Crane awoke to the most beautiful views he’d seen for months. Somehow the Vorisians and crew had been able to assemble an exact copy of the beach hut and surroundings his father and family had visited during school holidays on Earth. A sandy beach, lapping sea water, and, most amazing of all, an exact copy of the Beach Hut his father had built. Not only did the roof open to see the stars at night, there was a panel which opened out to view the sea from his bed. There were even seabirds wading along the beach! A glance to the right revealed some of the crew gathered round a fire.
‘Captain Crane Sir…..we’ll have your breakfast ready in a few minutes’
Breakfast…..on the beach. Just like old times. He smiled.
‘Thanks. I’ll be there shortly’
Ten minutes later he was sitting on the sand with his team, eating a proper breakfast of bacon, scrambled egg, roast tomatoes, and, much to his amazement, hash browns. For some reason his three Vorisian crew members had declined joining in, preferring, instead, to slurp on a purple/grey Vorisian speciality sludge called Saggha. After all the drama the Arcadia 2 crew had been through, this was just what everyone needed.
No one spoke, everyone preferring to enjoy an unusual moment in the middle of space. A moment of peace and tranquility in the manic journey to find Christopher Crane’s father
A tiny crab ran past Crane’s foot. He smiled as it ambled across the cleanest sand he’d ever seen. For the next few days and nights this became the norm. They’d all do their jobs on the ship, only to meet on the beach in the evening, drinking beer and Vorisian wine. Crane would then retire to his Beach Hut with the crew camping out on the beach until morning whereupon a hearty breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs and hash browns, as well as Vorisian sludge became the norm until the day everyone heard the noise.
‘Sensor alarm!’ Crane shouted, leaping up from the beach and heading to the exit
The crew looked at each other, puzzled.
‘Sensor alarm – what sensor? – someone’s probably burnt some toast’
Everyone laughed until Bloorp said……
‘I think you’ll find we have detected something large close by’
Within seconds, the exit vacated by Christopher Crane, was now filled with the Arcadia 2 crew who wished they’d not changed into flip-flops.
The crew flip flopped towards the ships main viewer.
‘Where is it?’ asked Hamilton
‘We’re in the dark depths of space. What were you expecting? A large fluorescent sign saying ‘OVER HERE…..WE’RE OVER HERE’
‘Can we move a bit closer to where the scanner says it might be, but not close enough that we bang into it.’
Arcadia 2 manoeuvred slowly through the darkness.
‘Eh’m what if it’s a trap? What if we’re about to be blown to smithereens?’ Asked Fitipaldi.
‘Okay okay…….let’s send a few visi-drones out and let them have a closer look, just in case it IS a trap’
It took a while for the crew to find the box where the visi-drones were.
‘Whatever it is, it looks like it’s had a battering from something’ suggested Senna.
‘Look top left……..lettering on the side’
It was indeed the letter ‘D’ that had appeared on the screen.
‘Not many aliens use the alphabet……..well, none in fact. Probably due to the lack of Romans on other planets’ piped up Fittipaldi.
‘ There’s another letter………looks like an ‘A’ ‘
Letters continued to be exposed on the side of the lifeless ship.
‘ A……R…….C……A…….D………I…….A…………what does that say?’ chirped Fittipaldi
Christopher Crane’s eyes widened……………….
‘ARCADIA………………………it’s my fathers ship……….’
There followed a few gasps, whispers with even an OMG* being thrown in for good measure.
*OMG – The first attested use of the abbreviation O.M.G. was in a letter from John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher to Winston Churchill in 1917.
Christopher Crane took a large breath, a step back, then a step forward. He was about to take a step back again when Hamilton said….
‘Your fathers ship?’
As more and more pictures of the ship were exposed, it became clear, Crane and his crew had discovered the battered remains of the original ship, Arcadia.
‘Do you think they’re all……….’
Down the corridor to the left there was a commotion.
‘There’s a light…..a light’s on…….the ship has power’
Crane rushed to see what his crew had discovered. There was indeed a section of the ship which was lit.
‘Send some of the visi-drones to that section and let’s have a look’
There was silence…….
Through the windows, the cameras from the visi-drones showed several humans either sleeping or dead. The room was a mess of cartons, cups and various other debris, which suggested the group had been there for a while. There was no sign of movement.
If anyone was still alive they might hold the key to finding his father.
‘Ok, there a large hole in the bulkhead to the left of that room. That suggests there’s an sealed airlock near there. Lets’ get the Manta out and see if we can get inside’
*Manta – 2 person search probe used for search and rescue both in space and underwater.
One hour later…………..
Crane had decided he would pilot the Manta himself, taking Hamilton with him. If they could manage to get inside the bulkhead, they might be able to connect to the inner airlock and access the lit chamber.
…..intially the Manta was manoeuvred towards Arcadia by auto-pilot. On reaching the derelict ship however, Crane switched control to manual. Even though the AI was better than any human, Crane didn’t trust anything these days, never mind some quantum computer flying him around inside another spaceship.
They were only just through the large hole in the bulkhead when something clunked heavily off the roof of the Manta. Both Crane and Hamilton jumped. Although most loose damaged parts of the ship would have been sucked out into space, there were some late attendees to the depressurisation, who were still floating around inside.
Luckily, Crane had been able to call up scale drawings of the original Arcadia, so he and Hamilton knew where they wanted to go. It just depended on how much metalwork they might need to cut through to get to the door. Once inside though, they could see the carnage unfold before their eyes. Most of the section they’d entered was gone. An entire 4 floor section of Arcadia had been vaporised. The edges of the remaining metal had been melted into weird twisted shapes.
Slowly, Crane guided the Manta upwards towards the top of the ship. Turning right they could see the airlock door ahead. With any luck the mechanism on the manta would fit and seal to the airlock, allowing Crane and Hamilton to enter the room where they hoped to find someone alive.
He nudged the Manta forward.
‘ok. In 5….4….3…2…1……..engage!’
He nudged the Manta forward. After a few clunks, clicks, some scraping noises and a final whirring……………..
‘It’s worked Commander Crane – airlock connection is green’
‘Ok. Although the air should be breathable. Let’s make sure our helmets are engaged and air is good to go.’
‘Helmet sealed, Air is green’
‘ Me too. Right. Let’s do this’
More whirring started, but in the opposite direction.
Finally the airlock opened.
Crane stepped inside.
Within a few seconds, both he and Hamilton were being held at gunpoint (or laser point if we want to be specific 😊 )
‘Who are you!! What do you want!! One wrong move and I’ll…………’
‘Blast my head off?? I don’t think so. That Fernier AGC 100 laser you have would blast right through my head and out through that bulkhead, which is now as flimsy as a balloon – I’m Christopher Crane, Commander of Arcadia 2. This is one of my crew, Hamilton. We’re here to rescue you. Assuming you do want to be rescued?’
‘You’re a liar. Arcadia 2. Crane? It can’t be’
‘This ship was captained by my father. Where is he?’
‘I’m afraid that’s classified information. I can’t tell you’
‘Look….i’m not sure how long you’ll stay alive until either your provisions or power run out. I’m guessing not very long. We only have one option and that’s to transfer you all to Arcadia 2, and that’s assuming you can prove you are members of my fathers crew. There, you can get some proper cooked food, rest, we can talk, ’
‘ok. You have a deal. I’m Sergeant Pritchard, in charge of what’s left of Arcadia. We were attacked by unknown assailants. We fought for hours but they had weaponry I’ve never seen before. They boarded us. We managed to distract them while your father and Captain Draper escaped in the Life Escape Ship. Before they could kill us, they decided to go after your father and left us here for dead. Luckily there was a seal, power and some provisions or we’d have been long gone.’
‘….and my father. Do you know if he’s still alive’
‘I’m sorry. No. I think he knew something about the beings that attacked us. He’d had us checking for other craft 24/7 for weeks’
‘Okay. Let’s get you back on the Arcadia 2. You need some rest and we’ll take it from there’
Due to the Manta’s small size, it took a while to get all twelve soldiers back to the ship. Arcadia 2 was built to have a crew of over a hundred giving more than ample space to accommodate the new incumbents.
Crane gathered his existing crew on the beach.
‘We obviously now have a few new faces to get used to. All the background checks confirm they are who they say they are. They are soldiers though. Pretty tough soldiers by the looks of things. Even before being deployed to my fathers ship, some of them appear to have been on various risky missions. Let’s just make sure we welcome them but let’s take one step at a time. They might just come in handy for what’s ahead of us. We’ll continue the route as planned ’
A few Light years away, Planet Voris shone under the bright glows of its two Suns. If either of the Suns had eyes, it would have seen Herb and Beebul flying at high speed on their Aircutter towards the main city, Arkwell. Beebul was getting anxious. Herb was flying so fast he was swerving left, right, and, well, mainly left and right, avoiding Puffball trees and several of the flying birds, animals and other strange Vorisian creatures that had evolved to use the sky to move around. Voris was generally a safe world, but, certain areas were slightly more dangerous, including the one they were just about to enter.
‘I don’t think it’s wise to take this shortcut Herb’
‘Don’t be silly Beebul. I’ve flown through here lots of times and, I’m still here’
‘How many times?’
‘Okay…..maybe not through this actual quatsus, but, it can’t be that different from Dearus, and it’s full of scary things’
‘Father always told us to avoid coming here, and, I, for one always listened to him’
‘Yes, yes, yes, and, if he was here now, instead of catching Spuka in some weird and wonderful place off planet, I’d take his advice, but, he isn’t and I can’t. There’s something BIG happening in Arkwell. We have to reach there before Freik. I want to be there when, whatever it is, is announced’
‘You know you shouldn’t liste……………WATCH OUT!!!!!!’
A giant migrating Bladderguck was floating right in their path. Beebul had never seen one so close before. It’s bright blue skin glinting in the sunshine. There it was though, completely blue and blissfully unaware, two stupid Vorisians, well, one stupid Vorisian and his passenger, was about to give it a huge fright and probably kill his brother at the same time.
Herb pulled the controls up so hard he could hear them creaking, croking and cracking. Beebul closed his eyes. Beebul closed his eyes really tight and remembered the conversation from the day before.
‘Beebul, you don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to’
‘But, may I remind you, Arkwell has some of the finest Treen and Mirka in the universe, never mind Voris. You wouldn’t want to miss out on that would you?’
So. bribed by food and drink, Beebul had signed up for this potential near or definitely possible death experience.
‘Whahoo that was close’ screamed Herb
Beebul opened one eye. Then another one, then a third one, and so on until he could picture a world he thought he’d never see again. He then started breathing.
‘You’re completely mad. Completely madder than a Frunch!! Dare I say it if you were not the best pilot in the world, we’d be gone now’
‘You’re probably right Beebul. But, I am and we’re not. Another hour of flying then we’ll have to land and rest for the night’
‘Land and rest where?’
‘Down there somewhere’
‘ HERB, you know what father would say about having a sleepover in one of the most dangerous places on Voris’
‘Yes Beebul, but he’s not here to ask. Flying in these skies in the dark is probably more dangerous than what’s down there’. Beebul rolled all of his eyes and sighed.
An hour later Herb banked the Aircutter toward the ground. It was already getting dark quite quickly but it wasn’t long before they’d set up camp next to a large rock face.
Tomorrow would be a day that would change both their lives, but, unbeknownst to them, they might just save the Universe………
‘Crane Intergalactic Hero – Episode IX – The Rescue’ was brought to you by David Linden aka @qosfc1919 on Twitter ©️DodoProductions 2022