Contingency – Chapter 2: Derelict

Drake shook his head to clear the ringing. In a moment of insight he had pulled on his gas mask, assuming he might need the protection from whatever waiting for him on the ship that was pulling him steadily upwards. There had been some kind of gas sprayed at him once he was in the ship. He had been protected due to his gas-mask, so unlike the other abductees this trip he wasn’t unconscious. The others had been implanted with immuno-suppressor implants by the Corti Doctor on board.

Due to recent events said Doctor wasn’t entirely thrilled with the idea of being in the same room with an unrestrained conscious human. The Corti were known to be mostly completely unemotional, and devoid of morality, ethics, anything approaching the normal well-adjusted sentient mindset. But the Corti did know fear. And the masked Human with one of his people’s weapons scanning the holding area filled the Corti in the shadows with fear. When the human spotted him and started shouting at him through the strange mask he wore.

Immediately Dr. Cranex throw his hands across his face and screamed, “Please, don’t hurt me! I’m just a Doctor!”

Jack looked at the little grey figure, no bigger than three feet tall with large almond shaped black eyes. The being had rather pointed ears and a thin expressionless mouth. Jack had never been a believer in alien abductions before. But with Vancouver, and his current situation, he was willing to go on a little faith. Jack decided to treat it as if the creature were simply a civilian. “What is your name?”

Even with his voice being muffled by the gas mask, Dr. Cranex could understand him, “Cranex, I’m the doctor connected to the Bladed Claw.”

Capt. Drake thought about it for a moment and then asked, “How many more humans have you abducted on this ship?”

Cranex just pointed towards the cells. There were at least ten cells, and most of them were full. Drake motioned for the alien to walk in front of him and looked into the cages. He saw at least twenty humans, maybe more as the cells held multiple people in them. They were all out cold at the moment.

“What did you do to them?”

“They are just sedated, you should have been as well when you came on board. I needed you unconscious to inject an immuno-suppressor module into you. Your body is full of pathogens that no one else on this ship can survive,” Dr. Cranex explained

The alien seems very terrified of being infected, strange considering he called himself a Doctor. “My Gas mask was designed to filter out harmful agents so I don’t get sick, do you think it will work in reverse? Or am I already infecting people?”

“If that mask is effective at the moment for your respiration then no, we should not be in any immediate danger. But you will need one eventually for everyone else’s safety.”

It was then that the floor became the ceiling for everyone. Drake in a moment of reflex grabbed the alien doctor and held onto him as he took the hit for both of them. Even the momentary pressure from his hands would cause severe injury to the doctor. Injury however was preferable to death by having his head caved in.

The room went dark and everything seemed to float for a moment before the gravity kicked back in. The ship board gravity came back on at galactic standard, which was significantly less than one G on Earth. Drake easily landed on his feet, protecting the doctor from the fall. The darkness was broken when the emergency lighting kicked in, bathing the hold in red light.

“That felt like an explosion,” Drake said, keeping his hands on his gun and scanning for any threats. The moans and confused mutterings of the prisoners started emanating from the cells. Drake took a moment and turned to the doctor, “Let them out.”

Cranex really didn’t see much options available to him and so went to one of the consoles and unlocked the cells. The human in front of him could kill him easily, even without the strange weapon from his home world. Now the others were awake and exiting the cells. Cranex’s situation had just deteriorated significantly.

Drake looked at the little grey man and said, “Don’t worry Doc, we won’t hurt you unless we have a reason to. Now, we need to secure this ship. I know the crew is probably the equivalent of pirates or mercenaries, but we need to see how bad off we are. If I remember the standard load out of an FA-22 right we could all be in serious trouble.”

Cranex thought for a moment and nodded, proceeding into each cell and checking the humans in there. He administered as simple stimulant to help them return to consciences. Cranex moved quickly among the cells before returning to Drakes side. It was the only way he felt he’d be safe. Cranex then injected Drake with something, “What the Hell was that Doc!?”

“You’re mask is acting as an effective filter to keep you from killing everyone on board with whatever bacteria or vireo you have running inside you. However, there is a chance we could find several areas that are decompressed or sudden loss of atmosphere. You will need to be able to have access to an emergency air supply. That injection was an immune-suppressor. You should be alright to unmask for the next 8 hours. Any longer will require an implant,” Cranex explained.

There was just something about how the little alien acted that reminded Drake of someone. He just shook his head and turned to the others that were exiting the cells. Several seemed to be military, others civilians and more than a few police officers. Drake looked around, he wasn’t the only one armed. Seemed the Doctor hadn’t bothered to remove everyone’s guns. They probably thought they had plenty of time with everyone being gassed upon capture.

Drake was still in combat armor, which meant he’d probably be better protected against whatever came though. The Bugs may have had some kind of ray gun when they hit Vancouver, but from everything that he had heard it had been like a punch to the chest. Drake didn’t take it for granted that these guys might have something stronger.

“Alright everyone, Listen up! We’ve been taken by a possibly hostile alien force. We don’t know who or what they are. Anyone who is still able bodied will follow me and we will secure this ship. If you are injured check with the Doctor here. Two FA-22 Raptors were in pursuit when this ship tried to escape Earth and there was an explosion. Be careful where you step.”

No one said a word in disobedience. The prisoners were all professionals who understood their situation might not been too good right then. Everyone broke up into groups as Dr. Cranex handed out personal communications devices. The Corti doctor was unwilling to anger a group of Humans, knowing what they could do to Hunters. Hell, what they would do to him only meaning to be friendly.

Dr. Cranex sighed and went to work, mending their wounds to the best of his ability. He decided to lead the wounded to his medical bay. At least there he could see how close they all were to death.

 

Capt. Jackson Drake had blown off a lot of the talk recently after Vancouver. Being an officer in the United States Army meant he was well educated, with a bachelor’s degree in his chosen field. He had actually been interested in American literature. IT had gotten him his commission at least. He hadn’t been that interested in science fiction. It always seemed more contrived and focused on technobabble then anything of real interest.

That being said, he now found himself the lead in a sci-fi story he really didn’t care for. So far they had found three corpses. Two from blunt force trauma to the head, one impaled on a long peace of sheared metal. The rest of the teams had found similar. From what the Doctor had told him over the comms this had been a mercenary ship. From a four armed species of upright lizard to some strange being that was shaped like an earthworm in a robot suit.

The Earthworm guy was defiantly one of the creepier things to find on an alien spaceship. Especially as it had been the one impaled on a metal spike.

Still, something was bothering Drake about this. “Hey Doc, are you able to see if there is anyone still alive among the crew from where you are?”

“Negative,” Cranex replied, “I’m as blind as you are. If any of the crew were conscious they would have heard you by now over the comms. That they haven’t used the comms to at least demand you hand over your weapons and surrender could mean they are all dead, or too injured to even bother.”

“Alright, we’ll continue on as we have been for now. Has anyone found any survivors?”

“No.”

“Negative.”

“Hey, I think I got something here. Doc, what do I need to do to tell if some over grown blue giraffe is alive?”

“How many pairs of appendages does it have?”

“I’m going to ignore the fact that you are implying that there are two different species of blue giraffe creatures for the moment. This one has two sets of arms, three pairs of legs.”

“That is a Rrrrtktktkp’ch, evolutionarily cousins to the Vzk’tk. The Vzk’tk lack the second pair of arms or the third pair of legs. They also lack a sizable amount of brain power compared to the Rrrrtktktkp’ch. You should be able to tell if there is any respiration within the subject easily enough. If you are seeking to determine if there is a heartbeat then you should press your fingers against the inner side of the lower arms. They are smaller and closer to the pulmonary system.”

“So not much different from checking the pulse on a human, just a different location.”

“Correct.”

The line was silent for a few moments until the soldier on the other side said, “I’ve got a pulse here. I’m not sure what counts as good or not though Doc. We’re going to bring him up to you.”

“Be careful. Most species, my own included, are extremely delicate compared to yourselves. Even a friendly gesture can cause serious injury or death. Use EXTREME caution.”

Drake started wondering about some things, “So Doc, mind telling us a bit of what we can expect?”

“If you could be more specific Captain?” Cranex replied.

“Well, we had those big white bug looking things attack a few weeks ago in Vancouver. An entire hockey team left them as little more than meat on the ice. It was rather grotesque.”

“Did they have their weapons connected to their fore limbs?”

“Yes, yes they did.”

“Those were Hunters. We have no other name for them. They crave the flesh of sapient creatures. No one has ever been able to stand against them and survive. By far they were the most fear species in the galaxy… until recently.”

“What happened recently Doc?”

“A human abductee by the name of Kevin Jenkins managed to fight off an entire Hunter raiding party at the station Outlook on Forever. Earth is currently the only planet of its kind that has spawned a sapient species such as yourself.”

Drake couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at that. “That seems strange Doc.”

“Not really. You have to understand that most worlds where life has evolved on are much more hospitable then Earth. Your world is a Class 12 Temperate on the Galactic Scale. Anything Class 10 or above is considered a Death World, where survival is uncertain. Most species would be unable to survive long term on Earth if it wasn’t in one of your urban centers along the Northern Continents. And even then that is if they were to constantly wear a class 5 biological contamination suit. The Gravity alone is thirty percent greater than that of Galactic Standard and could cause an individual to collapse from the strain.”

Drake shook his head. That sounded almost like the rest of the galaxy was extremely delicate. The low gravity on this ship was the standard for the entire galaxy. And they were much stronger than the local cannibles. Strange that a human proved the Hunters could be defeated, and yet it was the Human everyone was scared of.

“How many classes are in that scale?” Drake asked.

“Fourteen classes, only Nightmare is worse than Earth at a Class 13, and Class 14 is currently Theoretical,” Cranex explained.

Drake came to a large door, and motioned for his companions to take up positon on either side. They cracked the hatch open and cleared the room. It was a large room, with a chair in the center, consoles and stations positioned around that seat. The seat was empty, but one of the larger four armed reptiles that Cranex had identified as the Locayl was on the floor. Drake checked where the Doc had told them to check for a pulse in this specific species and found a weak one. There was some indication to Drake at least that this being may have suffered some kind of neck injury. Also, two of his arms seemed bent the wrong way.

The rest of the crew seemed to be suffering from similar injuries. Drake contacted Cranex, and requested help for all the crew that were injured on what he assumed was the bridge. He Started taking in the displays, but frankly couldn’t understand anything that was being presented. Drake shook his head, “Doc, I’m not sure what any of this is saying.”

“What do you want from me? I’m a Doctor, not a helmsmen.”

“Yes, I know that but for now we realy don’t know our status here. You think you could send up someone who could tell us how screwed we are, Bones?”

“I’ll see what I can do, and my name is Cranex.”

Unfortunatly for Cranex, the other humans had heard Drake call him Bones and the nickname stuck. The crew that survived the hit were going to be in medical for a long time. The only member of the crew that was in anyway able to help the Humans was Cranex. But all he was able to do mostly was to give them some basic information.

The Captain of the ship, Hshrif, had suffered a severe injury to his neck and had been immobilized. Bones had not been very optimistic about the Captains chances. The Doc could heal him, but it would take months. A human wouldn’t have much luck either with a similar injury, but there would be a chance, and with the Corti medical tech it could potentially be healed.

Hshrif wasn’t the only injury. All of the crew that had survivied had several injuries. Several had lost arms, and were suffering from concussions. Bones used what was available to him, but had made it clear he would need a fully stocked medical facility to really do much good for the majority of the crew.

Capt. Drake just shook his head as he considered their situation. There had in fact been thirty-four humans kidnapped on board this ship. All of them were military, law enforcement, or some kind of trained fighter. And Jackson Drake was the highest ranking military officer on board. Thankfully everyone seemed to respect that concidering the situation. So he had everyone tearing through what they could. The ships engines had been damnaged by the fighters that had pursuded them back on Earth. Bones wasn’t able to help them too much with that, he was a doctor not an engineer.

It was comments like that that cemented his nickname among the humans.

One of the enlisted Air Force men a SSgt Brooks, had mechanical training due to his work with C-130 transport planes and had taken on the job of trying to keep them alive with a small crew of men. Bones had at least managed to help them with a translator program based off the one in his neural implant. It helped but according to Brooks they were dead in space for the time being.

Dr. Cranex had recommended they contact the Corti that had contracted their kidnapping, Granth, and request assistance. It was a logical suggestion. However Drake didn’t feel trusting the Little Grey Bastard was a good idea. He trusted the doctor to do what he was capable of, but not with the future of the men and women on this ship.

Drake walked back onto the bridge and sighed, a few Navy Seamen and some Air Force Air Traffic Control professionals were trying to figure out where they were in relation to Earth. They probably couldn’t make the trip back, but they could at least know where they were.

“Sir, we figured out where we are… we think,” Seaman Mathews said as soon as Drake got to the bridge.

Drake walked up to the navigation station and looked over Mathews shoulder, “So where do we think we are?”

“I’m not entirely certain, but I think we are about ten and a half light years away from Earth, near a star system with seven planets, according to the system they are three gas giants, four terrestrial. It’s registering the third planet as a class 12, meaning from what Bones has told us makes it close to Earth. If I’m right that means we are in the Epsilon Eridani system.”

Drake thought about it for a moment and nodded. He turned to the center chair and sat down. He had a duty to the men and women on this ship. And right now that meant ensuring their survival, “So if we can get the ship moving we have a place to go to close.”

“Yes Sir.”

Drake hit the communication button on the arm of the captains chair, “Drake to Engineering, SSgt Brooks, is there any chance we could get some kind of thrust?”

“I think so Captain. We’ve managed to get some of the engines working. I can’t give you FTL, but we can at least get moving foreward. Do we have somewhere to go though?”

“Yes, yes we do.”

To be Continued.