Category Archives: Marooned on Planet X

The Galactic Protection Force encounters the evil Corpellian space fleet. Just before battle the Corpellians deploy a secret weapon which causes the GPF to flee in hyperspace. One of the ships, the destroyer Pickett, exits hyperspace in the atmosphere of the mysterious Planet X. The fuel tanks are destroyed and the ship becomes . . . Marooned on Planet X.

Marooned on Planet X – Part Thirteen

Marooned on Planet XIn our last episode, Captain Jake Evans and Doctor Clint Norwood were led to an elevator by D’Qur, an agent of the Guardians. There they met Mol, the head Guardian. Meanwhile the crew of the Pickett awaits an attack by several Corpellian vessels.

Grand Admiral Archibald Mitchell stood on the command deck of the Galactic Space Force Star Cruiser Reliant. His plan using the downed space destroyer, the Pickett, developed nicely. The Corpellians took the bait.

He marshaled all his forces in such a way as to be invisible to the Corpellians, using the sun of the mysterious Planet X to shield the vast armada.

“Sir Combat Battalion One is reporting the enemy is now entering maximum range,” disgraced Admiral Quentin DiPaullo reported.

“Very well, Admiral, maintain position and keep observing,” Mitchell said. “This time we won’t let the Corpellians pull any surprises.”

DiPaullo took the dig well. He stopped trying to convince Mitchell of the necessity of dispersing the fleet at the last meeting with the Corpellian advance. He knew he was no longer considered fit for command by CentCom. To be allowed to maintain his rank until retirement three months from now was the best he could do.

“Sir, the Corpellian ships are coming in faster than the last time,” Senior Captain Charlotte Douglas reported. “Firing solutions indicate maximum effectiveness in two minutes.”

“Thank you, Captain Douglas,” DiPaullo answered. He turned to Mitchell and repeated the information.

“Open missile bays in all ships, Admiral,” Mitchell ordered.

DiPaullo transmitted the order by the latest super-secret encoding.

“Set all missiles for proximity detonation,” Mitchell ordered.

The order was dispatched to all ships.

“Sir,” Senior Captain Douglas said. “If we are not precise, one of the missiles could take out the crew of the Pickett.”

Mitchell turned and glared at Douglas. “The risks of the entire fleet are calculated, Miss Douglas. If the crew of the Pickett does not survive, we will certainly avenge them.”

“Isn’t your grandson on that ship?” Douglas persisted.

“I have reason to believe that he may not have survived the impact.” Mitchell stated with no emotion.

“That is no reason to sacrifice the rest of the crew.”

“Captain Douglas,” Mitchell responded at last showing some emotion, albeit anger. “Everyone who signs up for the Galactic Space Force knows the cost. If the crew of the Pickett fails to survive they will be long remembered in our Legion of Heroes Hall.”

“Even if we kill them?”

“Captain Douglas, are you able to complete your duties or do I need to find a replacement?”

Douglas looked cowed. She glanced at DiPaullo who tried to warn her about speaking her mind. She knew her upward advancement was now ended. She nodded to Admiral Mitchell and muttered, “Yes, sir.”

“Then I suggested you continue to monitor the situation.” Mitchell said turning back to DiPaullo.

“Admiral?” Mitchell asked.

“Optimal solution in fifteen seconds, sir,” DiPaullo reported.

“Prepare all ships to fire,” Mitchell ordered.

“Belay that!” A voice from the back of the control deck shouted.

“What? Who are you?” Mitchell looked shocked.

A man strode up to Mitchell accompanied big a very tall female being.

“I am Captain Jake Evans of the destroyer, Pickett, sir. I’m here to tell you that the war is over.”

“How did you get here? How dare you make statements you cannot defend? I will have you locked up for treason.”

“I am not being treasonous, Admiral. I am just stating facts. This war is now over. You will not fire any weapons at the Corpellians.”

“Young man, if you think I am a fool you are quite mistaken.” He turned to DiPaullo. “Fire all weapons, now!”

DiPaullo relayed the orders to all ships. Nothing happened.

The rest of the fleet began calling back, the weapons systems were not responding.

“The weapons systems of our ships, as well as the Corpellians have been disabled, Admiral. I am not here to make threat or accusations, sir. I have been sent here to report the situation,” Evans explained.

“By who or what, Mr. Evans?” Mitchell asked.

“By the guardians, sir.”

“Who are they?”

“I think it best, Admiral, to let them explain. I will let D’Qur, the guardian assigned to our ship, explain” Evan nodded to D’Qur to take over.

“Assigned to you ship? We have spies on our ships? How did this happen?” Mitchell questioned.

D’Qur laughed. “Admiral your ships would not exist but for the knowledge given by the Guardians.”

“Explain yourself young, er, lady.” Mitchell demanded.

D’Qur sighed knowing that it was going to be a very long conversation. “Admiral, the Guardians have been part of human history ever since the beginning of the Earth. We watched your species grow from single cells to ape-like creatures. There your development ended.

“We began to visit and experiment. Finally, we were able to form a new species, known as man. How is it you never realized that there has never been a ‘missing link’ that you insist on searching for.

“As time progressed, we visited. Have you not seen evidence of our visits in ancient Aztec and Mayan ruins? Yes, we gave your civilizations the tools to succeed, no too much at one time to overwhelm your species, but only enough that you could understand.

“As the wisdom and knowledge of mankind grew, we taught greater and deeper truths and basic scientific fundamentals. Did you think people like Aristotle, Copernicus, or Einstein learned from earthly teachers? You would be sadly mistaken.

“We began to send teachers in greater numbers once you learned to harness the atom. We taught many new ways of making weapons to your greatest scientists. Why your people even set aside a large area where we could show you greater secrets and space flight abilities.”

“Are you talking about area 51 in the old United States?” Mitchell asked.

“Of course, how else would alien visitors in an area of advanced weapons testing center make sense?” D’Qur answered.

“But that site was all about weapons. You say you want peace. How does that make sense?” Mitchell asked.

D’Qur laughed. “Your human capabilities can understand power. Your minds can only grasp what you see and experience. For example, the horrors of atomic destruction were not fully understood until after the power was unleashed. Once your species understood the consequences, the bombs sat unused.”

“What does this have to do with the Corpellians?” Evans asked.

D’Qur nodded. “Obviously humans are not the only species that the Guardians have been teaching. We knew eventually that the two of you were going to meet. Unfortunately, the Corpellians had more violent tendencies than we realized. They are scheduled for more retraining.”

“What about humans?” Mitchell asked.

D’Qur smiled. “Your species did well. There are some of you individually who perhaps need work, but overall we can work with humans. We are training many members of your crew now. Humans can now join the ranks of the Guardians.”

“How will you choose Guardians? Am I eligible?” Mitchell asked.

“Admiral,” D’Qur replied. “Your willingness to sacrifice one of your own crews to destroy an enemy excludes you. You now know of our existence, however, and you will be assigned to CentCom as a human liaison to the Guardian team stationed there. I will continue to have ay presence on this ship. Admiral DiPaullo will serve as Admiral for the senior group commander. Captain Evans will be assigned this ship and his crew will be incorporated with the remainder of this crew.”

Mitchell looked as he would object when D’Qur held up her hand to keep him from speaking. “The official orders will be sent out soon, I am only letting you know what they are unofficially. Nevertheless, understand that these will be the orders. Perhaps, Admiral you would like to visit your grandson before he begins his training.”

“Alfred is alive?” Mitchell asked.

“Of course, Admiral. If something happened to him, would not his commanding officer inform you?”

“Take me to him,” Mitchell said.

“I believe the admiral would like a tour,” D’Qur said. Turning to Evans she announced, “Captain Evans, you have the conn. Steady as she goes until I return.”

“Aye, Aye,” Evans answered.

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Marooned on Planet X – Part Twelve

Marooned on Planet XIn out last episode, Captain Jake Evans of the marooned GSF Destroyer, Pickett, along with Dr. Clint Norwood and Lieutenant Decker found a mysterious elevator. The elevator took them twenty kilometers beneath the surface. After exiting the elevator, Lieutenant Decker disappeared. Meanwhile, more Corpellian ships were headed to attack the downed vessel.

Captain Jake Evans searched for Lieutenant Decker with help from Dr. Clint Norwood.

“It’s no use, Jake. She is gone. Almost like she was never was here,” he said.

“Do you have any idea, Doc, of what her first name was?” Evans asked.

Norwood thought about it and shook his head.

“Yeah, me neither. I know the crew rolls like the back of my hand. When Arnie told me about Decker, I just scratched my head. I first thought this whole crash thing was messing with my mind.”

“Jake, we are here now. Let’s just walk down this path and see if we find answers at the end.”

Evans nodded. They began to walk.

The path seemed firm and made of solid stone. There was muted lighting everywhere, yet there did not seem to be any source. The openings for the pathway through the rock seemed to be opened and not drilled.

The path snaked around and led to a stairway. Unlike the one on the planet’s surface, this one was well lit.

The stairway led to a large opening. The men could see figures moving in the distance. Glowing lights, similar to computer screens, could be seen floating around each of the figures.

The men stopped when they detected a movement near them.

A tall, humanoid-like being floated towards them. Its face was calm, as if waiting for the humans to arrive. The mysterious being stopped.

“Captain Jake Evans and Doctor Clint Norwood, we are honored that you are here. Please if you could follow me.”

“Who are you?” Evans asked.

“I am Mol, Chief of the Guardians for this sector. Long have we waited the meet the people that originated from Earth, although we hoped it wouldn’t be under circumstances such as these,” the being said.

“Where are we?” Evans asked.

“Ah,” Mol answered, “you will have all your answers in the meeting chamber. We are going there now.”

“What about my people, Mol? They are on the surface. We saw several Corpellian ships ready to attack. Is there some way to save them?”

“Patience, Captain,” the being said without any sign of irritation. “Your people are safe. Indeed, since you arrived you have been under our protection.”

“That didn’t help Mitchell and Deavers much,” Evans muttered.

“We are almost there,” Mol said.

The trio walked down another stairway. This one opened into a huge bowl shaped room. The walls were lined with spectators of different races and shapes. Mol walked in the middle of the floor with Evans and Norwood.

Three beings waited for them. Mol nodded. “I believe you two know D’Qur.”

Norwood whispered under his breath, “Decker?”

A female version of Mol stepped forward. “Pardon the deception, Captain. We wanted to know what type of beings we were dealing with.”

“What is going on?” Evans demanded.

“Patience, Captain,” D’Qur said. “We will begin with the explanations.

“Your civilization was first brought to our attention some ten thousand of your Earth years ago. Since that time we have frequently visited you to check on your progress and even help guide your people on some of their more advanced findings.”

“We could not help but like your people,” Mol interjected.

“Who are you all?” Evans asked.

“As I said we are the guardians,” Mol said. “We are charged with keeping peace and order within this galaxy.”

“Such a fine job you are all doing!” Evans snarked.

D’Qur held up her arms. “As I was saying, your people seemed pleasant and eager to learn. We were optimistic, except that you have this penchant for destroying each other. Our council was divided on admitting your people to our group. We decided to wait and see how you developed.”

“That was before the Corpellians attacked,” Mol interjected. “It was clear at this point we needed to intervene.”

“Agent D’Qur was assigned to your craft,” Mol took up the story. “She made sure you came here and observed your people in times of war and hardship.”

“So, did Decker kill my crew members?” Evans asked getting more belligerent.

Mol stopped talking and something that appeared close to a smile. He stepped back and allowed Evans and Norwood to see the rest of the floor. Walking towards them was Claire Deavers and Alfred Mitchell.

Norwood turned white, “But… How? I saw them dead!”

“The appearance of death, Dr. Norwood, is not necessarily death. D’Qur caused your mind to believe they were dead, just as your navigator’s mind believed you were heading to safety.”

Evans walked to his crew and shook their hands, more to make sure they were warm than anything else.

“What do you want from us?” Evans finally asked.

“We want what you want, Captain,” D’Qur answered. “We want peace.”

“What gives you the right to interfere in our affairs?”

The whole room erupted in laughter.

“Captain, pardon our exuberance, but had we not interfered in your development, you would have just figured out how to light a fire,” Mol answered.

The humans grew silent.

Mol held out his hand. “It is time, Captain. Come, and let us meet the Corpellians.”

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Marooned on Planet X – Part Eleven

Marooned on Planet XIn our last episode, the crew of the GSF Destroyer, Pickett, learned they were being used as bait. Central Command (CentComm) felt that this would be a perfect opportunity to attack the Corpellians as they sought to finish off the marooned crew. Meanwhile, the crew discovered a mysterious staircase leading to an even more mysterious elevator.

Captain Jake Evans followed Lieutenant Decker along with Doctor Clint Norwood to the mysterious site.

“Why didn’t you call us on the conn, Decker?” Evans asked. “We would have come out. We didn’t even know you were safe, Lieutenant.”

“Sorry, Captain,” the lieutenant explained. “Our conn devices were burned out when the attack began. Almost like a reverse EMP. Jenkins said the same thing happened at Rigellus 7 when the Corpellians attacked.”

“Jenkins was at Rigellus 7? I thought all the survivors were blind or went nuts.”

“He is a little weird, sir. He knows he stuff, though.”

Evans turned to Norwood, “Did you know about this, Doc?”

Norwood nodded. “I couldn’t tell you his medical history, Jake. Just know that I checked him out thoroughly before I cleared him. I tested harder than anyone on this ship.”

Decker spoke up. “I’m not sure we would have made it back without Jenkins, sir. He knew the Corpellian blaster pattern and kept us from being hit. He actually found the stairway. We went down until we saw the elevator. We waited until the attack was over and made out way back.”

“You sure it’s an elevator?”

“We touched the glowing button, the door opened. There was another button inside. It had a glowing green arrow pointing down.”

“Jake, what are you expecting to find?” Norwood asked, sounding a little irritated.

“Somebody built that thing, Doc. Maybe they can help us get out of this mess.”

“’From the frying pan into the fire’ I’d say,” Norwood muttered.

“Maybe, but sitting around waiting for our doom is not my style,” Evans said.

Decker stopped and pointed. “It’s right around the small hill, Captain.” She continued to walk.

As they reached the small hole with the dim outline of the stairs, Evans saw three dots in the sky.

“Damn,” he muttered. “It look like they are sending three ships.”

“We’ll be no used to them, Jake. Irene seems like she has everything under control.”

Evans nodded. “Lead on, Lieutenant.”

Decker started down the stairs, Evans followed, and then Norwood.

The darkness became absolute. All that could be heard was the shuffling of feet on the stairs and breathing. Evans held onto the wall for balance. He hoped the others did the same.

After five minutes of steady descent, Decker spoke, “Slow down, Captain. It will level out soon.”

Sure enough, Evans felt a solid rock floor. He walked a couple of steps hoping not to fall any further. He saw a floating soft glow ahead.

“Head for the button, Captain and Doctor.”

The trio continued. Decker stopped at the button. The glowing seemed brighter.

“Well here it is, Captain. Do you wish me to stand here and wait or return to the ship?”

“Is there a reason you would not go with us, Decker?”

“Meeting other races for the first time is for field grade officers or better, sir. I wouldn’t want to mess things up.”

Evans smiled. “Perhaps a path to becoming a field grade officer is to go and meet new races, Decker.”

Decker took a deep breath, “Perhaps.” She reached and touched the glowing button.

The doors slid open with no sound. The interior was brightly lit, even though no light source was evident. The three stepped inside.

Evans touched the glowing button with the green downward symbol. The doors slid shut. A hiss followed.

They waited.

“Should we be moving, Jake.” Norwood said.

Decker reached in her pocket and brought out a small device.

“According to the omnitrak, we are descending at twelve hundred feet per second and accelerating.”

“Impossible!” Norwood said.

Evans examined the interior of the elevator. “Not if we were surrounded by a small gravity field. That hiss might mean we are in some sort of vacuum, which would minimize any friction. Perhaps they are using some sort of magnetic drive, which would eliminate any noise or even moving parts.”

“Captain, we are beginning to slow down,” Decker announced.

“How far does this that put us below the surface, Lieutenant?”

“Best estimate is twenty kilometers, sir.”

Evans nodded. “Hopefully, whoever meets us will know we mean no harm. I’m not sure I would be very receptive to people that brought a war to my planet.”

“We’re stopping, sir,” Decker announced.

“We’ll find out soon, Jake,” Norwood said.

Decker turned off the device, placed it in her pocket, and faced the door.

Evans straightened his stance and took a deep breath.

With a small hiss, the doors opened. Evans stepped out.

The landing was mostly dark with glowing lights. There was a clear pathway. Evans took several steps hearing Norwood follow. He turned back to look for Decker.

Other than him and Doctor Norwood, there was no one there.

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Marooned on Planet X – Part Ten

Marooned on Planet XIn our last episode, The crew of the GSF Pickett was bombarded by the first of the Corpellian ships sent to destroy them. The crew managed to construct a gun that was able to fire back. The Pickett’s crew successfully destroyed the evil Corpellian cruiser.

“Jake, Jake, wake up,” the voice of Lieutenant Irene Smithson roused the sleeping captain.

“What is happening, Smitty?” Evans asked when he regained consciousness.

“JR needs you in the control room, I think our fleet may be on its way,” she answered.

Evans kicked off the covers and climbed from the tent. The early dawn could be seen rising from the west. He shook his head, not used to the sight. He ran to the wrecked ship and climbed in.

JR saw him walk into the control room. “Harv, Captain Evans is here,” he said speaking into the mike.

JR waved Evans over.

“This is Evans,” the Captain said.

“Jake, Edgar here,” Pridgen’s voice came. “I was sent to tell you that our fleet is amassing here. There will be a big battle if the Corpellians try something.”

“They already did, Edgar. They started bombarding us last night. They sent a cruiser, a huge cruiser.”

“Where is it, Jake? I don’t show anything on the screens,” Pridgen asked.

“Can you run a scan about a hundred, a hundred and fifty miles to the southwest? I think that’s were it crashed.”

“Crashed? Engine problems?”

“We shot it down, Edgar.”

Evans heard Pridgen talking off-mike to his crew. He could make out the scanners winding up.

“Jake, how the heck did you bag a cruiser?”

“You’ll have to ask Gunny Johanssen that!”

Evans heard more voices behind Pridgen. They clearly found the wreckage of the Corpellian ship.

“Well, Jake, you have now three official kills. All cruisers. Two more and you and your crew are aces.”

“Edgar, I’d rather be off this odd world. Do you think they’ll send a salvage crew soon?”

There was a dead silence for entirely too long. At last Pridgen spoke.

“Jake, I’m not sure how to tell you this, so I’ll just spit it out. They decided not to get you right away.”

“What! Are they nuts! Why they can just come get us and we’d be out of here by the time the Corpellians knew where we were.”

“That is what I thought Jake, but CentCom disagrees.”

“How can they disagree?” Evans yelled.

“They have a plan, Jake. It might actually work.”

“Perhaps you can clue us in, Edgar.”

“I have been charged with maintaining a position in a synchronous orbit with your position. I am then supposed to announce your co-ordinates using a code that the Corpellians have only recently cracked.”

“Are you nuts Edgar? They will all over us!” Evans again yelled.

“That’s the plan, Jake. That’s the plan.”

“Thanks, Edgar. Thanks for telling me the truth. At least I know what kind of help I can expect for my crew.” Evans handed JR the mike, and motioned for him to turn off the radio.

Evans sat in his captain’s chair. His face was white.

JR stood and went over to him. “Captain, is everything OK?”

Evans shook his head. “No, JR. The fleet decided that we are more valuable as bait.”

“Bait? Are they nuts?”

Evans looked at JR a smiled, “Isn’t that what I told them?”

Evans stood once again. He clasped JR”s shoulder. “Hey, I think we’ll be OK, after all. We do have three kills to our name.”

JR nodded half-heartedly.

“Have you heard from Decker, JR?”

“No sir. At least not since we were attacked. They were out in the open; at least we had our shields.”

“Well, keep a frequency open for her. Let me know if you hear something.”

Evans climbed out of the ship. Smithson, Leonard, and Putchin were examining the firing array.

“Smitty,” Evan said. “I thought you told me we could only take a couple of hits. That shield stayed pretty solid.”

Smithson nodded. “Apparently, Captain, the Corpellians have a problem with blooming also. By the time the rays hit the shields, they had lost much of their power. I’m sure they will figure something out soon. Will the fleet rescue us by then?”

Evans knew he had to tell the truth to his officers. “Well apparently, they are not. We are going to be used as bait. So I suggest we come up with a plan.”

Smithson spoke first. “I actually was able to reformat the extra shield generators. Now they will be able to absorb power instead of just deflecting it.”

“Which means…?”

“We will have extra power for our guns. There will a lot less recharge time.”

“That will come in handy, Smitty. Great job,” Evans said. He turned to the rest of his crew. “Has anyone heard from Decker?”

They all shook their heads.

“Relax, Captain,” Putchin said. “I know Decker will be fine. She’s a smart cookie and will make a senior grade officer someday. She probably found some sort of shelter. Now that it’s getting light, she should show up soon.”

“Captain,” Leonard spoke for the first time that morning. “What if they fire missiles?”

“I’m not sure they’ll get through the atmosphere, Sheldon,” Putchin answered. “We had hard enough time getting down. I can’t imagine speeding through carrying explosives. They would certainly detonate before they were halfway here.”

“That cruiser was close to entering the atmosphere. I wonder if they might try to invade. What do we have for small arms?” Evans asked.

“We’ll have to ask Gunny for sure, Captain. We have several smaller guns that might be good to knock down landing craft,” Leonard said.

I might be able to jury-rig an anti-personnel type shield. If they conduct a large bombardment before they land, we should be able to have enough power,” Smithson suggested.

“You work on that, Smitty. I’ll see what Gunny can do,” Evans said.

“Captain!” Johanssen yelled as he was about to climb down from the ship. “Look!”

Evans turned towards the direction that Johanssen was pointing. He expected to see more Corpellian ships. He saw nothing.

He did, however, hear a rustling in the underbrush. It was coming towards him.

Bursting from the bushes was Decker, followed by her team.

“Captain,” Decker said between gasps. “You have to come with us. We found something.”

“Shelter?” Evans asked. Decker nodded.

“More than that, sir,” she gasped.

“What happened?” Evans asked.

Decker caught her breath and began.

“We saw the Corpellian cruiser. We knew it meant no good. As we were caught out in the open, we searched for a place to hide. We spotted a small cave.”

“How small, Decker?”

She held up her hand to quiet him.

“We climbed into the cave just a few feet when we found it. It was a stairway.”

“A stairway? Where did it lead?” Evans asked impatiently.

“That’s the thing, sir. We followed it down. It led to an elevator.”

“Did you take it?”

“No, sir! I figured whoever built that would be waiting at the bottom. Meeting alien life is above my pay-grade, sir.”

“Hate to tell you Decker, but we are the alien life here.”

Evans turned to the ship, all eyes were on him. “OK you heard the lady. I need to see what’s down below. Most of you have projects here so you are excused. Any volunteers?”

Clint Norwood stepped forward. “I haven’t been doing much good. Might as well see what the locals look like.”

“Any others?” Everyone was silent.

“All right then. I will take Dr. Norwood and Ms. Decker. The rest of you have your list of things to do. We’ll be back as soon as we can. Arnie, you have the conn.”

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Marooned on Planet X – Part Nine

Marooned on Planet XIn our last episode, the crew of the GSF Pickett knew that the evil Corpellians were on their way. The crew worked feverously to get the ship ready for a battle, a battle there was no hope of winning.

Captain Jake Evans’s face showed he was not happy. He turned to the crew working on the ship’s blasters.

“What kind of range do we have? Can we defend against landing craft?” he asked.

“We seem to be able to have a kilometer or two. Gunny is working on a plan. He read something about minimizing blooming.”

“I hope he comes up with it quick. You guys keep on it; I’m going to check out the power supply.”

Evans climbed into the ship. He stopped in the bridge. JR was staffing the radio.

“Any news?” Evans asked.

“No sir. It has been quiet. Harv promised he’d call when they were in the area.”

“Keep me posted, JR. We’ll a little on the vulnerable side right now.”

“Will do, sir!”

Evans walked towards engineering. He heard hammering and power tools.

“What’s up, Smitty?”

“I have to rewire the shields. I have a great idea with that, by the way,” Commander Irene Smithson replied.

“I thought you were restarting the reactor?”

“The process is going. I have Burroughs on it now.”

“Is he qualified?”

Smithson laughed, “He is now. All he has to do is watch a couple of dials and call me if something goes wrong.”

“What’s wrong with our shields?” Evans asked.

“They are working fine, Captain. Our shields are design to cover the ship in 360 degrees. As you know, Captain, approximately 180 degrees of the ship are protected by the ground. I’m redirecting and rewiring the shield nodes to give us stronger coverage.”

“Smitty, I need those shields to be ready very soon. Our guns aren’t working.”

“Blooming?” Smithson asked.

“That’s what they tell me.”

“Tell Gunny to try the Everett Arrangement.”

“What is that?”

“He’ll know. It would take too much time to explain.”

“Fine, I’ll let him know,” Evans muttered, knowing Smitty was to preoccupied to discuss things. He climbed to the airlock.

He saw Putchin, Johanssen, and Leonard near the blaster arrays.

“Gunny,” Evans called. “Smitty suggested the Everett Arrangement. She said you would know what that means.”

Johanssen looked shocked. “Of course, I knew I was missing something.” Johanssen turned to the team. “Quick, unbolt these guns, we ne to rearrange them now.”

Evans watched as the team went into overdrive to rearrange the guns. The sun was lower in the sky; soon it would be night. He looked out to the sea.

His reverie was broken by clambering on the ladder to the airlock. JR ran to him, panting.

“JR, what is the sit-rep?” Evans asked.

“The situation is, they are here, sir. The Corpellians are here.”

Evans felt cold creeping in his soul. The Corpellians would attack as things grew dark. It was their style. Somehow, they knew that ships routinely turned off the reactors as battle loomed. They did not take long to find them. It was as if they knew.

He ran to Engineering.

“They here,” he told Smitty.

“Damn!” She muttered. She reached over and plugged a plug. She reached in the opposite direction and pulled off a connection. A board lit up.

“You have full shields, Captain. You should be able to take two direct hits, before we run out of power. Burroughs is going to advise us when the reactor can take the load. Make sure everyone stays under the protection umbrella.”

Smitty turned back to her work and ignored Evans.

Evans ran to the bridge. JR was back at his station. “Where are they exactly, JR?”

“I’m showing a photon trail heading this way from the southeast, bearing towards us. It’s consistent with the Corpellian jump drive.”

“How much time do we have, JR?”

“No more than 45 minutes at the rate he’s travelling, Sir.”

“Hopefully they won’t attack right away. Otherwise our shields will have to hold about fifteen minutes.”

“The energy output makes that as one of their cruisers, Sir.”

“Damn!” Evans swore. “They can certainly score a couple of direct hits in fifteen minutes.”

He climbed to the airlock. He could feel the energy from the shields. The three officers were furiously working on the guns. Evans was amazed how fast the configuration changed.

“The Corpellians will be here in about fifteen minutes,” Evans said.

“I’m not sure we’ll be ready, Captain,” Gunny Johanssen said.

“Do the best you can, Gunny. Smitty says we can take two direct hits before we lose power.”

“What kind of ship, sir?”

“JR thinks it’s a cruiser.”

All three men cursed.

“We’ll hurry, sir,” Putchin said.

Evans noticed that the gun was arranged with six of the small guns arranged around the larger one. They were being attached to one platform controller by one servomechanism. The servo was controller by a makeshift joystick attached to the firing computer. The whole system sat between the ship and the solar power array. The gun unit was placed within the protection of the shield.

“It won’t be long now,” Evans whispered to himself.

After several minutes, his eye caught a glimpse of something metallic in the sky. The Corpellian ship moved fast. The ship must be on the outer fringes of the atmosphere. For it to be seen without magnification, it must have been huge, Evans reasoned.

Each moment, the speck grew larger as it approached.

“Gentlemen, the ship is here,” Evans announced to his crew.

The three men at the gunnery station looked up and saw the approaching behemoth. They turned back to their work. Putchin made his way to the computer and grabbed the joystick. The gun unit began to respond.

“Targeting!” Putchin announced. A few seconds later he announced, “Locked.”

“At least that works,” Gunny muttered. He and Leonard continued to attach things to the unit.

The ship continued its approach. The gun unit tracked the ship automatically.

Evans continued to watch the ship. It was odd seeing a ship from the surface of the planet. The ship was huge and very ungainly. He could see small contrails trail from the sharp points of the vessel. It must be just grazing the outer atmosphere. Must be trying for a sure shot, Evans thought.

The ship seemed to be 15 degrees away from top center when Evans saw the flashes.

“Incoming!” he yelled.

He began to see fires on the long side of the island. The beams from the Corpellian guns were moving towards the Pickett.

Evans thought of Decker and her team, exposed, looking for shelter.

The energy beams approached. Evans could feel the heat.

A beam hit the shield. There was an electrical sizzling sound. The men ducked reflexively. Several more beans struck the shield. The bombardment lasted for a twenty-minute eternity. All the while Johanssen and Leonard were attaching wires to the gun unit.

Evans watched as the beams headed to sea, sending up puffs of steam.

“Engaged!” Johanssen yelled as the bombardment lessened. “Aim just in front of the engines.”

“Captain?” Putchin asked.

“Fire at will, Mr. Putchin!”

Putchin flipped a switch. A shield-baffling beam opened a small corridor through which the guns could fire. He hit another button. Six beams from the smaller guns reflected off the Corpellian ship. There was no effect.

“Hold your ears!” Putchin shouted. He pressed a button.

Three thunderous shocks rattled the ground. A large bang sounded and reverberated below the umbrella of the shield. Evans was nearly knocked to the ground.

Evans watched as the three photon pulses slammed into the enemy cruiser. Gunny was correct in the aiming point; several secondary explosions erupted from the hull. The stricken vessel fired its engines in an attempt to flee.

The action, however, doomed the ship. The quick acceleration so close to the planet’s gravitational pull, coupled with the structural damage from the blast, caused the ship to break apart.

Elated and horrified, the crew of the Pickett watched as the gravitational pull from Planet X dragged the ship into a death spiral. The ship heated as it entered the atmosphere. Soon, explosions were rampant and fragments flew in all directions. As the ship fell into the atmosphere, the sounds of the explosions could be heard.

The fragments of the ship fell as glowing red embers in the darkening sky. Silence fell among the onlookers.

JR climbed to the ships airlock. “Captain, most of that ship landed about a hundred and thirty miles southeast of here. There are no more ships out there at this time.”

Evans approached the ship, turned, and faced everyone. “Crew. We have won our first fight here on Planet X. I assure you, the Corpellians will be here with more ships soon. I am ordering each of you to get some rest. We will wake you when we have some more developments.”

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Marooned on Planet X – Part 8

Marooned on Planet XIn our last episode, the crew of the Galactic Space Destroyer, Pickett, just learned that they destroyed two Corpellian cruisers. Their celebration is short-lived, however, when they learn that the Corpellians know that they are stranded. The Corpellians are now headed for the crew of the Pickett, presumably for revenge. The Galactic Space Fleet hopes to rescue the crew, but will they be in time?

“Damn!” Captain Jake Evans muttered. “How are we going to fight stuck on this planet?”

“Perhaps, Captain,” Gunny Johanssen spoke after a long silence, “we can remove the guns from their housings and at least have some weapons.”

Jake turned to his Chief Engineer Officer Irene Smithson, “What do you think Smitty?”

She pondered the question for a few seconds. “It’s possible, Captain. The aiming would be problematic. Also, I know it’s against regulations, but we’ll need to fire up the reactor after all. A couple of shots from our guns will drain the batteries quick. We’ll be sitting ducks without our shields.”

Jake nodded. “OK Smitty, you handle the re-start. Gunny, see what you can do about setting up some sort of firing center. We’ll need to make sure we can knock down transports should they attack that way.”

Johanssen saluted, something he rarely did. “Aye, Captain. I’ll get Mr. Leonard and Mr. Putchin to help. I’ll have those guns in place by sunset.”

Jake turned to his Helmsman, JR Ferguson. “Son, I know we can’t drive this bucket anywhere right now. I need you to stay by this comm station. If anything comes up, I need to hear from you.”

JR locked white. “Aye, sir. Will do.”

Jake squeezed JR’s shoulder. “You’ll do fine JR. We’ll get out of this.”

Jake climbed out of the ship. Gunny’s crew was already undoing panels and working at removing the cannon housings. Science Officer Sheldon Leonard was setting up a firing station near the hull of the ship. He had wiring harnesses ready for the cannons.

“Aren’t you a little close to the ship, Mr. Leonard?” Jake asked.

“Commander Smithson insists the shields will protect his point, Captain. I’m a little apprehensive myself. We need to have visual contacts with any Corpellian vessels should they attempt to land,” Leonard answered.

“Do you have any idea how you’ll aim those things, Mr. Leonard?”

“Burroughs is removing servos from the thruster assemblies. We should be able to set something up. Not sure if we can get 360-degree coverage. If they start landing on us we might have to aim these things manually.”

Evans nodded. “Carry on, Mr. Leonard.”

“Aye, Captain,” was the reply.

Evans made his way to the shore. Four crewmembers were still sitting up lights. He called them to him.

“If you haven’t been told, we just found out the Corpellians are on their way. We probably shouldn’t mark our location with these lights just yet. Out fleet is also headed here, we’ll have to see if they can pick us up first.”

“The lights are ready to go, sir.” A young woman, “Decker” her nametag said. “All we have to do is flick a switch. Whenever you order it, sir.”

“What other duties do have at the moment, Ms. Decker?” Evans asked.”

“This was our assignment, sir. We are to report to Mr. Putchin when we are finished.”

“Mr. Putchin is in the middle of several things at the moment. I have a special assignment for your team, Ms. Decker.”

“Sir, what can we do?”

“As the Corpellians may arrive before we have full capabilities, I’ll need scouts to find shelter. A cave, a cliff, something we can hide under until the fleet arrives. I think it would be best to split into two teams. One team can explore the eastern side of the island, the other the western side. Any questions, Ms. Decker?”

“Sir, it will be dark in a couple of hours. D you want us to leave now or wait until morning?”

“I think you should go now. I have no idea how long we have before we are under attack. Take lighting and some provisions. Each team should have a portable comm device. You can check in with JR if there are any problems.”

“Aye, sir. I’ll get the provisions. It shouldn’t take too long to scour this place.”

“Thanks, Ms. Decker. I need something positive right now.”

“Don’t worry, sir. We’ll find a place in we have to dig it out ourselves.”

Evans watched as Decker and her crew went to get supplies for the trek. He walked back to the ship. He climbed in and went to the bridge.

“Any word, JR?” he asked.

“Not yet, sir, Hopefully, we’ll hear something soon. It’s been a couple of hours,” JR replied.

“Keep me posted,” Evans said. He headed down the corridor for engineering.

He saw Irene at a control panel. Her face was a picture of total concentration.

“Smitty, what’s the word?” he asked.

Her face showed displeasure at being interrupted. She knew everyone was stressed out and didn’t complain.

“I’ve fast-tracked the restart. We should be at one hundred percent in six hours. All systems are functionally well, Jake. I can get us full shields in three hours. We’ll have firepower in six.”

Evans nodded. “Have you heard anything from Gunny?”

Irene laughed. “Are you kidding? Every ten minutes they’re arguing about something. They have a test fire of one of the guns in about ten minutes. I’ve had to redirect some power their way.”

“I guess I’d better check that out,” Evans said. He started to leave and stopped. “Irene, well, I want you to know…”

“Jake, please just can it. We can deal with all that when we get out of here. I don’t need any drama right now.”

“I just want to make sure we’re good.”

“We’re good, Jake. Go play with the big guns,” Irene shooed him out of her way.

Evans climbed out of the ship. He saw Johanssen, Putchin, and Leonard huddled around a small monitor.

“I hear you are planning a test fire,” Evans said.

Leonard looked up from the monitor. “Yes, Captain. I’m locking in the target now.”

“The target? What ever could you be aiming at?”

“Buoy number two, Captain,” Putchin answered. “It’s in a geosynchronous orbit directly over our position. It would be easy for the Corpellians to use it to track our exact position. We destroy it; maybe we’ll buy some time.”

“Good thinking, Arnie. We’ll need all the time we can make.”

“Got it!” Leonard exclaimed.

Putchin looked at Johanssen, “Ready, Gunny?”

Johanssen nodded. “Any time you’re ready.”

Putchin looked to Leonard. “Fire, Mr. Leonard.”

Leonard hit the button. The gun barked a pulse beam. The three men felt the energy blast.

“Dammit!” Leonard exclaimed.

“Did you miss?” Evans asked.

Leonard sat back in his chain looking disgusted. “No sir, it was a direct hit. Our aiming controls are great.”

“The buoy isn’t destroyed?”

“No,” Leonard said. “It must have bloomed.”

“Bloomed?” Evans asked.

Putchin stepped forward. “I was worried about this, Captain. Blooming is an atmospheric effect of the pulse beam. It seems the atmosphere may actually absorb the energy from the beam.”

“So, gentlemen, what you are saying is that we are sitting ducks?”

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Marooned on Planet X – Part 7

Marooned on Planet XIn our last episode, the crew of the Galactic Space Destroyer, the Pickett, tries to make due with being stranded on the mysterious Planet X. The destroyer’s systems are beginning to function, thanks to the solar power array being fully deployed. The crew finally hears from the GSF Beauregard. The crew feels that help is finally arrived.

“Hey, JR, my captain wants to speak to your captain,” Harvey Atwater of the Galactic Space Fleet Beauregard said. “I’ll put him on.”

JR looked to Captain Jake Evans who nodded and walked to the Comm Station.

“This is Captain Evans,” he said.

“Evans, this is Edgar Pridgen here. How is it going?” Pridgen asked. Evans rolled his eyes. He went to the Academy with Pridgen. He remembered Pridgen as a big bore who though mostly of advancing his career as opposed to running a ship. “That’s what XO’s are for” he remembered Pridgen saying often.

“Hi Edgar, we’re doing as best as can be expected. We have many of the ship’s systems working. We’ve had two casualties, but other than that we are in good shape.”

“Sorry to hear of the casualties. Might I have their names for the record?”

“Sure. One was Clair Deavers, Nurse First Class. The other was Alfred Mitchell, Ensign.”

“Commodore Mitchell’s great grandson? Damn! I’m certainly not going to report that one.”

“Commodore Mitchell knew the risks of sending his grandson to war, Edgar,” Evans said. He knew better than to call him “Ed.”

“Well, all I am saying is I’m not the one that’s going to tell him.”

“Why would you have to? Isn’t at HQ?”

Pridgen snorted. “I’m sorry Jake, but I know you couldn’t have heard.”

“Heard what, Edgar?”

“CentCom wasn’t impressed with the way DiPaullo turned tail and ran away from the fight. Mitchell is replacing him ASAP. HQ wants to fight the war and not run from it.”

“Didn’t the Corpellians have one of their starkillers there? They couldn’t have taken out the whole fleet with one shot. DiPaullo did the only smart thing.”

“You and I were there, Jake. WE know what happened. Those clowns at CentCom only look at the digi-boards and holographic maps. They have no clue about the reality of things.”

Jake’s face showed surprise. He never heard Pridgen talk this way. “You are Captain Edgar Pridgen, right.”

A nervous laugh sounded from the comm. “I guess I do sound a little different than the Academy days. Reality does that, I hear.”

Jake shrugged no knowing what to say. “So, Edgar, did we lose many ships?”

“We lost eight, Jake, yours included. We found four wreckage fields so far. If it weren’t for Ensign Atwater, we probably would have never found you.”

“I’m glad JR and he made plans. Any damage to the Corpellians?”

“Two cruisers were destroyed and a few destroyers. That’s part of the reason Mitchell wanted to find you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Apparently, the cruisers were destroyed by the Pickett. At least that’s what the Ordinance Identification Numbers said.”

“How could they get the OIN numbers, Edgar?”

“CentCom wanted to make sure DiPaullo accounted for every shot. All the OIN-marked weapons pinged back to him. They have the Pickett as the shooter. It seems you are a hero Jake. They need heroes right now.”

Evans heard the crew behind him cheering. He turned to keep them quiet.

“I guess we’re more interested in getting off this rock than being heroes right now, Edgar.”

“Copy that, Jake. But I get to be the one to announce we have found you. Maybe that makes me a hero’s hero.”

“That is does, Edgar,” Jake said sarcastically, realizing that Edgar Pridgen had not changed that much after all.

“Hey Jake, I’m told that there is a lot magnetic resonance coming from the planet. We are going to have to get out a little to get out of the interference. We will call the fleet and will get back in a few hours. You hang in there!”

“Thanks Edgar, we’ll wait to hear from you.” The comm went dead.

Evan turned to the crew gathered in the ship. He lifted up his arms. “Now you can celebrate!”

The crew was elated. The danced and hugged. Dr. Norwood brought out some champagne from the ship’s stores. It was chilled just right.

Jake climbed to the airlock and looked out. He was feeling a little tipsy from the champagne. He decided to stop and get fresh air in case the Admiral called.

He looked out to the planet. He would have liked to know more about this odd little world. He felt a presence next to him. It was Irene Smithson.

“What are you thinking?” Irene asked.

“I was just thinking I would like to know a little more about this weird world. But mostly I was thinking how great it would be to off it.”

Evans watched as Irene made a big show of looking around. Not seeing anyone, she put her arms around Evans and kissed him. A long, lingering kiss.

“I don’t feel as tired as last night,” he whispered.

“It doesn’t seem that I need to be up all night getting the reactor started either,” she whispered back.

They held each other and smiled. The spell was broken by heavy footsteps on the ladder. They moved away from each other. It was Arnold Putchin.

“Any orders for the crew, Captain?” he asked.

“I’m not sure how long the fleet will take, Arnie. I imagine that they will pick us up with skimmers and come to the beach. We should place some sort of lighting there if they come tonight.”

“Will do, sir. I think we have about five or six hours of daylight left. I’ll get a crew together.” Putchin clambered down the ladder.

A few minutes later a crew came up the ladder and headed, carrying lighting equipment, to the beach. Burroughs, Smithson’s assistant, followed with wires to hook the lights to the ship’s power.

Evans and Smithson watched as the semi-inebriated crew stumbled with the lights. They both smiled.

“I never thought to see you smiling at a drunken crew,” Smithson said.

“They earned it, Irene. Our tiny little ship destroyed two cruisers. That has to be the luckiest shot of the war.”

Smithson nodded. She smelled the ocean. “The air isn’t as salty as the oceans on Earth,” she said. Another breeze wafted by, she turned to Evans with a puzzled look.

“That’s odd,” she said. “Now the air smells just like Earth.”

Evans smelled and understood what she meant. “This really is a strange world. Someday someone will have to spend some time exploring it. Maybe if this war ever ends.”

JR raced up the ladder. He saw Evans and stopped. “They are asking for you, sir.”

Evans smiled at Smithson. “At least we’ll get a timetable.”

Evans climbed down the ladder and went to the comm station. “Evans here.”

“Jake,” Pridgen’s voice sounded tense. “We have real problems. The Corpellians know where you are. They are coming for you now. I have to get out of here before I am destroyed. Mitchell is going to get the fleet here pronto. There is going to be a hell of a battle there. Try to find some cover, we don’t want you to be another Hargrove.”

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Marooned on Planet X – Part Six

Marooned on Planet XIn our last episode, the crew of the Galactic Space Destroyer, Pickett, began to set up in the shadow of their ruined ship on the mysterious, Planet X. The crew watched as the two coffins from the fatalities at the landing were escorted away by odd-looking sea creatures.

Captain Jake Evans stood at the beach looking out over the ocean. The sun was setting. Gunny Johansen was handing out watch assignment for the night. Evans was not on any watch, but was to be first notified if anything “unusual” were to happen. The sound of poles being driven into the land, affixed with lights drowned out the sound of the waves striking the beach.

Evans felt a hand on his shoulder. Startled, he turned. It was Chief Engineering Irene “Smitty” Smithson.

“Hi,” he said feeling a little stupid for jumping.

“Jake, it has been a long day for us all. I have nothing to do until morning. Burroughs is monitoring everything. He’ll let me know if a problem comes up.”

“Fine Irene, take the night off. We will need you rested in the am. I imagine there will a lot to accomplish.”

“I had Burroughs set up my tent near the water, Jake. He placed two sleeping pads inside”

“Irene, we’ve been through all this,” Evans said exasperated. “We agreed no to tell anyone about us until we’re reassigned.”

“Jake, we’ve been locked in that little tube for seven and a half months. We have been crawling over thirty-nine people. We have no secrets.”

“It’s thirty-seven now, Irene.”

“Jake, you say that like you’re responsible. You know as well as I do if people obeyed your orders all thirty-nine of us would still be here.”

“I am responsible, Irene. These people expect me to make decisions that will keep them alive. I’ve ruined my ship and killed two people.”

“Jake, when you get tired you get whiny and self-pitying. I know your crew knows it. They came to me and asked me to make sure you got some sleep. They need you to function tomorrow.”

Jake turned and looked towards the ship. All eyes were on him and Smithson. A couple of crewmembers had sheepish smiles, the rest turned away in embarrassment.

Jake felt he face turn red. A vein stood put in his neck.

“Jake!” Irene said sharply. “You need rest. You know it, they know it.”

“That doesn’t mean you plot behind my back. Next thing you know, you all will be planning a mutiny.”

Irene laughed, “Did I say paranoid. You seriously get paranoid when you’re tired too.”

Jake felt her eyes bore in on him. “This crew deserves the best captain in the fleet. A captain who makes poor decisions because he’s too pig-headed to rest should be locked in the brig. You’ve been up, what, thirty-six hours straight? Do I need Dr. Norton to give you something?”

“Fine!” Evans spat. “Where is this tent?”

Irene held out her hand and led Evans to the tent. The crew erupted in cheering.


Evans awoke while it was still dark. He reached over and found Irene’s pad was empty. There was enough light from the ship that he could make out the release strip in the door. The fabric fell open, Evans climbed out as the fabric resealed itself. He walked to the ship.

Johanssen was the first to meet him.

“Good morning, Captain. How are you doing?”

“Been better, Gunny. And I’ve been worse.”

“Ah, that is well said, Captain. But as you see, the new day is about to begin. Let us hope that it will bring us a little closer to home.” Gunny pointed west.

The darkness was getter lighter towards the west.

“I feel all backwards when the sun comes up that way,” Evans remarked.

“Aye sir, but with everything else this planet is, that just makes sense.”

Evans chuckled and headed to the ship. He found his XO Putchin huddled in conversation with his Science Officer Leonard.

“Gentlemen,” Evans spoke. “I trust the two of you grabbed some shut-eye.”

“Yes, sir,” Putchin replied. “I’ve had about six hours, Leonard about eight. I needed him rested for today, sir. We need to make a lot of observations about this place.”

“Is that what you’re planning?” Evans asked.

“No sir,” Leonard chimed in. “We planning on getting the rest of the array out. It seems if we fully extended this arm, the ship may roll slightly allowing us to extend the other, sir. That will allow us full power to most systems.”

“Most, Commander Leonard?”

“Well sir, it may not fully charge our armaments.”

“So, the two of you want to restart the reactor, I presume?”

“Yes sir, that is our goal,” Putchin replied.

“What does Smitty think?”

“She stated that once we had full solar power it would take about four hours to run a diagnostic on the system. Then a full start up would take twenty to twenty-four hours.”

“Our first priority, gentlemen, is making sure we have an operating communication system. That is going to be our lifeline with the fleet. We will worry about armaments later.”

“Yes, sir,” Putchin and Leonard responded in unison.

The conversation lasted long enough to allow the first tendrils of light to break across the sky. He heard the voice of Smitty barking out orders. He went to investigate.

She had a crew shoveling sand under the hull of the ship. They looked like they were at it for some time. There was a large accumulation of sand against the hull.

“What’s going on here, Smitty?” Evans asked.

Irene approached Evans. “When we extend this array further, sir, we expect the weight of the array to turn the ship. We are trying to minimize this some the array doesn’t smash against the ground. We’ll dig out some of the sand and level it once both arrays are extended.”

“Sounds like a great plan. I hear you’re thinking of restarting the reactor.”

Irene laughed. “You must have run across Putchin and Leonard. They are bugging me about getting it going. It has been a few days since we had it on. As you know it’s SOP to do a complete shutdown before anticipated battle – which is always a little backwards to me. If you take a hit there, you’re toast whether it’s on or off.”

“I let them know that communication channels are our first priority. We need to patch into the fleet.”

“Sounds like wisdom to me, sir.”

The sun began to touch the solar panels.

“If you can excuse me, Captain, it’s almost show time.”

Irene walked to the array. She barked a few commands into her communicator, which Evans assumed was linked to Burroughs. After several minutes of back and forth, Irene ordered everyone clear of the ship.

Evans watched as she made sure all was clear. He heard her bark a clear “Go!” into her communicator. The deployment motor kicked in.

The array, which was so hard to extend the night before, came out effortlessly. Each section connected well with each other. The weight of the panels and lightness of the frame caused a bend, which never would have happened in a zero gravity environment.

Irene climbed to the top of the ship. She had her crew remove some of the sand. The ship began to turn, with the weight of the array. She also yelled to clear away the opposite side of the ship. She yelled and “All clear” to Burroughs and climbed into an open airlock.

A muffled blast indicated another panel blown off the ship’s hull. Irene inspected the new opening. She once again told Burroughs “Go!” and the opposite array played out.

She yelled to Evans, “Give it about four hours, sir and the batteries will be charged. I will send full power to the comm room now.”

“Thanks, Smitty,” Evans replied.

Evans climbed aboard the ship and headed to the bridge.

All the systems were lit up. All the alarm bells warning of hull breaches and atmospheric anomalies were silenced. The red lights still blinked as a reminder of the situation.

JR sat at the comm station. The bridge crew rotated through the night. A higher level of power meant a further range. There was now a radio lock with both orbiting buoys.

JR was checking all the different bands. He switched to one channel.

“…of the GSF Beauregard. Repeat, this is ensign Atwater of the GSF Beauregard. Do you read Pickett? Repeat, do you read?”

JR looked shocked and punched the send button. “Harv, is that you? This is JR.”

“JR. Damn! You’re alive! Where are you?”

“We’re at Planet X, liked we planned. Where are you?”

“Close enough JR. We’ll be there soon!”

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Marooned on Planet X – Part Five

Marooned on Planet XIn out last episode, The Galactic Space Force destroyer, the Pickett, crashed on a small island on the mysterious Planet X. A strange cloud came by and put out the fires caused by the crash landing. The same rainstorm cooed the ship, allowing the crew to exit.

Captain Jake Evans surveyed the crew. They lined up on the sand between the ship and the ocean. The crew stood awaiting his orders.

“I need several volunteers to set a perimeter for the night. We have to make sure we have some sort of security. I’m not sure how cold it will get tonight; we should make provisions for a fire.”

Johanssen stepped forward, “Sir, my gunners and I will see to securing our location. We’ll alternate watches for the night.”

“Thanks, Gunny. Keep everyone in sight and make sure your people stay in touch. We have no idea about this world.”

Evans looked around. “Anyone see Smitty?”

Commander Andrew Putchin walked from the ship.

“Captain, Lieutenant Commander Smithson requests you order all personnel to clear the ship by no less than 200 meters, Sir.”

Evans nodded. He turned to the crew. “Well, you heard the lady.”

“Now what, Commander?” Evans asked Putchin when the space was open.

Putchin took his radio and spoke, “All clear, Lieutenant Commander.”

“Very well,” Evans heard Smithson’s voice from the radio. “On my mark, Commander. Five, Four, Three, Two, One.”

An explosion echoed from the hull of the ship. Evans saw four puffs of smoke. The charges lifted a large section of the hull. The metal fell back on the ship with a loud racket. The metal then slid down the curvature of the ship, striking the ground and rolling over.

Several moments later, Irene Smithson, climbed from one of the airlocks. She balanced herself on the curvature of the ship and headed for the newly made hole in the hull.

“Burroughs,” she yelled. “I need you below this hole.”

“Aye, aye, ma’am,” the lieutenant said as he ran.

Smithson stopped walking and looked over the crowd.

Evans saw her recognition of him in her eyes.

“Captain,” she yelled. “I’m going to need some help. We have to extend this array if we want some power in the ship.

Evans nodded finally understanding what she had in mind. “Anyone not doing anything, to the hull,” he ordered.

Evans watched as Smithson climbed into the gap in the hull. “Burroughs, I need you here,” she bellowed.

Burroughs looked for a way to climb the hull when a nylon ladder flew from the hole. Burroughs started climbing.

Burroughs climbed in the hole after reaching the top.

Evans heard some rattling and banging. He was just about to ask for a report when several ropes flew from the hole. Smithson poked her head and looked at Evans.

“Captain, I’ve thirty seconds of power for the winch. That should free up one panel. I need you all to pull on these ropes and see if the other panels will budge. Once I start this thing, hopefully we’ll have enough momentum to keep it going.”

Evans grabbed one of the lines. The rest of the crew grabbed the rest.

“Now pull and keep pulling until it won’t give anymore.” She looked down, presumably at Burroughs. “Hit it!”

The whine of the electric motor started. All the ropes became taught as the crew pulled. The array lifted from the hole in the hull, parallel to the ground. One of the solar panels cleared. The motor stopped.

“Pull!” Smithson yelled.

The array continued to play out, but with its weight and loss of the motor, only one more panel was revealed.

Smithson climbed out on the array and manually pivoted the panels to face the sun. “Burroughs, hit switch number seven.”

“Aye, ma’am” was the muffled reply.

“Captain,” Smithson said. “The ship should have some power now. I have programmed most of the power to the communication equipment and food storage. If you need any other systems right now, I can try. We will have power to move the array in the morning.”

“Thanks, Smitty,” Evans replied. “That should do it for now.” Evans looked around and spotted JR. “JR, try the comm. See if you can make contact anywhere.”

“Will do Captain,” JR responded and ran to the ship.

Evans walked to the array and looked up at Smithson. “Need a hand getting down?”

Smithson smiled as she grabbed one of the struts holding the solar array. She executed a rollover landing neatly by Evans side.

“Not this time, Captain,” she said.

Evans looked to make sure no one was within hearing distance. “Look, Irene, you need to be more careful. I cannot have you running around half-cocked without letting me know what’s going on. As captain, I have to make sure my crew is safe.”

“As captain, eh. Well let me tell you, Captain, that my job as chief engineering officer is to keep this ship functioning as best as it can. That means even if it has been reduced to a pile of junk on some God-forsaken world on the wrong side of the galaxy. Captain.” She turned to walk away.

Evans grabbed her arm. “Wait, Irene. As for myself, well, I was worried about you. I know you do what you do. And if you weren’t the best in whole fleet, I’d still worry about you.”

Smithson smiled, “So, that’s the real reason you love me.”

“No, that’s only number thirty-seven.”

“What’s number one?”

“I haven’t quite figured it out yet.”

“Is that why we’re still sneaking around? We’re waiting for you to figure something out?”

“Irene, please. You know I hate this as much as you do. Perhaps when we get off this planet. I’m sure I’ll be getting a desk job after this.”

“I’ll hold you to it Jake. Believe me when I tell you, we will get off this planet if I have to make ship out of the coconut things from the trees.”

Evans smiled. “I have no doubt, Irene.”

Evans heard footsteps and turned. It was Johanssen.

“Doc Norwood said to come and find you. He needs you down by the beach.”

“Thanks, Gunny.” Evans headed to the beach, followed by Johanssen and Smithson.

Dr. Clinton Norwood stood near the water. On each side of him sat a coffin. The rest of the crew gathered near the shore.

“Captain,” Norwood said. “I think we need to bury Deavers and Mitchell.”

“Bury Doctor? Isn’t there anything we need to do first?”

“No, Captain. There is no need for an autopsy, we know how they died. We have no way right now of keeping them cold, without ruining our food supply. Burroughs rigged up a small propulsion device, we can bury them at sea, like they did for the old navy.”

Evans nodded. “I will get my service manual then, Doctor.”

“No need, Jake,” Norwood said handing Evans the tablet.

Evans read the service. At the proper time, the coffins were taken to the water. Two of the engineering crew turned on the device. Burroughs watched from a hill to make sure things worked correctly.

The coffins began a slow journey to the open water. The crew was silent.

Burroughs grew excited. “Captain, come here quick!”

Evans ran up the hill. “What is it, Burroughs?”

Speechless Burroughs pointed to the coffins. On either side of each coffin, a black creature held onto the rails. They were guiding the coffins into the deeper water.

“It would seem that we are not alone,” Evans said softly.

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Marooned on Planet X – Part Four

Marooned on Planet X

In our last episode, the Galactic Space Force Destroyer, Pickett, crashed on the mysterious Planet X. Despite Captain Jake Evans best efforts, two crewmembers were killed. With the ship losing power, the survivors only hope is to wait in the open airlocks until the ship cools enough for a safe exit.

Jake Evans surveyed the mysterious Planet X from the open airlock. The world did not seem so alien in many ways, yet in many others, it was odd.

“Captain, look at those trees,” Ensign JR Ferguson said.

Evans turned to look. The trees were indeed strange. They almost looked like a palm tree hybrid, but rose over 30 meters. Pods dangled from the pine-ish shaped leaves.

“Wonder if those are edible,” JR muttered. It was several hours since the crew last had food.

Evans walked near the edge of the airlock. He felt the heat from the hull. He climbed two rungs of the escape ladder. The heat was nearly unbearable, sweat formed on his forehead.

He could see the ground. A whole circle of scorched shrubbery surrounded the ship. The burnt bushed were odd shaped with prickly stems. Flames were still spreading out from the ship. The heat was getting too much and he climbed down.

“Does anyone know what happened to Smitty?” Evans asked the eight that stood in his airlock.

“She must be in airlock seven, sir. That would be the one closest to her.” Andrews, one of the recent graduates from the Academy said.

A commotion from inside the ship drew all the attention inward. “Gunny” Johanssen climbed into the airlock with his space suit on. He removed the helmet.

“Johanssen here,” he reported to Evans.

“What’s with the gear, Gunny?” Evans asked.

“I thought I’d put in on just in case we didn’t have air in the ship, sir. Just checking to see if everyone is OK. I also brought you this.” Johanssen passed to Evans a small square device.

“What’s this?” Evans asked.

“It’s a small radio sir. It has several hours’ worth of power. They’re all synched in to other in airlocks four and seven. Hopefully we’ll on the ground before they conk out.”

“Good job, Gunny.”

“Not me, sir. You’ll have to blame Smitty. She couldn’t stand the though of not yammering at you about something.”

“Where is she?”

“She was at airlock four and she went to check on something aft, sir.”

“Aft? You mean in the ship?”

“Aye, Captain. She was wearing a suit like mine with enough lighting to get through easy enough. She has Burroughs with her.”

“I better hear from her soon. We need to figure out how to get this ship powered up again. We’ll need to have communication in case the fleet gets our signal.”

“I know she has a plan, Captain. She always does.”

Johanssen headed for the interior of the ship. “I’m going to check in with airlock four, then seven. I’ll report to you soon, Captain.”

“Be careful, Gunny.”

Evans looked to his officers. “Mr. Leonard, how is the temperature?”

“Captain, at this rate, I’d imagine a couple of hours yet.”

“I would like to establish some sort of shelter before the sun sets. Do you have an idea of when that might be?”

Science Officer Leonard scanned the position of Planet X’s sun. He took out a pad of paper and wrote some notes.

“I’ll have info for you in about fifteen minutes, sir.”

“Thank you, Mr. Leonard.”

“Sir,” JR said. “Take a look about fifteen degrees off the nose.”

Evans turned. The sky was clear over the whole planet, except where JR indicated. A small black cloud hovered. Evans watched as the cloud drifted towards the ship. The rest of the crew standing in airlock one turned and stared at the approaching phenomena.

A bustle from the ship’s interior distracted everyone. Johanssen climbed into the airlock with a large tool bag. He sat the bag on the deck on opened it. He pulled out sandwiches for the crew.

“Gunny, thanks,” Evans said. “What do make of that cloud?”

Johanssen turned and scanned the sky. He shook his head, “Darndest thing, Captain. How does a cloud like that form in the middle of nothingness?”

Evans viewed the cloud. “It looks like it’s getting bigger and closer, Gunny.”

“I think we’re due for a rain, Captain. Better have your sandwich before it get soggy.”

Evans had a couple of bites and took his radio. “Commander Putchin, do you read?”

“Aye, aye, Sir,” Putchin replied.

“Do you see that cloud, Arnie?”

“Where did that come from?”

“Have no idea but it looks like it’s coming fast. You might want to get everyone below, but still with enough air.”

“Yes, sir. Will do!”

The breeze from the sea turned a little stronger. Evans could see the large trees sway. He watched as several of the large pods fell from the trees.

“Probably be a good idea to get some shelter,” Evans suggested to everyone around. He turned to watch the approaching storm. He could hear the crew climbing below.

Evans decided to climb the ladder and get a better view of the storm’s approach. He saw the wind was fanning the fire causing it to spread further and faster.

“Captain,” Leonard reported. “Sunset should be in about four hours. Perhaps this storm will cool the ship enough to exit.”

“I hope so, Mr. Leonard. I hope it will put out the fires, also.”

“Sir, perhaps you should go below. I will stay to make observations.”

“Thank you for your concern, Mr. Leonard. I will stand here and see what the heck is going on.”

“Mind if I stay too, Sir?’

Evans shook his head.

The two men watched the cloud come closer and closer. The winds gathered in intensity. Evans could hear raindrops approaching. He could see water falling on the sand just up from the beach.

“Here we go, Mr. Leonard,” Evans said.

The rain began splattering on the ship. Each drop sizzled on contact. Evans smelled the acrid smell of extinguishing fire, reminiscent from camping days. The drops began to fall on him and his science officer.

Evans rushed to the hatch leading to the interior of the ship. “Here someone take this and keep it dry.” He handed off the radio.

Evans walked towards the ladder slipped and fell on the hard deck. Sheldon Leonard was horrified. “Sir! Are you allright?”

Evans laughed. “Never better, Mr. Leonard.”

Evans walked planting one foot in front of the other trying not to slip on the wet deck. He reached the ladder. He took each step with care. He looked over the edge of the hull. As the rain poured down his face, he stretched out his hand and touched the hull.

It was cool.

The rain stopped. Evans looked up to see where the cloud was located. The cloud was gone. The sun began to glint off the freshly washed ship.

Evans climbed from the ladder. He asked for the radio and turned it on.

“All crew, this is the captain. Abandon ship, repeat, abandon ship!”

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