In 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”
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.”