Day 35 Sunrise plus 1 Hour.
With two sections up already I was assembling the third section of the tower when Sabbu walked up.
“The young Aussie down at the landing field said you wanted to see me?”
“Yeah Sabbu, when I finish here and turn this thing on in the morning, you are going to need to reposition all your comm cells. This will be the new central node and you should be able to expand our envelope quite greatly. This one would never get certified by the World Communications Commission.”
“OK Andy, what worth a shit ever got approved by the WCC?”
“Sabbu, is that a trick question or an insult to my intelligence?”
“How about a trivia quiz with no correct answer, great for bar bets. Anyway what you got?” Without further talk he moved to the improvised weatherproof enclosure and opened the cover. “Cripes, for sure this thing won’t pass specs; what does it put out and where the frack did you get this thing?”
“First, that’s two of the circuit boards we used to distract security way back at the shuttle up to Lancer. Second, it puts out 500 Watts and I have a 12 dbi Dipole to chunk it into, once I get this damn tower up.”
“OK Andy, that takes care of the radio; but where the frack did this tower come from?”
“Scrap angle iron, supports from the inside of the cargo containers, excess support structures from the mining operation on Mayflower, and a base plate we bought off of Hibbs. We have been planning this since about Day three but, things kept getting in the way. It went up the priority list the last couple of days.
“We are going to side mount the omni for local at 35 ft. and on the top at 42 ft. is going to be a steerable Dish for comms to space.”
“I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record but, where the frack did you get a dish.”
“When we gutted the cargo container for the support ribs, Walt took the metal of the sides and manually beat it into a dish.” I grinned at Sabbu, “and I can gen up a cassegrain feed by rubbing two boy scouts together.”
“OK,” said Sabbu, “that’s the easiest dish to make but, why the rush?”
“Three reasons. We need it, it’s going to take Tim all night to tie into both nets and I still have a team out at risk. I can’t go stumbling around looking for them without comms.”
“All right, I’m convinced. What do you want me to do and where are we running the feeds?”
“Sabbu, I have every bot I can spare up at f-38 dragging home a slizzard carcass I need somebody to assemble the sections so I don’t have to climb up and down. The feeds go right here,” pointing to a pipe in the ground; “you are standing on the roof of the Security Center.”
With Sabbu to assist the tower went up quickly. We put guy wires at 20 ft. and 40 ft. to the support rods that had been driven by the bots when they poured the base in back on Day 30. Or back before the world changed.
We were ready to pull up the tracking pivot for the dish (a hip joint from a salvaged Mayflower excavation bot), when I looked down and saw Jaisa Benjamin finish the last lash. I kept my face carefully neutral and started the pull on the rope.
Pretending to watch the double pulley for a bind, I kept one eye on Jai; especially on her eyes. I could see a little glint there for getting something done but, there was a dark background there that could not be missed.
Mid-afternoon we had the antennas up, the cables connected and fed into the Security Center and I was dressing them to the tower as I made my way down. I was still high enough to see the female slizzard coming around the bluff to the lab with Sgt. Nug in charge of a 8 bot drag team.
Back on the ground I looked at Sabbu and Jai, “Well it’s on Tim now. If the team is not back by the morning, I go hunting.”
Sabbu grinned and Jai gave me a look of pure worry. “Jai, I don’t think they are in trouble but, they are still my command!”
Her look gave me my first hint of hope for a young girl who had been through hell.