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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