Characters in this post
View character profile for: Jamie Eastlick
View character profile for: Dr. Artemis K. Pritchard VI
View character profile for: Thomas Plisken
So Long...Posted by
Posted: Jul 25, 2018, 5:40pm
‘Ah-ha,’ said Thomas as he stooped down to pick up an open book on the floor of the cockpit, ‘Wondered where you had went.’ He skimmed over the contents of the two pages facing him. ‘Och, I’m sure that I will finish this later,’ and he tossed the book back over his shoulder and onto the science officer’s desk.
Thomas clambered into the pilot’s chair and examined the readings on the screens. Radiation levels normal - hull strength normal – that weird meter no-one understood was at zero (which was good) – the fuel tank still not quite empty - baked potato nearly done. All was good. Although communications was down. And the engines were on their last legs. And the toilet needed two flushes to get going. But other than that, all was good.
It was quiet, out here in deep space. Thomas watched as the rocks of the asteroid field drifted back and forth, occasionally buffeting the SS Eliro down below. White Giant’s autopilot kept them away from any marauding rocks that would otherwise knock a big and scary whole in the hull. So that left Thomas to, mostly, piss about.
Not all the Dwarfers were accounted for. Some were probably still running around inside the Eliro, up to all kinds of crazy adventures, the scanner wasn’t quite sure just yet.
Not Thomas though. No, he had found himself awake on the Giant, with no explanation. Jamie was aboard, as was Artemis, who was still napping off the nightmare juice the Quitzail had given everyone.
‘Well, that was a terrible idea,’ said Jamie, coming into the cockpit to join Thomas.
‘What was?’ asked Thomas, spinning round to see Jamie wearing overalls soaked in engine fluid. It wasn’t that Thomas meant to laugh at Jamie’s misfortune, it just sort of happened. ‘I take it that the bodge didn’t work.’
‘No, it was a stupid idea,’ said Jamie, collapsing into the science officer’s seat, ‘Although, I did get us propulsion, so we can go back down to the ship once whatever fuel is already in the tank filters through to the thrusters.’ Jamie ran a hand through his hair, to his disgust leaving a dirty, greasy mark in the process. ‘For smeg’s sake. Why did I listen to you? Can’t you come up with a good idea for once?’
‘Hey, I did say I wasn’t an engineer. I barely know what a fuel link is.’
‘When you say barely, do you mean that all you know is that it is to do with linking fuel?’
‘Well, there can’t be more to it than that, can there?’
‘Oh, my dear Plisken, if only you knew. But, at least we know that we can’t use a tube stuffed with wirewool. The engine just wouldn’t accept the fuel without more filtering.’
Thomas said nothing and kept looking at Jamie with an eyebrow raised. ‘Sorry, I mean Thomas.’
‘Aye, thank you,’ said Thomas and he turned back around in his chair to look at the instruments.
‘It’s weird that you look so much alike though,’ said Jamie, leaning back in the chair and picking up the book Thomas had thrown away. ‘It shouldn’t be weird, I’m pretty sure I’ve met my own alternate universe double.’
‘Pretty sure?’ asked Thomas.
‘It’s been a busy couple of years,’ admitted Jamie, ‘Which is when you must have gotten this book. Look the pages are falling apart, Tom.’
‘Yeah, I don’t really where I got it. You know that way you’ve just had that thing sitting on your desk for so long that you just assume you’ve had it?’
‘You’ve had it that long and you never finished it?’
‘It’s been a busy couple of years,’ Thomas smirked.
‘Let’s see how it ends,’ Jamie teased, and he flipped to the very end of the book.
‘You can if you want. Won’t mean much to me because I can’t for the life of me remember what the book is even about.’
Thomas was still looking at the instruments waiting for Jamie’s reply. ‘Jamie?’ he said slowly, ‘Don’t tell me you can’t think of a witty comment for that?’ And Thomas spun around to face Jamie, who was holding a photograph in one hand with the open book in the other.
‘Where did you say you got this?’ asked Jamie turning the photograph to face Thomas. It looked to be a picture of Thomas but a bit older, greyer and with a longer beard. And there was just an air of what Thomas could only describe as a man with a long and dangerous past. Which was a slightly poetic way of saying that he looked like the kind of bloke who would get smashed so often that he couldn’t remember his own birthdate let alone anything else about himself. But there was another man beside him. He had long black uncut hair, with an ear-ring just about poking through.
‘I think I’ve always had it?’ Thomas said again, a bit confused. ‘Who is it?’
‘Spooky,’ said Jamie as he tossed the picture to Thomas, ‘It’s you. Or our you. The old you? The overpowered one. And that’s Alex Solvay beside him and-or you.’
‘Alex Solvay?’ said Thomas slowly. It felt like the name should be familiar, but it sounded totally alien to him. But where did this picture come from?
‘Yup,’ said Jamie, starting to get distracted by the scanner monitor, ‘And the date looks like it was taken a few days before he disappeared. Smeg, Thomas, we’ve got three ships closing in.’
Thomas sat the photograph down on the pilot’s desk and sprang into action. ‘What have we got?’
‘Two small ships, shuttle size. Looks like a Star Bug and a Blue Midget?’ said Jamie, his voice not quite sure of what he was saying. ‘Do you think they are from the Dwarf?’
‘God, I hope not, they’ll probably strip me of my licence when they see the state the Giant is in. What’s the other?’
‘Not sure, big and alien looking.’
‘What do you want to do?’ asked Jamie.
‘No other docking ports we can land in?’ asked Thomas, hopefully.
‘Not any that aren’t broken, anyway.’
‘ETA on the ships?’
‘2 minutes for the Bug and Midget, 10 on the alien.’
‘Right, we’ll drop power, hang back and take cover by that big asteroid over there.’
‘The butt shaped one?’
‘Can we choose a different one?’
‘Fine,’ said Jamie, exasperated.
10 Minutes Later
‘How can you eat at this time?’ asked Jamie.
‘It’s only 5 past 8?’ replied Thomas, taking a large forkful of baked potato and a hearty amount of cheese into his mouth.
‘Funny,’ said Jamie sarcastically, ‘Oh, hang about looks like the alien ship is docking.’
‘Right,’ said Thomas, licking his lips, ‘Do what you suggested.’
‘Can you not remember?’
‘I can remember, I just didn’t understand it,’ said Thomas, flicking some switches to bring the Giant back online.
‘I’m going to vent the engines through into the mining laser. It will, hopefully, stop our heat signature being picked up. The mining laser has a alu-cotton lining, designed to soak up heat. Or, at least, it will stop it being detected from the outside. So, really, we will be invisible.’
‘Unless they look out the window.’
‘Unless they look out the window, yes.’
‘Also, isn’t it pretty dangerous to do that?’
‘Look, haven’t we got about half a dozen people to rescue?’
‘Right, okay,’ said Thomas as he began to steer the ship down to the SS Eliro, where the alien vessel had already docked.
As the Giant drifted slowly through space, sneaking about as effectively as a bear holding in a fart, the scanner began to pick up the life-signs of both ships.
‘There we go,’ said Thomas to the Giant, ‘Finally got there with the scan for life-signs did you? Right, what have we got? A couple of humans, some aliens. Aliens and humans standing together? Can’t be good. Don’t suppose you can tell me who is who? No, okay, didn’t think so.’
‘At least we know now that they are on the ship,’ said Jamie, ‘Saves us hunting space for them.’
The Giant began to close in on the SS Eliro, but the readings on the weird-meter began to go up. The weird-meter that no-one understood.
‘Uh,’ said Jamie, as he watched the meter rise.
‘Uhm,’ said Thomas, as he watched the meter rise.
‘What was the weird-meter level when we docked?’
‘What is it now?’
‘Is that good?’
‘I have no id-‘
Before Thomas could finish his sentence, their was a flash of white from the SS Eliro. It was blindingly bright, causing the two Dwarfers to recoil as their eyes pulsed with pain. Even the very darkest parts of space around them seemed to suddenly be flooded with light.
And then it was gone. Fading from the world like a dream when you wake up. Although Thomas though it was more like that really bad dream he had about forgetting his P.E. kit. It was gone but it sort of lingered on in your mind for the rest of the day.
But it wasn’t just the light that was gone. The alien ship had also vanished. And taking with it the life signs.
‘Where the smeg did they go?’ asked Thomas, scrambling to find any signature.
’They just warped, looks like their jump signature sends them to the other side of that ethanol nebula.’
‘How long will it take us to get there?’
‘With our current engines, probably 3 weeks.’
‘Smeg,’ said Thomas, sitting back in the pilots chair, ‘We are going to need a plan.’