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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