I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 16

Space command, one of our captains is missing

Before I called, I had one question for the second officer; where were we heading. The answer was not surprising, Uranus.

The next question was why the alien pirate had told us. The first answer that came to mind, we would never get there in time, that is, he had a much faster ship than us.

Us humans were going to have to get a lot savvier in a hurry.

I had a special channel to call in space command if anything went wrong. As the Admiral had said, he didn’t want our mistakes to be front-page news.

This was not a mistake, but it was news that might start riots. A lot of people had been against going out into the universe to explore.

My first attempt to raise him failed. It was when I realised it would be around 3am where he was, and hardly at his console waiting for me to call him.

But, 10 minutes later, he was calling me.

‘I take it this is about Vanderhoven and Myers.”

Again, it took a moment to remember that the ground crew could monitor everyone on the ship, a precaution because we were heading where no human had been before.

“We were boarded by an alien who transported onto and off the ship the same was transport inanimate objects. He purported to be chasing after the pirates who stole the plutonium fuel rods bound for Venus, and was asking for our help in chasing down the perpetrators. It was a ruse to keep us occupied while his men were looking for Myers.”

“They stole plutonium?”

Again, not my first question. “I think the first revelation might be the more significant, that there are other life forms out there.”

“And hostile?”

“I don’t think they plan to attack Earth sir, because according to this alien, they have had people on our planet since before the second world war.”

“And you believe him?”

“Do we know of any rogue earth-based people who could secretly put together a ship vastly superior to this one, which is supposedly the best we’ve ever had?”

His silence told me there wasn’t, not that he’d probably tell me if there was, but his expression spoke volumes. He also looked deep in thought.

Then, “In the absence of the captain, you’re it. I’ll confirm it within the next few hours. Do you know where they’ve gone?”

“I believe so. One of Uranus’s moons, Coronis.”

“That’s nothing but ice.”

“Maybe. Well, know more when we get there.”

OK. I want a more detailed report of the incident in two hours. Something you should be aware of, your ship is capable of an SSPD factor of 10, not 4. We were not going to tell anyone until after the shakedown. I’ll talk to the Engineer, and he’ll get back to you when it can be implemented. Keep me informed.”

The screen went dead.

As number one I was responsible for making the Captain look good. As captain, I was now responsible for a priceless ship and all 2,223 souls aboard.

Too much, too soon.

But before I had time to consider it, the scene officer was back.

“Sir, we have a problem.”

© Charles Heath 2021-2023

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