Sunday, April 15, 2012

Star Traveler Update - On the Trail of Ezekiel Watts: The Stall

Shattuck caught a glimpse of the derelict ship at the mouth of the window as the ship he was on came speeding out. The captain of his ship cranked the vessel to the left, just missing the floater by a matter of feet. Shattuck went flying out of his seat. His head and shoulder took the full brunt of the impact against the bulkhead. He blacked out.
When he came round he was on the floor being attended by a member of the crew. His head felt like it had been run over by a Wahl rock crusher, pulled by no less than six huge Dardolfs, that backed up and ran over it a second time.
            “How many?” the crewman asked as she held up two fingers.
            “Two, I think,” replied Shattuck. Everything sounded like he was in a very deep barrel.
            “Can you wiggle your fingers for me?” she continued.
            Shattuck obliged by doing what she asked.
            “How about your feet? Can you move them?”
            Shattuck flexed his feet back and forth. Thank God he didn’t seem to have broken anything other than his head.
            “Let’s get him to the sickbay,” she ordered and Shattuck was hauled up by several meaty hands.
            He would be sure not to put this part of the investigation in his on-site journal. If Lena got wind of this she would keep him planet bound for the rest of his natural life.


            “I thought I would check in before I catch the shuttle to the galnon station,” Shattuck said to Lena.
            “Where’s the picture?” Lena asked. She was standing in a plain box, indicating that her brother was not fully connected to the N.E.T.
            Shattuck looked at his bandaged head reflected in the blank monitor at the Trade Post’s communication station.
            “Their equipment here is limited,” Shattuck lied. If Lena saw him like this – bandaged head, two whopper black eyes and a nose twice its normal size she would have a freakin’ fit.
            “What about your headgear?” she asked. He always traveled with his link to the U.N. No Ethinn connection, but it would have given her the standard vid view of him.
            “On the fritz for some reason I haven’t been able to trace just yet. I’ll work to have it up and running by the time I talk to you again.”
            Shattuck made the decision to call her so that she wouldn’t surprise him in the N.E.T. and see the results of the accident. It was his way of circumventing that. Another week’s travel to the mining colony and the swelling would be down. He could cover the rest. It would be logical to be wearing sunglasses and a hat on a planet where the sun blazed down on it for its full rotation.
            “I’ll give you a call when I get to Galnon Station #41. Don’t worry. Everything is fine,” he assured her.
            “Why do I doubt you,” Lena asked skeptically.
            “I have no idea,” Shattuck replied in all innocence. “I wouldn’t keep anything from you.”
            “Right…” Lena sighed. She knew something was up, but she wasn’t going to get it out of him this time. “Keep in touch.”
            “Later, Sis.”

            “They were taken,” the captain announced.
When they landed earlier today and found that the galnon station was deserted the captain ordered all passengers to stay on board until they could determine the cause.
            “There is a dead hydra and indications that the facility was raided,” the captain continued. “If any of you came to meet up with someone here I would suggest you check the slave markets on Galla II. We will take anyone back to the refitting station that wants to go. No charge for the return trip.”
            “Do you think the hydra will come back,” someone asked from the back of the group.
            “They know this station is here now. They can assume it is still unprotected. I would imagine there is a good chance they will raid it again,” the captain conceded with a nod.
            A murmur went through the crowd. The miners came a long way to be here, but the condition of ‘here’ had changed radically. No one wanted to risk being a slave.
            Within an hour the shuttle was headed back to the refitting station. No one stayed on Galnon Station #41. It would be labeled a dead world henceforth on the galactic charts. The miners would catch a ride to some other overworked claim. Shattuck was already lining up a ride to Galla II.

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