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 1

Marooned on Planet XVice Admiral Quentin DiPaullo of the Galactic Space Force stood on the main bridge of the Star Cruiser Reliant. He looked with pride on the information displayed on the main screen. The plan was going, well, as planned. He succeeded in forming a perfect parabola, luring the ships from the evil Corpellains.

The Parabola Maneuver was a classic plan taught to field grade officers in higher levels of Space Academy. The maneuver allowed maximum firepower to be brought to bear from 180 degrees out of a 360 degree space field. Every time the maneuver was successful, the results were huge victories with maximum damage dealt to the enemy.

“Sir, Combat Battalion One is reported the enemy is now entering maximum range,” one of the captains reported, pulling DiPaullo from his reverie.

“Maintain position. We’ll wait until they enter the killing zone.” Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes, DiPaullo remember the ancient saying from long forgotten battles. Too bad those Corpellian devils don’t have white eyes, DiPaullo thought.

“Where are the drones, Captain?” DiPaullo asked.

“They are entering the perimeter near CB4 and CB6. The nanobots are making contact with the Corpellian fleet now, sir.”

Outstanding, DiPaullo thought. The nanobots were small dust sized robots. They floated through space until they made contact with an enemy ship. They would then deploy micro-laser drills, eventually punching a hole in the hull. Enough nanobots could severely damage the ability of an enemy in combat.

“At the Corpellian’s current speed, Sir, firing should be effective in eight minutes,” the captain announced.

“Excellent, Captain. We’ll throw everything we’ve got at them. I’m not sure how I feel about accepting a surrender from them.”

“Not that I have any say in the matter, Admiral. But I hope you would remember the Hargrove.

DiPaullo nodded. It was near the start of this horrible war. The Hargrove was on a patrol. It was attacked by a squadron of Corpellian fast attack destroyers. The captain of the Hargrove tried to surrender. The Corpellians kept up the attack until the Hargrove’s shield failed and hull was impinged. The firing stopped and the Corpellians laughed as air slowly bled out of the ship. DiPaullo was determined to be the one laughing now.

“Captain, transmit to all units, ‘Remember the Hargrove.‘”

“Will do, Sir.” The captain wore a wry smile.

“Five minutes,” the word came for somewhere. DiPaullo nodded.

“Sir, we are picking up an anomaly in sector 774.”

The admiral was puzzled. That was quite some distance away. Yet it was best to be sure.

“Can we get eyes on it?”

“We’re sending a probe. Should be about thirty seconds, Sir.”

“Three minutes,” a voice spoke somewhere in the room. “All weapons are powering up.”

“Sir the image is up on the main screen.”

DiPaullo strained to see what the “anomaly” was. It was fairly close to the system’s sun, it was hard to make out.

“Can we put a filter on it?” DiPaullo suggested.

“Sorry, Sir. Here it is.”

DiPaullo could see the outline – it was definitely some sort of ship. He walked up to the controls, highlighted the image and sharpened the focus.

He stepped back two steps, and felt the blood rushing from his face. “Holy Mother of Buddha,” he whispered.

Senior Captain Charlotte Douglas came next the admiral. “What is it, Sir?”

DiPaullo wished he could tell her, but was sworn to secrecy. The intelligence service recently identified this as the newest attack ship of the Corpellians. Intel dubbed the ship the “Star Splitter” class. It was first used two months ago. That’s how the Sirius 7 system disappeared, DiPaullo knew. He also knew that his armada was being set up.

“Captain,” DiPaullo barked. “This is a trap. All units disperse immediately. Go to Hyperspace. Now!”


Captain Jake Evans, commander of the space destroyer GSF Pickett hated hyperspace. He knew it was better than the past, where there was a 37% survival rate. One would only use hyperspace in the face of certain death.

His brain told him things have vastly improved since to old days. The survival rate of hyperspace was nearing 85%. With the latest navigational technology and up to the second orbital tracking, hyperspace was now almost routine. Should he survive this one, he would be eight for eight. He knew the odds were starting to work against him, but for the admiral to give that order was so out of character.

Old “Blood and Guts” DiPaullo never ran from a fight. He’d rather lose a couple a squadrons than lose the spacefield. Something big must have spooked him, Evans thought.

“Twelve minutes,” the helmsman JR, announced.

Twelve minutes until what? Evans contemplated. Do we come out into empty space, an asteroid field or even a sun? He shuddered.

The technology of hyperspace has existed for nearly a hundred years. It was a way of cheating the Speed of Light limitation. The ships would tear a hole in the fabric of space and reappear in another. The trip itself was perfectly safe; it was where the reappearance took place that was the problem. In asteroid field a ship would last seconds. In a sun, microseconds.

“Seven minutes!”

Evans hit the com button. “All crew. Stow any loose gear, get strapped in. Close all collision doors and test airlocks. Prepare for hyperspace exit.”

Evans knew his crew was already there. Having the old man yell at them made life a little normal. One of the first he learned in Command School – When the whole world was going to hell, swab the deck. It made the crew think things were not hopeless. That was the captain’s job.

Evans sighed. Normally the best situation was having near zero relative speed. Unfortunately, the Pickett was planting nanobot mines in the path of the Corpellians. The mines would explode and send a wave of nanobots towards an approaching Corpellian ship. To deploy the mines, the Pickett needed to have enough speed to avoid random blaster attacks. Speed and maneuverability where the standard of the “Lee” class space destroyers.

“Three minutes!”

“Close scoops,” Evans ordered.

The scoops were ingenious devices. The scoops would haul in loose bits of matter. Some of this matter would be hydrogen or bits of ice. These would be refined and used for fuel or water, allowing the ships a longer operating range.

“One minute.”

“No countdown, JR,” Evans ordered.

“Aye, sir.”

Evans checked his harness. His closed his eyes and hoped for the best. He took a deep breath, knowing full well it could be his last. He knew the time was close, and he opened his eyes.

The blank display screen blinked on. The ship jerked and felt as if it were slammed. Individual station modules blinked on and off randomly. A deafening roar resounded outside the hull.

“Where are we?” Evans shouted.

“We are in an atmosphere,” JR responded.

A large explosion jerked the ship. Red lights began blinking everywhere.

“Captain, our fuel tanks have been sheared. This atmosphere is too dense. The hull is beginning to heat,” said Evan’s number two, Arnold Putchin.

“What kind of reserves?” Evans asked.

“Not enough to reach escape velocity.”

Dammit! Evans thought.

“Launch buoy number one,” He ordered. “We’re going down.”

Posted in Marooned on Planet X | 1 Comment

Marooned on Planet X – Part 2

Marooned on Planet X

In our last episode, the Space Fleet headed by Vice Admiral Quentin DiPaullo found itself in a trap. In a desperate escape, all the ships of the fleet were ordered into hyperspace. The crew of the space destroyer GSF Pickett found itself trapped in the atmosphere of the unknown Planet X.

“Captain the hull is now at 3500 Celsius,” Science Officer Sheldon Leonard reported.

“JR, full reverse thrust,” Captain Jake Evans ordered.

“Sir, I only have maneuvering thrusters available.”

Evans hit the intercom, “Smitty! I need forward thrusters. If we don’t slow down we’ll burn up in the atmosphere!”

“Captain, you getting all she’s got right now!” Chief Engineering Officer Irene Smithson reported.

“Can’t we redirect some of the plasma drive flow?”

“It might be dangerous, Captain.”

“As dangerous as burning up in the atmosphere?”

“Aye, Captain. I’ll see what I can do?”

“3600 degrees, Captain,” Leonard reported.

“JR, see if you can pull the nose up about ten degrees.”

The crew felt the angle of the deck change. They were well within the gravity field of the planet.

“JR,” Evans wondered. “What is this planet?”

“Harv from the Beauregard and I call it Planet X,” JR answered.

“Planet X?”

“Yes sir. It’s not a known system. We found it quite by accident. It seemed like an out of the way place.”

“You mean like a place rescue ships won’t search?” Evans asked.

JR’s face turned white. “I, we, didn’t think we would need rescue, Sir.”

“Apparently not, JR. Yet here we are,” Evans complained.

“Sir, front of the ship is cooling while the aft is near 4000 degrees.”

“Speed, JR?”

“We’re at 4200 kilometers per hour, sir. That nose trick is slowing us down a lot.”

The intercom buzzed, “Captain, you have some forward thrusters. Do not put it on maximum thrust, it may back up and blow out the equipment.”

“Thanks, Smitty,” Evans answered.

“You heard the lady, JR. Easy on the reverse thrust,” Evans ordered.

“Aye, Captain.”

The ship began to shudder. “Captain, she wants to flip.”

“Lower the nose, son. It should steady out.”

The angle lowered and the shuddering stopped.

“Mr. Leonard, can we get the scanners to find a place to land.”

“Sir, the hull is too hot. I’m trying to use alternative methods.”

“Keep me informed, Mr. Leonard.”

“Ensign, what is the speed?” Evans asked after several minutes of the crew concentrating.

“We’re down to 2800 kph, sir.”

“Mr. Leonard, the hull temperature?”

“It’s lowering. Captain. The instruments are not working properly at this point. We are about two thousand degrees.”

“Captain, we’re losing power on the forward thrusters.”

Evans punched the intercom. “Smitty, what’s happening?”

“Captain, the power generators can’t process the plasma quick enough. We need more power.”

“What systems can we divert from?” Evans asked.

“The life support is fighting to keep us from roasting, that and the fuel conversion are taking the most energy. I can shut down the plasma guns, that will give us some more for the thrusters.”

“OK Smitty, but I need number one gun ready.”

“That takes the most power! What are you going to shoot here anyway?”

“Smitty, you must have never been a SkyScout. ‘Always be prepared’ is their motto.”

“Aye, Captain. Whatever you need.”

“Sir, I’m starting to get imaging of the planet,” Leonard said.

“We need to find a level place to land. Not too many bumps.”

“Captain, all I see is water. I see no land.”

“We can’t land in water. This thing is not built to float.”

“I am aware of that, sir. I am expanding the search.”

“JR, how fast are we dropping?” Evans asked.

“About 500 meters per second, sir. That’s at this speed. As we slow it might be faster.”

“Can you calculate our maximum range?”

“Assuming we continue on the same slowing curve, about 1800 kilometers.”

“Captain!” Leonard announced suddenly. “I found an island!”

“About time something went right. Where is it?”

“Downrange, sir. Twenty-five hundred Kilometers.”

The silence on the bridge was deafening. Everyone knew that the end was near.

“XO, what are the co-ordinates of the island?”

“On you panel, sir.” Leonard replied.

Evans scanned and entered the co-ordinates in his computer. He hit the save button.

“Launching buoy number two,” Evans announced. The ship shuddered as the small rocket launched. The second buoy was designed to maintain a geosynchronous orbit over the crash site. It provided a subspace communication channel with buoy one, which had a neutrino communication system for interstellar communication. It would provide a link with the fleet when, and if, the ship was able to land.

“Did that buys us any distance, JR?”

“Compensating for the weight difference, sir, it buys us about 125 km. Sir, may I suggest cancelling the reverse thrusters.”

“Approved, JR.”

“Where do we stand?” Evans asked.

“We’ll still be about a hundred kilometers short, sir.”

Evans hit the intercom. “Smitty, do we have any fuel in the ship?”

“Captain, the externals are gone, as you know. We do have enough for a twenty-second burn,” she answered.

“What does twenty seconds buy us, JR?”

“Roughly eighty kilometers, sir.”

“Captain,” Leonard spoke. “The island is only about 3km by 5km. It will tough to land on it, assuming we get there, sir”

Evans smiled, “Mr. Leonard, didn’t you ever hear the ancient stories. The ones about faster than sound aircraft landing on ships in the middle of the ocean?”

“I always thought those were fairy tales, sir.”

“I saw a vidchip about once, sir,” JR spoke up. “But if those guys missed, they could always go around again. We’ve only got one shot, if we get that far, sir.”

Evans smiled, “JR, I think you mean that you only have one shot. But, I have no worries. I know I have the best helmsman in the fleet.”

“Thank you, sir. But I’m not feeling real god right now.”

“Don’t worry, JR. I’ll but you a beer when we’re on the ground.”

Evans punched the intercom. “Smitty, I need twenty-eight seconds.”

“How much plasma do you have know that we’re not burning the reverse thrusters?”

“I only can fire that through the aft maneuvering thrusters. I can get you about thirty seconds of that.”

“Captain, those won’t keep us in the air,” JR said.

“Don’t worry, JR, we won’t need to be.”

“How far?” Evans asked.

“We have six hundred kilos to the island. We’re 3000 meters above the water.”

“Keep me posted, JR.”






“Fire main thrusters, full burn!” Evans ordered.

The ship lurched. Evans watched as the crew dealt with the G-forces of a full burn. The roar reverberated through the hull. The crew was silent, knowing that sound would never again echo through the doomed ship.

The sound stopped.

“JR, maintain a ten degree up angle, not matter what.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Forward screens,” Evan ordered. The view showed water. “Keep reporting, JR.”

“300 meters.”



“Fire thrusters. All crew buckle in, it’s going to get rough.”

The ship skipped over the surface of the water several times. The thrusters kept enough forward motion to keep it afloat.

“Sir!” Leonard pointed to the screen. A thin shadow appeared in the center of the ship’s path.

The crew watched the screen. The island approached. Features appeared. There were tree, rocks, and various shrubbery. The thrusters died, the ship faltered.

“Smitty!” Evans yelled punching the intercom.

“I found a little fuel, sir, for the main engines.”

“Punch it, JR.”

The main engines flared again. The ship charged forward. There was more than enough speed to make it to the shore. A large black rock loomed in the way.

“Gunner, fire number one!” Evans commanded.

A triple blast sent shards of rock flying. The ship ground to a halt in the smoldering ruins of the stone.

“The Pickett has landed,” Evans announced.

Posted in Marooned on Planet X | 1 Comment

Marooned on Planet X – Part 3

Marooned on Planet XIn our last episode, the GSF Pickett was not able to escape the clutches of the mysterious Planet X. The captain, Jake Evans, was able to keep the emotions of his crew under control. The crew found a small island in the mostly water world. The ship was able to manage a crash landing. The question remains, did any of the crew survive?

Captain Jake Evans punched the side-wide intercom, “All sections, report status!”

“Engineering here,” Chief Engineering Officer, Irene “Smitty” Smithson responded. “All batteries are charged, sir. But right now we have no way of recharging them. We have enough power to keep life support for three hours.”

“Thanks, Smitty. Any casualties?”

“Negative, Captain. We buttoned up pretty much everything. We are pulling out other equipment now. Will let you know if any other issues”

“Thanks, Smitty.”

Evans turned to his Science Officer, Sheldon Leonard. “What is the hull temperature, Mr. Leonard?”

“Right now Captain we are at 650 Celsius. It’s dropping fast.”

“Will we be able to exit the ship without melting soon?”

“Hopefully, in about six hours, sir.”

“Dammit, we’re all going to suffocate by then!” Evans hit his console in frustration.

The bridge was silent. The intercom buzzed.

“Captain, Norwood here. Sick bay is functional. I am missing Lieutenant Deavers, though.”

“Missing, Doctor? I am quite certain no one left the ship in the last few hours.”

“Dammit, Jake! I’m a doctor, not a detective. She’s not here and you want a status. List her as missing. If I find I will let you know.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

The intercom buzzed again. “Captain, Johannsen here. All weapons are off-line.”

“What would it take to make them functional, Gunny.”

“All we would need is power, sir.”

“That seems to be the problem of the day. Not missing anyone, are you?”

“Missing? On a ship? That would be a little… Wait one, sir.” Evans could hear a muffled conversation between Johannsen and one of his gunners. He couldn’t make at the words, it seemed a little heated.

“Sir?” Johannsen was back. “It seems we’re missing Mitch. You know, Commodore Mitchell’s great-grandson.”

“Great, we lost the Commodore’s great-grandson? Gunny, have a look around and get your people to engineering. We may have to close off that section to save power. Get Donaldson’s crew up there, too.”

“Aye-aye, sir.” Gunny responded and snapped off the ‘com.

“How the heck do people end up missing on a buttoned-down destroyer,” Evans muttered.

“Maybe they…” the helmsman, JR, started to say but was cut short by withering looks from the bridge staff.

“Captain,” Leonard said. “It seems that our hull temperature is dropping faster than previously. Apparently, we set off some fires of local indigenous plant life. I calculate an acceptable temperature in approximately four hours.”

“So, we’ll only be dead an hour. Awesome,” Evans said. “So this planet has life.”

“I can only ascertain plant life at this point, Captain. I will certainly advise when I receive updated information.”

“Mr. Leonard, have you been able to conduct an atmospheric observation yet?” Evans asked.

“Will do so now, sir.”

The intercom squawked. “Captain, Smitty here.” The gunners and chefs arrived in engineering. We are shutting power off in section seven through nine. That should buy us another half hour.

“Great, Smitty! We’ll only be dead half an hour before we get out then.”

“Captain, I have an idea,” JR interjected. Again, he was met by the same withering look from the bridge crew.

“What?” Captain Evans asked.

“We still have five mines aboard ship. Perhaps we can use the explosive as a fuel element.”

“Smitty, did you hear that?” Evans asked.

“I’ll see what I can do, Captain.”

“Mr. Leonard,” Evans turned to the science officer. “Do we have an atmospheric analysis yet?”

“Yes, Captain. It seems there is a high oxygen content, with traces of other gases such as helium, hydrogen, and argon. I think we should be able to breathe without a problem.”

“Well, at least something is working out.”

“I’ve also checked the water content, since there is a lot of that around.”

“I’m all ears, Mr. Leonard.”

The water is mostly a standard hydrogen – oxygen blend. There seems to be trace elements of zinc, copper, arsenic, and cyanide.”

“Doesn’t sound like a good blend to me, Mr. Leonard.”

“It will not be too hard to separate, Captain. The cyanide and arsenic, being heavy metals, should be able to separate from the water without too much trouble. Boiling should take care of that, I imagine.”

“You imagine? Would you drink it, Mr. Leonard?”

“Certainly, with proper testing, of course.”

The intercom buzzed. “Captain,” Smitty voice announced. “Ensign Ferguson’s idea buys us about thirteen more minutes.”

“OK, we only need to figure out the extra seventeen. Any ideas?” Evans replied.

“Working on it, sir.”

“Sir?” JR asked.

“What now, JR?”

“Based on the position we are in now, if we blew airlock hatches one, four, and seven, we might be able to have an air supply until we can exit the ship.”

“That might be feasible, Captain,” Science Officer Leonard agreed.

Evans punched the intercom. “Smitty, if we blew airlocks one, four, and seven should we be able to vent the ship with the local air supply?”

“No we won’t be able to vent the ship, Captain. We could all stand in the airlocks after the hatches are blown, however. We should be fine after the initial blast.”

“Send Johannsen and his men to check out the airlocks. Make sure nothing flammable will give us problems at go time.” Evans ordered.

“On it now, Captain.” Smitty signed off.

“Switch off all non-essential systems,” Evans ordered.

The silence was broken by clicks of switches being thrown. Lights began to turn off. Monitoring systems were powered down.

“Captain, Johannsen here.”

“What’s your status, Gunny?”

“We’ve found Deavers and Mitchell, sir.”

“Where”’ Evans asked.

“They are in airlock number four. They are dead, sir.”

“Airlock number four? What were they doing there?”

“Um, I’d rather not say, sir. Let’s just say they looked like the impact killed them.”

“Well Gunny, I would take them down to Dr. Norwood. He can figure it out.”

“Aye, sir. Airlocks one, four, and seven are ready to go. At your command.”

“Thanks, Gunny. We should be ready in a few minutes.”

“Captain,” Leonard observed. “We have about 20 minutes of power.

“Gunny, blow the airlocks” Evans ordered.

Three explosions shook the ship.

“Airlocks blown and cleared, Captain,” Johannsen reported.

Evans punched the intercom, knowing it would be for the last time. “All crew, report to airlocks one, four, or seven. Shut down all systems. Prepare to abandon ship.”

Posted in Marooned on Planet X | 1 Comment

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!”

Posted in Marooned on Planet X | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Marooned on Planet X | 1 Comment

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!”

Posted in Marooned on Planet X | 1 Comment

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.”

Posted in Marooned on Planet X | Comments Off on Marooned on Planet X – Part 7

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?”

Posted in Marooned on Planet X | Comments Off on Marooned on Planet X – Part 8

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.”

Posted in Marooned on Planet X | Comments Off on Marooned on Planet X – Part Nine

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.”

Posted in Marooned on Planet X | Comments Off on Marooned on Planet X – Part Ten