don't know how it feels to have a baby," Evan said. "I felt something. " "Mine was something like that," Paul Victor said. "I was in the power room. I checked instruments while it was going on. Then I checked the tape. " The door opened and a control-room rating looked in.

He punched instructions into the keyboard which activated a system and pulled the readings from the beacon's tapes. The action recorded the 47's name, the time, the date on the beacon's tape. He saw that the beacon's tape had not been monitored in the past five years, a testimony to the remoteness of the range. He started a fast search of the tape. Two ships had passed the beacon in five years and then the reading was up-to-date, and, at the precise time recorded by the 47's computer there was, on the beacon's tape, that same ghostly signal.

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