I. A rude awakening
The sound of blaring sirens woke Richard Redmond from a deep sleep. It seemed like he had only laid down a few minutes before and in fact it had been only 15 minutes. He half rose from the full size bed and swiped at the intercom switch.
“Captain, Will you please stop that infernal noise” he pleaded, the reply was rather abrupt
“That is Battle stations, we are under attack, Mr. Redmond, and you need to put on your pressure suit and assemble on the mess deck ASAP.” Came the voice of Orion’s Captain “Now if you don’t mind I have other concerns”
Redmond bolted from the bed, and ignoring the suit hanging by the cabin door, ran down the passageway still dressed in his silk pajamas. He had almost reached the wardroom door when the ship lurched violently beneath him and sent him tumbling 30 feet back the way he came. Before he crashed against the bulkhead the lights dimmed and then changed color from white to red, at the same moment the artificial gravity derived from acceleration suddenly ended.
His head was still spinning when the wardroom door opened and Shintok; maylock-A emerged carrying a cylindrical container “Human” he roared ” Come I have need of you” The big alien moved quite effectively in weightlessness, aided by the fact that he had eight limbs to pull himself along with.
Redmond clumsily hurried after, bouncing off bulkheads and stanchions “Master, Where are we going? What is happening?” but the Rogan must have decided he had spoke to his slave enough, and there was no answer.
II. A little too late.
Hunter St. James did a half somersault, perfectly timed, so that as he was able to kick off the bulkhead just as he reached the junction of two corridors and the result was a 90 degree change of direction.
“There’s only one handgun on this ship” he thought “secretly brought on board and hidden, and it’s about time to take some target practice” He was almost to his cabin when the ship lurched again, not as badly as before, but enough to cause his head to hit the hatch combing. “Damn! Damn it all!” he spoke aloud, a trickle of blood from his scalp, beads floating away like a string of black pearls in the red emergency illumination. “I’m too late”
The shock could have only been one thing…the explosive bolts blowing the hanger bay doors clear of the ship. That was in fact exactly what had happened and a strange angular craft emerged and immediately accelerated away from Orion at over 100 Earth gravities.
Hunter changed course and launched himself down the axial corridor, guns now forgotten he quickly reached the mess deck.
Most of the crew were here, the Surgeon had collected a number of injured men on one end, LT. Anselmo prominent among them, a big clamp-on splint over his pressure suited right leg. Hunter turned to Mr. Welsh the ships engineer, “Give it to me straight, how bad are we hit?”
Devon Welsh had seen a lot of battle damage in his 40 years in space, his voice was calm and crisp “She’s a freighter, Captain, whatever they blasted us with ripped holes halfway through the ship, the worst of it they tore up the starboard fuel trunk, that’s where Ivanoff and Griggs bought it, I don’t know if they took fragments, but the HE3 froze em solid”
St. James knew from that, the ship was lost “what about the reactor?”
Welsh went on “I tried to shut her down but we lost all control when the superconducting ring arced, it set Mobutu on fire!” The mans face began to contort
“Oh God! Captain I’m sorry… he was screaming, I hit him with a spanner… clubbed him! I had to, he begged me… begged me to kill him, I swear”
This was bad. “Welshie! Listen to me! You did the right thing, what a man has to do, now finish your report”
Welsh took a deep breath “The HE3 s mixed with the air everywhere south of bulkhead 30, most of the ship…temperature back there is about 90 below”
St. James thought about that “Ok but at least we have good air up here right”
Welsh replied “like I said, this is no warship, when we got hit the whole ship twisted, it’s the electrical ducts… every joint will leak, the HE3 will make it up here and in a day or two all the air will leak out to space, there’s nothing we can do”
“That’s bad, but we got some time” Hunter said, “Fraid not Captain” a new voice interjected.
The ships Doctor, Jim Marlow was from Texas and had a pronounce drawl, he was tall and lanky and had the hands of… well a surgeon.
“Explain yourself doc” Hunter said, and the Doctor obliged “A Fella in cold sleep takes a breath every 10 minutes or so, the respirators on them capsules back there will let that hot helium in, and it takes 10 minutes to exhale… two, three, four breaths at the most, and the lungs are gone”
“But don’t the capsules have oxygen backup?” Hunter asked “Sure do” replied Marlow “And it’ll work in a fire or vacuum… but it won’t switch over for that stuff, and we got 245 so called passengers in the hold”
“Ok, so we need to vent the back of the ship right now, how do we do that?” Welsh responded “We can’t, we don’t have damage control, there’s no way to do it”
Hunter tried to relax his mind “Yes there is, I can open the number 3 airlock from the outside, that’ll do it” Welsh was shocked “But Captain! That’ll” but Welsh didn’t get a chance to finish what he was saying as Guy Anselmo place a hand on his shoulder “Excuse me Capitan, but at the academy, when they told about the old blow the airlock maneuver, I did not miss that day” he paused “Please, Capitan, I know my duty” and slowly Anselmo’s eyes became windows into his soul “Capitan, one thing, Please, when you get back to Earth…tell my Carmencita…you know what to tell her”
The Captain wrapped his arms around Anselmo’s shoulders and spoke softly into his ear “I will tell her… I promise amigo… now go with God” and with that Anselmo left the compartment.
“OK people; let’s get the wounded into the lifeboat, that’s the only place that will hold air.
III. Alone with HIM
The inside of the Rogon shuttle was eerie, almost nightmarish. Controls made to be operated by flexible claws, Displays that could best viewed with faceted eyes and something else… a framework with hundreds of micro fine wires stretched across it and little moving beads on each wire.
Those humans who had the most experience with Rogons had come to realize that the Rogons had some kind of other sense, something like a bat’s echo location; sonar it you will, they could feel things at some distance. Most people believed that was the function of the small sausage like antenna behind the ears. Redmond had come to think that the Rogan “sonar” was even more acute than Rogon eyesight. One thing was for certain, you can’t sneak up behind a Rogon.
“Was that bead and wire thing something it could read? Oh who cares about any of that where is he taking me?”
“Master, May I ask? Where are we going?” It didn’t seem to bother a Rogon if you spoke to it; they just ignored you unless they wanted to speak to you. So Redmond was surprised when the Rogan answered his question “We go to place, Urruth sships come. Shintok follow, Shintok go to Urruth not, Urruth sship is not. Slave fear is not, Come back to Urruth sship is”
“Well that was just about the longest conversation I’ve ever had with a Rogon, especially this Rogon” Redmond thought “Now what did he actually say”
Shintok was part of a Rogon name and seems to be some sort of family or tribal name. A high percentage of the Rogons who had conquered Earth were Shintoks although there were several other names as well, the Sheen, the Horta, and the Missal. Rogons never seemed interested in explaining such things to humans and we still haven’t figured out how to tell what sex they are…or if they even have different sexes.
They occasionally mention something about coming from eggs, but no-one can quite figure out what they are talking about. It would make sense since they are obviously similar to reptiles in most respects. Of course no-one has been allowed to dissect a Rogon so how could we know.
Urruth is Earth, and we think Urruth not, is the Alchibah planet since Alchibah is not Earth
Strangely enough, Rogons are easiest to understand when they say the least.
Redmond could see out the big porthole like window in the front of the shuttle, and suddenly the starry background was whirling, “we must be turning” he thought, but now something out there was blocking the stars, something very big.
IV One question left
The group had almost reached the lifeboat when a clunk was heard and about a tenth of a gee acceleration pulled the group down to the deck.
“Hold up” said hunter “that’s the ships air shooting out airlock 3, pushing the ship like a jet, it’ll go away” and it did, dropping off in a couple of minutes. No-one spoke, everyone knew the tremendous force of the contained air would carry away everything moveable with it including whoever opened the airlock door.
“Mr. Welsh, you are in charge, get these people settled in the life boat. I have something to check on”
St. James moved off through the red glow, moving cautiously until he reached the wardroom door. The Wardroom had been occupied the entire trip by the Alien. Hunter had tried to avoid unnecessary visits there, but there was something he had to see.
Even with what had happened it seemed strange not to see the Rogon in his customary place He couldn’t help but shudder as he noticed several bones on the deck, human bones, all that remained of Trent Dickenson, but Hunter ignored them and went to the corner behind the bench thing that served the Rogon as furniture.
When the Orion and the other ships of the task force had been fitted with Alien Technology, as the Commander he had been given an overview of how the systems worked. The screen he was looking at might have provided incredible amounts of detail to someone with jewel like eyes but Hunter only needed to see one thing… The symbols for the weapons systems for all four ships, showed the weapons were locked out at this, the master control. Weapons a hundred times more powerful than any UN ship had had before. And the Rogon had disabled them “Why? Why?
“Ok, time to get the gun”