Marooned on Planet X – Part Ten

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

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

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

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

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

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

JR waved Evans over.

“This is Evans,” the Captain said.

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

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

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

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

“Crashed? Engine problems?”

“We shot it down, Edgar.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How can they disagree?” Evans yelled.

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

“Perhaps you can clue us in, Edgar.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Bait? Are they nuts?”

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

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

JR nodded half-heartedly.

“Have you heard from Decker, JR?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Which means…?”

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

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

They all shook their heads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Shelter?” Evans asked. Decker nodded.

“More than that, sir,” she gasped.

“What happened?” Evans asked.

Decker caught her breath and began.

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

“How small, Decker?”

She held up her hand to quiet him.

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

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

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

“Did you take it?”

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

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

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

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

“Any others?” Everyone was silent.

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

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