had checked the communications link between the Ministry's computers and the implants he'd installed inside of Astro and Atlas. The blue and red robot had given him the usual ration of crap during the procedure, but in the end Atlas accepted the procedure rather well, for him anyway.
led the way towards the coordinates that the radio telescopes had provided for the track of the unknown signal's source, Atlas followed him closely. Their progress was being monitored in the Ministry's laboratory by Dr. O'Shay and Reno. Uran and Cobalt stood quietly behind them, their eyes glued to the computer monitors.
I've got a bad feeling about this, Uran blurt out.
I don't like this much either, the professor agreed, but it seems we don't have much choice in the matter.
I should be up there with them, Cobalt voiced.
Uran grabbed her brother and turned him towards her so she could look at his eyes. She sighed with relief to see that they were still their usual cobalt blue color.
should see the damn thing by now, Atlas muttered. Aren't we in the right orbit right now?
Almost. Astro replied. I have a feeling that it will show itself to us when it's good and ready.
No sooner than he'd said that, Astro felt a tinkling feeling in the back of his neck. Do you feel something Atlas, he asked.
I think so, his companion replied, If I had any hairs on my arms they would be standing on end right now.
About the same here, Astro answered. I think it knows we are here. See anything yet?
No. Atlas answered. I don't even see nothing. It's totally invisible.
Suddenly the sun disappeared from view. The two robots found themselves in the shadow of a large dark object that had materialized between them and the nearest star.
Whow!, what an entrance! Atlas cried out.
The object was huge, easily several times the size and mass of the ISS. Jet black in color, it actually stood out against the inkiness of space itself by being even darker. If it wasn't for its irregular shape, they could have thought they had encountered a black hole.
You seeing this, Hakase? Astro asked.
Yes, your video feed is coming in fine, O'Shay replied. Can you get a closer image?
I'm not going to get any closer to it yet, Astro replied, But I can zoom my vision in for you.
Astro adjusted his telescopic sight to a 10x zoom. Even then the object still showed nothing distinctive, it remained a dark shape without any surface texture.
I think it's still obscuring itself by selective reflection and refraction of light, Reno said.
Perhaps in another wavelength?
OK, I'll try that. Astro said, Switching to deep infrared.
No good, Reno said. It's still indistinct.
Then I'll go the other way, Astro replied as he shifted his visual sensors to the far ultraviolet.
That's done it! Reno gasped.
The mystery satellite suddenly snapped into detail. Its surface was covered with depressions and conical surfaces. Other structures extending out from the surface of the body appeared to be the lenses of thousands of telescopes. The thing is a huge monitoring post, Reno suggested, It's covered with antennas of all shapes and sizes. I bet it's been monitoring the Earth in every wavelength from the low RF to the ultraviolet, maybe even into the x-ray region.
And it's been transmitting too, the Professor added.
tapped Astro on the shoulder and pointed at the slowly rotating object that now filled their field of view. Look, I see a door opening in that thing!
Astro zoomed his vision in on the spot that Atlas pointed too. Sure enough, a bright spot had formed on the surface of the satellite where a hatch had slowly opened. It looks like they've sending us an invite, Astro said, I can sense it almost telepathically.
Yeah, me too, Atlas agreed.
Hakase, Astro radioed back. I think we're going inside for a look-see. The red carpet has been rolled out.
I don't like it, Reno replied, but I agree. Approach the thing slowly and don't commit yourself until you're absolutely sure. Give the thing time to make the first move.
Hai!, Astro agreed. Maybe if we tease it, it might show its hand before we get too close to back off.
And maybe it won't attack, Atlas said. I don't think the Black Knight is malevolent.
How would you know? Reno asked.
I don't, Atlas answered, It's just a strong feeling. I'm sure it's a friend.
A friend of robots, maybe, Astro said, who knows what it's intentions are to mankind.
Don't engage me in that argument right now, buddy! Atlas said curtly.
Right! Astro sighed. Now I've got two things to worry about. Don't turn against me Atlas, I'll blast you with my surge cannon if I have to.
Don't threaten me. Atlas yelled back. Let's concentrate on the task ahead.
I will, Astro grumbled, but I won't let you turn on me or my friends on the Earth.
Don't intend to, Atlas shot back, but I'm keeping my options open.
stood erect and stiff as a statue as he stared at the monitor in front of him. It's starting, he voiced mechanically. Uran again looked into his face and saw the blue of his eyes slowly turning a shade of magenta.