Chapter 1

Written by: Ray Stone

“What the hell was that?” Masterson’s voice sounded anxious. “Did I hear right?”

Bret adjusted the static scrubber and replayed the last radio message. The voice of Ensign Fedra came over loud and clear.

“This is Bret Hendrik of the Luna shuttle Galileo. Say again, Ensign Fedra. Identify yourself.”

Bret felt Masterson’s hand on his shoulder. After taking his seat Masterson sat peering out of the side observation window at the control centre towering above them.

“Galileo, this is Ensign Fedra of the Europa Space Explorer, Sirias 3. Thank God you’ve arrived. We thought the last rescue ship had left. The fire is out now but we have no computer navigation system and we’re drifting into an unfamiliar sector.”

 “Say again, Ensign Fedra. Confirm you have just extinguished the fire and the last rescue ship left – when?”

“Galileo, the fire is out although we have smoke on decks three and five being extracted. We opened as many airlocks as possible. The last rescue ship left at 17.50.04.”

Bret looked at Masterson and mouthed – “What the hell’s he talking about?”

Masterson flicked the com switch on the control panel. “Ensign Fedra, this is Commander Masterson. Can you give us a situation report regarding remaining survivors?” 

There was a pause. Voices sounded faint in the background. Static interrupted the transmission and the connection was lost. Masterson tried transmitting again.

“Okay, let’s dock now and wait until we can reach them again,” said Bret. “Let’s give them – say one hour. If nothing, then blow the hatch.” He pointed to the com switch. “Why not let them know that. If they can still record they might get the message and have time to seal the dock their side.”

“What about moonbase? Do we tell them we just heard voices?” said Bret.

Masterson thought for a moment. “Let’s keep that to ourselves. Just tell them we are preparing to board.”

He tried again but as before, he received no response. “I’ll keep trying for an hour but let’s dock first. I’ll go and check all the docking clamps after we connect. Give me two minutes to get into position.”

***

Masterson floated with one hand on the small plastic cover behind which he could see a red lever that activated a timed small explosion. Four docking clamps would blow at the same time after a one-minute delay; enough time for one crew member to retreat back into the shuttle and close the ship’s air lock.

“Okay, I am activating now, Bret.” 

Masterson slid the plastic cover sideways and pulled the small lever down. He rolled upside down until he faced the way he had come and propelled himself back into the shuttle. With ease he turned again and closed the lock door, checking the mechanism that separated the entrance tunnel from Sirias 3.

“Moonbase to Galileo – Bret, do not enter yet. We are monitoring an unusual activity on Sirias 3’s flight de-”

Masterson’s voice cut moon base short. “Entering tunne-”

“No!” screamed Bret.

Comments

I liked the way you kept the tension ramped up but it did not get hysterical. Some very realistic description and the situations were so well described I found myself really believing this could happen.