The day had finally arrived. The day that Crane had waited for all his life. This was the day he would finally achieve his dream of piloting a spaceship into……well…..space. A day when he could write in his diary ‘my time has come’. Everything had appeared to go against him. A crew so childish, Crane had thought of employing a nanny. A zany bunch of aliens, who’d remained mute for 5yrs, but now wouldn’t shut up, and a ship older than an ancient old ancienty thing.
Crane pushed then kicked the apparently ‘dead’ delibox* for a 4th time. Twitchy bottom time was approaching faster than a Vorisian Beera Fish* and he had less than 12 hours before his ship was due to blast off into the darkness of space. After discovering his ship was 50 yrs older than the version he thought he was taking over, he had almost given up any hope of getting the thing out of dry dock, never mind light years into space.
*DeliBox – these levitated platforms allowed large objects to be moved from one location to another with little effort (when they worked 🙂 )
Vorisian Beera Fish – the most aerodynamic fish in the universe and able to glide through liquids at phenomenal speeds. It also has the largest pair of lips known which enable it to pucker up and attach itself to anything, which had annoyed Bloorp on at least one occasion, whereupon a Beera fish attached itself to Bloorp for over a week, only departing when it eventually became hungry.
As Crane tried to work out how to get the dead cube moving again, the corridor light flickered, and, after a few seconds it petered out completely. He now stood in complete darkness with a one tonne immovable cube, which probably didn’t contain what it said on the tin.
Whoever had ordered food, supplies and spare parts, had obviously been one keyboard stroke short of a complete sentence. In one Delibox, labelled ‘EXTREME CARE – BERIT LASER GUNS – TYPE 6X’, they had found 627 yellow rubber ducks wearing little orange jackets with the logo ‘Health and Safety Ducks’ on them. In another, labelled ‘ENGINE SPARES’ there was a thousand years worth of dried prunes. Crane didn’t even like prunes, never mind dried ones.
There had been some good finds. RedUrzuBird and Exar were overjoyed to discover a large stock of Vorisian wine, and a Vorisian delicacy called Grentno. Crane was offered, and tried both. He thought the wine tasted something like lubricating oil, and Grentno, a bit like dried grass.
Crane inherited the ability to jump 12 feet in the air as Bloorp’s head suddenly appeared like a lighthouse beacon beside him.
‘You’ve just scared 9 light years out of me Bloorp, one minute I’m in darkness, then a floating head, or disc in your case, appears from nowhere’
‘I’m sorry Mr Crane. Alien Xarth sensed you were in need of assistance, so, we are here to assist you’
‘Alien Xarth, and where’s she?’
‘right behind you sir.
Bloorp was right enough, the floating disc that was the one and only
extraordinary Xarth, was indeed right behind him floating above Crane’s
‘Keep this up and you two will be as scary as that lot that are pretending
to be a ships crew. Anyway, apart from you scaring the life out of me I
need this moved’
‘What moved Sir?’
‘This one ton box of………where’s it gone? It was there a second ago. I was
taking it to Cargo Bay Delta. How can it……..’
‘It’s ok Mr Crane, Alien Xarth has teleported Cube 431 to Location Z6 in
Cargo Bay Delta for you – we’re here to tell you, you have 3 new crew
members, fix the lights and that Commodore General Higgins is here to
‘Co…Co……Comm……….. Higgs…….here……now……to see me?’
‘Yes Mr Crane. He seemed surprised you were ready to launch and wants to
speak to you’
‘……..and new crew members!…………..?’
‘Yes, Mr Crane…….two humans entered air lock 7 at 09:30 this morning.
They had the correct papers so the crew let them aboard. One is now in the
Hydroponic gardens and one is in the galley.
‘Where did they come from?………………ok I’ll deal with them later. I’d
better speak to Commodore Higgins’
Ten minutes later Crane was standing at the main airlock. As the door slid opened, the sight that focussed on his retina, wasn’t quite what he’d expected. As expected, Commander Higgins stood on the floating platform. However he was surrounded by eight Tankalans*
*Tankalans are genetically modified autobots which come in two types. A yellow and blue helper version (waiters) designed to help around the house, do shopping and tell bad jokes. The black and red versions (armataks) were rarely seen, but, those produced by the now defunct Army Science Core were armed and bloody dangerous.
Fortunately, the Tankalans surrounding Commander Higgins were of the yellow and blue version. It still seemed strange to visit with such a large entourage. Perhaps Commodore General Higgins was on a Tankalan ego trip, highlighting his importance within the military establishment.
‘Ah Commander Crane, a little bird tells me you’ve managed to get yourself in a position to launch?’
‘Yes Commodore, another day or so, we’ll be ready to go’
‘So, unlike your father, you’re not as stupid as you look’
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘Well, we all know your families military record isn’t, how can I put it, anything to write home about. In your Fathers case his cowardly act cost us dear’
Crane knew there was history between his father and certain members of the Military Council but he was shocked by what he’d just heard.
‘Sir, you know that my father was set up, and, was not responsible for the loss of the Arkadia’
‘Is that what he told you? I’m afraid he was economical with the truth young man. The truth is, none of your family have ever achieved very much at all, and, I’m afraid young man, you will probably follow in their weak footsteps’
Crane couldn’t understand it. He knew his father had enemies but Commodore Higgins tone was aggressive and almost threatening. Why had he come here to slate his father and criticise him in this manner.
‘Sir, I’m not sure what this is all about. I have things to get on with. People to see, aliens to look after, and, a crew of sorts to lead’
‘Despite your weaknesses, I have some admiration for you. A dodgy rust bucket of a ship , a crew of clowns and jokers, a bunch mute useless aliens. Yet, here we are. Somehow, you’ve managed to magic together some wizardry, fix the engines, upgrade the hull and now almost launch this pile of junk. I am impressed. Unfortunately, I cannot allow you to succeed. You see, there is a bigger picture, one, which you will never see. One which you have no future in. Just like your father, you will go down in history as another glorious failure. Ok, deal with him………’
Crane was struggling to take it all in. What was going on? Why was Commodore Higgins talking like this? What did he mean by ‘Ok, deal with him…..’
Suddenly the Tankalans started making a noise, which resembled a group of eight Tankalans doing something sinister. They whirred, buzzed, tinkled, rankled, churned, clinked and clunked. Their final trick was to turn from yellow and blue to red and black……..this was not good. He’d only seen armataks in a presentation during week ten of training in the session ‘Bad things you do not want to meet in a dark alleyway, if at all’.
He remembered clearly the clicking noise they made just before they were about to fire their laser cannons. He also remembered the red lights that flickered across them just before they were about to fire their laser cannon. He remembered the horrible ‘bssst…….bssst……bssst’ noise their laser canons made when fired.
He heard the clicking noise. They moved towards him. He turned. They moved forward again. He ran towards the airlock. He didn’t see the red lights flicker across their heads, as he was bursting a gut to make the door before he was frazzled into carbon 14.
Crane heard the dreaded bssst noise. If he was about to die, he wanted to die inside his ship. The ship he’d worked all his life to steer through space. The ship his father would have been proud of. He dived towards the airlock……….
As Crane hit the floor, the noise around him was deafening. As he waited for laser pain to sear some part of his anatomy, he tried to pass his life before him, but, the fear of being seared had turned his neural connections to mush.
Suddenly, the noise stopped.
Realising he wasn’t dead yet, Crane turned around. He blinked twice, maybe even thrice, as he took in the scene before him. In amongst flame and smoke, Chunks of Armataks lay everywhere. Behind the Armatak carnage stood Bloorp, RedUrzuBird, Exar and floating above their heads Alien Xarth
‘What just happened?’
‘I think we could call it Armatakageddon Mr Crane’ said Bloorp, who produced a smiley face on his lens face.
‘You did this? – you saved my life!’
‘Mr Crane. You are the only way we will reach our homeworld. Without you we will be stuck here for ever.’
Where’s that nutcase Higgins?’
‘He ran off mumbling about killing you and stopping the ship taking off. We must go Mr Crane’
Crane knew the ship was almost ready for take off. The remaining materials they needed for the length of voyage envisaged, would have to be found elsewhere. Within minutes they were on the bridge………
‘Ok, you lot, put your crosswords and XBox’s down. We need to launch in 5 minutes. If we don’t, I think something horrible will happen and…….it won’t be very nice’
Just then, an old woman appeared….
‘Would you like a cup of tea Mr Crane’
‘Who are you?’
‘My name is Mrs Tumpkins. I’m your cook, cleaner and chief bottle washer. My husband is looking after your hydroponic garden as we speak. We’re assigned to your crew’
Crane had no time to argue…
‘ok tea it is……’
‘Mr Crane, Armatak fighters are launching three pezecks away’
‘ok Bloorp – right team……we must move NOW!……disconnect the lockholders, lift anchor and let’s get out of here!’
The first explosions could be heard as the ship creaked away from the locking station.
‘There are five Armatak fighters within one pezeck and a further seven just behind them’
‘Ok……hit the red button’
‘But Commander, you know we’re not allowed to do that within the confines of the launch area’
The ship lurched as the first explosion hit the outer hull……..
‘HIT THE BLEEPING RED BUTTON – SOD THE LAUNCH AREA!!!!!!!!!’
‘Just as the second boom sounded the red launch button was hit’
At this point Crane expected to be thrown back in his seat as the Treon engines sparked into life.
……..but nothing happened…….
‘Whats wrong with it – if we don’t move in the next five seconds…….it’s been nice knowing you all…….well….not exactly nice….but it’s been a breeze’
‘Sorry Sir, I pressed the wrong button. That’s the one for ejecting the inboard toilet cleansing system……here we go…..’
‘BANG…….the whole crew, including the cup of tea Mrs Tumpkins had made, fell to the floor as the ship finally sprung to life. Suddenly it was moving……really moving……really moving…….toward spaceport docking station five…….’
The screen showed Armatak fighters closing in in all directions and a large metal spaceport heading directly towards them. Crane closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable………which never happened……explosions never happened, sparks never flew……death never arrived.
Crane opened his eyes……..he could see darkness, stars, galaxies and Mrs Tumpkins.
‘Would you like another cup of tea Mr Crane?’
Crane wasn’t sure what had just happened but whatever it was, he didn’t care. Both Bloorp and Alien Xarth looked sheepish in an alien sort of way, maybe even guilty as charged. Who cared. Arkadia 2, which Crane had launched in the name of his father, had launched. He was the Commander of a ship now moving through space towards adventure, fun, scary things and Planet Voris. His father would have been proud.
At some point, he would have to work out why Commodore Higgins had tried to kill him, but, for now, a cup of tea and the beautiful view would suffice…………
‘Ok Bloorp, see that yellow star to the right……. Let’s go……..☺️’
‘Crane Intergalactic Hero – The Voyage of Ineptitude – Episode 3 Blast Off’ was brought to you by David Linden aka @qosfc1919 and Dodo Productions © 2015